Stylish people can be scary;
Fear not, the sisterhood is with you!
As a way to kick off Women’s History Month properly, I’m reviewing a relatively new anime called Kuragehime, otherwise known as Princess Jellyfish, which is based on a women’s manga written and illustrated by Akiko Higashimura.
This anime is already one of my absolute favourites because I fell in love with the characters and their stories, and because I literally laughed out loud while I was watching it alone, and that is a rare feat indeed. The basic premise is this: Tsukimi is one of a group of otaku women living in a Tokyo apartment building who call themselves “amars” (nuns) and refer to themselves as “the sisterhood.” Each of the five women has her own particular obsession, and Tsukimi’s is jellyfish.
One day while rescuing a spotted jellyfish, Tsukimi accidentally befriends one of the “stylish,” a woman named Kuranosuke… who is actually a boy who enjoys cross-dressing in order to escape from his political family. Despite her discomfort with having a male around, they become friends. However, Tsukimi has to keep Kuranosuke’s true gender a secret from the rest of the sisterhood, and Kuranosuke in turn works to help the sisterhood save their beloved apartment building from encroaching developers. Things really start to get interesting when Tsukimi develops a crush on Kuranosuke’s older brother Shū, and Kuranosuke, who has had stylish girls fawn over him his entire life, starts to have feelings for shy unstylish Tsukimi…
There are so many reasons to love this excellent anime, but for me, there are three main reasons that this anime is completely made of win:
1.) It’s feminist! I think we’ve all seen enough hugely bosomed, tiny skirted anime girls to last us a lifetime. Even a relative newbie to anime like yours truly can’t help but roll my eyes at some of the over-the-top fan service that finds its way into various storylines. And if that’s your thing, great, enjoy, you’ve got lots and lots and LOTS of options available to you. However, I found this anime refreshing for its realistic portrayal of women. There are women of all shapes and sizes in this anime, shocking! I could actually identify with many of the characters, which is a first. And there are women characters who don’t date, and they don’t feel the need to dress a certain way in order to attract men. Even when they do get makeovers, it’s empowering because they do it for themselves, and at the end of the day they’re still perfectly happy just being themselves without the added glitz and glamor. Plus there’s a male virgin past the age of sixteen! Plus Kuranosuke’s cross-dressing is accepted as just part of who he is, and it doesn’t devolve into a crude stereotype. You know the Bechdel Test? This anime passes with flying colours.
2.) It’s hilarious! Some of the situations that the characters find themselves in are just downright absurd. Not to say that there aren’t real issues being dealt with, or that there isn’t a deeper story at its heart. There are plenty of emotional scenes to go around in this anime. But there are also some gloriously funny parts. I won’t describe any so as not to give anything away, but trust me on this: you will laugh.
3.) It’s deliciously cute! Even though the characters are all old enough to be living on their own and making grown-up decisions, that doesn’t detract from their cuteness. The love triangle is filled with darling moments. The opening montage is ridiculously adorable. And Clara the spotted jellyfish is just precious.
Perhaps best of all, you can watch the entire first season of Princess Jellyfish for free online (at least you can in the US; I’m not sure about other countries). Be warned, it’s subtitles only unless you speak Japanese, but the characters speak slowly enough that you can fully enjoy watching and reading at the same time. So what are you waiting for? Go watch it right now!