I’ve written about Kuragehime before, but that time I didn’t have much to say regarding its themes. Its comedy is fairly crude in a way similar to many harems/romcoms, what with there being one guy and multiple girls and all, the story is pretty basic(not to spoil too much but the apartment complex is threatened by external forces) and the character archetypes are not too unique. Really, the most interesting thing about the show in my opinion is the themes and everything associated with that.
At first, Kuragehime seems to be a show about women who, for one reason or other, haven’t integrated into society in the way expected of them. However, when “Kurako” is revealed to be a cross-dressing man, the focus shifts in a way that emphasises the expectations that the girls have of themselves and how that is something that is heavily influenced by social norms. So, in a sense, the show is more about coming to terms with one’s own wishes and desires, and accepting that other people may disagree with these wishes and desires. That’s certainly the case with Kuranosuke, but I think the show does a great job of showing that it’s not just these young adult women who have their neuroses. Everyone does, regardless of whether they “fit into society” or not.
But even though I like that the show promotes acceptance, tolerance and inclusivity in that way, it’s not quite there yet when it comes to what I want out of social commentary. This kind of relates to the high standards I mentioned when I tried to write about “feminism in anime”, because while I want to look at Kuragehime through a feminist lens, the comedy in particular stands in the way. In a way similar to how yuri stories in the past had to give up the homosexuality of the characters by the end, or simply kill off the characters, it feels like the themes in Kuragehime are a fantasy or a daydream that the characters eventually have to wake up from. The problem is not that Tsukimi wants to be beautiful, integrate into society and live a normal life, it’s her choice and her life after all, but I get the feeling that if she wanted to be the exact opposite of that, if she wanted to be a recluse who doesn’t care about her appearance, the story wouldn’t allow her to do that. On the other hand, I may have gotten that impression simply because the anime ends in the middle of the story(the manga is actually still ongoing) or because I want to think that josei manga and anime are always repressed in terms of social progress so I can yell about it on Twitter. Yeah, sometimes it’s hard to tell. But, in any case, the themes in Kuragehime, though incompletely explored, are still interesting. In my opinion, it’s a show worth watching.