by Bob Johnson
Princess Jellyfish stole my heart
I’m in love with Tsukimi Kurashita. SHE IS SO MOÉ <3 <3 <3 !!!
For those of you that still need to take Weeaboo 102, “moé” is a particular sort of cuteness in female characters that fulfils a certain youthful appearance, as well as a certain vulnerability in their personality. Now, as a result of more than a decade of continuous “improvement” to the moé concept, there is at least one dedicated “moéblob” in virtually all new anime, which generally combines dishpan eyes and near-total incompetence in an attempt to appeal to the unsaid desire of all otaku to “rescue” their mate.
I had thought Kisaragi from Elfen Lied was the only good example of how to develop a moé character. And yet, Princess Jellyfish happens to be that rare occasion where the moé motif isn’t gratuitous, but rather a necessary step in genuine character development.
After all, moé in its purest form is the concept of a blossoming woman, and this is exactly who Tsukimi Kurashita is: an eighteen-year-old from Kagoshima, which is about as far as you can come to Tokyo without *really* being from the boonies. She came to try to make it as an illustrator, but also to try and put some distance between herself and her painful childhood, as she realizes now that she’ll never be a princess like she had imagined. Already, she’s got more depth than most of the women in anime. Definitely no moéblob.
A talented artist, she lives at Amamizu-kan, a sort of sorority for fujoshi (nerdy women). Bear in mind that Japan isn’t exactly kind to its male nerds in the first place, and women are lower still on the social totem pole; being part of this society has ingrained in the “Sisters” the idea that they can’t be themselves when they are out and about. They freeze up at the first sign of a “Stylish”, which seems to be just about everyone. Each of the Sisters defines themselves mainly by their own peculiar interest, and for Tsukimi that interest is Jellyfish. She spends endless hours working on drawings and paintings of jellyfish, and occasionally visits the local pet shop, where she named a moon jelly in the window display “Clara”.
Tsukimi’s life begins to unravel when she settles for seeing Clara after being scared away by the weekend crowds around a real aquarium. To her horror, a spotted jelly had been added to Clara’s tank! After trying to explain to the store clerk that this was a mortal danger for a moon jelly, she is tossed out like a bag of trash. It would have been another typical day for Tsukimi, had it not been for the fact that a Stylish happened by with an ounce of sympathy…
Princess Jellyfish does a great job of getting inside the heads of the central characters, especially through the use of background stories to build up an emotional backdrop for current events. This brilliant coming-of-age story manages to mix comedy and romance with a dose of reality, and is definitely worth the time.