Region: 2 - UK
Length: 275 minutes
Japanese 5.1 Surround
Plain, timid and obsessed with jellyfish, Tsukimi is a far cry from her idea of a princess. Her tepid life as a jobless illustrator comes complete with roommates who harbour diehard hobbies that solidify their status as hopeless social rejects. These wallflowers run a tight, nun-like ship, but their no-men-allowed-not-no-one-not-no-how bubble is unwittingly burst after Tsukimi brings home a rescued jellyfish and a beauty queen... who's actually a guy. When the threat of losing their cozy convent inspires this glamour boy to turn the neurotic entourage into a portrait of success, will Tsukimi take her chance to bloom, or will she end up a hot mess?
Princess Jellyfish was a series that totally came out of the blue for me. In the spirit of the series' opening sequences, it rose from the depths of obscurity to glittering clarity, like a luminescent jellyfish in an aquarium. With not even a synopsis before me, I began watching without the merest inkling of its setup. As a devotee of both bishonen AND traps, it stands to reason that my delight at watching the first episode was pretty pronounced. For those do not share my acquired tastes in anime, the series comes with some pretty hot credentials with Omori Takahiro (the director of Durarara! and Natsume's Book of Friends) heading up the production with studio Brains Base.
It's a story that will strike a chord with many viewers and with aspects akin to Maison Ikkoku and Otaku no Musume-san, it has the potential to appeal to a wide demographic of both male and female fans.
The animation is fabulous and the designs are tailored to suit the edgy yet glamorous style of Kuronosuke whilst also embracing the eccentricity of the ladies who inhabit the Amizukan apartments. The central characters are exquisitely composed with all the very facets and flaws that make them both highly amusing and very human. Princess Jellyfish works simply because the balance between the comedy and drama is practically perfect.
Princess Jellyfish also handles some of the most common themes in shojo and josei but in a very fresh and inventive way. The makeover, the love triangle, the cross dresser, the conniving love rival and the tale of the "ugly duckling" all find their own place in the show without ever feeling tired or rehashed.
Kuronosuke may be a trap but he is also a very high-class commodity and the motivations for his lifestyle are well considered. The men of his family are embroiled in politics that Kuronosuke, by contrast, has no interest in. He uses his scandalous behaviour as a shield, cutting himself out of the running and away from the responsibility. His chaste and reserved elder brother is a world apart from his stylish sibling, focused and devoted to following in the footsteps of their father.
The plot thickens very quickly as Kuronosuke's involvement in the Amizukan clashes with the political agendas of his household while his big brother makes eyes the madeover incarnation of heroine Tsukimi.
The series is a delight and I can only hope that Brains Base gets the green light for extending the story into a second series. Highly recommended!