This is review number two hundred and twenty six. This anime is part of the Fall 2011 lineup. Look at that. I’m in a brand new lineup. I’m actually excited since there are a lot of great anime in this lineup. I’m starting with one that I am dying to watch. The show I’ll be watching is Princess Jellyfish or Kuragehime. It’s an eleven episode anime and its part of the noitaminA lineup. God, this legendary block has had some ugly hurdles. Watching Princess Jellyfish reminds me how promising noitaminA once was. Anyways, this show is about a girl and a guy and some jellyfish. It’s cute. Let’s read on.
The anime is about this awkward girl named Tsukimi Kurashita. She lives in this apartment along with her fellow “otaku” friends and they share the same kind of social anxiety, loathe for stylish people and an obsessive hobby that consumes them. They are all also virgins so imagine Tsukimi’s reaction when a stylish girl that crashed in her room turned out to actually be a guy in drag. It was shocking for Tsukimi. The boy seemed to enjoy his stay in the apartment though and decided to become friends with Tsukimi. This socially awkward little girl seemed to have caught the attention of one handsome cross dresser and their growing relationship seems to be something both of them aren’t totally prepared for.
Taking the Pants Off
I have been dying to see this anime for a long time now. I’ve seen countless praise about this show. As a reviewer, I wanted to try my hand at it. The praises are certainly deserved because this is truly an entertaining anime. There is this certain charm about this show that makes you want to see more of it. The brilliant balance of comedy, drama and romance is pretty amazing. I review anime in a lineup and as I review the new anime, I am also working backwards. It’s rare for me to see a show without the common trends like moe or stylish CG. Kuragehime seemed to be released in a simpler time where a studio respected its manga source yet still had enough creative freedom to add its own charm to it. I love it because I don’t see a lot of it. It’s a simple anime with a lovely concept and an entertaining story to tell. You do not need to read this review. Please, just go watch it.
The premise of the show is pretty simple. It’s about a shy girl who suddenly had a cross dressing handsome guy fancying her. The problem is that she doesn’t know how to talk to guys and she lives in a place that doesn’t want boys inside. It’s a really playful premise that I personally enjoy. A guy that had a lot of girls flocking over him suddenly spending time with a shy girl with major social anxieties is something I really want to watch. I guess it was the idea of an otaku being in love that draws me to the story. The term “otaku” in the show aren’t people in love in anime, by the way. The term in the show is a derogatory slang directed towards people that basically have no life. I think the original term is people that have no friends and borderline suicidal. Anyways, there’s something about the way our awkward heroine acts that I personally can relate to. The way the anime nicely portrayed an otaku was intriguing and I just can’t help but cheer on the main character as I progress through the anime.
The story of the show is a bit expansive though. It starts out with the otaku and the cross dresser but it eventually branches out into many subplots as the story keeps moving forward. For the purpose of this review, there are three plot points I’d love to talk about. The first one is about the eccentric people living in this apartment called Amamizukan. As I said before, I love the way the anime portrayed being an “otaku”. The people in Amamizukan are all close to each other as they drink tea and eat desserts together. All of them have different kinds of hobbies but they are all pretty obsessive that they consume their life. They all have this disdain for looking beautiful and prefer the comforts of home over anything else. It may not seem much of a plot point but the way they act outside their home is something I really enjoyed watching. They are socially awkward around normal and the so called “stylish” people that they instinctively turn into stone. All of them share this kind of crippling social anxiety and it’s often a treat to see what other buttons will be pushed related to their otaku lifestyle. The scathing words of “Do you have a job?” or the fear of successful people are among the things that set our lovable otakus off. Seeing the stylish cross dresser talk to them and see them react unusually is really a fun thing to watch. The way the cross dresser also have pushed himself through their life and change it a bit is also a strong part of this plot point. Of course, deep down, this group of socially awkward people is actually really nice and caring when they are their normal self. There is this kind of honesty about watching the characters that I really enjoyed. I know there’s not a lot to explore here but the different musings regarding the people of Amamizukan is certainly one of the strongest appeals of the show.
