I’ve never wavered when I said the anime to watch this fall season is Kuragehime, even when people were saying that Panty and Stocking was the fall show. After seeing the first episode, I really think I’m right. People have already mentioned its similarity with Kimi ni Todoke, although in contrast to that this possesses a more realistic bent: there may be iridescent facial expressions, but there isn’t a plethora of sparkles and bubbles that characterize the shoujo genre. Instead of a reticent and misunderstood yet beautiful lady, there’s Tsukimi, who’s great at drawing, yet is not quite as beautiful. She isn’t as socially disconnected as Sawako is (explained by her understanding that the social beings, ‘princesses,’ are just altogether from a different world as she is), but she seems to be just as nice. [If you guys have ever heard of Janis Ian's At 17, I recommend you listen to it. I think it's more apt as OP than Chatmonchy's song. The video is below.]
[I learned the truth at seventeen: that love was meant for beauty queens ... ]
Like Sawako, however, she is quite reclusive: she is a lover of jellyfish, and she is quite lucky to be with persons with focused, passionate interests (read: otaku). They all look like social misfits, with Tsukimi being the least abnormal-looking among them. She nevertheless struggles with the normal social rigors people face in their daily lives: going to a popular spot (Shibuya) is a chore for her. Life normally went on until she saw an Aurelia jellyfish admixed with spotted jellies: knowing that the substances that Aurelia secrete usually kill spotted jellies fast, she tried to rectify the situation but failed due to her nature. She was helped by someone who seemed to be a beautiful princess, but in reality was a handsome transvestite.
I’m not fond of doing summaries. I can honestly say, however, that it was the most interesting first episode among the anime I have seen aired this season, and it caters to me particularly: it is focused on characters that are both unique and open to development; it represents the beauty and sadness of reality; and it values character interactions.
I don’t think Tsukimi is an ugly girl. When someone mentioned that Kuragehime was the mongrel of Ugly Betty and Kimi ni Todoke, I think he was more in the right than in the wrong: I frankly don’t think Tsukimi is an ugly girl, although she has to deal with societal withdrawal and issues of letting go. Among the different boarders of their fangirl apartment, she’s the one who looks the most decent among them. I think she could even be pretty, and the transvestite will probably help her in that journey to self-acceptance in the same vein that she will help him accept him and the rest of the boarders for who they are. I’m not saying she’s going to be a fashion model, but her mother was pretty attractive.
I can’t wait for the next episode: this may not be rife with symbolism like Tatami Galaxy, but even from just the first episode its emotional thrust is palpable, and that’s really just what I need. I didn’t like the OP as much as their Shangri-la ED from Hataraki Man, but it was decent. The ED by Sambomaster was awesome.