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English cover of the first manga volume
|Written by||Rumiko Takahashi|
|Original run||August 1984 – February 1994|
|Original video animation|
|Directed by||Takaya Mizutani|
|Music by||Kenji Kawai|
|Released||August 16, 1991|
|Original video animation|
|Directed by||Morio Asaka|
|Music by||Norihiro Tsuru|
|Released||September 24, 1993|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Masaharu Okuwaki|
|Original network||TV Tokyo|
|Original run||October 4, 2003 – December 20, 2003|
|Episodes||11 + 2 OVA|
Mermaid Saga (Japanese: 人魚シリーズ, Hepburn: Ningyo Shirīzu) is a series of manga graphic novels in three volumes by Rumiko Takahashi. Two of the stories from the series, Mermaid's Forest and Mermaid's Scar, have been adapted as anime OVAs, and all of the tales, except one, were later produced as an anime television series.
According to an ancient Japanese legend, mermaid flesh may grant immortality if eaten. However, there is a much greater chance that consumption will lead to death or transformation into a damned creature known as a Lost Soul (or Deformed Ones in the English dub). Mermaid Saga tells the tale of Yuta, an immortal who has been alive for five hundred years. Throughout the series, he wanders across Japan searching for a cure and meets others whose lives have also been ruined by mermaid flesh.
- Yuta (湧太, Yūta)
- Voiced by: Kōichi Yamadera (Japanese); Justin Gross and Liam O'Brien (English)
- Mermaid Forest OVA Voiced by: Michael Magee (English)
- Mermaid's Scar OVA Voiced by: Jason Gray-Stanford (English)
- As a main character of the series, Yuta is a 500-year-old immortal. He had eaten the flesh of a mermaid out of curiosity when his fellow fishermen had captured one, but out of all the fishermen who ate a piece, only Yuta survived. His comrades had either been poisoned or turned into Deformed Ones. Yuta was afraid that he would eventually meet the same fate. When nothing happens to him he forgets about ever eating the mermaid's flesh. He takes a wife and lives normally until he discovers that while she grew older as the years went by, he had not aged physically since the day he ate the flesh. He hears that a mermaid will be able to help him turn normal again, so he begins his endless travel in search of a way to become mortal. Along his travels, he meets a lovely fifteen-year-old girl named Mana, another immortal. He rescues Mana from mermaids who were planning to devour her and take on her youthful appearance, and she joins him as a traveling companion. Kind-hearted and helpful, Yuta has befriended many people who are affiliated with the mermaid's flesh over 500 years, and tried to help them from its curse.
- Mana (真魚, Mana)
- Voiced by: Minami Takayama (Japanese); Karen Thompson (English)
- Mermaid Forest OVA Voiced by: Anne Marie Zola (English)
- Mermaid's Scar OVA Voiced by: Lalainia Lindbjerg (English)
- The female protagonist of the series, she is an immortal and Yuta's companion. She was raised by a group of old women who kept her captive and incapacitated in a hut. In reality, they were mermaids who consumed human flesh in order to regain their youth, and they planned to eat her once she reached adolescence. She travels with Yuta after he rescues her, and possesses a large sense of loyalty and feelings towards him, but due to her somewhat naïve and spoiled nature, she does not seem to truly realize her emotions towards him may be love, or even simple affection (even where Yuta stated she might have been jealous, she does not understand what that word means, mistaking the pronunciation for jellosy and asking if it tastes good). She is fifteen when she gains immortality at the beginning of the series.
- Masato (真人, Masato)
- Voiced by: Makiko Ohmoto (Japanese); Erika Weinstein (English)
- Mermaid's Scar OVA Voiced by: Yuuichi Harada (Japanese), Chris Turner (English)
- A young boy who has been immortal for eight hundred years. He has a face of an angel, but the soul of a devil. Despite his childlike appearance, eight hundred years of loneliness and wandering have turned Masato into a cruel and heartless monster. His first victim to whom he fed mermaid flesh was his original mother eight hundred years ago, who became a Lost Soul. After one hundred years of being adopted by various people and losing them to famine, disease, and war, the boy decides to end this cycle of loneliness and try mermaid flesh again. For the next seven hundred years to come, he would patiently give mermaid flesh to a random person, and have him/her pose as his mother/father until that person was deemed useless, not caring if they turn into monsters or die from poison, and knowing that he would one day find a true immortal companion. He acquired a Nambu pistol from World War II, which he used in his battle against Yuta. In the OVA, it is revealed that his latest mother figure, Misa, gave him the name Masato. He found her during World War II after she had lost her real son in an air-raid; he continuously pursued her when she attempted to flee after growing weary of living with him. Sixty years later, Yuta and Mana came across Misa and Masato, and after Misa began losing her regenerative powers, Masato set his sights on making his nanny, Yukie, as his new mother-figure. Yukie turned into a Lost Soul, and Masato turned his sights on Mana. However, after seeing how Mana was devoted to Yuta and brutally attacked Masato for it, the 800-year-old boy gave her up for being a "horrible girl", and set the mansion on fire in an attempt to burn the two to death. He took Misa's car and fled, but plowed right into a truck (off a cliff in the OVA), and was thought to have perished. However, since his corpse was not found, it was implied that he was still out there searching for another parent figure. Masato is the only character in the entire series known to have lived longer than Yuta, a fact that shocked and horrified Yuta when he tried (unsuccessfully) to use his own 500 years to intimidate Masato. Although Masato did not feel anything regarding his role in Yukie's death, he did shed a tear for Misa's death before leaving.