The second plot point is about the cross dresser and our main character. The relationship between Tsukimi and the cross dresser, Kuranosuke, is one of the main focus of the show. Kuranosuke is a guy that finds the people of Amamizukan entertaining and has decided to hang out with them when he has the time. He especially loves being around Tsukimi who just freaks out whenever she sees the guy. I can’t really say that the plot point is a romantic one since there was very little progression regarding that. The anime barely did anything romantic but it painted a nice story of how much the two really belong together. It’s really subtle because the anime is mostly comedy. It really just centers on Tsukimi trying to get use to a hot guy being around her. For a socially challenged girl like her, it’s like pointing a gun at her and robbing her of all her money in a very threatening way. That’s how much of a socially crippled girl our main character is. The show spends more time making Tsukimi freak out to have anything resembling a romantic story to commence. I don’t really thing you’ll want a love story though because there is enough comedy and sweet moments to balance the anime out.
Despite the comedy though, the anime did suggest that the two characters deserve each other. There were a lot of flashbacks and monologues you’d expect from a typical love story. All their concerns and vulnerability was exposed in the monologues that you get an idea of what they truly are and what they really want. Tsukimi has professed that the slim bodied, long limbed Kuranosuke resembles a beautiful jellyfish that she knows she can never be. Kuranosuke has confessed that there are many times where he had relations with so many girl that he grew tired of it yet he can’t seem to understand why the honest smile of Tsukimi sets him off. Its f*cking romantic, isn’t it? I’ll tell you right now though that hugs and kisses are limited in the show. The focus was elsewhere but the progression is pretty familiar.
The third plot point is about the big redevelopment of the Amamizukan into an extravagant hotel. The surrounding buildings around the apartment are all being bought and demolished so a really big hotel can replace the area. The apartment is now in danger of being torn down as well and the residents must now do their best to make sure it doesn’t happen. This plot point is fairly huge and this is where a lot of things branch off into their own little subplots. There are also a lot of characters concerned. I’ll try not to spoil much though. The focus of this plot point is basically about the characters finding a way to save the apartment. I’ll admit the pacing was all over the place but the main idea is there. They must come up with a fool proof plan to make sure the building is safe. Kuranosuke mostly led the rally to save the place by coming up with a lot ideas and the rest of the people march along. This plot point seemed a bit rushed, to be honest. The thing I love about this one though is how it connects to the rest of the story. The first and second plot points are smartly incorporated in this one. So imagine a story about the socially challenged individuals trying to save their home while Kuranosuke and Tsukimi slowly grow closer together. The third plot point, despite being a bit weak story wise, actually tied the whole thing together.
The characters really made this show special. There are a lot of stand outs in this anime and they really made it complete. Their own brand of craziness really adds a lot to the show and you often watch it just to see them do what they do best. The main character is Tsukimi. She is shy, awkward and has this obsession over jellyfish that her eyes light up whenever she sees one. Her unusual otaku lifestyle really makes up her personality and her eccentric behavior defines her. I love her monologues though. It’s something I personally missed in anime since not a lot of characters do so nowadays. With moe and other high trends, soul baring monologue in every episode have quietly died down. Tsukimi’s monologues are all about her insecurities and her longing for her mother. It’s all a nice veil of strong emotions she often feels that really help the viewer’s connect with her. The other main character is Kuranosuke. He is the cross dressing hot guy that has grown tired of being around women. He has reasons for being a cross dresser and some cute reasons for being with Tsukimi as well. He has some issues about his family as well that he seems to run away too. He also his moments of monologue but it’s really his bright disposition that makes him stand out. He is around a lot of socially weird people so his cross dressing antics really stand out. While the others are stiff like a stone, he’d be happily encouraging them to try new things they usually can’t stand. Of course, his cute little crush with Tsukimi, which gradually grows into something more serious, also makes him an interesting character.
