「魔法をかけられて」 (Mahō wo Kakerarete)

As an aspiring filmmaker (who is currently all talk and no show), the things I watch now are not only just for entertainment, but appeal to me as a constant learning process. While anime takes out some of the skill required for real life camera manipulation, everything else pretty much still applies. Having not noticed many particular director quirks in previous episodes, this one stood out a bit in particular. Scenes such as where Shuu and Kuranosuke are dressing up, actually serve to display the contrast in their lives without a single piece of dialogue. Although these scenes may have been set up this way in the manga, I haven’t read it, so I can only think that Omoro Takahiro is pulling the strings. A history of weaving multiple story-lines all at once (Baccano, DRRR), Takahiro’s directing skills are probably top notch by now, and it shows.

In the beginning, we get a different narrator, Kuranosuke, which elevates his role as the second main character. Yeah, a pretty obvious storytelling skill, but see, there’s so many things that are revealed about him and his surrounding environment through this method that really couldn’t be much better done otherwise. Perhaps more importantly, are his two reasons to cross-dress, as he intends not to be the next politician in line, so therefore he becomes a “pervert”, making himself unsuitable for public votes. This perspective pretty much confirms that his previous intentions are all innocent, so really, he has no ultimatum except to be friends with the Amar (with the hilarious yet touching goal of giving them all makeovers). Kuranosuke’s narration plays out until the end of the first half of the episode, where he reveals his second reason, in that he cross-dresses because indirectly, he’s only interested in the fashion world. So basically, Kuranosuke loves fashion, particularly the female side, and is not actually interested in cross-dressing for controversial reasons, making a huge difference in character from what we might have been led to believe since the first episode. I’ve noticed the author of the original story, Higashimura Akiko, has thrown out many subjects that are looked down upon, such as otaku obsession and cross-dressing, and given them rather harmless reasons for doing them. I thought about it more this episode, and I realized it’s kind of like chickening out from reality, because most of the people who do these, as society deems it, “unhealthy hobbies”, don’t really have conveniently reasonable explanations. There needs to be a driving point later on in order to make any statement about these hobbies, but you could say that the show is taking a Gandhi approach, with happiness and butterflies.

Now, before Tsukimi takes over the narration at midpoint, there’s a bunch of characters that were thrown at us who are obviously more important than is let on. We know their uncle is the minister of etc. (definitely voiced by Chiba Shigeru, because I’d recognize that Buggy shriek anywhere) and apparently a softie for cute girls (possibly a bit more), the Koibuchi’s family relationships, and the father being Gendou-status (except the son doesn’t care). However, what’s particularly interesting is the subtle appearance of the uncle’s escort driver, who seems familiar with Kuranosuke at some level (while also appearing in the preview), and the introduction of the Koibuchi family’s mother. She seems to be some sort of singer or actor, resulting in a closet full of fabulous clothes, but it seems she left the family on a rather bad note. Kuranosuke really wants to see her, as well as just for her closet, so I smell an inevitable sub-plot.

Fashion speaks to many, and because of Kuranosuke’s attraction to the art of attraction, he decides to give Tsukimi a makeover (persuasion of course by seduction, but I wonder if he’s using his bishie charm or bijin charm), resulting in a beauty that just can’t go unnoticed. As suspected, Shuu walks in, she walks out, love is in the air, and Cupid fires two arrows (although at different times). My reaction? “Oh hell no, she’s totally Kuranosuke’s, gtfo Shuu. You’re just a stuck up conservative politician! You don’t deserve her innocence! Come on Tsukimi, polish those glasses. This is just all wrong..” As you can see, I don’t particularly like him (Takashi ain’t helpin’ though I am impressed at his vocal range), but I can just see it now: Shuu rapidly undergoes a “change in heart” at the penultimate moment of deciding whether or not to demolish the Amamizu apartments, and he will choose no and suddenly he’s an awesome guy. And yes, it has been confirmed that there is a plan to destroy and redevelop the lot the complex is located on. But yeah, TsukimixShuu, not cool.

