Kuragehime episode 1: If you only knew the power of the outside…

Yeah, like hell we weren’t gonna blog this. ‘We’ being the operative word. Thus without further ado, allow us, Hana and ExecutiveOtaku, to present to you the bundle of awesomeness that is Kuragehime


18 year old illustrator and self-proclaimed nerdy girl with a soft spot for spotted Jellyfish has always dreamed of becoming a princess, but ends up living in a house full of men-fearing fujoshi and an undercover trap.

Hana’s Commentary:

The show opens with an adorable, enraptured young Tsukimi with her face pressed against a glass barrier. In many ways, the remainder of the episode continues to show her in a similar position. That is, the episode introduces various barriers that the still adorable, but older and not so enraptured Tsukimi finds herself up against. From the ethereally beautiful Jelly fish with its pure white lacy fronds that once inspired her mum to promise to make her a similarly princess-like wedding dress, to the modern day princesses that she sees in Shibuya, to the mysterious prince/ss who ‘saves’ her later, to the other obstacles she faces, Tsukimi has become painfully aware of a disconnection between her and the people and things that she admires. This disconnection is symbolised in the form of a number of barriers, which, in turn, hold Tsukimi back from fully realising her dreams and ambitions…

Firstly, DAT OP. Aside from the LOL playfulness of it all, those images of Tsukimi and her equally agoraphobic fujoshi chums playing such silver screen legends was an interesting treat. Don’t worry, I won’t go into the layers of meaning in casting Tsukimi as R2-D2, but there is a bittersweet irony in such an insecure soul in such a famous role. Of course, actually becoming an alien robot from a long time ago in a galaxy far away is almost as impossible as actually becoming the princess that the young, pre-OP scene Tsukimi dreams of becoming. Rather, that first image of the little girl with her face pressed against the Jellyfish tank contemplating a dream future that’s as amorphous as the creature before her is arresting not only due to how high her hopes are, but also because of how far she believes she has fallen short of them, as we immediately find out when we see her over a decade later.

The scenes with Tsukimi attempting to navigate the streets of Shibuya while in awe of the trendy modern/ ‘everyday’ princesses around her highlight the contrast between Tsukimi’s self-perception and her ambitions. The artwork here, especially in the drawing of the buildings and the colour schemes (but gorgeous overall), has a sunny energy about it, however Tsukimi – like the opposite of Baudelaire’s flâneur (or, in this case, flâneuse) – cannot enjoy observing the colourful crowd as it surges past her. Instead, she feels so intimidated and out of place that she hyperventilates and returns home in tears. Clearly, it’s one small step in Shibuya, but one giant leap too far for Tsukimi, who, though appearing nothing but charming and funny throughout (I love her voice, in particular), is clearly a rather tragic figure.

The low point for our heroine this epi is when she is thoroughly depressed and decides to cheer herself up by visiting ‘Kulala’, a local spotted jellyfish that obliviously drifts in the window of a local pet shop despite the attentions of his/ her/ it’s(???) nerdy apparent bbf. It’s also one of the funniest scenes, as Tsukimi overcomes her fear of ‘chic’ guys to save the chibi jellyfish from death-by-overcrowded-tank-full-of-hostile-secretions[eww]-of-another-random-jellyfish. It’s both a low and high point, as it further emphasizes how lonely she is and how big a deal it is for her to talk to other people, who do in fact view her as a creepy nerd. From the repeated motif of the face-pressed-against-glass, to the shop ASSistant who not only literally places a barrier between him and Tsukimi before kicking her [RAEG!!], to the final ‘rescue’ by the trap, the scene reflects: how Tsukimi is; how (brave/ forceful) she could be; and how (prince(ly)ss-y) she dreams of being.

The irony, of course, is that the much admired/ feared chic guy is an arsehole and the lady is a lad. Go figure. This sense of irony is extended in the final barrier that we see in the epi: the one that Tsukimi puts up herself, as is symbolized by the mirror in the scene where she tries on Mr Barbie’s wig. For, in fact, give it a trim and surely it would look as good on her petite frame? With the right make-up and accessories, of course. Such as confidence. But that’s almost beside the point; for the mysterious young man is clearly less suited to the ‘princess’ role than Tsukimi, simply because he’s a man, and a very ‘normal’ one to boot.

