Ever since her late mother took her to an aquarium when she was young, Tsukimi Kurashita has been obsessed with jellyfish, comparing their flowing tentacles to a princess's white dress. Now living with five other unemployed otaku women, 19-year-old Tsukimi spends her days as a social outcast dreaming of becoming an illustrator.
However, her life changes forever when one day, a beautiful woman unexpectedly helps her save a jellyfish in a local pet store. From then on, the stranger—confident, fashionable, and the complete opposite of Tsukimi and her roommates—begins to regularly visit the girls' building. This trendy hipster, though appearing shallow at first, harbors some secrets of her own, starting with the fact that "she" isn't really a girl at all, but a wealthy male college student named Kuranosuke Koibuchi!
Kuragehime was simulcast on FUNimation in Fall 2010, and became available as a DVD and Blu-ray release the following year. Kuragehime was also briefly available for streaming on Netflix as Princess Jellyfish.
'Kuragehime' ('Jellyfish Princess') is a modern Cinderella story featuring the unlikeliest cast of a jellyfish-otaku princess and the cross-dressing prince.
The first thing I noticed about the series is the heavy influence of live-action movies.
Episode titles are parody of film titles:
1. 'Sex and the City' (2008)
2. 'Sukiyaki Western Django' (2007)
3. 'Enchanted' (2007)
4. 'Eden' (2006)
5. 'Watashi wa Kai ni Naritai' (1959/2008)
6. 'Night of the Living Dead' (1968)
7. 'Kinyuu Fushoku Rettou: Jubaku' (1999)
8. 'Million Dollar Baby' (2004)
9. 'Midnight Cowboy' (1969)
10. 'The Turning Point' (1977)
11. 'Field of Dreams' (1989)
OP is a parody of a series of famous scenes from Hollywood and Japanese films:
1. 'Sex and the City' (2008)
3. 'Singin' in the Rain' (1952)
4. 'Mary Poppins' (1964)
5. 'Emperor of the North Pole' (1973)
6. 'Onna Tobakushi' (1967)
7. 'James Bond' (1962~)
8. 'Game of Death' (1978)
9. 'The Graduate' (1967)
10. 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' (1977)
Also, major Japanese film producers and distributors were in production committee (Fuji, Toho, and Asmik Ace actually show their real opening credits in an episode)
"Josei" is a minor subcategory of "shoujo" manga and anime, targeted toward older audiences (18+). 'Kuragehime', despite being published on a josei manga magazine, lacks any mature characters or themes to really categorize it as one (and it won a manga award in shoujo rather than otona (mature/adult) category). This is clearly a shoujo anime.
'Kuragehime' is about a bunch of female otaku in Amamizukan, an apartment complex in Tokyo. These girls are severely repulsed by men and fashionable/successful people, but our heroine Tsukimi one day makes friends with fashionable cross-dresser Kuranosuke and finds out later that not only is he male, he 's also from a rich political family.
The first half of the story is mostly about Kuranosuke extending his influence over "Ama~s" ("Nun~s"), the girls in Amamizukan. It should be noted that while literal meaning of "ama" is "nun", which suits their virgin and hikikomori status in their house, it is also a derogatory slang for "women" (much like how "nun" is a slang for "prostitutes" in English). These girls are basically calling themselves "bitche~s"" and "whore~s".
The "Ama~s" consists of otaku girls with extremely bizarre hobbies. Tsukimi is into jellyfish, Ichimatsu Dolls for Chieko, 'Romance of Three Kingdoms' for Mayaya, and senile men for Jiji. The only ones with relatively common interests are Jyuon, the nocturnal fujoshi BL manga writer, and Bamba, as railfans existed way before the word "otaku" became a slang. Other than our heroine Tsukimi and acting-landlord Chieko, all the other "Ama~s" girls exist almost solely for comedy.
