Princess Jellyfish Episodes 10 and 11 – How to Dress Well
I don’t know why noitaminA insists on 11 episode seasons instead of the more common 12 or 13. It might have something do with their scheduling (there’s no new programming this week, for example), but it means that their shows always feel a little short.
Not that even 13 episodes would have been enough to let Brain’s Base tell a more complete story: six volumes of the manga have been published, which would probably be enough for the 22 episodes that Shiki got. And the manga is still running, so I doubt the story stops there.
So it’s the typical ending to a TV anime, but given that, how good is it? It’s kind of mixed, actually. The main plot of the series so far, the girls trying to save their house from redevelopment, kind of peters out with an anticlimactic ending: Chieko’s mother, the owner of the building, decides on her own not to sell. The show tries to inject some tension before that, especially with the cliffhanger ending of episode 10 that seems to threaten the imminent destruction of the building, but they’re just fake outs, and they feel hollow when they’re inevitably revealed.
Instead, the focus of the plot shifts to Kuranosuke and Tsukimi making a jellyfish dress, something that Kuranosuke has been pressuring Tsukimi to do in order to raise the money to save her home. The two are a strange pair: Kuranosuke with his command of fashion, but complete ignorance of the actual art of dressmaking, and Tsukimi, who sees the exercise as a way to express her obsession with jellyfish and give it form, rather than just letting it remain scrawled in so many notebooks.
She pours the same amount of obsessive devotion into the two dresses she makes that she does into everything she does with jellyfish, to the point that it scares Kuranosuke. He calls Tsukimi’s dressmaking state her ‘awakened mode’, contrasted with the nerdy ‘before’ state he met her in and the stylish but inauthentic ‘after’ state he’s been trying to develop in her.
So Tsukimi pours herself into making the dress, and the end result is pretty good-looking. In order to gain recognition in the fashion world, they enter Kuranosuke in a modeling competition, in which he handily wins every category.
That two completely unskilled novices can make a prize-winning dress in what appears to be one night armed with little more than a jellyfish obsession, some very expensive materials and a seamstress whose only experience is in sewing traditional Japanese clothing (which, as she is quick to point out, is very different from Western-style clothes) seems like it should stretch the show’s credulity to eye roll-inducing levels. And to some extent, it did for me.
But, I have to admit, it’s in keeping with the light-hearted tone of the series, and it provides a good way to develop both Tsukimi and Kuranosuke as characters. If success came a little easy, well, the show only had two episodes left to wrap everything up. It’s pretty obvious, anyway, that the real point of the dressmaking is to give Kuranosuke and Tsukimi a reason to become closer and progress the relationship at the heart of the show.
This they do, although with the gradual progress of a series just beginning, rather than the dramatic release of a show drawing to a close. As with so much of the show, it feels like the end of the first act, rather than a conclusion. There’s even a scene at the end where Tsukimi says something like, “I’m sure I’ll keep having adventures like this”. This isn’t an ending so much as a plea for a second season, one even more outright than most anime series.
But that doesn’t mean that nothing has been accomplished, that we’re back to status quo. It’s pretty obvious that Tsukimi has changed quite a bit over the course of the show, and has at least begun the long struggle to control her own life that every adult faces. She may still be a shrinking violet, but she has learned to face the world that exists outside of her own cluster of similarly-nerdy friends.
The way it handles Tsukimi’s growth and maturation as a person is probably my favorite aspect of the series. Even more than the humor, which continues to keep the tone of the show whimsical and freewheeling.
Princess Jellyfish’s ultimate conclusion is, in the words of Tsukimi’s mother, “All girls can be beautiful princesses when they grow up.” Now, most shows in the West would turn this into some mealy-mouthed treacle about how everybody has some inner beauty that isn’t reflected on the outside, where the person is an ugly freak. And I’m sure that might make somebody feel good about themselves, but it wouldn’t make anybody any better for it.
Princess Jellyfish’s message is much more practical: every girl can be a beautiful princess, if they’re willing to step outside their comfort zone and learn to be one. Sitting at the fashion show in fancy clothes, watching Kuranosuke walk on stage in the dress they made, Tsukimi realizes that she’s begun to change. “The old me would have run away”, she thinks. Tsukimi may not have made much progress over the course of the series, but at least she’s made a start.
Hopefully there’s a second season, so we can see the conclusion.
You can watch all of Princess Jellyfish here.