- Misa (美沙, Misa)
- Voiced by: Rei Sakuma (Japanese); Gina Grad (English)
- Mermaid's Scar OVA Voiced by: Gara Takashima (Japanese), Janyse Jaud (English)
- She lost her husband and child during World War II, and nearly died herself when she met a little boy who offered her a strange piece of meat. The child was Masato and the meat mermaid flesh. At first Misa was happy to have a new child in her life, but she grew afraid of the fact that neither were aging, and became terrified of what Masato was capable of. After escaping from him five years ago, she was taken in by an old man whom she later married. About one month ago, the two were in a boating accident and Misa was thought dead until a week later when she appeared with no wounds. Masato tracked her down and forced her to continue to act as his mother figure. She, in turn, tried to take the mermaid flesh from him to prevent him from feeding anyone else it, but to no avail. Misa failed to become a full-fledged immortal, as the mermaid flesh's effect began to wear off, and her healing powers were getting slower and weaker. Masato then simply told her that he would find a replacement. She eventually died after being attacked by a Lost Soul which was formerly Masato's nanny, Yukie. Masato shed a tear for her demise before departing.
- Yukie (雪枝, Yukie)
- Voiced by: Chieko Honda (Japanese); Hunter Mackenzie Austin (English)
- Mermaid's Scar OVA Voiced by: Kikuko Inoue (Japanese), Kathleen Barr (English)
- Masato's nanny. She is loving and caring and an excellent choice for Masato to choose as his new mother. Yukie does not know anything about Masato's immortality and Misa's dreadful past when she became an immortal. Later in the story, Yukie got engaged, but worries that she might leave Masato forever. To prevent her from leaving, Masato gives Yukie a piece of meat in which it turns out to be mermaid's flesh and then she eats it. She did not become an immortal, however: she transformed into a Lost Soul. After Yuta kills the monster, he discovers that it is Yukie who ate the mermaid flesh by finding her ring lying on the floor. Masato, being so detached from humanity for so long, did not feel anything for destroying Yukie despite her kindness. Yuta possesses Yukie's ring during his travels to help him remember Yukie as his friend (in Mermaid Scar OVA, he throws the ring to the ocean in the end).
- Rin (鱗, Rin)
- Voiced by: Houko Kuwashima (Japanese); Stephanie Sheh (English)
- She is a daughter of Toba Island's headman, but due to the headman's sickness, Rin has to take over his leadership. Rin has been searching for a mermaid to cure her father. By that time, she meets Yuta when he came back to life after dying in a terrible battle he was in. Rin and Yuta fell in love with each other and Yuta promised to stay in Toba Island if he could turn back into a mortal. Isago wounded Rin's father to force Rin and Yuta to go hunting for a mermaid. They catch one but the Sakagami Islanders kill Yuta and capture Rin. In the end, Rin and Yuta learned that Isago is a mermaid. Yuta decides to leave Toba Island because he does not want to marry another mortal girl while he is immortal. Rin continues her father's leadership.
- Isago (砂, Isago)
- Voiced by: Ai Orikasa (Japanese); Wendee Lee (English)
- A wife of the Sakagami Island headman. Isago told her husband of the immortality of the mermaid's flesh and encouraged him to find one. Isago is pregnant from her former husband who was murdered by the Sakagami pirates three years earlier. In order to give birth to a healthy child, Isago needs to eat the mermaid flesh, because she is in fact a mermaid. She tells Rin that there are mermaids who can walk on land and mermaids who swim at sea. The ones who walk on land eat the swimming mermaids' flesh, especially during pregnancy. Isago finally ate mermaid flesh, dived into the ocean, transformed back into a mermaid, and gave birth to two healthy babies.
- Towa Kannagi (神無木 登和, Kannagi Towa)
- Voiced by: Sumi Shimamoto (Japanese); Erica Shaffer (English)
- Mermaid Forest OVA Voiced by: Mika Doi (Japanese); Kata Sheridan (English)
- She was Dr. Shiina's fiancée. She suffered from a deadly illness when she was a young girl, so Towa's twin sister Sawa fed her the blood of a mermaid. The blood cured her illness, but her arm deformed that of a Lost Soul's and her hair turned pure white. While she did not age on the outside, her insides continued to age at the same rate as a mortal's. When Towa's father learned of what Sawa did to her, he had Towa locked up in a cell underneath the house and never allowed her to come out. Sawa lived a normal life: She wed and had a child while Towa lived alone with no visitors except for Shiina. Her deformed arm caused her terrible pain, so she asked Dr. Shiina to cut off the arms of dead girls and re-attach them onto her. But after a few years every arm also became deformed and the pain came back. After their father died, Sawa released Towa from her cell. Towa threatens to replace her body with Mana's unless Sawa reveals where Mermaid Hill is. Once Towa found the mermaid, she tries to force Sawa to eat its flesh to fulfill her revenge, but Sawa dies of a heart attack. Robbed of her revenge, Towa joins her sister in death and asks them to burn Mermaid Hill and everything associated with it.
