I recently described one of the plot points of this volume to a non-manga-reading friend, and he seemed really weirded out by the synopsis I gave him. It drove home for me how weird this series can be from time to time. Though it’s got a rough exterior at times, it’s still such a treat to read.
Where the first volume ended with the threat of Amamizu-kan’s sale laid bare in front of Amars, this one establishes what appears to be our main plot: that is, now Kuranosuke is pushing the Amars to raise money to buy Amamizu-kan back.
There’s trouble in paradise, however, when we learn that the women of Amars have.. less than stellar bank balances. With that in mind, Kuranosuke must now coach the Amars to craft and follow through with some quick moneymaking schemes. Chief in this volume is participating in a community flea market, where Tsukimi’s homemade plush jellyfish are a hit with patrons.
Meanwhile, Kuranosuke’s family must deal with fallout from Inari, the real estate developer, who took pictures of Shu in compromising positions while he was inebriated. The photos suggest Shu had sex with Inari, but you may remember from volume 1 that it was all a farce. Shu struggles with his feelings for her and his feelings for Tsukimi, while his family is at least hopeful he will change now that he isn’t a.. virgin.
Kuranosuke and Tsukimi’s encounters with Inari dig into Tsukimi, as it’s obvious these compromising photos eat at her and flare up her jealousy. Her initial response is to lock those feelings away and shut herself in her room. Kuranosuke is grudgingly able to coax her out in time to put together a jellyfish-inspired dress. Her memories of her mother ignite her passion, and she’s inspired to create a gorgeous piece that piques Kuranosuke’s interest. Her lack of confidence is unsteady, so there are times when she doesn’t want to continue.
There’s a really beautiful sequence towards the second half of this volume that illustrates Tsukimi’s comfort mechanism, where, after being othered by her classmates, she goes home and is immediately comforted by her mother, and while floating in bliss with her imaginary version of Clara, her world comes crashing down when she encounters Inari’s photos. I loved the inclusion of this sequence, as it highlights how Tsukimi clings to the past to cope with her present issues. I really feel for her, but with all the shakeups in her life – falling in love with a man knowing that it’s forbidden by her housemates, being encouraged by her weird friend to indulge her passions and try new things – I think it’s important for her to reconcile the past and move forward. As much as I like the Amars crew, it’s not hard to see that their reluctance to change is holding her back.
The sequence where she’s making the dress is also really great, too, because she’s in a different, healthier mode. If Chihaya in Chihayafuru is a more self-confident character learning to accommodate more people in her life, Tsukimi is learning to love herself in a new, challenging way. I feel for her just as much. The sequences with Shu are weaker only relatively speaking, but the way he has feelings for her, however stilted and unrealistic, gives me hope that they’ll make it work if they do get together.
Princess Jellyfish is written and illustrated by Higashimura Akiko. It was serialized in Kodansha’s Kiss magazine from 2008 to 2016, and it was later collected in 17 bound volumes. The series has been licensed by Kodansha Comics, which has been releasing the series in 2-in-1 omnibus format. Eight omnibus volumes have been released as of April 2018. Check out Kodansha Comics’ page for the series here.