Meet the Amars and this Fall’s TRAP~
I have been waiting for this as this was one of my top 5 titles that I was really looking forward to. Not to mention, the fall title releases end with Kuragehime (excluding some kiddie ones). We come to a full circle and after watching the extended trailers and observing the animation was a bit weird, I was pretty sure that the first episode would not follow the same pattern and I was right.
The episode started with a very sweet reminisce of Tsukimi’s childhood visit to an aquarium with her mother. It was clear that her mother’s fascination with the white, floating and beautiful lace-like creatures rubbed off on the little girl, very close to her mother. The same girl grew up to be an illustrator, moved to Tokyo and started living in an apartment complex named “Amamizukan”. The inhabitants of which are very unique in a sense that every one of them is a hardcore female otaku (I won’t use the term fujoshi because it’s mostly misconstrued as BL-lovers only).
Before getting into the storyline and characters, I loved both the OP and EDs; especially the OP with references of Star Wars, Singin’ in the Rain, Mary Poppins, 007 and Dragon. Very appropriate for Brain Base and Takahiro Omori because they usually have awesome music in their anime. Not to mention, my ears piqued on Chatmonchy’s ‘Koko Dake no Hanashi’ because I knew I had heard them before; after some research I finally came up with Dai Dai, 12th OP of Bleach. Though, Kuragehime’s OP is much better than the aforementioned with its upbeat music and lyrics:
The first installment pretty much sets the mood of the series, being of moderate pacing with the right amount of cutesieness and traps. Expect Omori to add a mystery around a Josei storyline with an array of characters that are interesting enough to make you want to know more about them. Tsukimi for one is very much fascinated with jellyfishes, yet couldn’t attend a photo exhibition on the same in Shibuya for which she had perked up her courage. She returns hanging her head low with the trinkets her housemates have been waiting for: picture of a bus for Banba-san, flowery patterned handkerchief for Cheiko-san, three figurine collectibles for Mayaya-san and a poster for Jiji-sama.
Kurara will be saved…
During her night time stroll to the nearest marine shop to see her favourite jellyfishes, she notices that an Aurelia was floating in the same tank as spotted jellyfish; the secretion of the former is deadly to the latter. Ho hum, our jellyfish-lover goes against her fear of chic-people and tries to convince the new guy to change Kurara’s (the cute jellyfish in question) habitat. Also, how can you ignore that “Thukimi-tan, thasukete~!”? However, being the nerd that Tsukimi is, only her shiny specs and serious aura is registered by the shopkeeper, making him fear her. However, our maiden is rescued by a pink-haired princess, who convinces the aho-shopkeeper to give her Kurara and tell the owner that it died. The two hit it off instantly, Tsukimi ignores the chic-aura too overwhelmed by the current events and rescued by the princess, who is too nice for words.
They buy the required supplies needed to create an aquarium environment and sneak into the Amars abode. The princess in question is fascinated by Tsukimi’s drawings of different jellyfishes and crashes in her room without much warning. The next day, to Tsukimi’s shock and horror the princess’s true identity is revealed to be of a prince in disguise. The episode ends with Tsukimi completely flustered to be in the presence of a guy in their apartment, not only forbidden by the rules but totally out of the ordinary.
Tsukimi Kurashita: Our main protagonist, who moved to Tokyo to get a step further in becoming an illustrator. She is highly fascinated by jellyfishes because of a memorable visit to the aquarium with her mother; not to mention her mother’s wish of her becoming a princess when she grows up. Her mother’s early death due to an illness became her childhood trauma because of which it’s difficult for her to socialize or even communicate with the ‘chic-people’ as she puts it. She’s completely at home with the Amars because all of them share more than some anti-social characteristics. Even going out of their apartment complex is like waging a war with the outside world and translates to always being on guard and wary of people they don’t know. Voiced brilliantly by Kana Hanazawa, I’m becoming her fan the more I hear her perform. Not to mention, meganekko is so her thing. To me, she can easily become Noto Mamiko’s protégé.
Cheiko-san: She is the chubby, happy-go-lucky daughter of the apartment complex’s owner. She is the caretaker and nurturer of the lot. From cooking, consolidating the list of hopefuls who want to live in their apartment complex to finalizing the rules of engagement; she is there throughout. Her obsession is dolls as she likes to dress them in beautiful dresses, ensembles and generally take care of them. She’s basically the mother of the house, voiced by Kimiko Saitou.
