Mermaid Melody Pure Anime Review
Maameido Merodii Pichipichi Picchi Pyua
Mermaid Melody - Perky Pitch Pure
Akutasu, Synergy Japan
US Release By
39 episodes, 24 minutes each
2004-04-03 - 2004-12-25
The mermaid princesses have emerged victorious over the water demons, sending them to a watery grave beneath the depths. But the cost is high, and the tragic loss of Sarah following the final battle has left a void that needs to be filled. Soon afterwards, Lucia starts receiving visions of Sarah's spirit, who explains a mermaid named Seira will be born as the new princess of the Indian ocean, and it will be Lucia's job to ensure her safety.
Also, the Mermaids are soon faced with a new nemesis, a corrupt angel named Mikeru who has resurrected two of their old foes, the Black Beauty Sisters, and is gathering other forces against them as well, though his ultimate motive is not clear. Soon after his appearance, he has a confrontation with Lucia's boyfriend Kaito, somehow leaving him with the most selective case of amnesia ever, causing him to forget everything about the mermaid girls, but nothing else. Faced with their toughest challenge yet, the mermaids must find a way to defeat Mikeru, restore Kaito's memory, and ensure Seira's safe arrival into the world. But if history is any guide, it's nothing that can't be solved by flashy outfits, microphones that look like novelty shower-heads, and pop music.
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The second season of Mermaid Melody is pretty faithful to the original series, but in too many ways that's a bad thing, as it shares most of the same problems. Just like the first season, the show is plagued by extremely long transformation scenes, heroines without distinguishable powers, excessive stock footage use, a repetitive fighting system devoid of logic, and a badly underused central plot. The modest improvements include significant reductions of the the pre-fight morality lectures, more competent villains who use better tactics, legitimate love interests for all three of the main characters instead of just Lucia, and moderately bigger roles for the other mermaids on the team. There is also a fair amount of shoujo tragedy, with a few episodes managing to be genuinely moving, but the main reason for watching remains the quality music, with some of the best songs this time coming from the villains.
Overall, if you liked the first season, this one is definitely worth a look--some improvements, no new flaws--but the lack of quality is apparent and there really isn't any appeal outside the show's target audience, except for the great music.
Full ReviewSwitch to Quick Review
The second season of Mermaid Melody is pretty faithful to the original series, but in too many ways that's a bad thing, as it shares most of the same problems. Just like the first season, the show is plagued by extremely long transformation scenes, heroines without distinguishable powers, excessive stock footage use, a repetitive fighting system devoid of logic, and a badly underused central plot. There are some improvements, such as significant reductions of the the pre-fight morality lectures, more competent villains, legitimate love interests for all three of the main characters instead of just Lucia, and moderately bigger roles for the other mermaids on the team. But overall, it felt like more of the same: 39 more episodes thrown together with a few token changes, but no significant effort put in to overcome the major flaws of its predecessor.
Once again the plot is the show's biggest weakness, even though the set-up is pretty good. After all, the Mermaids have a lot of important tasks to do: Restoring Kaito's memory, ensuring Seira's safe "birth" (it's quite a different process for mermaids, which again isn't as well explained as I would have liked), and finding a way to defeat Mikeru. So how do they go about doing this, especially while under the constant attack of their old rival water demons and their new opponents as well? Perhaps they will prioritize their efforts on a singe task to accomplish first, in order to make the others easier. Or, since there are six mermaids in the group now, maybe they will split into two-person teams to take on one job each, perhaps maintaining communication and coordination through the inhabitants of their respective kingdoms.
Or maybe they'll just go about their daily routines as if they don't have anything important to do, and just wait for the problems to solve themselves through a combination of enemy attacks, instructions from Sarah, Seira, and the mermaid godess Regina, and a fair amount random chance. Sadly, that's the option they go with. Anyone looking for epic quests across great distances under the sea or anything that even remotely resembles initiative on the part of our heroines--which I certainly was--is going to be sorely disappointed, as once again the show is stuck focusing on the bland and mundane. Even worse, the show keeps mocking us with an opening scene showing Lucia receiving visions of Seira and vowing to do whatever it takes to bring her into the world, even though that doesn't actually happen in the preceding episode.
Then there is the issue of Lucia's relationship with Kaito. Dear oh dear, what were they thinking? After the drug-out, painfully slow process of managing to even admit mutual desire for each other over the course of 52 episodes, why in the heck would they start season 2 by hitting the reset button? Who on earth would want to see them go through it all again, especially now, with a huge extra amount of Lucia's angst and despair added in as a result of the circumstances? And amnesia? That's the best they could come up with? They also tried to make it interesting by having Kaito stay with a family containing a girl with a crush on him, but it's not like we don't know who he's going to end up with in the end.
It sure is a good thing Rina and Hanon have their own love interests this time around--the way their relationships progress is a lot more interesting and substantial than Lucia's. Still, the developments only affect the characters on a personal level and don't contribute much to the overal story, which really would have helped.
