Hi and welcome to a new segment Out-there Anime. Here I aim to highlight some groundbreaking and unexpectedly great series available in Australia, without further ado, let’s begin with one I almost shrugged off on title alone; Princess Jellyfish. Allow me to elaborate!
Our protagonist is charming and strange
The director of Princess Jellyfish is an exceptional talent as the material of this popular ‘josei’ (lady-comics) series is nothing like his previous work, yet he nails the conception. Princess Jellyfish is about a group of extreme otaku-type girls that live together, too closely together that is, in Amamizukan; an apartment building in Tokyo. The protagonist Tsukimi is trying her hand at illustration but like her flatmates is paralysed by a fear of society and in particular “The Stylish” which they deem as anyone pretty looking or has their life together in any normal way. This fear holds them back from living a life until one night where Tsukimi’s life is brazenly interrupted when she fights to save a jellyfish in a pet store. A ‘stylish’ girl helps her save it and soon forces herself into Tsukimi’s life. The madness and complications begin when she finds out the stylish is a cross-dressing man called Kuranosuke, and things only get more insane from there.
Princess Jellyfish is filled with zany characters, from Tsukimi and the otaku tenants each with their own bizarre obsession (that is often the source of the most laughs), to the mysterious cross-dresser and his unexpected backstory. A simple gender take changes a lot and as such seeing these otaku as girls livens up the tropes of anime that has tackled similar with awkwardly horny men. Awkward timing ties the comedy together perfectly, as well as their bizarre rules for non-interaction that are explained by a jellyfish to the audience, breaking the third wall. These characters are only supporting however, and considering the length of this series (11 episodes) most of the development is on poor Tsukimi and Kuranosuke. Given the narrative structure you get a perfect idea of their characters, drives and motivations and really feel for both of them despite the light nature of the series. There is a real message about fitting in and universal ideas of connecting that anyone can take away with them.
Despite the characters and their love for their self-imposed prison the Amamizukan, the main narrative finds the abode in trouble due to a savage redevelopment plan. Kuranosuke is more involved in this plot than one would assume and he is quickly fighting against the powers-that-be and helping the girls preserve their, ahem, lifestyle. This is a pretty basic plot that is enhanced by the otaku’s desire to, but lack of following through and saving their own skins. To complicate this Kuranosuke’s brother is deeply involved and serves as another subplot that both helps and hinders Tsukimi.
Tsukime and Kuranosuke meet!
Princess Jellyfish is a lot of fun and although it is brief it has both hilarious and developing characters which are easily the strongest component of this anime. Do not let the name or twee look fool you, Princess Jellyfish is highly enjoyable and not just for the ‘un-stylish!’
Kwenton Bellette - follow Kwenton Twitter here: @Kwenton
Princess Jellyfish is out now on DVD in Australia from Siren Visual.
Kwenton Bellette is extremely passionate about Asian film and the resurgence of new waves taking place in Korea, Japan and China in the last 10 years. He joined the global site Twitchfilm in 2009, is the artistic director of the Fantastic Asia Film Festival is Melbourne and currently studies a film masters degree at Melbourne University. He is very excited to raise further awareness of the what he thinks is the most exciting film industry in the world.