- Sawa Kannagi (神無木 佐和, Kannagi Sawa)
- Voiced by: Hisako Kyōda
- Young Voiced by: Haruna Ikezawa (Japanese); Hunter Mackenzie Austin (English)
- Mermaid Forest OVA Voiced by: Aiko Konoshima (Japanese); Susie Westerby (English)
- Towa's twin sister who inherited the family line and thus was placed in charge of guarding Mermaid Hill. When Towa was dying, she fed her the blood of a mermaid. Towa recovered from her illness, but her arm became deformed and her hair turned completely white. As years pass, Sawa is married and gives birth to a child, but her husband dies fighting in World War II. Her child and father died sometime after that. Sawa reluctantly reveals the location of Mermaid Hill after Towa threatens to kill Mana. Upon arrival, Towa tries to force her to eat the mermaid's flesh. But Sawa suddenly dies of a cardiac arrest. Her body is apparently burned in Mermaid Hill.
- Dr. Shiina (椎名, Shiina)
- Voiced by: Eisuke Yoda (Japanese); Michael Forest (English)
- Mermaid Forest OVA Voiced by Bob Foster (English)
- Young Voiced by: Kōzō Mito (Japanese); Patrick Seitz (English)
- Towa Kannagi's fiancé. Shiina begged Towa many times to leave with him and go somewhere else, but she always refused telling him that there was something she must do. However, Towa did ask him to cut off the arms of dead girls and replace her deformed arm, which he agreed to. Shiina recounts to Yuta and Mana his history with Towa and how she would never look his way but was always fixed on her "other self" (in the OVA, after Towa ran into the burning Mermaid Hill to end her life of revenge, Shiina chased after her to join her in death, making up for fifty-five years of lost time).
- Big Eyes (大眼, Ōmanako)
- Voiced by: Daisuke Gōri (Japanese); Kyle Hebert (English)
- He was once a mortal, but he ate the flesh of a mermaid corpse he found lying on the beach in the hopes that he would gain immortality. When he woke up, he saw that his village has been destroyed and everyone - including his family - had been murdered. The flesh had transformed him into a Lost Soul, though not fully as he can speak and has human feelings. He had apparently lost control of himself after transforming and done the deed himself. The transformation had caused his eyes to swell so he was called "Big Eyes" from then on. He is without company for a long time until Mana came along. He finds her just reviving next to a dead Yuta at the bottom of a cliff they fell from. He takes her to his cave and feeds her after she wakes up. He wants Mana to stay with him for company as she is the first person to treat him kindly since his transformation. Upon finding Mana and Big Eyes, a hunter who lost his left eye to Big Eyes 40 years ago attacks him. The attack causes Big Eyes to lose control of himself and revert to his Lost Soul side. Mana tries to protect him, but Yuta and the hunter have no choice but to kill him in the end. As he lay dying, he calls out Mana's name with his last breath. Yuta tells her that this shows Big Eyes died as a human.
- Natsume (なつめ, Natsume)
- Voiced by: Kazuko Sugiyama (Japanese); Monica Rial (English)
- She died as a young girl during the Warring States period. A Buddhist monk found her father mourning the loss of his only daughter. Pitying the man, the monk attempted to resurrect Natsume with an ancient art called "Hangon". Even though he was inexperienced, the monk used mermaid's liver in the process. Using a mermaid's liver for Hangon not only brought Natsume back to life, but also granted her immortality. However, it also caused her to eat the livers of animals and even humans. Many decades later, Yuta meets Natsume while he is questing to find a mermaid. He also meets the monk who has decided to return Natsume to bones. When Yuta meets the monk, he agrees that he'll try to help the situation, but Natsume befriends Yuta and asks if she can come with Yuta on his journey. But her father became angry at this and tries to kill Yuta to prevent Natsume from leaving him. With her father dealing with Yuta, Natsume is now unprotected from the monk, who is able to rip out her liver. Natsume saves Yuta from getting killed, but her father jumps from a cliff with her in his arms. Her father died from the fall, but Natsume was able to live a little bit longer. She tells Yuta a good-bye and she says that she'll always be with him in his journey, and then she returns to bones.
- Nanao (七生, Nanao)
- Voiced by: Toshiko Fujita (Japanese); Chris Kent (English)
- Young Voiced by: Jay D. Stone (English)
- A young boy who seems to be a kidnapping victim. Yuta and Mana found him terribly injured when he escape from the moving car. Nanao swallows his mother's medicine and suddenly, his wounds healed fast. Yuta and Mana takes Nanao home where they meets his mother and grandmother. Nanao's grandmother is behaving strangely and tells Yuta and Mana that they should not bring Nanao back home. She then shows them a picture of the boy and his mother. Yuta looks at the woman's face and said that this woman is different from Nanao's mother and the boy is very different from Nanao. By that time, Yuta discovers that man who kidnapped Nanao is actually Nanao's father, who is also named Nanao. Nanao's "mother" is actually Nanao's grandmother who became an immortal 25 years ago and plans to feed the mermaid's flesh to him. The medicine Nanao's mother gave him is actually mermaid's ashes to build up his immunity to the mermaid flesh. Nanao is about to eat the flesh but stopped by Yuta and Mana while Nanao's mother did not have the strength to stop him from eating it. Nanao's mother then leaves Nanao's father her gift and the boy back and went off to the world. Nanao so far still had no clue that his "mother" was really his grandmother, or at least that he was kidnapped and was reluctant to accept his father. His birth mother is never mentioned, she either died, divorced his father or gave up when he had been kidnapped.
