Princess Jellyfish: It's Not About The Wedding.
I found Princess Jellyfish at a time when I most needed it. Over many rewatches and throughout reading the anime my connection to it has only gotten stronger. However rewatching it for the podcast challenged me to look at it more critically than I had previously...
The anime opens with Tsukimi and her mother watching jellyfish at an Aquarium. They're beautiful and the long tentacles that gracefully trail behind them look like lace. The moment feels serene, calm, and sad all at once - and it prompts Tsukimi's mother to tell her daughter that she will make her a wedding dress that looks like the jellyfish. It's supposed to be sweet.
When Marika first watched this scene she was frustrated - and I understand why. The notion of a woman's wedding day being the best day of her life is an outdated one. Even when you factor in the context of this opening scene (which is provided fairly early in the anime) the anime seems to still be building towards a romance between either of the two brothers - the culmination of which will surely lead to Tsukimi standing at the alter in a jellyfish wedding dress. In an anime that seems to want to celebrate found family and the beauty in being different there is a bitterness to the feeling that it's story will conclude in such an outdated and traditional way.
As we see through Tsukimi's memories, the aquarium trip was the last good day she experienced with her terminally ill mother before she passed. It's heavily implied that the jellyfish wedding dress was meant to be a way for Tsukimi to feel like as if she was present on her wedding day and for this last happy memory to continue to be a part of her daughter's life. It's likely that this was also the turning point that fostered Tsukimi's deep interest in and love of jellyfish.
If you've watched the anime but not read the manga then I wouldn't fault you for seeing the early stages of Tsukimi and Kuranosuke's developing jellyfish fashion line and her budding romance with Shu and assuming that the obvious convergence of these two storylines is Tsukimi marrying Shu in a wedding dress from her own fashion line. Hell, even if you have read the manga it's easy to assume that's where the story is going - after all Tsukimi does get engaged to Shu and the fashion line does continue to grow. The thing is... It's never been about the wedding.
As Marika so wisely pointed out during our recording for this episode - even when Tskumi fantasizes about her wedding there is never a specific man attached to those fantasies. The fantasy is purely about the dress and what is represents - connection and family. Princess Jellyfish is not a love story. It is a story where love exists but the power of this story is in how our interests, no matter how niche or geeky, are a vehicle for connecting with others.It's left in the air whether or not she'll choose to continue her relationship with Shu, but one thing that is very clear at the end of Tsukimi's story is that there will not be a wedding.
Tsukimi's need to fantasize has ended. She has already found family and connection through The Sisterhood and the jellyfish inspired dresses that she creates with them and Kuranosuke. Through the jellyfish dresses they create, Tsukimi is able to not only honor her mother and that treasured memory but to celebrate it - and not just on her wedding but every day.
I fell in love with Princess Jellyfish because it allowed me to connect to something in a deeper way than I had in months. Yes, there are some rough edges to the anime and some commentary and themes that feel a little unfinished - but my conclusion is that "connection" is actually not only this story's biggest strength but also its greatest message. It's not about the wedding - it's about the dress.
The dress might be a jellyfish. Sometimes the dress is a train or meat. Maybe a cup of tea or even a podcast... and sometimes the dress is an anime named Princess Jellyfish.
Teas drunk while recording:
Kelly: Sew Geek Dean's Apple Pie Life
Marika: David's Tea Seaberry Spa
Teas drunk while geeking: :
Kelly: Butiki Pistachio Ice Cream
Marika: White2Tea 2017 Waffles Shou Pu Erh