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Manga / Princess Jellyfish

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"Well Mom. I finally met a princess here in Tokyo. She's strong. She's beautiful. And she's a boy!"
Tsukimi, after meeting Kuranosuke

Princess Jellyfish (Kuragehime) is an award-winning josei manga by Akiko Higashimura, which was serialized in Kiss from 2008 to 2017. The manga is licensed in English by Kodansha USA. It has an anime adaptation by Brains Base as part of the noitaminA block, where it aired for 11 episodes from October 15 to December 31, 2010. Funimation simulcasted the series on their video portal and later released it as a box set.

Tsukimi, an extremely shy and self-deprecating 18-year-old illustrator, has been fascinated by jellyfish ever since her now-deceased mother took her to an aquarium when she was young. To her, they're everything she isn't—beautiful and graceful. While jellyfish-watching at a pet shop, she sees a spotted jellyfish in the same tank as a moon jellyfish, a death sentence for the former. Overcoming her fear of stylish people (and men), she tries to talk the clerk into moving the spotted jellyfish to another tank. Apathetic to the plight of this nerdy girl, the clerk just ignores her and Tsukimi gets into a fight with him over it. Things are looking bleak for Clara (the spotted jellyfish) when a fashionable girl intervenes and talks the clerk into giving them the jellyfish.

The mysterious "princess" follows Tsukimi back to the "Nunnery", the boarding house she shares with a bunch of fellow nerdy otaku girls, and ends up sleeping in Tsukimi's room. This dreamy girl, however, is not all that she appears...

A Live-Action Film Adaptation was released in 2014, starring Masaki Suda of Kamen Rider Double fame as Kuranosuke, and Rena Nonen as Tsukimi. A live drama version started airing in January of 2018, running for ten episodes.

A Character Page is now in the works!

Princess Jellyfish provides examples of:

  • Adapted Out: Nomu and Nisha do not appear in the anime.
  • Age-Gap Romance: Kuranosuke points out the rather significant age difference between Tsukimi (18) and Shū (30).
  • Agent Peacock: Kuranosuke is this, albeit a more realistic than usual version. He is, for the most part, a Wholesome Crossdresser who can out-female most of the cast but never pretends to be a woman (except in front the of the men-fearing women of Amamizukan so they don't reject him).
  • Almost Kiss: Episode 7.
  • Anger Born of Worry: The one time we see Shū get well and truly angry is when Inari pretended she was going to commit suicide as a joke. He actually hits her for it. When she sees that he was genuinely worried about her, she starts to develop real feelings for him.
  • Astronomic Zoom: An inversion happens when Kuranosuke says something inconceivable to our heroine: "Because I wanted to see you, Tsukimi." Those words echo in Tsukimi's mind as the camera gradually zooms out from the building, to the city, to the globe, to the whole solar system, showing just how mind-blowing that is for her.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: The Nuns when confronted with objects of their nerdy desires. Especially Mayaya and Banba. Kuranosuke and Shū's uncle, the Prime Minister of Japan, would rather be a hyperactive teenage girl than the leader of the country.
  • Author Appeal: In an omake the author says she used to be obsessed with jellyfish.
  • Artistic License – Animal Care: While the author clearly knows quite a bit about jellyfish, in real life they need to be kept in special, typically round or cylindrical aquariums with a current to keep them drifting around and not stuck on the bottom or in a corner, and even a small desktop jelly tank would usually cost more than the $200 Tsukimi invested.
  • Batman in My Basement: Tsukimi's initial problem after Kuranosuke stays the night is making sure no-one discovers he's in her room.
  • Beautiful All Along:
    • Tsukimi, though Kuranosuke believes that everyone falls under this trope.
    • Mayaya is extremely self-conscious about her height, lack of curves, and evil-looking eyes. Kuranosuke points out that many fashion models are tall and boyish with fierce eyes, and Chieko adds that "if all the chubby people in the country heard you talk they'd beat you to death".
  • Berserk Button: Several. It's better not to add noodles to the meat in Banba's presence, and there are also more than a few things that will seriously annoy the hyperactive Mayaya. But the most prominent example would be Inari going apeshit on her assistant just because the poor guy suggested she-Kuranosuke's a 'real knocker'...
