February 27th, 2011 by Lianne
PG-16 for some sexual content, although more thematic than graphic in nature; Wikipedia site for general information and FUNimation’s Youtube site for some sweet, legal streaming
Finally, some good news: a josei in English that is genuinely awesome.
Princess Jellyfish is the story of Tsukimi, an 18-year-old shut-in who lives in an all-women house of shut-ins nicknamed “the nunnery.” Tsukimi and her housemates are each devoted to their respective hobbies, which range from unusual (Tsukimi loves jellyfish and learned to draw just so she could sketch them all day) to thoroughly bizarre (Mayaya is obsessed with fanciful retellings of the second and third centuries of Chinese history). Tsukimi is happy living in her all-lady Fortress of Solitude, until one day the defenses are breached…by a beautiful, fashionable diva who takes an interest in the shut-ins and wants to give them non-consensual makeovers. And this diva happens to be a dude in drag (a secret known only by Tsukimi), the illegitimate son of a high-powered politician and a fabulous stage performer who now wears dresses to honor his mom and embarrass his dad. Since he knows there are political machinations underway to redevelop the area and the nunnery is scheduled to get sold and dozed, he goes to the ladies to help them help themselves! But they hate that invasive princess, and they’d hate him more if they realized he was a sneaky man getting his stinky testosterone all over their nice things!
That only covers, like, three episodes. And I didn’t even talk about Clara, the pet jellyfish anthropomorphized in Tsukimi’s brain to explain social disorders and occasionally recreate scenes from classic anime.
This series is gloriously weird and extremely likable. Although the story touches upon difficult subjects like anxiety, sexual double-standards, and misandry, it manages to deal with (most of) them in a lighthearted and human way, and as a result the story is really uplifting. It even features a cast of funny-looking women, which, as a card-carrying feminist, pleases me in more ways than I can possibly explain here. Suffice to say that seeing women on TV that are UGLY and WEIRD and SYMPATHETIC is super rare, and seeing a scene where a boy in a dress frantically shaves Tsukimi’s legs calms my angry heart that was, until now, only being comforted by The Hunger Games.
The entire run of the anime is only 11 episodes, but it’s amazing. The animation, music, and voice-acting are all top-notch. The manga extends beyond the anime (6 volumes and ongoing in Japan) and fills out a bit of the rushed, inconclusive anime ending…as well as the perplexing love stories, which have people on both sides of the Pacific placing insane bets.
Educated impression: This is an idiosyncratic piece of brilliance. FUNimation is streaming the entire anime for free, so stop reading this and go there. I really, really hope someone licenses this manga. (Lianne)