Here is another short shoujo anime that I coincidentally stumbled upon. What is with me and such genres these days? Despite Kobayashi Ga Kawai Sugite Tsurai is only 2 OVAs long and worth 16 minutes each, it is bundled with the limited edition of the manga volume. Sounds like a marketing and promotion ploy to me. But I thought the storyline is fairly interesting although it might not be original. Twin brother and sister, Mitsuru and Megumu Kobayashi are attending separate single-sex high schools. One day, they decided to exchange places without knowing what fate had waiting for them. Cross-dressing, love triangles, romance and confusion. Ah, such familiar ingredients for the shoujo genre.

Megumu and Aoi Sanada are too close to each other. The former wants to be by his side and confesses she loves him. And then they kiss. Aoi pinches her cheeks and calls her a fool for getting hurt like that. Then the kissing continues… Change of scene. The school’s queen, Azusa Tokugawa is stuck in a hole! What the hell?! 2 hours ago, she saw Megumu and Shino together. She got jealous thinking they’re close enough to be in love with each other. As such, she starts digging a hole as a trap to make them fall in. However she dug too deep that she herself cannot get out! It starts raining and everyone has gone home. Will she be stuck here for the rest of the night? Thank her lucky stars somebody has passed by. Too bad it is Megumu. She forgot something and turned back. Seeing Azusa’s predicament, she jokes that she might have dug a hole as a trap. See Azusa’s mad face? Spot on. Megumu helps her out since it would be in bad taste if she leaves her down there. Azusa could feel her warmth and such strong arms she has despite putting on her tsundere attitude. As she struggles to climb out, they fall back into the hole. But Megumu’s wig fell off. OMG… Megumu is a boy???!!! Or is that her twin brother, Mitsuru?

Meanwhile the real Megumu is in Aoi’s house as she gets treated for her injury. She wonders if that kiss meant anything or was he just licking the blood of her lips. Aoi actually thinks Megumu is a guy and is pondering why the heck he kissed ‘him’. Don’t know. His body felt so natural and moved on its own. Each time he looks at Megumu, he can’t help fawn over ‘his’ cuteness. Does it mean he likes boys? His inner consciousness starts fighting among themselves over this argument. He is thinking too much that he breaks the cup’s handle. Seeing Megumu’s cute face again, he can’t resist it and hugs Megumu. He wants to stay this way a little longer in hopes he could understand how he feels. The longer they hug, the harder their heart beats that they can’t breathe. Finally they pull apart. Aoi comes clean. It is not like he is into guys but whenever he is around ‘him’, he gets emotional and his heart pounds faster. Megumu wanted to say something important too but she sneezes. What a way to ruin it. Megumu is forced to take a shower and she must do it fast and get back to looking like a guy. Otherwise her real identity will be revealed. As she ponders of Aoi’s words and how happy she heard him say that, Aoi comes in to give a towel. And she was just pondering what she will do if she is found out. Yup. Now is the chance. Because that shock look on Aoi’s face just indicates he realized Megumu is a girl. That same panicky expression with Azusa for Mitsuru.

A black cat, Shigezane is totally in love with Mego, Megumu’s affectionate name that he calls since she takes care of him. However she is in love with Aoi. Shigezane likes this guy once but now he is his rival. Today they are meeting up so the cat is going to put a stop to their plans! He bumps into Aoi’s head and the next thing we know, they swap bodies! Yeah. Perfect chance for Shigezane to go on a date with Megumu. Megumu is pretty excited to see Aoi and especially the different way he talks. Meow? But she finds it odd. Walking through small holes and on walls? Besides, Aoi who was never good with girls will get a seizure when touched and now he is alright. Meanwhile Aoi wakes up in a cat’s body and realizes something amiss. That bump must have caused them to switch bodies. Because Megumu is not at the meeting place, he fears the worst. Mind boggling fact: How the heck is Aoi wearing an eye-patch seeing his original body also wears one? Anyway Mitsuru is on his way to sneak into a supplementary class when he sees the cat. It’s hard for Aoi to communicate so he uses sign language. Oddly, Mitsuru could understand and although he brushes it off at first, he realizes this cat is Aoi. No, you’re not dreaming. Meanwhile Megumu and Shigezane are at the park. He lies on her lap and has her touch his face a lot. A lot. So much so she is bleeding a fountain of nose bleeds. Seriously. She’s loving it. He’s loving it. What a happy world. Shigezane gets poetic. He says he only once likes cats but after meeting her, he realized she is the only one and will never make her cry. That’s why right now he wants to make babies. SAY WHAT???!!! It took Megumu long enough to understand after all that echoing of ‘making babies…’.

Since Aoi has no idea where Megumu is, Mitsuru texts her. I don’t know how she can reply that she is in the park and ‘Aoi’ is forcing her to make babies with him in such a short time. Because this ‘Aoi’ is on top of her! Getting ready to… But in the nick of them, Aoi charges in and their heads bump into each other. Safe to say, they return to their original bodies. Aoi apologizes he wasn’t himself. Mitsuru realizes he is late for supplementary classes and rushes off with Shigezane. Megumu learns about the body swapping and believes him because of his funny act and besides, he would never lie to her. Of course she had to deny that they went that far in making babies. She thinks it would be nice if they could hold each other close like that again in the future. Megumu says she loves him and Aoi says the same reply. They start feeling embarrassed over what they said. In the aftermath, Aoi holds Shigezane and ‘speaks’ to it. When they swapped bodies, he could read what was on his mind. He knows he treasures her a lot. Aoi won’t give up Megumu to anyone. Shigezane admits his defeat and says Megumu is all his for now. Aoi talks like a cat and Megumu wonders if they switch bodies again. Just kidding. Phew. That scared her for a little while.

So Cute That It’s Funny?
It feels that the OVAs were like prologues and serve as an introductory to the manga series. The episodes are standalones and feel like fun side stories. Even if you do not read the manga, these episodes may give you a good idea on what the series is all about. So those who are interested by what they saw may just be interested in checking out the manga itself. Judging by the looks of it, it is hard to say whether it will get a proper TV anime adaptation in the future or just like many shows that follow this pattern, they just fade into obscurity (example: Suki Desu Suzuki-kun).

As far as this little series is concern, I guess it was rather okay in my books seeing the first episode deals with the cross-dressing ways, the building up of their romance and how they are eventually discovered. While the second focuses more on the relationship between Megumu and Aoi but the damn cat stole the spot. I know it feels really weird to have a cat falling in love with a human being but I guess this is being unique since how far can you stretch the plot and drama after so many shoujo series around? So having a cat and body swapping may seem odd for a shoujo genre but I think it gives a little refreshing pace in this genre.

Something strikes me when I learn that Daisuke Ono was the voice of Aoi and Ayumi Fujiwara voicing the twins. They voiced the leading characters in Kaze No Stigma. There was this thought of mine that they might burst into those characters since Aoi was almost (but not) similar to Kazama although Megumi wasn’t a bit tsundere like Ayano. The drawing and art are okay too, pretty much in line with the shoujo standards. Yeah. Cute. Their chibi form makes it look funny (in a good comical way), though.

