Hooked on Princess Jellyfish
Of all the genres out there in anime, I seem to find myself drawn to romantic comedies the most. But of all the genres out there in anime, this is the one that is the most fantastic to believe, as people really don’t act that way. Even giant fighting robot shows still work within a plausible (to a degree) logic. One seems to grant a lot of lenience with those titles in the sci-fi category.
But there is something about romantic comedies where direction and emotions get thrown to the winds and everyone hopes for the best. This means they can run hit and miss with the results and you may end up abandoning the show mid-stream, for it is just too much of a workout to continue following (as I did with “Peach Girl” and “Honey and Clover”).
That said, I have to extol the virtues of “Princess Jellyfish”. Don’t let the title put you off; there is a superior show lurking behind all that.
First, it is a very good-looking show. Even when some of the characters are bizarrely designed to begin with (one is very round, another is not much more than a bean pole in sweats, a third is a walking Afro), they do not look all that freakish.
Second, the actual plot could work in real life. Even shows like “The Wallflower” and “Marmalade Boy” stretch the boundaries of
credulity, even without using such tricks as magical girls, androids and/or time jumping. We are to buy into the basic concept, don’t ask any questions, keep your arms and legs inside the moving vehicle at all times and come along for the ride.
Third, you never feel that the emotions are dropped in or pasted on. Since “A” did this, “B” is going to react this way, even though that is not within their character to do so. It is done to prod the story along. OK, we do use some anime reaction sops in the show (everyone turns to stone when something goes wrong, somebody gets Little Orphan Annie eyes as they freak out, that person gets coated in flop sweat when caught short), but it works well within the context.
Oh, the plot. That would be helpful.
Tsukimi Kurashita is a jellyfish otaku and lives in a girls-only apartment complex with other otakus. Although they get along well with each other, they are all NEETs to some degree and interaction away from the apartment is close to impossible. In fact, Tsukimi is trying to get to the aquarium for a jellyfish exhibit, but the crush of people is too much for her to bear and she bails out.
Wandering the streets at night, she comes across a pet shop that has a jellyfish in the window. Only our heroine knows that the creature is in the wrong tank and if something isn’t done, it will be dead by morning. In trying to implore the worker there to save it, she is aided by Kuranosuke Koibuchi, who is a ‘stylish’. Everything Tsukimi isn’t, Kuranosuke is: pretty, glamorous, fashionable and self-assured.
After rescuing the jellyfish, (now known as Clara), they return to the apartment where Kuranosuke spends the night. The following morning, Tsukimi is horrified to learn that Kuranosuke is a cross-dressing boy. Not only that, his father is a politician and his half-brother, Shu, is working on neighborhood redevelopment, which includes the apartment complex that Tsukimi lives at.
Added to all this mix is Shōko Inari, a real estate developer who will stop at nothing and do anything and everything to get her way. Gorgeous but vicious, she blackmails Shu to get into the good graces of Dad and push this redevelopment project through. All’s fair in love and real estate and she has the reputation to back it all up.
The show tracks all the ways that Tsukimi and Company, aided by Kuranosuke, tries to raise both money and awareness to save the apartment, as well as fending off the intense efforts of Shoko to take control of it all and send them into the streets.
For an 11-episode run, they manage to pack a lot of story into it. And when Kuranosuke takes all the ladies out for a night on the town, they look simply marvelous. You could not believe it is the same people when he gets done dolling them up (much to their humorous chagrin.)
I never felt there were misplaced or forced emotions. The only potential clinker is a miscued phone call from a support minion in the latter episodes, more as a plot device, but that transgression can be easily overlooked. The way the show stops gives the implication that a second season is feasible, and highly desirable, but that waits to be seen if they will follow through on it. Even if it never comes to fruition, the series stands on its own well enough.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Conclusion 6 (it stops, rather than ends)
Fan Service 3 (similar shows would be Jubei Chan and Wedding Peach)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it.