「夢現」 (Yume Utsutsu)
“Half Asleep & Half Awake”
Hello ladies and gents. Look at Madoka, now back to Merry, now back to Madoka, now back to Merry. Sadly, it isn’t Merry, but if you ignore the Shinbou and SHAFT and purely look at the story, it could be like Merry. In all seriousness, they’re obviously both completely different shows. However, one thing does link them, and that is the theme of dreams. Dreams can make interesting concepts, and if you’ve never imagined such a thing, a certain movie proved it can be quite the plot device. Yumekui’s spin on it might not be as mind bending, but dreams becoming reality can be a scary thing.
So how can I sum up Merry’s first episode in one word? Intriguing. Potential. Cute. Atmospheric. That’s more like a couple of one word descriptions summed up together, but that’s the general gist of it. Yamauchi Shigeyasu is the keyword here, and may be the sole reason why you felt the scenes were just a little desolate, a little depressing, and a little “out there.” I didn’t think the Casshern Sins feel would carry over so much, nor did I know this might actually just be his “style,” but it’s a very subtle influence that I’ve never created much of an opinion on. That said, it’s not actually misguided for the plot, as there seems to be a darker element in the works, and with a depressing tone of voice at the preview, I’d say those are flags for exactly what’s to come. Due to the “seinen” nature of the manga, a more mature story can be expected, but it’s not exactly the first time J.C. Staff’s adapted one.
The show seems to like Merry Nightmare (Sakura Ayane). A lot. Good thing I like her too. Just not as much. Yet. Merry suffers the obvious, “holy crap she’s a girl and deserves as much design attention as possible, so let’s stuff ribbons, hats, fluffy coattails, striped stockings, and some tattoos on her face for extra measure.” Don’t get me wrong, I love her look, love her face, love the multiple shadings of her navel, and I love her voice, but she sticks out like a sore thumb against other characters. Still, the show is named after her for a reason, and opposite to her is Fujiwara Yumeji (Okamoto Nobuhiko), a well-adjusted teenage boy with a well-adjusted power to see colors of dreams in other people. So far, it’s completely pointless except as a trick to show his friends, who were quite the characters. An emotionally reasonable childhood friend who obviously likes him, a teasing tomboy, and a bishie writer, whose habit of writing short two sentence poems down and signing them actually makes me laugh every time. While a tad generic, none of them are annoying at all, and I particularly like Tachibana Isana (Kayano Ai), for she actually doesn’t resort to exaggerated violence when confronted with her feelings. I coin her, “mellowdere.”
Girl comes out of nowhere, meets guy from random chance, guy from random chance has dream powers, his dreams deal with cats, and cats know who girl is. Vicious circle, but it all makes sense, maybe because it has to. Nonetheless, the story unfolded quite well, and with enough mystery to care about the next episode. Problem is they didn’t tell us jack squat, much like the other first episodes this season (or every season), and it’s incredibly difficult to judge whether or not it’s a winner. Characters are introduced, story is gisted at, mystery is brought up, and random nobodies are shown for a couple seconds as “foreshadowing.” Who is Merry? Why is she so cute? What’s with those pointed ears? Nakata Jouji, a leader of cats? Awesome. But what does it all mean?
So here’s where I’m going to tell you people who don’t feel like watching the show to see how good it is. The characters are refreshing (there’s that word again) and fun to watch, the story shows potential, and you get to see Merry’s brilliantly reformed umbilical cord repeatedly. Her face is also drawn consistently cute at any moment, and every time her face is on screen, the director made damn sure she looked moe in some cute pose (it happens quite a lot, which explains why she takes the majority of these screencaps). Also, what’s with the almost out of character scene with her crying and the animation that came with it? More cuteness of course. Watch it for the Merry, stay for the Merry. Plus, she kicks serious ass to boot. Now, the animation wasn’t as top notch as it seemed from the PV, but the nicely animated scenes are all there (and the fight was AWESOME). The show is generally animated with a pretty low FPS, meaning they skip frames and animate maybe only 7 frames per second rather than the typical 24, since it’s a cheap way to animate these days to save money and time. I don’t have a real problem with this, though it does give the show a slight feeling of stiffness. The background art was rather varied, aptly changing from scratchy urban city, to solid normal school, and then sketchy watercolor dream world. It was sort of jarring to see different art styles depicting the backgrounds, but I suppose it’s just there to create more of the atmosphere Yamauchi likes so much. *shrug*
If I were to judge Yumekui Merry from the first episode, I’d say it didn’t give us enough. Now if it were an OVA, and we had to wait till next year for the next episode, then yes, that might have put a damper on my mood. But guess what, we’re going to see it next week, and we’re going to get more midriff than you’ve ever wanted in your entire life. Yamauchi, just don’t follow J.C. Staff’s reputation for disappointing endings.
Merrylicious opening, fantastic visuals, and I liked the childhood versions of Yumeji and Merry playing together. Not too particularly fond of the song, but I’m picky. I like the ED song a lot more, and it’s even sung by Merry. Interesting idea of petals slowly drifting away from her, but it’s nothing special. Slick animation of the petals though. I think I’m Merry-washed.