Princess Jellyfish (Series) Review

Princess Jellyfish is an Anime Series Everyone Needs to Watch

Princess Jellyfish Anime Series
Princess Jellyfish Anime Series. Fuji TV

The Episodes

Tsukimi’s a nineteen-year-old girl who hides behind clunky glasses, shapeless sweatsuits and the door of her apartment house. She scrapes by in Tokyo under the pretense of being a graphic designer, but she’s jobless, meek, mousy, and too geeky to be considered typical date material.

But whether or not we like it, we do live in a world where some people judge on appearances. That is hammered home all the more forcefully when the the characters of the Princess Jellyfish anime try and fail to attend a neighborhood redevelopment plan meeting. The house where they live is one of a whole batch that’s being bought up and slated for demolition. Worse, the lady in charge of this operation, the ambitious and worldly Inari, is prepared to do just about anything to get the plan approved, up to and including sexual blackmail of the likes of the virginal Shu. Her über-Stylish attitude is bad enough, but it’s her predatory, ruthless behavior that mark her as the real enemy.

The character, Kuranosuke, responds to this situation by giving the whole group makeovers—another riotous scene, but capped off with a surprisingly serious subtext. He doesn’t want to strong-arm them into becoming Stylish; he just wants them to stand up for themselves, to ask for what’s theirs, to sense their own strengths. And bit by bit they respond to this human tornado that’s landed in their midst, to put into action one plan after another of progressively greater ambitions to save their way of life.

There are a whole bevy of reasons to love this show, but the biggest and most obvious reason is that it is funny. Fall-down, laugh-out-loud, roll-on-the-floor funny, and in such a relatable way, too. The antics of the Sisterhood are a big source of laughs: Chinese-military-classics nut Mayaya, in particular is the biggest scene-stealing character since Haruko blazed through FLCL on the back of her Vespa. On top of all that is Kuranosuke, whose scenes where he hams it up in front of his very embarrassed family are next to impossible to watch without bursting a lung.

But the humor is another big reason to love this show. It’s delivered in such a way that entertains and educates. Everyone in the show, from Kuranosuke through the Sisterhood on down, is simply looking for a way to be happy, even if that comes at the cost of going against society’s grain. The Sisterhood aren’t the only batch of freaks and misfits around, and they’re far from being the least-fulfilled people in the show.

The English dub features two truly inspired performances. Josh Grelle, who up until this role normally did supporting characters, voices Kuranosuke in both his “male” and “female” incarnations. Even better is Monica Rial as Mayaya, in a performance so gleefully unhinged that she easily becomes a memorable highlight.

Who Should Watch?

There are any number of shows about the merits of being yourself in the face of endless pressure to conform, a feeling which even in this day and age manifests in ways we don’t always see. Ouran High School Host Club had a little of that, and even the cross-dressing to boot. Ditto Revolutionary Girl Utena, which used surrealism and fantasy to make its points. Princess Jellyfish is as good as any of them, and may even be all the better for being that much more accessible for a wide audience. Its sole flaw is that it ends with contrived abruptness (although I’ve honestly seen far worse), and that there are no plans to give us a second season.

A lot of these themes are inappropriate for younger viewers but young adults and above will find a lot to appreciate here.

Did You Know?

A live action movie version of Princess Jellyfish has been made. It premiered in Japan on December 27th 2014 and made its debut in Canada on July 14th the following year.


What could have been a dim-witted, gimmicky premise is turned instead into one of the best anime series of 2012. Loaded with heart, soul, humor and insight, and which even gets a little deeper each time viewers rewatch it. Fun to watch in both the original Japanese and English dub.