Fortunately, the story isn't all bad. For one thing, this time around they included a fair amount of shoujo tragedy, with a few episodes that are genuinely moving. But even those are crippled by the lack of story progression; the set-up is usually limited to events from one or two prior episodes, or occasionally from the previous season. That doesn't ruin the dramatic episodes--most are pretty impressive, especially for a show clearly aimed at a younger audience--but it was yet another reminder that the "problem of the week" formula simply doesn't work well for a show like this.
Now on to the villains. All I can say is, wow, what a freak show. As if having two sisters who act like lesbian lovers isn't disturbing enough, this series adds some gender-bending into the mix. We've got a corrupt angel who looks androgynous, talking with a male voice, but singing with a female one. One of his minions is named Lady Bat and clearly has a female voice, but is noticeably flat-chested and is often referred too by the other characters as a guy (additional research has confirmed that he is). Even the non-gender-confused villains are rather odd, including a woman named Ranfa who can morph into an entire band of superdeformed miniature chibi characters in order to play her music, and Alala, who looks like Tinker Bell's older sister, only way more annoying.
And yet, they are one of the main things that makes this show watchable, as their music is simply outstanding (with the exception of Alala). Instead of the more traditional special powers the bad guys had in season 1, season 2 just gives each villain a song and goes for straight-up music vs. music duels. Normally that's not what I would prefer, but it works out better here because the quality of their songs is so high. In fact, I think they outshine the mermaids by a pretty good margin. In addition to great songs, there is some decent variety in the tunes and the musical-style-based effects of their songs. For example, the evil-sounding "Dark Baroque" by the BBS girls just straight up hurts the mermaids, while the more mystical and hypnotic sounding "Serenade of the Flowers and Butterflies" by Ranfa puts them in a trance and makes them lose control of their bodies. Also, with increased musical quality comes increased competence. The villains have better and more complex tactics, such as planting false evidence that leads the mermaids into an erupting underwater volcano, and in the music fights there are quite a few occasions where they beat the girls at their own game.
That's not to say the mermaids don't have a good music selection, but for them it's a small step down from season 1. Their music throughout the show is kind of bottom- and top-heavy, with most of their best songs at the beginning and end of the series. Too many numbers have the mermaids singing in unison the whole way through, thus not giving them a chance to show off their individual talents. Guess they thought things like solos, duets, and backup singing are overrated. I concluded my season 1 review by saying I hoped the sequel would feature a lot more of Rina's singing (since she has the same voice actress), but sadly that doesn't happen. She hardly gets any solo parts in the songs until near the end, and her one personal song is too soft and slow. It's not horrible, but it doesn't fit her powerful voice at all.
The biggest surprise, at least in positive terms, is that the best solo song belongs to Seira. She's like the mermaid equivalent of a child, so of course I expected her song to be upbeat, cutesy, and cheerful, like something on Sesame Street. But no, her song, "Beautiful Wish," is a touching, overly emotional Celine Dion-style hit that damn near had me in tears. The fact that they wisely introduced it at the most tragic part of the most tragic episode only made it better. Also, I gotta give the show credit for saving the best group song for last. The Mermaids' final tune, "Love Goes On," is not only the best group song in the series by a huge margin, but it also has good individual parts for all the main characters on the team, making it a great song to wrap things up.
Overall, I'd say if you liked the first season, then this one is definitely worth a look; it's got a few decent improvements and the flaws are the same as before. But, once again, the lack of quality is apparent and there really isn't any appeal outside the show's target audience, except for the great music.
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Very similar to other shows in the magical girl genre, such as the classic Sailor Moon and the higher quality Tokyo Mew Mew.
Notes and Trivia
Based on a relatively short 7-volume manga series of the same name that ran from 2002-2005, written by Michiko Yokote with art by Pink Hanamori. The manga is available in English under the title "Pichi Pichi Pitch: Mermaid Melody" from Del Ray.
This series has not yet been released in the US. Supposedly, ADV Films acquired the rights for the American market in 2004, but they never released it and it's currently unlicensed.
Three video games based on this series have been made, all for the Game Boy Advance: "Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch," "Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch Pichi Pichi Party," and "Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch Pichi Pichitto Live Start!" The first and third are rhythm games featuring songs from the anime.
The title is a bilingual word play; "pichipichi" is a Japanese word meaning "lively" or "perky," and the word "pitch" (in this case the musical term, not the baseball one) is an English loan word that coincidentally sounds almost the same.
US DVD Review
Like the first season, there are no US release DVDs as of this writing.
As already stated, the villains are somewhat perverted, but there is still minimal violence, no nudity, and no profanity this time around either.
Violence: 1 - Virtually no real violence, though there is one episode where the mermaid music nearly kills someone. There also are some non-graphic deaths.
Nudity: 1 - A few skimpy outfits here and there.
Sex/Mature Themes: 1 - Some sexual references and gender-bending, but nothing serious.
Language: 0 - No profanity this time.