Kuragehime 1 – All Glory to the Jellyfish

That’s right, pulling double duty on noitaminA here!

So from what I’ve been reading blogging-wise, on Twitter and forums, the first episode of Kuragehime seems to be near universally-loved, heaps of praise abound. I don’t want to go too over-the-top with my own praise, but I do believe it is the most well-executed first episode of the fall season. The animation, characterization, flow and comic timing all hit the mark right from the start. I’d compare the show’s first episode to its crossdressing “princess” — totally confident in what it is despite its abnormal (for lack of a better word) appearance.

(Plus, you know the show hooked me from the start with its movie parody-based OP sequence. That is right in my wheelhouse. As a big ol’ movie geek, though, I’m somewhat disappointed that I didn’t get every parody; really, I knew only the ones everyone else has pointed out thus far — Sex and the City, Star Wars, Singin’ in the Rain, Mary Poppins, James Bond, Kill Bill, The Graduate and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I’ve seen it suggested that the train scene might be a North by Northwest (since its final shot famously shows a train speeding into a tunnel to suggest some rabu rabu time), but I’m not totally sold on it myself . . . but no other suggestion I’ve seen has come any closer than that, haha. The dice/shell game bit is still throwing me too. Alas.)

I don’t think this first episode would have been quite as good as it is (although it would have been good regardless) without Kana Hanazawa more than pulling her weight as the lead, Tsukimi. Normally I’m not a huge fan since her soft, breathy moe voice doesn’t do much for me, but she’s got this character down, particularly when it comes to the comic timing. The whole scene at the pet shop really impressed me . . . you know, during the few seconds when I had time to think about it when I wasn’t laughing. The way she flips seamlessly into Tsukimi’s jellyfish otaku mode (the only time she speaks to the pet shop dude with any confidence, which made me snicker more) is wonderful.

Unfortunately, although I tried to go into the episode cold, I got trap spoiled (damn you, Internet), though I suppose the knowledge did make me lol a bit when I heard the princesses’ voice, and it turned out to be Mitsuki Saiga. I see what you’re doing there, Brains Base. She’s also quite good, playing the role without any affectation or cute wink wink nudge nudge irony or anything like that. The dude believes totally in his normality and completely owns his persona; hell, that confidence is enough to make Tsukimi believe that he is a bonafide princess, so he may as well be normal.

He seems to live a fairly interesting life, too, since he was out until dawn the previous day. I’d kind of like to see what kind of group he mingles with — that would be quite the meet-up, wouldn’t it, with his group coming across Tsukimi’s friends? Or maybe he’s a loner who just floats around getting into crazy situations. Or maybe this was just a one night thing, who knows. It would be kind of disappointing if this guy didn’t live some kind of crazy fun life, though. :p

Of Tsukimi’s friends, Mayaya is my favorite from the first episode. Like me, Aorii made the connection to T.K. from Angel Beats, what with Mayaya’s constant movement and exaggerated gestures. No bizarre Engrish catchphrases, though, although her hair is kind of like T.K.’s bandana, I guess.

19 Responses to “Kuragehime 1 – All Glory to the Jellyfish”

  1. fathomlessblue Says:

    I’m reluctant to say with any confidence whether this will turn out to be the best show of the season (mainly due to my unashamedly bias attitude towards Arakawa under the bridge); however, this was without doubt the best opening episode i’ve seen from any anime in the last few years. Loved every moment of it.

    Man, I really need to get my ass in gear and watch more Noitamina shows. Could you recommend any others? I have Nodame Cantabile waiting the wings (i’ll watch it soon, I swear!) but suddenly realise i’ve been missing out.

    • I’ll give some quick thoughts on the noitaminA shows I’ve seen:

      – Honey and Clover: Both seasons are great. The best of the noitaminA shows, I think, and I’m definitely not alone in that opinion.

      – Ayakashi: Not bad, especially if you’re into supernatural horror.

      – Hataraki Man: Loved it. Episodic, but very well done look at a modern working woman. REALLY pessimistic too.

      – Nodame Cantabile: You already have it, but just want to say that I love it. First season is great, second season is OK and the third season is half OK and half fantastic.

      – Mononoke: Spinoff of the third Ayakashi arc. Probably the best supernatural horror anime I’ve seen; the stories are interesting and surprisingly accessible, and the characters (especially the Medicine Seller) are great too.

      – Library War: I liked it just fine, but it’s not a must watch.

      – Eden of the East: Still have mixed feelings about it, but overall I’d say it’s a worthwhile watch, just because it does things that most anime don’t even bother with.

      – Tokyo Magnitude 8.0: I liked it, but it is fairly manipulative emotionally, and some didn’t care for how it’s essentially Japanese earthquake safety propaganda.

      – Kuuchuu Buranko: Lots of fun, but you can’t take the psychology seriously at all.

      – House of Five Leaves: Well-written, but frankly it bored me most of the time.

