Fandoms are an excellent way to connect with anime and the things we love about entertainment. In many cases, fandoms lead to lifelong friendships, and for me, that shared love of anime brought me to some of my closest friends and my support system.
In Princess Jellyfish, women who have completely different interests end up bonding, living together and working to save their apartment from redevelopment. Their passion results in long-lasting friendships that go on to change their lives.
This show exudes the power of fandom and what it’s like to find like-minded friends. It contains a message that is as equally powerful now as it was when it first aired: community can be vital to our own self-growth.
The power of community
Princess Jellyfish follows Tsukimi Kurashita along with her obsession with jellyfish, one she’s had since her mother took her to an aquarium when she was young.
She lives with five other unemployed otaku in an apartment in Amamizu-kan and spends her days as a social outcast with dreams of becoming an illustrator. In Tsukimi’s apartment I was able to reflect on my own experiences from college.
During that time in my life, fandom became indispensable to me, from weekend-long anime sessions with my newest friends to trips to conventions.
And in Princess Jellyfish, we have the Sisterhood. There’s Chieko, who’s obsessed with traditional Japanese clothes; Banba, with her deep affection for trains; and Mayaya, the history nerd who constantly spits out facts about the Records of the Three Kingdoms.
At its core, fandom is a community. For Tsukimi, that community is the Sisterhood. And like all communities, it comes with its ups and downs. In real life, when you meet a fellow fan, you can quickly develop a sense of empathy with them. It’s the perfect start to a friendship, and a means to stay motivated during difficult times.
From the outside, they might just look like a group of otaku, but what draws them together is the passion they share for their hobbies and their mutual resistance to societal norms.
They don’t want to feel ashamed for the things they enjoy.
There’s also something incredibly relatable about this slice of life story, as the Sisterhood fights to save their neighborhood from redevelopment while dealing with the struggles of adulthood.
There’s plenty of “coming of age” drama here. The girls are deemed adults by society, but they continue to live off of their parents’ incomes, even though they have jobs.
In Princess Jellyfish this idea of “putting away childish things” is illustrated as part of growing up. But growing up, in reality, shouldn’t be as cut and dry as that. I’ve found that some of my passions and hobbies have given me the courage to build my career or to try new things.
Growing up is challenging. Learning how to take a leap of faith among a sea of obstacles is terrifying, and in Princess Jellyfish, I appreciated that these characters worked at things they knew were tough.
As part of their mission, they create jellyfish dresses made for a fashion show to raise money to save their apartment. And, you guessed it, they’re not the best at sewing. But the Sisterhood puts all of their effort into reaching their goal, leveraging the power of the things they love.
A touching memory
And while a chance encounter with a politician’s son may have been enough to change Tsukimi’s life, this show isn’t based around the idea of romance. Sure, the elements are there, but Princess Jellyfish charts a different course for shoujo anime.
Romance isn’t at the heart of this story. The residents of Amamizu-kan are fueled by their shared passions and hobbies, not romantic relationships. And Tsukimi’s love of jellyfish continues to drive her toward becoming an illustrator.
It’s not that just meeting Kuranosuke changes her, it’s that it bridges two very different worlds. The Sisterhood enrich Kuranosuke on the deeper layers of their otaku culture, and he, in return, shares his love of fashion and helps the girls to work toward their goals. That’s fandom at work.
This series is near and dear to me because it’s heartfelt, while being simultaneously enjoyable throughout. There is a deep sense of relatability to Tsukimi’s story about tackling life’s obstacles on the road to self-discovery and self-love, all while building the Sisterhood to greater heights.
In growing out of her comfort zone thanks to her community, she truly grows as a person.