‘Perfectly normal’? I sincerely hope not. Either way, I can’t wait to see more of this ‘normal’ side of him in the coming weeks, as, I’m sure, is the case with my fellow bloggers…

ExecutiveOtaku’s ZOMG THE CUTENESS!!!

‘Mai waifu of the season’ material right here.

There’s just so much to say about how much I love Kuragehime, so I’ll try to focus. It definitely had the best first episode of the season in my opinion, the best OP sequence and song, and the most interesting premise. As to be expected of a noitaminA show, certainly. Female otaku/fujoshi characters certainly aren’t absent in anime, but this is the first time that they’ve had the kinds of personalities that you’d expect of someone like them in the real world, as well as not having ‘anime-perfect’ looks. And even with that second point, I think Tsukimi is cuter than at least 2/3 of the Amagami girls and had me at the Shibuya scene. There was much DDDDAAAAAWWWWW to be had, even in this introductory episode. And while it’s still too early to call given that only the first episode is out, Tsukimi right up there with Otome Youkai Zakuro’s Susukihotaru and Amagami’s Ayatsuji Tsukasa as mai waifu of the season candidates. The introduction of our cross-dressing male lead (is it still a trap if you saw it coming from a mile away? The voice really gave it away) was interesting, but not thorough since time only permitted one character to be completely introduced this episode. I imagine next episode we’ll get to know him better. As a side note, it’s good to be writing as secondary on Hana’s posts, so more commentary ranging from the DDDDAAAAWWWW to the serious to come.

So cute I died (and will keep dying every week during the OP.)

Also a great set of references and transitions between them. Sex and the City, Star Wars, Singing in the Rain, Mary Poppins, James Bond, Kill Bill/Game of Death, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and a couple others I didn’t know, all with smooth, active, interesting transitions and incorporating jellyfish, it was very impressive.

EO’s DDDDAAAAAAAWWWWWW of the Week: oh god, the glasses! The messy hair! The fairly plain clothes! She’s like a Yomiko Readman without the improbably large breasts.

More Tsukimi, plus the cutest teruterubozu ever.

The housemates are great characters too thus far. The characters all living in one boardinghouse-style apartment building is cool in that it allows lots of interaction and opportunities for humor and dialog, without being improbably convenient like most instances where main characters live together. Another thing I like is that unlike most shows, all the characters are adults living on their own, . That fact alone gets the show points from me.

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  1. Zi Densetsu
    Posted October 19, 2010 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    …just not my thing.
    I couldn’t make it through the entire episode. It just bored me until the X in the top right of my screen began to call to me.

    • Posted October 20, 2010 at 6:26 am | Permalink

      Fair enough, mate. I guess you’re either gonna fall in love with these characters and their inner dramas or not, as well as connect with the humour. This one, obv., worked for me, whereas Bakuman after 3 epis, just couldn’t hold my interest any longer. Thanks for reading/ commenting, though!

  2. ectholion
    Posted October 19, 2010 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    im soo glad you two are team bloging this, i look forward to a season of great reads! The episode was nothing short from amazing from the movie references in the opening, to the biology refrences, to the trap :) , and the roommates.

    • Posted October 20, 2010 at 6:33 am | Permalink

      Ooh, the ectho seal of approval, eh – thanks mate! I’m happy that EO-senpai is blogging it with me, too. And LOL about Kuranosuke – let the traptastic times continue! ;)

      • ectholion
        Posted October 20, 2010 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

        science nerds and traps and old disney movie refrences can this show get any better?!?!?

        • Posted October 21, 2010 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

          Indeed! I look forward to great things from this show, and to blogging it with my comrade. It’s been a while since I did a series cooperatively.

  3. EurydiceQ
    Posted October 19, 2010 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    “is it still a trap if you saw it coming from a mile away? The voice really gave it away”

    The funny thing is, the trap actually IS voiced by a female seiyuu. I can’t wait to see some more of him…slash the roommates reactions to him ^_^

    • Posted October 20, 2010 at 6:36 am | Permalink

      Hmm, now I’m wondering if it’s better for him to have a manly-girl’s voice or vice-versa… either way, I certainly agree with the last bit!

