Tag Archives: yumekui merry

Yumekui Merry

A boy meets a magical girl, the lost inhabitant of another world. Despite her unrivaled prowess in fighting, this girl is confused and amnesiac, hoping only to get back home. Despite being clearly nonhuman, she has the appearance and emotions of a teenage girl. Will she find a way back home? Even if she does, will she really want to go, or will the burgeoning relationship hinted at with the male lead compel her to stay? Yumekui Merry has interesting character designs, good background music, and – refreshingly, given the stale setup – a male lead who is neither a parody of hypermasculinity (as Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann‘s Kamina was) nor a spineless noodle (as Evangelion’s Shinji was.)

Sadly, that last sentence contains all there is that is good about Yumekui Merry. Production values are terrible, pacing is worse than Witch Hunter Robin, and the writing lacks direction. Entire sequences are shown with a white background and crudely sketched faces. Certainly, this show contains many dream sequences, which can’t be expected to conform to reality, but just one look at Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica shows what can be done with alternate reality settings in a contemporary show. Merry’s low-budget lapses don’t even begin to compare.

A finished product?
Ask yourself: is this a finished product?

 

Mistleteinn is a properly epic adversary, if ridiculously flat: she is given no backstory and no personality beyond whimsy and naked cruelty. The sensei that serves as her vessel is foreshadowed as being two-faced and scheming, but there is no examination of why he wound up this way. The victory of the main characters over such unmitigated evil is predictable and boring, involving no real plot twists or justification. The heroes triumph against a vastly superior adversary because they are the heroes of the show, not because they have found the villain’s weakness, undergone training, unlocked the power of their heritage, or any other such pretext.

In the end Yumekui Merry assembles a lot of effects without causes. There is a parallel to Tom Stoppard’s existentialist work Rozencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, but in Stoppard’s work, it is made clear that the backstory exists and the appearance of arbitrary phenomena is a result of the perspective of the title characters. The audience knows what is going on, and is thus able to appreciate the confusion of the characters and how it results from a combination of circumstances. In Yumekui Merry, no one really knows what is going on – not the humans, not the dream demons, not the audience, nor, one suspects, the producers themselves.

Chiming in on Yumekui Merry and Madoka

The former tries to be surreal but it’s very concrete with standard concepts; the latter tries to be concrete while being clothed with surrealism, but fails to grab me where it hurts…

(Oh, wow, epic fail XD)

Wait, wait, let me back up a minute so you can withdraw that 10 foot pole. All right, let me explain.

My colleagues have already expressed their views on Madoka (see here and here). I more or less agree with them, except from my angle, what I think really fails is the lack of true excitement from it, on top of a failure to work my emotions. I honest don’t think the characters interest me that much; I like the concepts enough and it certainly is pretty new in the magical girl genre. Of course, I never finished Nanoha S2 or Nanoha Strike or whatever. So, I feel that it’s new to show the true nature of a magical girl contract. I dunno, though. I remember that even Sailor Moon hinted and touched upon territories where her friends were harmed because she was involved in the magical girl thing. So, I don’t really find the concept in Madoka that refreshing. It is true that very few anime talks about what essentially the contract in Madoka is, a contract with the devil.

I watched episodes 3 and 4, and the only reason I was feeling anything was because of the soundtrack. You have to understand, I’ve seen so many sacrifices, deaths of friends and other things IN ANIME (thank God not in real life) that a show really has to do its characters right in order to grab me when a character dies. Madoka lacks that. I’ve been lamenting that the problem with shows with less than 26 episodes is the lack of development for characters. In today’s anime world, the lack of budget and our attention span makes 26-episode-shows nearly impossible (though a lot of that is also because the waste of budget on unnecessary fan service episodes). What’s even worse is that a lot of 13 (or sometimes, 11) episode shows waste episodes on fillers that really don’t develop characters.

What I’m saying is that Mami or what’s her name dies too early.

What doesn’t help is the monster that kills her. Surrealism is one thing, ridiculous looking monsters that makes me laugh is another.

Before you accuse me to being insensitive, let me refer you to shows like Gunslinger Girl, or some episodes in Gundam Seed and Gundam 00, oh and Mike’s favorite show, in which there’s an episode where Shinji is forced to crush possibly the only person who really said “love” to him. For that episode, the fujoshis in Japan cried rivers for it not just for BL.

I know Madoka is not the same thing as Gunslinger Girl, but the ability to really create crushing sadness can be done in either genre. I just wanted more.

Now, onto Yumekui Merry.

It’s not a show that really stands out, even with its concepts about a nightmare trying to defeat other nightmares and sending them back to dreamland. At its core, it’s really a shonen show with a hero and heroine fighting and fighting some more. Of course, she finds out something that challenges their belief (in the most recentl episode).

I’m not a good guesser and when other people see something coming a mile away, I often miss it. I think some people already guessed the outcome of episode 5.

That said, my problem with the show is more about it’s presentation. It tries to be surreal with an interesting concept at its core, but it ends up being more normal than usual. People get possessed and they go out to save them.

There is one thing I really liked about episode 5. It’s when Merry answers the question about how long she has stayed in the human world. She gives an interesting answer and it does create a good impact on the audience.

Other than that, nothing much about the show strikes me. It’s a little slow. I’ll say this, though, because it is lower profile, my expectation for it isn’t as high.

My bottomline for these shows is this: I’ve never been a fan nor a hater of Shinbo’s work, so having Shinboism go surreal won’t make me squeal in joy. As for Merry, it needs something added to it.