“Princess Jellyfish” is the story of Tsukimi and her friends, the Amars (Nuns), who occupy the Amamizukan, an apartment building which doesn’t allow men. They encounter numerous challenges as the outside world collides with the little world they’ve created. Each member of the group is an otaku, though not in the anime sense, but in the rabid fan sense. Tsukimi loves Jellyfish, Chieko loves kimonos and dolls, Mayaya is obsessed with “Romance of the Three Kingdoms,” Banba with trains, and Jiji is fascinated by old men. It is an eclectic group.
Article by David F. Pendrys
Here are five reasons why their adventures are worth your time.
An unconventional, but awesome heroine.
We are used to, whether watching anime or domestic shows, the protagonist usually being of a certain type, with some exceptions. Typical heroines and heroes are pretty functional, assertive, talkative, or quiet but only because they chose to be. Figures like Supergirl or Mikasa Ackerman from “Attack on Titan” exemplify this. Tsukimi has several talents, but she struggles immensely to be social outside of her friend group, and the anime even opens with her hesitating to go to an exhibit she wanted to see, eventually giving up on the verge of entering. Tsukimi and most of her friends have various quirks and anxious moments and they do not handle the arrival of the more functional characters in their abode well. Too often in fiction, the characters seem to be able to roll with most situations, but in “Jellyfish,” the characters often avoid typical behaviors because of their own issues relatable to anyone struggling with various forms of social anxiety. Tsukimi isn’t given a magic wand in episode one and suddenly becomes a different person. She and the others accomplish much in spite of what tries to hold them back, but without changing who they are very much.
Acceptance of differences.
A theme that is constant in the series is the protagonists may be differ from average expectations, but they are no less important and worthy. Also too often in fiction, the quirky, socially troubled characters are brought in for either comic relief, or to be a problem for the real heroes of the story to solve. There is plenty of comedy in the series, and there are more supposedly neurotypical characters trying to “help” the Amars, but they stay true to who they are and they are valuable.
Kuranosuke, another character who is stylish, very assertive, and functional, has their own not widely accepted approach to life, especially coming from a powerful political family. Kuranosuke’s interactions with the Amars is a critical part of the series and a plot driver, but even though they are opposites, it shows everyone can fit in with each other through understanding. None of the main characters are your typical protagonist. Though of course anime often allows a more diverse group of heroes than domestic shows, with exceptions naturally.
A fitting theme song.
“Koko Dake no Hanashi” by Chatmonchy is a rare type of opening. It is a quiet meandering song, which suits Tsukimi and her friends perfectly. It sounds amateurish, as if an untrained singer is struggling with karaoke lyrics, but it is so suitable. It works so well to set the tone for what is to come. Opening themes are a varied lot, but this is especially unique. It’s also unusual for the opener to match the tone of the characters. Usually we see a more upbeat anthem or a slower ballad, but rarely a song that seems like it could have been sung by the protagonist herself, but not well.
Comedy that lands, but doesn’t mock.
The humor in this show relies on the various quirks of the characters sometimes, but as mentioned before the show has a largely positive view of the characters. There are also plenty of jokes that are a product of the clashing of styles between the anti-social Amars and the outside world, but the supposed “normal” people are flawed and generally less likable. It allows for the humor brought about by the situations to be enjoyable without mockery. For comparison, in shows like “The Big Bang Theory” there is a giant debate over whether the show is basing its humor on mocking the lead geeks and that is a common tactic in humor. It is a tough line to walk, but “Princess Jellyfish” does create laughs without harm. For more harmless humor, there’s also Clara, the talking jellyfish.
The Prime Minister
A story about five women doing what they do in a small apartment building not wanting to be bothered naturally needs a shady Prime Minister of Japan to enter the plot from time to time because that’s what is missing in any story like this. This point is inarguable, do not try to argue it.
Those are five reasons to check out the series, and there are many more, though some of them you need to watch the series to realize.