Princess Jellyfish (海月姫) by Akiko Higashimura
Ah, to be out on your own and among friends. Well, sort of. The women of the Amamizukan apartment house are a group of NEETs being supported by their parents and bound together by sisterhood (no men allowed!), geekery, and a rejection of trendy culture. But aspiring artist and jellyfish otaku Tsukimi inadvertently upsets the balance after bringing home the way-too-fashionable Kuranosuke.
Kuranosuke enters the house after helping Tsukimi rescue a jellyfish from a neglectful petstore. He is a cross-dresser, which Tsukimi doesn’t realize until the next morning, upsetting the balance even further. To top it off, once Kuranosuke meets the women of the house he gains a brash desire to pull Tsukimi and her friends into the real world.
The unlikely and unconventional friendship between Tsukimi and Kuranosuke is the crux of the series. These are two characters with a lot of complex issues to work through from their pasts on the way to who they want to be. They both feel the loss of their mothers keenly. Tsukimi is hiding away and Kuranosuke is hiding in plain sight.
The depiction of women geeks and groups comes from a place of clear understanding and doesn’t veer into fetishization. Likewise, Kuranosuke’s cross-dressing is thoughtful and his reasons for it are explored.
Throw in Kuranosuke’s brother who falls in love with Tsukimi after an impromptu makeover; the political spotlight that Kurnosuke’s family occupies; and the ensuing redevelopment project of the neighborhood, and you have a series that will tickle your funny bone and pull at your heart.