Watching Yuri Kuma Arashi is like trying to memorize the first 100 digits of Pi. Succeeding might technically be considered an accomplishment, but good lord is it meaningless.
Yuri Kuma Arashi is a textbook example of an anime that tries to be too damn smart for its own good. It's a show which attempts to utilize intricate symbolisms and references rather than to present a story which you can take at face value. By hiding content in-between the lines, it tries to provide a plot which is unorthodox, deep and thought-provoking. However this is nothing more than a façade which tries (and fails) to cover up
the fact that the plot itself is in reality nowhere near as complicated as it makes itself out to be.
The story takes place in a world that has been struck by an asteroid called Kumaria, and after the following meteor shower ended, for whatever reason all the bears all over the world rose up and started attacking and eating humans. After the dust settled, a giant Severance Barrier was erected in order to separate the world of the bears from the world of the humans, and to try and cause a ceasefire in-between the two warring sides. Or at least that's what the premise states that the story is about, but in reality almost none of that is correct as Yuri Kuma Arashi is all about symbolism.
This is of course because Yuri Kuma Arashi is written by the one and only Ikuhara Kunihiko, famous for other deeply symbolic and successful works such as Shoujo Kakumei Utena and Mawaru Penguindrum among others. Most things in his works look like one thing but in actuality represent something entirely different. It's kind of like solving a riddle in that sense as you have to try and figure out what everything really means on your own. Yuri Kuma Arashi is no different either as it primarily revolves around homophobia and society's view on it, but there's one clear difference here: although the story is unorthodox, complex and filled with references, that still doesn't change the fact that the vast majority of it feels completely uninteresting and intangible. The execution of Yuri Kuma Arashi is one of the most random ones I've seen in a long time, and it doesn't really make the viewer care very much about the actual events occuring throughout the course of the story.
Merely including references and symbolisms to various works of media like The Shining and historical events such as the Sankebetsu Brown Bear Incident does *not* make a good story in and of itself. That's not how scriptwriting works. If all you needed to make an interesting plot was to haphazardly throw in cryptic references and symbolisms wherever you could, then writing a "good" storyline would be easy as pie. However that's sadly not the case, but Yuri Kuma Arashi seemingly fails to understand this. As a result you end up with a story which contains countless plot elements from various sources, but in actuality the vast majority of them don't matter whatsoever in the end. When it all comes down to it, what you're left with is a pretentious and quirky Yuri story, complemented with tons and tons of completely irrelevant references.
Speaking of which, I also have to say that Yuri is one of the absolute rarest genres in anime, and also one of my favorites. However if you're looking to see some cute, romantic, erotic or dramatic girl-on-girl moments you should look somewhere else because this anime has very little of that. The Yuri elements in this show are mostly used as a plot mechanic in order to be able to talk about homophobia. It is not really anything meant to try and be satisfying on its own.
The characters... who were they again? If it wasn't for the fact that their names themselves are pretty easy to remember, I probably wouldn't be able to name them without double checking here and now. That's how forgettable and wholly uninspiring they are. Ikuhara's writing style is heavily integrated into the characters' personalities and as a result they come across as quite intangible and hard to really get a good feel for. Well at least the main characters' goals and intentions are pretty clear since the show never stops repeating them, but other than that they all feel like nothing more than plot devices instead of actual persons.
Also a more subjective issue I have with this anime is how cringeworthy the dialogue is. If you've watched any Ikuhara shows before, then you'll be familiar with some of the more random catchphrases that he tends to use. I mean who can forget about SEIZON SENRYAKUUUU and penguins for example. However those still felt appropriate and humorous somehow, but in Yuri Kuma Arashi it only made me hold my head in agony. "Gao Gao", "Shabadadoo", "Deliciousmell~", "Kuma Shock!", and the list goes on. It's so unbearably awkward to listen to. Am I supposed to be watching a psychological seinen anime, or Teletubbies? Sometimes I'm honestly not sure.
If there's anything good to mention about this show, then I'd still have to give the animation some credit. Yuri Kuma Arashi uses a very artistic and Shaft-like art style which is very reminiscent of the Monogatari Series in how it looks, and also how the show utilizes it. The OP is also very atmospheric (and even has some decently pronounced French lyrics in it), and the ED is very catchy and addictive. Overall the production value is quite solid, but sadly that is not all you need to make a good anime. If pretty artwork and nice music was all that mattered, then you're better off watching something more dedicated on that front like Iblard Jikan or similar.
I don't bother making negative reviews very often, simply because a) I don't actually hate anime, and b) most of the bad shows I come across are just bad because they're predictable, generic and boring. However it's been a very long time since I saw an anime which genuinely annoyed me as much as this one did, because I sincerely believed it had a lot of potential before the season started. I like Ikuhara's writing style. I think it's very unique and interesting, but in this case it just didn't work out at all. The first episode alone left me with a horribly negative impression, however I still had hope that it would get better over time when things would start to be explained and make more sense, but I am left somewhat disappointed on that front as well. Fortunately the eventual ending of the entire show was a lot better than everything before it, but that alone doesn't really make up for all the time where the story is pitifully bad.
If you haven't seen an Ikuhara anime before and you're interested in seeing what they're like, all I have to say is [go watch one of his other works]. There is no need to bother watching this one before that. If you've already done so and you really liked them, then I guess it might be worth at least giving Yuri Kuma Arashi a shot. But just make sure to not get your hopes up too high because odds are that you're going to be left somewhat disappointed if you do.
Surrealism: it’s something that you are either into or you aren’t. The plots of these shows are usually far harder to comprehend than your average anime and the actions of the characters won’t always make logical sense, but if you merely change your perspective, you will see what the show is really trying to say. Yuri Kuma Arashi, which translates into “Lesbian Bear Storm”, is no exception to the formula of surrealist art; it is NOT for everyone. While most shows are driven by their plot or by their characters, YKA is a show driven by its themes and the messages that the
plot and characters are trying to relay. Brought to us by the artistic genius Kunihiko Ikuhara (Mawaru Penguindrum, Revolutionary Girl Utena), this show is a unique experience that allows you to really feel the passion and dedication that went into creating it; it has incredible attention to detail for the purposes of making a commentary on an important social issue. The best way to do this, of course, is through lesbian bears and lots of boobs. Right?
Synopsis: Long ago, humans and bears lived together in harmony. But then, everything changed when the asteroid Kumaria crashed into the Earth, causing the bears to go berserk and start eating humans alive. To stop the fighting, a “Wall of Severance” was constructed to separate the two beings, thus ushering in an era of pure hatred and exclusion.
In case you aren’t familiar with the works of Ikuhara and therefore don’t understand how such a silly concept can hold such a serious message, immediately stop reading this and go watch one of his shows; the only way to understand it is to experience it. I won’t hide the fact that I absolutely love Ikuhara’s style; the insane amount of symbolism, the repetition of sequences, the abstract environments, the use of color dissonance, etc. I’m an absolute sucker for all of it, so it’s no wonder why I was instantly turned on to this show.