The second half of the story is about saving Amamizukan from a land development project. This is mostly attempted to be done by fund raising, in which the challenge for introverted girls to go out into the world and forced to interact with people is depicted, as well as Kousuke's attempt to transform Tsukimi's introvert personality by building up her confidence. Unfortunately, "Ama~s" are almost always forced to do these things they detest, and their fear of outsiders have not eased at all, freezing up in uncomfortable situations to the very end.
As expected of a shoujo anime, there is also a lot of romantic concerns for the heroine, and the typical love triangle, predicaments etc. that confuses individuals of their own feelings and prevent love confessions.
The character development between Tsukimi and Kuranosuke are rather good, though they are put into one random predicament after another, and saved in the last minute by fairytale successes, whether it's extreme makeover, profitable sales, or crowd-pleasing dress designs. Kuranosuke is practically a prince who tries to save Tsukimi from isolation and turn her into a fashionable and popular chick. Of course, she turns into a gorgeous Yamato Nadeshiko simply by taking off her glasses and putting on some makeup. The story develops into a cliché Cinderella fantasy. To make it worse, everything gets solved by predictable deus ex machina in the end.
Art quality for 'Kuragehime' is very high. Lots of variety with backgrounds, as the characters travel around Tokyo. I recognized almost every single location in Shibuya during the first episode, the staff completely animated real sites. Maybe because I'm way more familiar with Shibuya than Akibahara etc, but it seemed like they put far more attention into detail than the typical series. I can tell you that this is a very faithful reproduction of the city down to individual stores and signs. Other places like Amamizukan (actually a male-only lodge in West Waseda), parks, and streets seem to be modeled after real places as well.
Character designs deviate from the ordinary, with memorable style and traits for most characters. None of the "Ama~s" members are beautified. Fluidity is rather good, and all the characters were drawn with extremely high consistency. The comedic special effects (petrification, shock etc) were done very well.
The cast is dominated by seasoned veteran seiyuu in 30s and 40s with wide range of voices that fit characters pretty well. However, none of their voicing jobs were particularly memorable.
BGM were extremely strong, wide range of instruments playing music of different style, often setting/enhancing the mood for comedy. OP as mentioned earlier, is parody of famous scenes from movies with surprisingly good flow and audio-visual synchronization. Chatmonchy is known for their distinct rock songs, and they don't disappoint with the off-beat OP song 'Kokodake no Hanashi (Just Between Us)'. As usual of their songs, there's something about it that really moves you, and it fits the series very well with its quirkiness and optimism. And who better to sing the ED than Sambomaster, who came to popularity after their song was featured as theme song for 2005 'Densha Otoko' live-action drama, which still remains to be the most watched and arguably most influential otaku story in history? Their song "Kimi no Kirei ni Kizuite Okure (Realize How Beautiful You Are)" is a poignant rock song that really captures this anime's theme, and the ED animation comes in long shot of 1 cut. Very impressive.
With all its originality in premise, character setting, art style, and sounds, 'Kuragehime' still failed to separate itself from cliché shoujo story development.
As per typical shoujo anime, there's a lot of inner monologue explaining characters' thoughts and emotions. While this is a typical trait of shoujo manga/anime series and theoretically improve empathy and emotional attachment, I consider this to be a very poor storytelling technique as it takes away the joy of thinking and imagining their state of mind. It gets tiresome when they explain the obvious every single time, and slows down the pace of the story. The comedy was hilarious at first, but gets repetitive after a while with identical 'Olé' cover ups, shock face, petrification, girly prime minister etc. that gets predictable and tiresome after a while. Repetition can be funny, but it needs to be executed with intelligence and variety.
In addition, I found it hard to connect with the characters simply because their interests are too "maniac" (bizarre/weird), as the Japanese call it. I don't think I'll ever understand a girl's unhealthy fascination with jellyfish or creepy dolls or senile men moe... and I was completely lost when Mayaya spew out bunch of 'Romance of Three Kingdoms' references. I also had no idea why the author would portray girl otaku as nothing more than simple creepy freaks. "Ama~s" may be a group of girl otaku with uncommon interests, but they all behaved like a cookie cutter male otaku from general public's perception of otaku culture other than their androphobia, and didn't explore further into the views and motivations from girl otaku's perspective.