  • Betty and Veronica: In a straightforward example, Shū is the Archie to Tsukimi's Betty and Inari's Veronica.
  • Big Fancy House: The Koibuchi residence is this.
  • Bilingual Bonus: When asked for "her" name, Kuranosuke responds with "Kura...ko," mentally lamenting how fake the name sounds. In Japanese, a male name can be made female by adding "-ko" or "-mi" to the end, much like adding certain suffixes works in English (e.g. "-ette" or "-ina"). To put it in perspective, it'd be like a boy named Joseph giving his name as "Joseph...ina. Josephina."
  • Big "NO!": When Kuranosuke realizes he's getting jealous and Tsukimi might be more to him than a fashion project.
  • Blank White Eyes: Probably the most common reaction in the show.
  • Blatant Lies: When Kuranosuke's secret is finally discovered, he spins a tale of being raised as a boy while getting them drunk. They believe him.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: When MC Hanamori tries to say "jellyfish" in English it comes out "jelly ear mushroom".
  • Cat Fight: Quite a few have occurred between women fighting for Kuranosuke, according to his flashbacks.
  • Catchphrase: Nisha's "Are you stupid?!" (of course, when you're trying to break into the already struggling fashion industry and you don't even know how to sew...)
  • Clark Kenting: Tsukimi towards Shū, in combination with Beautiful All Along.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: Hanamori has absolutely no morals when you use the 'Benz' argument to manipulate him; He will disclose secrets in a heartbeat if you threaten the condition of his beloved Mercedes Benz.
  • Cooldown Hug: Shū gives one to Tsukimi when she cries at the aquarium.
  • Corner of Woe: The Nuns go into this whenever someone violates some rule or asks some question on the "Top 5 Things You Shouldn't Do in the Presence of/Ask the Nuns" (as helpfully pointed out by Clara, usually).
  • Damned by Faint Praise: "I almost kissed a girl who is practically a Shigeru Mizuki character!".
  • Defiled Forever: Invoked for comedy by Tsukimi, with the old "I can't get married anymore" line when she accidentally sees a naked guy (Kuranosuke, who got drunk and slipped in the shower requiring Tsukimi to help him).
  • Delayed Reaction: Shū and Tsukimi are so innocent that their Accidental Hug and Accidental Pervert moments take a while to set in.
  • Does Not Like Men: All the Nuns are quite fearful of men and have banned them from entering the Nunnery.
  • Double Entendre: Kuronasuke tends to make a few of these.
    Kuronasuke: I never realized. Why don't we go to my place? Let's have some fun.
  • Double Standard Rape: Female on Male: Wonderfully averted. The victim is incredibly scarred, loses confidence in himself, and spends several episodes in deep emotional conflict and turmoil. The perpetrator is instantly the most hated character in the show.
  • Dropped Glasses: Tsukimi gets bolder without her glasses on. See Rule of Symbolism below.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: In-universe, it's Shū's reaction to Inari pulling a Driven to Suicide joke. It gets her slapped.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The first chapter of the manga shows Jiji reading what's clearly BL manga, implying that she's a Yaoi Fangirl. Later chapters establish that her obsession is with much older men, and she never brings up any interest in BL.
  • Fashion Hurts: The high-heels-are-torture version. Kuranosuke assures the Sisterhood that the heels are weapon, so they just have to get used to the pain.
  • First-Episode Twist: The "princess" is a dude.
  • First Kiss: Who is the one to take Tsukimi's? Shū or Kuranosuke? It's President Kai.
  • Furo Scene: We get to see Kuranosuke jump out of the bath and run around the house for a while wearing only a towel around his waist.
  • Gender Vocabulary Slip:
  • Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: Kuranosuke does this to Tsukimi and her friends when they give up on trying to save Amamizukan.
  • High Heel Hurt: The Amars women are dressed in high heels as part of one of Kuranosuke's makeovers, but none of them can walk on them properly after being used to wearing flat shoes all their lives. Mayaya in particular twists her ankle and falls flat on her face when she tries to run away while wearing them.