- Nanao's mother (七生の母, Nanao no haha)
- Voiced by: Masako Katsuki (Japanese); Michelle Ruff (English)
- She became an immortal in 1969 after her divorce with her husband and about to be separated with her son, Nanao. There were hints that she may have been mentally ill and the boy was forced to choose his father; fearing his safety. She fed her son mermaid flesh and she ate it, but Nanao spit out the flesh and left him scarred. However, Nanao's mother became an immortal, but she has a scar on her face, making her feel the pain for all eternal. Years pass, she sees her son all grown up, got married, and has a baby son. With the baby as a reminder, she kidnaps the baby, naming him Nanao and raising him as her own son. By that time, she saw a dead woman lying on the beach, replacing her face into another's, making her look like a different person and hide away the scar and she lived in almost constant pain. Though she apparently loved both her son and grandson; whether it is her mentality or her desperation. She still refused to let her real son see his. And when the real Nanao begged for his son back, she pushed her own son off a cliff with no sign of guilt or remorse. When she met Yuta and Mana when they bring "Nanao" back home, "Nanao"'s grandmother showed them a photograph with a woman and her son. Both "Nanao" and his mother are much different. They have learned that "Nanao"'s mother has fed him mermaid ashes all along, but they're not sure why. Yuta and Mana learns that the two people are the same person who switches faces. "Nanao" is her grandson as a replace of her real son, who is also named Nanao. She plans to feed the mermaid flesh to her grandson. Though remembering her son's experience, she was hesitant but still urged him to eat the flesh. Mana and Yuta stopped them both just barely in time. She finally gives up her gift from her real son and gives him back the boy. Her body was found at a warehouse that was apparently set on fire.
- Nae Kogure (苗, Nae)
- Voiced by: Yuri Amano (Japanese); Karen Strassman (English)
- She met Yuta years before World War II. When she learned about Yuta's curse of immortality, she tells him a secret about mermaid's ashes, brought to the local village by a nun long ago. She spread the ashes all around the field of red flowers, causing to bloom all year long, never to wilt or die by season, including winter. She calls the field "red valley". Soon, she and Yuta fell in love and began meeting in the red valley in private. Her fiancée, Eijiro, got jealous of Yuta falling for Nae, but never believed that she would betray him. He learned about Nae's signal of meeting Yuta in the red valley, so he went there to meet her. When she arrived at the valley, Eijiro became shocked of her betrayal that he strangled her to death. As years pass, Eijiro though he felt guilty, he never told anyone he had murdered. When he learned of the mermaid ashes, he vowed to use it to bring her back and keep her for himself. He eventually found the ashes and uses them to bring her back to life, but she became a shadow of her former self. While Nae and Yuta recounted how the nun was killed, but came back to life as a violent murderous demon. She only seemed to go into a trance when threatened or hears noises that apparently reminds her of her death. It is hinted that Nae may have spent most of her time, trying to go to the valley to see Yuta. But Eijiro prevented her every time. When Yuta and Mana return to what was once the village, Mana causes Nae to remember remnants of her past; including the promise to meet Yuta again. Though Eijiro and his men try many times to stop her and kill Mana, the two eventually make their way to the red valley. When separated from Mana, she remembers her death and how Yuta never came. She at first looked ready to kill Yuta. But as Yuta and Nae reunite once again, she returns to her old self. She tells Yuta that she is having a nightmare. Then Yuta remembers that there is a village legend that a nun came to the village, carrying a jar of mermaid ashes. And then a man murdered the nun, but the ashes went into her mouth, brought her back to life as a shadow, but then wears off as she went to the mountains as her deathbed. The effect of the ashes on Nae wears off, leaving her to die once again in the red valley as her deathbed.
- Eijiro (英二郎, Eijiro)
- Voiced by: Tamio Ōki (Japanese); Doug Stone (English)
- Young Voiced by: Yasunori Matsumoto (Japanese); Travis Willingham (English)
- Before World War II, Eijiro was a young, bright man who fell in love with Nae Kogure, who is from a wealthy family. When Yuta came to town, Nae falls in love with him, planning to meet him in the red valley. When Eijiro discovers that Nae is planning to run away with Yuta, he refused to believe that she would go wander off to a world with a wanderer like Yuta. So he staged a meeting to test her loyalty to him. Nae did not realize he had set her up, but it was too late. Eijiro murdered her realizing that she had rejected him for Yuta. After realizing what he did, he hid her body in the red valley. Whatever love he had turned to something disgusting. He states he mostly vowed to find the mermaid ashes to resurrect her and keep her for himself; to do with her as he basically pleased. He would eventually find them and use them to bring her back; but Nae is a shadow of herself. Further, she has an almost instinctive drive to return to the valley and hopefully see Yuta. But he most likely stopped her often, until Yuta and Mana returned. This throws all his plans astray and he tries any means to kill both of them. Whether she vaguely remembers him murdering her or a sounds triggers her murderous side, she hits him with a rock; which shocks him. He then realizes that Nae is heading to the valley again to see Yuta. More proof that even in death, Nae never loved him and still wanted Yuta. He then orders his men to kill her. Though Mana and Yuta stop his plans, he rejects Nae saying she was a demon with no feelings. However, Mana loudly disagrees and states that her love for Yuta is what's driving her to keep some of her old self.
