The library coughed up the two-in-one volume 4 of Kuragehime/Princess Jellyfish, which takes me up to Chapter 44, “If She Turns Around, Is it Love?” or, alternatively translated in the official volume, “I Turn Around and Find Love” (which, given the translator’s notes is the appropriate title, since it’s specifically a reference to a Nobuhiko Obayashi film of the same name, “Furimukeba Ai.”)
According to one reviewer on Goodreads, this volume does begin to diverge from the anime. Having read the episode synopses, I will say, instead, that my sense is that the manga is actually still back in time in some respects, but fills in the story more. For instance, there is the introduction of an Indian garment company and its employees: Prez (for president) and his little sister, Nisha.
Enough orders for dresses have come in from the fashion show that Kuranosuke realizes that there’s no way the Amars can do this on their own, not if they hope to get them produced in any decent amount of time. So, he asks a friend in the fashion business, who tells him that most dresses are made overseas, anyway. India is the best.
A lot of this two-in-one volume involves winning over Prez and Nisha to the idea of doing a little charity work–or at least giving the Amars a deep discount. Kuranosuke also manages to get Shuu, (his nii-san), to give him an extended loan to cover the capital investment.
The other big development is how much Shuu has changed his tune. He’s still being forced together with land-shark lady by his politically-minded father, but in this volume he really only has eyes for Tsukimi. In fact, so much so, that Kuranosuke ends up accidentally outing himself at the fashion show because he shouts for Tsukimi to have eyes only for “this boy!” (I’m guessing he used the pronoun ‘boku,’ and actually said something less awkwardly constructed like, “Keep your eyes on me!”)
The Amar slowly come to realize that maybe Kuranosuke is a guy… ? It’s not entirely clear they GET it, because, mostly, they seem just as comfortable to keep thinking of him as her.
The other bit of plot is that we discover that Kuranosuke’s mom is still alive. I’d gotten the distinct impression that she’d died, but it might be that she was simply banished because she was the mistress. Regardless, she makes a reappearance in these volumes. After having seen Kuranosuke on TV in one of the Jellyfish dresses, she calls up nii-san, Shuu, and places a secret order. She wants one of those dresses for herself. Shuu is put in an awkward position, but decides to use Tsukimi as a go-between. They have more cute interactions, including one in which she ends up hiding with him under a table at a coffee shop.
Given how many pages there were in these two volumes (about 355), I was surprised how little plot was actually advanced. Land-shark lady continues to be the villain, but she doesn’t really do much in these chapters other than call up Tsukimi to congratulate her on the success of the fashion show and to taunt her by saying it’s all ‘useless’ and how they’ll never get enough money to halt the wave of development and progress. Tsunami is enough of a nerd that the taunt breaks her, and then she sends the rest of the Amars into similar depressions when she confesses what’s bothering her.
At the end of the volumes, it sort of looks like the Amars are broken up, because with the Indian company taking over the dress making, Tsukimi and Kuranosuke are the only ones with Jellyfish business to occupy them. The rest are feeling a little used and abused.
Tsukimi is still obsessively making dress designs and even when approached in a kind of peace offering (without being explicit, of course)…. she turns down hotpot night!
Dun dun DUN!!
I don’t know. Given what I’ve read in the episode guide, it sounds like there are other plot developments to come that we haven’t hit yet. In their place we got reams of fashion talk, including Tsukimi being dragged out to experience fashion so that she can better choose the fabrics she wants the Indian out-sourcing dressmakers to use. I have to admit that I skimmed a lot of the fashion stuff. That doesn’t interest me in the LEAST. I like the nerds and the otaku commune and I’m moderately shipping Tsukimi and the elder brother, Shuu. I’m sure I’m supposed to ship Tsukimi and Kuranosuke, but I kind of would prefer it if Kuranosuke were gay or ‘new half.’ But believe me, the author spends several panels making absolutely clear that there is NO HOMO here. Crossdressing is just a hobby (and, you know, that’s fine–in fact giving straight, cis men a chance to crossdress is cool with me.–but Higashimura-sensei, you told us already… several times. Put down the ‘no homo’ spray, we get it.)
But that does lessen my enjoyment of this manga. The only queer characters left are not explicitly so, so…. and given that this manga seems very determined to pair-up and feminize our otaku ladies, I’m not holding my breath for any queer canon couples. Alas.
It’s still fun, though.