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Jellyfish Can't Swim in the Night
Episode 8

by Nicholas Dupree,

How would you rate episode 8 of
Jellyfish Can't Swim in the Night ?
Community score: 4.0


This episode of Jellyfish excels at expressing its characters' emotions and internal conflicts but drops the ball when translating them into concrete plot beats. I hate to sound like a broken record but this show's scripting has remained remarkably consistent with its inconsistencies. When it's focused on small, intimate, or interpersonal conflicts, it's electric. When it has to resolve those conflicts through dramatic story moments, it barrels through them with the gait and grace of a drunk warthog. That frustrating cycle recurs here—giving us an episode that's less than the sum of its parts.

The parts themselves are good, great even! Despite the plot revolving around music, Jellyfish hasn't had a lot to say about the topic until now, so it was nice to learn what attracts Kano to it. The way her eyes glimmer when she talks about the sea of glow sticks, and knowing that behind those lights are individual people all connecting with her, was adorable. With all the baggage Kano brought to the JELEE project, knowing why she still wants to be a singer outside of spite is valuable, even if we already knew it was the companionship from the other girls that kept her locked in. Wanting to share that transcendental experience with her partners is a beautiful sentiment that carries the episode. On the less dramatic side, it's incredibly charming to see Kano calling Yoru just to hear her voice. That shit's super god damn cute.

Similarly, the ideas at play in this episode's story are good. Jellyfish endeavors to be an exploration of modern art and celebrity and that necessarily involves the toxic aspects of online fandom. It was disappointing to see that topic kicked down the road by Shizue's episode, so having it return with a vengeance, just as JELEE is growing comfortable with their audience, is a great move. Forcing Kano to confront her past and the negative press along with it is potent drama. How should she and the others respond to having her dirty laundry brought into the light? How does that affect her creative process or her relationship to music? Is connecting with your fans worth it if it opens the door to this kind of malignant scrutiny?

These are all great hooks that come prepackaged with all of this and the episode can only answer them with the most cursory of lip service for a clean and tidy resolution. How do you deal with haters, especially ones willing to send threats to venues? Just ignore them for a couple of months, I guess. They'll eventually get bored and the ones that don't will be drowned out by all your fans spamming jellyfish emotes. Problem solved! While that's not universally bad advice, it trivializes the entire conflict of this episode in seconds, as if all Kano needed to get over her lingering insecurities with public life was to get some mondo superchats and to scroll through JELEE's fanart tag on Twitter. I don't mind the schmaltz of it all—I love the concept of approximating the sea of glowsticks from Kano's fantasy with walls of personal fan art. That's a touching and heartfelt visual but as the only tangible act of resolution for this story, it's toothless and unsatisfying. There's no sense that anything was overcome so there's no feeling of victory or defiance. Our characters succeed so easily there might as well not have been a problem.

I also don't get why the episode is structured the way it is. Why is there an off-screen, two-month time skip between Kano being doxxed and their gig? Are we to believe the conflict remained in stasis that whole time, with no important conversations between the characters worth seeing? We aren't even given a montage of Kano and the others working on the show or their songs or just stewing in the uncertainty as the date approaches. If we're to believe nothing important happened in those two months, why write a two-month gap into the story in the first place? It's such an odd, unnecessary wrinkle to throw in when it destroys all the emotional urgency out of the episode's finale. I don't understand why they would put it there, at such a critical juncture in Kano's development.

I don't like being harsh on the show like this—as I hope is clear, I respect and appreciate what it's doing. I am rooting for it to succeed, if only for the selfish reason of wanting to watch a good anime. It's massively frustrating to see it commit these unforced errors that kneecap its own ideas. Jellyfish has all the potential necessary to be an all-time great title and has gotten tantalizingly close numerous times only to trip over its own feet at the finish line.


Jellyfish Can't Swim in the Night is currently streaming on HIDIVE.

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