It is still an enjoyable show, but 'Kuragehime' could've easily been so much more. However, I am very impressed at how 'noitaminA' series continue to reject the trend in the industry with uncommon premise and low on moe/ecchi. Any series aired in this time slot continues to be a must-watch for serious anime fans.
The setup for Princess Jellyfish revolves around six NEET females who have decided to live together in a small, "retro" building. They all lead their daily mooch lifestyles through the show, coming into contact with a few different types of people in the process, and that is just about its entirety.
Before moving along with that statement, let's focus on the budget. Princess Jellyfish is well animated and has a pleasant art style. The show's direction carries some expression, and the soundtrack is indeed serviceable. I would consider the opening and ending music good and am pleased when seeing how plentiful of references they can be,
along with some of the show. Some of this is refreshing, however, things shift downward when the focus is directed more to the actual story and what it has to offer.
I've witnessed many NEET anime and other shows which follow very similar premises, like Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo. Stories of this focus have been carried out well and in a way that keeps them interesting with some variety. Just by being a series that carries the term "slice-of-life", it isn't expected that you will be entering a mirror of a slow reality, as series like Haruhi show you can push the bar a bit. Even so, Princess Jellyfish decides to go right ahead and take a dive in that concept.
Princes Jellyfish is a story of a forced, shallow love-triangle and of socially odd people who open themselves slightly to amending their typical ways. That's the story of Princess Jellyfish, and that's as far as it will go. Essentially, watching the first two episodes of the series will give you enough to accurately guesstimate the entire series with this in mind, besides the fates of the love triangle. No plot point in this show ever gets developed or treated as something beyond the strange will it has to continually shift them to goofy, comedic gags. A point like the rationality of NEETs is never explored, while several times being joked at, and by the end it comes to thought that the whole incorporation of it was for the basic intent to be served as a quirk by the characters.
The humor of Princess Jellyfish consists of the quirkiness of its character roster. Many of these character's personalities are literally their quirks, along with the basic principles of being a NEET for the main girls. No character ever feels alive beyond the second episode, which ends up making the show feel like a string of events involving a cross-dresser and a bunch of nameless moochers. Not to mention the "events" that take place are hardly ones that peak interest as issues that arise are so meager that at times you might think more towards the fact that these characters are doing absolutely nothing beyond surviving off their parents allowances.
I'm not degrading Princess Jellyfish with bias in its inclusion of NEETs, but the whole idea is simply inserted half-heatedly, and while the show seems to push to develop the character's self-respect to become more individual people, the story only grows them far enough to barely reach a relationship with someone of the opposite sex. This lack of focus into anything else beyond a basic romance creates a sensation of the show's true goal being the ability to self-insert. The only arguable message the show presents is that anyone can be beautiful if they choose to be so, but this is presented more figuratively than literally with nothing proving such an idea beyond the character being drawn more attractive after having a cartoon makeover. The characters run off quirks and the plot lacks in meaning and depth.
The slightly unique, light romance of Princess Jellyfish is without a doubt the strongest thing it had going for it. The quirkiness presented at the start from both sides, along with the side characters involved, created for a situation where a potentially interesting romance could have begun. Although it continued to be the show's strong-point after the start, things quickly began to damper as the writer decided it would be best for the characters to stick to their roots and have their personalities almost literally be their quirks, letting events and situations lead the way. The main character is brought down in this lack of attention to development, and by the end of the show you're left with the same self-insertable character with just the upgrade of a chance at love. That love, in particular, forming without any sense of the word "natural". Explaining in a way not to make the entire series feel empty by revealing the love triangle plot, both male leading characters in question lead generally purposeful lives in which they would have no reason to feel desperate about their love lives. However, upon their run-down with the main female, things clearly change to her liking.
