Saban's The Adventures of The Little Mermaid

Saban's The Adventures of The Little Mermaid is a 1991 Japanese television series dubbed into English by Saban Entertainment, while its original version was aired by Fuji Television as Ningyo Hime Marina no Boken (The Adventures of Mermaid Princess Marina). I can't comment on the original, but this page is for its English-dubbed Saban reincarnation.

There are 26 episodes of this series, and although it uses the Hans Christian Andersen story as a starting point, it goes off the rails in an amazingly ridiculous and light-hearted way, turning the basic concept of a love story between a mermaid princess and a human prince into a screwball romantic comedy with a large arc that heads towards the happily ever after that are denied the main pairing. It's spiritually more like Splash, honestly.

The opening episode, "Return to the Sea" sets things in motion pretty neatly. Princess Marina the mermaid saves Prince Justin from drowning and trades her voice to Hedwig the sea witch to temporarily gain legs. Justin mistakenly believes that Princess Cecily is his rescuer, to Marina's dismay. By the time Justin regains his true memories it's too late and Marina is a mermaid once more, having been transformed back safely by the wizard Anselm. Fortunately Justin and Marina manage to reunite and confess their love.

The rest of the series follows Marina and Justin getting up to all sorts of wacky hijinks as they be adorable around each other and search for their happy ending. The main engine of their adventures is a pair of potions they obtain in the first two episodes: Justin has a potion that can make him breathe underwater for one hour a day, and Marina has a potion that can give her legs for one hour a day.

It's fluffy, sweet and hilarious in turns, with some epically cracky scenarios and snappy dialogue. (Never have I expected to watch a show where a mermaid and her sidekick make a game about primary numbers.) The tropes are endless: there's mistaken identities, sneaking around, Marina and Justin going on dates, kidnappings, hidden agendas, secret histories and so on, making the "Adventures" in the title really appropriate. Enriching the character canvas include Anselm the secret Wizard, Hedwig the Sea Witch, Princess Cecily, Marina's seahorse friend Winnie, Anselm's otter sidekick Ridley, and Dudley the hammerhead shark, all of whom have their own roles whether help or hinder the little mermaid and her beloved. Sadly the series ends before we get to see their happy endings, but after so many successes and thwarting of Hedwig's plans, it's easy to enough to imagine a scenario where their victory goes all the way.

EPISODES

01. Return to the Sea: Princess Marina the mermaid saves Prince Justin from drowning and exchanges her voice for legs from Hedwig the sea witch. Marina is heartbroken when Justin mistakenly believes Princess Cecily saved his life, but her tail and voice are restored by the wizard Anselm. Justin regains his memories and gets a potion from Anselm that will allow him to breathe underwater for one hour a day. He uses it to reunite with Marina, and the pair pledge to find a way to be together.
02. The Golden Tablet: Hedwig obtains the Golden Tablet, which contains great magic spells and will be able to make Marina human permanently. Marina, Justin, Winnie and Bobo the fish try to obtain it. They fail but are able to steal some of Hedwig’s Potion of Change, which will give Marina legs for one hour, though it can only be used once a day, and she must not let her legs get wet.

03. Water, Water Everywhere: Justin’s mother holds a masquerade ball, and Justin invites Marina as his partner “Princess Bianca”, which makes Cecily jealous and suspicious. Hedwig transforms Dudley into a human to sabotage Marina, though he fails.
04. A Leopard and His Spots: Justin helps babysit Marina’s young cousin, Barnabus, who is sick with the measles. Hedwig captures Justin and Barnabus, intending to use them to get the Amulet of Power from Anselm, but they manage to escape.

05. Wither Thou Goest: Hedwig has Prince Lothar of the kingdom of Braxton kidnap Justin for her. Marina goes on land by herself to rescue him.
06. What’s Cookin’: Hedwig accidentally drinks the Potion of Reversal, which temporarily makes her sweet and kind. While in this mindset she gives Marina and Justin more of the Potion of Change.

07. Be Careful What You Wish: The gang discover a wishing well. Justin wishes to always be good, Winnie wishes to never see Hedwig ever and Marina wishes that she and Justin can be together always. The well was created by Hedwig when she was a wicked human sorceress, so the wishes all backfire. Anselm sends a message to Hedwig reminding her how the spell is to be fixed. Plus backstory on Hedwig and Anselm’s past!
08. A Day in the Country: Marina and Justin deal with poachers and a forest fire, Anselm goes searching for supplies, and Ridley magically cleans Anselm’s lair. Marina and Justin almost discover that Anselm is a wizard.

