I was pleased to see Jellyfish Princess (Kuragehime) approach the issue of beauty and looks that I haven’t seen tackled too much when it comes to girl geeks. Tsukimi struggles under Kuranosuke’s impromptu make-over fearing the rejection of her peers if she were to change her look from frumpy to fashionable. How could she show her face to her friends? Who was she if not dressed in a sweatsuit? She even ends the episode saying “I don’t want to be pretty.” There is more to it than merely not being pretty, in fact it is the idea of actively trying to look bad.
I understand the idea all too well, you essentially start rationalizing it as conforming or selling-out if you were to dress well or spend any amount of time on your hair. There is a pressure there created by the association of how the popular people look and how they have treated you. But Jellyfish Princess takes it a step further, in every episode, by showing how the group has its own ideals that must be conformed to. Them all being female is very important to this dynamic; there is a different kind of expectation in a women only group when it comes to physical appearance. If a “pretty one” emerges the equality is thrown off-balance, at least in the minds of the individuals if only on a subconscious level. From there rifts can occur in the group. These in-community standards however small or large mirror the outside world’s ostracism that they are trying so desperately to seek solace from. Without them realizing it they are imposing the same kind of judgment on people based on looks that they have been victims to. While it has basically been cut by laughable moments, this is a very real issue in the many subculture communities and one very much alive in the real world geek community.
What I hope to see is approaching the middle-ground between being a faishionista and dressing without a thought in mind. The idea that one can be comfortable with how they look and express themselves through dress is important. It isn’t about dressing with the trends but dressing to compliment yourself, to feel comfortable in your skin. Tsukimi doesn’t fully know who she is and is hiding from the world, her baggy sweatsuit is just one part of that. Now if by the end of the show she knows what she wants and she is a baggy sweatsuit, I’m all for it. In the end the realization that you can’t be happy with yourself unless you are honest with yourself will hopefully free her.