The rest of the characters are also pretty interesting. I can define the people of Amamizukan in one sentence: they all have eight grade syndrome. I am so glad there is now a term for being a weird otaku that play acts everything they do. Those kinds of play acting and embarrassing kinds of people have eight grade syndrome. Of course, this is 2010 so the term isn’t known yet. The people in the apartment all have obsessive hobbies that really define them. One is a Three Kindgom/martial arts addict, another is a train addict, another is a doll addict and one of them has an old guy fetish. It’s a bright cast of oddities if there ever was one. Tsukimi and a mangaka that never shows her face complete the group. Their eight grade syndrome really defines them and their eccentric otaku lifestyle that has various musings you just can’t help but laugh at. They all eventually grow on you though. I often find myself smiling just seeing the people of Amamizukan because they do have this certain charm I find entertaining. They also have a short transformation since they do have some role in the story. It’s fairly little but enough to make them even more appealing. They’re also adorable in their own eccentric otaku way that does make for a good anime.
The story is growing so nicely that the eleven episodes dedicated to the show are not enough. While I am a fan of no moe and no heavy CG, something I hate is part of this anime. Mangalure. Yeah, majority of anime back in the days are just mere tools to promote the original source. Some anime are still massive mangalure today since Light Novels and Visual Novels adapted anime are often meant to attract people to buy the source but in a way where you get a decent close ended story in the anime. This show was the most painful kind of mangalure. The story was clearly expanding into something you really want to watch yet you already know the anime ends at episode 11 so you will be forced to read manga. I am actually dedicating my weekend to try the manga now and I hate manga but I love this show. I’m pretty sure you’ll love this show tremendously as well despite the mangalure implications. So don’t worry about a half-finished story in the show. There are enough things to enjoy as you watch this anime.
I really love this show. The concept is pretty fresh and the story is very playful. The way the anime balance everything is also pretty great. There is enough drama in the show to incorporate to the comedy it dishes out yet also making sure there are some romance on the side. The way the anime stayed true to the manga is something I really admire. Takahiro Omori really knows how to make a good adaptation. I guess I can’t be surprised since he gave Baccano a decent anime despite the intimidating source material. He did the same kind of magic for Kuragahime and I thank him for that. It’s not everyday where you get to see a talented director truly capture the appeal of the anime’s original source.
Sight and Sound
I think this is where the anime may have hit a road bump. The production values looks absolutely cheap. The animation is a bit sloppy and it’s not consistent. One scene would have a very beautiful shot of the characters but the same kind of angle has a different outcome in another scene. The animation is limited. The eyes doesn’t blink, normal movements are fast that you barely see it, there are obvious short cuts in most scenes that demand high animation and there doesn’t seem to be a touch of finesse in the anime, to be honest. One of the reasons for that is that I believe this anime was hand drawn. I think digital animation hit around 2011 and most studios are still doing basic drawn animation in 2010. You can tell its basic drawn because of the lack of consistency and the use of a dull color palette for the background. It’s not really a bad thing. This show is a good example of how a good story and concept easily trumps animation and overall visual presentation. I also find basic drawn animation as a guilty pleasure of mine. You can often feel the effort made in every scene because of how each movement is noticeable and there is obvious care in scenes that truly mattered. When Tsukimi blushes, smiles and cries, you can sense the emotion of the scene coming through nice just by looking at it. It doesn’t need words and that’s something new anime barely do nowadays. I respect these kinds of animation despite looking sloppy and inconsistent. There are some touches of CG though but they are barely employed. I noticed one scene involving a door opening forward that had some CG in it but that’s really it.
