“Princess Jellyfish” Review

You have to hand it to Funimation – those folks know how to find some darn good anime. Case in point, the anime adaptation of the popular romantic comedy manga, “Princess Jellyfish.” Produced by Brain’s Base and directed by Takahiro Omori, this anime garnered a ton of attention when it first came out, but this reviewers luster for anime had fizzled out back then. Only recently, thanks to getting the Funimation channel on cable tv (Verizon, bring back Funimation!), my spark was lit once more, and I got hooked on Princess Jellyfish. The question is, will other readers get into it, or is this rom-com not worth the hype? Let’s take a look and find out!

Nerdy and bespectacled eighteen year-old Tsukimi Kurashita is a resident of Amamizukan, a modern-day nunnery to a group of Otaku girls whose group they refer to as “the sisterhood.” All of the ladies are socially inept and obsessed with various things, such as Tsukimi’s craziness for jellyfish, Mayaya’s lust for all things “Records of the Three Kingdoms” merchandise, or Jiji’s insatiable desire for old men. All of the girls are virgins, and have never dated a man, let alone talk to one.

One night after a depressing failed trip to Harajuku, Tsukimi laments by checking in on a jellyfish friend at a pet store that she named Clara. Unfortunately, the jellyfish is threatened by a species that can kill Clara, forcing Tsukimi to attempt to speak to a “stylish boy” that is running the store. Shoved out of the store for her awkwardness, Tsukimi bounds into a beautiful living Barbie doll named Kuranosuke, who helps Tsukimi rescue the jellyfish by using her sexuality to force the clerk to give them the sea creature. Kuranosuke invites herself over to the nunnery for the night, and when Tsukimi awakens, she learns the truth – Kuranosuke is actually a boy in drag!

This is simply the starting point of an eleven episode series that takes plenty more twists and turns as it progresses, introducing more characters and stories of star-crossed lovers and love triangles with nothing but weird situations. This wacky cast of geeks, freaks, and “stylish” people clash and combine as the saga moves along, leaving viewers wondering what will happen next (and sadly, I can not say too much without giving away huge spoilers).

Maxie Whitehead, who some fans will recognize as the new voice of Alphonse Elric in the Fullmetal Alchemist series, is simply exceptional as the voice of Tsukimi. You can not help but to fall in love with her in the english dub, which I actually preferred over the original Japanese track, mainly because of Whitehead’s performance. Josh Grelle as Kuranosuke also stands out, playing both the role of a man and woman with subtlety and easily transitioning between the two, especially as the character becomes more complex as the series continues. The entire cast is perfect in both versions, but this is one of those series that I can honestly recommend to check out in english since it carries over very strongly.

The story is what really sells “Princess Jellyfish”, and while I am far from a fan of romantic comedies, I could not help but be enamored by this series. Maybe it was because I could identify with Tsukimi in some ways, or maybe it was just that the show really was that damn good, but I was hooked halfway through the first episode before the first major plot twist even happened.

“Princess Jellyfish” is available in a DVD and Blu-Ray combo pack, and contains a ton of special features on them. Aside from some trailers, you also get commentary on the first and final episodes of the show with some of the english voiceover actors, and textless versions of the incredibly catchy songs from the opening and closing credits.

In addition to those, you get these other special features:

Princess Jellyfish Heroes – A four-part mini-series of 4-5 minute long backup stories that chronicles the other Otaku girls in Amamizukan, diving deeper into who they are and their obsessions, and are just generally fun

Go, Sisterhood Explorers! – A six-part mini-series of 30 second shorts done in a more simiplistic animation style of the girls from the nunnery trekking through a jungle. Nothing important to plot development here, but it’s some good fun nonetheless.

Tsukimi and Jiji’s Octopus Tour – A 22-minute live action short featuring the Japanese voice-actors of Jiji and Tsukimi going to an aquarium to learn about jellyfish. Educational aspects aside, the ladies are pretty cute, so that’s a good reason to watch.

The Princess Jellyfish Field Guide, which runs down the various jellyfish species in the series

This boxed set is a must-have for all anime fans, and can even transition to the broader spectrum of non-anime fans (since they do exist out there, the sad mortals). “Princess Jellyfish” has quickly become one of my favorites of all time, and you will not be addicted to this series by the end of the first episode. No spoilers here, but by the end of the last episode, you will be screaming for more, and I genuinely hope we do get a sequel, but you’ll have to watch the series to understand why!

You can grab Princess Jellyfish: The Complete Series on Amazon as a Blu-Ray and DVD combo for $60 new, and it is definitely worth it.

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