YKA’s plot may be nothing special if you take it at its face value, but when you examine the purpose of it all and how masterfully it is worked into the theme of homosexuality as well as how society perceives homosexuality, it becomes quite clear how well written it truly is. In case the title didn’t tip you off, this is an anime that uses lesbianism to make a commentary on society; not necessarily for fanservice (though you could certainly argue the amount of naked girls is gratuitous). It should go without saying, but this isn’t ACTUALLY a show about lesibians vs. bears; it’s an abstract concept used to display a theme. Some people are simply unable to get on board with that, which is understandable, but for those who do appreciate this sort of thing, YKA’s world building and storyline will be truly appreciated. There is a great deal of depth to it that I still haven’t taken the time to fully digest myself, but I definitely plan on rewatching this show in order to do so. Without doing a full on analysis of this show complete with spoilers, that’s about as much as I’m allowed to say about YKA’s narrative.
While I could gush over everything this show does right all day, let’s talk about why you are never going to hear it mentioned in conversation amongst most anime fans. First and foremost, it gets off to a slow and confusing start. The first 3 episodes of YKA are far more abstract and cryptic than the rest of the show, which was admittedly a poor choice considering how assessable the themes are made later on. Because the characters take so long to be introduced and fleshed out, many people were scared away because of how strange and “out there” the anime appeared. It’s ironic that the symbols become so much easier to understand than Ikuhara’s other works later on, because it’s for precisely the opposite reason that so many people dropped it.
The aspect of YKA that really makes the show work and ties all its themes together without many loose ends is the cast of characters. While they initially feel distant and unrelateable, they eventually emerge as unique and likable, not to mention the fact that they are perfect manifestations of the concepts that the show is working with. Ikuhara is a master of making sure that every character, no matter how minor, serves an important role. Outside of the main trio of Lulu, Ginko, and Kureha, every character has a symbolic purpose, thus painting the picture of a twisted dystopia that excludes all who do not conform to their standards. In addition to being thematically brilliant, the characters are a main source of the show’s fantastic comedy. Did I mention that this show is laugh-out-loud hilarious? I think it says something about the directing of a show that can make you think hard and laugh hard in the same episode. Sure, Kureha is bit bland and serves mostly as vessel for the show’s agenda, but this is overall a great use of characterization.
Perhaps the best thing about an Ikuhara work is the animation itself; he always finds a new and unique way to portray something that could have been mundane, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for that. The sheer intricacy of each and every shot makes it clear just how much effort was put into this show in order to make it great. Regardless of whether or not you like his style, it is a commendable effort. The music choice is strange, but somehow fitting. This show contains easily the weirdest use of a choir I’ve ever heard, but I mean that in a good way.
I think I’ll stop there just because even though there is so much to talk about with YKA, so little of it is worthwhile to someone who hasn’t actually seen it yet. I would highly recommend that you go watch it; even if you aren’t into the whole symbolism thing, this show makes it accessible enough that anyone can understand at least the basic gist of it. Sure the fanservice can be distracting despite its occasional relevance, the first few episodes are off-putting, and it isn’t exactly as bulletproof as Ikuhara’s other shows, but it’s a memorable, funny, and worthwhile experience nonetheless. If you’re looking for a show that actually has some depth, check it out. Shaba-da-doo.
Yuri relationships and bears. What are you thinking? One could say this is one of anime’s weirdest creations, but I think it’s one of the greatest, this year in fact. It is one of the first few anime that aired this year (and season) and as well as the one which focuses on girl-on-girl relationship.
Yuri Kuma Arashi was probably picked up by many because it was directed by Ikuhara Kunihiko, the director of the well-famed Mawaru Penguindrum. To give some background of the story, there was a planet Kumaria that exploded on space which showered around Earth. This caused the bears to become violent
and start attacking and eating humans. So to prevent any more attacks, the humans build up the ‘Wall of Severance’ between the two and things calmed down. One day, two bears, Ginko and Lulu, disguised themselves as humans and transferred in a class where Kureha and her love Sumika is. While Kureha have been eyeing for Sumika, the bears eye towards Kureha. Then, tragedy ensues on that same day. First of all, many regarded the anime as one which has a lot of symbolism. Some have linked this anime to lesbianship in Japan, while others have their own other opinions about the topic in general. But even if there is symbolism, I think that this anime can be watched without caring about it. It is something that one should not delve into if he wants to watch an anime without thinking critically and just enjoy what is there in the story. Nevertheless, feel free to express your own thoughts linking with the story.
The first few episodes can definitely throw everyone off because of the confusion behind the story. I do not know if some have dropped it because of this specific reason, but if you are one of the person, I suggest picking this anime up, because it gets better after episode three. To summarise what has been going on, the progression of the story is so clear and well-done. It is like piecing the puzzles to form a completed timeline, which means that the anime jumps in and out of flashbacks a lot of times. Trust me, it cannot be very annoying since you will be able to understand more about the story as well as the characters. Also, there can be a number of cliffhangers at the end of most episodes which leaves the suspense high for the audience. Overall, the story was written well with good sense of direction. It not only focuses on love, but also bullying and the society that have a general view on these topic. There are some funny moments to brighten up the dramatic mood of the anime and eventually there are also some fan-service moments that tickle the fantasies of many people. I am satisfied by how the story went by, and I really loved the ending so much that brought the story to great closure.
Ah, the characters. The story revolves around these three girls, a human and two bears. Aside from their differences, they are fairly interesting characters to look at and quite likeable. I would say that Kureha is this girl that is affected by many things in the past, hence that was how she was in the beginning of the anime. As you bring the bears to play, she has gotten more active and is at first not willing to be with them. However, these bears are trying to change her for the sake for something, and towards the finale, something major happened for these characters that might move you emotionally. It was a nice character development for these girls as they get to understand more about one another and with a clever idea of flashback, we can see how these girls made it towards the end. I was pleased by how they think and understood by how they feel, so as I mentioned before, they are interesting.
I like some of the side characters too. The anime got a whole lot of people to make Kureha suffer a lot, and it was nice how she kept herself strong, although she really never hung out with them in a long time. In fact, there are very few with an interesting twist, however easily spoilt through their names. With the three alluring court bears, two past-time lovers and many others, the anime holds its charm for having a good cast.
Stunning visuals. At first I thought this was made by SHAFT, but nope, studio Silver Link (what a surprise) decided to direct this original anime, and I am sure only one (or very few) staff member working on the animation has links to involving SHAFT’s anime. The sceneries are great and have finer details in them, making them visually pleasing. Sometimes, there are scenes that usually throw in some symbolism and make it so abstract, so beautiful. I think the anime pushes to be this unique and I think this is perfect. The character designs are fine and quite simple - they look perfect in themselves. In bear form, I swear I could not stop awe-ing by their adorable figures. The fan-service is pretty nice and lewd, but at least it did not bring over towards the ecchi level, meaning that the anime does not throw in naughty fan-service anywhere to make the audience pumped up.