The anime wonderfully captured the whimsy character design of Akiko Higashimura (the author). The characters really have a nice look to them and they all stand out in their own way. I love Tsukimi’s look. The dorky glasses, the freckles, the thick eye brows and the plain colored overalls give off a strong aura of her massive geekiness. I love it. When her geeky look is coupled by her tense and awkward nature then you have a really rounded character that is both adorable and engaging to watch. The characters of Amamizukan all have bright designs to them as well. There is a wide range that I really admire. From a fat short girl wearing a kimono with a square face to a frail girl with bangs to the side, the looks of the characters themselves really make them intriguing to watch. The animation certainly was an injustice to these really lovely characters but they still manage to draw attention to themselves because of their smart character design. Kuranosuke looks pretty in drag. I think he’s a trap but I can never tell. His long limbs and nice curves coupled by his frilly wigs give him a wonderful design. The addition of big expressive eyes layered with makeup completes his look. I also love how versatile his look is because I honestly have moments of fangirling when I see him half naked in Tsukimi’s room. I like…traps, ok. I also love how his hair is tied along with how the same long limbs give him a strong manly look. All that is replaced is the layered makeup. When he has no makeup on, you can see the manly details of his face that I personally enjoy staring at.
I also would like to point out Kana Hanazawa. I hate her voice because it’s pretty one geared: cute moe. She is definitely talented and I think she did justice portraying Tsukimi. I don’t add voice work in my reviews but the typical airheaded cute voice she gives to her character (Listen to all her work in 2011 from Deadman Wonderland to Ao no Exorcist. Same f*cking voice.) actually gave Tsukimi’s character a rather pathetic charm to it. All her self-loathing and inferiority complex really come through because of how personal her voice actor read the script. I’m not a fan of Kana Hanazawa. I think her voice is pretty lame but I think she really made Tsukimi special and I thank her for that.
The anime’s OP is “Koko Dake no Hanashi” by Chatmonchy. This is the song that made me fall head over heels for Chatmonchy. They performed this live once and my friend sent me a copy. I couldn’t get this song out of my head and I just began to worshipped Chatmonchy ever since. The song is about a personal confession of a shy person to someone she secretly loves. It really captures the charm of the anime and I think the catchy beat of the song made it doubly special. There is this nice balance of instrumentals and lyrics to the song that made it very well rounded and cute. Eriko Hashimoto (the lead singer) doesn’t really have an impressive voice but her uncultured voice really adds a lot to the song. The OP sequence is a series of movie references done by the characters. Famous scenes from Star Wars to Sex and the City are all added in the OP. It’s playful but it also made the montage really fun to watch. Every film reference actually has a short summary of the different events of the anime and I love how they manage to slip them in. The Game of Death reference had me in stitches but the idea that it actually relates to the anime made it even more special. It’s one of my favorite OP sequences for sure.
The anime’s ED is “Kimi no Kirei ni Kizuite Okure” by Sambomaster. I love this band. They are a bunch of geeks themselves and I love their OST for “Densha Otoko” (go google it). All their songs have this touch of whimsy to it but I particularly love this one because of how sincere it feels. It’s about a song where the singer encourages the listener that they are truly beautiful and they should realize that. It’s absolutely perfect for this anime and it had the Sambomaster touch of being a bit playful. The instrumentals are free form and the singer’s uncultured voice once again gives the song a wonderful personality. The ED sequence is a simple scene where the Amamikuzan characters are all children hanging out in the park. The scene involves Tsukimi playing hop scotch as the camera pans up. It ends with Kuronosuke cutting in front of Tsukimi. It’s really cute and the bright colors come through nicely without ruining the character’s personalities.
8/10 “One of the best Josei anime you can ever watch.”
This is an amazing anime. I love it and I’m sure you will love it too. There’s very little to hate about this anime and I’m sure the first episode is enough to capture your attention. If you love Comedy anime with a nice serving of Drama then you’ll love this anime. If you enjoy the sugary sweet kind of romance with really engaging characters then you’ll enjoy this show. I highly recommend it.