Princess Jellyfish: Confidence, Community, & the Beauty Below the Surface | OWLS “Pride”

Chances are that if you were linked here from another blogger pal, you might be new to this place. To those first-timers, “Hi, I’m Takuto, and welcome to my anime cafe!” As part of the OWLS blog tour’s sixth monthly topic for 2018, “Pride,” I wanted to dive deep into the ocean where the jellyfish roam (and the otaku swim)! I suppose most jellies don’t actually swim that deep, as they prefer to ride the ocean’s current . . . Nevertheless, Princess Jellyfish is here to proudly de-Clara that, ultimately, we are all the same below the surface.

In honor of “Pride Month,” we will be discussing the word “Pride” and its meaning. We will be exploring pop culture characters’ most satisfying and joyful achievements or skills that they possessed, and whether or not these qualities could be seen as a positive or negative aspect in their personal lives and/or society.

Just like Haikyuu!!, this is one of those OWLS staples that every member must eventually talk about (haha, not really, but really). While I admit others in our group have explored the series more thoroughly than I will now, I do hope you enjoy what I have to say about this wonderful little title. Thanks Lyn for the month-befitting prompt!

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A brief spoiler-free discussion on the 11-episode fall 2010 anime “Princess Jellyfish,” animated by Brain’s Base, directed by Takahiro Omori, and based on Akiko Higashimura’s manga of the same name. 

All Dried-Up and Taking On Tokyo!

It took all but a single trip to the aquarium to get young Tsukimi Kurashita hooked on jellyfish. Well, Tsukimi’s fateful encounter was made more special by her late mother taking her there, but it’s impossible to ignore the adorable comparison Tsukimi makes between the glowing, flowing tentacles and the fluffy ruffles of a princess’s dress. Alone with only the memories of her mother in her heart, Tsukimi set out for Tokyo for a change. But oh, how life hits ya hard! Currently residing in the dilapidated Amamizukan apartment with five other unemployed otaku women, 19-year-old Tsukimi spends this new phase of her life as a social outcast still dreaming of becoming an illustrator.

However, her quiet life is met with sudden intrigue when a glamorous woman, one of the so-called “stylish” by Amamizukan’s “Sisterhood,” unexpectedly helps Tsukimi save a jellyfish from the careless treatment of a local pet store. After helping bring Clara (the jellyfish) back to the apartment, “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—and son of a major politician—named Kuranosuke Koibuchi!”

kuranosuke meeting

I leaned on MAL for help with this summary a little more than I would have liked to, but I didn’t want to leave out a single detail of Tsukimi’s crazy situation. Seriously, there is NO end to the number of comedic outcomes to be found in this series! Visually and audibly, intentionally and unintentionally, the humor is excellent and always on point. Beyond the laughs, however, is also a story full of important life lessons. From coming out of one’s shell to coping with new life changes and finding strength and confidence in oneself, Princess Jellyfish never downplays the importance of pride.

Pulled from the depths of the sea that is her shut-in lifestyle, Tsukimi learns to build up her own self-esteem thanks to Kuranosuke’s stylish ways. Conversely, although he forces the Amamizukan ladies to reintegrate themselves back into society by trying new things, Kuranosuke unknowingly finds refuge for his frowned-upon love of cross-dressing in the Sisterhood’s combined passion for their own obscure hobbies.

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Doomed From the Start: The Sisterhood

Tsukimi is just one of five eccentric NEETs barely making it by on petty allowances from the apartment manager’s mother and the income of a mysterious sixth member’s popular BL manga. (Yikes.) Dubbed “the Sisterhood” for their extreme sense of purity (and complete lack of fashion sense), the ladies of Amamizukan neither excel at socializing with normal people nor supporting themselves.

