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.
This is one of my blah blah blah reviews... Its highly subjective. If you are looking for an more objective view point (if it exist) try someone else's review.
First of all, I would like to say that recently I have been kind of disapointed at the amount of new "suck" animes. This anime is like a breath of fresh air. Its not the best or perfect, but its very well done in my opinion, which means... i dont have to "tough it out" in order to watch it. I actually enjoy watching it.
I dont think the name is very enticing. What are you to think of this anime? jelly fish princess? wtf is that about... so I had put it off for a while, and was debating on wether to try it out or not. (so if you are in that same postiion, give it a chance.)
I would like to tell you what the story is about... but i dont think i can without spoiling it (since its so short), and i think this anime isnt the kind I want to spoil. Ill just talk a little about it.
I like the fact that its not very predictable("well, i generally predicted that that was going to happen, but it turned out a little bit different than i though. I didnt really expect that." <- When i can say this im satisfied). It keeps me entertained. The story is unique. It does have a certain type of humor... that i think only is appealing to certain people. HOWEVER, even if you dont like the humor you can just enjoy the rest (which is mainly the romantic side(not neccessarily sexual)), without it messing it up. There are some animes out there that emphasis too much on "not funny" humor, and it messes the rest up.
The characters have their quirks that make them distinguishable from each other. They fit well with each other though. At first all the girls in the dorms, besides the main char, will seem a bit bland... and they are and remain that way to a certain degree... but it didnt seem to bother me, once i got past the first episode. I cant go too much into the characters without spoiling some of the fun, so i leave it at this. They are interesting.
The animation for this anime is, in my opinion, good for it. Its not like the animation is what makes this anime good. Its just a stage for the rest. You have to have a good stage to play on.
The sound: All i can say is that nothing really stood out as being "omg, that doesnt sound right in this situation." AND I like the opening song. Its by chatmonchy, and i think it goes good with this anime.
One more super important thing to list about this anime: The pacing/speed is almost perfect. If there is a scene that you dont particularly like, its not like they stay on it forever, like one piece. They deal with it, and move on. The "anticipation factor" is just right. Your not left hanging/ in wonder for so long that you start to get agrivated.
The ending feeling: Some animes... the endings suck. One example, is they leave too many things unexplained. This anime leaves some things unexaplained, but they are very bearable... and add the the flavor of the anime.
one last thing: I know that a lot of people like to compare animes. I cant say thats a bad thing to do, because it does serve a valuable purpose. BUT i would advice not listening to anyone that trys to compare this anime to any other. I personally have watched some of the animes that are "related" to this one, and they are too different to decide whether to start watching each other or not. In other words: Dont compare this anime to any other like it, and then decide not to watch it.
Secret Santa Review!
Before doing the actual review, I’d like to thank everyone who participated for doing so, and doing so in a manner that was fun for all of us :) I loved the idea, sothis, and thanks to this, it seems I’ve found a new genre to explore.
Since this is a Secret Santa Review I’ll assume you’re reading this because you’ve already seen the anime yourself and wish to read what I think (if not then… meh. Spoiler alert! Bla bla.). Also, I’m not very good at writing reviews, so instead of commenting on the small details, I’ll briefly comment on what I found to be most important about this anime.
In spite of being a guy, the anime’s ‘cute-feel’ completely had me - be it the different crushes, Clara’s short explanations or Tsukimi’s lack of knowledge handling certain situations. They never ended up being the main focus, but still had an important role to play concerning the feel. It was fun to watch.
The feeling I felt when the anime finished was not one-sided. I did feel a bit warm and fuzzy inside because all ends well (like with Usagi Drop), but at the same time, I’m the type of person who likes to be able to conclude on everything when it’s over. So, is Kuranosuke going to do something about his love towards Tsukimi? And will his cross-dressing be exposed to the other girls in the dorm – and how will they react? Maybe they are hoping to do a second season – I don’t know – I just can’t help but think about these kinds of things when watching anime like this.
In spite of having some elements (cross-dressing, crushes, etc.) that would normally allow for conclusive end, this anime had a very ‘slice of life’ feel to it. Yes, some things happen towards the end, but to me it’s merely an arch rather than a finish - except for the whole ‘you can keep living here’ surprise, but that only takes a minute of the last episode :3 Nevertheless, when looking at it as just that, I really freakin’ enjoyed it! I’ll probably look into the gender-bender genre a bit more and hope to find me some more plot-heavy ones.
That’s it! Not very thorough done, but hopefully the points I do make come through fairly clear.
Thank you, Secret Santa :)
I just freaking loved it, OKAY?!?!!
I kinda wish the ending didn't leave me hanging, though~ awwee...I want to see more!
The name of this show doesn't do it good help. It is quite repulsive. Put the name aside and you'll find a splendid gem. The way is is done is ravinshingly nice. It is overwelhelming of nice ideas and cuteness. And damn those too nice characters. The animation is quite fluid and the music is decant and matches well the pace of the show. One negative point: the subtle energy is does produce during firsts episodes does quietlty fades away for more charming atmosphere but thsi show is a must-see for nice savored anime fans.