Mermaid Melody

December 21, 2007

You know, something must’ve attracted me to watch the anime series Mermaid Melody Pitchi Pitchi Pitch when it was shown on the local television some time ago. Was it the kawaii bishoujo girls? I can’t really say that the girls here look very very very beautiful but at the same time, I’d be lying if I said that pretty looking wide eyed ladies aren’t my type of anime girls. So parlty yes and no, it must be those ladies.
 
As the title would’ve suggests, it has something to do about mermaids. Plus, this series is classified as a mahou shoujo (magical girl) genre. Mermaids and magical girl? Do they really go hand in hand? Anything is possible if there is some henshin (transformation) that the cute girls have to undergo to battle evil. I suppose you have magical girls who fly, so I’m thinking maybe it’s about time to have one that swims. Haha. Just joking.
 
Thing is, I’m not really an avid follower of the series and I wasn’t glued to the tv religiously everytime the series starts airing. Thus, I don’t really have a good idea of the flow of the storyline nor do I have any minute and very explicit details about the series. I just watch them whenever I can or feel like it. Yeah, must be those pretty girls alright. Or rather the charming and hypnotizing voice of a mermaid (yeah right. The show is dubbed, mind you).
 
In addition, in a way, this series reminds me of Sailormoon in terms of girliness. Yeah, so what does a guy like me watching a show for girls? I must be a sissy alright. Yeah, must be those girls. Besides, how girly is this show? Well if I can remember, part of the plot is we see how the protagonist girls try to win the affections of the guy they love. Seems like a typical teenage girl crisis, don’t you think?
 
Before you jump into anymore conclusions about that, the basic storyline is like this. We have Lucia, who is the mermaid princess of 1 of the 7 oceans in the world, who has entrusted her pink pearl to a boy named Kaito Domoto after she has saved him from a shipwreck. Several years later, she finds that boy all grown up to be your typical teenager enough for girls around his age to swoon over (okay, he’s not thaaaat handsome). So like in most fairytales and even in the real world, love works in mysterious ways. Yup, Lucia is in love with Kaito but that guy doesn’t seem to recognize her. Probably that surfer boy was too young to remember anything then or maybe it was all just a dream. Furthermore, Lucia is in human form. The top is the same, but now she loses her fish tail and has a pair of gorgeous legs (okay, not thaaaat gorgeous).
 
But there’s a catch. Since Lucia is a mermaid, a legend has it that she cannot reveal her identity to him or else she will turn into foam and bubbles! Is that the fate of all mermaids who reveal their identity. No wonder we’ve never heard or seen a real mermaid before. Even so, we have mistaken it to be those sea cows AKA dugongs. But even that rule has a loophole (oh the irony). The legend didn’t say about the mermaid turning into bubbles if the human discover it him or herself. Ah… I see. So thus, Lucia tries her best to give hints and make Kaito know that she’s the mermaid who saved him long ago and probably get the chance to be his girfriend. However, I kinda noticed that the episodes I watched that this Kaito guy is pretty dense when it comes to this. Not to say that he doesn’t care for Lucia, but I find that he treats her more of a friend and nothing closer. Lucia, you just have to be patient. There’re lots more guys who are worse than him. Furthermore, Lucia can’t really come into contact with water or else she’ll turn into a mermaid. So it’s kind of a sticky situation and a pinch whenever Lucia has to go to the beach or pool. Bummer. She has to sit out and be careful. It doesn’t really help too with Kaito who loves surfing as his hobby.
 
So Lucia enrolls herself in a local school along with Kaito and you could pretty much guess it from there. But it wouldn’t be fun if it was just Lucia alone. She too has a few buddies, who are mermaid princesses of some other parts of the ocean. They are the perky and girly Hanon and the more serious Rina. They are also in the same class with Lucia and even lives in the same house. Mermaids need to stick together. I’m sure the sea kingdom wouldn’t want their precious princesses to roam all alone in a world where cruel creatures breath air. So living along them is Lucia’s elder sister Nikora, who also runs some sort of a hotel called Petite Hotel Pearl Piari, and Madam Taki, some elderly lady who looks like a gypsy fortune teller with her typical crystal ball.
 
There’s also another character who also lives with them. He is Hippo and is Lucia’s guardian. Initially, I think this Hippo guy is a comical character and provides most of the comical reliefs in the show. I started thinking how could this short chubby funny looking penguin (yes, a penguin, not a hippopotamus) could end up with such a name called Hippo. I did a little deduction of mine. Hippopotamus in Japanese = Kaba. Idiot in Japanese = Baka. So if the word is reversed then in a way it makes a little sense right? Hahaha. Just kidding. Much later in the series, I saw Hippo’s true form, which is some cute blonde kid. So how did he end up looking like a penguin? Donno. I also later found out that his name is derived from that greek creature, Hippocampus, literally a sea-horse as it has a front of a horse and the hind of an eel. Yeah, Hippo did transformed into 1 too later in the series.
 
