You have seen this anime before. A typical high school male lead has something about him that makes him different. He is then met by a flat chested girl of similar age who he interacts with while she fights off baddies. They eventually fall for each other, but not before a big plot monster comes into their world and messes it up a bit. Throw in a bit of light comedy, a humorous male best friend, a female friend who teases the two of them and you have the formula for JC Staff anime number 26369.
Dream Eater Merry does some things better, some things worse and some things different. For example, I like the giant CGI bone fish floating in the sky in the nightmare cat world. On the ‘actually having a personality’ scale, the male lead thankfully swings more towards the Ryuji of Toradora end rather than that guy with no personality whatsoever from Shakugan no Shana. For the things it does worse, the comedy is all a miserable failure and probably the worst I’ve ever seen JC Staff attempt. It also does that annoying thing of focusing on showing the action girl in pretty poses to later make figurines in similar positions instead of animating something resembling a decent fight. You could tell how desperate the animators were to show this female lead they had created when, instead of carefully not revealing what the character looked like until it had more impact, they instantly showed a pan up shot of her in the very first scene.
But these minor details hardly matter. You’ve seen this anime before, JC Staff make at least 2 per year and other studios like AIC, Deen and Xebec frequently try to copy them, often managing to be even worse than your average JC Staff production. Why do they keep making them though? I’ve been trying to trace back in time to see when this phenomenon occurred. Was it Mai Hime? Rozen Maiden? The great uptake in these sort of anime really only happened after Shakugan no Shana, so was it that anime that opened the floodgates? Either way, nothing new to see here.