#1 It’s the least manly thing you’ll do all year
Mermaid Melody is a magical girl anime about three teenage girls that are secretly mermaid princesses tasked with the protection of the seas. They lead a normal everyday life while on land, but when trouble arises they don cute outfits and fight against a variety of bad guys by singing for them. It is absolutely, 100% certainly a shoujo series and at a time where the mahou shoujo genre began to turn its eyes towards the largely-male otaku audience I find that kind of purity interesting.
Mermaid Melody shares a release year with Lyrical Nanoha and Pretty Cure, but even though it targets a younger, female demographic, I still found the show legitimately interesting from that viewpoint and managed to enjoy it rather well. While you won’t get any badass fighting scenes or delicious fanservice, the show is excellent for entertaining a younger audience and those who are unashamed about enjoying shoujo.
#2 The villains
The story of Mermaid Melody pits our three protagonists against Mikeru, an angelic being looking to absorb their power and resurrect a race of ancient creatures like him. To help capture the mermaid princesses he employs a variety of different sub-villains, all of which are thoroughly enjoyable. The Black Beauty Sisters are a twin couple of deep-sea angler fishes given Human form that sing songs so dark it hurts the mermaids, Lady Bat is an eccentric person with a love for illusions whose mysterious voice puts people in a trance, Lanhua’s party music forces people to dance endlessly, and the fairy Alala is an idol singer so obnoxiously upbeat I am not even sure if her songs have magic power or are just physically painful to listen to.
All of these more-or-less take turns playing villain of the week, hatching elaborate plots and being generally ineffective save for a few lucky moments where they manage to almost overcome the princesses. Their writing and personalities are also enjoyable, with many running gags and character-developing scenes that left me being really fond of them. Even Mikeru becomes an interesting antagonist towards the end, with a fantastic pay off to his arc in the final few episodes.
If you’re not feeling quite convinced yet, there is an episode in which the girls have to fight… a sea cucumber. The most violent of marine creatures.
#3 A legitimately interesting romance dynamic
The three main girls, Lucia, Hanon, and Rina, are all interesting in their own rights and, this being a shoujo series, of course there is a bit of romance in their lives. Lucia gets the most of this, as she starts the show in a relationship with a cool, dependable guy named Kaito who goes on holiday to Hawaii. The twist is that he winds up missing and, after eventually turning up again, he is suffering from memory loss. With no memories left of his earlier life, he ended up becoming the boyfriend of his savior’s sister, a sickly young girl named Mikaru.
This storyline concerning his memory loss I found to be really interesting as it puts him and Lucia in a weird position. Lucia is of course heartbroken about his apparent betrayal, but you really can’t fault the guy for falling in love with the girl who helped save him while no longer having his memories. While at first he just finds Lucia’s behavior weird, he slowly begins to realize how important he must have been to her, and when his memories begin creeping back, that puts him in a position where he’s in two relationships at once. Does he stay loyal to the girl he was with long before this story started or does he stay with a girl that cared for him while he was sick. It’s a problem either way and both girls are suffering because of this uncertainty.
The romances of Hanon and Rina are relatively safe by comparison. Hanon is the more love-obsessed of the the three and though she is always eager to point out the tallest, most handsome men that pass by, she ends up drawing the attention of a boy younger than her. He is a determined little guy with a poor understanding of how to win her over, but who is really passionate and genuinely cares, even if that sometimes means he comes off as a jealous and obsessed klutz. Rina is more mature and reserved, but ends up meeting a caring and mysterious guy. While the two click together well, Rina is filled with doubts about her boyfriend’s intentions and their future together.
#4 The songs are surprisingly good
I am not exactly into idol anime, let alone ones about 14-year-old mermaid girls, so I had low expectations of the music going into Mermaid Melody. This made it a pleasant surprise that the songs are actually quite good overall and enjoy some really good performances from the voice actresses. The mermaids get some songs that sound nice despite being on the cheesy side, but it’s the villains that get some damn nice tracks.
Yami no Baroque, Ankoku no Tsubasa, Hana to Chou no Serenade, these were all really neat songs, and I can even respect Alala’s singing in the context of her character. By far my favorite song ended up being Mikeru’s Tsubasa wo Daite, as sung by Junko Minagawa. That song came out of nowhere and turned a hilariously ineffective antagonist into a character I couldn’t help but sympathize with. All of these villain songs are now on my phone in a playlist usually reserved for my favorite anime openings, and I have no regret about making an exception for them.
#5 You can skip season 1 if you want
While you’d figure missing a whole season worth 52 episodes would make an anime hard to understand, I actually found Mermaid Melody to be really easy to get into. Getting a grip on what the characters are like doesn’t take too much time and it’s not often that the show calls back to moments or characters from the previous season without giving them some introduction. Sure, you miss out on some of the lore, but nothing I found so important that it made the story at hand hard to follow.
In fact, I rather enjoyed that missing the first season meant I didn’t have to sit through a lot of introduction episodes for all the important characters. This might be strange praise to give, but for many anime fans there is a big difference between taking a chance on a show that is 39 episodes long and one that is 91 episodes.