Seto No Hanayome (aka My Bride Is A Mermaid) may not sound like the best show seeing as it's mermaid-themed and brings up all kinds of Splash flashbacks, or "Splashbacks", if you will. Splash was a fun comedy but an entire anime series like that? Hardly sounds worth it.
And yet, here is a guilty pleasure I don't even feel all that guilty about enjoying!
The plot sees a young dude, Nagasumi, almost drown before getting saved by a mermaid called Sun. All should be well that ends well except that humans aren't meant to know about mermaids, mermen, all that crap, so Nagasumi is brought in to meet Sun's family, who are basically mobsters, and he is given the choice to either die or marry Sun. It's a really random sitcom plot but boy do they make the most of it! We follow Nagasumi and Sun as they try to make their impromptu engagement work and Sun's father goes ape shit trying to resist the urge to destroy Nagasumi. Along the way, the couple get into all sorts of crazy situations and a whole bunch of new characters are introduced. I'll admit I was a little disappointed to see the show essentially becomes another high-school comedy since the series initially opens on a holiday setting, but, with the exception of a couple of school trip episodes, that's never really the focus. Usually it's just an easier way to introduce certain characters. Sun's family includes Gozaburo (aka Seto-sensei), the intimidating, anger-fuelled father and leader of the Seto group, who hates Nagasumi, is completely over-protective of Sun and goes to great lengths to keep an eye on him. His wife, Ren, who usually puts a stop to her husband's maniacal outbursts and is much more level-minded and encouraging, although, every so often, she does tease Nagasumi in inappropriate ways.
Members of the Seto group include Masa, who is the subject of the longest, funniest running joke of the entire series (and the strangest twist as well). The guy gives CPR to Nagasumi once (or twice) and from then on the kid can't look at Masa without remembering that "first kiss" and losing it. You've also got Shark Fujishiro who is a... shark and just wants to eat Nagasumi, Maki, a tiny assassin with the ability to be adorable one second and deadly the next, and, last but not least, Octopus Nakajima, a giant octopus who appears whenever a particular joke demands it. Then there's Nagasumi's parents, who find themselves a little lost in this whole thing (the mother also has an unhealthy crush on Masa). Lunar Edomae is Sun's childhood rival/friend who is always competing with her despite being a wealthy popstar herself, her father, who is basically Arnold Schwarzenegger, a tall Terminator-style dude who says "I'll be back!" and enjoys... wearing girls' sailor uniforms. Finally, you have Saru, Nagasumi's monkey-esque friend, Mawari, the high-school police gal, the Class Rep (Mawari's quiet friend who later reveals feelings for Nagasumi), Kai, some super-rich dude with a submarine and a phobia of open spaces and Akeno, a mermaid examiner (don't ask) and one of the last characters to be introduced. As you can see, the show never lacks characters!
Crap, I forgot to mention the three fish dudes...
Oh, who cares? They're useless.
Luckily, what Seto No Hanayome does with its many characters is really entertaining and, more importantly, very funny. The humour is very much pure slapstick with characters reacting to events in over-the-top ways and changing their faces completely depending on what's going on but it's done so well and so many of those jokes are so creative that you'll find it hard to resist the show's nutty sense of humour. It also helps that the characters are this well defined and this likeable. The stories never get too serious, even right at the end when everyone comes together to battle a common enemy. Actually, sometimes they even go overboard: one episode sees Nagasumi drink some magical mermaid drink and become Godzilla-tall, another is a two-part song contest, another sees the fathers dress like little girls in order to better understand their daughters. It's not always consistent but it's always really fun. Minor gripes I have with Seto No Hanayome would have to be the score, which can be pretty repetitive, the lack of development when it comes to some subplots (that happens a lot in anime, I'm starting to notice) and the lack of variety settings-wise. Other than that, I really enjoyed the show and do recommend it.
Seto No Hanayome is Splash on steroids. It takes the film's concept, adds gallons more madness to it and ultimately makes it epic. It's a hysterical ride and it's not as inaccessible or as girly as it sounds (despite the all-too-adorable intro, below) so don't get put off by the mermaid plot.
Overall, it's just a heck of a lot of fun.
A nice fish-themed surprise!