Seto no Hanayome: A Modern day Little Mermaid with added Yakuza
June 5, 2011 Leave a comment
So I was watching Seto no Hanayome again recently and it was pointed out to me that the story in fact revolves around the original concept of the Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Anderson.
I really like the idea of using the story of the Little Mermaid and then making it work with what is essentially a comedic high school romance story, with added Yakuza of course.
What is also very interesting is that through all the slapstick comedy there is an essential element of mermaids that is often missing from many other stories and cartoons: they are dangerous. In classic mythology and stories mermaids are dangerous creatures, very much like the harpies in Homer’s The Odyssey (The Greek epic, not the fat yellow man from the Simpsons. Creatures of such beauty and grace that they lure sailors to their doom on hidden rocks or just eat them.
Throughout Seto no Hanayome this fact is quite true, while it is slapstick and I do laugh, regularly. You can’t escape the fact that Nagasumi has to fend for his life on a daily basis, not only from Gōzaburō, Suns father, but also from Maki, the 3 inch tall assassin with a serious case of multiple personalities, along with the majority of the Seto group and later on a number of other mermaids and characters that all appear to be out for blood, Nagasumi or perhaps both.
Not only these extra characters but how we initially meet Sun Seto in episode one, it is here that we find out that unless Sun and Nagasumi marry then one or the other must die in according with mermaid tradition so that their secret is kept hidden. This is a running gag throughout the series, sometimes turning serious, however what we often see is Nagasumis attempts to help San conceal that she is a mermaid is often interpreted by her father as an attempt for ‘inappropriate touching’ which results in hilarity and general madness.
And throughout this the series also continues to follow the story of the little mermaid, complete with their very own wicked witch in the form of Lunar Edomae from a rival Yakuza Family. This is one thing that impresses me about the entire series, its ability to add hilarious slapstick comedy while still maintaining the Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Anderson.
Now after all this seriousness it is time to talk about some of he silly, even ludicrous aspects of this anime. First among them is the implied homosexual tendency in the relationship between Nagasumi and Masa. Masa is the one who, through performing CPR “stole” Nagasumi’s first kiss. He also transfers to Nagasumi’s school, becoming his math teacher (whose word problems tend to describe to the mathematical aspects of underworld gang operations).
There is a running gag of Nagasumi displaying an attraction towards Masa since their ‘first kiss’ in the first episode. Now neither of the characters are homosexual in any real way, Nagasumi develops genuine feeling Sun and Masa is essential a comedic foil to bounce jokes off of, however these jokes and the clear facial and tonal changes to Nagasumi during these switches are hilarious and add something slightly different to the comedy of this series.
Essentially what you get with Seto no Hanayome is a series following the story of the Little Mermaid with slapstick comedy and Yakuza. Some things that I often find are severely lacking in current anime content where fan service for all its fan servicy goodness is used in place of character progression and an actual story. And while I cant necessarily say much against fanservice (it’s a shame but I cant, in fact I happen to enjoy many anime where fanservice plays a significant role, its just one of those things) it isn’t really a good substitute for a story and perhaps characters that are a little more than 2 dimensional even if they are drawn.