    • Posted October 21, 2010 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

      Haha, I didn’t know that. Even so that was a pretty manly voice coming from him. Also wondering if perhaps he might move in and have to keep it secret, though I’m honestly hoping that doesn’t happen since it would be a bit too predictable and over used.

  4. Posted October 19, 2010 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    Singing in the Rain is one helluva classy reference. I enjoyed the Heidi bit too, particularly because it made no sense (the jellyfish and the goats, so full of OTT goodness).

    • Posted October 20, 2010 at 6:40 am | Permalink

      In that case, I’m surprised that Sex and the City was in there too, but it worked and it was a nice mix. Oh yeah and I read somewhere that Kulala is a ref. to Heidi’s mate Clara, which, I confess, completely passed me by, but I certainly had fun rotflmao in that scene…

    • Posted October 21, 2010 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

      Ah, so that’s what the scene with Kurara and Tsukimi in the Alps was all about. So many Western movie references in this show, it’s almost like Eden of the East in that regard.

  5. Merq
    Posted October 19, 2010 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    I replayed so many scenes. I’m on this ship! Looking forward to you guys blogging this.

    • Posted October 20, 2010 at 6:41 am | Permalink

      I know the feeling. Thank you!

  6. Posted October 19, 2010 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

    I actually hate jellyfish, of all forms, but the chibi kurara (which I’m sure is a reference to another certain Brain’s Base show) just look so damned cute!

    I’m absolutely loving it so far; a nice and solid opening ep. But Ayatsuji is still mai waifu!

    Oh, and I think I saw The Graduate in that OP too.

    • Posted October 20, 2010 at 6:43 am | Permalink

      Chibi jellyfish, eh… who knew?!

      I’ll let you duke it out with EO about the waifu business, I’m staying outa that one…

    • Posted October 21, 2010 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

      Ayatsuji is certainly a very strong contender, but I also have quite a soft spot for nerdy girls who look and act the part. The whole rapid-fire marine biology speech to the store clerk was awesome.

      (As an aside, I don’t actually do the whole waifu thing, but it’s one of those anime community memes that I think is absolutely fun to play around with.)

      • Posted October 22, 2010 at 10:04 am | Permalink

        Well, I would have happily gone for Kaoru as she is equally cute. But it was like a love at first sight thing.

        Yeah, that was a favourite scene, how Tsukimi just suddenly breaks out about right and wrong jellyfish, and the store clerk’s like “WTF? I just work here…”

  7. Posted October 19, 2010 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

    This is the stuff of the gods, really. (Perhaps that was hyperbole, but there’s no denying that it’s good. ;D)

    Self-perception and a confidence in one’s “beauty” is definitely a big theme here. It helps that Tsukimi’s fleshed out so well–in just one episode, no less–and that nearly everything else seems to accompany it. Overall, it’s just entertaining. (I can’t say that Tsukimi’s mai waifu material, however. She’s cute ‘n’ all, but more like “child cute” than anything else.)

    By the way, I think you’re missing The Graduate in terms of movie references in the OP…but I know not of the others as well. XD

    • Posted October 20, 2010 at 6:55 am | Permalink

      Ah, perhaps, perhaps – either way, I haven’t been this excited about a new series in a long time.

      That theme and the lead’s ‘innocent’ cuteness are certainly not new things, but the development of both in such a short timespan, and (as others have said elsewhere) the effortless excecution overall was a refreshing treat.

      And speaking of The Graduate, was that really Tsukimi as (I think you said in your post) Elaine?! In which case, can’t wait to meet that other guy too…

    • Posted October 21, 2010 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

      Ah, haven’t seen The Graduate but thanks for pointing it out. I’m not quite sure I see the theme as strongly as my comrade yet, but it was only the first episode so there’s plenty of time to build it and others. And by keeping the first episode primarily to Tsukimi, it made for a great introduction of her character, at the expense of introducing the trap. But such trade-offs are necessary, and I’d rather one character be introduced fully at a time instead of trying to introduce them all at once like most series do.

