Kuragehime Specials

March 17, 2012

Well, well. I didn’t know Kuragehime had little extra specials when you buy the DVD or Blu-Ray discs. Which anime wouldn’t these days? I guess it serves as something little extra you get in addition to the polished and refined TV episodes. Just like any other specials, they are short, funny and have nothing to do with the plot. So it doesn’t harm if you would waste a few minutes of your life enjoying these little extra specials. For Kuragehime, there are 2 types of extra specials. The first one is Kuragehime Soreike Amars Tankentai which is about the quintet exploring the deep jungles. And I don’t mean concrete jungles but real jungles. The second type is Kuragehime Heroes and focuses on a particular character in the series. Don’t expect anything out of the ordinary here or be mislead by its title. You’re not going to see them pulling off super hero powers and is instead an extension of what their weird fetish is.

Kuragehime Soreike Amars Tankentai

There are 6 episodes but each only last a mere 30 seconds! Wow. That’s really fast. For some unknown reason, we see the Sisterhood Exploration Party exploring the uncharted jungles. For these NEETs who never seem to leave their beloved Amamizu dorm, it is a wonder why they are out on an exploration quest. Maybe facing off with animals isn’t as bad as hipsters, er? So as the first episode begins, we are told they have been trekking for hours having no clue to what they’re seeking. Did they? Should they? Suddenly they receive an arrow message that reads “Ball”. They try to figure out what this ‘ball’ means. A stamp seal? The animal seal? Then out of nowhere an electric railway bus appears before them. Say, it’s piloted by a monkey?! Well, at least Banba loves it. In the second episode, they continue their journey and are feeling hungry. Mayaya sees Banba’s afro as cotton candy and takes a bite. On the brink of starvation, they receive another arrow message, this time reading “Silver”. Again they try to decipher what it means when a swarm of locusts is heading their way. I don’t know how, they manage to catch them all and fry them for food. To not even fear locusts, they must be that hungry, huh? Delicious?! Yeah, hungry alright. Continuing in the third episode, this time they come across… Wooden bird houses? Feels like cuckoo bird clocks, do they? Then another arrow message: “Big”. Start guessing who this Dai (big) is. Daijirou? Daizaburou? While the rest are still on the topic, Jiji spots an elderly indigenous guy. She follows him and got trapped in a wooden bird house. All the other bird houses close as the other indigenous males dance around the bird house Jiji is trapped in. Eh, what just happened?

It’s raining heavily by the fourth episode and Chieko is against going out of the shelter since it will ruin her kimono. While she continues ranting on how precious they are, they receive another arrow message with the words “Platform”. Banba puts all the messages together they’ve got and thinks the message means big pachinko balls. Suddenly it stops raining as Chieko gladly makes a move. But she trips and falls into a mud. Oh, her kimono… The gang reached a lake in the fifth episode. Tsukimi got so excited of seeing jellyfish, she jumped in! The rest thought she turned into a one when a jellyfish surfaced with her spectacles. Yeah, maybe she’s so obsessed about it that she really could turn into one. They make a move after receiving another message, “Place”. Actually the real Tsukimi didn’t turn into a jellyfish and so happens she just lost her specs. Megane, megane… By the sixth episode, the message they get finally turns weird. “8”. A number now? This doesn’t make sense. “Big”, “Silver”, “Ball”, “Platform”, “Place” and “8”. What does it look like to you? Suddenly they see a silver ball rolling down towards them. After it lands in its proper place, the girls hurriedly return to Amamizu. If not for the end note, I wouldn’t have understood what happened. The big silver ball is the distinct shape of the studio’s building while the number 8 refers to the Fuji TV’s channel number.

Kuragehime Heroes

There are four episodes lasting around 5 minutes each.

Chapter 1: Mayaya
Mayaya wakes up on a rainy day. She talks nothing and only about Romance of the Three Kingdoms (ROTK). With Banba coming in, Mayaya is disheartened that her allowance has dipped even though it’s just the fifth day of the month. Why not? She spent it on some lavish ROTK anthropology book. So precious that she won’t even let Banba touch it. Then Chieko comes in with some sticky mitarashi snack. Guess what? She drops a stick on one of the books. See the horror on Mayaya’s face! When the second stick starts falling, Mayaya is going to become a hero like her ROTK and uses her head as a landing spot. Proclaiming victory like a ROTK general, Chieko points out a wet patch on the back of her head. Seems there is mitarashi sauce on it and somehow she flattened the first stick on her anthropology book. So you want to count the cost and lost?

Chapter 2: Banba and Jiji
Jiji enters Banba’s room to show her the perfect scrapbook she has made for her beloved Takeo. There are lots of nice photos in it and it seems her secret is that she saved up like hell to buy a computer and inkjet printer. All hail the internet and colour printer! Jiji and Banba start praising their older guys and train fetish respectively without even listening to what the other had to say. Banba wants Jiji to help print out a train photo but she just continues ranting the perfect Takeo she has printed out. Then Mayaya comes in and founds out about the printer so Jiji offers to help her search for ROTK images over the internet and print it out. Mayaya is thrilled with the finishing touches and gets fired up to print all 36 ROTK generals! When Kuranosuke makes a visit to Amamizu, he is spooked to see tough looking ROTK generals pasted around the walls and doors. Trying to scare away the developers? Oh, I think the printer is running out of ink…

Chapter 3: Chieko
While looking through her kimono and obi, Chieko suddenly spots something horrendous. There are holes in her kimonos that the moths have eaten in. She starts freaking out and feels the need to air them. Outside she sees Banba and Mayaya in some weird ritual. They’re trying to call for rain since they’re thinking of creating a rain dancing community on the website. WTF?! Chieko forbids and shoos them away. Since her kimonos can’t take direct sunlight, she lines them all up in the hallways of Amamizu. Erm, how is anybody going to walk? Then she feels she has to do the same to her dolls. Banba and Mayaya return from the shop and it seems Mayaya’s ice cream stick reveals she has lost a prize but Banba nails the winner. Suddenly see severed heads of several females and got freaked out. Actually from their point of view, those dolls Chieko are airing looked like freshly decapitated heads. Yeah, they even thought Chieko also lost her head. Mayaya wants her to remove them instantly since they’ll scare old people. But looks like she’ll get her wish because it starts raining. Chieko quickly keeps her dolls while telling off the duo to come help her instead of dancing in the rain.