  • Hikikomori: Juon Mejiro, the unseen BL author, who is nocturnal, never comes out of her room, and communicates with the other Nuns via handwritten notes slipped under the door. The other Nuns also display milder hiki tendencies.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: The manga chapter titles reference or outright pull their names from other media sources (mostly film or television), ranging from Sex and the Amars and Jellyfishdog Millionaire to The Secret in Their Eyes and Jellyfish: The Dancing Maharaja.
  • I Just Want to Be Beautiful: According to Kuranosuke, everyone, even the otakus of the nunnery, desire beauty.
  • Imagine Spot: A lot of characters tend to do this, but Shū's are most notable; he likes to imagine himself in romantic situations with an extremely idealized version of Tsukimi, which the manga refers to as "Shū-Shū's Delusion Corner".
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Tsukimi has trouble sleeping restfully after a photo of Inari and Shū in bed together broke her heart. She asks Mejiro for advice on how to Shūt the painful thoughts from her mind. The answer? BOOZE! Tsukimi complies.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Somehow a friendship of sorts seems to have developed between Shū and Kuranosuke's mother, Lina. Shū is the one who Lina directly contacts to procure a copy of the Jellyfish dress Kuranosuke wore, and he ends up delivering it to her in person. They also chat amicably and regard each other with a surprising fondness considering Lina's history with the Koibuchi's.
  • I Will Find You: After Tsukimi gets effectively kidnapped by a giant fashion corporation, Kuranosuke does everything in his power to find her and bring her home, even in another country.
  • Japanese Ranguage: Tsukimi uses it to cover Kuranosuke's ore slips by pretending them to be the Spanish olé.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Nisha. She constantly tells Kuranosuke and Tsukimi that they're idiots and her idea of encouragement is to tell them that she basically wants to watch them fail, but she's really trying to help since neither of them knows anything about the fashion industry. The most obvious sign she's on their side is the fact that she didn't trick them into buying loads of expensive fabric.
  • Jiang Shi: Mayaya thinks Tsukimi is cosplaying one after her clumsy attempts at removing her make-up. And then the Nuns start goofing around too...
  • Limited Wardrobe: For virtually everyone except Kuranosuke.
  • Lonely Doll Girl: Nomu, but only to "worthless little worms" who don't love her "children" like she does.
  • Love at First Punch: Shū slaps Inari for pretending to commit suicide as a joke. This is the point where she starts to develop real feelings for him.
  • Loves My Alter Ego: Shū thinks dolled-up Tsukimi is very attractive. He thinks normal Tsukimi is not. Once he figures out they're the same person he thinks normal Tsukimi's cute too.
  • Luminescent Blush: Kuranosuke gets one in Episode 11 that flirts with High-Pressure Emotion, but doesn't quite get there. In general, after he develops feelings for Tsukimi, he finds himself blushing furiously on occasion around her.
  • Makeover Montage: Kuranosuke started one in Episode 3 with Tsukimi. He did a good job.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Guy: Kuranosuke is a rare male example of the manic pixie dream girl.
  • Matchmaker Crush: Kuranosuke does his best to get Shū and Tsukimi together, only to realize a bit too late that he's falling for Tsukimi.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • The kanji for Inari's name is shared with a Shinto deity who is closely associated with Kitsune. What do the Nuns call her? "The Vixen."
    • More immediately, the kanji for Tsukimi (月海) reversed can be read as "kurage" (海月), or "jellyfish".
  • Meet Cute: How Tsukimi and Shū met. Subverted in that the second meeting didn't go so well.
  • Mirror Character: Tsukimi and Kuranosuke turn out to be rather similar in a few respects, despite their wildly different personalities and social statuses. Both of them have strong emotional attachments to their mothers, who left them early in life (Tsukimi's mother passed away and Kuranosuke was put into the care of his father's family); they both often address their mothers when doing soul searching. They both have also on separate occasions mistaken each other for their mom's while in an inebriated state. They both recite the phrase 'every girl is born a princess', although Tsukimi has doubts about it being true. Finally, both of them find direction for the Jellyfish clothing line when they individually realize they want to make clothing for the sake of the other members of Amamizukan, rather than just for high end fashion.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Kuranosuke and Tsukimi, by primary school children.
