Every anime menu needs its light, bubbly relief, and in one of the driest years for decent shows, Kuragehime’s plot about geeks, fashion, and cross-dressers is diet cola.
An unabashedly insubstantial plot aided by cliché sweeteners helps this go down oh so easily. Fashionable cross-dresser Kuranosuke crash lands into hopeless nerd Tsukimi’s life and, for a couple of episodes, the gag is how to keep her friends from finding out that she is a he. Bizarrely, though, things morph into a battle between fashion and real estate as Kuranosuke leads Tsukimi’s friends against redevelopment moguls using dress-making as his weapon of choice. If it sounds like contrived nonsense, that’s because it is. It never escalates into any kind of Erin Brockovich epic, rather remaining narrowly focused on the interrelationships and wacky situations. And all this via tragic background stories and ample fangirl wish fulfilment as Tsukimi gets periodic makeovers.
But Kuragehime nevertheless remains engaging because of the character dynamics: by depicting the ironic clash between isolationist nerds (who, by the way, proudly call themselves ‘Amars’ after Buddhist nuns because they shun men) and an excruciatingly beautiful young man who possesses the femininity fate denied them, the show keeps us emotionally vested. Kuranosuke breaks their routine, inserting himself using colour, beauty, and a blithe unawareness of how much they resent him. He calls them ‘a lair of jobless thirty-something NEET chicks with afros’ and boldly asks them if they’re virgins, and they find themselves challenged to open up to the world. Thus, even as the show exploits their friction to reveal the Amars’ absurd fears and fantasies, we find a human story unravelling before our eyes.
Furthermore, thanks to these character clashes, viewers will come away with several sequences still firing in their minds and evoking giggles long after the credits. I am smiling right now, for instance, as I type about that scene when Tsukimi discovers two incompatible jellyfish occupying the same tank of a pet shop. Her imagination, fuelled by a heroic need to save them, slides into a glorious spoof of Isao Takahata’s Heidi. Such highlights pepper every episode and keep it dancing at a satisfying pace right to the end.
Unfortunately, most of the heavier developments only dead-end since the show covers a mere six volumes of an ongoing manga. For instance, Kuranosuke’s search for his long-lost mother remains a vague background detail, as does his blossoming feelings for Tsukimi. As such, the story functions like a cord upon which to hang the decorative jokes and the smattering of colourful characters; it drops a few zany people in a situation and lets their boundless energy nudge them along a jungle trail of comedy.
Without doubt, the animation’s crown is Kuranosuke; viewers wanting a bishounen treat will gobble up his slender pale limbs and exquisite face like bonbons. Not just that, he combines it with a wide-eyed cuteness that is all the lovelier for being understated. Tsukimi, once made over, becomes his adorable equal, although I nevertheless prefer the more eccentric designs of her fellow Amars. Their terrible hair don’ts and scatty, awkward bodies keep us delighting in great visual humour.
Beyond the main characters, the animation is strikingly pedestrian; environments barely register as more than suggestive backdrops and everything is brushed with a smidgen of soft focus for that dreamy shoujo feeling.
The opening theme ‘Koko Dake no Hanashi’ by Chatmonchy (also responsible for Bleach’s twelfth OP, ‘Dadai’) is cute, fluffy, and catchy just like the story. With light, sprightly vocals, it immediately speaks of cheeky fun, not geeky angst. The rest of the soundtrack, including the ending theme, conveys a functional but unmemorable sound design.
Kuranosuke's background, his beauty, his tragedy, they all recall Tamaki Suoh (Ouran High School Host Club). The son of a beautiful woman he isn’t allowed to see, he tries to escape his life of privilege and politics by realising his fantasies. Instead of forming a hedonistic club, however, he makes and wears dresses. Moreover, his personality avoids Tamaki’s childlike innocence in favour of a more purposeful attitude and, as tempting as it must be to overplay him as an eccentric drag queen, the script keeps him natural, harmless, and glamorously sexy.
