Princess Jellyfish, Vol. 1

By Akiko Higashimura. Released in Japan in two separate volumes as “Kuragehime” by Kodansha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Kiss. Released in North America by Kodansha Comics.

This is another one of those titles where I haven’t seen the anime that was based on it, but sheer word of mouth has made me incredibly excited for its release. First of all, it’s very rare to see Kodansha Comics taking a chance n josei over here at all – lately they’ve been licensing some Dessert, but that’s still shoujo for older teens. Kiss is for young women, and it shows – this title features adults, even if much of the cast are jobless and living off their parents. Its humor and energy are absolutely worth a read, though I found more flaws in it than I was expecting.


Our heroine is, as you may have guessed, the girl in the braids in the foreground, not the pink-haired pretty thing behind her. Tsukimi is a shy introvert with an obsession for jellyfish, who has to force herself to go outside her apartment – an apartment she shares with similar-minded women, all of whom are obsessed with something (kimonos, trains, older men, and Romance of the Three Kingdoms). Then one day, while trying to work up the nerve to tell a fish store employee that the ways he’s put the jellyfish into the tank will kill one of them, she runs into Kuranosuke, who she assumes is a gorgeous, extroverted young woman who helps her out and ends up back at her apartment. Then it turns out that Kuranosuke is a man.

The main reason to read this title, and it’s absolutely worth it, is the humor. Tsukimi may be a massive introvert, but her reactions are nicely over the top and horrified much of the time, especially trying to deal with this new free spirit in her life. Of the rest of the female cast, Mayaya is the one that stands out the most, something she brings on herself with all of her posing and dramatic declarations. Kuranosuke’s own frustrations at his family, his new friends, and his growing realization that he actually likes Tsukihi is also highly amusing. The art is also excellent, helping to show off the humor and being distinct but not overly busy.

That said, I do have a few issues. This is a little progressive, but not overly so – Kuranosuke emphasizes he’s not gay a couple of times, and there’s some slangy ‘homo’ refs sprinkled throughout, which the endnotes helpfully tell us isn’t as caustic as it sounds here, but is still very defensive. The main villain of the piece, meanwhile, is almost a cliche, and it doesn’t help that she uses sex as a weapon to get what she wants – this is likely meant to contrast with the ‘pure’ Tsukimi, and I was happy to see one or two times when she didn’t act like a cartoon character, but it was only once or twice. Lastly, Kuranosuke’s attempts to drag these women out of their shells and have them ‘don armor’ to deal with the real world is both inspiring and frustrating – I sense he’s of the school that feels that introverts just aren’t trying hard enough to be extroverted.

All that said, this is still a definite title for your collection. Tsukimi is sweet and a bit over the top, and I look forward to seeing her Cinderella-type story, while hoping that she still retains the parts of her that are why we fell for her in the first place. Want to see more of this.

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  1. “Kuranosuke emphasizes he’s not gay a couple of times, and there’s some slangy ‘homo’ refs sprinkled throughout, which the endnotes helpfully tell us isn’t as caustic as it sounds here, but is still very defensive.”

    I think this makes more sense in cultural context; Japan still has a strong tendency to map “crossdressing man” onto “gay”, and interviews with / documentaries about men involved in real-life crossdressing subcultures (“otokonoko”) always have to say “but they’re still straight!”. (For example, see the Gaycation episode on Japan, available on Youtube.) So I see this more as him trying to reject a pervasive stereotype rather than some form of homophobia.

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