However, the main plot of the story isn’t about Lucia going around trying to make Kaito realize and fall in love with her. Remember, this is a magical girl genre so there must be some bad guys. The main antagonist and villain of the series is Gakuto but somehow his name was changed to Gai because in Japan, there is a singer by that name. Copyright issue here. So I’ll just refer him to Gai. This dark coat wearing guy is supposedly the leader of the dark side of the undersea and lives in some castle which emits black smoke. First thought is to hide his location, but wouldn’t that give him away. And isn’t the depths of the ocean dark enough not to see anything?
 
Because there are 7 oceans in the world, there are 7 mermaid princesses whom each possess some magical pearl and Gai wants to get his hands on them all. Since Gai’s the boss, he’s got several underlings to do his biddings. They are Izuru, Eriru, Yuuri and Maria. They’re actually some ugly fish, stingray, shark and eel. But since this is a bishoujo anime, it only make sense and is better for them to turn into one so that viewers like me can watch the show with ease and is ‘easy on the eye’. The quartet are known as The Dark Lovers and are faithful servants of Gai as they would do anything in return for his love. So far, they’ve always failed, you know what this would mean, right? But I suppose a fish’s love is different.
 
But this is the most amusing part that I find while watching the show. The series don’t really have that fistfighting violence, so how do our mermaid heroines battle it out with the dark side? Through singing of course. Since the show is dubbed in Malay, whenever Lucia and co starts singing, they’ll say how they’ll start a performance and soon the dub voice-over will revert back to another dub version, which is in Mandarin! Oh the obvious discrepency in the voice. So this dubbed version must’ve been taken from the Mandarin one. Thus, this is where the henshin begins. Lucia and co will use their magic pearl to transform themselves into cuter outfits to sing. I suppose the outfits enhance their singing abilities. Then they’ll have a microphone which looks like some shampoo hair conditioner bottle. Not only that, they’ll be enclosed in some bubble so that they could sing. I thought sound travels faster through water medium? Maybe since they’re in human form, if they try singing, it’ll sound like somebody drowning. Haha. Just kidding.
 
I’m not sure if this is also evident in the Japanese version, but I find that the songs that the mermaids sing are actually the same song! So much so everytime when they start to go into this mode, I’d quickly change the channel as it gets irritating. Yeah, not only that, this scene is somewhat an excuse for using recycled scenes for each episode. Another amusing point is that, while the mermaid heroines are singing, The Dark Lovers would be tightly gripping and putting their hands covering their ears to shield themselves. By the end of each performance, there isn’t any physical wounds to show that they’re hurt nor that ringing in their ears. That’s because, The Dark Lovers can still go about and say in their normal tone of voice how this isn’t really the end yet bla bla bla before doing an Arnold by saying we’ll be back. So typical. Not only that, the mermaids have the cheek to say "Do you want an encore" everytime. Of course the baddies wouldn’t want to hear it again (same with me). It was amusing at first, then it really gets old and irritating. Yeah, my hair actually stood on ends whenever they start to perform and during the performance. As the mermaids power up throughout the series, their song will also change to a different tune (probably bored of the old one and to show new power means new outfit means new song).
 
So do the song really hurt? I mean it doesn’t sound that bad, right? They didn’t go off pitched nor their voices are really hoarse. Why, they could be Star Idols of the undersea world. So what is it that makes the baddies cringe everytime they hear their beautiful melody? I have a theory. Remember how kids these days love punk, rock, rap and techno music? How they all would go into some trance when the music is played? Now imagine, if those kids’ parents were to play golden oldies in their presence, what would be their first reaction? You got that right. It’s not to their taste. So same principal here. It just make the ‘victim’ want to go away somewhere else.
 
Later on, Gai employs the Black Beauty Sisters to help him in his quest to retrieve the magic pearls after several failed attempts from The Dark Lovers. The duo seems a little yuri and they can do a performance to let our mermaid heroines have a taste of their own medicine on what it’s like to be on the receiving end. Yeah, more recycled bits here and I can’t belive they’re both ahem ahem with each other while performing. Though they have their own brand of song, in the end, it’s our heroines who triumph over this minor singing setback. The Black Beauty Sisters don’t really get along well with The Dark Lovers as they’re always competing with the latter thinking the former will replace them and get Gai’s favours. Well, if you can’t do the job, you’re out. I wonder why Gai still have them around. Maybe he’s got an ulterior motive?
 
So most of the episodes follow this some sort of pattern. You have the mermaid princess facing a particular problem or doing something, then the baddies come and try to cause a stir, they transform and perform, win, baddies run away and in the end, all’s well ends well. Yeah, your feel good kinda show. Well, at least for the episodes that I caught.
 
