I adore the characters in Princess Jellyfish, particularly the protagonist, Tsukimi. Their awkward tendencies and feelings of wanting to often hide from the world are very relatable.
The show centers around five hermit-like, NEET otaku that live together in an old apartment complex in Tokyo and refer to themselves as the Amars or “nuns.” Their otaku interests range from trains to Three Kingdoms to traditional clothing and dolls to “gracefully aging” men. Tsukimi is the newest member and fits right in, which is a rare thing to happen for her as we learn, with her obsessive affinity for jellyfish. Although Tsukimi enjoys her life and the people she lives with, she admits from episode one realizing she doesn’t think she is what she was meant to be.
“Mom, I know I was supposed to turn into a princess, but somehow I became a freak.”
On the surface, she is referring to the way she looks, but on a deeper level I think she feels more should be happening in her life, that she should have become something greater. She is not sure what that thing is, she just knows.
Looking at the lives of Tsukimi and the Amars , I’m definitely reminded of the parable of the talents. In the parable, a man leaves his property to his servants in different amounts and then leaves on a journey. When he returns, all of the servants have used what they were given to increase his household, except for the last one.
“ He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’”
He was afraid, so he hid what he was given just like the Amars do and just like we do sometimes. The Amars have as minimal contact with the outside world as possible, preferring to devote the majority of their time to their individual obsessions that are basically their idols. Even when they must interact, they can have a reaction where they forget the interaction entirely and replace the memory with thoughts of their obsessions.
It’s tempting to act this way, at least for me. Sometimes, I just don’t want to deal with it, don’t want to put myself out there, don’t want to struggle with anything and just want to take the easy way. That’s not the person I’m supposed to be as a Christian but, regardless, it’s an easy rut for me to fall into.
The Amars seem to actively pursue and continuously live in that rut and, at the beginning of the anime; it doesn’t show signs of changing. Not until an outside influence is introduced in Kuranoske, the cross-dressing, painfully direct “stylish” that follows Tsukimi home one night after helping her save a jellyfish. He plants himself in the middle of the group and continuously pushes them out of their comfort zones, particularly Tsukimi.
I guess Kuranoske would represent the Holy Spirit in this scenario. The Amars would have never changed if Kuranoske hadn’t come into their lives and, as Christians, we can’t depend on our own efforts to change us into what God originally intended. We need God to make that change and help us grow into who we were meant to be.
“ I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
If we abide in him and trust him, God will grow us and push us to become something greater. But we must continuously abide and always look towards God during the growth. If we lose focus, it’s all too easy to become frustrated at the fact that we’re not in control and retreat back into the shell when things become hard. In the show, even after Tsukimi begins changing and starts trusting Kuranoske, who is continuously, and sometimes physically, pushing her towards something greater, as challenges increase, she wants to retreat.
“I’m don’t want to get heated up or go cold over little things. I’m sick of it. A lukewarm life is enough for me.”
It’s not only hard to step out into a new life, but to stay out. That’s why we need to be continuously refreshed, by fellowship, the Word and prayer. We need to “stay awake” and be sober minded even when the only thing we want to do is sleep and, most importantly, remember we can’t do it alone with our own power. God means for it to be hard sometimes so we will remember to look to him from whom all good thing come.
5 thoughts on “Princess Jellyfish and Becoming Who We’re Meant to Be”
Ah! What a great show. I adored how Kuranosuke became friends with them, persistant and not off-put by their behaviour. Instead, he was open to experiencing life through their eyes, and wanting to open them to new ones as well. Definitely a lesson to take to heart!
Speaking of idols, I often wonder what to make of Exodus 20:4-5. “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,”
In this entry you refer to Tsukimi and her housemates’ obsessions as “idols.” Do you think that their interests are equivalent to the worship of actual idols/”graven images” as I believe the text was intended to mean? If so, you’re probably in the majority but I’m just wondering where this interpretation (which I assume is a rather modern one) came from? I’ve heard this message countless times as a child and as an adult, that everything from money, pornography, alcohol and drugs, to sports, anime, television, hobbies and routine interests falls under this verse and can be considered an “idol.” I just have to wonder whether or not this kind of thought process existed 2500-3000 years ago or whenever the book was written. But, of course, if the text was spiritually inspired, then perhaps its current interpretation was absolutely intended (although possibly unknown to the author at the time).
I don’t really want to start a debate about this and I don’t consider myself knowledgeable enough to engage in one with a well-read Christian or student of the Bible. But it’s just been something that I’ve been wondering for some time and reading this entry this morning, I felt like this would be as good a time as any to at least get my thoughts about it down in words. Hope you don’t mind this sort of off-topic comment.
I really love Princess Jellyfish and you have no idea how glad I am to read a review of it from a Christian perspective that doesn’t simply focus on the immorality of Kuranoske’s crossdressing (not that I’ve read any yet) which, to anyone who’s actually watched the series, is simply one aspect of his personality and perfectly harmless, IMHO.
A shame that it ended like it did (although these people would disagree) but altogether was a really wonderful series. Thanks for this entry.
I definitely think the idols commandment is meant to encompass more than just graven images just like the commandment to not commit murder goes beyond just actually killing someone.
“ You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘ You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.”
But I see your point because the word idol is mainly used in scripture to refer to graven images. I probably could have chosen a better word.
I was disappointed with the ending to Princess Jellyfish as well. It was a good stopping point but not a good ending point. There were things beyond Tsukimi and Kuranoske’s relationship that were unresolved( and I guess I did want it to go on longer :p) It’s still a great anime though. It’s got one of my favorite opening themes. Glad you liked the post!
Okay, so this is over a year old, but should anyone (like myself) stumble here and start reading the comments, I would like to contribute this verse to the discussion of idols:
“Son of man, these men have set up idols in their hearts and put wicked stumbling blocks before their faces. Should I let them inquire of me at all? -Ezekiel 14:3 (NIV)
I think this verse shows that an idol isn’t just a false thing you bow down to.
With that in mind, Princess Jellyfish is sitting at home waiting to be watched one day. It’s technically my fiancee’s, but I end up holding onto the majority of her anime.
[…] Princess Jellyfish and Becoming Who We’re Meant to Be […]