Because this is such a short anime, the character development isn’t there although both OVAs concentrate heavy on Megumu and Aoi. Especially with Megumu who is so heavily in love with Aoi that it’s so… Annoying? But that is what makes her cute, no? My guess is that there should be more interesting characters and the plot when their cross-dressing secret is revealed to some. So if they adapt this into a TV series, I would love to take a look at it. A question to ponder: If you’re cross-dressing as an opposite gender but fall in love with a person who is totally opposite your real gender, would that make your relationship yaoi or yuri? Likewise, would it be yaoi or yuri it was the same gender? Argh! It’s so confusing…

Asa Made Jugyou Chu

August 24, 2012

I’m still contemplating whether to classify Asa Made Jugyou Chu to be hentai or hardcore ecchi. Maybe it falls in between there. For those who want to know what this OVA is all about, all you need to know is that this guy who has earned a scholarship to his dream school gets mistakenly put into a girl’s dorm. There is no turning back so he has to sleep with his teacher who is taking responsibility for this foul up. Geez. Sleeping and bathing with your teacher? Not to mention the other ‘indecent’ acts they’ll be doing. Be prepared for ecchi galore…

Today’s Lesson…
Yuuki Kagami can’t sleep. How can when your busty teacher is sleeping right next to you?! And Ayane Kakinozaka has this habit of sleep walking. Heck, no! It’s sleep sexing! Oh Yuuki. You’re so screwed. How did this come about? Seems at the principal office, Ayane screwed up and put Yuuki in a girl’s dorm thinking he was a girl. Well, other people did made that mistake before since because of his name. I thought Yuuki was dual gender? Anyway the principal can’t do anything about it and they’ll have to deal with it. Oh, if anything funny happens, Yuuki’s scholarship will be revoked and he’ll be expelled from school. Bummer. He worked so hard to get a scholarship in Houren Academy and he ends up like this? Ayane got this bright idea that she will live with him so that she could watch over him and make amends. I don’t know about the last bit… So in their room, Ayane suggests Yuuki cross-dress as a girl in order for him to keep his real gender a secret but he feels embarrassed. I don’t know how she got this twisted idea because she starts stripping herself thinking if she’s as embarrassed as him, it’ll even out and it’ll be okay for him to cross-dress. I’m sure that’s not the reason why he went along with her plan. So Yuuki manages to get by dinner without the girls noticing. He looks so girly, sounds so girly. Heck, he must be a girl! But the real challenge is bath time. How is he going to pull this off? Yeah, Ayane coming in with him too. Just in case. Again she has this twisted idea. She tells him porn books are forbidden in the girls’ dorm. Does he look like he has any? Ayane fears his pent up sexual desires will make him lose control and start attacking girls! So instead of those books, she wants him to look at her boobs and naked body all he wants. Anymore of this and I’m sure Yuuki will turn into a sex maniac. If not, lose his mind and go psycho. Bed time. To prevent Yuuki from sneaking out and doing something naughty to other girls, Ayane handcuffs their hands together. So this is where he becomes sleepless. Yeah, Ayane is all over him. What kind of f*cking dream is she having? It looks like she’s enjoying it! Next morning, Ayane thinks Yuuki should attend school as a girl. She even has a girl uniform ready for him to wear. But… She wants him to wear panties too! The skirt is so short that if anyone catches him seeing men’s underwear… NO WAY!!!

Thankfully Yuuki didn’t have to cross-dress but while walking in the corridor, he bumps into classmate Risa Takabane. He apologizes but she remains cold to him. Yuuki laments the direction of his school life going downhill so much so he didn’t reply to Ayane’s greeting. This leads to Ayane unnecessarily worrying about his stress. I’m sure she is the culprit who is building up his stress. She fears all that stress will make him impulsively commit sex crimes and get expelled. She hears her male colleagues about taking out their stress at the baseball batter. Oh God. Not another weird idea cooking up. Remembering her professor’s thesis, she thinks he can help Yuuki reduce his stress by hitting things. Guess what ‘thing’ she makes him hit? Yuuki is wondering whether Risa hates him when Ayane suddenly comes into the room and strips herself! Then she wants him to spank her butt! Please spank or else you’ll turn into a sex offender and get expelled. Is this how she views him? But Yuuki is facing a dilemma to spank or not because if he doesn’t, she won’t let up. So he hits just once. Okay? End of story. Not. She thinks hardly one spank will release all his stress and wants him to hit more. He is having second thoughts but I guess those tears convinced him he must go on. For better or worse. More likely the latter. So the multiple spanking goes on and on… Hit harder! Wow. Even if it doesn’t seem like it, it feels that Ayane is actually enjoying this S&M play, don’t you think? Feels good, huh? Yeah, even Yuuki almost got carried away. He sends her into ultimate climax when he accidentally gently touches her butt. Okay, we should stop here and go take a bath.

While Ayane takes a breather, Yuuki heads in first. Thinking there was no one, to his surprise, Risa comes out. She thinks she has seen ‘her’ before so Yuuki thinks back the fake story to use if ever such scenario arises. ‘She’ just came back abroad and due to various circumstances isn’t officially admitted yet. Did Risa buy it? Yeah, she did. Risa gets too close to Yuuki but he is ‘saved’ when Ayane comes in. She explains about Yuuki’s circumstances from abroad and is in charge of ‘her’. She also tells Risa to go back to her room while she’s still warm and she obediently obliges. Yuuki remembers he forgot to take off his wig and when he is about to do so, Risa comes back in! Looks like she is back for a second round. There’s no rule to forbid that, right? The duo try to get away from her but Risa becomes a serial molester over Yuuki! She’s squeezing and fondling his ‘flat chest’. So Yuuki learns Risa is a lesbian because she prefers relationships with girls and that boys are filthy and dirty creatures. If she’d only knew… She’s going down south and before she could touch his ‘elephant’, I don’t know what Ayane did, must be some big tsunami to splash Yuuki out of the tub. Ayane becomes Risa’s molest victim to buy Yuuki time to get away. Probably she pushed to right (or wrong) buttons because now it’s Ayane’s turn to turn the tables on her and molest her all the way! Yuuki is done changing and returns to inform Ayane he’ll head back first. I guess he didn’t expect what’s coming. A steamy yuri affair between the ladies! Grope master! I think Yuuki nearly died due to loss of blood.

Ayane catches a fever and is put to bed. Risa thought Yuuki should come to her room but he assures he doesn’t catch a cold from her that easily and needs to look after her. I know what will happen if he took up her invitation. Yuuki takes her temperature and man, it’s so hot that the thermometer broke! Shot right through the glass! Thinking she needs her medication now, it turns out to be a suppository! She wants him to shove it up her ass! OMG! Is he going to do it? Yeah well, better get it over it. And when Yuuki accidentally got his finger inside… Do I need to say it? Now it’s Yuuki’s turn to catch her fever. What did he say about catching it? Ayane is in a nurse outfit and will gladly repay the favour. She’s going to stick the suppository right up his ass! NOOOOOOOO!!! What a way to get screwed.

