Anime Review: Kuragehime Episodes 2 and 3

(Originally published on Livejournal on 12/13/10)

Anime Review:
Kuragehime Episodes 2 and 3

What this is about: I have reviewed the first episode of every subtitled anime show of the Fall 2010 season. For the shows that received an initial ‘thumbs up’, I am going back and looking at the second and third episodes — which ones will survive to the next round?

Series Premise: Tsukimi had always dreamed of growing up to be a ‘princess’, like all the other fashionable girls…but it was just not meant to be. Instead, she has moved in to a female-only apartment filled with fujoshi that shuns all-things male and all-things fashionable, where she feels safe to indulge in her obsession with jellyfish. And then one day, Tsukimi has a chance encounter with a tall, beautiful, elegant, hip woman…who just happens to take an interest in her. There’s only one catch: “She” happens to be a “he”.

ep.2 tl;dr review: Kurako pays a return visit to the Lair of the Amars; Faux-pas after faux-pas makes things miserable for everyone.

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Episode 2 Summary: Tsukimi is shocked to learn that Kurako is a cross-dressing guy, but even more mortified that the other girls will find out. Rushing him out the door and telling him not to come back, she believes she avoided a major disaster as the Amars prepare for their weekly indulgence in a communal hot-pot meal. But just as they are preparing for dinner, Kurako re-appears for a friendly visit, and the entire group is shocked into stony silence as Kurako merrily goes about having fun with the meal. But his/her utter lack of understanding about the geek-girls’ lifestyle and cluelessness at their avoidance of people just like him/her ends up in terribly awkward moments and everyone feeling terribly insulted. Tsukimi once again escorts Kurako away, leading to his home…which turns out to be the mansion of a prominent politician.

ep.3 tl;dr review: Kurako vamps it up to his family’s displeasure; He gives Tsukimi an unwilling makeover.

Click on the thumbnails below to view the picture in full size in a new browser window:

Episode 3 Summary: Kurako puts on his best crossdressing outfit for a family visit from his big-time politician relatives. While his family strongly disapproves, Kurako knows exactly what he is doing, purposely going outside societal norms to tweak the nose of his rigid family and shun the political lifestyle. Visiting the Amars apartment again, he once again manages to greatly insult and embarrass all of them without even realizing it…again. Spiriting Tsukimi away, he gives her an unwanted makeover, completely changing her appearance and drawing the eye of Kurako’s straight-laced brother, Shuu, as she runs away. Kurako sends Shuu to find her again…but by the time Shuu finds Tsukimi she has changed back into her frumpy outfit, and he does not recognize her.

My Thoughts: You have to wonder just how much of the cluelessness exhibited by Kurako (Kuranosuke) is real, and how much of it is a feigned act of intentional ignorance. I mean, it’s clear that he’s a world apart from the fujoshi (Japanese female nerd) culture, but would think that some of his eye-jabbing comments are really specifically-placed barbs to draw out certain reactions — much in the same way that he uses his new-found cross-dressing hobby as a tool to drive his family bonkers. Or, on the other hand, maybe he really is just clueless.

I am also somewhat pensive at his attitude towards Tsukimi and the other Amars. You are supposed to think that this “hipster girl” is coming to an understanding with them, seeing them as fellow compatriots in turning their nose up to society. However, I see another unseemly aspect as Kurako comments how he has gotten bored with his old friends and finds the Amars new, refreshing and interesting. From my perspective, it seems that Kurako sees them as his new toy — a shiny plaything that has gotten his attention. He’s not so much interested in Tsukimi as a person, but as an *object* that he sees as a challenge to mold and change into a princess. It’s this very objectification of people that strikes at the heart of the “Man vs. Society” conflict that this show addresses.

Much of the humor centers around the inevitable clash of cultures between the highly insular Amars and the World-at-Large. Up until now, they have managed to keep the outside world at bay and remain comfortably hidden away in their self-made sanctuary/prison. Now this alien invader (Kurako) has shattered their peaceful existence, forcing them to interact with society. Just in time, too, since it is hinted that the local politicians have their eye on the building to be razed and redeveloped.

The Verdict:

Not my favorite show of the season — in particular, I am somewhat annoyed at the over-the-top humor in some cases. And while Kurako and Tsukimi are interesting characters, some of the others either show zero character, or are excessively annoying (e.g. the twitchy ADHD Romance of the Three Kingdoms freakazoid). Still worth watching, though.

For more info:

My review of Episode 1:
Random Curiosity review of Episode 2:
Random Curiosity review of Episode 3:

Returning back to the second episodes of the Fall 2010 series coming up next: Arakawa Under the Bridge x Bridge (2-3)

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