January 23, 2011
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Title: Kuragehime
Genre: Comedy, Slice of Life
Rating: 8.3/10

Kuragehime

Summary: The story centers around Tsukimi Kurashita, a huge fan of jellyfish who moves to Tokyo to become an illustrator. She moves into “Amamizukan,” an apartment complex with a no-men-allowed rule that is full of diehard female otaku. However, one day, Tsukimi invites a stylishly fashionable woman to stay over at Amamizukan — only to discover that the guest is not who “she” seems to be.

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Review: Starting with a wonder about what this anime was even going to be about, Kuragehime soon became one of my most looked forward to watch of the season. It wasn’t an action packed thriller or contain any mysterious characters. Its selling point was being unique, a split from the road of anime normality.

It is unfortunate that I had to watch most of the episodes in 360p, but I will take that into account for this review. For the most part I liked the art style. To me it wasn’t anything flashy or extravagant, it just got the job done. I would argue that the old school styling was done on purpose and not just for budget reasons. Going back to a “roots of anime” look fits very well in a house full of otaku. You can see from the screenshots above that it isn’t exactly low rate either. There are some great scenes that show you the flexibility of the art form. I especially liked the ending art while Sambomaster played in the background. It was like a child’s drawing that became animated. Alongside listening to the song, I also enjoyed watching Tsukimi hop-scotch her way down the road. Blushing was done very well and, more importantly, at appropriate times. You could feel the embarrassment and shock the characters felt through the art.

As I mentioned earlier I was a fan of the soundtrack. The opening done by Chatmonchy (awesome name by the way) was catchy and appropriate. Even the official music video is quite entertaining to watch. For some reason as I listened to the opening and watched the cliché movie scene parodies I couldn’t help but think that the Tsukimi was actually singing the song. Although that isn’t quite accurate as it is sung very well by the amazing Eriko Hashimoto, it just had that shy nerdy girl karaoke vibe. I wasn’t sure how I felt about recognizing over half the movie references either. Does that make me an otaku? Geek at least? Or possibly a win since I could appreciate the anime’s humor? I’m quite on the fence about the issue as you can see. The ending was a little less troublesome on the mind. I already told you that I enjoyed the simplistic animation of Tsukimi hop-scotching so we’ll move right to the song. Sambomaster has become one of my favorite Japanese bands (though in all honesty I don’t exactly know many). After a great Naruto opening they come out with an equally amazing Kuragehime ending. The lyrics couldn’t have fit better. The song made me want to get up and walk over to a girl just to tell her she’s beautiful. I decided to check out the full song on YouTube and fell in love with the music video. So for a great opening and ending I thank you, Kuragehime.

The story wasn’t too shabby either. It was different, a good break from the normal harems, sappy romances, and badassery of a one (wo)man wonder. Tsukimi’s past go me attached to her character and gave a sweet moral message to all the girls in the world. As a male I probably can’t say I relate, but I can definitely say it is a message every girl needs to remember. The introduction of hipsters showed the social gap you can probably see today. But with a touch of romance it also showed the bridge being built between the two social ranks. The walk to fandom  didn’t change the innocent otakus because they knew it was all for the Sisterhood. Having small side stories going on as well kept the story from becoming boring. I’ll be honest that the main story wasn’t all that captivating. A group of otakus want to stop the big-bad corporation from taking over their home using what little skills they have. There really isn’t much of a story when you actually type it out. With the combination of strong character development and mini-stories the anime pulled through. The most important aspect of the story and characters were how unique they are compared to the recent anime releases. Tsukimi isn’t exactly a stunning model or sexy gunslinger for a female lead. And there isn’t some nerdy loser who stumbles upon a heaven of beautiful women that all want him for his “nice guy personality”. Having the roles switched and not spreading a thick layer of romance brought Kuragehime to one of the top anime for the Fall 2010 season.

Final statements: You may have noticed I went a little screenshot crazy with this one. There were so many key scenes and I just wasn’t able to capture them all. I looked forward to the next episode every week and it didn’t disappoint. After looking around I don’t think this anime got the attention it deservers. High priority watch for anyone.

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