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Review: Selfish Mr. Mermaid (Vol. 01)

Reviewer: Lissa Pattillo

Manga-ka: Nabako Kamo
Publisher: DMP/June
Rating: Mature (18+)
Released: April 2008

Synopsis: “Kanan is a passive sort, whose timidity has a way of irritating anyone around him with half an ounce of self-respect. When investigating an upstairs apartment leak, he discovers the source is something beyond his wildest fantasy-a mermaid?! That’s Mr.Mermaid, thank you very much. Kaioh is aquatic royalty, with tears of pearl and a selfish, bullying attitude bigger than the ocean. One look at submissive Kanan, and Mr.Mermaid knows he’s found someone to wait on him hand and foot!”

Kanan is passive, submissive and generally walked over by everyone. One day he heads home only to discover his apartment is soaking wet after an upstairs tenant leaves the water running. Much to his surprise, said upstairs tenant is actually a mermaid (or merman as the case would be), and after being kicked out of his apartment, the mermaid moves into Kanan’s bathtub. Not only does the mermaid, Kaoih, start ordering Kanan around for food and service, but it also turns out he’s literally a ‘royal’ pain in the butt.

The premise of this story is what got me interested in reading it. A boys’ love story staring a mermaid seemed pretty neat, or so I hoped. Kanan doesn’t make much of a main character, taking the submissive uke angle to dangerous depths of pathetic. He cries a lot, never stands up for himself and is dragged along for anything by anyone. How he lets a complete stranger into his home without question and then letting him order him around is beyond me! And would it kill him to question the validity of Kaoih being a mermaid?

In the second arc of the story, Kaoih tells Kanan he’ll be accompanying him to his underwater city. Again my hopes were raised; surely this would be somewhat more interesting, right? Nope. Short of leaping blindly off a giant cliff face and some fish swimming around, you wouldn’t know they were under the sea. No flowage of clothes to suggest it, no difference in moving around and none of the mer-people even have anything mer-like about them.

At this point, a new character is introduced; a man named Haru who was bullied by Kaoih in their childhood. He promptly kidnaps Kanan to lure in Kaoih (surprise, surprise). Thanks to an amusing short story in the back however, I found I liked this new character and his love story staring a giant clam more than anything else I’d read in this book. When the horrifying realization that this was a first volume hit me, I immediately began holding out hope that volume two will star more of merman & clam than merman &… whatever Kanan qualifies as. I suppose in some sort of defence, the book has pretty smooth pacing, which will allow readers to get through the many pages with gracious speed.

Art-wise, this book was equally disappointing. Everyone was drawn pretty lopsided with inconsistent appearances and some panels that just make you stop and go ‘what the heck is that?’. The designs themselves are lack-lustre, especially when this is a story about mermaids without a single fish like attribute on their otherwise uninteresting forms.

So as you can tell, I don’t have too much in the way of kind words for this book. Admittedly, I’ve read worse but this is definitely a contender out of sheer ridiculousness. Haru and his giant clam-friend were this book’s only saving grace, stopping me from completely disliking it altogether, but with most of the page count belonging to weepy Kanan and jerkly Kaoih, I can’t with good conscience recommend Selfish Mr. Mermaid to anyone.

Review written July 29, 2008 by Lissa Pattillo for MangaJouhou
Book provided by Digital Manga for review purposes

About the Author:

Lissa Pattillo is the owner and editor of Residing in Halifax, Nova Scotia she takes great joy in collecting all manners of manga genres, regretting that there's never enough time in the day to review or share them all. Along with reviews, Lissa is responsible for all the news postings to the website and works full time as a web and graphic designer.

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