Reviewby Melissa Harper, Nov 30th 2006
Pichi Pichi Pitch
It's a race to collect princesses and pearls, where the outcome determines the fate of the ocean. Mermaid princess Lucia has two princesses, but so does the villain, Gackto, who is out to control the seven seas. To make matters worse, Gackto's minions keep coming to the surface to attack Lucia and her friends. They are even making trouble for the boy Lucia loves, Kaito. Kaito returns her feelings, but he doesn't realize it, because if Lucia tells him that she is the same as the mermaid he fell in love with seven years ago, she'll be turned into sea foam!
Pichi Pichi Pitch: Mermaid Melody might be able to exist peacefully as fare for females under ten, but for any other audience, it falls pretty short of the “worth-reading” mark. While the art looks great, the story is barely coherent, and the whole scenario of the plot fails to be believable. These things could be excused if the manga was aimed at younger readers, but the romantic storyline goes above the heads of anyone who could put up with the plot-holes and lame devices.
On the positive side, it really is a pretty book. The cover of the volume is attractive, appropriately pink and sparkly. The characters look good, with a lot of attention given to clothing and hairstyles, and facial expressions are effective. The only problem with the character designs would be Lucia's eyes. It always looks like she is crying, due to the odd light spots that are at the bottom of her eyes, which makes it confusing when she actually is crying. The panels are never confusing or hard to read, and there is always plenty of visual interest. The DelRay extras are nice as always; there is the guide to honorifics that fronts most of their manga, as well as a lengthy section for translation notes at the end of the volume that is very helpful to understanding the cultural references.
The story is another matter entirely. Why exactly are all these mermaids on land to start with, pretending to be schoolgirls? Lucia went up there to get her pearl back, but she has it now. And it is apparently a very important thing to find the other princesses and pearls, but Lucia is more concerned with how to handle Valentine's Day, whether she'll be in the same class as Kaito, or making him stew when he's sick with a cold. These are all very common to shoujo stories, true, but if the whole taking-over-the-ocean plot is so unimportant, why even include it to start with? Anything having to do with the “main” storyline is so sidelined that is seems like it was shoved onto a couple of pages just to say it is there. For instance, in episode seven, there is a story about how a mermaid girl is being blackmailed into capturing a princess so that she can find her mother. The villain appears on one page, captures a princess on the next two, Lucia appears on a two page spread in which the villain is vanquished. The next page has advance enough in the future for everyone to have changed clothes, and they have found her mother using some device that was barely seen, which they knew how to use because a jellyfish, also never seen before, explained that it could do that. It is then followed with five more pages of the girls in pajamas looking at mermaid horoscope magazines. I wonder what kind of paper mermaid magazines are printed on?
That's another thing: not only is the mermaid bit barely squeezed in; it barely makes sense either. At one point Lucia is in the ocean, in mermaid form, and she transforms using the power of her pearl, and turns into a human supergirl. She's underwater, in a palace, also underwater, with fountains. The battle system isn't executed well either, as in the previous example. Visually, nothing is shown to illustrate that the girls, or the people they are fighting, are actually singing. They just say something, usually really cheesy, and the villain gets rather faded, a sign of defeat I suppose, yells something along the lines of “I'll get you next time, you darn kids,” and the rejoicing happens about then.
While there is nothing problematic in the layout, the story is still hard to follow because the things that are happening aren't clearly illustrated. Lucia drops her pendant at one point, and Kaito has it in his pocket a few pages later. A few pages after that, Lucia arrives where Kaito was standing, and the pendant is on the ground. It makes you think you've skipped pages, and you start going back to look for things missed that were never actually shown.
Pichi Pichi Pitch: Mermaid Melody would probably appear to younger girls, ala Tokyo Mew Mew, but the nature of the romantic interactions between the characters is, while not graphically, conceptually above the heads of younger readers. Parents might object to images of a girl, drunk on soda pop, kissing a half-undressed boy in his bed, to be sure, but there is a lot of sexual teasing as well that little girls just wouldn't get, or that is simply too mature for them. For the older readers, the gaps in the story are too confusing, and there are too many problems with the presentation of the mermaid world and conflict for it to be believable for anyone over the age of 10.
Overall : C
Story : D
Art : B
+ Lovely artwork
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