Kuragehime 1, God Only Knows 2

Many seasons I’ll watch the new shows, some of them good, some of them not so good but still interesting, but hardly anything that’s different. I don’t mean weird, I mean something that doesn’t look and behave like the others. Often the noitaminA timeslot saves the day with diverse shows like Eden of the East, Trapeze or Honey and Clover, just to name three. I’m happy to say they’ve done it again with their new show: Kuragehime.

Kuragehime stars Tsukimi, a nerdy young woman obsessed with jellyfish who works as an illustrator in Tokyo. She’s hapless, frightened of crowds, and lives in a boarding house with other women who are just as nerdy in their own way. It’s clear from the start that her friendship with them keeps her going, but at the same time they seem to reinforce each other’s lack of social skills. But they’re happy enough. Then, in an attempt to rescue a beloved pet-store jellyfish from certain death (Did you know that if you put a spotted jellyfish in a small tank with an aurelia it will die from the aurelia’s secretions? You learn plenty about jellyfish in this show) she meets the kind of person she normally is terrified of.

This person takes a liking to Tsukimi and even crashes at her place, leaving Tsukimi to fret about what the others will say when they see this “princess” in their midst, not to mention the jellyfish in the bathtub. It will come as no surprise that things aren’t all they seem with this princess, and I hope the show doesn’t fall into a “hide the true identity” story. I’m not too worried. The show is cheerfully eccentric and deals with its odd characters with affection. And again, there’s not an ongoing series like it.

I thought last week that I would hate episode one of The World God Only Knows, and I didn’t. I thought the same before watching episode two—sooner or later it would dissolve into a cliché-fest, right? Well, it sort of is already, but again I’m beginning to find the whole thing intriguing.

We take a break from girl wooing to allow Elsee (Elci? Elsea? I’ll call her whatever the subbers do) to settle in as Keima’s little sister. Keima is against her living with him, and indeed with the embarrassment she causes him at school you can hardly blame him. But for Elsee to tell his mother that she is her husband’s illegitimate daughter goes a step beyond, and surprisingly, I didn’t mind a bit. Even if Elsee has innocently wrecked a household! Maybe it was the mother’s violent reaction. But Keima won’t budge, and Elsee has to go to great lengths to prove that she’s a real little sister, like accidentally blasting a whole in a wall, climbing into the tub with him, you know, the usual.

That takes up the first half. The second half concerns their next project, a spoiled rich girl named Mio, who shows her meanness at the school bread stand. You want to boo her. Keima snaps into action, tests strategies on Elsee, and tries one on Mio, and is rather violently rebuffed. What I like about Keima is that he takes this reaction in stride. He takes the failure as new information and refines his plans. He’s utterly confident in his abilities. There’s a twist at the episode’s end that will give him plenty to think over.

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