Hard On Physical Education!
Thank God it’s over! Honestly I was cringing while watching this. Everything here feels so wrong (but so good at the same time). I know. I should have stopped watching when it was getting weirder by the moment, right? Well, I decided to ‘brave on’ to see what happens next out of curiosity and to see if it could get and ‘worse’. Well it did. So unless you are a true ecchi fan, you might want to skip this. There are some funny moments but really, if you want to watch this show, it’s just for all the fanservice. I mean, what kind of teacher would have J-cup size boobs? Not only that. Her boobs seem to defy gravity and physics. So bouncy like as though they are water balloons. And probably the fact she is worried Yuuki will turn into a sex offender is just a facade that she is some sex maniac. A masochist if I must say. What about the principal not able to do anything? Well, I thought she just wanted to have some fun and see Yuuki suffer because as the principal, I am very sure she has the authority to do something about this mistake. After all, you’re talking about a boy in a girl’s domain. If anything scandalous happens, the school’s name will be tarnished too, right? And this is a prestigious school I believe. So that’s why I thought she is just a sadist to make life more interesting-cum-difficult.

So can you blame Yuuki if he actually becomes a sex maniac and offender? With all the factors pushing his limits, there is only so much a man can take and anymore, he’ll burst like a needle popping a balloon. I can’t believe Ayane would easily throw away her modesty just to calm Yuuki’s non-existence sexual tension. Like I said, it is probably all make believe so she can take out some of her sexual frustrations herself. I wonder if she’s got a boyfriend. Not surprise if she didn’t. Heck, I feel Ayane is in the wrong line of work and should have been better in the porn industry! See her naturally giving us lots of fanservice views of her panty shots and close ups, boobs and nipples shots? If Yuuki has got Ayane as his problem in one hand, now he has to deal with that lesbian Risa. He’s caught between a rock and a hard place. Doom if he remains a girl in his eyes and even doom for him if his real gender is revealed. Do girls really molest and grope each other when they’re in the bath all alone? Or is it just males’ fantasy?

My solution if this case ever happens, you should just walk out of the school and enrol somewhere else. I mean if a prestigious school can’t fix this minor error, then there is nothing so great, right? What we see here is just like sweeping dirt under the carpet. And it will be just odder that a girl just wants to help you relief your sexual tension. Especially if that girl is your teacher. Teaching you the wrong things in life? Heck, I think you don’t need lessons for it. It’ll come naturally I guarantee :). I’m also sure that there are many other ways to do so but to be on the safe side, maybe I’ll just stick to those porn magazines if I ever wanted to take out my sexual frustrations.

Hourou Musuko

February 4, 2012

What are little girls made of? Sugar, spice and everything nice? What about little boys? Snips, snails and puppy dog tails? Well, today’s world isn’t as straightforward as it seems like in the past. Okay, maybe there were many cases too but people weren’t that connected around the globe or that informed. What am I talking about? When you hear the word ‘cross-dressing‘, what is your first opinion when a person does so? It’s either you accept or you reject these kind of people. So in the case of the anime series, Hourou Musuko (also known as Wandering Son), we look at issues of cross-dressing, the prejudice and discrimination that comes with it. Okay, perhaps not that deep but at least this series is trying to address this problem as many of the people today increasingly open to declare they are LGBT (Google it if you don’t know what it means).

Shuuichi Nitori is a middle school boy facing this problem. With his effeminate looks, he wants to be a girl. Yoshino Takatsuki, the tall tomboyish girl who is also the same age as Nitori, wants to become a boy. It’s like swapping genders, eh? But here’s another thing. Nitori likes Takatsuki. He confessed but was rejected though they remained best friends. Well, even if they both did become a couple, there wouldn’t be any big issues, right? Just wondering which one is the boy and which the girl. Add in a few of their friends into the fray, and you’ll have a mixed bag of romance, drama and slice of life as the protagonists wade through life trying to find their identity. Oh, there’s that dreaded thing called puberty too.

Episode 1
It’s the start of the new school term and the main characters are eager to start their schooling life. We are introduced to the other characters, many of which are in Nitori and Takatsuki’s class. They are Makoto Ariga (another boy who secretly wants to be a girl and shares the same cross-dressing passion as Nitori), Saori Chiba (the girl who likes Nitori and possibly the one who encouraged him to cross-dress in return for his love but of course it backfired), Kanako Sasa (the energetic but friendly petite girl), Chizuru Sarashina (often calling herself as “Chi” and is not afraid to dress either as a boy or a girl when she feels like it because of her free spirited and unconventional behaviour) and Momoko Shirai (Sarashina’s childhood friend who always suck up to her). As the class introduces themselves, one of the boys shamelessly asks Nitori if he and Takatsuki once dated before. He gets whacked by Chiba’s textbook on the head. Scary. Don’t mess with her. She’s got that unfriendly ‘I-don’t-want-to-be-your-friend’ look on her face. Looks like that girl still harbours some feelings for Nitori. Later Takatsuki bumps into Sarashina. The latter invites her to join the basketball club due to her height. After school, Nitori cross-dresses and goes out to the city while Takatsuki meets Hiroyuki Yoshida AKA Yuki (another transsexual woman who loves dressing as a guy and supports Takatsuki’s desire to be a boy). Nitori feels anxious since this is his first time dressing as a girl in a crowded place as he only does so at home. He looks pretty convincing. You can’t even tell if he’s a guy. When Nitori goes home, he sees his sister, Maho and her friend Anna Suehiro in their room (both of them are models). After they leave, Nitori gets attracted to put on Maho’s dress. Of course the girls return to the room since Maho forgot her handphone. The sight of her brother in her dress is most unpleasant. She forcefully tries to take it off him seeing it will stink for her photo shoot tomorrow but he pushes her away. Nitori felt hurt so he runs out of the house and runs to wherever his feet take him. Along the way, he encounters Takatsuki. He starts crying because he can’t stand anymore of this. They talk about Nitori trying hard to be a girl and perhaps be more like Sarashina. When he goes home, Maho apologizes by giving him her fried shrimp.

Episode 2
Next day in school as Sarashina dresses in a girl’s uniform, a girl asks her if she was the one who dressed as a boy before. Next thing she knows, Sarashina is in Street Fighter mode and shoves the girl! WTF?! Momoko tells her everybody is watching so she runs away in embarrassment. What… The… Hell? As Nitori and Takatsuki walk up the stairs, they chance upon Chiba coming down. She calls them filth. And you’re not hearing things when she narrates that she hates everyone. Man, this girl has got an attitude problem. In class after drawing lots for their seat arrangement, the gang decides on a leader via rock-scissors-paper. They hear a ruckus Momoko trying to tell off Chiba for badmouthing and insulting Sarashina, though Chiba is just speaking her mind that she’s weird. Chiba was even ready to hit her but stopped short. During recess, Nitori goes to Maho’s class to give her forgotten bento. Her classmates note how girly he looks, much to Maho’s annoyance. Then more trouble for Chiba when several seniors call her. Something about her not snubbing them but she just tells them she did but they ignored her and leaves. After school, Sasa walks home with Chiba and Takatsuki but notices that both girls aren’t on good terms. Sasa got so upset that she tells them off she’s not talking to them anymore. Takatsuki thinks of buying the hatchet but Chiba doesn’t want to. Does she hate her that much? Well, Chiba throws back the same question to her and leaves her speechless. Back in Takatsuki’s room, she remembers the events 9 months ago that led to this. Chiba visited her and asked about her feelings for Nitori. Seems she had forced some information out of that girly guy about his confession to Takatsuki. So why was she here if she’s the last person she wants to see? To yell at her? To tell her off she hates her? Well, Takatsuki didn’t do anything wrong so she thinks she’ always playing the victim and making her the baddie. So yeah, Takatsuki hates her just as much. Takatsuki tries to find Sasa but she’s not around. Looks like she’s ‘hiding’ at the infirmary and not going to class and is taking her point of not talking to those girls seriously. Takatsuki goes up to Chiba and suggests that they all walk home together. Sarashina likes the idea and soon everyone one of them joins them walking home. Everyone else is having fun buying and eating ice cream except for, you guessed it, Chiba. Then she reveals she actually snubbed her seniors so Sarashina laugh so hard and loud. Sure finding it funny, eh? Well, it may be the much needed ice breaker for her so Sasa agrees to accompany her to go apologize to them tomorrow.

