Anime Review: Kuragehime Episode 4, 5, and 6

(originally published and formatted for Livejournal on 12/22/10)

Anime Review:
Kuragehime Episodes 4, 5, and 6

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.4 tl;dr review: Trip to the aquarium leads to uncomfortable embrace; Kuranosuke strangely jealous of smitten Shuu?

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Episode 4 Summary: Kurako reveals to the girls at the ‘Nunnery’ that the area is going to be redeveloped and their building torn down; using willful avoidance as a method of self-defense, they act as if it’s no big deal. A clearly distressed Tsukimi wants to go to the aquarium, and Kurako offers to take her, along with his brother Shuu. While there, Kurako sees the two of them embracing, which makes him strangely jealous. He later learns that Shuu was simply comforting a crying Tsukimi, who was remembering her dead mother. In a delayed reaction Tsukimi goes into shock over the contact. Returning home, Tsukimi wrestles out of her kimono to help on a big manga deadline, but Shuu accidentally catches her in the act of changing, mortifying her.

ep.5 tl;dr review: Rally the troops to fight the redevelopment! Project manager has Shuu targeted for conquest.

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Episode 5 Summary: Chieko learns that her mother, who owns the building, plans to sell it within the year; but she’s not willing to give up so easily, rallying the troops to attend a redevelopment meeting. But when they arrive, they are completely petrified (especially Tsukimi who ends up sitting next to Shuu), and quickly flee the scene. Completely crushed, Tsukimi retreats to her room. The redevelopment project manager cranks up all her feminine persuasion to bring Shuu over to her side. Kurako, totally fired up and willing to fight, decides to give all the girls makeovers to give them confidence to face the real world.

ep.6 tl;dr review: Kurako treats everyone to a night on the town; Slip a ruffie in Shuu’s drink and he’s out like a light.

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Episode 6 Summary: Project manager Inari drugs Shuu, takes him back to her apartment and takes compromising photographs; when Shuu awakens, he believes he has been sexually molested and runs back home. Kurako is on a mission to re-make the Amars otaku, dressing them all up and treating them to a night out at a fancy restaurant. Despite their initial reluctance, they finally realize they’re having a great time. Kurako is surprised that he is continually amazed at Tsukimi’s cuteness, confused at what that means for himself. He also learns from their longtime chauffeur the source of Shuu’s phobia of women, going back two decades when he discovered his father cheating on his wife.

My Thoughts: Once again proving that I’m incapable of guessing the direction of a series after the first or second episode, I present Kuragehime. I was sure it would turn into some sort of commentary on the hollowness of popular culture and modern society. But nah, it’s really more of a silly comedy with a budding love story on the side.

There’s Kuranosuke trying to change the fujoshi girls — as if that was even possible. Instead, he doesn’t quite realize how much he is changing himself, no longer the confident hipster guy/girl, now wondering what the hell he’s really doing anyway, confused at his own feelings towards Tsukimi while at the same time unsure of his older brother’s position as well. Tsukimi, is equally confused and unsure of herself, although for totally different reasons. Right now there are so many balls up in the air, I don’t know how everything will be resolved, and we’re more than halfway through! While not my favorite show of the season, I am certainly intrigued enough to want to know what happens next.

A few quick thoughts:
– I’ve been quite immersed in the geek culture for most of the past two decades, and I don’t think I’ve ever met a group of otaku who are have such a hardcore case of anthropophobia. I mean, most comics and sci-fi/fantasy geeks avoid the popular crowd, but are not so totally divorced from it like the Amars are. Then again, I suppose I wouldn’t run across people like that by their very definition, right?
– Outside of Tsukimi, all the rest of the Amars are so exceptionally one-dimensional it’s painful. I guess the difference is that Tsukimi is still a kid, all the rest of them are a decade older and ingrained in their ways. There’s hope for Tsukimi, not so much for the rest of the fujoshi girls.
– Either cute or disturbing how Kuranosuke is falling for Tsukimi without even realizing it. Either cute or disturbing how his older brother fell for her as well, but under totally different circumstances. Yeah, you can point to Kuranosuke’s cross-dressing as a sign of how “broken” he is, but Shuu is just as messed up (or more), at least when it comes to women.
– Earlier I had complained about shows that inexpertly mix wacky comedy with serious drama. So, why does it seem to work here? Perhaps it’s a case of where trying to use dramatic story elements in a mostly-comedic series works easily, but the reverse is not true. Or, perhaps this show is just simply better written.
– Betchya that bruise on Kuranosuke’s knee will be what gives him away to the Amars in the next few episodes.
– Creepy politician uncle is creepy.

The Verdict:

Coming up next: Arakawa Under the Bridge x Bridge (4-6), Tatami Galaxy Special, Shin Koihime Musou OVA, Bungaku Shoujo Memoire (2), Hairyoru Nyaruani (1), Princess Resurrection (1), Battle Spirits Brave (1)

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