Kuragehime at a Glance

I may look at Tentacool in a whole new light now…

Although that’s kind of doubtful.

Wow. This was… awesome. Just pure awesome. I’ve watched a lot of the new shows this season, and I’ve liked quite a number of them, but this honestly blew everything completely out of the water. It was funny, the animation was good, the music was good, the characters were awesome, and, perhaps most importantly, it had a lot of heart. The josei heritage is clear here, based on how the girl geeks have been handled the the absence of any anime freaks entirely. Stuff about female anime otaku have become a dime a dozen, but, excepting Genshiken, I’ve seen nothing before this that portrays the lady otaku in such an honest (read: non-idealized) light.

I would love to live with these women. This to me is fairly indicative of the care that has been put into crafting these characters, even in just the first episode – what looks like very basic and shallow characterization to begin with is actually a more subtle start for us as viewers to get to know the cast. Yes, their fandoms are front and center in their characterization, but it is done in a soft-handed manner such that these characters are no reduced to mere cliche. Perhaps the best indication of the fact that the show intends to go beyond a one-dimensional level are the scenes of the women spending time all together. Its a nice touch, and it really helps make one feel like they’d like to get to know these women.

The variety of passions is also really awesome – this isn’t a troop merely of BL freaks (in fact, the only one apparently almost never appears to others). No, we’ve got a train otaku, a Three Kingdoms otaku, a doll otaku, a jellyfish otaku, and an old-man otaku (I’m pretty sure that’s what she’s in to, at least). And they aren’t the cutesy Haruka Nogizakas of the world, either, as I previously stated. Yet they are humanized, and its wonderful.

And of course, into this den of female loserdom comes a beautiful woman. Who is actually… a pretty boy. Who when asked if he is a transvestite replies indignantly that, no, of course not, he’s very normal!

At first, I’ll admit that this irritated me slightly – saying he’s normal to deny the notion that he is a transvestite? Great, more of the faux tolerance so common in anime and its surrounding fandoms. But it occurred to me that none of the characters in the show qualify as societally ‘normal’, and so it ends up heightening the absurdity of his would-be defense. There already seems to be a theme of not judging books by their cover anyway, as one of the other women in the house freaks out when she sees a pretty woman in the apartment’s bathroom – augh, scary!

By the way, on a very specific note, I loved the way the OP was handled. The beat of the music is not one I’m used to seeing in OP’s, and it works very well with the animation; the music in general is perfect for the tone of the show. The homages are pure love, although I don’t see how anyone could possibly hate a nod to Singing in the Rain.

Like I said before, I’d love to move in with these women. They seem like such a fun bunch, and their lack of self-consciousness about their hobbies is quite refreshing. It really shouldn’t be, but it is, as generally this lack of self-consciousness is left up to male otaku characters in different shows and manga.

Something I definitely don’t want to neglect to mention is how funny this episode was. There’s actually quite a bit of humor this season, but I laughed more at this than anything else (although, as I’ve mentioned before, Otomoe Youkai Zakuro  turned out to be much funnier than I was expecting). But I sat here guffawing my way through several of the scenes, such as jellyfish-adoring Tsukimi’s run-in with the pet shop worker and the reveal moment at the end, amongst others. There’s clearly a lot of humor to be mined here.

I’m so excited to see where it all goes from here. I wish it was going to run for more than eleven episodes! Looks like I’ll be tracking down the manga…

EDIT: I didn’t actually read his overview of the first episode until after I finished mine, but psgels has almost exactly the same thing to say as I do about anime about otaku; in fact, we even both used the phrase ‘dime a dozen’, although I suppose that really isn’t shocking given how prevalent of an idiom that is in the English language. Worth checking his out for his assessment of our beautiful cross-dresser.

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15 Responses to Kuragehime at a Glance

  1. kadian1364 says:

    Episode was so good I watched it twice in a row. It’s rare when I build something up in my mind that it lives up to that lofty ideal, but comes along that show once every year or so that compels me, that makes that week wait between episodes unbearable. When I get excited about an anime I tend to hype it up too much, but I don’t think our valuations are too far off. This is terrific stuff.

    • adaywithoutme says:

      I actually almost watched it a second time myself, but then I wanted to do this post and watch a few other things too, so I didn’t. I think I may watch it again a little later tonight, though.