Episode 3
Sarashina again is laughing so hard and on the other hand Takatsuki is in shock so much so she’s just lying on the floor like as though it’s the end of the world for her. For the upcoming cultural festival, the class is taking suggestions and what to do. Surprisingly Chiba comes out with a suggestion of not just a normal play, but a gender bender play. Boys play the girls role and vice versa. Interesting. Walking home, Sarashina is thrilled with her idea but Chiba continues to be cold and decides to split herself from the gang. Sarashina starts liking her much to Momoko’s dismay because she always gets attracted to weird things. Chiba and Nitori are in charge of writing the script. As Nitori burns the midnight oil, he can’t help think of his own case and Takatsuki’s, though he thinks that they’ve already decided they should be friends. Next morning, seems Maho got sick. Nitori has caught some too but it’s not that serious as he makes his way to school albeit he rests at the infirmary. Surprisingly Takatsuki is also there. She asks him a weird question if he ever wanted to wear a bra. She doesn’t want to and wished her chests were as flat as his (probably it has something to do with that incident at the beginning). Nitori gets more ideas for the play so he writes it down in his notebook. Later Riku Seya (Maho’s boyfriend) sees Nitori and wonders if he can come visit her later. Makoto notices something different about Seya and that is his voice is breaking. They fear this puberty period among the boys will put a damper on their dreams to become a girl. So he gets this idea of recording their voices now before they forever lose it. But why change into girl clothes? I guess for realism. Then they take turns recording their voice over the handphone with their slightly modified girly names. Nitori doesn’t know what name to use so Makoto suggests using his sister’s. Well, she heard it and isn’t too pleased. Then they have a visitor. Maho seems to panic so Makoto opens the door to see Seya. Yeah, he is pretty shocked to see girly Makoto. But even more shocking, he sees Maho trying to force Nitori out of his girl clothes! He is disturbed upon seeing her undressing her brother! Note, when Seya first met Nitori cross-dressing, he thought he was a girl and blushed. Nitori and Makoto are kicked out of the house so Seya thinks her fever must be making her act weird. Maho thinks he must have caught her illness since they kissed yesterday. Next day, Nitori and Chiba present their script to their homeroom teacher, Manabu Saisho. He is impressed but thinks they should read each other’s story. Since both are saying the other’s script is better, Saisho suggests combining the good points of both scripts. Seems impossible, eh? But Nitori won’t give up yet as he and Chiba work together at the library, only to receive taunts from other boys that he is ‘cheating’ on Takatsuki. Chiba suggests doing so at her house and promises she won’t do anything funny. You mean something funny happened to last time? Nitori comes up with the idea of Romeo and Juliet with a twist. Romeo wants to be a girl and Juliet a boy. But Chiba can’t help think it’s just like Nitori and Takatsuki. She won’t allow Takatsuki to be Romeo if Nitori plays Juliet. Meanwhile Sarashina checks whether Takatsuki is wearing any bra by groping her boobs, much to her annoyance. Back home, she laments with this kind of chests, she can’t wear a boy’s uniform. Next day as she heads to school, Nitori notices her wearing a bra.

Episode 4
For the pool lessons, Sarashina is once again bold wearing a bikini instead of the usual school swimsuit. As Chiba and Nitori work on their script, Nitori isn’t paying attention to what Chiba is saying (“The people in the mansion are committing mass suicide”) due to the many distractions so Nitori thinks it’s better for them to meet at his home. When Nitori goes home, he sees Maho and her friends. As he continues on his script, Anna gets a little naughty by taking a peek at his work. Till he made him cry. Oh, you just made a girl, oops I mean a boy cry. Takatsuki visits Yuki who is currently living with her boyfriend Shiina. Saisho asks for Nitori and Chiba’s progress but the latter tells him they have nothing to show him. As Chiba visits Nitori, Makoto is also there. He asks if she still likes Nitori because he’s pretty sure Nitori still likes Takatsuki. I’m sure she doesn’t have nice things to say for him being nosy. One of them being they’re both being stubborn and dumb. So she asks if Nitori likes Takatsuki as a girl or a boy. She thinks it’s the latter so he can be a girl and thus the reason why he wrote this play. It’s the same case for her because she wanted to be Juliet. As Chiba leaves, Makoto notes how she controlled herself and didn’t embarrassed Nitori as bad as he thought. Nitori gets a call from Takatsuki asking him to accompany her tomorrow. Both of them cross-dress and over lunch they talk about… Bras and boobs? As Nitori dresses back into his boy self, Takatsuki mentions about the voice recording he did. She says she is willing to give him her name but in return he has to give her his. Nitori wants her to be Romeo for the play because he wants to be Juliet. That’s because he sees her as a boy. It’s a play not about him but them being stars, a play that represents his wish. Takatsuki is surprised but apologizes that she never realized this was so important to him and will do her best to make this play a success. Nitori goes home. Maho gives him a weird ugly handphone strap Anna bought when they were at a karaoke joint. She thinks Anna hates him or something. In class, Saisho asks for volunteers to help with the script. The first person who put her hands up is Takatsuki. Soon the rest of their friends all join in (I guess Momoko didn’t want to be left out). Then Nitori gets a call from Chiba to meet her at a place because she wanted them to meet alone before everybody else starts working on the script. Acting out Nitori’s script, Chiba seems like a natural. She then says she wants her to have her name. However he tells her he already had that talk with Takatsuki. He goes on saying how he liked Takatsuki, got rejected and yet he still wants to become a girl and wear pretty clothes. And it’s not because of Takatsuki. Chiba asks his next plan since he won’t become a girl by just waiting around. Sure he can swap names but that won’t be the same as swapping places. Unless he undergoes a gender surgery. Nitori hasn’t thought that far yet so Chiba says she can’t bring herself to like Takatsuki and never to talk about her when she’s around. For a very long time, Chiba rushes down to the church and makes a deep prayer. One, for her teacher to have brains (and pox?) and two, let Nitori be Juliet and her to be Juliet not Takatsuki. Desperate, eh? I guess that’s only when people only go to church.

