Yumekui Merry – Series Review

Inconsistent is the best word I can use for this series. Inconsistent pacing. Inconsistent internal logic. Inconsistent behavior by the major characters. Inconsistent tone. you get the point – it really felt as if they were winging it a lot of the time. That’s too bad, because at its best this series was rather good, mostly on the strength of the likable and interesting central cast. I especially loved the second episode, which introduced Sana’s father (not that we saw much of him after that). Of course that was a model of inconsistency too, as it was far more frenetically paced and jammed with content than any other episode – but that one totally worked for me.

The good stuff is really about Merry and Yumeji, and a couple of their supporting cast. With Merry at the center this series took navel-gazing to a new extreme, but there was more to Merry than a belly button and a cute tummy – she was funny, adorable and somewhat original and different from most anime characters. She and Yumeji were a far better than average couple as leads – he was a far cry from the indecisive or nondescript male leads we often see. They were as good together as individually, flashing some real chemistry of the platonic variety. And who knows what else, maybe?

The supporting cast was generally good, if a bit too large. I especially like John Doe – he only appeared twice but he cast a large shadow on the events of the series, as witness the finale. He was genuinely cool and I loved his moral ambiguity. There were some good villains here, though Mistleteen was pretty much a cardbord cut-out. I liked Play and her human, and Isana – while too nice to be realistic – was someone you genuinely cared for and worried about. Her aforementioned Dad – played with brilliant panache by Fujiwara Keiji – brought life to every scene he was in. The show looked interesting, with some inventive costume design and generally attractive characters, and the BGM always managed to be distinctive. All good.

But you just never knew what you were going to get. There weren’t many moments as laughably bad as when Treesea simply decided to stop just when she was on the verge of killing everyone, but a lot when you wondered just what the heck was going on. Some eps were overjammed with material, some meandered along so slowly that things seemed no different in the end than they had at the beginning. The entire final battle sequence was a disaster – basically Treesea easily defeating everyone, stopping for no reason, easily defeating then again and then after some inspirational words by Yumeji being defeated. There was no sense of moment to it, no power – it was just a dreary exercise in platitudes and twisted logic. And that certainly isn’t how you want to end a show.

Whether the future holds another season, I don’t know – it does seem as if the creators hoped for it, if not expected it. I think the show is relatively popular and it does have a moe-sexy heroine, so it could happen – and there was certainly nothing in the ending to preclude it. But I’m going to need to see some more intelligent plotting and consistency before I commit to watching another season. I liked the first half of the series much better than the second – a half that I assume was translating canon material most of the time. It wasn’t great, but it had some excellent moments – far more than the second half did. The characters are strong enough to carry the series if they get some help from the plot – perhaps with a delay of a few seasons they can present an entire season of canon material. That would likely be something worth watching – or at least worth giving a good long look.

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