Princess Jellyfish Episodes 3 and 4 – No You Girls Will Never Know
This season, like the one before it, seems mostly lacking in the kind of series that I can praise for being original and thoughtful, or even just good. Fortunately, though, there are two rays of light shining in the darkness of yet another moribund anime season, and those are the two shows airing on the noitaminA block, Shiki and Princess Jellyfish.
Threeheadedmonkeys is already covering Shiki, so it falls on me to explain just why Princess Jellyfish continues to be the show I most look forward to each week. In these episodes, Princess Jellyfish sets up what the show seems to be about, while still keeping the charm and humor that continues to make it so entertaining.
We’re introduced to Kuranosuke’s older brother, Shuu, a straight-laced man who has had the mantle of the family’s political tradition thrust upon his shoulders. For all that, Shuu is a relatively quiet man with apparently no personal life to speak of. Of course, that means he falls head over heels for Tsukimi when he first sees her, after she has been forcibly made up by Kuranosuke.
Since Kuranosuke is slowly coming to terms with the fact that he has a crush on Tsukimi as well, this sets off a love triangle between three implausible figures: the otaku shrinking violet, the gorgeous pretty boy turned gorgeous girl, and the thirty-year old virgin politico.
As if that wasn’t enough narrative, there’s also another plot concerning a redevelopment program that’s going to run right through the Nunnery where Tsukimi lives. Not only does it seem like a setup out of a 70s martial arts movie, but it also seems bound to collide with Shuu’s political ambitions and his feelings for Tsukimi.
The attention from boys Tsukimi is attracting also seems to be setting up another conflict: one between Tsukimi and the rest of her Sisterhood. Tsukimi’s main objection to Kuranosuke’s attempts to make her prettier is that the other girls will hate her for trying to look like a normal girl, and seek the attention of men. And yet, as her reaction to Shuu’s attention shows, it’s clearly something she wants.
Last week I compared this show to shows aimed at male otaku about male otaku, but that comparison seems less apt after two more episodes. It’s true that the main thrust of the show does seem to be a rather unrealistic love triangle between a geeky girl, a fashionable and handsome man (well, sometimes-man) and a handsome and polished political scion (or, in Japanese, “the perfect husband”).
Well, Kuranosuke’s sudden disinterest in his fashionable friends in favor of Tsukimi and her jellyfish fixation does seem kind of disingenuous. Tsukimi might be fun to dress up, but they have nothing in common and she freaks out whenever he’s around. Kuranosuke has already been established as pretty impulsive, but even so, that seems a little much.
Still, even with all the fangirl bait, so far this is a decidedly anti-otaku show. The other girls in the Sisterhood are undeveloped and ridiculous caricatures; when they show up, you know some ridiculous antics are about to happen.
And the main focus of the storyline seems to be on Tsukimi having to choose between shedding her otaku ways (or at least the parts that fear men) or missing out on the chance to have a meaningful relationship with someone, or become the “princess” she promised her mother she’d be. And while it’s still perhaps too early to tell, Tsukimi seems to be leaning on the side of the boys.
Even if you put aside the subtext, Princess Jellyfish is still a thoroughly entertaining show. The romantic drama parts might be unrealistic, but the characters and the situations they find themselves in are unique and quirky enough that it doesn’t really matter; you just want to see what’s going to happen next.
Even more importantly, the show is consistently funny. This is hard enough in any medium, but I cannot stress enough how rare this is in anime, where most “humor” is predicated upon throwing as many ridiculous clichés at the wall, and seeing what sticks.
The tone of manic ridiculousness is recognizable here, but it’s done in a way that feels clever and out of left field, rather than rote and predictable. That is the difference between shaking your head and sighing, and audibly laughing at a situation. Brains Base has proved capable of the latter time and time again, and Princess Jellyfish is no exception.
It also means it’s one of the rare shows these days that I can just sit back and enjoy without feeling like I have to parse the various cultural and psychological disorders at play to understand what’s going on. It’s just fun. I think that’s enough.
You can watch Princess Jellyfish here.