Kuragehime – 2

Episode 1 of Kuragehime was probably the best premiere of the fall, and the follow-up, though sadly delayed by a week, didn’t disappoint. Based on two eps this is my favorite show of the fall, and it’s been a pretty decent fall.

There are so many things I loved about that episode that it would be impossible to list them all, but some highlights would be:

– Tsukimi’s reaction when Kuranosuke said “I wanted to see you again.”
– Banba. The Banba-ray, her hair getting stuck in the door – all of it.
– The Arakawa Tram. I rode it in May (it’s the last streetcar in Tokyo)
– The bumpers with Clara
– Tsukimi’s mental breakdowns. As good as “tilt” gets…
– The “Three Kingdoms” obsession. Chips! Moe!

I absolutely love the unvarnished way the series looks at all the characters. The Nuns are exactly what they are – they’re not ashamed of their lifestyle or their personal passions, nor should they be. But they’re also revealed to be borderline paranoid, genuinely rude to Kuranosuke and missing out on so much of life because of their self-imposed exile from society. And that’s the truth, really – no matter how much they claim this is their lifestyle choice, they live the way they do because they’re afraid of human contact and stricken with (unjustified) self-loathing. In a judgmental and shallow culture, they dread above all else the idea of being judged.

As for Kuranosuke, he’s genuinely friendly and a nice person. But his lifestyle is a matter of pure escapism too, which we saw the first strong hints of in this episode. He dislikes the lifestyle of his rich and powerful family, so he plays the buffoon and dresses as a woman to live a life as repellent to his family as possible. He’s just as much of a social outcast as the Nuns are, even if he’s totally at ease in his own skin.

I don’t know exactly where all this is going from here. Obviously the potential for romance between Tsukimi and Kuranosuke is there, though for now their budding friendship is delightful enough. Since this is really a story about not fitting in, there’s certainly potential for it to become a little saccharine and full of life’s lessons as the Nuns discover their “inner beauty” and Kuranosuke reconciling with who he is. I don’t see that happening, though – with Omori-san directing and the incredibly light touch in the writing, I think this will continue to be blunt and honest in its view of its characters. Kura’s bribe of the Matsuzaka beef certainly showed the Nuns that “Stylish” aren’t all bad, but it’s going to take more than that to get him accepted – and that’s even accepted as a woman, never mind a boy. And then there’s Kuro’s brother and his family connections, which are obviously going to play a role in the larger “plot” that will accompany the character stuff. That’s fine – I don’t mind a little plot, but I just love watching these people go through their paces. I wish that episode could have gone on for hours.

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