The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Kuragehime

Title: Kuragehime aka Jellyfish Princess
Genre: Comedy/Drama
Company: Brain’s Base
Format: 11 Episodes
Dates: 15 Oct 2010 – 30 Dec 2010

Synopsis: Kurashita Tsukimi is a young, aspiring illustrator with an obsessive love for jellyfish. She lives in the Amamizukan, an all-female apartment complex with a strict no-men-allowed policy. The tenants, calling themselves the Sisters, are all socially awkward otaku who harbor an intense hatred for all things fashionable. One night, Tsukimi bumps into an incredibly beautiful girl on the street, who turns out to be none other than Kuranosuke Koibuchi, the cross-dressing, fashion-loving younger son of a high government official. As he forces himself into Tsukimi’s life, the Sisters must learn to deal with him as he turns their world upside down.

The Highlights
Hanazawa Kana: A masterful performance.
Pacing: Problematic.
Ending: Problematic.
Unresolved plot threads: At least three.
But still: Adorable, somehow.

Here’s a novel concept – an anime about female otaku in which the characters aren’t caricatures of themselves. Kuragehime may have been a valiant effort to tackle the nigh-impossible, but it ultimately falls way short of expectations.

Upon first glance, Kuragehime is brilliant. Hanazawa Kana delivers a world-class performance as Kurashita Tsukimi, the neurotic and intensely anti-social female lead. Her friends are a quirky and boisterous bunch, compulsively fawning over their personal obsessions. The atmosphere is casual, complemented by a light-hearted soundtrack and an artistic palette filled with bright colors and warm hues. So, what’s the problem here?

Well, once the sugar coated exterior of Kuragehime is cast off, problems begin to emerge. Despite the characters’ quirky charm, they are surprisingly hollow. They are differentiated from one another by their respective obsessions, yet they seem suspiciously similar in personality and outlook. In addition, their choices seem erratic and out-of-character at times.

Indeed, Kuragehime’s biggest problem is its lack of substance. Despite all the feel-good fluff, surprisingly little actually happens. There’s changes in characters’ behavior as the series continues, but they’re erratic and sudden, and can feel superficial at times. Tsukimi stands out as a notable exception, though it seems that she’s living in flatland – no one else around her changes in any appreciable manner.

The plot, too, is frustrating. While the premise of the show is incredibly enticing, most of its potential is wasted in half-resolved plot arcs. There are certain tensions that remain completely unresolved throughout the show’s entirety. The lack of resolution is frustrating, to say the least. In addition, the show’s exploitatively feel-good ending is devoid of meaning and solves nothing.

To illustrate all of Kuragehime’s issues, consider Tsukimi’s budding romance with two of the show’s male characters. Nothing ever gets resolved, she never falls for anyone, and neither of the two men ever make a real move on her. Ultimately, the entire issue is swept under the rug and a hollow parable of friendship takes its place. In this manner, Kuragehime shoots itself in the foot by watering down its own message and holding itself back.

While Kuragehime may be genuinely charming and without cynicism, it’s difficult to overlook its flaws. What it has in heart, it lacks in polish. Plots are left hanging, characters don’t develop, and ultimately, it fails to provide an honest look at female otaku, turning them into stereotyped caricatures. A cute, sweet little show, Kuragehime falls far below expectations, but as long as one doesn’t think too hard whilst watching, it’s easy to lose yourself in the show’s bubbly, dreamy atmosphere and happy-go-lucky feel. You might even find yourself enjoying it.

The Rating: 6
6/10

Reviewed by: Akira

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