Chapter 4: Shuu and Hanamori
While Hanamori drives Shuu to work one morning, he felt the need to tell him something but ultimately ditches the idea. Even when Shuu alights the car, he was going to say it but drops it entirely. While polishing his beloved Benz, he thinks about the worries he might have caused for Shuu. Then taking a lunch break, he is disheartened to see a black cat jumping on to the car. He drops his box and rushes to gentle take it down. Then to his dismay, paw marks on the bonnet! He starts cleaning and waxing again only to find the cat is eating his food. In the evening as he drives Shuu back, he finally gets the resolve to tell him but wants Shuu to promise not to get mad. Well, that depends. With the drama and tension building up, Shuu gets worried since it has something to do with his job. After promising, Hanamori finally reveals the thing bugging his mind. When he was running yesterday, he suddenly got cramped in his leg. Then this afternoon when he was waxing the car, he stretched his leg to fix it but when he stepped on the accelerator the pain returned. So right now he is pressing the pedal with his left foot. So can anybody not get mad at this dangerous driving? But Shuu promised…

Ah well, it may not be even a year since I watched Kuragehime but watching the specials do bring back nostalgic memories of the series. Of course I thought that there would also be an episode to further explain certain events that I was dying to know after the series ended but that was just wishful thinking. I mean, these kind of short specials won’t do any justice to it so I guess it’s best that they are kept in a random, fun and nonsensical manner. I felt that they should have one of those hero chapters on Tsukimi or Kuranosuke too. Overall the specials are just for the other ladies at Amamizu to have more screen time despite its short duration. So to conclude, everybody is still pretty much the same people we know back in the series. Nothing much changes. Whether you’re a NEET, politician or some Benz-obsessed driver, everyone has their own fetish they are obsessed with. That’s what makes us interesting.

Kuragehime

November 20, 2011

What is it with society and unmarried women who reached the age of 30? Another form of discrimination, I guess. But that isn’t the main theme in Kuragehime though it is one of the topics worthy of discussion. Also known as Princess Jellyfish, this anime focuses on a group of single ladies living together in a dorm called Amamizu right smack in the hot area of Tokyo. Thing is, they aren’t your typical beautiful women that would send men drooling crazy over them. Yeah, they are more like NEETs (Not in Education, Employment or Training), each with their own obsessive and weird (depends on how you look at it) fetishes. So is it a wonder that many people don’t find them attractive?

One of such people and tenants is Tsukimi Kurashita. Though she is the newest tenant of Amamizu, she is obsessed with jellyfish. Something that many people won’t find fascinating to even own it as a pet. When she was young, her late mother took her to an aquarium to see the splendour of the floating jellyfish in the tank. She akin the long flowing tentacles and tendrils of the jellyfish like the beautiful gowns of princesses. Which girl wouldn’t dream of being a princess? And thus, begins Tsukimi’s obsession with the Medusozoa. However reality isn’t fairytale so Tsukimi’s dream of being a princess never even got close. That’s right. She turned into a jellyfish otaku and her fashion sense is just wearing grey jumpers with her hair braided and unfashionable glasses. Can you fathom why she’s still single? Something must have gone wrong along the way, eh?

Part of the fun at Amamizu no matter how dull their lives are the other residents. Their colourful personalities make them a lovable bunch though you might be turned off by their appearance. We have the chubby Chieko whose infatuations are with kimonos and traditional Japanese Hina dolls. She is Amamizu’s building owner and is currently the manager since her mom is away on some overseas trip. Then we have Mayaya, probably the liveliest one among the gang (notice the movements of her hand when she talks?). She’s quite fixated on anything that pertains to the Romance of the Three Kingdoms and even makes statements and references using it in her daily speeches. Banba is the most peculiar one because she has this peculiar sense and vision to trace good food. Yes, her messy-hair afro is natural and she likes trains very much. Finally, zombie-like Jiji is fixated on old men. Say what? We also the mysterious Juon Mejiro who is never seen out of her room. Or even heard. Only known to be a ‘nocturnal creature’, she is the author of a popular yaoi manga and sometimes have the Amamizu residents helped her out with her work when the deadline looms. Due to her chronic social anxiety disorder, she barricades herself in her room and her only communication is via paper. What again? You see, if the girls want any advice or something cleared, all they need to do is just write on a white piece of paper, slip it under a door and wait for a few seconds for a reply. And what she ‘says’ seems to be like a decree like “No Boys Allowed” in Amamizu. Thus the girls at Amamizu form some kind of nunnery called Ama. It’s not like they dislike the male gender, even ladies too. Especially if they’re the hipster kind. Of course in life, nothing remains the same as they’ll soon be encountering a life-changing chain of events.

