Follow TV Tropes


Anime / The Little Mermaid

Go To

The Little Mermaid (aka Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid) is an anime adaptation of "The Little Mermaid" produced by Toei Animation. It was released in 1975 in Japan and was dubbed into English in 1978.

It has some elements that Disney would later use, such as an animal companion for the mermaid (Fritz the Dolphin) and an antagonistic force seeking to hurt the mermaid on land (Jemmy the cat). The plot follows the original story more closely than the Disney version, keeping the sad ending.

Discotek Media bought the rights to the original film and is selling the master copy on their website, with English and Japanese audio, and English subtitles.

This anime contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: The King and Queen lie to their son that his mother is sick, then reveal to him that they're on the way to meet the princess they have picked for him. They also forcefully separate their son and Marina so he can marry the other girl instead.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Very slight case with the Prince's parents, who in the original made their preference for a daughter-in-law clear, but stopped short of forcing their son into a marriage he didn't want. Here, they do exactly that. In both versions, he ends up preferring the choice they made for him, so the change is ultimately moot.
  • Arranged Marriage: The Prince is expected to enter one with the princess of a neighboring kingdom, per his parents' wishes.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: The absolute best thing that can be said about the ending is that Marina gains a soul from her refusal to kill the prince and goes straight to Heaven rather than being stuck in limbo for 300 years.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Jemmy the cat wants Marina dead for no real reason. She succeeds.
  • Badass Adorable: Fritz. He takes on an army of polyps using starfish and a mermaid skull as weapons, and saves Marina multiple times.
  • Bowdlerise: Later VHS and DVD releases liberally cut seconds out of any scene where Marina or her sisters hair blows away from their breasts and reveals a nipple. The Sea Witch's potion making scene is also cut due to Sea Witch boobage.
  • Canon Foreigner: Fritz the Dolphin and Jemmy the Cat are original to this version.
  • Cats Are Magic: Jemmy somehow knows Marina is a mermaid.
  • Cats Are Mean: Jemmy the cat hates Marina on sight and frequently attempts to harm, kill, or discredit her.
  • Cool Old Lady: Marina's grandma gives her and her sisters special pearls that signify their right to visit the surface.
  • Dark Reprise: Marina sings a darker version of her song on the night of her death.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Marina's gasping and moaning during her transformation.
  • Downer Ending: The prince realizes his mistake just after it's too late, and Fritz tearfully chases the bubbles that were Marina. The only consolation is that Marina gets a soul and goes to Heaven.
  • Dramatic Shattering: When the Prince tells Marina he's found and is marrying who he thinks is his princess she drops a mirror, which breaks.
  • Everybody Calls Him "Barkeep": The Sea Witch is only referred to by her title.
  • Godiva Hair:
    • Marina, both underwater and when she first gains her legs.
    • Also her sisters, until they cut their hair as payment to the witch.
  • In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: The full title is Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid
  • In-Series Nickname: Marina is called "Princess Mermaid" by the Prince.
  • It's All About Me: The Prince confesses to Marina that he wants to marry the girl who found him after he washed up on the beach, but since he can't find her, he wants to marry her instead. This gives the lovesick Marina a brief Hope Spot, even after his parents forbid the union and insist he enter an Arranged Marriage. When the princess his parents choose for him turns out to be the girl who found him, the Prince excitedly tells Marina the good news. It never seems to occur to him that she might feel disappointed or heartbroken that he cast her aside after finding someone better.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Marina's older sisters ridiculed her and threatened to tell on her. However, they sacrificed their hair to give Marina a chance to live, even if they were going to make her kill the prince to do so.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • The Sea Witch never is punished by all the destruction her sea storms cause, or the humans she kills by sinking ships to drink some "human blood".
    • Jemmy goes unpunished from summoning a pack of wolves to kill Marina.
    • Both the King and Queen don't receive any comeuppance for locking up Marina and forcing their son to marry the princess they chose. It's true they didn't know that would kill Marina, but still, they caused her death and probably wouldn't care if they knew the truth.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: The Prince, after he realizes who his "Princess Mermaid" really was.
  • Named by the Adaptation: None of the characters had names in the original fairy tale. Here, the mermaid is Marina, and the prince is named Prince Fjord. Additionally, the human princess was unnamed in the original Japanese, but the English dub calls her Princess Cecilia.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Fritz the dolphin is Marina's close friend and is by her side on land and sea.
  • Parental Marriage Veto: The King and Queen are not pleased to learn how close their son is becoming with the girl he found, and forcibly separate them after he asserts he wants to marry her over the princess they choose for him.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: At first, the Prince refused to accept the princess his parents want him to marry, but is overjoyed when the princess turns out to be the black-haired girl that he was pining after.
  • Pet the Dog: In the English dub, the sea-witch warns Marina before making her sacrifice to consider the possibility that her love may simply be unrequited.
  • Rebellious Princess: Marina visits the surface before she's allowed to.
  • Rite of Passage: Earning a pearl in your hair marks mermaids as being able to visit the surface. Marina's the last to get one.
  • Sinister Surveillance: During Marina's coming-of-age ceremony, the Sea Witch is seen spying on her song via her cauldron.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: In the final ending of the original story (it went through many revisions), the titular mermaid's newly created soul is stuck in limbo and will have to perform at least a century of good deeds before she can go to Heaven. In this version, Marina gets a soul and goes to Heaven immediately after she dies.
  • Talking Animal: The ones underwater, such as Fritz, and at least one on land, Jemmy the cat.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: The Prince's parents pretend his mother is gravely ill in order to manipulate him into coming to visit them, so they can forcibly separate him from his "Princess Mermaid" and take him to meet the princess THEY want him to marry instead.