In retrospect, a hard and gritty raw emotion story, Kuragehime will not be. Nonetheless, I like the show for the many things it does right. Besides, surprise in the plot line shall be had, as it is still way too early to tell. So display your prowess to me, oh Kodansha award winner!

Optional Trivia:
Last week’s Panty & Stocking episode had a tangent where it was supposedly a message about Japan’s current stressful workforce. This episode of Kuragehime also had a little discussion stemming from Kuranosuke calling them NEETs. Mayaya describes that the previous generation, the “baby boomers” had profited from the growing market, and are now rather rich. Of course, when an economy gets to that point, it’s bound to pop, and suddenly the market plummeted, leading the succeeding generation became instantly screwed over with the shortage of jobs. Sounds a lot like the roaring twenties and the subsequent market crash of America doesn’t it? This apparently took place in the early nineties, and from 1990 to 2000, people refer it as the “Lost Decade”. This explains why Kuranosuke thought they were in their thirties, because this happened a while ago. A recent example of people getting screwed over was the recent recession in the United States. People who had been graduating during that time pretty much had one of the hardest times in finding jobs. It sucks because this kind of stuff changes people’s entire lives, just because they chose to pick a career based solely on the economy. Anyway, the Japanese economy has been slowly recovering since 2000, so all is well, for now. Wow. An economic lesson. Sorry. ._.




    1. He also did a Kira* as Tsukimi ran pass iirc

      Does he really do the Kiraboshi in the manga though? Or does it relate to something else that i should know, and NOT Star Driver XD


  1. I’m really loving this show, possibly my favourite this season, but as you mentioned, it takes the “issues” quite lightly. This is while I’m waiting for winter to come, so that Hourou Musuko can air. I was actually amazed they decided to adapt it into an anime, considering the subjects that are often considered taboo by society.
    Anyway, less seriously, cross-dressing makes me oh so happy.

  2. its heavily implied that shuu and kuranosuke have different mothers since tsukimi noted that they dont look alike, and because how Shuu refers to her by her name.

    also, I don’t believe this show is glorifying the otaku world. sure their reasons are innocent, but most otakus arent crazy deviants or anything, theyre just people thatre crazy about their hobbies. these women are antisocial, generally unattractive, awkward, penniless and virgins, so it does show the possible negative side of being an otaku. this show just presents these types of themes in a more light-hearted manner, which i personally enjoy and find very entertaining 🙂

  3. About the economy. That dot com boom in the economy during the late nineties is an example from the US. My cousin hit the market right before then, made it big and found a ridiculously nice, stable job. Then right after till around now, our generation is kinda languishing in a luke warm job market. Not saying it’s impossible to get good jobs, but the situation’s vastly different when you come of age on the down hill side of things.

    1. Yeah I saw a documentary related to that, “We Live in Public”, about Josh Harris, who was a dotcom kid. He pulled some pretty ridiculous experiments, one being that he put 100 people together into a confined underground “living” place, and had cameras on them 24/7 to see how people would react with absolutely no privacy. Showers, toilets, beds, all had cameras. Thing is, each person had a TV where they can tune into a channel and watch other people. You’d get people hooking up and doing the dirty while people stand around or watch it on their respective television sets. By the end, everyone just became absolutely primal. Harris later became consumed with his curiosity about human psyche and did the experiment on himself, which eventually lead to him losing everything he had. Crazy times indeed.

  4. At least Banba is over thirty – she says she is 8, born in a leap year – 8×4 = 32. Tsukimi is probably the youngest, since she is the newest addition.

    That said, I don’t think the anime takes issues lightly. It paints a differentiated picture, without hitting you over the head with simple truths. For example, the amars are almost incapable of normal interaction with “hipsters” and by “hipster” standards aren’t at all appealing. Yet, they’re happy in their own world. While Tsukimi wants to be a princess, she also resists Kuranosuke’s makeover in the end. The whole definition of beauty thing is a real minefield, one I’m really interested in seeing how this anime navigates.

    A similar issue is the job situation mentioned in this ep. From the outside, the amars do seem like NEETs – but they have several explanations as to why that is and what they really do and I’m pretty sure that being attractive also helps you get hired in Japan.