Some filler episodes like Lucia and co going on a school field trip to an island whereby there’s a legend about some buried treasure said to grant anyone’s desired wish (as expected Lucia went on a treasure hunt to find it), the gang throwing a birthday party for Lucia, Lucia asking for Kaito’s help in her studies for her exam (I suppose it’s another way of getting close to that guy), a visit to a haunted house, receiving a mysterious message in a bottle and trying to find its author, Lucia starring in a class play alongside Kaito who has to step in for the injured lead guy, Lucia avoiding Kaito because she dreams of him being mad at her, a dream about the 3 mermaid princesses having some career in show business, Lucia and co trying to stop Nikora from accepting some guy’s proposal in marriage (of course Nikora turns it down herself after some thought), and a skiing trip being cancelled due to a blizzard but at the same time causes Lucia to go missing. Then there’s an episode whereby Hippo falls in love with 1 of The Dark Lovers, Yuuri, and it felt a little like Romeo and Juliet but it didn’t go as far as they had to kil themselves (I suppose just maintaining a ‘long distance’ relationship. Hehe).
 
Also later on, the trio mermaid heroines get another ally on their side when they enter some beauty contest. She is Karen and is also 1 of the mermaid princess of the seven oceans. Well, not to really say that she joins them or be with them 24/7. At times when of need, they’ll band together to ward of the evil ones. Or else, she’s more like a loner who prefers to keep her distance from the other mermaids.
 
If you notice how Gai and Kaito have that uncanny resemblance, that’s because later on you’ll find out that they’re both related. During the series, whenever Lucia is in trouble, Kaito unknowingly can unleash some super power through his forehead. But after that he collapses and has no recollection of whatsoever. So what is Kaito’s connection with Gai? Kaito is Gai’s twin brother. Something like they’ve been separated at birth bla bla bla so Gai thinks Kaito’s part of him and wants him to get himself out of this darkness bla bla bla and for world domination yada yada yada. So a little flashback and how Kaito slowly regains his memories and in a way, realizes that Lucia is a mermaid. Well, there’s previously an episode whereby Gai disguises himself as Kaito to find out about Lucia’s feelings so I suppose the uncanny resemblance did a little trick there.
 
Though I didn’t really sit through and watch the last few episodes thoroughly, but at least it was enough for me to understand what was happening. At the same time, The Dark Lovers and Black Beauty Sisters has been ‘disposed off’, meaning they’re useless to Gai as you can see them just hanging around. I remember Gai turned back those Black Beauty Sisters into those ugly fishes they were when they were losing to the memaids. It seems that they were pleading for Gai to help them from afar but since Gai’s busy trying to control Kaito, he decides that they were too noisy and just shut them up. Wrong timing, I’d say. 
 
Also, Gai seems to have in his clutches the other mermaid princess, so Lucia and her 3 other pals decide to storm Gai’s undersea castle to rescue them. Though they manage to free the prisoners, however 1 of the mermaid princess, Sara, seems to be siding with Gai. Sara’s got this guy Taro Mitsuki, who is Lucia’s music teacher and the guy Hanon has a crush on, under her spell and hypnotizing the gang with his piano play. Yeah, it’s another complicated relationship too because this Mitsuki guy too saw a mermaid before and wants to know her identity. I’ll leave it just there. Gai knows that with only 6 mermaid princesses, their powers won’t be optimum. No choice, though. The 6 mermaids reluctantly have to face 1 of their own. Talk talk talk, sing sing sing eventually good triumphs over evil.
 
Kaito tries to persuade Gai to come with them as the castle is crumbling but I guess Gai wants to be like a captain and go down with the ship. If that’s what he has made up his mind with, I suppose they have no choice but to let him be as the rest flee the castle. However, as Gai is sitting lonely in his throne, he gets a surprise. It seems Sara decides to go back and be with him forever and whenever. Not only that even The Dark Lovers too. Sad to see them going down but in a way, Gai won’t be a lonely person anymore. Back ashore the last scene shows Kaito and Lucia kissing to the sunset in the background.
 
I guess that’s enough mermaid story for me. However it doesn’t really end there. Yup, that was just the first season, which has 52 episodes. The second season is called Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch Pure has additional 39 episodes so the whole series has a total of 91 episodes. New villains new stuffs but generally the same storyline and plot. If you really like this kind of shows then you would want to check it out or else like me, I’m not planning on continuing. Besides, there’re several video game on it and I’m curious how the gameplay is like. Would it be like those music games or something?
 
During the series, I find that there are some inconsistent moments. For example, Gai loves to drink wine in his dark undersea castle. I mean, it doesn’t seem like the castle is air tight or what so drinking wine under the ocean, wouldn’t that dillute the wine already? Also there are cases where the wine or some other drink is spilled on the ground of the sea floor and it’s like as though it’s spilled on land. Furthermore, shouldn’t the ocean have all those little particles floating. But I guess if they made those, then you wouldn’t see things so clearly, would you? And what about their hair and clothes which don’t seem to move or wave with the undersea currents? Ah, I shouldn’t be so petty about the details. It takes the fun and enjoyment out of it.
 
The art, drawing and animation seems pretty okay and as mentioned, it feels like the show is to appeal to teenage girls. It’s like Han Anderson’s fairytale given an anime makeover. Using music seems like a different way to battle opponents as compared to your usual hand-to-hand or weapon combat or even casting extravagant magical spells. Maybe we should try doing this method in the real world. Perhaps not. So an encore anyone? No please, I had enough already thank you.
 
Mermaid Melody