If you want to watch an anime with some western movie industry influence, only in references, than this show has some of that. If you want a slice-of-life series with quirky comedy and awkward situations, this show has that. If you are looking to be at least somewhat emotionally invested in either plot or characters, wanting something to ponder about or something to surprise you, than this show beyond the first episode is likely not what you'd appreciate watching.
There's nothing taken care of in Princess Jellyfish. The show grabs the term "slice-of-life" and takes it to heart, fueling its uniqueness off of character quirks that are admittedly unique in that they can't all be defined by the most generic of archetypes. The story is devoid of plot goals and development, as the ending feels but a few paces ahead of the beginning. Solutions to problems come at the ding of the microwave, and characters are taken straight out of the fridge to be eaten raw. Does that sound like part of your diet?
I double-dog dare those who are about to click "not-helpful" to discuss first. I'm always open.
When looking into this anime, it’s like looking into an anime version of a fairy tale, which sort of involves a princess or a princess-like character and also a fairy godmother-like character, but unlike a fairy tale (or at least, any fairy tale that’s been infected by Disney sooner or later), this one is going to be sugarcoated, especially when dealing with the stages of being awkward around different people and the way you act around them.
Amamizu-kan, an old boarding house in Tokyo, is the home of The Sisterhood – a group of otaku women of various stripes who shun The Stylish and men in
general. Tsukimi, a jellyfish fanatic, is the latest addition to their ranks. One evening a strange Stylish woman helps her out and she brings the Stylish home with her...only to discover that “she” is a “he.” Despite her pleas, Kuranosuke, the disenchanted cross-dressing son of a prominent political family, sticks around, finding himself more and more fascinated by The Sisterhood in general and Tsukimi in specific. When unscrupulous developers begin to eye Amamizu-kan's location, Kuranosuke realizes that there is more at stake than just a building, and sets out to galvanize its residents to save their way of life.
The story is the whole “coming out of your shell” type of story when a person who has a different outlook on life wants to help them not only with experiencing life outside their comfort zone, considering that they are going to need it since their home is on the verge of being wrecked. As for the romance aspect, I did sort of sense that the main characters Tsukimi & Kuranosuke would have their relationship to grow but to me, it was never towards the “lovey-dovey” type of relationship but more like a “close friends” relationship and I thought it was great that they stuck it to that. As for the side story with Kuranosuke’s brother, it didn’t went anywhere at all with him having a crush on Tsukimi, only to ended early with the one character Inari, who’s the one that’s after Amamizu-kun and the very textbook definition of the word “cold bitch”, gets involved plus, his brother Shu isn’t that interesting of a character or even that memorable unlike Kuranosuke himself, who was one of my favorites in the show for being the motivator of Tsukimi and the other women in the sisterhood.
As for Tsukimi, she is portrayed as a sweet but very awkward and often an easily weirded-out character with his unique interests in jellyfish and drawing them ever since she saw them with her late mother. The other tenants in the building also have their unique personality about them with the acting landlady Chieko collecting traditional Japanese clothes and dolls, Banba is into trains, Jiji into older men and Mayaya is a fan of Three Kingdoms and unfortunately out of all of them, Mayaya is the most annoying character on this show, mainly because while she’s very animated, all she does is act like a neurotic fangirl and not the kind that would be fun to hang out, but the kind that rages about everything and everybody so much, you want to pop an synapse after just to calm down.
The animation for this gets a little rough around some of the character movements and designs. Brains Base, the guys that brought you Baccano! & Durarara!! , has made some good animation in their past works and for this, it’s more like when Durarara began to show its budget problems during the second half but then again, this is an 11-episode anime, so I shouldn’t expect much of a grandiose amount of animation, but it is typical of Brains Base’s style of animation and it was good to say the least. The music is very appealing to most of the show with its comical style to some of the scenes to the light dramatic moments in there. Plus, the opening and ending themes are quite addictive to listen to, especially the opening sequence where it parodies or pay homage to most movie franchises like Star Wars, James Bond, The Seven Kingdoms, Singin’ in the Rain, Mary Poppins, etc.