When I first heard the opening song, I was moved by the emotions played in it. It was so calming, so beautiful that it is great. I love the vocals of its rich smooth high-toned singing, and apparently this is the singer’s, Bonjour Suzuki, first anisong. I never heard of her other songs before (if there is any), but I do welcome her to sing more songs to make her shine better. Meanwhile, this ending song sung by the voice actresses of the three main girls has this nice electronic beat that makes you groove. A nice touch for the simple animation behind, with a bear doing a cute dance. The background music is loveable, I hear a nice variety of choice in it. The voice acting is a job well-done indeed. The three voice actresses for the main characters are not-so-well-known yet they are great for putting the emotions into power with the characters, as well as defining what their respective characters are.
Hell, Yuri Kuma Arashi is a bloomed lily flower over many other flowers in a garden. It definitely stands out by its wonderful and creative direction, however it does not really stand out much in terms of popularity. To say that the anime showed up at a wrong season is a possibility, but I would say that the anime is certainly the best among the rest of this season’s anime. I enjoyed the anime so much that I was hoping for a real-life time-skip to start a brand new episode each week, because of the cliffhangers. Now, will this anime be recommended by all? Not all, unfortunately. But it is a worth of try. Yuri fanatics are welcomed to start this show right now, and those who like to ponder over symbolism too. Everyone else, give it a try. You would not feel sorry.
"Everything is good in moderation" ..now if you were to say that to Ikuhara he would probably pimp slap you with a proverbial hand and skip off into the schizophrenic sunset of left field allegorical stew, while conjuring new ways to make even Satoshi Kon's nuttiest creations to look like tamed Saturday morning cartoons.
Yuri Kuma Arashi is a dreamfactory chalked full of symbolism and motifs with everything being beyond what's presented at face value. This isn't for casual viewing and if unprepared to really dig deep it can be either taxing or repulsive upon initial impression. I normally don't like to judge works based on
the creator behind it but in the anime industry some giants have made a very noticeable signature or trademark style when it comes to their works. May that be the western homage mashups of Shinichiro Watanabe, the "kill em all" approach of Gen "the butcher" Urobuchi or the slow burn conceptual pieces of Yoshitoshi ABe. Many of these industry power players have all made a name for themselves from their style and presentation, and if there was ever a person who's work was instantly recognizable it would be Kunihiko Ikuhara's. The man has a knack for allegorical symbolism in everything he does and Arashi is his latest addition of screwball storytelling.
Yuri Kuma Arashi, when stripped of its symbolism, is mainly about two things: sexual liberation and exposing societal mistreatment through exclusion.
Through our different female characters we take several multifaceted approaches at tackling the 1st conflict brought up, sexual liberation. Since the general theme is only explored through the niche sub category of yuri (love between women), it helps focus on one aspect instead of spreading itself too thin to try to cover a broader picture. The story shows how each character approaches their desire for yuri love. And again since it's all metaphorical, the key to understanding how each character approach that love is hinted at through wordplay and symbols. The quicker you figure out what they represent the quicker it becomes easier to piece together what the hidden messages behind each person's approach is. May that be to embrace that love with open arms or to reject it out of fear of social pressure. Each separate choice mirrors that of the ones commonly seen in today's society. You see it with the people that openly aren't afraid to express themselves and face rejection, and also when you hear stories of people "being in the closet". Being accepted by others is something we all desire in one way or another, but the show asks you at what cost are you willing to pay for that acceptance? Is acceptance worth restraining your true feelings to keep in good standing with societal standards?
This leads us into out next theme, societal mistreatment. This one should be pretty self explanatory since it's an issue that is still debated about today. You've probably heard it on the news or read about it every now and then. Everytime you hear a story of a Bill being rejected to allow same sex marriage in a State to be recognized. Or everytime you hear of a celebrity publicly apologizing for making derogatory remarks against homosexuality. Societal mistreatment and exclusion is something that's been relevant for as long as the conflict existed. Yuri Kuma tackles this by using the "mob" mentality. When the majority forces the minority to either conform or be rejected. Although this conflict could of been handled with more tact in Yuri Kuma, they did get their point across clearly. With such an interesting setup this became a rare case where the antagonist is society itself and not just an individual.
The art and animation left nothing to really be desired. Often inconsistent and greatly lacking in fluidity it feels like it was put together on a shoestring budget. Needless to say you're not watching this show for top tier quality. The highlight lies with the character designs themselves as they are very distinctive from other shows. They carry a personality of their own and it shows when needed. This felt like more of a passion project that the studio knew wasn't going to sell well but something they wanted to do regardless. Despite the lack of consistency, the charm is certainly there. The setting itself was interesting but often muddled, felt like too much saturation of objects was placed in every frame. It certainly captures your attention but is quickly desensitized due to the constant bombardment of color and clunky set pieces. It isn't inherently a bad thing but certainly a hindrance at times.
The opening can best be described as Honey synth pop. With soft vocals and hints of sexualized undertones by the performer. It's a nice addition to the show and a good way to get kick started into every episode. It's certainly one I found myself listening to everytime. It may be typical but that isn't a bad thing when given the content and presentation to the show it corresponds to. Unfortunately the rest of the OST was left concealed in the background and did nothing to stand out. None of the tracks really grip you or enhance the scenes they correspond with, they felt off in the distance and takes no risk in standing out. It's tracks that played it safe which resulted in nothing memorable to take away from it. The voice actors on the other hand were a real treat at times. Standouts being the Judge and court representatives "SHABADABA DOO".
Remember the "Everything is good in moderation" quote, well that's something Ikuhara never seem to comprehend.
You see the problem some metaphorical/conceptual shows face is that they more than often sacrifice proper characterization to stay thematically sound. This results in characters that become an embodiment of a ideology, which in turn make them only necessary when serving or pushing forward the show's themes. The cast of Yuri Kuma suffers greatly from this dilemma, since none of the characters feel human or even fleshed out for that matter. They come across as lifeless mouthpieces and ideological symbols which negates any sort of attachment or concern for their well being. The focus is placed more on solving the hidden allegorical message than the characters that are directly affected by it. This isn't to say their involvement isn't essential, since it truly is, but because of the highly conceptual setting they're reduced to being a part of the symbolic devices instead of being characters independent of it.
In short they're simply lifeless puppets being tugged to the tune of Ikuhara's madness.
Outside of figuring out the hidden messages I can't say this was an experience that brought me great pleasure or entertainment. It was certainly a unique and left field way to approach a topic but didn't do anything to grip me outside of providing something to think about a few minutes after completion.
In order to appreciate the show it should be noted that almost everything is metaphorical, from physical objects in the show to even characters. Nothing is (or should be) taken at face value. Most of the enjoyment for the series come from deciphering it but in terms of viewer engagement it's greatly lacking. If you're seeking something to get your brain running by testing your analytical skills then this is a nice brain workout but if you're seeking anything else you might not find it here.