- Soukichi (翔キチ, Soukichi)
- Voiced by: Minoru Inaba (Japanese); Michael McConnohie (English)
- Young Voiced by: Kyouko Tonguu (Japanese); Kirsty Pape (English)
- A long time ago, Soukichi was an errand boy from Nae's family. Many years later after Nae's disappearance, he goes out into the world to find her, and believing that Eijiro kidnapped her.
- Akiko Kiryu (鬼柳 晶子, Kiryū Akiko) (Manga only)
- Akiko is the sister of Shingo Kiryu, but unlike him she does not have his violent nature. She is a sweet girl who blames herself for Shingo's disturbing behavior. When they were young, Shingo liked to kill small animals with his knife. Akiko was sickened by this and tried to stop him, but accidentally hit him in the face with his knife and caused him to lose an eye. Shingo continued hurting animals and eventually people, but always blamed it on the loss of his eye. Akiko felt responsible for Shingo and always defended him whenever he did something wrong. Eventually even Akiko grew disgusted by Shingo's behavior and decided to poison him. Because she felt responsible for the way he turned out though, she poisoned herself as well. The poison she used was the flesh of a mermaid, but instead of becoming an immortal, Akiko continued living in an almost comatose state. Many people have come to believe that she is actually a life-sized doll, and she is sitting in a chair in her home to this day. Shingo returns to his childhood home hoping to find his sister. After a battle with Shingo, Yuta decapitated Akiko, thus ending her life as a lifeless doll.
- Shingo Kiryu (鬼柳 新吾, Kiryū Shingo) (Manga only)
- Shingo is the insane brother of Akiko Kiryu. They lived together in the Kiryu Manor shortly before the Russo-Japanese War. Yuta worked there temporarily and saw Shingo's cruel and sadistic behavior firsthand. Akiko tried to prevent her brother from hurting anymore people by poisoning him. She did not realize though that the poison was actually the flesh of a mermaid. Shingo seemed to die after eating it, but he was able to dig himself out of his grave and return home. His father was so upset to see him that he tried to kill him again, but that failed as well. Because of Shingo's insanity, he was kept in a cell in the basement of the Kiryu home. Once he was released, he ripped the eye out of his sisters corpse and fled. Because it is his sisters eye, every time he murders someone he sees the last thing that she saw, his own twisted face reaching down to rip her eye out. Shingo believes that by killing his sister he can finally make the visions stop, so he continually harasses the elderly women who now live in his home. After a battle with Yuta, Yuta decapitated Akiko, then attempted to do the same with Shingo. After Shingo suffered another vision, he came to realize he would forever be tormented by his sister's last sight, and he took Yuta's sword and decapitated himself.
- Mermaids (人魚, Ningyo)
- Mermaids are known to give eternal youth. They are mostly targeted by humans. They live beneath the sea and they are mostly seen jumping out of the water and dive back. In the OVA, Yuta and his friends are on a boat hunting mermaids. They see a mermaid jumping and diving. Then the mermaid jumped again. It was brutally killed by spears and died.
- Ayu (アユ, Ayu)
- Ayu is a girl who is one of the women who took care of Mana. Ayu was next to sacrifice herself. Ayu is a mermaid. But died after spears pierced her body. One of them got her flesh and left her remains there. Yuta found her dead and showed it to the old women.
The original manga was serialized in Shōnen Sunday Super and Weekly Shōnen Sunday from 1984 to 1994. In total there are 9 stories told in 16 episodes. The first tankōbon was Ningyo no Mori, named after the third story within it. The second tankōbon, Ningyo no Kizu was then released in Japan, without two stories (4 episodes): "Yasha no Hitomi" and "Saigo no Kao". These stories were not yet released when the book came out. The series was re-released in Shinsoban format in 2003, now in three volumes and with all episodes. Later a new edition, in four volumes, with the same 16 episodes was released.
Mermaid Forest began serialisation by Viz Media in Animerica's first issue. Rachel Matt Thorn provided the translation. In the U.S., the manga was first released in three volumes, Mermaid Forest, Mermaid's Scar and Mermaid's Gaze. Later it was released in four books, simply named Mermaid Saga volumes 1-4. In February 2020, Viz Media announced a new release of the manga as Mermaid Saga Collector's Edition.
