ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘Mermaid Saga Collectors’ Edition’ Volume 2

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Mermaid Saga Collectors' Edition Volume 2

The first volume of Mermaid Saga was an absolute standout of 2020, and Mermaid Saga Collectors’ Edition Volume 2 somehow manages to be more horrifying. Rumiko Takahashi is a multi-award-winning mangaka, popularly known for Inuyasha and Maison Ikkoku. The latter is also currently receiving the collectors’ edition treatment from VIZ.  Mermaid Saga Collectors’ Edition is a deluxe reprint from VIZ Media of Takahashi’s horror classic. This edition is translated into English by Rachel Thorn, edited by Amy Yu, and features touch up art and lettering by Joanna Estep.

Mermaid Saga Collectors’ Edition Volume 2 continues the adventures of Yuta and Mana in their quest to find a mermaid. 500 years ago, Yuta ate the flesh of a mermaid and gained immortality, ever since he has been trying to find a way to undo it. He eventually encounters Mana, who is suffering the same fate. The manga is episodic, with the running theme of the different ways mermaid mythology and immortality corrupts others. Similar to Volume One, the theme of loneliness is still present. The companionship between Yuta and Mana is a solid foundation in the story, that creates a foil for the characters who struggle with isolation. Romance isn’t really present, although it is implied that the two have gradually grown more affectionate towards each other. It is a nice, natural progression that doesn’t feel forced amid all the horror.

Speaking of horror, Mermaid Saga Collectors’ Edition Volume 2 has it in droves. Once again, Takahashi continuously finds ways to manipulate the core, traditional lore of the series. Every episode utilizes the mermaid flesh in a different way. The antagonists vary as well: each has different motivations, and they encompass a wide variety of ages. Some were cruel in their main life, and view the curse of immortality as the opportunity for power. Others sought out immortality in a moment of desperation, out of care for loved ones. The story does a great job of using these disparate characters to illustrate how even initially good intentions can corrupt and distort over the years.  Age is an increasingly fascinating element in this manga due to its use of immortality. A character may look incredibly young but in fact be older and have seen more than a 90-year-old elder.

Unfortunately, many don’t deal with the isolation of immortality as well as the leads. As a result, the gore continues, if not increases, this time around. Faces are skinned, limbs are cut off with axes, and eyes are gouged out, to name a few scenarios. Takahashi’s artwork once again shines here. There isn’t a reliance on blood and guts, but more on the larger images of characters harming each other. Seeing a recently skinned face completely covered in shadow, with the exception of an eyeball staring in the one lighted portion of the panel, is much more haunting than illustrating the detailed carnage.

There is one sole exception to Yuta and Mana’s adventures. Similar to the previous volume, one story jumps back into the past before Yuta met Mana. Yuta meets a young girl and her elderly father. He (and the readers) are caught in a situation where there is no “good” or “right” answer. The young girl’s morbid lifestyle is no fault of her own, and her desire for companionship with Yuta comes from an honest place of kinship. In Yuta, she recognizes someone who can understand her. The story itself is much more melancholy, losing some of the spunk without Mana, but mostly just feels oddly placed. Really, the only negative about this series is that it doesn’t really have a conclusion. It just ends after one of the episodes, implying that Yuta and Mana will continue their quest to encounter a mermaid into eternity. This is likely due to the series having an irregular serialization, hence the episodes versus a continuous plot.

Aside from readers being deprived of closure, Mermaid Saga Collectors’ Edition Volume 2 is one for the shelves. The horror is an intricate balance of psychological and gore. It utilizes themes in human nature’s deepest fears to have a lasting effect, and will likely force readers to look in the mirror. The relationship between the two main characters carries the series through their episodic adventures. Really, since it lacks a conclusion, its only real fault is leaving readers wanting more for eternity.

Mermaid Saga Collectors’ Edition Volume 2 goes on sale February 16th, 2021 wherever books are sold.

Mermaid Saga Collectors' Edition Volume 2
4.5

TL;DR

Aside from readers being deprived of closure, Mermaid Saga Collectors’ Edition Volume 2 is one for the shelves. The horror is an intricate balance of psychological and gore. It utilizes themes in human nature’s deepest fears to have a lasting effect, and will likely force readers to look in the mirror. The relationship between the two main characters carries the series through their episodic adventures. Really, since it lacks a conclusion, its only real fault is leaving readers wanting more for eternity.