      – The Tatami Galaxy: Really enjoyed this. Lots of fun each episode.

      Have also heard good things about Moyashimon, but I still need to finish that myself. (Or maybe “watch” is better since I’ve seen just one episode. :p)

      • fathomlessblue Says:

        Thanks a lot for that. It would appear that i’m not completely clueless as i’ve already seen Eden of the East (same feelings as you) and House of Five Leaves (quite enjoyed).

        I also have Tokyo Magnitude 8 and Honey and Clover, although i’m saving those two (especially H & C) until I’m really in the mood to watch them. A bit like Utena. Bah! So many shows, so little time. Almost makes me look forward to another crap season.

        But anyways, thanks for the list; I’ll be sure to check the above shows out.

        • adaywithoutme Says:

          I can personally recommend Moyashimon. It is very funny, and is another solid show about people who are past high school already.

          • Yeah, I’m definitely planning on getting to it eventually. I saw the first episode when I was just getting back into anime and I watched, like, one or two shows a season lol. (I think that was the same season as Clannad, wasn’t it? At least I remember watching it weekly way back then.)

  2. This show left me thinking that there are no normal people, only us freaks. Sure, most people don’t care as much about trains or jellyfish (or anime) as some of us do. But those self-styled “normal” people will talk non-stop about some sports guy’s torn rotator cuff, or the purported benefits of pomegranate juice, or the Real Housewives of Topeka.

    Now that we acknowledge that everyone is a freak about something, can we all stop being judgmental, and enjoy each other’s company for a change?

    • lol, pretty much. We’re all geeks about something; it’s just some things (sports, movies, etc.) are more socially acceptable to be geeky about.

  3. I think I’m wrong there on the film.

    I’ve been doing more research and I’m leaning towards “The Emperor of the North Pole” which is a film in which Ernest Borgnine is a conductor on a train. He dispatches joy-riding hobos with a hammer a steel rod and a chain. I can’t find any confirming videos and pictures of the exact scene though. A few scenes of him smashing people with the hammer though.

    • Haha, that would be a hilariously random reference. You’ve got all these movies that are fairly well known by Westerners, and then all of a sudden Emperor of the North Pole pops up. Wonder if that was big in Japan? By the way, I now have to watch this movie, because it looks awesome.

  4. Not Kill Bill, it’s Bruce Lee for the Game of Death: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fjh0dLDwv90

    The train threw me, and the dice game can be any sort of asian/Japanese film. Kurosawa maybe?

    I think if you read any pre-season synopsis with any kind of analysis you would’ve been spoiled of the trap. I don’t think it was supposed to be such a big deal to the audience anyway because they revealed it in the first episode.

    • Well, there you go. Looks like poor Bruce fell victim to the ol’ cover syndrome — Quentin Tarantino references the suit in the Kill Bill flicks, and then saps like me assume he originated it. (Even though Tarantino is famous for referencing, and the Kill Bill movies are specifically homages to those types of films. That just makes me feel dumber.)

      Don’t specifically remember any dice throwing in any Kurosawa movie I’ve seen, but there’s plenty I haven’t watched, so it could very well be him. Hm.

  5. You know, concerning Hanazawa Kana, I honestly don’t want her to end up like Rie Kugimiya and be a typecast seiyuu (for her case, the meek, the bespectacled, waifu type of female characters). Her voice is kinda pleasant per se; the only problem with her voice work is its lack of versatility.

    But her comic moments had me confused with Kawasumi Ayako’s sometimes. I initially thought that Occult Academy’s Kozue is voiced by Kawasumi instead, and I can imagine both seiyuus voicing Nodame’s zany moments just as well.

    • That’s why I liked her here — Tsukimi (at least during certain parts) seemed to be stretching beyond the usual stuff Kana Hanazawa does. It’s kind of somewhere in between her regular shtick and the general goofiness she pulled out as Kozue (which is a performance I also liked).

  6. I think I found the dice scene. Its an old Hong Kong movie with Chow Yun Fat in it, God of Gamblers.

  7. [...] no doubt about it: all across the anime community, Kuragehime has made a splash that refuses to go unnoticed. And honestly: [...]

  8. KRISS Says:

    I think Dice scene is from the Japanese classic YAKUZA movie called “Hibotan Bakuto a.k.a RED PEONY GAMBLER series”.

    And I’m big fan of Robert Aldrich’s film, so I have no doubt that train scene is the parody of his film “Emperor of the North (1973)” .
    If you google it, you would find stills that is almost same as the OP’s scene.

    Anyway, now this and SoreMachi are my Top2 Fall Animes. I can’t wait to watch next episode.

  9. [...] just a sin­gle episode, Kurage­hime has topped expec­ta­tions and was applauded for the most non-idealized depic­tion of female otaku to date. I’m no expert [...]

  10. Loved the scene at the pet shop too, those sequence of shots were genius and the sound effects had me LOL-ing. Defo a keeper! :D

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