There is much to discuss this week, as Kuranosuke returns to the den of fujoshi, meets with their rejection, and ultimately pulls a Loymeyer-senpai to help them overcome their most impolite social hangups. Being that our founding member is a notorious trap, and we at T.H.A.T. have a long and proud tradition of taking to great shows featuring greater traps like Mako-cakes to Haruka-oneesama, the GATTAI continues as Crusader, Hana, and ExecutiveOtaku bring you our thoughts and impressions of Kuragehime episode 02. Blame me (EO) for the delay, as I was out restoring sanity in DC (and I actually did see a Jellyfish Princess while there.)
Our new favourite trap is shooed away and yet comes back to gatecrash the Amars’ hot-pot party, before making amends with loads of expensive beef, which he can afford because he’s the son of a local Diet big-wig.
Ooh, that morning-after-the-night-before scene was even better than I expected, with Tsukimi appearing as adorable as she was embarrassed, and Kuranosuke as cheerful as he was
naked nonchalant. Aside from the painfully obvious reasons as to why Tsukimi was unable to gaze at the freshly showered young man in the cow print hotpants and nothing else, her refusal to look at Kuranosuke also reflects the insular gaze of her comrades as a group, in the way that the sisterhood interact (or, rather, don’t) with others and their surroundings, which contrasts with what we also begin to learn about Kuranosuke’s family.
After Tsukimi rejects the trap’s request to come and hang out again sometime (a rejection which he, of course, happily ignores before sashaying off), the whole hot-pot thing was a nice sequence that showed us a bit more about how the girls interact with one another, as opposed to with anyone else. While the rejection-email to the gay couple and Tsukimi’s rejection of Kuranosuke in the first bit of the epi might have foreshadowed his later rejection by the girls, the hot-pot party in turn emphasized how ‘selectively’ insular they all are, like satellites that are happy to inhabit their own lonely orbits, but also capable of coming together every now and then on their own terms and when they feel safe to do so. In other words, the girls are like a family of outcasts, who sort of perpetuate their own outcast status as a self-defence mechanism. Thus, going back to the ‘looking’ and ‘satellites’ imagery, Tsukimi is certainly drawn to our man in the hotpants (hmm, I wonder why), but insecure and guilty about betraying/ breaking the delicate shell that her comrades have constructed around them.
In this sense, Kuranosuke is certainly a threat, but, as suggested last week, he’s everything that Tsukimi has always dreamed of being (a prince/ss), and at the very least she feels bound/ beholden to him for saving Clara from the arsy petshop guy. Thus, his simple ‘Because I wanted to see you, Tsukimi!’ elicits such a complicated response from Tsukimi, not least of all because, I assume, it’s the first time that anyone has said anything of the sort to the self-proclaimed nerdy friendless girl, and let alone a male ‘Stylish’ to boot. Of course, Kuranosuke receives short shrift from the girls, whose delicate routine is thrown seriously out of kilter, with the cooling, congealing contents of the first hot-pot aptly symbolising Kuranosuke’s fruitless efforts to bond with the petrified girls. However, while his final gift of the expensive cuts of beef may indeed be, in Tsukimi’s words, a ‘bribe’, the act also reflects how Kuranosuke is also like an outcast, or at least a rather rebellious figure, in his own family, as we realise from his comments about never eating with the other ‘boys’ and from his brother’s reluctance to let their father see him in his traptastic get-up.
In short, I thought that this was a lovely second epi, not only with the pace and the laughs once again spot-on, but the introduction of the two new figures promising further insight into the lives of our main characters and opportunities for more comedic and emotional development.
I was busy for the first post on Kuragehime but as a member of that I am bound to promote traps of all sorts in the name of Impz to spread brokeness to the far corners of the net. There is so much to like about Kuragehime and while it is not the first show about otaku and general super nerdiness it is one of the rare few that doesn’t resort to a veneer of moe to cover up the issue. Instead the Nunz could have substituted for the old Gundam Guard with their hard features and general lack of bishoujo traits. This lack of looks is in a way a direct reflection of their flawed souls. Much has been said in other works about the victim-hood of poor nerds, but this time we see how just as prejudiced the persecuted can be when they encounter someone that is seemingly different. The Nunz reaction while worthy of revulsion aren’t too out there to be over the top or so offensive that it would require a violent response.
While to a certain extent they can be excused for having a defense mechanism, what is inexcusable is that it was simply because Kuranosuke did not appear to be one of them. Considering the amount of effort that Kuranosuke puts into his hobby and his magnificent results, he is more like them than they know and certainly just as if not more dedicated than them when it comes to devotion to their chosen craft. For most people keeping fit in and of itself is a much harder task than making dolls or RAEGING over moe moe adaptations of the Three Kingdoms. While I am sure that the Nunz have been on the receiving end of insult and injury that does not excuse them for doling out insults when Kuranosuke was the savior of Clara and Hero of the Marine Pet Shop. That Tsukimi shut out Kuranosuke made her the worst of the lot, even if she could not have thanked Kuranosuke by letting him into the Nunnery at least she could have found some way to demonstrate gratitude rather than denying Kuranosuke the guest right that he so rightly deserved.
