Yup, this time we'll be taking a look at The Little Mermaid, and no, it ain't the Disney version. It ain't Hans Christian Anderson's original short story either, though admittedly it's got a lot more in common with that tale than the adventures of Ariel, Flounder, Sebastian, and the rest. Personally, I'm partial to the Disney film, but what could I really say about that one? Well, I guess I could go on and on about the creepiness of the chef's song...then there's the strangely sexual Ursula...and of course you've got the obvious things like the priest's erection and the phallic towers...okay, so perhaps some kind of review of Disney's version wouldn't be as difficult as I'd thought. Maybe later. Anyway, I've scanned the front and back covers of this version, so why don't we have a look?
Yup, it's the Magical Memories version. Perhaps you've seen these during your traveils through the budget DVD sections of your local retailers -- there are tons of MM volumes out, and you can generally find each for $5.99 or less. I snagged this one for $3.95. I didn't want to buy it, mind you, but how could I resist? I'm a sucker for mermaids. I walked past the Mermaid Fantasy Kayla doll in Toys 'R' Us and flipped out, shrieking, "WHO IS KAYLA AND HOW THE BLOODY HELL DID SHE KNOW ABOUT MY MERMAID FANTASY?!?!?!?" Then I ran out of the store. Then I had to come back for my backpack, since they make you check your bags at the door. It was pretty embarrassing, really, but you get the point. MERMAIDS. Plus, that black and pink Flounder looks oodles cooler than the yellow and blue Disney version, and Ariel was never friends with a confused seahorse and a
And then, on the back cover, it said, "These enchanting fairy tales with beautiful animation and magical music comes to us with Love from Russia, all in English." So now you really know why I had to buy it. I dunno if you've seen any of the stuff that comes out of Russia, but trust me on this one, it's really odd. I've seen some fairly freaky versions of The Little Mermaid -- way freakier than the original story -- and I fully expected this one to trump them all. I should've known better when I read that "[t]hey will forever delight your children," 'cause how could they possibly do that? Even if they delight your children until the ends of their lives, which is doubtful, considering that they'll grow up and all, EVENTUALLY DEY GONNA DIE, and then they won't be delighted by The Little Mermaid ANYMORE. So see, already this version of The Little Mermaid has you dwelling on the eventual and necessary DEATH of your precious little tykes. And guess what? You shouldn't be surprised, since this one comes to us from Russia. With Love.
So we pop in the DVD and this is what we see. Forgive me; I may be a little confused, but that leaf, I believe, is the symbol of Canada. As in, not Russia. This does not bode well, friends. The title screen looks a little more appropriate for a production that supposedly hails from Zangief's mother country, but I remain skeptical.
So while I'm not too certain that our tale really comes to us "with Love from Russia," the opening narration certainly is "all in English." As some lady goes on about a princess who lives far beneath the sea and crap, the camera pans across the beach and underwater, giving us a glimpse of fishies and the castle where the mermaid people live.
And here we have the titular heroine of our story. Now, I don't know what you're thinking right now, but I'll tell you what I'm feeling -- betrayed. We've been lied to, folks. Thrice. First we were told that these fairy tales came to us "with Love from Russia." Then we were led to believe that Canada was their source. But you know what? That looks like anime to me. Something's up here. And, I believe the DVD cover told me I could expect "digitally remastered superior picture & sound quality." You can't hear the sound (it sucks), but you can sure see that picture, so you know there ain't nuthin' superior 'bout it. More like a so-so VHS rip, really. I know, what did I expect for $3.95, but still, the box lied to me! But for the sake of getting on with the review, I'll just forgive it and move on.
So it just so happens that today is the mermaid princess's birthday, and on this particular birthday the little mermaid will be allowed to go up and see the surface world. No angry paternal decrees about how she's never to stick her head above the water, no speeches about dangerous fish-eaters and hooks, no wild musical numbers about how it's better down where it's wetter (take it from me), none of that jazz with King Triton and Ariel and Sebastian and other interesting characters. Hell, her parents are smiling about letting her go to the surface, because their daughter is...uh...this little mermaid doesn't even have a name yet. Well, until she gets one, we'll call her Blondie, because instead of a nifty purple seashell bra she just uses her flowing blonde hair to cover her breasts. Anyway, Blondie is clearly a responsible young girl and can take care of herself now. Why should her parents worry? She doesn't even need friends like Evil Flounder, Ditzy Seahorse, and Mentally Handicapable Flipper to keep her from getting eaten by sharks.
So while her family looks on, Blondie makes her way to the surface. Also, a bunch of fish follow her for no goddamned reason. Unless they're horny. Then they have a reason.