|Volume number (1st Japanese edition)||Volume number (2nd Japanese edition)||Volume number (unknown non-Japanese edition)||Volume Name (1st Japanese edition)||Volume Name (2nd Japanese edition)||Volume Name (unknown non-Japanese edition)||Japanese Story Name||English Story Name||Alternate Story Name|
|1||1||1||Ningyo no Mori (人魚の森)||Ningyo no Mori (人魚の森)||Ningyo no Mori||Ningyo wa Warawanai (人魚は笑わない)||A Mermaid Never Smiles||Mermaid's Smile|
|Tōgyo no Sato (闘魚の里)||The Village of Fighting Fish||Mermaid's Village|
|Ningyo no Mori (人魚の森)||Mermaid Forest|
|2||2||2||Ningyo no Kizu (人魚の傷)||Ningyo no Kizu (人魚の傷)||Yume no Owari||Yume no Owari (夢の終わり)||Dream's End||Mermaid's Dream|
|Yakusoku no Ashita (約束の明日)||Mermaid's Promise||Promised Tomorrow|
|3||Ningyo no Kizu||Ningyo no Kizu (人魚の傷)||Mermaid's Scar|
|3||Yasha no Hitomi (夜叉の瞳)||Shari-Hime (舎利姫)||The Ash Princess|
|N/A[a]||4||Yasha no Hitomi||Yasha no Hitomi (夜叉の瞳)||Mermaid's Gaze||Eye of the Demon|
|N/A[a]||Saigo no Kao (最後の顔)||Mermaid's Mask||The Last Face|
The first OVA, Mermaid Forest, was released in Japan in August 1991. A subtitled Laserdisc and VHS tape were released in North America by US Manga Corps on March 3, 1993. It was marketed as one of the Rumic World anime (along with Maris the Chojo, Fire Tripper, and Laughing Target).
In 2003 the animation company Tokyo Movie Shinsha produced a 13 episodes TV series based on Takahashi's short stories as part of the Rumic Theater series. All but Mermaid's Gaze were animated. While closely following the story of the original manga (more so than the OVA versions), many of the violent aspects of the stories were toned down. Only eleven episodes were shown on Japanese TV, with the final two episodes (Mermaid's Scar) released direct to video, allegedly because this particular story was too violent for TV. It was released in North America by Geneon.
|1||"Mermaid Does Not Smile"|
|October 4, 2003|
|In a mountain village, inhabited half by identical young women and half by identical old women, live two unique individuals, Mana, a girl who has just turned fifteen, and Baba (Nanny in the English dub), the old woman who pampers Mana while keeping her shackled in bed. The secret the women keep, even from Mana, is that all the identical women are mermaids and that aged mermaids need to eat young immortal women to regain their youth. Yuta, an immortal human who is now 500 years old arrives and attempts to find a mermaid. After Baba feeds the flesh of one of the mermaids to Mana, Yuta learns about their ultimate plan for Mana and tells her about it. While trying to stop Yuta and Mana from escaping, the women revert to their mermaid form and are unable to take human form again. Baba, also an immortal human, stays behind as Yuta and Mana leave. Yuta tells Mana that life as an immortal isn't all bad, but he still hopes to become mortal again.|
|2||"Village of the Fighting Fish (Part I)"|
|October 11, 2003|
|In a flashback, Yuta remembers Rin, the daughter of the pirate chief of Toba island, and the ruthless rival pirates of Sakagami island. Isago, the wife of the Sakagami chief, convinces the chief to use his men to hunt mermaids. She also hires Yuta and some other men in a nearby port for the hunt. On Toba, Rin's father is gravely ill, so Rin leads the raiding parties on passing ships, demanding a tenth of their cargo as a toll, but killing no one. Yuta, drowned in a violent storm while mermaid hunting for Isago, washes up on Toba. As Rin places flowers on Yuta's grave the next day, he revives. For a time, Yuta lives and works with the Toba islanders. One day, Isago sees Yuta and Rin in port. Surprised to see Yuta alive, Isago realizes he is immortal and believes he kept the mermaid she hired him to find. She follows them back to Toba and stabs Rin's father, telling Rin that only mermaid flesh can stop him from dying. In retaliation, Rin kills Isago.|
|3||"Village of the Fighting Fish (Part II)"|
|October 18, 2003|
|Yuta and Rin take a fishing boat and capture a mermaid to save Rin's father. The Sakagami islanders, who followed them to sea, kill the mermaid and Yuta, taking Rin to Sakagami. Rin sees Isago there and realizes Isago is immortal. Isago reveals that she has been pregnant for three years by her previous husband, whom the Sakagami islanders killed, and that she needs mermaid flesh so she can finally give birth. A revived Yuta arrives to save Rin. The chief and his men alternately fight Yuta and Rin and eat mermaid flesh. Those who don't die from the mermaid flesh, including the chief, become Deformed Ones. She also tells the chief that she too is a mermaid. Isago runs away and jumps off a cliff into the ocean. Yuta and Rin think Isago did it in desperation, but Isago, now in mermaid form, swims away trailed by two smaller forms. On Toba, Rin's father recovers on his own, without mermaid flesh. Back in the present, Mana asks Yuta how far the ocean goes.|
|4||"Mermaid Forest (Part I)"|
|October 25, 2003|
|A truck strikes and kills Mana. Shiina, the old doctor who examines her, tells the police and Yuta that she survived and wandered away. Shiina takes her corpse to Sawa, an old woman, and Towa, a young woman with a heavily bandaged right arm. As he begins to replace Towa's arm with Mana's, Mana revives. Yuta realizes that Shiina lied and follows him to Sawa's and Towa's house, where local legend says a mermaid is buried. Towa has a Deformed dog kill Yuta. When he revives, Shiina, Sawa, and Towa confine Yuta to a cell in the basement. Towa kills Mana, to have Shiina transplant her head onto Mana's body. Sawa tells Yuta that she and Towa are identical twins. When they were young, Sawa had given Towa medicine made of mermaid blood to save her from a terminal illness, making her ageless, but Deforming her arm and making her hair turn white. Rather than admit his daughter was partially Deformed, their father had told everyone that Towa had died and had confined her to the cell in the basement until his death.|