    Then there’s Kuranosuke. The reasons for dressing up in women’s clothes are most likely deeper than just not wanting to be a politican and enjoying the fashion world. He might not even know the exact reasons himself, but the anime hints at them all the same.

    Anyway, *kiraboshi* – almost did a spittake when I saw that.

    1. Yeah no, that’s exactly what I’m saying. Gandhi method. While it seems light and innocent on the surface, the issues are still there, but they’re going about it really carefully. I also think the reasons for Kuranosuke’s cross-dressing may be deeper than what he tells us, but apparently that’s also a “minefield” I need to carefully write about. 😛

      1. I think the reason why this show is taking a more nuanced approach is because the target audience is older than the usual shoujo/shonen audience, so they should be able to understand without having everything spelled out for them. 11 episodes is not a lot, so if they want to do the redevelopment drama, love story and character development, they can’t spend too much time debating every single issue.

    2. i recently did an essay about plastic surgery in asia, and japan was one of the top 7 countries for getting plastic surgery. one of the top causes for getting plastic surgery was to improve job opportunities and in some parts of asia it’s mandatory to put headshot of yourself on a job application. so i’d have to agree with you when you say that being attractive helps you get job opportunities in japan.

  5. “So basically, Kuranosuke loves fashion, particularly the female side, and is not actually interested in cross-dressing for sexual reasons, making a huge difference in character from what we perceived since the first episode. I’ve noticed the author of the original story, Higashimura Akiko, has thrown out many subjects that are looked down upon, such as otaku obsession and cross-dressing, and given them rather harmless reasons for doing them. I thought about it more this episode, and I realized it’s kind of like chickening out from reality, because most of the people who do these, as society deems it, “unhealthy” hobbies”, don’t really have conveniently reasonable explanations. There needs to be a driving point later on in order to make any statement about these hobbies, but you could say that the show is taking a Gandhi approach, with happiness and butterflies.”

    This paragraph is just disappointing.
    How can you even talk about reality unless you actually know throughly such people in reality?
    Your opinion that crossdresser=pervert is quite shallow really, as it is what others influenced you to think through “norm opinion” or what you thought by seeing a kind of behavior you couldn’t explain and thus labeled it as something flawed.

    Take a tip from me, if your aspiring for any kind of work that involves fiction and writing plots, try opening your mind more. Stigmas are a tool for fiction writers to use on the viewer to make him connect with the characters, but not something you base your entire plot\character on.

    Anyway my main point to all of this as that not all crossdressers are perverts or gay or whatever. In fact it’s probably not most of them. Everybody have thier werid quirks and obssesions. We have it with japanese animated fiction and it’s merchandise and others have it with woman’s clothing.

    1. like eddie izzard says, the weirdo transvestites are a minority. kuranosuke is more of an executive transvestite. :p

      i do think kiiragi missed the point in the way the show addresses these “deviant” lifestyles. it’s not to escape reality but rather to present a more accurate reality – the truth is that most cross-dressers AREN’T perverts and most otaku AREN’T psycho. the goal is to show that these people shouldn’t be demonized for what is ultimately a harmless hobby, and it is society who is wrong for deeming those hobbies “unhealthy” when they aren’t. so kuranosuke likes to dress up like a woman. so what? if that’s what makes him happy, he’s not hurting anyone. the amars are the way they are because they are introverted, insecure, and they know that their personality quirks prevent them from fitting in with the rest of society. they’re not bad people, they’re just different.

      diet otaku
    2. I never said being a cross dresser automatically makes a person a pervert (oh and the pervert line was Kuranosuke’s words/subs, not mine), only that reasons such as the ones Kuranosuke has can hardly be taken as the representative. I don’t need to know such a person to imagine most of them have reasons that other people just won’t understand. They wouldn’t have so much trouble being “accepted” if they did.

      EDIT: Though you’re right, I did write “not actually interested in cross-dressing for sexual reasons” without much thought. My fault for the conflict in thought.