For the FUNimation dub, this was one of those dubs that didn’t sound so usual. Usually, I yawn at FUNimation dubs, not that they’re bad (they make good dubs) but they’re not that special to begin with. I did liked Maxey Whitehead’s performance as very sweet and genuine although it is strange hearing her as a lead female character since most of her roles have been androgynous sounding boys. Josh Grelle did convince me that Kuranosuke was an actual girl at first and even though I find Mayaya to be annoying, Monica Rial plays the role and her voice much differently than she used to, it sounded more lower than her standard of voicing characters.
FINAL VERDICT: The show is actually worth watching around the first chance you get. Some of the humor can be charming and unique up to an extent although I hate that it ended on a lousy cliffhanger, which mean it’s one of those “read the manga” endings. It’s something you would either want to rent or own the DVD to.
I would like to preface this review by warning ya'll that this anime suffers from Ending in the Middle of the Manga Syndrome. If you've enjoyed an anime like Fruits Basket, Ouran Highschool Host Club, Soul Eater, Kimi Ni Todoke, etc. and felt a little uneasy by the inconclusive ending and then googled your uneasy feeling and discovered the manga is like 80 chapters ahead of where the anime left off - you're going to run into the same situation here. Clear your to-read list, because Princess Jellyfish is going to be a top-priority read for you once you're done this bite-sized series. Then again,
if you're made of metal or something and you don't care about having a plot with any resolution, proceed without caution.
Slice-of-Life and RomCom anime are my guilty pleasure genres. I don't always find that they have a lot of substance beyond endorsing really cute teeny-bopper supportive relationships. I've found that a lot of slice-of-life anime fall into the trap of over-emphasizing the romantic sub-plots to the extent that any other story elements are underdeveloped or just plain boring. In contrast, Princess Jellyfish, like all my favourites in the genre, brings something new and insanely interesting in all aspects of its plot. Even the shoujo elements - where one character stares bleary-eyed at the stars and contemplates feelings - aren't in your face. This might not make sense, but the plot mutes itself in such a way that all of its features shine(???)
The only word I can really use to describe how well this anime shines out would be 'character'. The show literally oozes character from its every inappropriate crevice. The actual characters are unique and varied, ranging from flamboyant and confident to wacko or sweet or mature, but every single one of them is fucking hilarious. Granted, a lot of the main characters can be difficult to relate to, but they'd make for some poor outcasts if the audience were able to instantly project themselves onto their favourites. They're all likable, regardless.
Even the character designs are super innovative (I hate to use that word, but it's the best I've got. Sad face), I can't gush about the designs nearly as much as I'd like: they're all so different!! And they suit each character's personality so well!! GUSH.
What really caught me off guard was how mature Princess Jellyfish was, too.
Like, one of the main love interests is a heterosexual drag-queen who helps build confidence in young women. *SPOILERS* There's a male character who is kind of almost date-raped by one of the female antagonists. The overarching plot focuses on the implications of changing infrastructure on the lives of a city's residents. PARENTAL LOSS. SOCIAL ANXIETIES AND SELF-CONFIDENCE IN YOUNG WOMEN. GENDER AND SEXUALITY. I have absolutely no idea how this anime can be so unassumingly smart but lighthearted. It's impressive and it makes me happy.
If I were to make a complaint, it would be that the score wasn't particularly stand-out. That's it. Everything else was enjoyable and cool. If you're itching for a slice-of-life gem, this one's for you!
Sometimes butlers are depicted as graying old men named Jeeves. Other times, they're the kind of butler we can only dream about. These anime butlers will make you wish you had your very own impeccably-dressed servant.