|5||"Mermaid Forest (Part II)"|
|November 1, 2003|
|Sawa reveals the mermaid's location to Towa to save Mana. Mana revives as they approach the mermaid tomb. Yuta arrives at the tomb and tells Towa that eating mermaid flesh will only complete her transformation into a Deformed One. He also says being immortal was lonely before he found Mana. Towa says immortality or transformation makes no difference and forces a piece of mermaid flesh on Sawa, explaining that Sawa had desired immortality. Too afraid to try it herself, Sawa had experimented on Towa, her identical twin. Then, while Towa had lived in confinement, Sawa had lived a full life. Towa wants Sawa to be immortal, as an old woman or as a monster. Sawa then dies of a heart attack, denying Towa her revenge. Towa tells the others to burn the tomb, the house, and everything in them, including Towa. As they watch the fire burn, Shiina says that he had tried to convince Towa to elope with him when he was young. Towa had refused, saying she had to stay to get her revenge. Mana asks Yuta if being alone before was hard.|
|6||"The End of the Dream"|
|November 8, 2003|
|Yuta and Mana fall off a cliff chasing a butterfly. Mana is unconscious, but Yuta dies. A heavily bandaged man, Big Eyes, as nearby villagers call him, carries Mana to his cave. An old hunter from the village finds Yuta, but Yuta revives during his burial rites. That night when Mana awakens, Big Eyes tells her that she is safe. The next morning, Big Eyes tells Mana that 40 years ago he lived in a fishing village. He ate mermaid flesh, blacked out, and, upon regaining his senses, discovered everyone in his village had been killed. He ran into the mountains and had lived alone ever since. When Yuta and the hunter find Mana and Big Eyes, Big Eyes flees with Mana deep into the cave. There Mana stumbles upon the skeletons of villagers that Big Eyes has eaten. Big Eyes explains that he still blacks out. When the hunter shoots Big Eyes, Big Eyes goes berserk and runs away. Yuta catches and kills Big Eyes. Mana ponders that there are all sorts of Deformed Ones, all sorts of mermaids, and all sorts of Yutas.|
|November 15, 2003|
|In a flashback to the first year of the Tokugawa shogunate, when Yuta was 120, Yuta remembers Natsume, an apparently 12-year-old immortal girl who works in a market with an old man, whom she calls Pa and who purports to sell mermaid flesh. An itinerant monk who has been searching for Natsume finds her and cuts off her left arm. Yuta carries Natsume and her severed arm back to Pa, who reattaches her arm. In truth, the monk had used a piece of mermaid liver to resurrect Natsume for Pa. When the monk had decided to end Natsume's existence, Pa had run away with her. Yuta doubts destroying Natsume is the right thing to do and offers to take her with him. The monk attacks Natsume and removes the mermaid liver. When Pa sees that the monk has removed Natsume's liver, he picks her up and jumps off a cliff with her. Yuta finds Natsume alive at the base of the cliff, but she turns to bones in his arms.|
|8||"The Last Face (Part I)"|
|November 29, 2003|
|Yuta and Mana meet Nanao, a 10-year-old boy carrying a cinerary box. Nanao was kidnapped by an unknown man with the help of his grandmother, but he escaped. Yuta and Mana take Nanao home, where Nanao's grandmother shows Yuta and Mana a photograph of Nanao's mother, who is not the woman Nanao calls Mother. Alone, Nanao's mother opens the cinerary box, revealing the skin of a scarred woman's face. The next day Mana and Nanao see Nanao's mother enter the cellar, but later the woman from the photo emerges with a bandage on one side of her face. In the cellar, Mana discovers surgical instruments and the skin from the face of Nanao's mother. Meanwhile Yuta has been following the kidnapper. When the woman with the bandage meets the kidnapper, Yuta overhears her call him Nanao and him call her Mother. The bandage slips from her face, revealing a scar. The older Nanao explains to Yuta that, 25 years ago, his mother ate mermaid flesh. Then eight years ago, his mother, who hadn't aged in 25 years, kidnapped his son.|
|9||"The Last Face (Part II)"|
|December 6, 2003|
|In the cellar, the scarred woman attacks Mana, but Mana and Nanao escape. Then the woman uses the surgical instruments to remove the skin from her face and to replace it with the unscarred face, becoming the woman Nanao thinks is his mother. Not knowing the two women are the same person, Nanao tells her where the injured Mana is hiding. As Nanao's mother is dragging Mana to the cellar, Yuta and the older Nanao arrive. Mana throws the box with the scarred face outside, where it opens to allow Yuta to see its contents. Nanao's mother admits that she replaced the face scarred from mermaid poison with one she got from the corpse of a woman who washed ashore. Nanao's mother locks herself and Nanao in the cellar so the others cannot stop her from feeding him mermaid flesh. As the scar appears on her new face, she doubts that the mermaid flesh is not poison. Mana knocks the flesh from Nanao's hands as he tries to eat it. Nanao's mother gives him back to the older Nanao and walks off into the fog.|
