“Princess Jellyfish” is an eleven episode TV series from 2010; directed by Takahiro Omori (Director of “Baccano!” and “Durarara!!”, and, back in the ’80s, one of the Mecha Designers on
When Tsukimi Kurashita was a little girl, her mother took her to the Aquarium. Gazing at the long, white, flowing jellyfish tendrils, her mother told her that all girls turn into princesses, and when Tsukimi would be married, her mother would make her a beautiful wedding dress like the jellies. Fairly soon after that, her mother passed away.
Now, Tsukimi is a young woman in Tokyo. Far from a princess, she lives in a communal apartment building of socially retarded female recluses who shun men and any outside interaction, The Amars - Sisterhood of Amamizukan. Living in their own insular world, Tsukimi studies and lovingly draws detailed sketches of Jellyfish; Chieko collects traditional Japanese dolls and sews kimono; Mayaya quotes from and hordes memorabilia of Romance of The Three Kingdoms; Banba builds model trains and can recognize any train line just by sound; Jiji adoringly stares at old men and scrapbook photos of them; and Mejiro interacts with and guides the sisterhood via notes passed under her door, as she draws fictitious males in gay/yaoi manga, in the confines of her room.
When a local pet shop fatally places a Moon Jelly in the same tank as her favorite Spotted Jellyfish, “Clara” (a reference to the 1974 anime “Heidi, Girl of the Alps”), Tsukimi is unable to communicate with the “stylish” male pet-store salesperson, due to her awkward and paralyzing social phobia. Suddenly, an even more stylish woman appears and commands the counter clerk hand the doomed sea jelly over to her. After the two bring Clara back to the girls-only geek compound, the rescuer crashes for the night; and next morning Tsukimi discovers that her “heroic princess” is really … a man: Kuranosuke Koibuchi, the rebellious, cross-dressing, younger son of a major politico. Finding it more interesting and fun than his own home, he returns to hang out “undercover” as a girl, and decides to help Tsukimi and her friends by fixing their grooming and style problems. As redevelopment threatens, he becomes more entangled in the affairs of the Amamizukan, and finds himself becoming more and more enamored of the place’s old fashioned and familial atmosphere, and of Tsukimi.
“All girls can be beautiful princesses when they grow up.”
Anime does Pygmalion. With a classic storyline and pithy pop culture references (visually quoting “Sex and the City”, “Star Wars”, “Singing in the Rain”, “Mary Poppins”, “Emperor of the North”, “Hibotan Bakuto”, “Dr. No”, “Game of Death”, “The Graduate”, and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” before its opening credits have even finished!) , “Princess Jellyfish” buoyantly stays fun and lighthearted, even as it shows blatantly seedy or unattractive aspects of its characters, and ultimately finds the appealing, identifiable humanity in everyone.