No Geek Girls Need Apply: Bias & Blind Spots in Princess Jellyfish Vol. 1

Never judge a princess (or anyone else, for that matter) by their gown.

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They say girls turn pretty when they fall in love. But if they never fall in love, will they stay gross forever? Amars may not love flesh-and-blood real men, but they are in love with The Three Kingdoms and trains and dolls. What about them?

Mom, why do girls have to be pretty? Because I’d rather not. I’d rather not become pretty at all. Really.

—Kurashita Tsukimi, Princess Jellyfish Vol. 1

I finally had a chance to read the Vol. 1 Omnibus (Chapters 1-12) of Kodansha’s Princess Jellyfish (Kuragehime) manga, the story of a bunch of geek gals living together in Tokyo and the cross-dressing rich boy who befriends them. With its upbeat tone, cast of lovably awkward turtles, and celebration of female nerd counterculture, it’s easy to see why the series has charmed so many people.

Yet Princess Jellyfish isn’t all fluff and lightness: It isn’t afraid to touch on more serious topics (including, CW: the sexual assault of one of its male characters), and frequently acknowledges the real-world prejudices many of the characters face because they don’t conform to societal norms. It also isn’t afraid to show how those prejudices can be held by anyone, even those who face prejudice themselves.

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