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Princess Jellyfish – Anime Review

by SamMarch 31, 2013

princess jellyfish3d template_125x-1Title: Princess Jellyfish
Format: DVD
Published by: Siren Visual (Australia) | Funimation (North America)
Audio: Hybrid Dub
Subtitles: English
Special Thanks: Siren Visual for kindly providing me with a review sample of this release

Amamizu-kan is an all female boarding house occupied by “The Sisterhood”, a group of geeky otaku women who have a fierce dislike for people they refer to as “The Stylish” and men in particular. The newest addition to the group is Tsukimi, a shy, socially awkward girl with a fanatical passion for Jellyfish. When Tsukimi unwillingly meets one of “The Stylish”, a sassy girl at her local pet store, her discomfort is magnified when she discovers that her new friend is actually a male named Kuranosuke.

Kuranosuke, the son of a powerful political family, is strangely drawn to Tsukimi and “The Sisterhood”. Here he is introduced to Mayaya, who is obsessed with the “Three Kingdoms”. Jiji, who has affections for old men. Banba, who is a train fanatic. And Chieko, the landlady who loves dressing in traditional Japanese costumes. Kuranosuke is eager to win them over, however, Tsukimi knows his true gender.

As you may have seen in many past reviews on this site, noitaminA titles have always been a particular highlight to review. While titles under this (now) hour long weekly block in Japan have very little in common with each other, from my first noitaminA reviewed title Welcome to Irabu’s Office to North American Anime Release of the Year 2012 anohana – all of them are titles that have something unique to them and usually make for interesting watches. The Princess Jellyfish anime series based on the on-going manga series by Akiko Higashimura was one such title to receive a noitaminA anime adaptation and was released in Australia by Siren Visual earlier this year. How does this series fare? Read on to find out!

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Most of us would have hobbies, some of us would consider us to be geeks on the subject, and Tsukimi just so happens to have a passion for Jellyfish. As a child she and her mother shared a special bond which was reinforced by their love of jellyfish, and even with her mothers passing several years earlier she has still kept up this passion to this day. She has since moved into the Amamizukan, an apartment building with whom resides a number of equally enthusiastic girls of different areas from trains to the “Three Kingdoms”. Forming “The Sisterhood” with them along with her shy and socially awkward personality, she gets through every day until meeting a pretty lady – one of “The Stylish” by the name of Kuranosuke at a pet store who helps her out. Just so happens that she is not a she but a he…. and has taken an interest in her and her group of friends.

While Tsukimi attempts to keep him out of her life, or at least keep the other members of The Sisterhood ignorant about Kuranosuke’s true gender, he sets his eyes upon her to keep her out of her shell, even going as far as forming a love triangle between her, him and his brother… but all the while a land developer moves in to demolish the surrounding area including the Amamizu-kan…. and her eyes are set on all of them.

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I went into this series with the prospect of not enjoying it, and even with the noitaminA backing the synopsis hinted at nothing more than a romantic drama which without other backing has never been a big turn on for me in a series. However after watching the first episode at 1AM in the morning I found myself oddly drawn to the simple but appealing storyline, and as it progressed I found the characters being developed very well and the plot progressing at a comfortable rate whilst balancing plot and more light-hearted comedy. Infact, I completely finished the series in one night, not finishing it until the wee hours of the morning.

The character cast were mostly enjoyable to watch and offered a great mixture of eccentric / quirky aspects as well as their own social personalities which worked well with the intended plot and character development across the entire 11-episode series. Both Kuranosuke and Tsukimi were well developed in this story however I found myself wanting to know more about the other members of The Sisterhood who are never really developed outside of providing support for the other two characters. The series secondary storyline following Kuranosuke’s brother Shuu and the “evil real estate developer Shouko on the other hand contributed well to the overarching story but at the same time… aside from offering a polar opposite to Tsukimi never really harmonized as well as it could have with the story. Perhaps this work better in the manga, but given the 11-episode limit for the anime adaptation it still wasn’t bad by any means.

Granted the manga series is still being written/released in Japan, I would really like to see a second season of Princess Jellyfish to help flesh out some of the loose ends they left us with this series. Either way, I thoroughly enjoyed my time watching Princess Jellyfish, and think the storyline was of the standard I have come to expect from noitaminA titles.

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With Siren Visual releasing more and more titles on Blu-ray, this is one of their anime releases that I would have loved to have seen released on the format, as Princess Jellyfish does look visually pleasing. The animation studio Brain’s Base, who in the same year had worked on Durarara!! did a solid job in delivering everything from the character designs to the localities of the surrounding areas. Although I wouldn’t say visually stunning is the most appropriate word to use on a series like this, more that what they delivered suited the setting they were trying to portray to the viewers at the time.

The most notable aspect of the series was how the studio managed to portray the characters emotions and facial expressions through a number of different means which certainly caught my attention and complemented the storyline well. Especially considering the few times they had the narrator of the show, a jellyfish named Clara narrate and let you in to the emotional states of The Sisterhood – such as explaining how they metaphorically petrify when faced with awkward social situations and visually represent that. Also… fans of jellyfish will be glad to know there is lots of jellyfish within almost each episode to admire.

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Princess Jellyfish comes with single opening and ending sequences, both of which are very interesting to view. The opening sequence “Koko Dake no Hanashi” by Chatmonchy is a great song coupled with animation making mention of several pop culture references throughout, while the ending sequence “Kimi no Kirei ni Kizuiteokure” by Sambomaster is also a great song coupled with simpler but still enjoyable animation. The rest of the music backing works well with the series.

Unfortunately before I go into discussing the voice acting talent, and this may just be with my copy, but it seems like Siren Visual have made a big mistake when it comes to the dubs on disc. While for ten of the episodes the English dub is fine and working, on “Episode 5 – I Want To Be A Jellyfish” the English dub is not included and replaced with nothing but silence, requiring you to watch it with either no sound and captions or the Japanese dub. Granted this will not affect those of you who are watching with Japanese dubs – if you prefer the English dub or have been watching it with them up to this point…. you are stuck.

However I think the English dub proved pretty enjoyable, with a few highlights of note being Maxey Whitehead as Tsukimi, Josh Grelle as Kuranosuke and making a complete shift from her usual voice acting roles – Monica Rial as Mayaya.

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When looking at the North American listing for this series I noticed quite a number of bonus goodies to be included in this release. Unfortunately Siren Visual were unable to retain many of these extras and we were essentially left with just audio commentaries for Episodes 1 and 11 (Pretty enjoyable as they usually are) and the USA Trailer – even without some of the usual staples such as textless songs which were also included in the North American release. I don’t really get why they couldn’t have gotten at least some of the other extra features… but that is what we have been left with in the end.

However aside from a few issues in its release, Princess Jellyfish turned into another great noitaminA release by Siren Visual and once I could happily suggest checking out if the genre appeals to you. Out of all the Australian anime releases this year…. this has been one of the big surprise hits to me!

Final Score
Storyline / Character Development: A-
Design: A-
Music/Voice Acting: B
Extras: C
Personal Preference: A-
Overall Score: A-

Sam
Your average, perhaps slightly geeky 23 year old University student who spends his days studying but his nights watching, reviewing and reporting on video games, anime and manga. Has been writing for The Otaku's Study ever since it opened in 2006 as Sam's Anime Study.
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