Episode 5
As everyone gathers at Chiba’s place, she still puts up that long face. I guess even mommy is used to it. Fumiya Ninomiya visits Chiba. Who is he? Chiba’s girlfriend. Not! Her childhood friend. When he sees Nitori he instantly recognizes and points out to that kid who loves to cross-dress. Now the secret is out. Takatsuki defends Nitori. Sarashina is absolutely thrilled and pesters him with questions about his fetish so Takatsuki tells her she shouldn’t be forcing answers out of people. Takatsuki leaves so Sarashina suddenly feels so bad and dramatically apologizes. Well, it’s not her fault as Chiba points. It’s Ninomiya’s. Now he’s being made the scapegoat. Well, Ninomiya sure has feelings for Chiba and he’s not amused that girl sees something in that cross-dresser. Ninomiya also tries to act a little girly in the bathroom and he thinks he is way cuter than Nitori! So the gang work on the script as the days of summer pass and eventually came to an end. As they play the fireworks, Nitori notes that even if he is not a couple with Takatsuki, with her around, he’ll be okay since she’s the person who understands him the best. In school, the roles of the characters are drawn via lottery. Yeah, looks like Chiba’s chances are determined by luck now. Good news: Sarashina and Takatsuki pulled out roles as friars each. Even better news: Chiba gets the role of Romeo. Bad news: Yup, you guess it. Nitori didn’t land the Juliet role. It’s Makoto. Bummer. I guess she didn’t pray hard enough to God, eh? Haha, just kidding. Makoto isn’t confident in his role and thinks of giving it to Nitori if he sees him since he suits Juliet better but Chiba tells him off she hates spineless people he can ease that guilt by doing so. Yeah, it’s that rotten attitude again. Though Makoto tries to tell her the world doesn’t revolve around her and Nitori, she responds by saying she’ll kill everybody! She’ll kill off every single character there is! Chiba thinks of revising the script and putting in some doom and gloom. Well, Saisho thinks it’s too late now and wants to talk this over after school. Chiba feels that it was okay when it was just them working on the script but feels everyone else ruined it. Later Nitori and Makoto talk and the latter dismisses the fact that Chiba told him he wanted Nitori to be Juliet. Makoto felt he really wanted to do this role even if people laughed at him. As Nitori and Takatsuki go around handing tickets for the festival, they see Anna modelling in the streets. She sees them and finds out Takatsuki is a girl and wonders if she’s Nitori’s girlfriend. Amused, she snaps a picture of them with her handphone. Maho’s class has finished a poster using Maho as a model for a maid cafe. Nitori’s class rehearse their lines for the play. Chiba is a natural and is very into her role. Hey wait. Aren’t those lines in the script or not? Makoto later apologizes to her for screwing up but she is adamant in doing a perfect job on stage or else she will feel miserable again. Then seeing their other friends working hard, Makoto vows to do a better role of Juliet. He’d better.

Episode 6
The day of the festival is here. Chiba gets into her dress early. Ninomiya comes to see the class and Chiba isn’t thrilled to see that talkative guy. He finds out Makoto will be playing Juliet and though not what he expected (he thought it’s going to be Nitori) he finds it interesting. Maho isn’t pleased with her maid job. Till her modelling idol, Maiko shows up. However she couldn’t read the atmosphere that she is here on disguise so everybody in the cafe finds out. Yeah, she’s quite popular and this becomes an autograph session. Yuki is also here at the festival with Shiina but she dresses up so well as a guy that you can’t tell. Sarashina suggests checking out the haunted house before their play. Before Chiba leaves, Ninomiya hands her a bouquet of flowers. He thought of giving it at curtain call but thinks it’s weird for him to walk around carrying it the entire day. Chiba makes some sarcastic remarks that she’ll accept it since the flowers have done nothing wrong but she feels like puking each time he makes his insensitive remarks and never ever do this again. She’s not joking. Makoto has this idea of erasing his nervousness and letting his voice out by entering the haunted house with Nitori. But the ‘ghosts’ seem so lame it’s not even scary. Then they hear the voice of their other friends as they all start shouting and screaming while running through the dark corridors. Yeah, even the ‘ghosts’ become scared. Sarashina dashes out first and comes face to face with Maiko. Yup, she’s her biggest fan. But not Anna. Uh huh. She didn’t like her because she looks mean. The truth hurts. She starts fawning over Maiko so much so she forgot all her lines! Don’t panic, let’s go over them one more time. Yuki and Shiina visit Takatsuki but learn Nitori as the narrator instead. As the play starts, Makoto is still nervous. What more, words of other people expecting to see Nitori in the role kept increases his anxiety. He is about to give up and cannot proceed. Till he sees Chiba’s face. He makes a recovery to restart the play again. Maho feels she wants to see her brother’s play but as Maiko advised, they would only distract everybody. You mean, only her, right? The play ends with a success and to a standing ovation. Except maybe for Ninomiya. He’s just clapping lethargically. Like he’s doing them a favour. Saisho is reduced to tears over the play’s success as the class hold a little celebration. Makoto is glad everyone saw him as a girl named Juliet. Chiba passes the bouquet of flowers to him and says it was from some anonymous guy who sees him as Juliet. So when Ninomiya wonders what happened to the bouquet, Chiba’s response? She feels like puking… As for Makoto, her mom can’t help tease how cute he was. Stuttering on stage, that is.

Episode 7
As Nitori reads out a book, the girls in class start laughing because it’s like he’s reading about himself, a pretty boy. Nitori goes home to see Anna waiting in his room. He asks her for advice to make his skin pretty like hers. Seems there’s a pimple on Nitori’s nose. When Maho comes in, she misinterprets that she’s interrupting something. Following Anna’s advice using facial cleanser, wiping it gently and turning in early (it’s only 7pm!), he wakes up next morning to find his condition worse than before. Yeah, another pimple on his face. Nitori continues to follow Anna out to get tips on how to beat the zit. Nitori is also scouted to join the drama club. Takatsuki and Chiba chance upon each other in the toilet. Though Takatsuki tries to remain friendly, Chiba isn’t. Yeah, b*tchy mode on. Whatever they talked about, Chiba asserts she hates her. Later Chiba quits the volleyball club to join the drama club, leaving a somewhat bitter taste in Takatsuki’s mouth since it was the former who invited her to join this club. As everyone gathers at Nitori’s house for a group study, I guess Maho is envious and spews out how Anna and Nitori are dating. WHAT?! WHAT?! WHAT THE?! I thought I was hearing things just like Makoto did but Nitori himself confirmed he really is going out with Anna! Shock! So from what it seems was a simple outing to help his skin problem, led them to visit the karaoke joint where she got that ugly handphone strap for him just to see the manager’s face (he’s ugly too). Then in the karaoke box, that’s when Nitori blurted out he likes her and wants to go out with her. Nitori and Takatsuki pay Yuki and Shiina a visit. Yuki thinks they should become a couple when Nitori reveals and surprises them all that he’s in a relationship with Anna. On the way home, Takatsuki suggests they stop doing this together since Anna may not like it. When she says goodbye, Nitori felt a distance in her words. Well, I have an idea what that means. Even when they have normal conversation, there is distance in her words. It must be fate for Takatsuki and Chiba to meet each other in the toilet. Chiba ignores her like she doesn’t exist. Desperate to fix the relationship between them, she says that Nitori is going out with Anna. Look at that surprised look on Chiba’s face. Must be news, eh? Over the next day, Chiba is missing from class. She is not only skipping school but thinks of quitting! So serious ah?! Luckily her mommy is nice and understanding, trying to talk to her about her future. Well, she could be somebody’s mistress. Is she joking? Takatsuki feels guilty for causing Chiba to act so and visits her to make up. Has it ever worked out before? Well, since Nitori isn’t in love with either one of them, there’s no reason for them to fight, right? But that doesn’t mean they should be friends. Admitting she has always been anti-social, Chiba feels she’s doing this so as not to hurt Sasa. But Takatsuki says she is here on her own free will. Chiba loosens up a little and mentions to drink her tea before it gets cold.