Banba-san: You don’t really see much of her except for those afro tresses. Until you know, you can actually mistake her for a short man going about his business. She’s obsessed with everything transport related, from trains to buses. She has a whole collection of working miniatures, is a woman of few words and is voiced by Motoko Kumai.
Mayaya-san: The most energetic of the lot, who seems to love Karate more than anything. She’s overly obsessed with samurais and period action heroes, from manga and anime both and the reason of her collection of figurines. I can bet she watches Sengoku Basara and the many action-based period doramas. She takes everything heads-on except for sharing the trait of being unable to communicate with the chic-people like the rest of the Amars. Voiced by Akemi Okamura, a la Nami from One Piece.
Jiji-sama: I still wonder why Noto Mamiko is voicing her but the nerdy-ness of this woman is interesting as hell. Most probably she swoons over old idols and celebrities, collecting their press releases and photographs. I can bet the reason of her visit to Shibuya is stalking her favourite butlers and fangirling over them. Her little laugh is definitely creepy.
Mejiro-sensei: The very famous BL Mangaka, whose sightings are as rare as of Iriomote wildcat. She would remain to be the silent voice of reason and one of respect for every
Amars denizen. For the sake of roles, she can easily be the father-figure, who is watching over the children and her word is the rule.
Kurara: Pun on Durarara!!? Shame on you Omori/Brain Base, for not announcing the second season still! T__T Such a tease! Anyway, Kurara is Tsukimi’s virtual image of the spotted jellyfish she has recently acquired. She is awesomely cute and voiced by Sumire Morohoshi, a la Nina from FMA: Brotherhood.
The TRAP: He’s not a drag queen and so he says. I’m unable to understand how can it be normal to dress like a girl for a guy but I guess, whatever floats his boat. He’s definitely beautiful when he dresses up. I would love to know more about this trap and laugh at his antics. He’s a pure eccentric and voiced well by Mitsuki Saiga. There’s not enough information but I’m dying to know more about him.
Don’t make me destroy you! Also, Jellyfish helmet FTW? Lawl!
End Thoughts: I’m somehow reminded of Ugly Betty (based on Yo soy Betty, la fea) with the whole concept of the nerdy looking main girl. You can easily say, this is not a mere shōjo and interestingly enough, Brain Base has removed this particular genre and has only struck up the Josei sign. However, anybody who will search for source material would find Akiko Higashimura’s manga version, which is still ongoing and has even received the Best Shōjo Manga Award from Kodansha this year.
Does that mean, there’s an identity crisis? No, I don’t think so. Knowing Brain Base and Omari, the collaboration of whom has resulted in brilliant series like Baccano!, Zoku/ Natsume Yuujinchou and Durarara!!, give them the benefit of the doubt of sticking to the source material and presenting it in the most dazzling way. The first episode is an example of a well-knit storyline and enough surprises to keep your mind busy. The trap was really not that surprising for people who had read the summary before release yet Tsukimi’s reaction and the many comic moments heightened the whole experience.
Looking at it, this would be another contemporary title like Soredemo Machi, which would pleasantly surprise the viewer and make them instantly like not only the main characters but supporting as well. Remember the fact that it’s a Josei-Shoujo, which pretty much means there would be romance. If it’s not your thing, I will say run away now BUT WAIT! Aren’t you an otaku if you are reading this anyway? Wouldn’t you like to know more about these women who seem bland as hell at first glance but with a closer look interesting with not a square root but cube of power-two on them?
Also, isn’t Tsukimi as kawai as Sawako from Kimi ni Todoke? Wouldn’t you like to see her story and how she would bloom into the princess her mother wished for? You must have noticed all those clues in the OP, right? Like that unnamed guy spazzing over the wedding of Tsukimi with Kuranosuke (the trap). Of course, she looks different from her current self but beautiful as always. High-handed predictions aside, this has a sweet and cute anime written all over it. And doesn’t every one need a little smile and aspiration in one’s life? ^^
Preview: We finally see the cleaned up version of the princess after he’s bathed. It would be interesting to see more chagrin of Tsukimi and the possibility if the other residents Amar find out the truth. However, I can go on a limb here and say that Kuranosuke’s secret would remain till a few more episodes (it’s an eleven episode series after all). Also, this preview was so Shiki style that I gaped for a bit! Little box between the ED, which was pleasant to the ear and the animation very Natsume Yuujichou-ish; which I leave you with, Kimi no Kirei ni Kizuite Okure by Sambomaster. Ja ne~
Note: The series will take a break next week, so episode 2 would air on 28th Oct, 2010. T_T