  • Mukokuseki: Averted. The only character with non-traditional (natural) Asian features is Kuranosuke, and it turns out this is due to him having a white biological mother. His half-brother Shū looks decidedly Japanese, as do the rest of the characters. Interestingly in-universe the only thing that's commented on as being 'un-Japanese' about Kuranosuke's appearance is that his eye color is too light.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Kuranosuke goes all super dramatic action mode when he gives Tsukimi her first make-over, complete with superspeed blurring hands, battle-cries, and dramatic hand motions.
  • Nerd Glasses: Tsukimi goes on full opaque mode when talking about jellyfish.
  • Nerd Nanny: Gender Flipped.
  • Nerds Are Virgins: The number one thing that shouldn't be mentioned in the Nunnery.
  • No Romantic Resolution: The anime doesn't resolve the love triangle.
  • Nosebleed: Tsukimi and Shū each have one, which occur several minutes after they experience something arousing.
  • No Social Skills: All the characters have issues interacting with others, but Chieko's friend and fellow doll-enthusiast Nomu takes the cake: she considers her dolls as her daughters and people as "worthless little worms".
  • Odd Couple: If they hadn't met the way they did, there's no way Tsukimi and Kuranosuke would have become friends, let alone such good ones.
  • Odd Friendship: Aside from the aforementioned, the series is loaded with some unusual relationships. Of particular recent note, comes Shū and Kuranosuke's mother, who have unbeknownst to Kuranosuke, been in contact with each other. Despite her having part in Shū developing a fear of romantic relationships, Shū seems to regard Lina with fondness and follows through with her request to obtain a copy of the Jellyfish dress her son wore, even delivering it in person. Lina, on her part, treats Shū kindly and even decides to confide in Shū some of her reasons for why she left, and also what her plans are for the future.
  • Otaku:
    • The girls of the Nunnery call themselves fujoshis, but only one of them (the mysterious hikikomori BL author) fits the Yaoi Fangirl stereotype; the others are into less commonly depicted interests, like trains, Japanese dolls, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, jellyfish, old men...
    • Even the "normal" people have strange obsessions: Shū's driver is obsessed with cars to the point where he drove off a girlfriend, Kuranosuke is obsessed with fashion (but not in any practical way — he wants to start a fashion line without knowing how to sew or even knowing anyone who knows how to sew), Kuranosuke and Shū's dad loves women of all ages and demeanors except disgusting cross-dressers like his idiot son, the freaking prime minister of Japan seems to wish he was a teenage girl, and Inari appears to have based her life around business women mangas from the Eighties.
    • An omake reveals the author's assistants are all hardcore fans of one thing or another; the "Ota-combat level" of one of them is, yes, over 9000.
  • Please, Don't Leave Me: Kuranosuke, in a sorry state after drinking way too heavily, tripping in the shower and briefly hallucinating that Tsukimi is his mother, begs Tsukimi not to go to Singapore despite her having made a deal with a company CEO to do so.
  • Please Put Some Clothes On: Tsukimi says this to Kuranosuke when he's hanging around her apartment in his boxers.
  • Primal Scene:
    • Subverted with poor Shū and lampshaded by Kuranosuke.
      Kuranosuke: Hey, bro, are you still a virgin at 30 because you got traumatized seeing your dad and my mom getting it on in some walk-in-closet-type deal in some backstage-type room at some theater-type place?
    • Turns out to not so subverted as Kuranosuke's lampshading is revealed to be almost prescient in what happened: Walk-in closet? Check. Backstage room? Check. Theater? Check. He was only off in that they were making out, and that by his dad's own admission, "Only made it to second base!"
  • Punny Name: Clara's transliterated spelling (Kurara) is one character off from Kurage (Jellyfish, but you should know that by now).
  • Recursive Cross Dressing:
    • What the amars think "Kurako" is doing although they quickly get confused when "she" is outed as a cross-dresser ("But if she's a girl forced to be a man in public why is she dressing like a girl to proclaim she's a man in front of the TV cameras...?").
