Kuragehime 3 – She’s All That

Anyone else hear the loud “SYMBOLISM” alarm go off in your head when the building redevelopment storyline was introduced side by side with Tsukimi rejecting her makeover? :p

So this is an episode full of makeovers and rejection makeovers and normalcy clashing against the weird. Kuranosuke wants to beautify Tsukimi because he believes every woman wants to be pretty; Tsukimi freaks out about the makeover because she wants no part of that shit, and because she thinks the Nuns would burn her at the stake if she showed up back home looking all dolled up. I guess only witches are good looking! Seriously, though, I am sort of skeptical at the moment, because this is the set up of like five billion teenage comedies where the nerdy girl is SECRETLY BEAUTIFUL and totally nabs the hunky guy who finally sees her inner beauty when he is turned on by her outer beauty.

But at the same time, I’m only sort of skeptical because Kuragehime has been smart and fun so far, and it is pretty darn early for condemnation. I am fully in the benefit of the doubt corner right now.

Considering that one of the show’s major themes is the ol’ “don’t judge a book by its cover” thing, then admittedly I shouldn’t be too surprised that the series is going down this route . . . and, honestly, there really is plenty of room for nuance here. The two extremes — “Every girl wants to be pretty!” and “OMG FASHION EWWWWW” — were going to clash eventually. What makes ‘em both wrong right now, though, is that they take away choice (Kuranosuke forcing the makeover on Tsukimi) or are based on fear and irrationality (Tsukimi not wanting to be prettied up for fear of the Nuns’ reaction, and presumably because only superficial jerks care about looking good). That really colors their notions of how people should look.

Just about everyone judges the worth of others to some extent, and this of course includes looks. Our judging can definitely be wrong — the mostly slovenly person can be pretty cool, and the most clean-cut person can be a fucking psycho — but it can sometimes be right, too. Really, though, what a person’s looks say is one thing: “This is how much I care about how I look to the outside world.” That could mean just about anything as it relates to a person. What’s more meaningful is the why behind appearance, but visual judging kind of gets in the way of that because it’s a split-second thing. Put two fashionable people side-by-side — one dresses fashionably to fit in with trendy people, and the other does it just because he or she likes nice looking clothes. But our eyes can’t tell that difference; we just pretend they can.

That’s the level of all the judging we’ve seen so far in Kuragehime. Shu sees Tsukimi all made up like a proper woman, and he goes bananas and his mind wanders off into all sorts of chaste fantasies, all based on that one fleeting glimpse he caught of her. She looks this way, so she must act this way. Then he sees Tsukimi later with all her creepy otaku friends acting like a bunch of social retards, and his little fantasy is shattered. Tsukimi is all slovenly — not like a proper woman at all! — so she all of a sudden has no worth, and oh by the way we should definitely tear down that ratty building and erect something useful in its place.

(By the way, I wonder how that will work. Doesn’t Chieko’s mom own the building? Or will this be some sort of eminent domain kind of thing?)

I try not to judge people too much by how they look, but sometimes you can’t help it — I’m sure most of us dislike the stinky general geek type of person as much as most others do. But at the same time, of course, if someone wants to dress like a slob on their own time (like I do at home :p), then hey, who the fuck am I to say anything if I’m not being bothered by it? Same with dressing fashionably; the older I get, the less sympathetic I am to the whole, “Man, those well-dressed people are soooooooo superficial!” line of thought. Nothin’ wrong with looking nice . . . and, of course, there are a whole host of ways to look nice.

11 Responses to “Kuragehime 3 – She’s All That”

  1. karry Says:

    “Kuragehime has been smart and fun so far”

    Which part ? So far, seems to be a very cliche’d, standard shoujo drivel i’ve read a hundred times before. I dont really watch shoujo anime, but its exactly the same as every third manga out there.

  2. If I don’t enjoy it, it’s shojo. If I am enjoying it, it’s josei.

    I am enjoying Kuragehime.

    Therefore =>

    Kuragehime is josei

    QED

  3. Will of the wisps Says:

    Interesting that you connected the fear of becoming pretty and the revamping of the building’s image, and highlighted judgement in Shu’s case. It does bring more richness into the story, and perhaps transcend Shoujo or Jousei category to a universal question that is still relevant today.

    Speaking of which, I am also curious what do you think about the common claim that this story is playing off the idea of My Fair Lady/Pygmelion again — a man creating a new identity by changing something superficial about the woman, be it her voice or her appearance. Maybe this highlights that the theme of judging and social expectations based on first impressions just as important in the past as it is in the present. We are perhaps justing exploring it through a different medium (anime and internet/global communication/sharing of ideas).

    • I have a hit and miss record of spotting things like that, so I’m surprised I made the connection so quickly. :p

      As for the My Fair Lady/Pygmalion connection … you can definitely see elements of it (especially in the forceful way Kuranosuke wishes to change Tsukimi’s look), but it’s probably a bit too early to make a total connection. I don’t think Kuranosuke will go all the way with it, anyway.

  4. I don’t think Shu realized that Tsukimi was Tsukimi. He probably thought she was out or something.

    You didn’t mention the KIRABOSHI! that the uncle did lol…
    =)

    • Haha, that kiraboshi-esque gesture from the uncle was priceless, as was his and ‘Kura-pyon’s’ butt-wigling on the staircase. I really enjoyed this epi too. Oh and, amongst other things, I can’t wait to find out more about Tsukimi’s and Kuranosuke’s mums, seeing as they seem to have had such a large impact on the development of these two characters. Also, despite his stuffiness, Shu is adorable!! :)

      • lol, yeah, Japan sure has a goofy ass prime minster. (At least, I think he’s supposed to be the prime minister, unless I misinterpreted something.)

    • Yeah, I’m not totally sure he realized that was Tsukimi either. I think he’s trying to delude himself into thinking it’s someone Tsukimi knows lol.

  5. [...] share Shinmaru’s concerns about the makeover bit being a very Hollywood-esque pattern, but nonetheless I’m still quite [...]

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