Virgins and the City: The Surprising Wit of “Princess Jellyfish”
Whenever I try recommending Princess Jellyfish to people they’re always turned off by the cutesy girlishness of the art. “Oh it’s not for me,” they say. They want something grittier, more critically-acclaimed–something along the lines of Paprika. But people shouldn’t be so quick to judge Princess Jellyfish, a surprisingly smart, funny and daring manga (and TV show) that explores such topics as isolation, loneliness and rebellion. (Note: This recommendation is more for the TV show than the manga, but I hear they’re equally good.)
The show/manga follows Tsukimi, a shy, awkward girl who lives in Tokyo and shares a house with other awkward geek girls. The geek girls are weirdly isolated. They fear the outside world and deem “hipsters” as their mortal enemy (although, depending on the translation, sometimes instead of hipsters they’re referred to as “the stylish”). In fact, they’re so terrified of “the stylish” that they literally turn into stone whenever one is within their presence. But despite their agoraphobia, they all live relatively content lives. That’s until Tsukimi encounters a drag queen named Kuranosuke (the rebellious son of a prominent politician who dresses like a woman to spite his father) whose presence shakes up the house.
The show is adorable, hilarious and even heartfelt at times, especially when we learn more about Tsukimi and her issues with loneliness and isolation. She’s almost self-destructive in her anxiety, and she’s a more complex character than people realize.