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.
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.