Episode 8
The new school term is here. Most of the friends are split up into different classes and Takatsuki spots a longer hairstyle. Well, looks like Chiba is back in school too. Though Nitori continues to go out with Anna, Maho feels he should break up with her if he wants to continue dressing like a girl since Anna is a normal girl. Takatsuki ponders about Chiba’s words if she really wants to become a boy. She is still hesitant to put on a boy’s uniform and feels others think she just wants attention like Sarashina. Nitori wanted to ask Takatsuki for some advice on Anna but feels she is still distant. So she seeks Yuki’s advice. The best answer if Anna will love or hate his cross-dressing is if asks the person himself. Yuki gets a shock when she learns it was Takatsuki who rejected his feelings. On Nitori and Anna’s next date, Nitori reveals his desire to wear girl clothes and possible the ones she is wearing. Wondering if she finds him disgusting but she knows he likes cross-dressing ever since the first time she saw him doing so in his room with his sister’s dress. She even encourages him to dress as a girl on their next date because she sees him as her little sister. Nitori talks to Makoto about this and he feels sorry for Chiba since as a couple he thought they would be doing stuff like kissing. Too bad Chiba overheard them so she tells them off she doesn’t care about Nitori anymore. In class, Shinpei Doi wonders who that attractive hot chick (Yuki) Nitori was with the other day so he says it’s his friend. Oddly, a naughty kid like Doi wants to be friends with Nitori. Has he changed? Why is he holding his hand?! Anna helps Nitori to apply some make-up. Because Nitori asks her if she wanted to kiss him, this throws her off her pace and accidentally messes his face. She asks him the same question but he is unsure. I don’t know, if Nitori isn’t wearing a wig, he doesn’t convincingly look like a girl. Along the way, they bump into Takatsuki and Chiba. Seeing those 2 together is as rare as seeing a dog and a cat together. At the karaoke box, Chiba and Takatsuki excuse themselves to the toilet. The former thinks Anna is a nice girl so she gets a rebuking remark that she’ll accept anyone’s invitation if they’re nice. But Chiba also came along, right? Then about Takatsuki wanting to be a boy, she cautions there are lots of indecisive boys out there. Back in the room, as they place their drink orders, Chiba wants to order beer! She’s serious. Anna takes a swipe at her rotten attitude. Takatsuki tries to calm the duo and explains that Chiba likes Nitori but Chiba feels this is uncalled for and blames Takatsuki as the one who led him on. Chiba continues that Nitori and Takatsuki used to go out (of course that did not happen) and though she loves him, she was turned down. End of story. So where’s her beer to drown her sorrows? Nitori suggests singing together but Chiba wants to do a solo. Anna is impressed of her exceptional singing. If she could only sound this lovely in normal conversation. At the end of the day, Anna wants to exchange numbers and email with Chiba but she has neither. Nitori wonders if they can go back to the way it they used to be.

Episode 9
Takatsuki is seen talking to Anna. She is asking for her permission to hang out with Nitori. No problem. I guess it’s better safe than sorry and make it clear that you’re not messing with other people’s boyfriend. Takatsuki goes to school in a boy’s uniform, making others turn their heads. Another Sarashina in the making? Speaking of her, she’s bloody ecstatic to see Takatsuki in one. She gets called by Saisho about her stunt that only Sarashina can pull off. When asked if she likes girl clothes, she replies she doesn’t like them at all. Another fateful meeting between Takatsuki and Chiba at the toilet. The latter just fixes her collar. Later Takatsuki invites Nitori to go out on a date with her. Okay, let me rephrase that. She wants him to accompany her to Yuki’s place on Sunday. However Nitori lets her know he is busy. In class, Nitori gets an SMS from Doi that he wants to meet that hot chick this Sunday. I don’t know why he agrees but come Sunday, Nitori has Takatsuki as his ‘bodyguard’. WTF. Takatsuki lets Doi know that Nitori already has a girlfriend. And it’s not her. During the train ride, the coach rocks a little, causing Nitori to fall into Takatsuki’s chest. As they arrive at Yuki’s place. Yuki wants to know what Doi wants from this transsexual. Yes. Yuki used to be a man before becoming a woman! OH SH*T!!! Doi is sure shocked upon learning that so he just tells her he is here to say how pretty she is. Man, you can tell from his face how he’s feeling. As they leave, Doi wonders their screwed up relationship or if their family is with the mob. Takatsuki advises Nitori not to listen to Doi. In class, Doi talks to Nitori that he should try being a girl and wants to see it. Back home when Nitori’s family are all out, Nitori dresses as a girl as Doi enters the room. For that moment of suspense, I thought he was going to rape Nitori!!! Though with that unenthusiastic look, Doi comments he really looks cute and should come to school like this. Hey, Takatsuki did it, so why not? Nitori and Maho are forced to go over to their grandparent’s place and Maho is not happy because this interferes with her date with Seya. When they arrive, their grandparent’s friend mistakes them both to be lovely girls! As they stay over, Nitori remembers the talk with Doi after that demonstration. He was like trying to find out his likes and hobbies and apparently knew about his hobby of dressing as a girl because he read it once in his diary a long time ago. Hey! That’s privacy invasion! Nitori goes to see Sarashina working as a waitress for some advice. She is very frank with him. People may think he is a weirdo and pervert. But the ultimate decision lies in him. Though she thinks he is cute cross-dressing, she feels if he doesn’t want to attract unwanted attention, he shouldn’t do it at school. Nitori visits Takatsuki and wants to borrow her girl uniform as he wants to wear it to school. She thinks Doi put him up to this but he insists that he wants to do it though Doi may have did play a little part in that. Since nobody said anything about Takatsuki as a boy then, what difference would it make? Maho gives Nitori a hairpin from Anna and teases that both idiots can match each other now. As Nitori heart pounds and his mind thinking deep, he finally makes a resolution. Next day, the teachers are very shocked to see a cute transfer student girl. Wait! Isn’t that Nitori? Or someone that looks like him? Nope. Nitori admits it is him. This causes the entire school to be abuzz. Everyone is shocked, including Nitori’s friends. Never in their wildest dreams would he turn up in a girl’s uniform. He is taken to the infirmary and his mom soon came to take him home.

