Friday, July 25, 2014

The Jellyfish Conundrum

A few months back I came across a meme that basically switched the genders of the characters of the Big Bang Theory in the first season.  Instead of having a gorgeous looking girl that becomes friends with three socially awkward guys it was a gorgeous looking guy who becomes friends with 4 socially awkward girls.  The caption basically said, "A situation comedy that would never get made."

Well, guess who's laughing now?  The creators of the hit anime Princess Jellyfish more or less follow the same idea in their titular series.  And you wanna know something?  It's fantastic.

Princess Jellyfish is about an 18 year old girl named Tsukimi who moves out on her own into Tokyo.  Tsukimi is obsessed with all sorts of different kinds of Jellyfish and is an otaku girl.  (Or a nerd/geek girl.)  She moves into a house style apartment home with 5 other girls who are socially awkward and also otaku.  The girls tend to stick with one another and try to avoid social situations because of the dreaded "stylish."

The "stylish" are the young and socially adept of Tokyo life.  They are confident, wear nice clothes (if sometimes gaudy), and tend to overlook anyone who isn't part of their social sphere.  The otaku girls are completely intimidated by them even if one means well and actually tries to care.

Things change for Tsukimi's life when a stylish girl helps her save a jellyfish from an oblivious pet shop clerk.  The stylish girl decides to become Tsukimi's friend and a series of events causes the stylish girl to spend the night at Tsukimi's place.
Tsukimi freaks out when she finds her new friend is a 'he.'

Now I know what you're thinking, "This isn't like the big bang theory.  The pretty one should be a boy in this situation not a girl."  Yeah... about that... Tsukimi wakes up the next morning to step on a wig--totally expected with the stylish culture--and sees not a stylish girl but a young man not much older than her.  His name is Kuranosuke and he cross dresses for fun.  (He's not gay, just likes women clothing.)  What then begins is an unlikely friendship and comedy of errors involving political families, doomed apartment buildings, and awkward dinner conversations.

The great thing about Princess Jellyfish are the rounded and complicated characters.  Kuranosuke motives for cross dressing are both endearing and painfully sad.  Much like Tsukimi's obsession with Jellyfish and how it connects her to her mother.  The girls she live with are much like real characters with painful and relatable insecurities.

So why would a guy like me find interest in a show like this?  It isn't just the good writing and storytelling.  I found a connection in empathy before that I hadn't before.  See, I've been aware of insecurities and fears that I've seen from my female relatives but never understood.  The fears that real-life women would tell me about I just couldn't see as rational or even understood why they existed.  Watching Princess Jellyfish actually changed that for me.  Suddenly, I didn't just know of the fears and insecurities but actually felt them!  Seeing these girls act the way they do around Kuranosuke spoke to me in a way that no other show has before.

I would definitely recommend giving Princess Jellyfish a shot.  It can be seen on Netflix.


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