Episode 1
We are introduced to the characters and their obsession as well as their ‘mundane’ lives at Amamizu. We see Tsukimi’s otaku on Jellyfish as her knowledge of every jellyfish known would put jellyfish experts to shame. Yeah, notice all the jellyfish sketches and drawings on her room walls. Creepy if you have phobia of jellyfish. One night while she passes by a local pet store, she is horrified to see 2 different jellyfish being put together in the same tank. Well, from what I understand from her technical hullaballoo one of them excretes poisonous secretion that will kill the harmless other. She tries to inform the shopkeeper but she gets petrified because he’s a guy. She sums up her courage to save the harmless jellyfish that she names Clara but the shopkeeper finds her creepy and annoying. He shoves her out and while on the ground, Tsukimi sees a beautiful hipster lady standing up for her. After hearing both sides of the story, she buys the jellyfish. Woah. She’s so cool. That must be what Tsukimi is thinking. She follows Tsukimi back to Amamizu so they but Clara in the bath tub for the time being. Remember not to take a bath or you’ll get that stinging feeling. Tsukimi brings hipster lady to her room and she gets fascinated with her jellyfish drawing. Since she’s tired, she crashes in her room and immediately falls asleep. Next morning, Tsukimi wakes up to find hipster girl’s fake wig and puts in on for size. It must be a wonderful dream, eh, if you could be as pretty as her. Now she gets the rude shock of her life. Can you guess what is it? Hipster girl wakes up and is NOT A GIRL!!! SHE’S A GUY FOR GOD’S SAKE!!! He is Kuranosuke Koibuchi and loves cross-dressing as women. Tsukimi knows she’s in big sh*t because of the “No Boys Allowed” decree at Amamizu. Imagine the terrible things that can happen if everyone finds out. Poor Tsukimi, she’s so confused about the kind of pretty people in Tokyo but it never hit her that guys like him can be this pretty too.

Episode 2
Tsukimi tries hard to cover up Kuranosuke since they were too noisy. But Kuranosuke isn’t fazed with his gender thingy and even walks out of the room shirtless! Tsukimi goes down and pretends that nothing is happening but the rest heard noise coming from upstairs. What could it be? A cat? A thief? And it’s coming from Tsukimi’s room. Oh, nobody. Really. Kuranosuke seems to take a liking for this place (because it’s chaotic?) and plans to return here again. Oh no. Looks like the nightmare will continue. At least for Tsukimi. Clara has been transferred to a proper tank as Tsukimi tells the rest of Clara’s lifesaver but falls short of revealing his true identity. After the gang shops for ingredients for their nabe dinner, Tsukimi is still bothered about Kuranosuke’s case and goes to seek Mejiro’s advice on what would happen if boys are allowed into Amamizu. That doesn’t need any much thinking: DEATH. Holy sh*t! To add to her terror, Kuranosuke (in drag of course) returns to ruin their weekly nabe meal by joining them. Due to their fear of hipsters, they have this uncanny ability to ‘shut down’ by turning into stone. Only Kuranosuke seems to be enjoying himself, though he tries to be friendly. Yeah, he finds out that they are all otakus. Tsukimi wonders why he came back so his earnest reply is that he wants to see her. Gasp! However the rest start leaving the room so Chieko tells Kuranosuke bluntly that nobody wants to be ‘her’ friend. Tsukimi accompanies Kuranosuke home (which is by the way 15 minutes walk from Amamizu). He mentions how he envies them because they get to eat together unlike his family. Tsukimi gets another shock of her life when she reaches the gates of Kuranosuke’s house. Not just a house, it’s a bloody big mansion! Make that a luxurious mansion! She gets petrified upon seeing his elder brother, Shuu (because he’s a guy in a suit). Kuranosuke asks Shuu a favour. That is, to bring the best Matsuoka beef back to Amamizu. After Banba confirms the meat is the real deal, looks like they’ve accepted her. Woah. Can be easily bought over! If Tsukimi thinks she has seen enough shock to last for a lifetime, she hasn’t seen anything yet. Next morning, Tsukimi sees the TV news report and recognizes Shuu behind the former Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Keiichirou Koibuchi. So Shuu’s the son of a former minister?! How shocking could it get more? Yeah Tsukimi, you’re over-spilling the coffee. And she just realized that meat might be a bribe… Welcome to the world of politics, Tsukimi.

Episode 3
As we learn Kuranosuke comes from a family of politicians. He narrates why he cross-dresses. Firstly, he plans to leave it all to Shuu so that it’s easier to live his life of freedom if people think he’s some kind of deviant. Secondly, he wants to live in the fashion world and not a politician world. His uncle, Saburouta Negishi is coming for a visit. Oh yeah. Did I mention he’s the Prime Minister of Japan? However the PM seems to not mind Kuranosuke cross-dressing. Yeah, he’s even getting so moe when he sees him and even calling him Kura-pyon. What does this say about Japan? After that, Kuranosuke goes to hang out at his new ‘in’ place: Amamizu. He seems to find Tsukimi’s jellyfish interest much more interesting than hanging out with his friends. She then learns the NEET they all are though they deny and have a certain kind of job or allowances to sustain this kind of lifestyle. It was enough to make everyone go mad. At the park, Tsukimi asks why the son of the PM is cross-dressing. So he takes her back to his place and gives her a total make over. You see, when given proper make-up and the likes, Tsukimi can turn into a beautiful lady! Yes, she’s stunning! In her panic, she runs out of the room and when Shuu is about to come in. It’s like they’ve fallen in love but like Cinderella, she just ran away. But didn’t leave behind any glass slipper. Kuranosuke gets excited that he has found a new ‘rough diamond’ to polish. Yeah, he thinks every girl at Amamizu has the potential to be pretty. Tsukimi tries to wash off her make-up but it makes her look more like a Chinese zombie. She is pondering if she’ll be labelled a traitor if the rest sees her like this. Shuu asks Kuranosuke about that pretty girl that just ran out so Kuranosuke knows he has a crush on her, causing him to blush. He tells her what he needs to know about Tsukimi in exchange for his mom’s address and has him go deliver the clothes she has left behind. When Shuu arrives, he sees the bunch of geek girls frolicking around but doesn’t recognize Tsukimi even if she’s just right under his nose. After he leaves, Tsukimi starts falling for him but is confused. She remembers her mom’s words that girls become beautiful when they fall in love. Does it mean she’ll be grubby if she doesn’t? When Shuu returns, Kuranosuke learns that Tsukimi’s make-up effect has wear off, the reason Shuu didn’t recognize her. Shuu asks him about wanting to meet Lina (Kuranosuke’s mom. Yes, he is the illegitimate son of the former minister) so he says all he wants to do is look inside her clothes wardrobe. Kuranosuke then pays Tsukimi another visit and this time he’s really going to do another super make-over. Terrified Tsukimi didn’t want to go through all that trauma again so she’s fine not being pretty. Have you ever heard a girl saying that?