I can understand adopting a guarded posture if one expects trouble, but as far as I can tell Kuranosuke was being a most gracious guest. That they did not try and tough it out and at least have enough common courtesy to entertain a good guest is to me abhorrent. They did not excuse themselves politely but rather stormed out like rude little children throwing tantrums. Especially in light of the generally polite behavior of Kuranosuke. I generally find the Nunz to be a funny lot but here it is plainly visible that their social isolation has a lot to do with their lack of manners and general lack of stomach to tough out a situation. One can only wonder what kind of work they would be able to get it they continued down such a path. I like that they did not try and hide out the ugliness that came out and pretty much prevents them from becoming swans not because of some curse imposed by a wicked witch but because they demonstrate hostility to others simply because others aren’t like them. I quite like that the Nunz showed an ugly side of them that was not due to character design.
I have to hand it to Kuranosuke for demonstrating the kind of restraint, understanding, and courtesy the Nunz so sorely lacked. While the Matsusaka beef was a better peace offering than the Nunz deserved, it was masterfully done. Not only does Kuranosuke demonstrate better social skills, his courage and openness regarding his hobby is rather commendable even if it is abused to coerce his brother’s compliance due to the possibility of political scandal. More impressive still is that Kuranosuke can at least set aside his hobby as situation dictates instead of being lost in it like most of the Nunz. Also Kuranosuke demonstrates superior hygiene, and I can tell you from experience that a woman that does not shower nor change clothes is just as nasty as any guy; pig disgusting does happen if you let it…
I am looking forward to the next episode when Kuranosuke’s nii-san investigates the holy nunnery, it ought to be a hoot.
ExecutiveOtaku’s International House of Traps and Sukiyaki
This week’s episode had less events per se, but hit the mark on its singular main point as well as touching on some of Kuranosuke’s background and family life. The primary issue being how the girls in the Nunnery further their own isolation through a lack of social skills and even hostility towards anything that deviates from the norm of their constructed world. It was most displeasing to see all of them act so rudely and immaturely towards Kuranosuke, even after he made sure to dress as a girl and acted in quite a friendly and polite manner. While I was disappointed in the characters, I was happy that the story features this aspect of the truly far-gone nerd/otaku lifestyle. Similar to the way in which the Nunnery girls aren’t presented as the typically attractive ones from most anime (Nogizaka Haruka, Fujiyoshi from Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, etc), their personalities match those of people who would hole themselves up in an apartment building together and be extremely apprehensive outside in regular society. I very much liked how this was more of a challenge to the isolationist mindset where difference-from is internalized so much that it becomes hostility-towards mainstream society and social interactions. Contrast this to this week’s episode of Ore no Imouto which played up a one-sided scenario of persecution by mainstream society of the otaku lifestyle. Ore no Imouto reinforced a (mostly false) narrative of irrational societal persecution of the otaku lifestyle ‘just because’ that the most far-gone in the community like to put forth. This ends up forming a false persecution complex that’s always annoying to see (and plenty of other groups do it too: fundamentalist Christians offline, furries and some libertarians or socialists online, for example.) Kuragehime on the other hand challenges this narrative, bringing a much more honest look at the extreme otaku lifestyle that illustrates the two-way nature of the issue. It’s not just that society might not accept the girls’ hobbies (though most would be fairly understanding if expressed with tact), but that the girls and their mindset are also to blame for furthering their own isolation.
No one wants to BE FRIENDLY apparently.
Kuranosuke had some light shed on his background this time, and despite Kuragehime’s many differences it does retain the trope of the shoujo male lead being from a rich and eminent family. His brother, if not also his father, are involved in politics and there’s some distance between them due to Kuranosuke’s crossdressing and likely other issues. I am interested in seeing more of the brother, since I imagine he’d bring an interesting angle to interactions with his younger brother and Tsukimi (and maybe at one point, with the rest of the girls.)
One final note on fansubs. While it appeared that there would be two groups doing fansubs for this series, it looks like [gg] dropped out and Umee is just releasing a rip of the Crunchyroll subs. I am very disappoint. The Crunchyroll subs are decent translations, but I dislike how localized they can be at times, as well as a grating word choice in one instance. This being the choice of “hipster” for “osyare na hito”, which I think would be better translated as Umee did in episode 01 with “chic person” or “chic (feature/clothing/etc)” since it’s a general descriptor instead of a very specific term like “hipster.” Yeah, yeah, not everyone cares so much, but little bits of nuance do bug me when I can clearly hear another word or set of words being spoken. I really hope Umee goes back to doing their own subs. If I had wanted Crunchyroll subs, I’d go watch the lame streams. Nah, I’d just download the stream rips. But the point is, it’s lame to rip someone else’s subs, especially if you put your own group’s name on the file. At least the low quality Crunchyrip people are honest.