      As for Tsukimi, as I mentioned in a reply above, I certainly have a soft spot for a character who’s so obviously nerdy in both personality and appearance. And I’m willing to bet that she’ll probably be the most outgoing character in her apartment building by far. Most of the others seem more far gone than her, socially.

  8. Posted October 19, 2010 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

    YES! This first episode was AWESOME. The OP was definitely one of the high points of the show. I can already tell that this will be like a bildungsroman for Tsukimi as she grows closer to Mr. Trap, BUT the charm of the show is in its magnificent presentation. The characters are all likable, they’re all so quirky, the show keeps me engaged…. I CAN’T WAIT! :D

    • Posted October 20, 2010 at 6:58 am | Permalink

      In short: Agreed! :D

      In not as short: can’t decide if I want her to grow closer to Mr Trap or not, if it’s in a conventionally romantic way. Then again, nothing about the execution has been conventional, so I’m v. hopeful…

  9. Posted October 19, 2010 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

    Definitely looking forward to everything from here — I don’t want to go overboard in my praise, but this is definitely the one A-grade series I’ve seen from everything so far (of course, other series could get as good with more development). Also, Mayaya is this season’s T.K. Book it!

    • Posted October 20, 2010 at 7:00 am | Permalink

      (Apart from the T.K. ref., which I’m unfamiliar with) I know exactly what you mean!

      • Posted October 20, 2010 at 9:46 am | Permalink

        lol, T.K. is from Angel Beats! Crazy random dancing and weird catchphrases. Fun for the whole family.

        Also, forgot to mention this, but the Star Wars pun in the title made me snicker.

    • Posted October 21, 2010 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

      Let’s hope she breaks out some Engrish! Get chance and luck!

  10. fathomlessblue
    Posted October 19, 2010 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

    Loving the dual-post format; a series as (potentially) awesome as this deserves it. This was definitely my favourite opening episode since Eden of the East, in fact probably before even that. I’m praying that unlike that show, Kuragehime fulfills it’s potential.

    I particularly liked the barrier theme mentioned. Can’t say I recognised the symbolism behind the Aquarium glass before you mentioned it but it was apparent at various other parts of the show, e.g. the R2-D2 scene where it looks like her face is literally pressed behind glass, shielding her from the great unknown/space. Thinking about it now, the pictures of jellyfish all around her room almost makes it look like she’s created a glass barrier within her own home to reflect the one in her head. Although maybe i’m just tired and talking out my ass…

    Anyways I can’t wait to see more the prince, which in itself is pretty shocking considering my usual distaste towards traps. Definitely liking his apparent overly laid-back personally, you get the sense he’d be confident no matter who he was or what he looked like.

    • fathomlessblue
      Posted October 20, 2010 at 12:12 am | Permalink

      Also, I checked out Tsukimi’s VA; it’s Kana Hanazawa, champion of all things quiet, nerdy and sickeningly moe, eg Kanade in Angel Beats, Anri in Durarara!!, Kozue in Occult Academy, Sakura in Maid-sama etc. It was a bit of a shock considering I’ve disliked almost all the two-dimensional stereotypes she’s played before. Nice to see her in a role that has some personality.

      • Posted October 21, 2010 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

        As much as I liked Kanade from Angel Beats, I think my support of her was primarily for her cause and visual cuteness. The ‘policy’ she represented definitely won me over than her overall personality, though I think she had a decent one until about 3/4 of the way through the show when the show started rushing itself to finish. But as Kanade and Tsukimi her voice acting is very good, and I look forward to seeing her in a more realistic role.

    • Posted October 20, 2010 at 9:42 am | Permalink

      Ah, you can thank the talented Mr EO for the formatting ideas.

      The barrier theme was just one of the many random things to pop into my head, so, rather than trying to cover everything, I thought it might be fun to focus on just one promising motif and analyse that a bit more. Speaking of which, when you put it like that, I guess the R2 image does fit the/ wider theme(s) well, and I love your point about Tsukimi’s bedroom with all those illustrations as being like the inside of a jellyfish tank (wish I’d thought of that)! :)

      Oh, and good job on the seiyuu stalking; didn’t realise she did all those roles. I happily agree that this is probably going to be her most well-rounded performance, defo nice to see so many layers of her character’s personality coming through already.

