Kuragehime (Princess Jellyfish) is based on a josei manga series written and illustrated by Akiko Higashimura. The live-action adaption of the series premiered on December 27, 2014 with the featured star being Nounen Rena of Amachan fame.
Princess Jellyfish takes place in and around Amamizukan, an apartment building in Tokyo where only otaku women are accepted as residents and no men are allowed. The majority of the film focuses on Tsukimi (Nounen Rena), a young woman who moved to Tokyo to become an illustrator. She is a jellyfish otaku who lacks confidence and freezes up around men or attractive people.
After getting into a small scuffle at a tropical fish store she is helped by a stylish woman called Kurako (Suda Masaki) who is actually a male university student named Kuranosuke. He is the son of a local politician and dresses like a woman as a way to stay out of the family business.
After their encounter Kuronosuke becomes interested in Tsukimi and starts hanging out at her apartment. And that is the beginning of a movie that crams local politics, love triangles, cross-dressing and life changing events into a 2-hour package.
With absolutely no previous exposure to the manga or anime I can’t comment on how accurate this live-action adaption is to the source material. With that said my comments on this film could offend those of you who might have a unusual/unhealthy obsession with the series.
Now let us move on to he content of the movie. I’m fairly sure that the types of otakus that reside in the Amamizukan exist except for one. Mayaya is obsessed with the Records of The Three Kingdoms, which sounds even too left field or far fetched for otaku. Well at least from my point of view. If you are one who has an obscure obsession like that congratulations and let your freak flag fly proudly?
Moving on, the cleaning up of Tsukimi into a presentable young lady is something that many have seen in films like this before. That’s a predictable thing with the nerdy/ugly duckling types who are in reality kind of hot right? Nounen Rena is an attractive young woman and there is an admirable try to ugly her up for this role. Was it effective enough? Well that depends I guess, but in general? Sure.
When her character of Tsukimi gets cleaned up you can see how lovely she is. Her eyes in particular seem to have a bit of extra sparkle as it is pointed out later in the film by Kuranosuke. Nounen also looks really good in a kimono by the way. That’s unrelated to anything in the movie. I just wanted to point that out.
I could not buy the whole unrequited love deal with Kuranosuke’s older brother Shu. Probably because the actor who plays Shu looks more like he would be Tsukimi’s doting uncle rather than a viable love interest. That whole thing came off kind of creepy and I wanted it to stop. On the other hand there was Tsukimi and Kuranosuke. The chemistry between Nounen and Suda made their whole relationship believable on screen.
The other story going on in the film is the quest of Kuranosuke’s father and a land developer to tear down the old buildings of the neighbourhood where the Amamizukan is located in the name of modernization, political gain and profit.
The apartment is the only one that hasn’t sold out and there are several attempts to coerce the owner of the building (an unseen character who is the mother of apartment’s manager) to sell. The otaku girls are unable to protest against the redevelopment plan by themselves and eventually the apartment is sold through a brilliant piece of bribery that only idol fans would appreciate.
What follows is probably one of the most unrealistic ways of preventing the demolition of local landmarks and older neighbourhoods, putting together a fashion show. If Kuranosuke were not the son of the politician who wants neighbourhood redevelopment for his own political gain I would call the idea stupid and more of a marketing ploy for the fashion brand the residents of the apartment were creating.
But in the world of Princess Jellyfish it makes sense and it does push the main theme of transformation home. And it makes for some rather entertaining moments as the movie hits its climax.
To be honest I only watched this movie for Nounen Rena. Being a fan of Amachan, it was only natural to want to watch her in other roles. In the end this was a strange and yet engaging film carried by Nounen’s and Suda’s strong performances.
Kuragehime (Princess Jellyfish) DVD
Kuragehime (Princess Jellyfish) BLU-RAY