Even so, I love all of them. Tsukimi’s infatuation with jellies of all kind, Banba’s enthusiasm for trains and subways, Mayaya’s fanaticism with anything “Three Kingdoms” and late Han period, Jiji’s silent lust for . . . older men(?) . . . Chieko’s obsession with traditional Japan (kimonos and dolls included)—the whole lot of them! They’ve all got such quirky yet memorable character designs, mannerisms, and speech patterns. Tsukimi’s rapid-fire jellyfish knowledge is fearsome; Chieko’s sewing skills are not-of-this-world; and Mayaya’s constantly-flailing arms and loud, seemingly illiterate shouting always proclaim a duel of sorts. Amamizukan’s ladies are heartwarming, almost overwhelmingly joyful at times, and watching them all casually grow to accept “Kurako’s” shimmering presence—from literally stoned to smiling—has got to be one of the biggest batches of character development I’ve ever seen.

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Sorry Mom, I Couldn’t Become a Princess . . .  

While Tsukimi has physically moved on to a new city where she’s made new friends, mentally, she’s still the same child yearning for mommy. This heartache results in frequent bouts of depression, which Tsukimi describes as “wanting nothing than to dive underwater and sway with the jellies.” At one of her lowest lows, she even wishes she’d be reincarnated as a jellyfish instead of a human just so that she wouldn’t have to deal with such cruel, troublesome emotions. Talk about drastic!

I’m really glad the series doesn’t suddenly drop this heavy mental weight when Kuranosuke gives her (or any of the Sisterhood) a makeover. The lesson isn’t that you’re prettier when you take off the glasses and thrown on some make-up—it’s that sometimes, you need to see yourself in a different way in order to appreciate who you’ve been this whole time. Tsukimi is still a social mess; Kuranosuke is helping in the only way he knows how: he loves fashion, and by spreading his passion with the others, he hopes that the the gals can feel happier with themselves just as how he does. Beauty is not something you simply put on: it’s an emotion you feel when you’re at your best. 

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. . . But I Made Friends With a Queen!?

This wouldn’t be a Princess Jellyfish post if I didn’t rave about our dazzling lead Kura-poo~! Ok, so I’m not Kuranosuke’s hip uncle (and friggin’ PRIME MINISTER) with an approval rating less than 10% and steadily declining, but hear me out: Kuranosuke IS a freakin’ QUEEN, an absolute diva whose own obsession with fashion ironically leaves him lonely. He’s got a mother who left his father, a father that doesn’t necessarily adore him, and a brother, Shuu, that he seems to get along with fine enough. Other than the girls who are just chasing after his looks and dad’s checkbook, however, that’s all Kuranosuke’s got for a support system. To compensate, he seeks pretty things as a memento for his missing mother who dominated the stage fabulously so many years ago, just like Tsukimi does with jellyfish. It’s a sad parallel, really.

That’s when his encounter with Tsukimi and the Sisterhood changes his life in return. Through pushing them to grow together, Kuranosuke finally finds a place to call home (and a squad to call family). Full of pride and not much else, he instills the ladies with the courage to stand on their own two feet against a city plan to demolish their beloved Amamizukan. Without any sense of pride, the Sisterhood wouldn’t stand a chance.

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Declaring their beauteous garb “battle armor,” Kuranosuke is able to shake things and bring change to a group that lives for the status quo. Every stick of lip gloss, bright-colored wig, and chic miniskirt is but a tool to help him reconnect with the past, as well as fill him (and his newfound friends) with undefinable confidence in the present. He treats the Sisterhood and their wacky hobbies with just as much appreciation and respect, as he knows that fashion means the same things to him. Kuranosuke is a rare character, a pillar of positivity—no, an absolute icon to a series that would lose all its main morals without. There’s never a dull moment with Kuranosuke around, and you’re always left wondering if he can get any better.

To which, of course, he always does.

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Precious Pastels, Lovable English Cast

Brain’s Base has crafted the perfect atmosphere that is fluffy and cute, yet realistic at the same time. The wild and hilarious character expressions shine wonderfully against the softer watercolor landscapes and cluttered Amamizukan space. And wow, the fashion transformations for Kuranosuke and the ladies are gorgeous spectacles to behold! The show’s also got a wonderful soundtrack complete with a nice OP and ED which are both, to describe in a single word, charming.