Episode 4
Amamizu is having their own bonfire but each time this reminds Tsukimi of her mom so she finds it hard to swallow. Meanwhile Kuranosuke learns that Shuu is studying a proposal of an urban redevelopment plan. Seems Amamizu and the building in its area are being planned to be torn down to make way for a high-rise hotel. Kuranosuke goes to warn the Amamizu girls of this but they don’t seem alarmed or fazed. Kuranosuke then plans to take Tsukimi out to an aquarium though it’s a little far. He borrows a kimono from Chieko and has Shuu personally drive them there. Tsukimi becomes fascinated with the jellyfish and even has Shuu stand side by side a jellyfish as comparison. I guess because she didn’t have her glasses on, she could see the similarities of Shuu and the jellyfish! Then Kuranosuke felt this annoying feeling in his heart. Yeah, you could say he’s starting to like Tsukimi. He takes off all his make-up and women’s dressing (in the female toilet) and when he goes back out, to his horror he sees Shuu hugging Tsukimi! Flashback reveals Kuranosuke was so popular (even way back at kindergarten) that he has girls flocking to his side and has dated the most popular, prettiest girls to beauty queens and college girls that only men could dream of. Wow. How lucky is this guy? But because of that, many girls end up fighting over him and got injured and that’s when he has had enough. Back in reality, he is kinda pissed off seeing them hug in public. Tsukimi excuses herself to wash her tears as Kuranosuke pesters for an explanation. She started crying when she started remembering her late mom so that’s when he hugged her and told her it’s okay to cry. After driving her back, it seems Amamizu is under a state of panic and chaos. Everyone is rushing to help Mejiro complete her work because she got mixed up over the deadline. Yeah, everyone is already breaking down and Tsukimi is their only saviour since she is the only ‘sane’ one. She has trouble taking off her kimono and only manages to take off her top part when Shuu returns to thank her. Yeah, his nose bleed is enough to stain the car. Because of this, Tsukimi also breaks down and adds to the already messed up chaos while Kuranosuke is getting hot under the collar, bothered by a love scene between a couple of virgins.

Episode 5
Chieko gets a call from her mom. She’s rather happy to sell the place and not listening a bit to her daughter. Soon the Amamizu girls attend the local explanatory presentation on the urban redevelopment. They are greeted by Shouko Inari, the real estate developer but became scared (because she’s a career woman). Then they see Shuu and the only seats available are those next to him. Tsukimi is made to sit next to him but Shuu doesn’t recognize her. Because the otakus are being noisy, they dash out of the room after receiving glaring stares from the rest. They realize that they left without Chieko so Tsukimi volunteers to go get her. During the break, Shouko realizes that Shuu is at the presentation and devices a scheming plan. Tsukimi ponders about the different person in Shuu when he sees him and Shouko going off together in an umbrella. She gets disheartened but Kuranosuke chances upon her. Back at Amamizu, Kuranosuke learns that the girls flop their session and didn’t even manage to say a single protest. Then Chieko comes back and it seems as long as her mom is the owner of the building, they can’t do anything. Kuranosuke goes into a raging mode to bring all the depressed girls out of the pits. Though the rest are puzzled of his sudden change in his deep voice, it never hit them that he’s of the opposite gender. Kuranosuke gives Mayaya a total make-over and she turns into a beauty herself! Yeah, she looks so much classier with this. Well, she seems to be admiring herself in the mirror since she isn’t taking it off. Then another make-over for Banba. The point is, he’s not going to make them change into a hipster look. He wants them to understand that in this sort of clothes that they are wearing now, they don’t stand a fighting chance. That’s right. You have to dress to kill. It’s a dog-eat-dog world battle out there. Meanwhile Shouko is ditching all the other parasitic men who have fallen out of her favour. Note all the cigarettes stained with her purple lipsticks? Bad for health… As part of her scheme, she calls Shuu out for a drink with an excuse to return his umbrella.

Episode 6
Everyone gets a make-over. Except Chieko. Because of everyone else being hip, this improves her kimono image and is now seen as a rich celebrity. Then she brings them to a posh cafe to discuss their plan to stop the demolition of Amamizu. What plan has he got in mind? Nothing yet but I’m sure he’ll think up of something along the way. Man, this is dangerous. As usual, the Amamizu girls are stunned by the surroundings and the pricey menu. But since it’s on Kuranosuke and his Gorgeous Express credit card, they start ordering the entire menu! See what power money wields? Then she shifts their location to the terrace to have an awesome view. Seeing how happy Tsukimi is, Kuranosuke gets irritated that he is taken in by her cuteness. Elsewhere, Shouko buys Shuu a drink with an excuse of gratitude but spikes his drink. Being the amateur he is, he falls for it. Shouko proceeds to set him up and takes a photo of themselves in bed for future purposes. When Shuu wakes up, he must be in total shock that he seems so calm. Asking for his clothes, but Shouko continues to seduce him. Then he couldn’t take it anymore as he shoves her and dashes out. Back home, the PM talks to Kuranosuke thinking he wants to fish for dirt about Shuu’s relationship with women. However he just wants to know his love life. Dear PM changes the subject and makes a dash out of the house but with Kuranosuke chasing him. Then he spots Shuu coming in all dazed and his clothes unkempt. Kuranosuke goes to talk to their family driver, Hanamori about Shuu’s phobia on women. He was reluctant to tell till Kuranosuke threatens to imprint his finger prints on his Mercedes Benz. Wow. He spilled the beans without a second thought! Seems 21 years ago when Shuu’s dad brought him to see a musical, Shuu went backstage and saw a traumatic incident. Yup, his dad and Lina were making out in a closet. Well, to a 9 year old boy, that must be traumatic, right? For some odd reason, Shuu drives all the way to Amamizu to meet Tsukimi (still in her fashionable dress) just to shake hands with her. Then he leaves. Huh? As for Shouko, she is pretty confident that Shuu is convinced they did it and it will be just moments before she wraps her little fingers all around him.