With him in the spotlight, Tsukimi (Tsuki = moon, mi = sea; reverse the characters in her name and you get ‘jellyfish’) rarely gets to stand out. She’s brilliantly funny in her scenes of raw panic whenever approaching fashionable people, symptomised by noodle limbs, ghoulish grimacing, and a sudden gait like a drunkard on ice. Equally, her moments of vulnerability underscore the show’s romanticism with lines like this: ‘Looking at this beautiful person, my heart is filled with jellyfish lace.’ But as a character, she sticks too closely to the geek-turns-chic formula and harbours a typical internal conflict between her wish for femininity (to be the princess she believes her dead mother would have wanted) and her inherent lack of it.
The supporting cast, on the other hand, mainly run along train tracks of recurring gags. We can rely on Kuranosuke’s stoic butler Hanamori to narrowly define his interests in terms of his beloved Benz. And no one has to wait long in any scene for fellow Amar Mayaya to spout references to Records of the Three Kingdoms (‘To think that the red of San Quan’s army now belongs to me!’ she joyfully exclaims at the sight of a stupendous platter of beef.). If you find them funny once, most likely they’ll only keep growing on you, but that many of them are underdeveloped becomes obvious.
A friend of mine once cynically asserted that all shoujo lovers want from anime is men who are women with penises. I couldn’t help thinking of that as my heart squeezed every time Kuranosuke exploded onto the screen with his masculinity aggressively tamed by dresses, make-up, and the cutest face this side of Ouran. But with no designs beyond plastering daft smiles on all faces and dropping a gooey cliché or two, Kuragehime has a disarming quirkiness that should melt the guys too. Unfortunately, I can only call this a great beginning - without any substantial developments, the show delivers little more than light refreshment.
I actually really like this, its way different than anything I really saw. A lot of people do a lot of otaku outcasts but this one has a little different vibe to it. The characters, though their names are hard to remember, are remember-able for how out there and crazy they are. Each one is a otaku in their own way and have different ways of showing it whether it is being crazy about kimonos, to posting old men’s pictures into a scrap-book. A little creepy, but it’s not as bad as it seems. The guy is really cool even if he cross-dresses but he seems normal otherwise. The underlining story is pretty much being true to yourself and never give up on your dreams.
The animation is wonderful even if it lacks in some places. It mostly does this when you look between the two ‘worlds’ and depicts Tsukimi’s world and Kuranosuke’s world. It’s not all that bad, but once in a while when the two worlds meet, it’s sometimes a bit harsh of an art style. I really love the designs of the jellyfish and how they actually have a few facts about jellyfish that are supposedly real. I don’t care much too actually look them up but they sound real so its ether true or the actor is rather good at making it sound true.
The voice acting for the most part is well done. The English is a little bothersome though I really like the cute voice of Tsukimi and Kuranosuke. I’m not so fond of one or two of the characters in the apartments and it made me cringe the first few times I heard them. Now along the way, I ether got used to it, it got better, or I just didn’t even care about what they sounded like because the story was just so good!
All together, it was funny and sweet. Really, if you want funny, This is it! Sadly, it has a very bad cliff hanger right now and I really want to see more! It does make me want to read the manga now but something really tells me that this is better as an Anime then the manga.
I saw Kuragehime as one of the recommendations sent to me as a participant in the 2013 Anime Planet Secret Santa event. I was thrilled when I read that it has a gender-bender storyline, as I adore watching these fish-out-of-water characters.
This anime features a nerd-type girl, Tsukimi, and her fellow nerd roommates and their life together as "Nunz" (their name for themselves, a group of girls who shun boyfriends and modern society and fashion) living together in Amamizu Hall, a special apartment building in Tokyo, to which admission is strictly controlled. Each person living at this apartment is a female shut-in and has an anti-social tendency and an unhealthy obsession/hobby that preoccupies her.
A chance misadventure causes Tsukimi to run into/meet Kuranosuke, a boy with a predilection for dressing like a girl, who is every bit the Princess that Tsukime always hoped that she would grow up to be. Kuranosuke meets these loners, and like a breath of fresh air, introduces them to life and the outside world. Of course, no one in the apartment but Tsukimi knows Kuranosuke's secret, that "she" is really a boy and much humor is derived from attempts to keep this secret from becoming known.