Mawaru Penguindrum: If by some miracle you've already seen and like Yuri Kuma but haven't watched this title yet I highly suggest it. Another work from Ikuhara that contains all of the same elements present, from the symbolism to the kooky artstyle. If you loved Kuma then this would be right up your alley.
There She Is!: It uses animals like Yuri Kuma to tell a message of social discrimination and ridicule. Although not as explored as Kuma it's a short that also tackles the same subject matter in similar ways to it.
FLCL: Over the top presentation with unique artstyle used to hide allegorical themes. It's far easier to understand than Arashi but still an enjoyable watch for those that like a little thought placed behind the madness.
Yuri Kuma Arashi is to me the anime version of 2001: A Space Odyssey. That may seem to be a completely bizarre, nonsensical comparison, but there is one shared trait between the two that supersedes in value every single trait they don't share: each story is written by a director who is clearly creative, intelligent, and has a lot of talent and great ideas but is so absorbed in delivering some metaphysical message or lump of symbolism he forgets the prime element of storytelling is... *gasp* the story! (Shock! Kuma shock!) Due to the radical focus on the message, the actual execution is so wildly
insipid it bored the ever-living hell out of me.
Honestly, I hated this. There're a lot of things I appreciate about the show: the soundtrack is uniquely composed, enjoyable, and fits the tone of the series; "Ano Mori de Matteru" is arguably the greatest anime opening I'll ever witness and even the ending theme is catchy; the art direction is outlandish and nearly surreal yet creative and pleasing; the mantra-like dialogue is so quotable (perhaps for ironic reasons) it's meme-worthy (shabadadoo); episode 4 contained a genuinely great mini-story; and the series wrapped up nicely—I was still bored out of my skull for a large portion of the finale, but I nonetheless appreciate how it ended. The problem is the narrative itself removed from its theme is so uninspired, bland and poorly executed I could hardly stand to watch 85% of the series due to how ridiculously monotonous and tired it is; by relying heavily on its flamboyant, eccentric style, it attempts to disguise the fact the plot bears no substance (pun intended), but this only highlights what a pretentious mess this series is.
It doesn't help that I literally could not give a fuck less about a single one of the characters (except Life Sexy maybe because lulz). Seriously, every single character and story element in this bloody show exists as a pillar to support its message or symbolism. With characters in particular, it is important to give them life, not just let them exist as devices to accomplish a greater deed. These characters have no life. They are cardboard themes and nothing more.
Maybe if I remotely cared about the message it's attempting to convey (I don't), the fact that this show has no real story or characters wouldn't have mattered to me and I still could've been absorbed in tearing off the mundane superficial cover and feast upon its more elaborate innards. Unfortunately, I still watch anime for its plot and characters, not for social justice propaganda.
Very lengthy review!
Warning: Spoilers present (but no detailed spoiler present).
Now, how do we review a show that
>is so unique that it's almost absurd
>has very polarized views
>is hard to review without spoiling detailed stuff?
Answer: To be in the sexy way.
Get what I mean? Bet you don't. I don't either.
To review this show, simply trying to interpret all the symbols is not enough. More analysis must be done on whether the symbols are portrayed well, and whether the plot & characters are well done.
Now first, about how much you would expect: Don't expect a flawless masterpiece or you would likely be disappointed, and of course don't
expect too little because after all it's Ikuhara.
Yuri Kuma Arashi, as an Ikuhara work, is all about symbolism, mostly criticism on various aspects of 'yuri'.
So one day some meteor(planet?) falls on Earth and bears start to attack humans and... Never mind.
The MC girls live in a world surrounded by hypocritic homophobic lesbians and yandere lesbians and... Wow, judging from this description sounds like homo is sin itself.
'Yuri ga Aku da!'(百合が悪だ！)
The only way to get true yuri love is to stay away from all those sins.
So done with the settings and that brings us to the next part:
--Design, and Portrayal of Symbols--
>The homophobia part:
It plays a good role being satirical, but when this symbol turns blatant it gets dull and only serves as something to ignite viewers' hatred towards the homophobes. (I advise viewers to view the homophobe part rationally.)
One of the good points the anime brings up is that 'Homophobia is just like the cycle of life', and also one certain character gets a deeper look. But still, those are not enough. Homophobia is criticised but not looked into properly, instead it mostly gets a typical portrayal of 'bad guys(girls/bears to be exact)' in anime.
Yeah, that's how you criticise a certain group of people: By writing a story and portraying all those people as morbid idiots without sanity. It's satirical, but unrealisitic at the same time.
Also it seems as if the homophobes exclude not only lesbians but also non-homophobes. It may serve its own purpose being satirical, but I don't see this being an actual case in real life. Maybe in Japan it is the case???
>How to face a homophobic environment:
Still quite good, but obviously imperfect since it's still potentially resourceful.
The story leaves the MCs with a dilemma: whether to hide their own feelings or to hit the society in its face. This part is good.
But the 'at what cost' (if you hit the society in its face) part is underdeveloped. To be precise: if you hit the society in its face society will hit you back, of course. But what's more important, in real life FAMILY MEMBERS are often likely to shown little tolerance to your decision for moral reasons etc. Without your family members you have little to fear, but what if you do have to face the family vs love decision?
If you've watched the show, you'll find that this part is underdeveloped. For those who may argue that this dilemma is present in a certain episode, no, it is not present there.
The fact is, if you look at it seriously, the whole point about 'love vs reality' in the anime is even somewhat biased since it appears as if the anime is telling us that 'reality is bullcrap, so forget this reality stuff already'. Is this a step in the right direction? Nah, it's a step in the 'other' wrong direction.
Let's take a look at what Ikuhara actually thinks of this matter:
Quote (from Ikuhara, translated by me so probably inaccuracies):
Ikuhara K.: I've found that people tend to have increasing desire to be 'liked'(i.e. the 'like' function in certain SNS sites). ...Of course, to have such desire isn't necessarily a bad thing; I want to be 'liked' too. But at the same time somewhere in my heart whispers 'you don't need such thing!' But if you really don't need it, can you live on your own then? ...It's not that I want to judge if this is good or bad, but that we should be self-aware of said fact. If we jump to the conclusion 'it's bad!' and live a counterproductive way, we're being self-deceiving. But the awareness of such fact should lead us into thinking 'what is it that we cherish'.
FANTASTIC interpretation. But how does the anime go wrong when it does bring up Ikuhara's interpretation?
Here's how: Since the society is depicted as a society screwed beyond reason, and with the MCs 'deprived of' their close relatives (Note: technically they may exist, but either have or show no importance in the MCs' lives), they don't actually need to face a strong dilemma and the only things they need to do are 1, to have the courage and 2, to survive from the executioners.
Some say they reflect the otakus' perception on yuri, some others say the judges are the dictators of the world(or patriarchy) and reflect the ruling class of the real world. But both interpretations are flawed imo. Judges = otakus? Is it that otakus rule the world or something? Not. Judges = real world rulers/patriarchy? In this interpretation some certain events/facts about the judges (which only serve as plot devices) become nonsensical in real life.
