Comic Picks By The Glick

Princess Jellyfish vol. 1

April 25, 2016

Tsukimi Kurashita is an 18-year-old jellyfish fanatic living in Tokyo with a gaggle of other fangirls with their own obsessions.  Residing in a communal apartment and going by the nickname “Amars,” they live by their own camaraderie (and off of the goodwill of their parents) while maintaining a healthy distrust of those scary people known as “stylish individuals.”  It’s one such individual, Kurano, that comes to Tsukimi’s rescue when she tries to save a jellyfish in a pet store and crashes at her place for the night.  Though this woman is quite friendly for a “stylish individual,” she’s harboring one big surprise that’s going to completely upend our protagonist’s life.  Mind you, this is before all of the Amars girls find out that their apartment is going to be bulldozed to make way for a set of high-rise apartments!

There’s a lot about this series that is familiar.  From the “Save the building!” plot that could’ve come straight from an 80’s movie to the shoujo love triangle that starts to form here between Tsukimi and the two brothers, this is not a manga you’re going to read for its inventive storytelling.  Yet mangaka Akiko Higashimura does demonstrate some excellent comedic timing with her art, which is appropriately flashy for a series about women utilizing their beauty as a weapon.  That’s one of the two novel bits here as Kurano teaches the girls about how a woman looks is part of their arsenal for war in modern society.  In order for them to save their apartment complex (and for Tsukimi to get the guy of her dreams) they’ll have to master this complex art from the ground up.

The other novelty of the plot is something that I’m not sure is intentional on Higashimura’s part.  You see, if this was a series about a bunch of male otaku freeloading off of their parents to live in Tokyo, I doubt it’d be as charming.  Even “Genshiken” had its characters get jobs.  Except in this case the women’s lives are romanticized to a surprising extent.  I’m actually rooting for these jobless female slackers to save their apartment and continue living their indulgent lives even though I can’t imagine doing the same if their genders were reversed.  It’s a clear double-standard, but one that isn’t a dealbreaker for me yet.  As I said, I’m not sure if this is something that Higashimura has considered when she was creating this story.  At least she’s delivered one that’s enjoyable enough for me to want to see where she’s going with it.

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