Wednesday, 19 November 2014

"It burns! The fashion, it burns!" Princess Jellyfish review

As a fellow fan of the medusozoa, I couldn't resist an anime based of the love of the gelatinous wonders. Based on the josei manga by Akiko Higashimura, Princess Jellyfish follows young Tsukimi, who comes to Tokyo hoping to make it as an illustrator. She lives in Amamizukan, a woman only community home of otaku's who refer to themselves as amars (nuns). As much as she loves living with these women, she is equally dismayed at the fact she is an otaku, or rather, the fact that she feels being an otaku means she can't speak to boys or fashionable people. As her love of jellyfish roots itself in the idea of her late mothers, that the tentacles of jellyfish look like the lace of a wedding dress, she can't help but feel that her dowdy ways are betraying her mothers dream for her.

After freaking out at a pet shop, where a fooling employee has fatally put a moon jellyfish in with her favourite spotted jellyfish (of which she names Clara), a helpful fashionable girl insists the boy give Tsukimi the spotted jelly. You soon find out though that the girl is in fact a boy in drag, Kuranosuke, as his male presence must be hidden within the walls of Amamizukan. Along with all the geek and gender hi jinks, the much more serious problem of Amamizukan being torn down and redeveloped, by none other than Kuransosuke's brother Shu.

Although the animation is the standard anime style, with all the idiosyncrasies you'd expect, I found myself hooked after the first episode. While it might be tempting to have these girls want to be princess', fashionable, beautiful, these otaku girls, including Tsukimi, find the dresses and make-up too much. They like who they are, they are proud of their obsessions. I found this very refreshing, and it makes the otaku's that much more relatable. Especially funny is the way Shu falls for Tsukimi when she's wearing nice clothes and make-up, but doesn't even recognise her when she's got her braids in and is wearing sweats. It's quite cruel, really. Of course, the only person who truly understands Tsukimi's true beauty is Kuransosuke, who is confused about his love of a plain girl, and finds himself beating up a toilet cubicle.

At eleven episodes, the series is quite concise, and the plot flows smoothly with no filler episodes. All the characters, even the slightly annoying and brash Mayaya, all have their place in the story. The ending, even with a hint of what the as unmade second season could be about, feels final and fulfilling. The characters all seem genuine. Truthfully, this is probably one of the best animated series I've seen in a long while. The thing that made it stand out? It was a story about girls and love without being girly and soppy. They don't even kiss!

There is a live-action film that is coming out at the end of the year in Japan, and by the looks of the trailer it seems to follow very closely to the manga and anime. So while you wait for that to come out on DVD where ever you live, console yourself with the excellent anime. You will be in for a pleasant surprise.



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