It feels a bit unfair to call Akiko Higashimura’s josei Princess Jellyfish one of my favorite anime as well as my favorite manga of all time considering I haven’t read a lot of manga series from start to finish…
But to be frank, I don’t always feel up to or have the time to sit down, read, and/or watch a shounen spanning hundreds of episodes and/or volumes.
And besides, sometimes a series just hits an emotional chord just right.
With that said, Princess Jellyfish was a home run for me on every level.
Princess Jellyfish follows the ‘Amars,’ a group of geeky women living in an apartment in Tokyo called Amamizukan who find their home at risk of gentrification.
Our protagonist, the jellyfish-obsessed otaku girl Tsukimi Kurashita, reluctantly teams up with the cross-dressing ‘stylish woman’ from a political family, Kuranosuke Koibuchi, in the hopes of saving Amamizukan with a fashion show. Yes, with a fashion show.
And as is the rom-com way, there are mixed feelings, secrets, and shenanigans aplenty.
When it comes to series we hold close to our hearts, ironically, it can be difficult to put a set reason or two as to why we love said series to paper.
Regardless, I’ll do my best, as doing so is in the spirit of Tsukimi and Kuranosuke.
Top 5 Reasons
1) A Celebration of Geek Culture
Princess Jellyfish was my first experience with a story completely devoted to geek life, a geek life with a focus on geek girls at that!
Sure, there are plenty of anime and manga on otaku, NEETs, and the like if you look for them, but there’s something charming and respectful about Princess Jellyfish’s take on these types of characters and real-life people.
The Amars are depicted as equal parts awkward and in the know, cold and passionate, solitary and teamwork-oriented. They’re anxious when it comes to mingling with normal people and the so-called ‘stylish,’ but they still manage to come together time and time again with their respective interests and unique talents.
This is a story about being open to change while retaining your identity, not about being ashamed of what you love.
I think the slightly more grounded problems present in Princess Jellyfish are what make the josei stand out from shoujo with similar situations.
2) Cute, Short, and Sweet
The Princess Jellyfish anime adaptation did a wonderful job being, well, an adaptation.
Brain’s Base, the studio also behind the likes of Baccano!, Durarara!!, and lesser-known Kiss Him, Not Me (which I highly recommend) condensed the first major arc of Princess Jellyfish into a mere 11 episodes (2010).
The show is the perfect length for binging while whetting the appetite enough to bring in a new wave of readers. It 100% worked on this writer.
In regards to the manga, it’s been complete as of 2017 and makes up nine volumes with extra notes and omakes from mangaka Akiko Higashimura (2008-2017).
3) Only Human
Princess Jellyfish has zero characters who are bad to the bone or detestable.
There are just adults and young people with realistic problems and wants that come into conflict with each other.
The five Amars have interesting quirks (i.e. jellyfish, history, trains, old fashion, and men) and undergo a great deal of personal growth throughout the anime and manga.
Kuranosuke is confident, dressed to impress, and ever longing for his estranged mother.
We’re even privy to the antagonists’ side of the gentrification process as those in charge include Kuranosuke’s older half-brother Shu who slowly falls for Tsukimi.
Of course, when faced with the reality of his brother’s own feelings, our main guy starts to feel a certain way about her too.
While I found the nervous wreck that is Tsukimi the most relatable of the cast, I thought Amar Jiji, the girl taken by older men, was a pleasant surprise. She starts out the most soft-spoken of the group, but steps out of her comfort zone and up to the plate halfway into the manga.
In other words, Jiji is best girl.
4) Let’s Learn About Fashion!
Okay, real talk. I’m really not into fashion, but Princess Jellyfish is the thing that got me the closest to being interested in the industry.
In order to save their apartment, the Amars and Kuranosuke attempt to build their own high-end brand from scratch so as to buy out the building themselves.
And might I say, Higashimura’s original jellyfish-inspired designs are gorgeous.
The anime skims the surface of what it takes to start a fashion line while the completed manga tackles the nitty-gritty with talk of materials, prices, publicity, supply and demand, as well as the loss of inspiration and inspiration renewed.
The quality of writing makes this process easy to understand too, so rest assured. You won’t feel overwhelmed.
5) Movie/TV Night
If you’re a fan thirsty for more Princess Jellyfish, or perhaps, anime and/or manga aren’t your cups of tea, there’s a Princess Jellyfish live-action film (2014) and television drama (2018) available to watch as well.
These should tide over viewers old and new as a potential Season 2 doesn’t seem to be in the works, nor would it have to be with the manga’s success.