Kuragehime Cultural Translation

This article provides some of the cultural background for Kuragehime.

Otaku comes in female too

Plot synopsis: Amamizukan is an apartment complex where no boys are allowed. Kurashita Tsukimi, a girl who adores jellyfish, lives there happily with her friends who all have nerdy obsessions of their own. Their peaceful lives gradually start to change when a beautiful woman helps Tsukimi out of a pinch. She stays overnight at the apartments — but it turns out “she” is really a “he.” –from anime news network.

This show relies on a cultural understanding of the following basic concepts:

  • Otaku: These are enthusiasts who give their passion, time, and significant amounts of their money to the pursuit of a single or narrowly focused group of interests. Otaku are commonly believed to be socially awkward. They are often depicted as defensive (almost to the point of aggression) of their lifestyle in ways that sacrifice relationships with those who do not share their single minded focus.
  • NEET: Those who are not involved in education, employment, or training are known by this acronym. In Japan, full time jobs with benefits are sometimes hard to come by. NEETs get by with temporary and part time work and many rely on financial support of their parents. NEETers don’t have to be otaku, but the time freed up by not having a career allows those NEETers who are otaku to spend extra time on their hobby.
  • Hikkimori: Japan’s prevailing culture values success and conformity and those who do not or cannot meet these virtues can face harsh backlash from family and peers…even strangers. Some, in the face of such treatment, prefer to retreat to places of sanctuary. The word itself refers to the self-cloistering that hikkimori use to protect themselves from the expectations or judgment of the outside world. Some hikkimori display symptoms of social anxiety or depression; many will refuse to leave either their rooms or their homes except when absolutely necessary.
  • Japanese Parlimentary System: The Japanese Diet is the supreme legislative power in the country and is divided into two houses. Members of the House of Representatives are seated based on the proportion of votes that their party receive. The House of Representatives is the stronger house of the legislature with more ability to pass laws outright than the House of Counselors. The Prime Minister is chosen by the Diet from among their civilian members; it has been the custom that the president of the ruling party becomes the Prime Minister. As voters only vote directly for about half of the House of Counselors, the reputation and character of the most famous members of a party takes central stage. Though a politician’s approval rating may drop quite low he might not be removed from office if the party itself is strong; however, a wildly unpopular politician may be seen as a liability to the party and may be encouraged to resign or voted out of office. The House of Representatives many be dissolved either the by the Prime Minister’s will or by a successful vote of non-confidence –triggering elections earlier than the ones held every four years.

I’m including a brief description of the nun’s habits as well, though the show itself provides fairly good descriptions

  • Kurashita Tsukimi: is a jellyfish (kurage in Japanese) otaku. She draws jellyfish, collects jellyfish goods, and is will to brave the frighteningly full streets of Tokyo to visit them in aquariums.
  • Cheiko: is obsessed with Japanese textiles (cloth on its own and as used in traditional clothing) and her large collection Ichimatsu dolls who she calls her daughters. She is adept at sewing and uses this skill to make intricate kimono for her dolls.
  • Mayaya: is a fanatic of the Chinese saga The Record of the Three Kingdom which was later reworked into The Romance of the Three Kingdoms. She seems especially to value the anime adaptation.
  • Banba: is an admirer of trains. She rides trains for fun, collects recordings of the different trains and train lines in Japan, and keeps a large model train setup at the apartment building.
  • Jiji: is powerfully drawn to older men, but seems to have no interest in establishing a romantic relationship with any of them. She spends time in “Butler Cafes” where part of the attraction is the extra attention of the sartorial staff.
  • Mejiro Juon: is a mangaka (manga author and artist) of yaoi works. Her work features romantic and sexual relationships between men written for a primarily female audience.
  • Cultural Translations of the specific episodes will be posted soon, so check back for more.

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