Princess Jellyfish Vol. 2 - Manga Review

Amamizu-kan is threatened by redevelopment plans, and it’s up to the incredibly stylish Kuranosuke and jellyfish-otaku Tsukimi to find a way to save it!

The Lowdown

Jellyfish fan-girl Tsukimi Kinoshita’s life has changed immeasurably over the past few months after a chance meeting with fabulous fashionista Kuranosuke Koibuchi brought the two together. Although Tsukimi once lived happily with her friends in their apartment building/otaku haven Amamizu-kan, she’s found herself being pulled slowly out of her shell due to Kuranosuke’s efforts, and has begun to long for something more after meeting Kuranosuke’s brother, Shu. However, a scheming land-developer has her sights set on redeveloping Amamizu-kan, forcing the girls into action to save their home.

How Was It?

The first volume of Princess Jellyfish left a strong impression of me with a story full of heart, and I was very pleased to see this continue strongly into this volume as Tsukimi and Kuranosuke’s personal struggles play out while they try to save Amamizu-kan. Tsukimi and Kuranosuke’s attempts to raise enough money to buy Amamizu-kan provide the main framework for this volume as the two become embroiled in a number of schemes to try and raise the capital in the building. This is as funny as ever, and the over-the-top humour is continually on-point as the rest of Tsukimi’s friends become involved at various junctures. I’m amazed at the way thatPrincess Jellyfish continues to simultaneously poke fun at and celebrate the “otaku lifestyle” by playing off the various reactions of all of the characters to the “normal lifestyle” while also utilizing these reactions and talents help push Kuranosuke’s schemes forward. The story frequently ventures into screw-ball territory while remaining good-natured, and even without the powerful character development that goes on watching Kuranosuke’s scheme put into action by the girls was worth reading just for the humour.

I really enjoyed the way that Kuranosuke and Tsukimi’s efforts to try to save Amamizu-kan reach a wonderful intersection with Tsukimi’s emotional development in this volume. One of the most gratifying parts of the first volume was the way that her character progression was pushed forward by her continually questioning herself in the face of her new experiences with Kuranosuke, making her grow tangibly throughout the volume. We see her very clearly going outside of her comfort zone when prodded by Kuranosuke on occasions such as being convinced to sell little jellyfish plushies, and it was cool to see her learning a little bit more about herself in the process. This process continues satisfyingly here by the way the series shows Tsukimi’s slow process of adjusting to her changing feelings, and I thought that it was especially poignant watching Tsukimi realizing the way her desires have begun to conflict especially in regard to her burgeoning relationship with Kuranosuke.

Factoring into the threat to Amamizu-kan is the family drama affecting the Koibuchi family, and a significant part of this volume is spent following Kuranosuke’s brother Shu as he lamely attempts to deal with the blackmailing developer. This is frequently funny because of how bizarre the rest of Kuranosuke’s family is, but the main payoff comes a little bit later because of the effect this storyline has on Tsukimi’s development when she realizes that she has begun to have feelings for Shu. The most interesting part of this development was the way in which Tsukimi wrestled internally with her new “normal girl” desires because they do not conform with the image she has given herself, and I liked that this forced her to continue to confront her own self-image in a meaningful way. I enjoyed that there were no easy answers to draw from this for her, and it was really cool to witness her process of wrestling internally with this issue because of how it shows how much she has grown over the course of the series so far.

While Tsukimi’s character development remains a consistent focus ofPrincess Jellyfish, this volume continues Kuranosuke’s character development in a more noticeable manner as he continues to spend time with Tsukimi. This ended up being my favourite running plot-line in the volume for how well-illustrated Kuranosuke’s own internal conflict regarding his feelings are. Much like Tsukimi is forced to reconcile her new emotions with her image of herself, Kuranosuke also grapples his own overt attraction to Tsukimi in a number of funny scenes. However, these scenes also come together really nicely because Kuranosuke has a fairly developed sense of himself and is willing to ask himself some difficult questions, making his process of inner reconciliation a little more self-directed than Tsukimi’s. This is underscored by a fantastic sequence which revealed why Kuranosuke dresses up like a girl, and I really liked the way that this brought together a number of elements in his backstory to create a cohesive whole. Overall, Kuranosuke’s plotline kept me thoroughly interested because of the strength of his inner conflict, and I’m very eager to see how this progresses in the series.

Princess Jellyfish’s art continues to do a great job adapting to the emotional beats of its story appropriately, making for a thoroughly pleasant read. Tsukimi’s mental imagery is given an ethereal that underscored the connection her dreams have to her personal connection to jellyfish, and I felt this gave her emotional state an extra bit of thematic cohesion. However, this softness is traded in for a jagged roughness during several of the comedy sequences, and I thought this emphasized the juxtaposition between Tsukimi and her friends’ dreams (or delusions) and an unfriendly reality really well. The exaggerated expressions and body-language that a number of the characters are portrayed with also helps to nail the comedic beats of this series, and I definitely felt that the art continued to be a very strong aspect of this series.

Final Thoughts

Princess Jellyfish Vol. 2 is a fantastic continuation that builds upon the incredibly strong and heartwarming constituent elements introduced in the first volume. The long road to saving Amamizu-kan was frequently funny thanks to the antics of both the residents of Amamizu-kan as well as the Koibuchi family, but more than that I enjoyed the way that both Tsukimi and Kuranosuke have continued to slowly develop over the course of their interactions with one another. Princess Jellyfish continues to be full of heart in this volume, and I can’t wait to see what crazy things happen next to this likable cast of characters.


Princess Jellyfish 2
By Akiko Higashimura

Princess Jellyfish Vol. 2 (containing volumes 3 and 4 of the Japanese release) was translated by Sarah Alys Lindholm and published by Kodansha Comics USA on June 28th, 2016. Authored by Akiko Higashimura, the series is ongoing in Kodansha’s Kiss magazine. Volume 3 will be released in English on October 4th, 2016.

Verdict:

A

Date of Publication: June 28th, 2016

Translator: Sarah Alys Lindholm

Author: Akiko Higashimura

Publisher: Kodansha Comics USA




Matt

Matt is a broke law student by day, broke law student by night, and one of the co-founders of Taykobon in his dwindling spare time. Although his favourite series tend to be shonen adventure series, he also has a soft spot for slice-of-life shojo romances. He enjoys following the manga industry, and is a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Blue Jays in other nonexistent spare time. 

Favourite series: Bakuman

Favourite author: Io Sakisaka