But as soon as Blondie reaches the surface, she's startled by fireworks bursting in the air above a nearby ship. It seems that Blondie's not the only one with a birthday, for today is also the eighteenth birthday of Prince Jonathan! And you know what happens, Blondie looks at him from afar and gets all wet between the legs. Or she would, if she had legs. And if she weren't already submerged in water. 'Cause then she'd be wet down there already. Okay, stopping now.
So you know how it goes. Heap big storm breaks out; ship tips over; Jonathan seems to be a goner -- but then Blondie rescues him! As she deposits his unconscious body on the shore, she tells him she loves him, and then hides as she hears the approach of another. No beautiful song to make his heart swell, just a simple, "I love you," and that's that. Well, perhaps those three tender words are all the music any of us need, eh? Or perhaps this version of The Little Mermaid pales in comparison to the Disney masterpiece. Perhaps both are true.
So as we learn that Jonathan was the only survivor of the crash, Elizabeth helps Jonathan to his feet and walks him back to his castle. Blondie keeps watching from the shore, eyeing him through the windows as he passes from room to room in his castle, gazing at him as he sits on the castle wall and plays a sad, sad song for his drowned comrades. Yep, she basically sits on a rock and stalks him from a distance until well into the night. But let's not try and make it sound too creepy, for she really does feel for Prince Jonathan and desperately longs to make him happy again!
So of course, she ventures down into the darkest part of the sea to strike a bargain with the Evil Sea Witch. You know the deal -- Blondie's voice for human legs. No singing here, no bouncy body language jigs, but we do get a weird spot of dialogue about human souls and the like. Doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me, but yeah, Blondie asks if she gets a soul with those legs. And apparently that does come with the walking appendages, but only if she can win the prince's love. Without a voice. And oh yeah, once she drinks the magic voice-takin', leg-makin' potion, she'll never again be able to return to the sea. If she does, SHE WILL DIE!!! So it goes.
Of course, she drinks, and sometime later Prince Jonathan finds her asleep on the beach, naked except for her flowing blonde hair. He tries to coax her name out of her, but she just does the Helen Keller routine and squeals a bit. I'm thinking she might've done that anyway, since either she didn't really have a name or it was so unflattering that they decided it'd be better not to tell us. Maybe it was some really hard to pronounce Russian name? Yeah, right.
So anyway, he takes Blondie to the palace, gets her dressed and stuff, and then next thing you know they're dancing around the ballroom. We hear her thinking about how wonderful he is; we hear him thinking about how beautiful she is; everything happens so quickly -- it's like magic!
Until Prince Jonathan's wife crashes the party. Bet you didn't see that one coming!
Blondie sure didn't. And here's the insult to injury part -- they got married because he thinks she's the one who saved his life on that fateful, stormy night! O, what a cruel twist this is! But hey, at least the prince is kind enough to invite Blondie to come with them on their honeymoon cruise...
Yeah, that's really not much consolation -- given that they'll be shagging and such while poor forlorn Blondie stares out at the sea -- but he means well. So they set sail, and Blondie reflects on how very much life sucks. She'll never get her guy, she'll never get a soul, and she can never again return to the sea. It's terrible.
But what's this? Blondie's five sisters are here -- one of whom isn't wearing a seashell/starfish bra! And the Evil Sea Witch has returned Blondie's voice! This makes no sense. What the devil is going on here?
So that's the deal. Blondie may never get her human guy or have a human soul, she can at least return to the sea...if she murders Prince Jonathan. But hey, as one of her sisters says, "You will never have the soul of a human, so your feelings do not matter anymore!" Well, alrighty then.
Yeah, Blondie looks upon the face of her pretty sleeping prince and just can't bring herself to kill him in cold blood, so she drops the knife and runs awkwardly out of the room with a lot of boo-hooing and sadness. What did you expect?
And then, heartbroken, alone, and all of that jazz, poor Blondie jumps into the ocean to drown herself. SO SAD.
BUT WAIT!!! Just as the life is about to slip from her body, Blondie finds herself encased inside a large bubble! And then naked winged babies whisk her off to Heaven. As you can see above and below, I'm totally not making this up. So for those of you who've been told that suicide is a grievous sin that will damn you for all eternity, WRONG! Really, naked babies with wings come down and fly you to Heaven. I'm not sure what they were trying to teach kids with this ending. I mean yeah, there's stuff about being true to your love and not murdering innocent people and stuff, but you also get flown to Heaven by naked babies if you try to commit suicide. But maybe this isn't really for kids? I mean you'd probably have pedophiles hanging themselves en masse after watching this retelling of The Little Mermaid, just so they could be spirited away by naked babies. With wings. And Japan is kinda known for pedophilia, so maybe this was designed to keep the perverts' numbers in check? Things that make you go, "Hmmmm."
Thus ends this
There are, however, two other stories on the DVD. Perhaps one of them is from Russia? Someday, we shall find out.
Just click the image above! Simple, no? ;)