Kuragehime: How to Cry and Laugh At the Same Time

I love Kuragehime. One of my favorite anime and manga. It has an incredible sense of realism (and no, I’m not talking about the scenes where the Nuns turn to stone. If you look at it in a broader context it is realistic, especially compared to most SoL shows), it’s genuinely moving, and it makes you laugh even when you see the joke coming.

I kind of want to do a “What’s in an OP” for Kuragehime in the style that Mother’s Basement does his, but I’ll save that for later. Regardless, the quintessence of how this anime can capture these contrasting feelings within minutes of one another while seeming natural is kind of amazing. I’ll watch a tearful and heartbreaking scene of Tsukimi remembering her mother, and then Kuranosuke round-kicks her away from his brother out of jealousy. Or perhaps the scene where Landshark shows her sex photo to Kuranosuke and Tsukimi, making her run away crying? Yes it’s hilarious since they didn’t have sex and she’s so adamant despite Kuranosuke calling out her bullshit, but at the same time I personally empathized with Tsukimi and saw how sensitive she is.

Which touches on one of the most important parts about the show: Tsukimi is kind of adorably sensitive. Kuranosuke sees her grouped in with the rest of the residents of Amamizu-kan and Tsukimi groups herself in with that crowd and they all accept one another, but fundamentally in a way that only the viewer can really understand she is so different. Kuranosuke is given tastes of it in scenes like where she sips on her tea while the rest of the Nuns are boisterously chomping down their ham or when she tries on the sheet as a wedding dress. The rest of the Nuns have fully become the NEET; the ultimate deniers of men and, indirectly, femininity.

If you can’t tell by my favorite anime, I love shows that question gender norms and gender in general. Kuragehime subtly brings up how the Nuns conversely become more masculine in order to avoid males, because it opens the opportunity to relationships and the end of NEEThood and not being normie (see Welcome to the NHK for how love trumps being a NEET). Ultimately the source swinging the Nuns into the hipster crowd though is a woman, Kurako, teaching them the ways of fashion and bringing out the inner artist in Tsukimi. Wait… But there’s yet another layer! In reality it’s the man, Kuranosuke, who breaks down their barriers by force and brings them into the most feminine of worlds: fashion. It is a man who is feminizing the nuns, just as is their fear. Yet he isn’t feminizing them indirectly by attracting them with his own handsomeness. He is there directly. Blunt, bold, and charismatic. Shamelessly crossdressing, he waltzes into the no-man-zone and breaks down their abhorrence of normies.

It’s curious that Tsukimi’s discomfort with Kuranosuke when he isn’t crossdressed is out of a worry of chemistry or attraction between the two, yet she’s clearly blind toward his actual moments of expressing interest, between when her eyes are literally closed to whenever she does something actually kind of adorable in Kuranosuke’s eyes like staring at the jellyfish moon. There’s something beautiful and complex about how gender separation in nerd circles occurs, and Kuragehime dissects this while sidelining the anime/video game/manga otaku aspect of the whole nerd world. Had all the girls been fujoshi or otaku, I don’t think the show would be less original per se since while there are numerous other fujoshi shows that have come out (and were coming out around the time Kuragehime aired), none of them focused on habitat and etcetera in such a way. Yet by further distancing itself from otakudom, Kuragehime is able to create its own unique bubble yet to be explored in other media.

Ultimately, you can still draw comparisons to shows like Welcome to the NHK, Genshiken, and so on and so on, but nothing has come out in the same way as Kuragehime filling the same niche. It’s interesting. You’d think I’d be able to find a dozen ‘normal’ anime with the same level of character interactions and plot as Kuragehime that don’t feature NEETs and crossdressers, but you’d be at least somewhat mistaken. I will admit that ParaKiss and Nana also feature interesting character interactions and etcetera, but ParaKiss DOES include a transgender character and Nana is…

Uhh…

Well, now I must talk about Nana, mustn’t I?

Another day! Another day! I must have the pretense of an ordinary sleep schedule despite it being 3:00 AM.

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