|Official art. (The girl in front might look familiar if you watched episode 4 of Genshiken Nidaime.)|
Japanese title: Kuragehime (海月姫)
Based on: Manga (not yet available in English)
Length: 11 eps.
Aired: Fall 2010
Studio: Brains Base
Note: this show was broadcast in the noitaminA block.
(Note: on all three of the above sites, all 11 subbed episodes and the first two dubbed episodes are available for free.)
Home video license: Funimation Entertainment
Release information: The Complete Series [Limited Edition] (Blu-ray/DVD Combo) (ARP: $70)
Synopsis: Tsukimi is one of many otaku living in the Amamizukan apartment complex where no males are allowed. She and the other women, though, are not anime otaku; they have obsessions ranging from trains to the Three Kingdoms saga to Tsukimi's personal interest in all things jellyfish. One thing's for sure, though; they're all nerdy and highly socially awkward. This causes a problem when Tsukimi brings over a very stylish girl who had helped her save a dying jellyfish from a pet store... which only becomes worse when Tsukimi discovers that her very womanly-looking savior, Kuranosuke, is actually a man! To make up for this blooper, Kuranosuke takes it upon her--uh, himself to bring the girls of Amamizukan out of their shells so they can function in society... a skill they soon find out they will need.
Why you should watch it
This is a real gem of a show that is kind of a modern fairy tale; however, while the girls do get a physical makeover, that doesn't automatically make them more popular; in fact, that's not really what the show is about. It's more about how the girls start to become more confident in who they are and what they are capable of doing.
It's worth mentioning that the characters are adults and that this is very much an "adult" show--obviously not meaning that it's full of X-rated content, but just in that the issues that all the characters go through are very much adult issues. Because of this, there's a maturity in this series that allows it to touch upon issues that are very relatable. To that end, the characters are great, particularly Tsukimi, who's definitely nerdy-adorable (or "adorkable", as some might say), but also very easy to sympathize with.
Just a fair warning, though: don't expect a resolution. After all, the manga is still on-going. The anime simply adapts what it can from the manga with the eleven episodes it has, then just stops, and sales in Japan of this show were low, so don't expect a second season. Enjoy the anime for what it is, and if you really want more, feel free to look up the manga online.
It's also worth mentioning that Funimation's Blu-ray/DVD release is full of fascinating extras and is very much worth the money.
So yes, this is a fantastic anime that unfortunately isn't particularly well-known among anime fans. I definitely encourage others to check it out; it's definitely not another high-school rom-com, everything is done maturely, and it all comes together to create a show that is very charming.
Also, by the end, you will probably love jellyfish a lot more.
Potentially objectionable content
You're going to have to be comfortable with the fact that one of the main characters is a crossdresser. That part of him is treated as maturely as everything else in the series, though, and is also one of the good parts of the show.
The main "objectionable" thing, though, is one major event in the show where a conniving woman drugs Kuranosuke's brother and then makes it look like the two of them slept together (though without any graphic detail). Obviously not done as a glorification of drug-induced sexual molestation, but definitely indicative of the fact that this is a show about adults with adult issues.
And that's probably the main thing; this is a show rated 14+ officially, mainly because of the fact that this is a show with adult themes, even if the content itself is overall tame. Younger audiences probably simply won't get this show.
The opening to this show has one of my favorite opening animations of all time:
How many of the references can you name?