The animation is smooth and has a softer/pastel feel to it, giving this world a distinctive "feel" when viewing. More vibrant and solid colors typify the animations of life and characters outside Amamizukan. Movement flows, except when the animation is used to demonstrate how awkward these characters feel in social situations, when it becomes choppy and stilted, fitting right in to the elements of the plot.
The soundtrack is serviceable and never seems out of place. Opening theme is catchy but not memorable, and ending song is even more forgettable.
Needless to say, this is a story driven by the characters, and each has an idiosyncratic character design with distinctive quirkiness unique to that character that enhances the special oddity of that character. These characters are not pretty. (Well, except for Kuranosuke, our boy Princess.) We get to know and understand and love them and their foibles, and we are rooting for them when the story takes a turn toward an "Us vs Them" storyline (real estate developers are out to develop Amamizu Hall and the girls will lose their home if they do not take measures to prevent this). There are also hints of future romantic developments for Tsukimi and Kuranosuke and possibly even his brother!
I never did get my fish-out-of-water moments, as Kuranosuke is perfectly comfortable in his role as a cross-dressing guy and he gets to play hero in the story, as befits his status as the noble rich boy son of a wealthy politician. I didn't get the anime I thought I was going to see, but what I did get instead was an enjoyably light hearted and warm slice-of-life drama that introduced me to characters I got to appreciate getting to know. Plot is never fully developed, and the ending is left open; I was truly sad when this ended and as it left me wanting more.
When looking into this anime, it’s like looking into an anime version of a fairy tale, which sort of involves a princess or a princess-like character and also a fairy godmother-like character, but unlike a fairy tale (or at least, any fairy tale that’s been infected by Disney sooner or later), this one is going to be sugarcoated, especially when dealing with the stages of being awkward around different people and the way you act around them.
Amamizu-kan, an old boarding house in Tokyo, is the home of The Sisterhood – a group of otaku women of various stripes who shun The Stylish and men in general. Tsukimi, a jellyfish fanatic, is the latest addition to their ranks. One evening a strange Stylish woman helps her out and she brings the Stylish home with her...only to discover that “she” is a “he.” Despite her pleas, Kuranosuke, the disenchanted cross-dressing son of a prominent political family, sticks around, finding himself more and more fascinated by The Sisterhood in general and Tsukimi in specific. When unscrupulous developers begin to eye Amamizu-kan's location, Kuranosuke realizes that there is more at stake than just a building, and sets out to galvanize its residents to save their way of life.
The story is the whole “coming out of your shell” type of story when a person who has a different outlook on life wants to help them not only with experiencing life outside their comfort zone, considering that they are going to need it since their home is on the verge of being wrecked. As for the romance aspect, I did sort of sense that the main characters Tsukimi & Kuranosuke would have their relationship to grow but to me, it was never towards the “lovey-dovey” type of relationship but more like a “close friends” relationship and I thought it was great that they stuck it to that. As for the side story with Kuranosuke’s brother, it didn’t went anywhere at all with him having a crush on Tsukimi, only to ended early with the one character Inari, who’s the one that’s after Amamizu-kun and the very textbook definition of the word “cold bitch”, gets involved plus, his brother Shu isn’t that interesting of a character or even that memorable unlike Kuranosuke himself, who was one of my favorites in the show for being the motivator of Tsukimi and the other women in the sisterhood.
As for Tsukimi, she is portrayed as a sweet but very awkward and often an easily weirded-out character with his unique interests in jellyfish and drawing them ever since she saw them with her late mother. The other tenants in the building also have their unique personality about them with the acting landlady Chieko collecting traditional Japanese clothes and dolls, Banba is into trains, Jiji into older men and Mayaya is a fan of Three Kingdoms and unfortunately out of all of them, Mayaya is the most annoying character on this show, mainly because while she’s very animated, all she does is act like a neurotic fangirl and not the kind that would be fun to hang out, but the kind that rages about everything and everybody so much, you want to pop an synapse after just to calm down.
