Kuragehime Ep. 6

My patience for Kuragehime has worn thin.

Somehow the story that was supposed to be about dysfunctional nerds has instead turned into an indictment of chicks with careers. I thought the whole point would be that Tsukimi and her ilk would grow to realize that there is life beyond their hobbies, get jobs, and grow to respect themselves as social beings.

Instead the last two episodes have been about drawing a contrast between Tsukimi, the meek, colorless moeblob, and Shouko, the soulless office woman, as they compete for the affections of poor innocent Shu. You’ll never guess which one we’re supposed to hate and which one we’re supposed to love.

Shu, already traumatized as a child by having seen his father *gasp* kiss a girl, is roofie’d and mock-seduced by Shouko. Horror of horrors! What fate could be worse? Sex is what makes Shouko so foul and grants her evil powers. Tsukimi, on the other hand, is made pure by her virginity, which, in case we couldn’t guess, was confirmed by Koibuchi in an earlier episode. Silly me, thinking Kuragehime might show us something new.

13 thoughts on “Kuragehime Ep. 6

  1. E Minor

    I think the saddest part about this episode was Shouko having to retake the cellphone pictures over and over. Not only is she attempting to blackmail him, she’s also incredibly vain on top of it. Is it possible to character assassinate an anime character? If it is, Kuragehime is blatantly guilty of it.

    The most interesting thing about the episode, which you only mentioned in passing, how Shu was mentally scarred by witnessing some variation of the ‘primal scene’ in his youth.

    Reply
  2. Son Gohan

    First, the glasses guy is named Shu. Keiichiro is the father.
    Second, the problem is not that his father was kissing “a girl”, the problem was that he was having an affair. Although I concede that it is a poor excuse of a trauma.
    I also disagree that this show is an “indictment of career women” unless you think that a blackmailing vixen is your standard career woman… Shouko plays the role of the love rival who is the complete opposite of Tsukimi in terms of looks and personality.
    Kuranosuke is also sexually active and is a good guy, so I don’t think this show is exalting the value of chastity. In fact, Shu’s virginity is being mocked by his younger brother.

    Reply
    1. The Fin Post author

      Ugh yeah Shu, not Keiichirou, my bad. Late night, couldn’t keep my Koibuichis straight.

      Shouko is the rival, yes, but she’s also the only female character in the show who isn’t a nerd or one of Kuranosuke’s friends who he thinks are vapid. When the field of characters is narrowed like that in a show about lifestyles, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say there’s an implication being made about the archetype she represents. I personally don’t think career women are blackmailing vixens, but that is what the show is suggesting, intentionally or not.

      Unless there was something I missed, Kuranosuke’s sexuality isn’t really explored explicitly. He makes fun of Shu and Tsukimi for being virgins, but there’s no evidence that he’s a huge player himself, unlike the clear statements about Shouko closing deals between the sheets. He does leverage his looks with the P.M. to get info the way Shouko leverages hers, but clearly there isn’t anything “going on” between them. Besides, I don’t know that we’re really supposed to admire his character as a swinging crossdressing hipster. Maybe he’ll reinvent himself to win Tsukimi’s heart later, but I can’t really imagine him being the love interest as he is now.

      I don’t think the intention of the show is to promote chastity the way it’s promoted by religious types in the U.S., but its portrayal of sex is kind of juvenile and stunted. Glee (obviously kind of an outlier, but still) has a more mature take on sex, and half the cast is still in high school. Kuragehime is kind of failing on all fronts for me, but my main beef is that it isn’t offering us any examples of sexuality between ‘never been kissed’ Tsukimi and sexual assault and blackmail from Shouko.

      Reply
  3. kaei

    If the show was trying to make me hate Shouko, they failed brilliantly, since I (female, otaku, working class) quite adore her, predatory nature and all. But you’re right, I don’t think I’m perceiving it with the spirit in which it was intended. At the heart of Kuragehime beats a conservative, slut-shaming core.

    Reply
    1. The Fin Post author

      I wish the phrase ‘slut-shaming’ had come to mind when I was writing, I would have tried to work it in. If ever I find the time to write a full post, I’m hoping to look at sex positivism (or lack thereof) in anime and manga, so I will try to use it then. And all power to the working class. Labor on, comrade.