  6. I love this show ♥ I’m with you on TSUKIMI X SHUU = A BAAAAAAAAAD THING! DD: Hell no, these two are NOT made for each other at all .___.
    What bothers me most is that Shuu is a damn superficial hypocrite who is disgusted when he doesn’t see his dreamgirl with make-up on. I can understand that he would find her weird, because her behaviour is strange and not charming at all, but when he sees her standing at the window he gives her that fake politician’s smile I simply cannot stand.
    Kuranosuke’s lively attitude is truly refreshing and i love how aboslutely unjudging he deals with Tsukimi 🙂 I see those two getting together in the end, although it really was quite the suprise to see her falling for Shuu first, because I didn’t see it coming

    I’m not really content with Tsukimi’s conviction to stay ugly. I would be fine with it, if she was confident and found herself beautiful as she is, but that’s not the case 😐 Lack of self-confidence is a huge weakness and when it’s only based on feeling ugly, it should be changed. Tsukimi should find a styling that fits her. It doesn’t have to be as fashionable as Kuranosuke would prefer or mainstream chic, but seeing that she isn’t content with her styling right now and doesn’t want to change it simply because she doesn’t want to be an outcast in the sisterhood annoys me.

    Thanks for your little lesson on economics, it’s highly appreciated ;D
    And thanks for bloggin the show! 😀 I would have missed out on this lovely story if it wasn’t for your review :3

  7. Damn! I was right about Shuu falling for the pretty-up Tsukimi!

    I don’t mind too much that Tsukimi falls for Shuu first, probably because I have a thing for suited-up male with glasses, as well as the fact that the real guy for Tsukimi is (most likely) going to be the trap.

    As much as some people may dislike Shuu for his superficial stuck-up personality , I kinda like him because I think he is the kind of stuck-up characters who would get humiliated from misunderstanding or misjudgment caused by his stuck-up-ness. Either that, or he would have to have an epic change of heart in some ways (still… Most likely happened after his humiliation, which has somewhat already started happening now although he doesn’t see it that way yet). Consider the tone of the show, I don’t think he would turn out to be irredeemable stuck-up asshole.

  8. NUNZ total makeover!
    I guess it worked on Tsukimi because she is really beautiful, only hidden under horrible clothes, hairstyle and glasses.
    I am not sure other girls would be as easy to transform.
    And I am totally for Tsukimi X Trap over Tsukimi X Politico.

  9. Shuu doesn’t strike me as a bad person. He seems at least a little concerned for his brother and, for example, gets the meat for him in the last episode so that Kuranosuke and his father don’t have another fight.

    As for the “how disgusting” reaction…I don’t really understand how what they were doing is disgusting actually. They weren’t acting obsessed, just playing around with one another. I realize it’s meant to add some conflict to the story, but it strikes me as a little artificial.

  10. Glad I’m seeing another post on Kuragehime which I am loving with each new episode. Thanks Kiiragi for the comments. Does anyone know if the full ED is available now? Awesome song from Sambomaster.

  11. The parallels between Japan’s economic straights in the 90’s and 00’s and America’s economic ones now are a very fascinating aspect to me. I’ll have to make time to see this show at some point. Or at least this episode.

    1. I’ll just tell you right now, that was actually only a small part of the episode, and doesn’t dive any deeper than what I described. You’d be better off reading about it on Wikipedia, but the show is good itself you know.. :]

  12. ahhh the classic diamond in the ruff thingy…..is that what we’re going for???
    i laughed my ass off when the dudes bro showed up and they all came out like hopping Chinese draculas, what dude wouldn’t be like WTF!?!? are they all in their 30’s though??????

    BROOKLYN otaku
  13. This is just a wonderful show and I’m so happy I started watching it after reading the reviews. That said, I am totally not okay with TsukimiXShuu. Though I think it’s kinda interesting plot point. She was taken in by his fake smile, and him by her fake appearance. Both have misjudged each other, even if Tsukimi is the innocent plain-jane, she was just as capable as anyone for being taken in by a handsome face. If she knew more of Shuu’s personality would she feel the same? Would he? It’s kind of a nice juxtaposition. A really honest relationship (TsukimiXKuranosuke) versus a very superficial one (TsukimiXshuu).

    Stephs a Geek

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