Episode 7
But Shouko finds that the Amamizu deal isn’t closed yet. She pays Amamizu a visit and she got them bribed with a box of fine macaroons. Banba takes the bag to show it to Tsukimi in her room. But Shouko comes in because she left something in the bag. They are Shuu’s spectacles that she plans to return. Tsukimi gets dismayed and tells her to stay out of her room. As Shouko leaves, she bumps into Kuranosuke coming in. He tells her off that Amamizu is not for sale but she plays it cool. Kuranosuke then says that they are going to buy this building even if it costs billions. Then Mayaya throws salt at her to kick her out. What? Kuranosuke and Tsukimi are alone at the park. Tsukimi is down because she thinks Shouko is Shuu’s girlfriend and that spectacles in her hands seem to confirm it. Then it all starts to make sense to Kuranosuke why he saw Shuu coming home in an unkempt manner. He comforts her but they get teased by a couple of naughty kids who think they are lesbians. Back to Amamizu, the rest don’t seem to take Kuranosuke’s words of buying this place seriously. Yeah, they think it’s some kind of a gag joke. Since they lack savings, Kuranosuke searches the place for anything valuable to sell. I’m not sure if he’s that desperate because it seems like he was having no respect for Chieko’s dolls because he nonchalantly handled them and even thinks of selling them disregarding Chieko’s feelings for them. Even if they’re creepy, they’re family to her. I think that was a bad move. Kuranosuke sulks in Tsukimi’s room (only in his shorts?!) and I guess he gets pissed off that he tries to kiss Tsukimi! However that didn’t happen when Mayaya barges in when an emergency decree from Mejiro. She needs someone to fax her work. NOW! Elsewhere Shouko meets up with Shuu and her blackmail starts when she shows him the intimate picture she snapped with her handphone. While Shuu goes crazy over the thought of kissing Tsukimi and falling for her, they go to seek Mejiro’s advice about selling out the place. She is against it since she will suffer the most due to her disorder. But since she’s low on cash, she has no plans to sell her work but if the one she is working now is a hit, she’ll make the down-payment herself. Shuu tries to ask his dad for money but dad thinks he’s just tired and needs to turn in for the day. Yeah, 300 million to buy a property? That’s crazy! He tried to blackmail by saying he knows about Shuu’s trauma but he makes it clear that they just made it to second base (a term to describe manual stimulation of genitalia. Penetrative sex would be fourth base as I found out). Next day, Kuranosuke tells the Amamizu girls that he has booked a spot in a flea market (oh, the horror of mixing around with other people) and searches their store room for anything valuable.

Episode 8
Lots of uncute things. At least that is what Kuranosuke thought when he opens the boxes. Then he sees the tableware and thinks this will do to rake in the big bucks. Shuu’s dad notices his son not acting strange and as usual Hanamori spilled the beans about his fling after boss agrees to buy a new Benz. As for spying on him, he initially declined (because of his pride as Shuu[s childhood friend, bla bla bla) but when the Mercedes is on the line… Yeah, he gets right to it, calling his close buddy Sugimoto for a meet up. Kuranosuke and Tsukimi are at their flea market spot. The cups aren’t selling but it seems the customers are more interested in the handmade teruterubouzu Tsukimi made. Or is it a jellyfish version? They sold it for 500 Yen but it’s a start. He gets an idea as he calls the rest down to the market and wants them to make those jellyfish dolls. Chieko is sewing in lightning speed! This plans works out well as they’re attracting customers. Kuranosuke wants the rest to draw up a poster but the rest drew their own fetish instead. At the end of the day, their jellyfish dolls are a sell-out! Tsukimi is in her room pondering over her mom’s words of becoming a princess. She unknowingly puts on white cloth around herself and pretends to be a princess when Kuranosuke walks in. He sees her as a stunning bride. She goes into hysteric mode while Kuranosuke confirms that he indeed has feelings for her. Each time he sees her or thinks about her, his heart clenches. Then he chokes on a dessert and the rest saw his fake boobs! Could it be?! Well, that’s just about what the rest thinks. Fake boobs. Nothing more. Elsewhere, Shuu is being blackmailed to accompany Shouko for a drink. She has no intention of leaving him alone as she keeps reminding him about the picture. He thinks he’s blackmailing him to get close to his father about the redevelopment project. Unknown to them, Sugimoto is tailing and snapping pictures of them. It’s like he’s got this stealth mode on that no matter how close he is, they don’t realize he’s there. Hanamori was to make a call to Sugimoto but he accidentally calls Shuu’s handphone and unknowingly says everything about the spying on Shuu and to get proof. Well, looks like the cat’s out of the bag. Tsukimi is so horrified that Kuranosuke saw her in that horrible drab, she hammers her head on the sink so hard! Same time, Kuranosuke wonders why she was wearing that and ponders if she is finally getting into the world of clothes. He remembers his mom showed him her wardrobe and her dream of filling it with all the gorgeous dresses in the world. He sees Tsukimi staring out of the window and tells her there’s nothing to be ashamed about. She mentions after making those jellyfish dolls, she remembered that her mom told her that she would make her a jellyfish-like dress, the reason she dressed like that. Kuranosuke tells her that they’ll be doing that so that they can use this money to buy this place.