  2. Caddy C says:

    This sounds awesome! I’m sure it’s not streaming anywhere, right?

  3. I watched this earlier today as well and I loved it. You said it has a lot of heart and I believe you.

    Let’s think about this for a moment.

    First, it doesn’t idealize otaku. They’re ugly and utterly remorseless. This seems cruel.

    Second, it doesn’t judge them. They are nothing less than human. This is impressively compassionate.

    I won’t give it any more credit merely on the merits of a pilot episode, but it’s definitely something I want to keep watching. I liked Tatami Galaxy too back in Spring, but I think this is a more accessible work without pulling any punches. I think I’m going to enjoy this better.

    • adaywithoutme says:

      Its funny that you should mention Tatami Galaxy, as I re-watched the first few episodes just yesterday – I never finished it off for some reason, although it certainly wasn’t due to disliking it or something like that. I like Tatami Galaxy, but I think its more exhausting to watch than Kuragehime appears to be thus far.

      Anyway, you put it better than I did about the way in which Kuragehime has chosen to portray its otaku. I think what I am enjoying in particular in this, though, as I alluded to a bit, is that we’re getting to see the female otaku treated in a way we don’t customarily. As a female anime fan, this is a bit of a relief to see – look, we can be losers too! We’re not a bunch of moe-moe Haruka Nogizakas who are too embarrassed about our fandoms to let anyone know about it intentionally! While I don’t identify myself as an otaku, as a big fan of something I definitely find more resonance in these women than in the aforementioned Haruka or the little sister in OreImo.

      • Have you read chapter 56 of Genshiken? There will be a manga sequel wherein the challenge faced by the new president Ogi is a predominantly female membership.

        I think it’s full of the possibility you/we seem to want that Kuragehime is poised to actualized.

        But the thing about Genshiken is while Ogi and Ohno are extreme and unmistakable, and Ogi is or was full of self-hatred, they’re freaking attractive and are illustrated in the mold of attractive female body-types (DFC loli, and superhero boobs). I can’t say that the new cast breaks this mold.

        Compared to how Madarame, Kugapii and Kuchii look like, the girls are hot and are fap material.

      • adaywithoutme says:

        I actually didn’t get very far with Genshiken; I liked it, yes, but I was reading a lot of other stuff at the time and it more or less got lost in the shuffle. From what I did read, though, I’m tempted to say that I think Kuragehime is a bit harsher about its protagonists, and not simply in the manner in which they are visually depicted. Perhaps it is the variety of fandoms on display? I have certainly heard rabid anime fans disparage the rabid fans of other fandoms, so perhaps it only seems that way? I am not convinced that I am truly conveying that sensation properly.

    • VucubCaquix says:

      You are my favorite ghostlightning ever. I wrote about something similar on my tumblr-thing about how this series feels like an open love letter to those who may feel unloved as otaku or fujoshi.

      • Aww thanks. Maybe sometime later I can write something more about the show beyond the things discussed in Day’s post. I am glad that she and a few others are talking about it. I want more people to watch this one.

        Not every poignant or meaningful show be extreme or hard-hitting, or artsy the way Trapeeze, or Aoi Bungaku, or even Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt are. If this show pulls it off, I will be very happy.

      • adaywithoutme says:

        I think your identification of it as an open love letter to otaku/fujoshi who feel unloved is an excellent way of putting it. My sense of wanting to live with the characters of Kuragehime is probably very grounded in the feeling that it’d be home. I may not be as extreme in my fandom as the ladies here are, but I am of closer kin to them than I am to many of the people I am around on a daily basis.

  4. Sorrow-kun says:

    I think what we saw in this ep is something all nerds can resonate with (although obviously female nerds are probably going to resonate more). Whatever the case, it’s easily the best first ep of the season.

    Loved the OP. It wouldn’t surprise me if someone’s already done it, but it’d be awesome to see someone chronicle all the references that appeared in the sequence.

    • adaywithoutme says:

      People have been working at it, although the train piece of it so far seems to be eluding explanation. I definitely loved the Singing in the Rain bit best, though.

  5. Pingback: Kuragehime and the Heart of Character Portrayal - [Major Arcana]

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