So I can't really say much, and personally I suggest that the judgmens = patriarchy and do reflect some bad perceptions of yuri, but are not well-designed as a symbol particularly due to some events in the anime. If you have a more convincing interpretation, tell me.
>Yuri as a Genre:
This is one complex problem to discuss, so here I'm going to pick one specific problem:
Fanservice: Satire or Overkill?
I suggest that it's both.
Some say that two points contribute to the anime's massive insertion of lewd scenes: 1, lesbians are fetishised and often treated as sources of (male gaze) fanservice, and 2, lesbian sex are often viewed as more indecent than hetero sex. Thus by inserting lewd scenes making them commonplace, the anime tells people that 'these scenes are nothing abnormal, stop giving them strange looks'.
Now first, I find these points to make some sense. However, it is NIGH IMPOSSIBLE for any viewer not being distracted by the scenes in the first place. Furthermore, making lewd scenes&events (EVEN ASSAULTS!) commonplace seems to tell the viewers that for a lot of lesbians, their desires for sex are present anytime and are likely to dominate their motives for actions. So it's still overkill, in my humble opinion.
And after all, even though the fanservice may turn some people off, it's still fanservice and does attract male gaze.
They are scattered everywhere throughout the anime. They can be fun to interpret, but don't add a lot of bonus points to the show's rating, and sometimes the presence of those symbols can add some frustration.
A particularly good symbol is 'how sex being treated unequally lead to horrifying consequences'. The most well-designed symbol in the anime, personally speaking. Hints about sexual liberation are good too.
As for some other symbols such as the true meaning of the promised kiss (specifically: in the culmination of the Lulu arc), I doubt if what they reflect are actually positive in real life, though.
Symbol Design & Portrayal: 7/10
The main problem with the story is that it's rather messed up. Many parts are even messed up intentionally to confuse the viewers at first glance, but serve no extra purpose.
The storytelling is a love it or hate it thing. For me, I find the storytelling barely acceptable. The earlier episodes are typical examples of how the storytelling can turn people off.
As for the story, it's good for the most part, but for some points.
Before we name some of the improvable points in the storyline, I shall point out that many parts of the story are UNRESOLVED (to be exact 'underresolved').
(Rule for unsound storyline in YKA:
If a part of the story technically doesn't make sense but doesn't create a flaw in the points the anime tries to deliver, this isn't considered unsound.
'Why didn't they shoot her instead of waiting her to complete her speech?' This is not unsound.
'Why didn't they shoot her when they didn't hesitate to shoot another character?' This is very flawed, but borderline sound.
'Why, in a case where timing was of importance in its meaning as it could explain other people's motives, didn't they shoot her, while in the equivalent case IRL, people around her would not hesitate to do anything to stand in her way?' This is unsound.
The above events may or may not happen in the anime.)
Some other improvable points:
>What is it that you mean love?
The show's portrayal of this is unique but flawed nontheless. The show has shown and made mockery on many bad perceptions of love, but the ending isn't completely satisfying judging from this point. I mean, how can MC1 accept MC2 that easily after some certain event that is due to MC2's wrongdoing? (This is not the problem with the ending itself though.) Even when the show tries to forgive MC2 this problem still stands. A typical example of the symbols not being transcribed well.
And this is quite ironic: The show has tried to criticise 'love is based on possessiveness'... until the ending, which, if you connect it with the previous events, actually indicates that being possessive is not a bad thing after all, it's all about who laughs last rather than who truly knows love. Just look at the pitiful deaths someone who truly know love deserve!
BTW, what is it that I think of love? In my opinion, love is not only based on feelings but also trust. (How can trust be kept if one does such things to hurt the one she loves, simply out of jealousy?) And also the best state of a couple should be when their characters are complementary. Etc. So there are many ways to exploit 'love', and YKA is not doing the best job with it.
>Higher level of existance?
You can interpret them as dead or not, but in both interpretations, this part is cliched.
What's worse, Ikuhara seems to have contradicted his own statement: 'To completely ignore other people and live a counterproductive way is self-deceiving'. The only purpose the two serves, for the society, is to act as a symbol--a middle finger to the screwed-up society, and nothing else. So basically the way they choose is counterproductive in all other ways, and again it seems to encourage an unreasonable way to deal with the previously said dilemma IRL.
Now, why is the plot inferior to the symbols? One of the reasons is that everything in this anime is meant to serve the symbols.
e.g.: In the first example given, jealousness is meant to bring up a false perception of love that the show wants to criticise, but unfortunately, to conclude stuff the MC2's wrongdoings must be forgiven. In the second example, the higher level of existance thing is meant to make mockery on the point 'for homo love, love and reality cannot coexist', but ended up being not successful enough.
Weakest aspect in the anime. Besides the main cast, other characters mostly serve symbolic purposes: In order to bring up the themes, many characters, potentially resourceful, are wasted and underdeveloped.
Even the MCs suffer from not having interesting/memorable traits, one exception being Lulu.
This is why the show would likely be better had it been 2 seasons instead of 1.
To name a few characters:
Haris**** K****: The show spends a good portion on her actions, but aside from fueling viewers' hatred towards homophobes, what other purpose does this character serve? And plus she could have had a backstory, but the fact is she doesn't have one in the anime. Hell, even her symbolic purpose is too insignificant.
MC1: Being the MC, she undergoes little character development in the earlier episodes. Even when she does undergo character development in the later eps, the development still seems more of something symbolic.
Now, there is this masterpiece called The Hunchback of Notre Dame written by Victor Hugo, and it has its own reasons to be a masterpiece: character-wise, the characters are not only symbolised but also very fleshed out. For example, the Archdeacon, Frollo, stands for one oppressed by asceticism and eventually driven to morbidity. While being symbolised, all his actions are very properly explained, and readers will find him 'a real human being' instead of simply 'a symbol'.
Yuri Kuma Arashi, on the other hand, fails at this aspect. What this show desperately needs are more details on the characters themselves -- to let fleshed-out people and vivid events come to life, and thus let viewers fully accept the symbols. (Though the show is too short for what it aims to achieve, imho the story pacing is still rather improvable.)
A few minor aspects:
The OP stands out most, other tracks are of OK quality.
Animation & Art: 7.5/10
This is likely subjective opinion, but I find the animation quite good.
The unique thing about it, is of course, the fact that almost every 10 seconds there will definitely be at least one symbol presented via the animation. Usually, these scenes are more abstract, which can turn people off sometimes. But overall, it's a pleasant experience.
Not high enough, at least for me. It's inspiring to say the least, but this show requires you to come back to interpret it for a total of 6 hours before you can fully understand everything and eventually find that it's not as promising as it is advertised to be. (This is why some commentators called this anime an 'Ikuhara-ised Junkyard'. I don't like this name, but it isn't completely nonsensical)
Also, since the anime's symbols are more ambiguous in the earlier episodes, it's not until the ending of the anime than you can finally start making your own thorough interpretations and analysis. The interesting fact is that even ANN commentators interpreted some symbols in the 'wrong' way, or at least not what they turned out to be.
