Kuragehime – 5

He’s a virgin!

It’s amazing just how much content Kuragehime has packed into just five episodes. There’s been so much plot, so much character development and so many big comedy moments that it feels as if I’ve been watching the series for months. I think that’s a testament to the fact that there’s just no waste – no wasted episodes, no wasted scenes, no wasted moments. Every minute of every show is packed with quality.

I had been hoping that the redevelopment storyline would be downplayed, fearing a rather conventional David vs. Goliath morality play on tradition vs heartless modern sprawl. But I have to confess I rather liked the way they handled it – like everything else in this show, it was full of twists and leavened with smart humor. Chieko’s mother having finally decided to sell out to the developer, Chieko persuades the Amars to attend the development meeting to speak out against the move. Problem is that, naturally, career women and being looked at are two more things the nuns just can’t deal with. This scene has two key moments – first, the revelation that dense Shu still doesn’t realize Tsukimi is the girl in the kimono. And second, the aptly named Inari, the vixen representing the development company that wants to build the hotel. She spots Shu in the audience, recognizes him immediately as a Minister’s son, and undergoes a Superman-like transformation into a seductress intent on currying Shu’s favor (and perhaps stealing his cherry in the process).

Meanwhile, Kuranosuke continues to be the most complex and unreadable character on the show. Not surprisingly he takes the Amars side in their dispute, though his reasons for showing so much passion for the cause could be many and varied. He certainly feels something for Tsukimi, and he doesn’t mind the idea of crossing his father. But there also seems to be something of the crusader in him, the defender of lost causes. Having already transformed Tsukimi with mixed (from his perspective especially) results, he scolds the rain-soaked and dour Amars that they can’t possibly fight the development looking like they do. Thus begins one of the more hilarious transformation sequences in recent anime, starting with Mayaya and Banba. And thus, the battle is truly joined.

This is one show that’s mastered the art of combining absurd humor and complex emotional development. Tsukimi is such an easy character to identify with – her dream of being a jellyfish, floating peacefully in the current without all those ugly human complications, was beautifully presented. She’s broken, as everyone in this cast is in some way, yet a beautiful soul just waiting to be brought out of her chrysalis. Shu is going to be dealing with some serious issues with Inari, by the look of things. Kura still won’t be honest with himself about just how he feels about Tsukimi, and he hasn’t even revealed his identity to the Amars. And they themselves must decide if saving their home is a worthy enough reason to abandon their cloistered fantasy life and confront the ugliness of adulthood and the surprises and delights of the world outside their walls. That’s a lot of ground to cover in six episodes, but with the track record of the first five Kuragehime should have no trouble doing it brilliantly.

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