I have to—I must absolutely, without doubt, mention Funimation’s English dub before this post is over. I’ve finally found my favorite Josh Grelle performance with Kuranosuke here, and the same goes for Maxey Whitehead’s Tsukimi! His higher register for Kuranosuke’s aristocratic cross-dress mode didn’t feel fake at all, but rather powerful, graceful, ritzy, lush and, well, stylish. Monica Rial captures Mayaya’s ridiculousness and energy, and while Cynthia Cranz had never really stuck out to me before, her role here as Amamizukan’s manager, Chieko, was so full of care and motherly vibes.

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Passion & Inspiration, Acceptance & Pride

Princess Jellyfish covers a wide emotional range where several human values converge. Learning to accept yourself and love yourself is half the battle; the other half involves knowing that you are still able to change and be accepted by others. After all, you only become that confident, beautiful person once you accept yourself and feel comfortable with those around you. To quote Simply Gee, a YouTuber friend and fan of the series, “If you have a passion, if you love something, you’re a step ahead of everyone else—and you should embrace that, and not have to worry about everyone else’s perception of you.” Beautifully said, Gee!

At its very end, the story of Princess Jellyfish embodies something so pure, hopeful, and passionate that it becomes impossible to not enjoy. You grow to love the characters for who they truly are, even if we don’t get the rest of the tale. It’s an anime about community that means a lot to a good many people, as it provides comfort (and entertainment) for those leading lives similar to its cast. For its realistic premise and general themes of life and love, passion and inspiration, and acceptance and pride, Princess Jellyfish is one of the greatest Josei comedies out there.

Bold, brilliant, and tons of fun, Princess Jellyfish tells us that above all else, so long as you take pride in yourself and the things you love, all people—including us adults—still have plenty of room for growth and change. Just as how many parts of the ocean remain untouched, we all have vast seas of our own with exciting depths yet to be explored. These mystical waters, of course, are called our personality.

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Every girl is born a princess. Some just forget is all. — Kuranosuke Koibuchi


Afterword

I think I’ve said all that I’ve wanted to on this one . . . that is, until I start reading the manga! That’s right, seeing as how the anime just kinda “ends” (it’s still a pleasant stopping point, though), I want to know what happens to Tsukimi and the others. The future of Amamizukan? What of Kuranosuke’s unrequited feelings? And brother Shuu’s side plot relationship with that business woman Inari?? I just have to know, and the manga will give me those answers! I now totally understand why it’s a crying shame this anime hasn’t gotten a second season!

Despite no continuation, I recommend this “Caffe Mocha” series with every fiber of my being to all those struggling with sharing their passion for a hobby. For a coming-of-age tale, the development and growth of its cast is depicted with great realism, and I think that’s what makes it so relatable. The comedy is genuinely funny too, and the characters are utterly inspirational!

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This concludes my June 26th entry in the OWLS “Pride” blog tour. OWLS fam, you’ll have to let me know how I did with this one! Gigi (Animepalooza) went right before me with a video that you should totally check out! Now, look out for Scott (Mechanical Anime Reviews) with an epic post on the grand space opera Legend of the Galactic Heroes tomorrow, June 27th! Thanks for reading such a long post, and until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

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20 thoughts on “Princess Jellyfish: Confidence, Community, & the Beauty Below the Surface | OWLS “Pride”

  1. This is one where I really need to put reading the manga on the top of my list. I really loved this anime and it really does just end. I would like to read it and get more closure. It really is a wonderful anime and one of those that it just kind of hurts that it didn’t continue especially with the message that you got more into.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, my thoughts exactly—which is why I ordered the first volume of the manga as soon as I finished that final episode. So many incredible characters, so many possible ways for things to turn out, and only the manga is capable of bringing that closure for the time being. I’m glad you enjoyed the series as much as I did, and hey, you should totally let us know if and when you ever start the manga!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved this anime so much, and I can’t wait to finish reading the mnaga. I don’t need sleep, I need answers! You did such a wonderful job on this post, though! Loved reading your thoughts. Keep Smiling!
    -The Nerdy Girl News

