Short Summary: A dormitory consisting of anti-social female otaku is disturbed when a cross-dresser takes interest in the one relatively normal resident.
I’m a little burnt on watching movies at the moment – marathoning the Dollars Trilogy kind of did a number on me – so I figured it was time to watch some old anime again. But rather than rewatch some of my favorites (unwatched copy of Ranma Blu-ray Set 2 stares at me) or start something completely new, I decided to pick up a show I dropped after three-and-a-half episodes because it was on Netflix and Shinsei was kind enough to remind me of its existence. And people inexplicably loved it back when it first came out for some reason. And I knew I was just going to dislike it more if I continued, but I left it on as background noise anyways whilst working on my abs.
Back in 2010 when noitamina was on a bit of a streak with constant hit after hit – especially in the wake of Tatami Galaxy which even I consider to be one of the best anime ever – Princess Jellyfish arrived and became the breakout surprise in a Fall season that was lacking in hits (Come on guys. Panty and Stocking and Soremachi
were fucking hilarious weren’t grade-A comedies or anything, but they were cute enough). It was praised for being charming and hilarious, and even now it’s remembered fondly amongst the more elitist section of the anime community in spite of the acknowledgement that its ending was utter shit. Looking back at people’s praise for the show, I’m realizing that even amongst my more elitist colleagues, there’s a big sense of living in the moment rather than looking at the big picture. Because quite frankly, even if you were a fan, I’d be surprised if you denied that the big picture was utter shit in every way.
Not that the moments are good by themselves. I literally only enjoyed the first episode of this show because it was what I wanted the show to be: a hilariously dark take on otaku fandom ala Revenge of the Nerds or maybe even Heathers. I thought the show would use that as a jumping off point to continue cranking out non-stop jokes or present a smart dark take on how this sort of nerdish behavior is wrong or even a hyperglorification on how being a nerd is cool. Instead, the show reminded me of Kick-Ass and how it promised to be a great modern-day satire on superheroes in the first few minutes, only for the rest of the film to devolve into a shitty fighting story with unlikable characters and terrible attempts at humor.
Aside from the occasional funny line from Kuranosuke (I also watched this show dubbed, so I had a laugh at his English VA hamming it up), I didn’t laugh once at what was going on. That jellyfish pointing out the obvious got old fast and the Nunz are completely unlikable people who reject society on purpose because…I dunno. I don’t think the show bothered to explain that. Again, I would have been fine with this if the show was going for pure comedy. I love Sabagebu right now and one of the main characters in that show flat-out murdered a bunch of helicopter pilots with her airsoft guns. But the thing is, all the characters in Sabagebu are hyperstylized jackasses where the comedy comes from them being mean to each other. There’s no asinine plot where “we’re supposed to care that they get booted from their home even though it would be a hell of a lot better for them in the long run” attached to that show.
Not only did Princess Jellyfish think including that plot was a good idea, it proceeded to make it the main focus, which did about as much good to my entertainment as Republicans do to general existence. I’m sorry, but just like how most people don’t care for Maeda’s females because they’re moe crybabies, I don’t care for this show’s females because they’re nerdy cowards.
Speaking of nerdy cowards, that’s what the only real “human” character of the show is as well. Tsukimi is the main character of the show and we’re mostly privy to her thoughts and flaws. Unfortunately, I fail to see why she’s the main character because she’s an do-nothing whiner with a strange jellyfish obsession and an impossible dream to become a princess. Kuranosuke is the one who has to support her every step of the way, but whilst he’s the only character making laughs, I fail to see why he’s so obsessed with her. Sure he eventually starts falling for her (and we have to be told this by him through external monologues, so hoorah for subtlety), but what about before then? Come to think of it, despite the fact that he moves things along, we don’t really get to know much about him at all. So whenever the plot required him to get serious, it came off as weird and stalker-ish.
The other characters like Kuranosuke’s brother and that Shouko chick are so shallow and inconsequential to what’s going on that they’re not even worth mentioning. That stupid love triangle arc literally had no importance to anything in the show and should have been cut out entirely. Especially when the cause of it is because of a plot line reminiscent of She’s All That, which was a flawed concept even back in the 90s.
All of this ties into the real reason I can’t stand Princess Jellyfish: it’s boring and nothing interesting ever happens. Only one plot line is actually treated as important by the show, but it has no flavor because the subjects at the center of the thing are annoying stereotypes and the ending to it was extremely unsatisfying. The other plot threads like Tsukimi designing jellyfish dresses and such are things that happen in the plot. But that’s all they are at the end of the day: things. This isn’t an exploitation film nor a straight up-comedy. You need things with purpose beyond “it’s entertaining to see girls in the fashion business and blushing around older guys” in order to create substance. To create entertainment. I don’t watch fiction to see series/movie-length sneak previews to something you’re probably not even going to make. I watch it to see something get accomplished, and all that got accomplished in Princess Jellyfish was that being a shut-in gets you rewarded, all girls want to become princesses, and that it’s one of the few anime in existence that gives nipples to men.
You will not believe how rare man-nipples are, not only in mainstream stuff, but in the anime porno world.
Verdict: Had potential and squandered it.