Episode 9
While Hanamori chauffeurs Shuu and Shouko back to his home to meet his dad, Kuranosuke looks through Tsukimi’s books and sketches to get ideas for a jellyfish dress. Because of his horrible sketch, Tsukimi breaks and turns into a jellyfish geek, ranting what is right and wrong on what to do! Eventually it’s some flower hat jellyfish that Kuranosuke plans to use as his motif. Then Kuranosuke decides to discuss their strategy back at his room without interruption (can’t tell when the other Amamizu girls will barge in) but they see Hanamori’s car outside. Shouko puts up crocodile tears when Shuu starts doubting their relationship. Shuu brings his dad out as he meets Shouko and asks her straight that if they had gone all the way. Poor Shuu ran away while Tsukimi becomes distraught. Kuranosuke says it’s all a lie because he knows his brother is a virgin. Shouko starts to panic so much so she shows the blackmailing pic as proof (along with all the fake aliases she had as a sex cougar). Tsukimi becomes distressed upon seeing the pic and runs away in tears. She trips along the way. In her unconscious state, she dreams how her friends found her creepy of her jellyfish obsession. She dreams of being in a jellyfish field and thinks sleep will make her feel better but each time Shouko’s face pops up so it’s back to square one. Kuranosuke thinks hard on his motif and remembers when mom told him of all the beautiful dresses she has worn, she has never put on the wedding dress. He strikes an inspiration and decides to head over to Amamizu, bringing along only a wig. Meanwhile Shuu is seen having another drink with Shouko. She tells him that he likes to be under a thumb of a woman because if not, he wouldn’t be here. She says deep down, he wants to have sex with her again. Shuu’s dad and the PM are discussing on the new woman in his life. Apparently since it’s that developer, it’s going to complicate things. Dad thinks of sending him away overseas on a tour inspection and has Hanamori do some investigations while he’s gone. Tsukimi still can’t sleep so she sees Mejiro for advice: Booze. Say what? Well, she’s over the legal age. Mayaya and Banba think there is a thief in the kitchen but it turns out to be Tsukimi wanting to find something to drink. They give her drink a sweet sake and with just a sip, she’s out cold! Note that amazake are low in alcohol content and are made mainly out of fermented rice. She starts dreaming of frolicking in the jellyfish sea with Clara and feels like her mom picking her up to her bed. But it’s actually Kuranosuke in a bad drag.

Episode 10
Kuranosuke borrows Chieko’s sewing machine to make the dream dress. Tsukimi wonders how he knows she had fever the night before. Since he sucks in using the machine, he asks Chieko to help them sew. Chieko goes into her otaku mode telling the difference between Japanese and Western clothing cuttings and why it’s impossible for her to do so. Man, she’s sewing so fast that she’s the hummingbird of sewing! She can even sew without looking at the machine!!! How amazing is that! Shuu attends another of Shouko’s presentation but his mind is clouded of thoughts marrying Tsukimi and living the simple life so much so he falls off his chair. Kuranosuke buys a large cloth to make their dress. But Mayaya and Banba come in to cause their ruckus so he gives them money to leave them alone! Yeah, go buy something you like, will ya’. The duo are having a fun time on their spending spree but gets petrified when a hipster lady, Sara takes interest in Banba’s afro and even takes a pic of it! Kuranosuke lies on the cloth and wants Tsukimi to cut his outline. Meanwhile Shouko puts up another emotional act that he’s treating their relationship as a one night stand when Shuu isn’t amused that she’s following him again. She is pretty confident this tactic will have him come crawling back to her in a few days time but being the amateur virgin he is, Shuu panics and wants to reconsider. Shouko is surprised the events are unfolding too fast but plays it dumb but hailing a taxi to go away. The cloth is ruined so Chieko stitches back for them.

When Kuranosuke puts on the plain skirt, Tsukimi goes into her expert jellyfish fashionista mode again. It’s like she’s possessed as she does some amendments on the skirt. Not bad actually. Kuranosuke thinks of doing this back at his place since his brother will be leaving for a trip. However upon hearing that, Tsukimi gets disheartened and leaves. Kuranosuke convinces Chieko and Jiji to follow him back to his place (Tsukimi forced to come along too). Tsukimi seems uninterested to finish the dress as he tries to motivate her to continue. Chieko accidentally knocks a necklace off the table so Tsukimi suddenly gets an idea. Shuu tries to call Shouko many times but she’s not picking up. And when she does, he jumps to a conclusion that she’s going to do something rash by killing herself! He rushes over and to his horror, he sees her lifeless on a couch and a bottle of pills next to her. Then she wakes up and says it was all a joke. Shuu suddenly slaps her! But the most surprising one has to be he starts hitting her like a school kid! In tears too! When he comes back down, Hanamori thinks the girl is dead since he finished his business so fast and all the better to whisk him away to the airport. Of course she’s not dead. Tsukimi finishes her dress and Kuranosuke is stunned by the beauty of it. She has used the million-dollar necklace beads to make it as the dress’ accessory. Yeah, each pearl costs at least tenths of thousands. Though the necklace was given by his mom, it doesn’t matter because it was turned into a cute dress. As he puts on the dress, he looks very gorgeous in it (even though we know he’s a guy). He starts thinking if he was a girl, would he have gotten the chance to live with his mom. Mayaya and Banba return from their shopping spree but are shocked to see Amamizu sealed up, ready to be torn down.