Episode 10
Nitori’s family has a talk and mom wonders if he’s doing it as a penalty game. She even thinks Maho was the source since she used to dress him up like a girl. Daddy and Nitori take a walk as he tells son that before Maho was born, their grandparents make a bet if their first born would be a boy or girl. Grandma lost the bet when Maho’s loud crying made her think she was a boy. Then when it’s Nitori’s debut to the world, they thought it was a girl. Perhaps they’ve got their positions mixed up. Maho got so sick about this that she wants to skip school. In school, Sarashina, Takatsuki and Nitori were called to see Saisho and he thinks the gender bender play influenced them though Sarashina disagrees. Nitori replies that he had always wanted to do this. Nitori and Seya went to see Yuki and tell her about what happened. So why come to see her? Maho may want to stop coming to school. After that embarrassing stint, can you blame her? In school, a couple of boys tease Sarashina and Nitori that the cross-dressing weirdoes have formed their own club. Momoko doesn’t want Sarashina to hang out with Nitori anymore because everyone will think she’s a freak. Sarashina doesn’t mind because she really thinks she is one! What’s this Sarashina’s comment that she won first prize in a freak contest in their class? Did they really have that? Nevertheless Momoko pulls her away from him. The nightmare begins when other boys start bullying Nitori by locking him out of the classroom (Saisho is a wuss) and Doi even comments how he was a moron to come to school so. Wasn’t he the one who encouraged him? Meanwhile a guy confesses his feelings to Takatsuki but she rejects him outright. His friend chides her for rejecting a nice guy like him but she ignores him and leaves. Chiba accidentally eavesdropped and mentions that she’s a girl after all. She was happy when a guy confessed to you. That’s not a compliment because as she continues, it’s only going to get worse because she’s pretty cute right now. Meanwhile Anna is being consoled by her classmate. Probably she doesn’t know where to put her face now. She didn’t really think Nitori would pull off such a feat. I thought she was okay with his cross-dressing? Maybe privately and not openly. Though she understands his reason to cross-dress, she worries about his future and wonders if he’s going to be the same when he grows up. For the upcoming school cultural festival, the class suggested the gender bender play. Sasa was against it since it will make Nitori a bigger target but I guess majority wins (even Doi agreed to it). Maho’s class is going to do another maid cafe but this time the guys will be the ones putting on the girls’ outfit. On an outing with Seya, she gets close to him. Appreciating what she has? Nitori remembers how his last meet up with Anna, she just wanted them to remain friends (can take the pressure?). Then on the way home with Doi, he tells him how he stopped dressing as a girl ever since so people won’t make fun at him. Then for the first time, he got angry with Doi for reading his diary out loud to everyone and wanted to laugh at him when the class wanted to do the gender bender play. Well, he agreed to do so because he wanted to. He signs off with the classic “I hate you”. For once, Nitori has got the balls to do something that leaves Doi very much stunned. And I’m beginning to fear that Doi might be some trap fetish because he’s kicking the road barrier in frustration! On a day their grandma pays a visit, Nitori’s hair has grown longer and it seems he has grown taller than Maho.

Episode 11
Takatsuki has cut her hair short, surprising Chiba. Well, summer is going to be hot. Is that really her reason? Anyway Doi is ad-libbing Nitori’s script and the class went into delirium. Later Nitori meets Doi and requests his help to write the script. Doesn’t he hate him? Well, sort of yes. But he’s better at writing the script. So does he actually mean he doesn’t hate him? Doi’s buddy passes by and thinks the duo are forming some sort of gay comedy act. Chiba invites Nitori to her house since she has more dresses for him to wear. They can invite Takatsuki too. Oh, and her class is doing some boring exhibits on the town history. Only Sarashina was bloody eager. Yeah, Chiba’s in her group. In her room, Nitori puts on a dress and a hair piece. Chiba notes how cute he is and starts caressing and fondling his head. She says he has always been a special boy to her. Then Takatsuki comes in. Chiba wants her to put on a dress. Reluctantly she just put it over her clothes and she looks horrible. But the girls laugh it off and they continue chatting on friendly terms. Wow. They must be really on good terms to have a friendly conversation. Nitori reads Doi’s script and is impressed it’s good. Doi suggests he comes back to class as he won’t force anything on him (ever since Nitori pulled off that girl uniform stint, he has been attending class alone in the infirmary). Everyone works hard for the festival and that day soon arrives. Maho couldn’t get enough of Seya in a maid outfit so she has her friends snap a pic of him and one herself when she could no longer hold it in. Nitori, Chiba, Sasa, Sarashina and Momoko visit Makoto and Takatsuki’s class doing a planetarium. They may be creative in using the revolving disco ball as stars but it looks kinda cheap. They also have a special feature in which they can make a wish on a ‘shooting star’. Nitori at first wishes for his voice not to change and to become a girl. But he changes it and hopes for the play to be a success. Later Makoto talks to him and he apologizes for always being jealous of him ever since they know each other because Nitori looks and can act cute unlike him. However Nitori truly believes that Makoto is also cute.

Ninomiya visits the festival but nobody seems to recognize him. Why? Because he is dressed as a girl! Woah! Meanwhile Anna has been forced by Maiko and Tamaki to visit Maho’s class. Anna didn’t want to come because she doesn’t want to face Maho after breaking up with her brother. However Maiko thinks that is a separate issue and that they are friends. But it’ll be a different matter if she stole Maho’s boyfriend. Anyhow, Anna manages to slip away and ends up in Nitori’s class. The ex-couple go talk as Anna apologizes for the mean things she said. She mentions Nitori is her first boyfriend (surprised?) and it’s the same for Nitori (Takatsuki rejected him so that’s not counted, right?). She was happy when he asked her out and was the first time anybody did that. Even though she’s pretty, she has always kept her distance from both boys and girls and only Maiko was the one that wasn’t afraid of her. Though Nitori looks like a shy boy, he speaks his mind and even if he looked like a girl, she didn’t feel he was one. Thus she always viewed him as a boy. So when he came dressed as a girl, she got confused, freaked out and couldn’t handle reality. But Nitori says that he still loves her and this is how he is so it might make her uncomfortable. Chiba and Takatsuki are watching from above their classroom. Chiba notes how Nitori’s voice is changing. She initially though he was special and different from other boys but came to realize he was just ordinary. Takatsuki replies that she thinks everyone including herself is special so Chiba feels her answer is kinda lame but that’s how she is. As the play is about to begin, one of the girls requests Nitori for her lines. He reads it out to her when she notices his change in voice. But he isn’t fazed and doesn’t mind it. Nitori steps into the spotlight as the lead character of the play “I Am A Girl” to the applauding crowd.

Still Wondering Some…
Oh, it ended just like that? Why do I get that unfulfilled feeling in the end? But even if you ask me on how to end it, I guess I will be at the cross-roads too. Basically it’s about life going on and facing reality as it comes. Whether Nitori’s dream of becoming a girl will be a reality is yet to be seen because I suppose for now he just takes things as they are. He’s got lots of good and supportive friends around him even if many of the rest ridicules and shuns him. There are many factors that lead to one in realizing his or her own sexuality. Would Nitori been a normal boy if he wasn’t given the girly experience from a younger age? Would it be a non-issue if he was born as a girl in the first place? It’s all about acceptance and finding a place that we are comfortable in. This series tries to touch and explore these issues and since the characters here are still high schoolers and it’s making a fuss, imagine what it will be like in the adult world. Sure, you can do anything you want but can you really? Freedom has its limits still.