    • Amusingly enough this occurs on a meta level as well, as Mitsuki Saiga (a woman) is playing a man (Kuranosuke) who's crossdressing as a woman.
  • Relationship Sabotage: Mostly subverted. Kuranosuke always helps Tsukimi get ready for her dates with Shū, but due to his own feelings, he occasionally has small moments where he slips and says something to potentially deter Tsukimi from continuing to go out with his brother. Ultimately he holds himself back from elaborating on his thoughts and lets her do as she wants, while internally kicking himself for opening his mouth in the first place.
  • Repeat Cut: Tsukimi is really shocked by a very bold question.
  • Romance-Inducing Smudge: Briefly, a tea leaf. Although it ultimately fails when the moment is unceremoniously ruined by Mayaya.
  • Romantic Fake–Real Turn: Shoko Inari pretends an (aggressive) romantic interest in Shū, to use his political influence to advance a real estate project. She realizes (after he's seen through her wiles) that she has fallen for him. By this point Shū distrusts her completely, so no relationship ensues.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Lots of mirror-gazing and watching behind glasses and glass windows going on. In episode 1, when Tsukimi is walking home with Kuranosuke, she looks at the beautiful "princess" in admiration. Then Tsukimi sees their reflections side by side in a store window, and sighs at how plain she is by comparison. Later in the same episode, Tsukimi looks in her mirror when she tries on the "princess's" wig, and proceeds to muse on the subject of beauty and princesses.
  • Running Gag:
    • Generally, Kuranosuke saying something shocking and Tsukimi "mishearing" it as three other words.
    • The Amars turning to stone as a defensive mechanism whenever they have to interact with men or stylish people.
    • Kuranosuke accidentally using "ore" as a first-person pronoun (calling himself "boy" in the dub) in front of the other Amars, and Tsukimi trying to distract them from it by singing.
    • Chieko being the only one of the Amars not to get any kind of makeover, even when the "makeover" is just throwing shawls and nice hats on the others. Kuranosuke explains that since Chieko almost exclusively wears kimono, putting her next to the other Amars with makeovers makes her look fancier in turn.
  • Secret-Keeper:
    • Tsukimi has a perfectly good reason for not letting the others know about Kuranosuke's secret: the punishment is death.
    • Kuranosuke's mom calls Shū to ask him to get Tsukimi's original jellyfish dress after seeing her son on TV. Naturally, Shū can't tell Kuranosuke.
  • Security Blanket: Jellyfish are this to Tsukimi; when confronted by stylish people (whether they're being aggressive or not) the girls freeze and think happy otaku thoughts.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely:
    • Tsukimi, after Kuranosuke's extreme makeover.
    • Later the rest of the Nuns, save Chieko, too. Kuranosuke actually has a good reason for not making over Chieko. In a roundabout way, he says she's the only one who doesn't really need his help.
    • We always knew Mayaya just needed to ditch those bangs.
  • Shirtless Scene: Never mind the make-up...
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shower of Angst: When Shū returns home after getting date-raped by Inari (or so he thinks), the first thing he does is take a shower.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Averted for the most part. Despite both dealing with the pressures of being in a political family, having different mothers and both of them having feelings for Tsukimi, there's little ill-will between the two brothers beyond some clashing induced by their different interests and personalities. They actually get along decently well and rely on each other for help and advice.
  • Sibling Triangle: Between Tsukimi and both Koibuchi brothers, with Tsukimi and Shū having mutual crushes and Kuranosuke developing feelings for Tsukimi after trying to set her up with his brother. Unlike what you'd expect, the brothers don't form an overt rivalry over this due to Shū being extremely naive with relationships and Kuranosuke doing his best to deny and suppress his personal feelings, including any hints of jealousy.
    • Things get as far between Tsukimi and Shū for Shū to ask her to marry him, but Tsukimi ends up turning him down, because she decides she wants to focus her energy on the Jellyfish clothing line for the time being.
