It's actually kind of the other way round, mint-meta-* depend on all the packages mint uses in its default installs, in exactly the same way as the *buntu-desktop packages (so I don't know what you're getting at with the dissimilarity). Both can be safely removed, and will be unlikely to affect the day-to-day running of mint, but can in theory prevent an easy upgrade, e.g. felicia -> gloria, mintWelcome was added, which would not have been installed properly on upgrade without the meta packages, but isn't an issue if you always do a fresh install anyway. I hope this is clear enough.
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