All the while Nitori was confused and afraid to let others know about his cross-dressing for fear of society’s perception and its impact. When he finally got the courage to do that, that was what exactly happened. Takatsuki didn’t go through the torment as bad as Nitori simply because females have a choice of donning skirts or pants, right? But when a guy wears a skirt, that has got to be more than an eyebrow raiser. But they both share the same ideal and the difference in their gender and society’s norm is what set them apart. Sarashina is the liveliest of the bunch and her answers are honest, frank and in-your-face. She may be annoying and loud but that’s how she is. She is not afraid to speak her mind and do what she feels like doing and perhaps of her weird character, people tend not to treat her occasional cross-dressing as an isolated case but rather but of her weird behaviour. If everyone was like her, I don’t think we need rules anymore. I just don’t know how Momoko sticks around her for so long if she sometimes gets embarrassed by the funny things she do and hanging around other ‘weirdoes’. Well like they say. Opposite attracts and birds of the same feather flock together. Hey! An oxymoron. Initially Chiba was a girl that everyone would love to hate. Her b*tchiness makes you feel like you want to slap her. She’s making it like as though the whole world is against her. But you can’t blame her because she’s sour, grumpy and full of detest after the boy she likes is a cross-dressing freak and interested in another cross-dresser. Her remarks and words can sting your heart if you’re not careful. But sometimes her sarcastic remarks are the source of the witty lines that make you chuckle. Even if she sounds full of hate, noticed she never once raised her voice? Takatsuki didn’t want their them to stay on bad terms always so she tries to make up but I guess in a way Chiba feels guilty for awakening Nitori’s cross-dressing ways and it’s better that she openly hates everyone instead of putting up a fake nice front. Though she loosens up a little in the end and is friendlier with Takatsuki, it still remains to be seen if she really has bury the hatchet and thrown away her grudge for good. Maybe not. You don’t know how deep a woman’s grudge can run.

The other character that is probably second to Chiba’s irritable attitude would definitely go to Maho. It’s normal that brothers and sisters don’t get along with each other but each time they interact, she puts on her moody and full-of-complaints outlook. Like she’s not too happy of him being her brother. Hey, if you have a little brother this cute, he can rival you as a model! Nice girl Sasa loves her friends to be on good terms with each other. After all, that is what friends should mean, right? If Makoto had cross-dressed, he might have got worse attention than Nitori simply because he isn’t cute as him so it’s obvious he’ll get easily picked on given his timid demeanour. And that talkative Ninomiya guy? Has he awakened to the thrill of cross-dressing even he himself noted Nitori’s gross ways? Well, so long as nobody finds out. Initially I was having these thoughts that Doi might have some ulterior motive on Nitori. For a guy who has a naughty reputation in the past suddenly gets friendly with Nitori, encourages him to dress as a girl, mocks him when everybody else does, then goes back on his word, you’d think that he had some sort of trap fetish as I feared. Yeah, that one moment I thought Nitori was even going to get raped by him. Thinking back, perhaps it was his frustration that upon learning Yuki was once a guy, he took it out on Nitori by persuading him to cross-dress so that he can see the reaction of others. Though I feel that Nitori too had long wanted to cross-dress to school, just that he needed that little push for him to do so.

For the chemistry and romance part, I don’t feel the impact anywhere near. I feel the romance section was just secondary and something to support the cross-dressing and transgender issue that this series explores. Nitori and Takatsuki never became a couple and eventually remained as friends. When Nitori surprisingly had Anna as his girlfriend, something tells me that deep down in Takatsuki’s heart, she likes him because she was a little uncomfortable to hang out with him and her interaction with him slightly changes. It’s in her body language. Of course when Nitori and Anna were dating, it doesn’t feel like they’re a couple too simply because Anna likes anything that is cute and perhaps was viewing him like a little brother. Though she did mention that she viewed him as a boy. As a boy, not a lover or boyfriend. There is a difference in that. As we know the love triangle between Nitori, Takatsuki and Chiba, it doesn’t feel intense. Chiba never gave up on Nitori but I’m not sure in the end if she is still pursuing him even after he and Anna broke up. I also would like to know if Ninomiya is still bent on Chiba. Although Chiba gave lots of stern warnings never for that jerk to pop up in front of her again, but I don’t think he’s the kind that would easily give up. Though Maho and Seya are going steady, it would be nice to see their relationship being fleshed out more instead of making them as ‘side distractions’ from the main plot. The other couple that are doing fine is Yuki and Shiina. After that revelation that Yuki was previously a man, I can’t help but wonder if Shiina is actually gay, bi or erm, straight? Living with a woman who was formerly a man is equivalent to a man and a woman living with each other, right? So technically there are no issues, right?

I need to mention about this series’ drawing and art. They are simple and look like they are done via colour pencils. Yes, it’s not your conventional Japanese anime art and animation so watching this kind of different illustration is somewhat refreshing. It’s like as though a still picture has been brought to life with animation. However a downside of this kind of drawing is that I had a hard time trying to distinguish one character from another because some look quite close to each other. For instance, I got confuse between Takatsuki and Ninomiya, Sasa and Maho. It’s hard to tell them apart visually unless I hear their voice or if not, observe their behaviour. Of course there are others that stand out like Sarashina (who else is the noisy one and making those eager-beaver expressions?), Makoto (specky kid) and Momoko (permy hair).

Because I have a hard time trying to differentiate the characters, so much so I couldn’t even recognize some of the seiyuus I know that my ears should have picked up after listening to so many of their roles in other animes. For instance, Aki Toyosaki as Momoko (Yui in K-ON!), Nana Mizuki as Maho (Kotoko in Itazura Na Kiss), Saeko Chiba as Sarashina (Dokuro in Bokusatsu Tenshi Dokuro-chan) and Yui Horie as Anna (Kotori in Da Capo series). Maybe I was trying too hard to tell the characters apart that I didn’t notice these familiar voice actresses. Once I found out and upon listening to them again, I went “Gosh, it IS really them! How could I miss it?!”. Yeah, that. However, I only recognized Kazuya Nakai as Saisho because he still sounds like Zoro from One Piece without that boisterous swordsman attitude. Kousuke Hatakeyama makes his debut as Nitori and currently this is the only role he has. He did quite a good job making Nitori’s voice as one who is feeble and worried about his cross-dressing. Nitori’s sound may not make him idol material but the monotonous and dull voice certainly fits into the character. The other main supporting casts seem not to have a long list of anime roles to their name or are newcomers. So you can say that they are relatively unknowns. They are Asami Seto as Takatsuki (Amelita in Dog Days), Yuuichi Iguchi as Makoto (Kanazawa in Durarara!!), Yuuka Nanri as Chiba (Nao in Mai-HiME), Yoshino Nanjou as Sasa (Kokoro in Tantei Opera Milky Holmes), Yoshitsugu Matsuoka as Seya (Kazunari in Ro-Kyu-Bu) and Kaoru Mizuhara as Ninomiya (Gisen in Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Girls). Other ‘old hands’ include Takako Honda as Yuki (Hone Onna in Jigoku Shoujo series), Hiroyuki Yoshino as Doi (Hibiki in Vandread) and Keiji Fujiwara as Shiina (Ladd in Baccano). I like both the opening and ending themes. I find them catchy and enough to sing along. The lively pop opening theme is Itsudatte by Daisuke while the lovely piano-driven moderate pop ending theme is For You by Rie Fu.

Maybe cross-dressing will become something accepted in the next few generations when more people are becoming well informed and aware. But as for now, it is still pretty much a taboo and forbidden in certain places. What defines a boy and a girl isn’t clear cut these days. If a guy puts on a skirt, does it really change who he really is? But ironically sometimes it is the other party who changes the most. Especially friends and family who can’t accept cross-dressing and the likes are tend to react in a way that they perceive in their eyes as the norm of society. Well, I guess you can’t really apply the term clothes maketh a man here now, can you? Then again, who are we to judge others. Remember, what is most important is not the outside but the inside that counts.


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.

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