Enjoyment Value: 6/10
The inspiration value is off the charts. With such unique settings and all those symbols to work around with, there are a quintillion ways to make our own interpretations.
My only complaint though is something about the settings: Homo vs Hetero(what society requires) = 'Same' vs 'Different', but Human-Bear vs Human-Human & Bear-Bear(what society requires) = 'Different' vs 'Same'? This made some other real-life problems among homosexual people hard to portray in the YKA settings. (I have been writing a doujinshi actually and I've found this problem to be a bit frustrating.)
...Also, a curious point is that the literal 'homo relationship between girls' seems to be considered more 'natural' in the show, and this can also be quite of a barrier if one decided to write a fanfiction of it.
Inspiration Value: 10/10
Clarifying some points I previously made:
>The points the anime tries to deliver are mostly good, but many are not looked into seriously. Flawed or not, every symbol is very inspiring.
>The storytelling can really turn a lot of viewers off, even non-casual viewers.
>The characters aren't developed enough, and are not really fleshed-out.
OVERALL RATING: ...
HOLD ON, ONE MORE THING!
--What Does the Bear Say?--
Translation: What subtle things does the show implicitly tell us?
This question arose when I was writing my doujinshi for YKA.
Now, as ironic the jealousy/possessiveness thing may get, we all know that the show has tried to criticise it.
So exactly what does the show ENCOURAGE US to do?
To completely turn your back on reality when it rejects your dream?
To kill those bullies when the bullies bully your friend/lover? (The show has indirectly criticised this behaviour though)
That will not be the reasonable way!
What we should learn from the show, is the signal of freedom and liberation over conventional social norms and order.
But, do not pursue freedom, happiness etc., in an unreasonable way that is counterproductive to society and people close to you. Society is screwed beyond reason in YKA, but not in real life.
As I've observed, many people enjoy climatic but irrational plot (and hence the 'why not kill those b*tches!' comments). Yeah, the plot should develop for sheer climax & joy, is it not?
Unfortunately, Anderssen's 18.Bd6!? could be met with the cold 18. ...Qa1+ 19.Ke2 Qb2 20.Kd2 Bxg1 with an unclear position. And IRL, people directly following the MCs' footsteps on an impulse would likely find themselves facing hard-to-resolve difficulties and living a life not as happy as they once imagined.
(Whether or not it is this part that boosted the unhelpful rate from 20% to the current unhelpful rate, I'm not going to remove this part.)
In a word:
Learn from the symbols, but not the actions.
OVERALL RATING: 7/10 (for 'Great' in my scales)
DO YOU RECOMMEND THIS ANIME? Yes, but keep yourself level-headed when watching it. Also, if you're still not into the show after Episode 4, it's likely not your taste, so don't force yourself to complete this.
In a show that is meant to reflect real-life problems, anything that doesn't make sense in real life has its value halved.
(Note: This review's helpful stats, along with those of some other reviews of this anime, has undergone some weird manipulation.
On 22 Apr 2015, when MAL still had the unhelpful button, the helpful rate was at its highest point 17 out of 21, and then the review was bombed 11 consecutive unhelpfuls in 20 minutes, and probably 8 more on the next day.
The highest observed helpful count was 44 (not long after MAL cancelled the unhelpful button), however recently as of 24 Dec 2016 the helpful count is observed to have DROPPED to 38.
Show me how to cancel a review vote, anyone?
The cause of this manipulation can not be confirmed. And out of all my reviews, only this review has undergone this manipulation.)
When Kunihiko Ikuhara said he was going to make Yuri Kuma Arashi the self-titled "Gundam of Yuri" I was a bit spectacle of how something like that would turn out and if he could even pull off such an elaborate ploy.
I was glad to find out that I was wrong.
YKA is a 12 episode series by Silver Link and the basic story is about a young girl named Kureha who lives in a world where a giant "Barrier of Severance" divides humanity from the world of human-devouring bears who started to attack humans after a great meteor shower covered the lands. Two transfer students, who
are actually bears disguised as humans, named Ginko and Lulu then transfer into her class at school and start an uproar of mysterious tragedies, including the death of Kureha's lover Sumika. Kureha is then faced with trials questioning her true love and through it opens the truth of the world around her and that not everything is as she sees it.
The story was very well done and the 12 episode format was great for developing the main characters as well as giving support characters great coverage to help move the story along, and like Gundam many people die. Art as well was very good and had a nice mix of traditional yuri manga styles as well as a blend of Ikuhara's own character style from the fashionable costumes to the mannerisms of the director's breed of sexiness.
Sound design was definitely the highlight of YKA, as Yukari Hashimoto pulls of a fantastic score that even surpasses her last collaboration work with Ikuhara, Mawaru Penguindrum, and the editing was done superbly and really shaped the effect of the shots in each scene.
The characters in general were enjoyable and interesting, however some characters aren't as fleshed out as others and they seem to come off as a 1 dimensional plot device rather then an independent character, however the number of those types are minimal and the lead players truly deserve praise. Nozomi Yamane especially as Kureha and Aoi Yuuki as Mitsuko deserve high praise as they pull of fantastic emotional performances that really put them as some of my favorite female characters in anime and of course Penguindrum alumni Miho Arakawa was great as Ginko as was Lulu's VA Yoshiko Ikuta.
In the end if I had to compare YKA to Ikuhara's other works I would say this was not as good as Utena, but definitely better then Penguindrum which I found to be dragging at later episodes. Regardless if your looking for a sexy and fun character driven show that will push your emotions to the brink and send you on a yuri space odyssey then I definitely recommend Yuri Kuma Arashi.
(This has been adapted from my blog post. Spoilers ahead!)
(As supplementary material for this review, please refer to my writing on the symbolism for this anime, Yuri Kuma Arashi and the Effects of Symbolism, found here: http://thechuunicorner.com/yuri-kuma-arashi-and-the-effects-of-symbolism/)
Love is such a simple word. But when you think about it, there is a lot more to it than at first perceived. Love can be used to bring someone wonderful happiness or utter sadness. Love can make you extremely nervous or completely at ease. Love can even be used to bring about total beauty or despondent sin. This omnipresent feeling is incredibly complex, being something that everyone feels
in one form or another. Ultimately, though, it is a good feeling. But much like the symbols that this anime thrives on, its meaning morphs depending on the context. In other words, love is like a symbol where all of its roads, all of its interpretations, lead to a solitary destination. Yuri Kuma Arashi is founded on both love and symbolism, creating what can only be coined a masterpiece.
YKA (the acronym of choice from here on out) stars Tsubaki Kureha, who is shown to be in a romantic relationship with her female classmate, Izumino Sumika. However, following the latter’s tragic death, Yurishiro Ginko and Yurigasaki Lulu — two bears having crossed the “Wall of Severance” — begin to protect the now lonely Kureha from the “Invisible Storm.” All in the name of “never giving up on love.”