09. Safe Deposit: Hedwig goes on land to hide the Golden Tablet but it's stolen by Lothar, who also kidnaps Justin. Hedwig thinks the Tablet was stolen by Justin, and kidnaps Marina to try and get it back. Justin escapes and is forced to trade the Tablet for Marina. Anselm transforms Ridley into a monster to save Marina and Justin.
10. Sugar and Spice: Hedwig threatens to attack Marina’s weak spot, which the gang mistakenly believe means Justin. Hedwig kidnaps Marina’s sister, Coral, who is accidentally turned into a baby by a spell and wreaks havoc in Hedwig’s lair.

11. A Friend Indeed: Marina and Justin hit ridiculous levels of flirtatious competitiveness. Meanwhile, Hedwig kidnaps Leah the dolphin’s daughter, using her to lure Marina and Justin into a trap.
12. Sing Along with the Witch: Hedwig makes a deal with Lothar: she concocts a strength potion for him, and he steals for her a magical pipe that can enchant people. Hedwig gains control of everyone, and Anselm has to intervene and save the day.

13. Big Best Friend: Hedwig makes Marina and gang believe that she’s hidden the Golden Tablet in the Valley of Volcanoes. They head there and Justin is captured by a giant gargoyle who just wants to play.
14. Quest for the Golden Tablet: Hedwig hides the Golden Tablet inside the Castle of Tartarus, which has many dangerous traps and devices inside its labyrinth. Justin, Marina and Winnie brave its dangers anyway, though once again they’re unable to get the tablet at the last moment.

15. A Case of Mistaken Identity: It’s the one year anniversary of Marina’s saving Justin from drowning. Justin has to go for lessons, but gives a present and a love note to Chauncey to give to Marina. Unfortunately Justin’s mother intercepts and gives the present and note to Cecily, thinking they’re for her. Marina misunderstands when she hears what happened and runs off heartbroken, leaving it to Justin to set things right.
16. Beauty & the Beast: Hedwig’s latest plan involves intercepting Ridley’s latest delivery of Anselm’s Potion of Change to Justin. When Justin drinks it, he turns into a monstrous creature that’s loyal to Hedwig.

17. A Man's Best Friend is His Dogfish: Marina gives her dogfish, Flip, a note to pass to Justin to tell him she’s going away with her family to visit her great-grandmother. Marina’s father, King Nestor, orders to Flip stay and watch the merecastle. Justin doesn’t get the note and travels underwater, only to be kidnapped by Hedwig.
18. A Mortal in Mermaid's Clothing: Justin and Marina are horseriding in the woods when Marina’s horse is spooked and gallops away. Marina falls in a river, restoring her tail, and she is captured by bandits and sold to a man who displays her in public as a carnival attraction. Anselm, Justin, Winnie and Ridley need to figure out how to rescue her and keep merfolk a secret from the masses.

19. Nature Hike: Hedwig gives information to Lothar that will enable him to kidnap Justin and Marina for her. Lothar betrays Hedwig and kidnaps Justin for his own purposes, and Hedwig retaliates by turning her sharks into human soldiers to get her revenge.
20. My Bonnie Lies Under the Sea: Hedwig transforms Dudley into a beautiful human woman named Dudlette and gives him a love potion to use on Justin. Chauncey drinks the potion instead, and he falls madly in love with Dudlette.

21. The Trojan Sea Horse: It’s Winnie’s birthday, and the gang prepare a birthday party for her. Hedwig decides to use Winnie’s insatiable curiosity against her and sends a present of her own: a giant sea horse filled with her army of sharks and eels.
22. A Rose by Any Other Name: Hedwig puts what she thinks is a sleeping spell on a pair of flowers that Marina and Justin pluck and wear. Justin and Marina attend the royal dog show, and as it turns out Hedwig made a mistake and the spell is a personality switcher, which causes havoc when various owners and their dogs switch personalities.

23. X Marks the Spot: Hedwig plants a map leading to the Cave of Honeycomb. Justin, Marina and Barnabus follow the map in the hopes of finding the Golden Tablet, all three of riding Barnabus’ volcano copter through the currents of the cave.
24. One Man’s Bread is Another Man’s Poison: For the jousting festival, Hedwig bakes a pie out of plants that are edible to merfolk but poisonous to humans. Justin eats it and falls deathly ill. Marina’s grandmother tells her that only the polyps from Hedwig’s cave can cure him, so Marina braves Hedwig’s cave to collect them.

25. Hold That Thought: Hedwig creates a sticky goo that can be used to trap people and will only unstick with a special antidote. She uses it on Marina and Winnie, capturing them. Hedwig then hypnotizes Marina so that she works for her. But unknown to Hedwig the hypnosis didn’t work and Marina teams up with Justin to turns the tables on the sea witch.
26. Waste Not, Want Not: While cleaning up Hedwig’s lair, Dudley accidentally takes the Golden Tablet out with the garbage. The tablet is dropped into a giant clam, so Marina, Justin, Winnie and Bobo rush to get it before Hedwig does.

+ back to other versions of the little mermaid +

comments powered by Disqus