Synopsis: Marin Asagi is an easygoing junior high school girl with a chipper attitude and an adoptive family that is as large as it is loving. Her easygoing lifestyle is drastically shaken when a bizarre mirage is seen in the sky above the entire earth. An extraterrestrial known as a Monomakia arrives from a world called Brigadoon and attempt to hunt down poor Marin. As she attempts to escape from her other worldly pursuer, she discovers a blue bottle within a shrine. The bottle contains Melan Blue, a gun toting, sword-wielding Monomakia who is on a mission to protect Marin his own kind. Marin Melan together must deal with not only otherworldly foes, but with the resulting social stigma and family crises that come as a result having to fight off the Monomakia threat.
Simply put, it’s a show that’s all over the fucking place and I kinda love it for that.
If you were to ask me to fit Brigadoon: Marin and Melan into one dominant category, I would honestly be at a loss. This is a series that doesn’t tie itself down to any specific genre, Brigadoon instead opts to include a wide variety of elements into its grand stirring pot. You want series mech (or very mech-like) battles? Heartwarming family drama? A world endangering conspiracy? Goofy comedy? Yuri undertones? Dark psychological drama? Brigadoon brings all of these ingredients together. This type of blend will likely prove off putting to those who aren’t a fan of one or more of the aforementioned areas, an will probably end up too jarring for some folks to get into. Even then there can be little doubt that once the wheels of the plot start spinning, that Brigadoon is at the very least a highly imaginative title.
The storytelling of present here isn’t something that can be judged based off of the first couple of episodes. While the monster of the week format persists throughout the 1st half, there are other serious elements at play here. What sets Brigadoon’s earlier episodes apart from other proxy battle titles are the actual repercussions that come with a child summoning a monster to combat other monsters. Lives are damaged/destroyed, thus people grow fearful and act on their fear. This is where the more tragic elements come in to play as not only does Marin become a pariah in the eyes of her peers, she is also targeted by the police as well for being at the centre of all the madness she never asked for. This is a series that won’t pull it’s punches and knows how to use shock factor as a means of getting points across.
Once the 2nd half hits, Brigadoon plunges head first into its own strange mythos and slowly reveals elements, those that are both entirely new and those foreshadowed earlier on. The story picks up a greater sense of urgency as well, as its plot-twists suggest that there is more at stake than just the lives of Marin and Melan. Although there are many elements at play within the setting of Brigadoon, some of the more vital ones do not receive much attention and feel pulled out of thin air with last minute explanations during the last episode. Another somewhat annoying trait this series adopts is use of cliffhangers sometimes. Very rarely will there be a cliffhanger that isn’t resolved via disappointingly simple means. It’s these somewhat cheap tricks that put a damper on what is otherwise a rewarding experience.
The true heart of Brigadoon lies in the intriguingly handled relationship between Marin and her alien guardian Melan. It develops from protector/protected, to father/daughter, and finally to the kind of relationship that should by all accounts feel wrong. The progression of their love feels gradual and given their extreme reliance on each other, the destination feels justified. The wrapping up of their character arcs as a result feels cathartic enough to bring one to tears. Helping Marin get through her hardships is her makeshift extended family. Their personalities often rely on one-note gags, but the levity they offer is welcome in the face of the looming despair hanging over the story.
Brigadoon’s aesthetic, while dated visually, evokes a feeling of uniqueness not unlike the story itself. Although the visuals are by no means amazing, the overall cartoony style gives the show its own look. The series is set in 1969 and it certainly shows since special attention is given to make the locations give off that kind of vibe. Though the fight scenes are fluid enough, still, the OST is much more remarkable. “Kaze no Ao, Umi no Midori” by Ikuko is a damn good opener with an appropriately sorrowful feel to it. The rest of the track is diverse enough to accommodate for the range of tones that series employs. My only gripe lies with the ending theme, which on its own is pretty decent, cutesy stuff. However when an episode ends with a serious cliffhanger, it only serves to damage the mood with its cheery tune. It’s as bad as the outtro to Clannad After Story was to *aherm* a certain episode.
It’s to easy see why Brigadoon: Marin and Melan incapable of achieving any more then cult status. I believe that the quirky look may have given off the wrong message to many anime watchers as to what this series is all about. It’s a “something for everyone” sort of show to the point where it ends up being an acquired taste, if that makes any sense. Perhaps the best recommendation I can make for this series is that you should watch it if you’re the sort of person who can live with having their emotions jerked about. If so then prepare for a game of Genre Roulette the likes of which you may never see replicated to this success.