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like to think I made a good dent into this show, when in actuality there’s so much more at play under the surface. Such is one of the many qualms of a reviewer attempting to write an analysis and neither covering one or the other completely! You’re always too kind, especially here, and now I’m blushing! Thank you so much for reading~!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. firstly YES YES YES JOSH GRELLE IS THE BOMB IN THIS YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS.

    secondly, I’VE YET TO FIND ANOTHER ANIME THAT HAS MADE ME LOVE IT MORE THAN PRINCESS JELLYFISH. Saw it on Netflix a long time ago and it still holds my heart so tight. I just can’t place another anime on top of it; it’s one of those shows that helped sell anime to me in the first place. It was also the first anime series I personally owned on DVD. If it ever gets a continuation I might lose my freaking mind because UGH WHY NOT. I want to read the manga so bad but at the same time, its almost not the same without everyone’s delicious voices (ENGLISH DUB FOR THE WIN) and that beautiful playful soundtrack.

    ALSO THAT OP. FREAKING STAR WARS REFERENCES, NO WONDER I LOVE THIS SHOW.

    As you say so beautifully, this show does a masterful job combining lovable quirky characters and fantastic humor with such a thoughtful, deep message about self-confidence and acceptance of ourselves and each other. It strikes the perfect balance in my opinion!! ^_^

    Its the perfect josei tbh, I can’t say anything bad about this show, it’s my favorite and always will be AND I WILL DONATE BOTH MY LEGS TO GET A FULL ADAPTION OF THE MANGA OK???? XD

    ~Jamie

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re probably accustomed to my incredibly late replies by now, but YES JAMIE YES LONG LIVE JOSH GRELLE.

      To have such a wonderful title as this as the first one you ever bought on DVD must definitely make it extra special! I had the pleasant experience of letting Negima!? be my first anime (to watch and buy), and even though it ain’t one of the greatest, my love for it is infinite because it, like Princess Jellyfish for you, sold anime to me.

      I’ve actually just started the manga and YES, I am actually playing the voices in my head as I read their lines, ahahaha!! It’s not the same, you’re right, and it kinda blows not having music or color, but the charm is still there. The heartwarming themes you mention transcend persist in the manga, and I just cannot wait until I catch up to where the anime ended. AND THE OP, SO FRIGGIN’ ICONIC.

      You’re so right on all of this!! It’s a series full of love, and tells us that we can find acceptance and friendship in the most interesting of peoples. Thank you so so much for sharing your thoughts Jamie–as always, your joy is contagious, and I look forward to chatting about another beloved show together!!! ^.^

      Liked by 1 person

  4. “Beauty is not something you simply put on: it’s an emotion you feel when you’re at your best.” I loved this line!

    I recently finished reading the manga (review incoming). It’s long held a special place in my heart. I loved the message that having pretty clothes, hair, makeup, etc. won’t fix all of your problems, but they can be important tools. For the women of Amamizukan, but in particular, Tsukimi, they were pieces of armour that helped them gain the confidence that they needed to fight for what really mattered to them. Their outward metamorphosis is what led to their eventual inward development.

    A beautifully written post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Believe it or not, I actually take quite pride in creating that line myself and not having to result to Pinterest for inspiring beauty quotes, haha!

      You hit every nail on the head with that little remark. By changing the outside, sometimes, in the rarest of occasions, you can change who you are on the inside—and for the better. Tsukimi’s struggle is relatable; even when I hop into a “fashionable” attire I feel weird for wearing it, and can’t wait to take it off when I get home. Why? Because it’s not me. But it could be, and that’s what hooked me on Princess Jellyfish. I’ll admit, some outfits do look better on others, but we can all look great if we really try and open our minds to a new outlook on ourselves.

      Bit of a personal spill there, but you got me going with this comment! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and kind words with me, as well as for reading—I’m looking forward to that manga review!

      Like

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    • With a series that gets so many renditions and even more reflections from fans, interpretation keeps things interesting, I agree. I’m looking forward to where the story goes in the manga. Also, you’ve seen the live action as well? That makes the two of us even cooler! Thanks for stopping by and reading, Lizzo~!

      Liked by 1 person

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