Welcome to my second OWLS post. This month’s topic is “Sanctuary.”
A sanctuary is a place of safety and stability. In anime, there are several different places and environments that characters call “home.” For this topic, we will be discussing various locations and settings within certain anime series.
On March 18th, Stephanie Clarke from Anime Girls NYC discussed Watamote for the “Sanctuary” topic. For my “Sanctuary” post, I am going to talk about the apartment complex, Amamizukan, in Akiko Higashimura’s Princess Jellyfish (Kuragehime).
The Functions Of Amamizukan
Amamizukan is the name of the apartment complex that the main protagonist, Tsukimi Kurashita, resides in. In the first episode, we learn that Tsukimi moved to Tokyo in hopes of becoming an illustrator. However, when she came to the city, she realized that she doesn’t fit in with all the stylish, hipster young city people. Yet Tsukimi finds her place while living with a bunch of female otakus at the Amamizukan. These female tenants call themselves, “Amars” (nuns) because none of them have boyfriends or significant others.
Amamizukan is a safe haven for antisocial individuals, particularly NEETs and fujoshis. While living there, the female tenants can be themselves without being judged. For example, Mayaya is an eccentric woman who is a super fan of Records of Three Kingdoms and constantly references it in her daily life. While in the apartment, all the characters are able to share their passions with each other but when it comes to meeting people outside of Amamizukan, they turn into stone because they are unable to interact with such”beautiful people.”
Amamizukan is also a “No Boys Allowed” place. Amamizukan has strict rules as to who is allowed to live there. The first rule is that the tenant cannot be a man even if they are homosexual. Although one could argue that not all men are evil, I think the reason as to why the female characters do not want to live with men is that they are purely uncomfortable and also it may be considered a taboo to be living with unmarried men. In addition to the “No Boys Allowed” rule, you are only invited to live in Amamizukan if someone can vouch for you. Tsukimi was fortunate enough to befriend the current tenants on the internet and was able to get invited to stay at the apartment. One could argue that the Amamizukan marginalizes the rest of society by not allowing everyone to have the opportunity to live there. However, I see Amamizukan as a much needed safe place because it’s an apartment made for women who couldn’t fit into the expectations of society and men. I kind of see Amamizukan as a sanctuary for fun-loving women that can be whoever they want to be without being judged.
A Sanctuary Is More Than A House
In addition, Amamizukan is just like any other apartment complex. There’s nothing unique about it. However, the beauty of Amamizukan does not come from the apartment structure but the individuals occupying it. Home isn’t a building, but instead, it’s the people you choose to spend your time with. The occupants of Amamizukan are a family. They do a variety of activities together such as the weekly hot pot dinner and also making it a group effort to raise funds to buy the Amamizukan property. So in other words, what makes Amamizukan special are the people that live there. They are complete strangers but they act as a true family.
Lastly, in the anime, the Amamizukan property is in danger of being sold as part of an urban renewal project to make the property into a hotel. Upon hearing the news, the female tenants band together and try to find a financial solution with the help of Kuranosuke Koibuchi, the confident and fashionable crossdresser. The fact that the tenants would do anything to live in Amamizukan demonstrates how individuals protect the community and home that they created for themselves. The Amamizukan is a symbol of home for Tsukimi and her fellow tenants, but the true sanctuary is the close bond among the female tenants.
My Personal “Sanctuary”
I think a sanctuary is a place where an individual doesn’t feel threaten to act according to social norms and is able to express themselves comfortably regardless of what others think. A sanctuary doesn’t necessarily have to be an actual place, but it has to allow stability and safety for the individual. For me, my sanctuary is when I’m hanging out with my friends because when I’m with them, I can complain about my stress, but we also have fun and forget about our issues by going to delicious restaurants and singing at karaoke places.
Anyways, I hope you enjoyed my “Sanctuary” post on the apartment complex, Amamizukan, in Princess Jellyfish. Next up in our blog tour is Venus from Japanime Talks with her focus on Hunter x Hunter.