  11. Posted October 20, 2010 at 12:25 am | Permalink

    Now that you mention it, you’re right, she does look like what Yomiko Readman would have looked like as an awkward teenager.

    I like how we have a sort of spectrum of geekiness revealed quite elegantly in the gifts brought back – the girls are, respectively, fans of trains, old men, dolls, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, BL manga, and of course, jellyfish. They’re certainly all stereotypical examples but I find the presentation is handled such that it’s charming rather than awkward. “Charming” is a good word for the show, really – it handles heavyweight issues with a velvet touch that is really all the more impressive – we get a lot of information in this episode but you never feel overwhelmed.

    • Posted October 20, 2010 at 9:48 am | Permalink

      I loved the scene with the presents too, it kinda bittersweet how she was able to bring back all of those items for the others yet be unable to do the one thing that she wanted to do for herself. What you say about the ‘velvet touch’ (and on EO’s use of ‘charming’) is also a nice way of putting it, and certainly an efficient as well as fun style of storytelling…

  12. Posted October 20, 2010 at 1:07 am | Permalink

    I don’t know…

    maybe, I’ll also check this one out. [probably not now due to many shows dedicated to watch.]

    Maybe, I’ll say that if I could like this one I’ll check on it for further references.

    • Posted October 20, 2010 at 9:49 am | Permalink

      Well, at least there are more decent shows to choose from this season. Hope you enjoy it if you do decide to look it up!

  13. LimeWarrior
    Posted October 20, 2010 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    Love IT! The film geek in me exploded with joy.

    I have watched the opening to this show a gazillion times, trying to piece all the references together. Here’s my current list:

    1.Sex and the City
    2. Star Wars
    3. Singin’ in the Rain
    4. Mary Poppins
    5. ?? (What movie is the train scene from? it seems so familiar.)
    6. ?? (What’s the reference for the dice and cup scene?)
    7. James Bond
    8. Kill Bill and Game of Death
    9. The Graduate (The fact that they referenced this movie is pure awesome)
    10. Close Encounters of the Third Kind

    Anybody know those two in the middle?

    • fathomlessblue
      Posted October 20, 2010 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

      I’m “borrowing” my info from some of the comments on Shinmaru’s site so don’t quote me or anything but the train scene is likely from “The Emperor of the North Pole” (about a train conductor who sometimes kills hobos with a hammer), while the dice scene may be from either “God of Gamblers” or perhaps “Hibotan Bakuto”. Seeing as the latter is obviously oriental in nature (with me being no expert in world cinema), you’ll have find someone more familar with such movies to confirm whether either are true. Hope that helps.

      • Posted October 21, 2010 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

        Ah, I had not idea what those others were. But thanks, that seems like the most complete list I’ve seen.

  14. Crusader
    Posted October 21, 2010 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    This show oozes so much nerd in the first few minutes I just love it to pieces. Wish I had time to watch it sooner.

    • Posted October 27, 2010 at 10:40 am | Permalink

      You are always welcome to add your thoughts if you wana join the co-blogging team, comrade!

  15. Posted October 22, 2010 at 2:27 am | Permalink

    I really like this show! I really liked the fujoshi and the trap pairing. I’ll keep an eye out for this one.

    • Posted October 27, 2010 at 10:41 am | Permalink

      Agreed, can’t wait ’til it’s back from hiatus!

One Trackback

  • […] Thoughts: Looks to be one of the best, if not possibly the best show of the season. Many great shows have come from the noitaminA time-block, and Kuragehime seems set to continue this tradition. Female otaku/fujoshi are in plenty of shows, but here we actually see them as realistic characters: awkward, obsessive, and less than the ideal of beauty. (Not that that means Tsukimi isn’t the cutest character I’ve seen in some time.) There are hints of her past and the story of why her favorite subject as an illustrator are jellyfish for a serious angle, as well as the antics of her apartmentmates for comedy, and the trap princess could prove to be an interesting angle. It’s good enough that I’ve already signed up to co-blog it with Hana. […]

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