From this tiny description alone, it becomes rather apparent that YKA isn’t anything like other anime around it. The show does warn you about the direction it will be taking — the title of the anime is literally “Lesbian Bear Storm” — but even then, as one begins to partake in what it has to offer, it seems to come off as almost incoherent. What is the “Exclusion Ceremony?” Why are there bears disguising themselves as humans? How in the world is the “Severance Court” logical? It’s not until one realizes that the show does all of its explaining through symbolism that things go from being annoyingly complicated to astoundingly genius. For this is arguably YKA’s strongest point: every single aspect of the show has meaning or purpose. It doesn’t matter what is chosen — be it the constant flashbacks, a portion of a character’s name, or even a common flower — everything is symbolic. But more importantly than just having a myriad of symbols, for any show can generate them, what YKA does with the symbols is simple yet remarkable. And that is fully supporting the themes it presents.
The themes, like the symbols, are not just interesting but also difficult. Difficult in the sense that they are rarely touched on or investigated in anime let alone other mediums. YKA sets its sights on three distinct motifs: sociopolitical commentary on the perceptions of prejudice, specifically in regards to sexual discrimination and racism; telling a complex yet richly unique love story; and challenging religious connotations associated with preconceived beliefs. These themes sound menacing, which is why the symbols exist to aid in the understanding of the ideas that are being tackled. The anime very early on starts with a look at prejudice and what it means in relation to society as a whole. The first half of the show focuses mostly on sexual discrimination, using female homosexuality as its example of choice. Many of the symbols presented, such as Kureha’s preference for “shiokara spaghetti” symbolizing her homosexual tendencies, Harishima’s hypocritical sex highlighting society’s often unfair criticisms, and Reia’s picture book The Moon Girl and The Forest Girl demonstrating how such love is hard to obtain but within the realm of possibility; each provides the audience with the ability to see that YKA views such prejudice as not just wrong but evil. The second half does the same, but instead using racism rather than sexual discrimination. The war that occurs on “The Day of Severance” shows the hatred between those who are humans and those who are bears, Yuriika’s red boxes symbolize her ingrained sense of oppression, and Ooki’s harsh treatment towards the bears showcase the shift in narrative focus while still maintaining the stance that prejudice only brings about harm to those it is targeted at.
YKA doesn’t just stop with prejudice; it also tackles yet another controversial topic in the form of religion. Essentially, the anime denounces what such affiliations often teach. Once again, many of the symbols used back such arguable claims. Kureha’s birthday “party” being mired in religion’s often violent behavior, the bears’ religious fanaticism in their devotion to Lady Kumalia, and the human girls not believing in anything but the “invisible atmosphere”; such scenes paint religion as this toxic entity that, like prejudice, only seems to bring about harm to those that completely follow or abstain from that kind of thinking. In other words, the anime wants you to have beliefs, but in the one variable, the one idea, that, no matter what, always remains true. And this idea is none other than love itself. YKA presents love as something that should not only be strived for but also something that should never be forgotten. Because despite all of the sin that may form as a result of fighting for pure love — whether it is Ginko’s overwhelmingly selfish desire to have Kureha all to herself or Kureha’s childish pride getting the best of her unknowingly — love is, even with all of its flaws, something good. That is, the solution to all of the prejudice, all of the violence, and all of the hate, is love. It’s the emotion that anyone, no matter our ethnicity, creed, or background, can understand.
Much of what YKA does in terms of style, art, and overall direction is the prevalent tactic of mirroring. Mirroring here involves the idea of showcasing “the same, but different” events or moments. Mitsuko’s black bed of sin and Yuriika’s nighttime attack against Kureha, within the same episode, is a fantastic example of such a move. The dichotomy of the situations is great enough to see their individual importance yet simultaneously similar enough to establish connections between these separate parts. Such connections then bring about stronger bonds in relation to the symbols and subsequently the themes, too. Along these same lines, the majority of the shots within the anime are done focusing on the center. Rarely will the show deviate from this formula; nearly everything shown is placed in the middle of the frame. Such camera work makes not only whatever is happening on-screen grab your attention but also applies its own form of mirroring that the show is so fond of.
The character designs for the anime are both nicely done and thematically symbolic of what each person represents, the messages they convey, and the kind of love they embody. Lulu’s wavy twin-tails, green colored attire, and expressive faces symbolize her as not just the comic relief girl but also as someone whose previous greediness gave way to unfettered charity. Ai’s simplistic yet balanced design hold connotations in relation to the show’s purpose of having society come together through unification. And even insignificant ones such as Katyusha and Eriko were crafted in such a way as to make it clear how unimportant they are in the overall show.
Finally, actual animation for YKA is always above average. This is mainly due to the rather “simplistic” art of the anime itself; by presenting the show in a fashion comparable to the picture book within the anime — more mirroring — it uses softer shades and water color-esque backgrounds that lends itself to less rigorous frames. Characters are always moving fluidly when in human form, bear form, or the human-bear combo; the CG usage is appropriate yet minimal; and the anime’s diverse scenarios — Kureha’s cleansing summons, Ginko’s backstory, Lulu’s escape, etc. — provide the anime with ample opportunities to enact the “show; don’t tell” philosophy that it and its symbols utilize.
YKA’s symbolism doesn’t end with the plot or the animation. The characters likewise see symbolic purpose within the show. While the side cast is as important as the mains — more specifically, Sumika, Mitsuko, and Yuriika — the coverage here will be on the big three; namely, Kureha, Ginko, and Lulu.
Now one of my all-time favorite characters, Lulu is a girl whose past is filled with loneliness. Taking on the form of a bee, her attitude in life caused by the position she held made her ambivalent towards anyone and anything around her. She had everything she could ever ask for, but still felt incomplete. And when her little brother Mirun “stole” her status, she turned her self-loathing into hatred, into desire, to remove the person responsible for taking that which she, ironically, didn’t truly care for. It’s not until Mirun dies that she understands the folly of her ways and the love she couldn’t see due to being blinded by hatred. When she is found by Ginko, she has a change of heart: she becomes the best “wing girl (bear)” anime has ever seen. Helping to save Kureha from the “Invisible Storm” daily, treating Ginko’s wounds when she undergoes duress; Lulu transitions from avoiding love to fighting for and protecting it. Yet, her greediness still comes through when betraying Ginko, reinforcing love’s complex structure. But in the end, she maintains her newfound philanthropy, sacrificing herself to save not just her love, but her lover’s love, from being eliminated. Lulu’s final act of love was not only the least greedy move conceived but also earned her the title of “true friend.”
