January 22, 2018

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Princess Jellyfish

Princess Jellyfish is romantic comedy that revolves around the life of a twenty year old nerdy woman, Kurashita Tsukimi, who likes jellyfish so much. Tsukimi is spelled 月海 in Japanese, and the Japanese word for jellyfish, kururage is written 海月, so  月海 is  海月 backwards. For Japanese learners, 海 is a Chinese character that means sea and 月 is a Chinese character for moon. The Japanese title of the comic is Kuragehime spelled 海月姫 in Chinese characters. Hime, 姫, means princess in Japanese.

Tsukimi is not social and feels that she is unattractive. She spends most of her time drawing illustrations of jellyfish in her apartment. In the same building,  several other nerdy women also live there. The comic portrays her friendship with them and her new male friend, Kuranosuke, who is heterosexual, but likes to dress as woman and garnered the support of a lot of women in Japan and sold 4,400,000 copies in total. Princess Jellyfish won the award of the best shoujo  (girl) comic category in 2010.

The comic was published in a monthly comic magazine that targeted women in between their 20’s and 30’s, KISS, from 2008 to 2014. The animation of Jellyfish was aired by Fuji TV ( Channel 8 ) at 12:45 am every Thursday from October to December 2010. The animation successfully helped to bring the story to life.

A live action film of Princess Jellyfish was released in December 2014. Rena Nonen played Tsukimi and she matched the character very well. Nonen and Masaki Suda, who played Kuranosuke Koibuchi, portrayed the genuine friendship and awakening of romance very well. Mayaya, who is a Romance of Three Kingdoms (三国志 Sangokushi) nerd, was played by a model, Rina Ota. Ota portrayed the role very well.

The Japanese audience was amazed by how a beautiful model like Ota was able to step into the role of Mayaya perfectly and acted as a nerdy, unattractive young woman. The person who played Chieko was a comedienne, Azusa Babazono ( a member of a comedy duo, Asian). This was a very good casting of the actress for the role and Babazono played Chieko as well as a full time actress. Hiroki Hasegawa played Koibuchi Osamu, the older brother of Kuranosuke. Hasegawa made Osamu so much more attractive than he was in the comic and in doing so, made the story that much more enjoyable. In Japan, film adaptations of comics often turn out to be failures, but in the case of Princess Jellyfish, it was successful. Both the animation and the film are available only in Japanese on Youtube ( you need to pay 250 yen for each episode to watch animation on Youtube).  They are also available on the Japanese version of the Netflix, but there are no English subtitles. If you search by 海月姫 on Youtube or Netflix, you can find them easily.

The drama series of Princess Jellyfish is going to start on January 15th, 2018. It will be aired on Fuji TV ( Channel 8 ) every Monday at 9 pm. The first episode is 15 minutes longer than the other following episodes.

Below are the main cast.

Yoshine Kyoko as Tsukimi Kurashita

Yasushi Seto as Kuranosuke Koibuchi

Haruna Kina as Jijisama

Asuka Kudo as Osamu Koibuchi

Rena Matsui (a former member of SKE48 and Nogizaka46) as Banba san

Eriko Toyama as Chieko

The theme song is “A New Day” sung by a Filipino singer, Beverly, who moved to Japan in 2016.

Tokyo Trareba Musume, another popular comic by the same author, Akiko Higashimura, was adapted into a drama series by NTV (Channel 4) in 2017.  

Princess Jellyfish was translated into English and has been read by many people outside of Japan too. Ana, currently residing in Tokyo, has read Princess Jellyfish in her hometown, Portsmouth, New Hampshire when she was X years old. Below are her comments on the comic.

References

1.http://kisscomic.com/kuragedrama/

2.Official Website of the Drama https://www.fujitv.co.jp/kuragehime/

3.Official Website of the Animation  http://kuragehime.noitamina.tv/introduction.html

Princess Jellyfish was translated into English and has been read by many people outside of Japan too. Ana, currently residing in Tokyo, has read Princess Jellyfish in her hometown, Portsmouth, New Hampshire when she was 17 to 18 years old. Below are her comments on the comic.