      Reply
  4. Upscaled

    Thanks for your interesting take on this show. It’s shown me another way to look at it.

    I’ve been looking at the show simply as a comedy that breaks down pretenses of all kinds, whether it’s political, corporate, sexual, fashion, old men, trains, Chinese literature, Japanese dolls, Jellyfish, or even car waxing. I don’t think it really has an agenda for or against sex or hard work or even land developers. Shouko is just a hard-working girl, Shuu is emotionally immature, Kuranosuke is flippant and compulsive, Tsukimi has clinically low self-esteem, the Prime Minister has some real issues with his nephew, and the driver has no spine. They all have their faults and their charms, and I think the writer loves her characters in part because of, and not despite, their shortcomings.

    Reply
    1. Upscaled

      P.S.
      Actually, I think I agree with you in one respect. There is one character that is annoying me more and more, it’s Tsukimi herself. The girl’s lack of a sense of self-worth is painful to watch. Seriously, she needs help. It remains to be seen how much Kuranosuke can give her.

      Reply
      1. The Fin Post author

        It’s not even a lack of self-worth as much as it is a lack of self. What can we say about Tsukimi? She’s a shut-in jellyfish otaku whose mom died, and she’s attracted to Shu. She has no motivations or goals or even traits beyond that as far as I can tell. By comparison Shouko and Kuranousuke are quite complex; they have things they want to ambitions and conflicts.

        Can you explain what you mean by breaking down pretenses? So far the closest thing to that kind of critique the show seems to have offered is when Kuranousuke tried to show the nunz that being fashionable is just a matter of a little clothes and make-up. And in a way that’s just creating a new pretense! I was hoping the show might attack the whole idea of people dividing themselves into meaningless cliques along lines of fashion and hobbies, but so far I don’t really see that happening.

        Reply
        1. Upscaled

          Well, first of all, my impression of the story has been coloured by my reading the raw manga, volumes 1-5. So maybe that’s where I’m getting the bit about pretenses.

          Political pretension:
          Obviously Kuranosuke’s father and uncle, but Shuu as well. The father is a powerful politician, but more than a bit of a lech. The uncle is the frigging Prime Minister, but he’s just a bizarre otaku. Shuu is a handsome, up-and-comer, but he’s got the sexual maturity of a twelve-year old.

          Fasionista pretension:
          Well, first of all, fashion is almost by its very definition pretentious, but anyway… Kuranosuke’s belief in the power of appearances is constantly being undermined in little ways. But he’s gotten away with it all his life because of his looks. Also, he doesn’t want to accept the fact that he’s falling for Tsukimi because he thinks she’s a dork. In other words, he thinks she’s beneath her, but doesn’t want his brother to get her either. What he did in the aquarium was totally selfish. He’s also careless and utterly lacking in decorum. His planning skills will show themselves to be somewhat lacking later on. So in many ways, he’s the personification of the airheaded fashionista. It feels to me that his shortcomings are the type associated with reading way too many fashion magazines. He thinks he’s hot and supremely capable, but the story will constantly show him to be the blundering fool with not enough self-awareness or sensitivity to others.

          Hanamori, the driver, is obsessed with Mercedes-Benz. He pretends to be a reliable, honourable person, yet later, you learn that he will do some truly unsavory things because he is so easy to bribe.

          We’ve already discussed the negative aspects of Shouko Inari and the Amars. Those negative aspects are also different kinds of pretension. Shouko’s is obvious. She even knows it to some extent. She knows about lying and role-playing in order to get what she wants. The Amars also pretend in their own little world. They’re so proud of their idiosyncratic abilities that they are blind to other factors of the real world. I think the best example of that was how they cowardly ran away from the presentation without saying a world. That was total humiliation, and it was well-deserved.

          I could go on. I’ve become a bit of a fan.

          Reply
  5. ojisan

    Glad not everyone dislikes Shouko. I think she’s pretty funny in her way – the cell photos! She’s funny in her selfishness, just as Tsukimi can be irritating in her purity.

    Reply

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