|10||"Promised Tomorrow (Part I)"|
|December 13, 2003|
|In a flashback to 60 years before, a girl, Nae, tells her servant, Sokichi, and Yuta that local villagers used mermaid ashes to create the Red Valley, a field of perennially blooming red flowers. Elsewhere, Yuta heard that a villager killed a nun to steal the ashes, but the nun came back to life and killed many of the villagers. When Yuta leaves, Nae disappears. The village holds a funeral for her, even though there's no body. Over the decades, Eijiro, Nae's former fiance, buys the village land. In the present, Mana finds one of Eijiro's men beating a girl named Nae. Nae kills the man, but two other men kill Mana. Eijiro, who keeps Nae confined on his estate, realizes Mana is immortal when she revives. Meanwhile, Sokichi, having met up with Yuta, tells Yuta that Nae is still alive unchanged and leads him to Eijiro's house, where Eijiro's men capture them. Nae kills some of Eijiro's men and escapes with Mana. Eijiro orders his men to recapture Nae unharmed and to decapitate Yuta.|
|11||"Promised Tomorrow (Part II)"|
|December 20, 2003|
|In flashback, Nae arranges a signal with Yuta if he wants to meet her in the Red Valley on the day he is to depart. Eijiro leaves the signal to test Nae's loyalty to him. When Nae goes to the Red Valley, Eijiro kills her. Eijiro thinks he can revive Nae with mermaid ashes. He cannot find it, however, because Nae hid the remaining ash to keep her father from finding out that she used it to make the Red Valley. Eijiro looks for the ashes for decades and finally finds it, using it to revive Nae's still pristine corpse in the Red Valley. In the present, Yuta and Sokichi escape Eijiro's men. Nae leads Mana to the Red Valley, but Eijiro intercepts them. When Nae and Mana try to proceed to the Red Valley, Eijiro draws a knife and stabs Nae, critically wounding her. Nae arrives in the Red Valley and remembers that Eijiro killed her there. When Yuta arrives and goes to Nae, she dies. As they leave, Yuta asks Mana if it's jealousy that makes her impatient with him. Mana asks Yuta if jealousy is some kind of dessert.|
|12||"Mermaid's Scar (Part I)"|
|May 19, 2004|
|Yuta and Mana meet a boy, Masato, who is traveling from Tokyo to live with his mother. One night two years later, Masato stabs his mother in the chest, then cleans up the murder scene. The next morning, Masato's mother is alive again. The woman who runs the kitchen at a nearby construction site, where Yuta and Mana work, tells them that Masato's mother died in a boat accident, then came back to life. Later, Masato's mother notices that her chest wound isn't healing. Masato gives Yukie, the housekeeper, a piece of mermaid flesh, making her Deformed. Devastated, Yuta arrives in time to kill Yukie, while Mana escapes to safety with Masato. Masato realizes Mana is immortal and tasers her. Meanwhile Masato's mother, wounded by the Deformed Yukie, tells Yuta that Masato gave her mermaid flesh after a Pacific War bombing raid, making her essentially his immortal captive. She ran away, but he found her again from the news about the boat accident. She finally dies. Elsewhere, Masato plans to kill Yuta.|
|13||"Mermaid's Scar (Part II)"|
|May 19, 2004|
|Masato tells a captive Mana that he is going to kill Yuta so Mana won't run away. Masato returns to the house, where he tricks Yuta into a booby trap of piano wire, which cuts deeply into Yuta's neck. Masato says that he is over 800 years old and recounts how he used mermaid flesh to make many long-lived companions, all of whom eventually died. Mana escapes and arrives to save Yuta as Masato is beheading Yuta with an ax. Masato shoots Mana, who promises to kill Masato if he kills Yuta. She then collapses. Masato decides Mana is a horrible person and sets fire to the house. Mana awakens in time to drag Yuta's corpse from the fire. Masato drives off in his mother's car, but loses control. As a head-on collision with a truck is imminent, he resolves to find his next companion after he comes back to life. Yuta revives, and Mana cries. Later, Yuta asks Mana why she cried when he revived. Mana replies that she was happy.|
- "Yasha no Hitomi" and "Saigo no Kao" had not yet been drawn when the first edition was published, so they were not included.
- Santos, Carlo (October 14, 2005). "Mermaid Forest DVD 2 - Review". Anime News Network. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
- Clements, Jonathan. McCarthy Helen.  (2006). The Anime Encyclopedia: Revised & Expanded Edition. Berkeley, CA: Stone Bridge Press. ISBN 978-1-933330-10-5
- "Animerica". 1 (1). Viz Media. March 1993: 20. ISSN 1067-0831. Cite journal requires
- Sherman, Jennifer (February 14, 2020). "Viz Licenses Remina, Moriarty the Patriot, Fly Me to the Moon, More Manga". Anime News Network. Retrieved February 14, 2020.
- "Animerica". 1 (1). Viz Media. March 1993: 18. ISSN 1067-0831. Cite journal requires
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- "Animerica". 3 (11). Viz Media. 1995: 19. ISSN 1067-0831. Cite journal requires
- Mermaid Forest, Volume 1 - Quest for Death; Region 1 DVD; Geneon [Pioneer]; July 5, 2005.
- Mermaid Forest, Volume 2 - Bitter Flesh; Region 1 DVD; Geneon [Pioneer]; September 20, 2005.
- Mermaid Forest, Volume 3 - Unquenchable Thirst; Region 1 DVD; Geneon [Pioneer]; November 15, 2005.
- Mermaid Forest, Volume 4 - Unending Nightmare; Region 1 DVD; Geneon [Pioneer]; January 3, 2006.