    • When Shū suggests that Kuranosuke is part of her reasoning, Tsukimi is able to admit that she thinks of Kuranosuke as "my princess", and that she wants to make clothing for him to wear. Beyond that however, what her feelings are towards Kuranosuke remain ambiguous.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Kuranosuke and Shū, obviously.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Inari ends up falling for pure-pure Shū.
  • Slapstick: Everyone gets hit by physical comedy, though Mayaya and Bamba most of all.
  • Super Window Jump:
    • Parodied. Tsukimi tries this once in the anime, and twice in the manga; Kuranosuke pulls her back inside the first time, the second time she succeeds but it's a very short drop.
    • Mayaya eventually tries this in the manga, too, but is also pulled back.
    • Mr. Koibuchi, of all people, jumps through a window to get into Kuranosuke's room!
  • Succession Crisis: Downplayed but a form of this is a cause of some of the drama in the series. The Koibuchi family is a political family and because they intend on keeping it that way, they view it to be an asset to have more than one child to follow in their footsteps. However, this thinking is part of what led to Kuranosuke being ripped from his mother's care at a young age, despite him being an illegitimate son. Kuranosuke is resentful of this and it serves as one of the reasons for crossdressing, since it rebels against convention. The fact that privately, Kuranosuke's father and uncle both believe that Kuranosuke's personality is better suited to politics than his brother Shū, does not help.
  • Taken for Granite: As an extreme form of Blue with Shock. Also a self-defense mechanism for the Nunnery's inhabitants in case of contact with stylish people.
  • Take That!: Mayaya is appalled by the Moe version of a Romance of the Three Kingdoms character she finds at the local convenience store. There's little wonder what loose anime adaptation of that story this could be referring to...
  • Talking to the Dead: Tsukimi addresses her inner monologues to her mother.
  • Tastes Like Friendship: Kuranosuke really wins the girls over with that expensive meat.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: When Inari furiously rants about how Kuranosuke's breasts must be implants since someone that skinny can't possibly have that kind of figure (which isn't far off from the truth, though it's really because Kuranosuke is a crossdressing man wearing Fake Boobs), she writes "Them boobs is fake, bitches!" on a nearby wall.
  • Too Much Information: When Hanamori is surrounded by the "24 Ophelias" he blurts out that he's so obsessed with cars that his girlfriend left him because he loves cars more than her. Later, he lets it slip that if he's bribed with cars he'll reveal anything to anyone and at the fashion show goes into great detail that Kuranosuke is just a cross-dresser, not transsexual.
  • Two-Person Love Triangle: Between Shū and Tsukimi, though it's quickly becoming a humorous Sibling Triangle Love Dodecahedron.
  • Verbal Tic: A few of the characters have odd exclamations, e.g. Mayaya's "Nuwo!" or Inari's use of outdated sayings.
  • Villainous Gentrification: A land developer company is buying out homes in an old neighborhood for a gentrification project, and the main character's goal is to save their retro boardinghouse from being bought out. The characters look down on the development, and the main representative of the company is an evil vamp.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: Jellyfish are squishy, brainless creatures and some species can be outright dangerous. But they're so pretty...
  • Whole Episode Flashback: Chapter 81.5 serves as explaining the backstory of how Kuranosuke actually started his crossdressing hobby.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Kuranosuke, though he denies it and says he's just "interested in female fashion". That's one of his reasons for cross dressing, the other being ruining his image to avoid being railroaded into a political career by his family. And the third, revealed late in the series, being a desire to connect with his absent mother, who often gave him pretty things and showed off her dresses to him; not to mention a half-subconscious belief that, if he had been born a girl instead of a potential heir, his mother might not have left/been separated from him (the anime leaves the exact nature of her departure unexplained).
  • Womanchild: Tsukimi and Chieko are the only Nuns who seem capable of acting their age most of the time.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Shū proved that if you push him too far, he will retaliate. Though, admittedly, the victim completely deserved it. He later apologizes, which throws Inari and ruins her blackmail scheme speech.
  • Your Makeup Is Running: Happens to Tsukimi several times after Kuranosuke dolls her up, though the second time he says it'll be fine since he used waterproof mascara.

Alternative Title(s): Kuragehime