Princess Jellyfish easily became one of my favorite anime and manga. I first discovered the series through Netflix where I binge-watched it with my sister. I remember really falling in love with Kuranosuke after we discovered he was a boy. To people who are not familiar with anime or manga, the whole cross dressing scenario could be an immediate turn off but to me who was already a self declared “anime otaku” or anime nerd, I found it hilarious. After the eleven episode anime, I needed more Princess Jellyfish so I turned to the manga to finish the series. Although I read religiously when I was in highschool, I stopped reading before the final volume came out this past November of 2017. I finally picked up the final volume this month in January of 2018. In summary, the manga is one of the most unique manga I have ever read, the characters are unforgettable and very diverse, the theme is inspirational and motivational not to mention hilarious and I am recommending this series to every one of my friends, in the United States as well as in Japan.

There are several aspects to Princess Jellyfish that I find attractive. One is the unorthodox humour with quirky characters and a rich character development. Each character is very human with obvious flaws and a certain shyness to express their assets. For example, Tsukimi has no faith in her attractiveness or her creativity but these are her greatest traits. Kuranosuke is a brilliant character because he brings out the beauty and strength in each of the characters as the story progresses. One ends up wishing that they had their own version of a Kuranosuke in their lives. Kuranosuke was my favorite character in the series because he is what everyone wishes they could be. I also was quite squeamish with giddy teenage joy when he blushed at Tsukimi or almost kissed her. Despite his attractiveness (man or woman), he is not conceited and is working towards empowering his friends. I love this kind of character.

A second aspect of the story that I really enjoyed was the complex and exciting storyline. Throughout the 17 volumes I never felt like there was a lull in action, only a continuous roll in sequence of events. I especially loved reading about the process in which the amars made dresses. Their drive is something I regularly see in Japanese people once I came to Japan, working without sleeping or eating then finally collapsing once their work is done.  

This brings me to my next point. The story was realistic and refreshing from other shoujo/josei manga which one might read. This is because, minus a few miniscule details, everything in Princess Jellyfish could potentially happen. Several aspects of Japanese society are also accurately represented, and only after living in Japan was I able to understand this. For example, the amars are known as NEETS (Not in Education, Employment, or Training)  and otaku. They basically live off of their allowances, their parents money, and off of miniscule earnings choosing instead to live freely indulging in sweet taiyaki and their hobbies. This is an increasingly common phenomenon in Japan especially Tokyo and it is something I regularly study in school. Another realistic aspect I have first hand experience is in the places in which the amars venture to. The manga mentions Yoyogi park, Shibuya, Akabanebashi, and these are all places I have personally been to by living in Japan. This makes me really excited when I read. Finally, towards the end of the series (skip this sentence if you have not finished reading) Tsukimi is brought to Singapore and personally I have been to this country myself and agree with her sentiments: She really likes how people in Singapore are dressing on their own beliefs and wants to create clothes which people can meld to their own beliefs.

Finally, I used to live the way Tsukimi and her friends used to live. I was living in a sharehouse in Kanda, Tokyo not unlike Amamizukan. It was a large multi-story house with shared bathrooms and kitchens. There were very strict rules to move in and I even had an online interview before moving in. However, once in, we regularly spent time together having sukiyaki parties and watching television together. We were like a family, exactly like the amars in Amamizukan. Reading Princess Jellyfish after I have experienced this brings tears to my eyes because I can remember exactly the feeling that these characters felt and I feel nostalgic for that time in my life. It is a big coincidence and blessing that I was able to live like this, just as if I was apart of my favorite manga.

After reading the conclusion to Princess Jellyfish, I felt that it really could not have ended better and the ending really suited the theme of the story. It was funny but also with a deep emotional value. Princess Jellyfish as I mentioned, will remain one of my favorite anime and manga and I am looking forward to watching the drama which will appear next week! In a way, I want to live like the amars do, working as hard as they can in the moment, and enjoying their passions to the fullest extent. The amars truly live in the moment and as vigorously as they can which therefore inspires everyone around them.

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