Episode 11
Tsukimi is in awe with how Kuranosuke looks beautiful in the dress because he really looks like a Princess Jellyfish! She is inspired to create another dress and goes through his closet, takes out one and cuts his precious mom’s dress like nobody’s business! Scary! But I guess he wouldn’t mind since she has awakened. Chieko and Jiji take this chance to leave before it gets crazier. But when they get back to Amamizu, they see Mayaya and Banba trying to penetrate the sealed dorm. Tsukimi has finished her second pink jellyfish dress. Kuranosuke dreams of making it big, opening fashion stores around the globe with his brand strategy. But reality bites when Tsukimi accidentally pokes him with a needle. But it’s going to be more shocking because the Amamizu ladies come rushing back to inform of their dire predicament. Everyone is shocked to see Amamizu in that state. The girls plead to the workers to at least give them time to let them take out their precious belongings. However the workers tell them they are mistaken. They are not here to demolish Amamizu. It seems they’ve got the wrong address while asking directions from Sugimoto (who got the wrong picture from Hanamori). The actual tear down is a house a few blocks away. Chieko tries to call her mom about Amamizu but she abruptly hangs up and there is no further reply. When Tsukimi sees the excavator tearing down the other building, it hit her that Amamizu will soon meet this fate. She rushes back to Kuranosuke’s place and asserts that they need to make more jellyfish dolls so that they can make money and buy the place. Well, Chieko is doing fine with her fast hand, Jiji and Banba are barely coping while Mayaya has already given up and throwing tantrums. Can they make millions at this rate? Kuranosuke gets an idea to take a picture of Tsukimi’s dress and show it to the world via contest. He is confident the pros will love it. We see Sara looking through a bunch of photos for the contest entries. Then she spots Tsukimi’s dress and is awed. Actually, it was Banba’s afro she got excited about (her afro was covering half the picture). Meanwhile Shouko isn’t really herself. She’s got lots on her mind ever since she got slapped. Did she learn her lesson? More like she’s in a dilemma because now she has a crush on Shuu. Then they surprisingly meet at the airport but ignore each other. It seems the PM is also there though he is incognito. I guess with his popularity ratings going down further, nobody cares about that old guy. Yeah, so why not take this as a chance to go on a vacation? And Shouko is also on the same flight. She’s really like a high school girl in love, plucking flower petals to see if he-loves-me-he-loves-me-not. I think she needs to get more flowers.

The Amamizu ladies attend the fashion show contest (of course all dolled up) and since Mayaya is causing her usual antics, Banba’s wig fall off. Sara spots her afro and gets excited. Backstage, seems Sara and Kuranosuke know each other. Tsukimi lacks confidence that her brand will sell (how could anyone believe it will fly since she only made 2 dresses?). However Sara and the other models think her dress is pretty cute. As the models catwalk on the stage, it is Kuranosuke’s turn as he dazzles the crowd in a white jellyfish dress. Even Tsukimi is mesmerized. Looks like at the end, Tsukimi’s brand won in all categories so it’s time for the winner’s parade. Tsukimi is having cold feet of fitting into one of her dresses and going on stage. With the help of Chieko and Jiji, they dress her up but is she ready to go out? Kuranosuke holds her hand to calm her down. When the curtain finally rises, they are greeted with cheers. But the blinding stage lights remind Tsukimi of those beautiful jellyfish. But Tsukimi still gets stage fright and freezes. Sara wants to know the name of this winning brand so Kuranosuke asks Tsukimi what is jellyfish called in English. Back at Amamizu, Tsukimi is still traumatized and thinks she just had a near-death experience and saw the ‘light’! Kuranosuke tries to come up with a logo for the Jellyfish brand but couldn’t. The other girls tried to help too but they put their own fetish in the design. Not going to work. Tsukimi ponders that she doesn’t remember much during the contest except Kuranosuke holding her hand and him asking the jellyfish word. Kuranosuke goes to see Tsukimi in her room. She still has trouble looking at him when his face is too close. However he says he needs to do this even if he’s not cross-dressing since they are bound by fate now. She turns around looks at him but he starts to blush instead. He gets embarrassed of what he just said. She asks if this will work and he is confident it will. Just then, the doorbell rings and it is Chieko’s mom at the door. OMG! She’s a splitting image of her daughter! Like mother, like daughter. There are 2 Chiekos! How can you tell them apart?! Well, to me, mommy looks like that fat teacher lady in the Lat cartoons :p. The girls want her to reconsider about Amamizu but she says she returned to tell them that her Korean actor Yong (she’s a big fan of him) is moving to Japan so she doesn’t need to sell the dorm anymore. That time the non-communication was due to someone stepping on her phone and breaking it. However she misinterprets that the girls want it sold so she goes off to reconsider. Yeah, better chase her down while you can. Tsukimi narrates that she has come to Tokyo for 6 months and feels this metropolis is a wonderful place. She is sure more wonderful things will happen to her. Now, that’s the positive spirit. Hey, Mejiro too has drawn her own Jellyfish brand logo. If you ask me, I’d say it could have been better.

Everybody Is Beautiful
It didn’t feel very much like a satisfying ending. I’m not saying that it sucks but there were some issues that I was pondering at the end. So what about the redevelopment plan of the area? Chieko’s mom may not sell the building but still that doesn’t mean that the plan has been totally abandoned. You know, some people have invested lots of time and money and you just can’t let a group of otakus put the brakes on your plan. And is Shouko still in her real estate job? Why did she take a flight out of the country too? To forget her woes? Seems like her plan to seduce Shuu backfired as it is her who finds herself falling for him in the end. The ending also doesn’t give a clear indication about Shuu and Tsukimi’s feelings for each other. Has Tsukimi gotten over him after the shock of seeing that fake pic? Though we know Kuranosuke has feelings for Tsukimi, but I thought he would at least confess it to her in the end. That’s why for the chemistry department, it’s like this section has been thrown out the window when the series reaches its end. What about the reason Kuranosuke and his mom are separated? Where is she? I would love to know about that too. But the important thing is that everyone can continue to live together at Amamizu, doing the things they love as before. At least for now. I also wonder if Tsukimi and Kuranosuke will be going ahead designing more jellyfish dresses seeing that Chieko’s mom isn’t selling the building. Why not? Their first designs were a major hit!

