Story/Art: Akiko Higashimura
Translation/Adaptation: Sarah Alys Lindholm
What They Say
Inari, the aggressive vixen of redevelopment, ramps up her efforts to buy out Amamizu-kan, where Tsukimi and her friends live. But Kuranosuke has a fabulous plan of attack–turn Tsukimi’s jellyfish designs into a reality! Will becoming real fashion designers be more than Amars can handle? Meanwhile, Shu’s interest in Tsukimi drives Kuranosuke to confront some feelings he’s never dealt with before. . .
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Akiko Higashimura begins to look into the personalities of the side characters while allowing existing relationships to grow more complicated.
Chapter 25 opens with some of Kuranosuke’s stylish friends publicly demeaning the appearance of the Amars. He tries to usher them away, and openly says they are his friends. This sparks a new way of thinking for Tsukimi as she tries to understand her relationships not only to Kuranosuke but to the larger world. At the same time, Kuranosuke confesses that he thinks she is a cute girl, even dressed in drab sweats and pigtails.
Tsukimi’s deceased mother and Kuranosuke’s absent mother both continue to influence the characters as they recall the past and try to frame their current feelings in security of their childhood. Tsukimi questions why and how she has accomplished so much she never dreamed for herself since she met Kuranosuke. Her shyness and lack of style offer her a target for low self-confidence, and after her successes, she tends to wake as from a stupor unsure what she has done. Kuranosuke also finds her a component for finding a purpose in his life. While things never take a romantic turn, he seems to constantly confess his growing feelings to Tsukimi. Kuranosuke begins to see her, and the Amars, as people with depth and potential.
Outside of the main story, Chiyoko, the owner of Amamizukan, seems ready to sell the building. We learn she considers the tenants, include her managing daughter, NEETS who could use the closure of the apartment building as incentive to become self-sufficient. This creates reason for the Amars and Kuranosuke to try to grow their dressmaking business quickly. For the first time, Kuranosuke places himself on the public stage as part of the political family, but will this gamble pay off?
Readers finally get to see another side to Mayaya as we learn part of her backstory and see her in a new light. While never reaching the level of primary character, she appears with increasing frequency and her importance is growing beyond her otaku interests and painful antisocial behavior. While her character rises to exhibit a social success, she still seems to ignore reality as she maintains an obsession with her hobbies.
Shu continues to explore his feelings after having been set up by Miss Anari in her suggestive selfie in her bed. He does not see the situation as a set-up for her professional gain, and he continues to think of her as someone whose feelings he has affected in a negative way. For her part, Anari sees him only as a means to an end for the real estate development, and she continues to speak of Shu not as a person, calling him “The Virgin.”
In a scene that will be distasteful to some readers, she answers his call after getting drunk on vodka and inadvertently passes out after saying something that makes it sound as if she has overdosed. Shu desperately tries to get to her apartment, but in the meantime, Anari wakes up and checks her messages. Seeing that Shu thinks she overdosed, she rants about his arrogant assumption she would attempt suicide over him. She sets up the scene to look like she has passed out face down with a bottle of spilled pills by her side. As Shu walks in horrified, she turns to him and says “psych.” Shu slaps her then proceeds to hit her in the head with his fists. Even though she does not seem to be worse for wear, this scene has a range of meanings that seem at odds with contemporary views on domestic violence. Instead of looking at the scene strictly at the narrative level, it must be viewed as a use of the trope that a confused, manic person can be brought back to reality through being stunned by a slap. We see this in everything from Chinatown to Bugs Bunny Cartoons. The mangaka attempts to show that Anari had become so fixed on her own superiority that she could no longer see others as equals, having gone so far as drugging Shu and creating blackmail photos while he was passed out. As American readers, we may find the depiction of violence to women objectionable, but this trope was the mangaka’s attempt to open up the personality of Anari so that she would have accountability and would find herself weak as her past victims. From this chapter onward, Anari’s scenes offer a more complex view of her interpersonal relationships with both her colleagues and Shu.
Art style remains varied yet much at home in omnibus 3. Most panels have a semi-realistic depiction of people. Varied faces, especially eyes, create easily recognizable characters. Both food and architecture are drawn with a loving eye for their details, so even a panel showing a tray of soba noodles adds warmth to the world of the characters. The art can become more fantastic, often in a shojo style, when Tsukimi and Kuranosuke have flights of imagination or memories of their mothers. In one memorable sequence, the elderly politicians are drawn as fashionable schoolgirls with only their face and the top of their heads appearing normal. Seeing the prime minister with his balding crown and pigtails is disconcerting and surreal.
Kodansha does a great job producing these oversize volumes. Even though the omnibus has nearly 360 pages, the panels and full page images do not require breaking the spine to read. In the space between chapters 29 and 30, three glossy leaves include a page of b/w panels, a dual page spread of the Amars and Kuranosuke in baseball uniforms, and a full color author’s letter. Translation work continues to be above average, and this is important to fans of the anime who expect a certain tone from the characters. The text feels natural and consistent throughout. Translation notes are useful and thorough. Above all they provide the reader with a strong cultural understanding of scenes that may otherwise have little meaning for a western audience.
Both characters and the world of Princess Jellyfish continue to become richer and exhibit more depth. The vibe of the dialog and the complexities of character monologues shade the personalities that make the story meaningful and fun to follow. As the potential to lose the apartment building grows, the characters seem willing to grow beyond their insecurities to protect their community, even if it means they are becoming less like NEETs, willing and able to work for their best interests. Princess Jellyfish stands out for being able to maintain characters’ humanity even while defying the stereotypes the characters portray.
Content Grade: A
Art Grade: A+
Packaging Grade: A
Text/Translation Grade: A
Age Rating: Older Teen 16+
Released By: Kodansha Comics
Release Date: November 8th, 2016