The animation for this gets a little rough around some of the character movements and designs. Brains Base, the guys that brought you Baccano! & Durarara!! , has made some good animation in their past works and for this, it’s more like when Durarara began to show its budget problems during the second half but then again, this is an 11-episode anime, so I shouldn’t expect much of a grandiose amount of animation, but it is typical of Brains Base’s style of animation and it was good to say the least. The music is very appealing to most of the show with its comical style to some of the scenes to the light dramatic moments in there. Plus, the opening and ending themes are quite addictive to listen to, especially the opening sequence where it parodies or pay homage to most movie franchises like Star Wars, James Bond, The Seven Kingdoms, Singin’ in the Rain, Mary Poppins, etc.
For the FUNimation dub, this was one of those dubs that didn’t sound so usual. Usually, I yawn at FUNimation dubs, not that they’re bad (they make good dubs) but they’re not that special to begin with. I did liked Maxey Whitehead’s performance as very sweet and genuine although it is strange hearing her as a lead female character since most of her roles have been androgynous sounding boys. Josh Grelle did convince me that Kuranosuke was an actual girl at first and even though I find Mayaya to be annoying, Monica Rial plays the role and her voice much differently than she used to, it sounded more lower than her standard of voicing characters.
FINAL VERDICT: The show is actually worth watching around the first chance you get. Some of the humor can be charming and unique up to an extent although I hate that it ended on a lousy cliffhanger, which mean it’s one of those “read the manga” endings. It’s something you would either want to rent or own the DVD to.
First of all... I am not native English. do forgive my errors..
Kuragehime was more than I had hoped for when I read the synopsis.
I thought this show would be a good way to pass some free time, but when I started to watch it, I had so much fun that I had finished it before I knew it.
The story is very simple, geek meets chique.
Though chique in this case is a boy that likes to dress up as beautiful girls.
The geek, who is a big fan of jellyfish, hence the title princess jellyfish, lives together with a couple of other geeks. Some stuff happens that I am not going to explain here, because I myself am not a big fan of spoiling things.
But I think, the thing with this anime is, that they just tell this not too complicated story very well. Nothing really huge happens, and that is fine, because they zoom in perfectly into what does happen, and how this affects the main character(s).
the animation isn't briliant, nor is it bad. At times I wished that they had put a little more into the animation, especially concerning the other geeks that our main protagonist lives with.. only one of them seems to have eyes, the other three have their eyes hidden by either hair or glasses. I spend a great deal of the anime being a bit frustrated by this because a great deal of the human emotion is shown through eyes.. And this way it kind off felt like they were truly secondary characters that really aren't important at all for the story. (for the people who have watched inuyasha... remember all the people with dots.. for eyes..)
But for the rest of the animation, especially the movements that the characters make, like darting out of a room in panic, are really well done. It is fluent, and it is sad or funny when it has to be.
That and.. the artstyle that is used.. is something that I personally had to get used to, but after a couple of episodes I really got into it and it just really fitted.
The sound.. I don't really remember much of the sound throughout the anime itself. So I guess that either wasn't present at all.. or it simply wasn't memorable enough.
The opening and the ending though, I really did enjoy. The opening is really cute, and the ending song is really appropriate in my opinion.
The characters.. I loved the two main characters and the way that they do actually have some development. They are almost polar opposites, and yet.. they work so well together in the little friendship that they are developing.
Though three of the four other geeks, do not have eyes.. their own little obsessions (trains.. aging men, and something to do with old japanese war heroes??) are quite funny. And they have some nice and funny scenes, but they do not add anything to the main plot. The brother of the crossdressing boy however, I found to be a real nice addition to the anime. Though once again, I do not feel like spoiling too much here.
Overal.. I give this anime a 8,75. There are a couple of small flaws here and there. But this anime is mostly just really fun and easy to watch. A well told, not overly complicated little plot in which the main characters get a better understanding of eachother and in which they get to develop themselves.
The only real minus that I have with this anime is that it really either needs to continue for a bit longer... or have a second season... because there is a big open ending.
Though the main plot is pretty much wrapped up.. there is a massive subplot that they leave open.. and I cannot stand that. But that is my own opinion, and it doesn't take away from the fact that this is a really nice, sweet and short anime that can safely be enjoyed by many people.