Many of the characters especially the Amamizu ladies are an interesting lot. I won’t go so far to say that they have changed a lot, but they have made a little progress. One thing is for sure, they aren’t afraid of Kuranosuke anymore seeing that they are the kind of people who freaks out at any hipsters. Okay, so it may just be him that they aren’t afraid anymore but that’s a good start, right? For someone who can give you good quality meat, you’d be insane to reject his friendship. Tsukimi at the end of the series gains more confidence in herself as compared in the beginning. She may not see herself as a princess like her mom once said every girl would and prefers frolicking with jellyfish, but as long as she can be true to herself, I think that is more than enough for her to be a princess by her own means. Kuranosuke as the son of a politician seems to have everything in life. He’s rich, got a pretty face (enough for other girls to fight over and die for!) and the freedom to do what he wants in his life. Isn’t it mind boggling to not see the media snooping around him like a mad paparazzi? Probably he has been surrounded by so many beautiful people so much so when he saw how different Tsukimi was, he fell in love with something unusual. He finds it more interesting to hang out with these people because they are who they are rather than those who’d get close to him because they want something in return (though this point isn’t presented in the anime). Another mind boggling fact is that at times Kuranosuke’s identity came to very close to being busted. Sometimes too close that it’s right in front of their eyes. Whether his fake boobs drop off or they come straight into Tsukimi’s room while he has taken off his cross-dressing, with their ‘blurness’, he can assure that his identity as a female is safe in the eyes of the Amamizu girls. Plus, he has this penchant of using “Ore” (masculine form of “I”) and each time he does that, Tsukimi has to quickly cover him by shouting the Mexican “Ole! Ole!”. Secret safe alright.

I was hoping to catch who this Mejiro lady is but right till the very end, she’s someone that nobody could paint a face of her. So mysterious… Shuu as the rookie politician makes me wonder if he can survive the political arena. He’s too innocent and clean that it seems he could be eaten alive at any moment. He should’ve been a normal office worker. Another interesting character is Hanamori because of his utmost love for Mercedes Benz. He’d do anything for them. He’s so obsessed with the German car that he could sketch it so well but a simple drawing he could not. No matter how many times he sticks to his principles of not ratting out or revealing secrets, once you mention the magic word, he will make a total u-turn without a second thought! This guy is dangerous. Don’t share your secrets with him. Clara at times make her onscreen debut as a chibi jellyfish (sometimes I think she looked more like an alien with tentacles) as she explains certain stuff to viewers and introduce to us the most taboo word of the weekly Top 5 such as working, etc. I’m thinking with so much dislikes, man it’s hard for them to really integrate back into society.

The main point of this series is about inner beauty. Never judge a book by its cover. It doesn’t matter how you look on the outside but the contents of your heart that matters. Anybody can put on a fake and beautiful facade but can you be true to your heart? Only through testing times that one’s true character can be revealed. Another point is that everybody has a potential to look pretty and beautiful. See how clothes maketh a (wo)man? With just a little sprucing up, not anything heavy, can turn you from looking like a rundown shaggy person to a smart and sharp looking professional. It’s all in the looks. The way you dress partly helps to give you confidence but basically it’s still down to your self-confidence and if you put your mind to it, you can definitely do the impossible. Okay, maybe not everything. The Amamizu girls before and after image sure make them look like as though they are really different persons. Though Shuu doesn’t know Tsukimi’s real identity at the end, I wonder will he still like her if he finds out about it. Will he still accept her for who she is? In the end, even if the Amamizu ladies aren’t going to change, that is fine because it is what defines them. We should accept and embrace diversity rather than isolating others who are just different from the norm.

Kana Hanazawa displays her versatile voice of the various and different moods as Tsukimi. Whether she is depressed, in shock or just gone crazy, she absolutely did a good job to fit into her character. I was convinced that a guy would be voicing Kuranosuke because the voice didn’t sound high enough. Well, I was wrong. Mitsuki Saiga is the voice behind Kuranosuke (Phantom in MAR, Kousaka in Genshiken) and she does make her character sound exuberating with confidence. My favourite Mamiko Noto took a while for me to recognize because her character didn’t really speak much and even if she did, it was quite soft. Yeah, her character is something easily missed. Other casts include Kimiko Saito as Chieko (Ofuku in Basilisk), Akemi Okamura as Mayaya (Nami in One Piece), Motoko Kumai as Banba (Ginta in MAR), Junichi Suwabe as Shuu (Atobe in Prince Of Tennis), Junko Kitanishi as Shouko, Takehito Koyasu as Hanamori (Kururu in Keroro Gunsou) and Sumire Morohoshi as Clara. The opening theme is Koko Dake No Hanashi by Chatmonchy. To sum it up, it sounds like a tone deaf ten year old singing out of tune. I didn’t quite like it. But the opening credits animation is filled with Hollywood movie parodies like Star Wars, Mary Poppins and James Bond. However you don’t get to see any these parodies in the episode proper. Surprisingly the ending theme is striking enough to my liking. Kimi No Kirei Ni Kidzuiteokure by Sambomaster is a jazzy and filled with soul while the lead male vocal sounded like he is drunk and had too much. But it makes you want to get up and dance along. “Love is coming back… Love is coming ba-a-ack!”. Oh yeah. Of course the lyrics of the song is meaningful and it’s about realizing the beauty of her lover.

I can’t say that I have more favourable views of jellyfish as I still find them creepy (just like many other creatures). Just remember that being a geek or different doesn’t mean you are lesser than any other human beings. Each of us have our own fetish and weird (though some may term it as unique) hobbies. It all boils down to the individual. Usually it is the norms of society that discriminates. So I’m a 30 year old otaku bachelor still watching my favourite animes every week while most people I know are already married and getting on with their family life. Should I feel worried? Should I feel pressured? I know I’m happy doing what I love most.