As a staunch defender of love, Ginko refuses to let go of the feelings she had with the girl who, mirroring Ginko’s own help, saved her from being “The Lone Wolfsbane.” Ginko initially looked to Lady Kumalia as the person to save her from the loneliness she felt, but it was Kureha who gave her the love she always wanted. Years later, Ginko then sets out to do the same: protect Kureha from anything that would potentially ruin her. But as we see, Ginko’s pride, her desire, had always loomed over her; while she most certainly wanted to reciprocate the love she had felt, it was for selfish reasons as opposed to doing it for the good of love. Even her treatment of Lulu, ignoring Lulu’s advances and emotions outright, was performed only because she wanted nothing else but Kureha’s love. And when Ginko’s literal criminal activity — her “killing” of Sumika — is revealed to the woman she values most, she takes the bullet she knew she had to, but still devolves into a mindset where only lust resides. But to her, “love is the real thing,” so she fights back, overcomes her instinctual habits, and does what she should have done the entire time: love Kureha not for herself, but for the girl who “loved her from the beginning.”
As the star (and more contextually, the moon) of the anime, Kureha undergoes the largest development throughout YKA. In the beginning, Kureha’s motivations are just, to an extent; that is, while she, too, fights for the love she holds dear, she shuns anyone else from getting near her person. But this makes sense, given her situation: the girls ostracize both her and Sumika, causing her to gain huge mistrust for others. Combined with the recent bear attacks, she feels desperate, wanting nothing more than to have back the girl who loved her so much. Which is where Ginko comes in; Ginko’s constant support for Kureha breaks the girl’s outer shell, slowly but surely, until Kureha has her own revelation. She discovers that it was her selfish pride that made her forget the girl who had always been there watching over her. Sumika’s love was good as well, but it wasn’t so much the love she gave to Kureha that mattered but instead what it taught her. And that is that true love always exists. Thus, Kureha chooses to literally transform herself from human to bear. She realizes that love isn’t about the sex or race one is; love transcends boundaries, differences, and walls because love is simply good.
What we see among all of the girls here — Kureha, Ginko, and Lulu — are many of the same traits. All three experience loneliness, selfishness, and sin in one way or another. Hearkening back to the talk about animation, the idea of mirroring occurs here without end. And it’s not just these three; many of the characters have gluttony, envy, and wrath caused by any number of moments — abandonment, ignorance, jealousy, etc. But once again, this falls in line with the anime’s take on mirroring; while love is ultimately something that should be obtained and given, it is not without its own sin. Most important of all, and what our three main characters here demonstrate, is that love has only one weakness: you. Lulu’s indirect death of Mirun, Ginko’s inaction that killed Sumika, and Kureha’s own inability to understand love makes it undeniably clear that love can defeat anything, as long as you yourself allow it to happen.
The opening theme for YKA is a beautiful arrangement that is, like the show itself, extremely unique. The sultry whispering, the choir singing, and the French lyrics fill the piece with a wonderfully calm and sensual feeling. In contrast, the ending theme is quick, jumpy, and fun, making it both catchy to the ear and the mind. What’s fascinating about the OP and ED, though, is not just their sound, but how they continue the mirroring that has been reiterated both here and within the anime. It’s not just in the tone, too: the pieces are (coincidentally) found at the beginning and ending of the show; the “singers” alternate — Kureha is the focal point for the OP, Ginko for the ED; and the lines of each song follow particular scenes from YKA, messages that the anime advocates, and even have purposeful word reuse between them. In short, even the OP and ED are symbolic tools for the anime.
The original soundtrack continues this same trend. All of the pieces have their titles being given meaning depending on the situation — for example, “Yuri Rabrinsu” is Mitsuko’s theme song, a literal lesbian love labyrinth. Others maintain the show’s religious undertones — “Yuri Shounin!” plays a portion of the “Ave Maria,” the world-renowned Virgin Mary prayer. Yet others still hold contextual relevancy — “Futari no Mirai” is a stunning track that plays during the saddest of moments and mirrors the scenarios it is played during. Each song isn’t just wonderfully composed; they are all, once again, their own symbols that reinforce all of what YKA does.
Voice-acting sees above average performances for everyone involved. Nozomi Yamane as Kureha for both her first major role and her great range, Miho Arakawa as Ginko for her “growling,” and Yushiko Ikuta as Lulu for her perky way of speaking each deserve their own, individual shout-outs.
I’m a fan of “yuri” content; so seeing it throughout the show here in a tasteful manner was a definite boon. The comedy of the anime is likewise just as great; I still, to this day, think back to Lulu’s over-the-top murdering of her little brother, with her screaming “Die!” and “Desire!” only to have Mirun show back up with a huge smile on his face, and it always makes me chuckle. Lulu carries the majority of the comedy with her, but Ginko isn’t averse to it either. Her delusions, and especially the bath scene, were downright hilarious to watch. And on top of all that, the romance the anime offered was amazing. I seem to gravitate towards unorthodox couples, and Kureha and Ginko’s relationship is no different. So watching all of their efforts, all of their love, coalesce as one made me extremely happy to see.
The show not only resounded with me on a personal level, but it also allowed me to flourish as a writer. Over the past two months, dissecting nearly everything that it contained, all of the research that I did, and the words that I wrote; this is an anime that will forever be something that I can look back on and say to myself, “This was the anime that elevated my prowess in writing beyond my wildest imaginations.” It’s a show that I’ve fallen in love with, and, like the characters and their love, is an anime that I’ll never forget.
Yuri Kuma Arashi is a special show. Not just because of the lesbians, the bears, and the storms; but because it accomplished everything that it set out to do. The symbolism is masterful, the themes are profound, and the execution is impeccable. It’s not everyday that one gets to witness something so perfect unfold.
To be honest, Yuri Kuma Arashi (Yuri Bear Storm) is one of those shows you’ll want to like or hate from the early start. Make no mistake, this is not your ordinary slice of life series or one of those shows where cute girls do cute things. To put it into easier perspective, Yuri Kuma Arashi appeals more to fans of surrealism, or those who seeks out more than just a plot and its characters. Symbolisms, foreshadowing, and many plot elements are exclusively packaged into this series that hits peculiarity from all directions.
The show has this strange vibrant radiance to it. From the first few
episodes, it’s clear that there’s a lot of effort put in by Kunihiko Ikuhara. He directs this show with an idiosyncratic style and is easy to tell how vastly peculiar some episodes can be. There’s also that gleeful atmosphere throughout the entire series whether it’s the bear symbolism, motifs, or allusions. But for what’s worth, this series should be viewed as creative and thought provoking piece of work. Translated as “Yuri Bear Storm, it may take fans by storm just like that.
Yuri Kuma is designed to seem complex but in reality has a meaningful tale to tell. It has a profoundly moving look at bears, an animal species that some people may have fascination about. The show begins with a fictional planet named “Kumalia” that exploded. The meteoroids that crashes onto earth manifests bears who has integrated themselves into human society. Except for one thing: they also like to feast and humanity seems to be one of their favorite meals on the menu. The show transits to the main characters who lives safely behind a protective barrier known as the Wall of Extinction. But one thing leads to another and we learn that bears have infiltrated the school to get a bite out of more humans. It’s up to Kureha to protect her girlfriend Sumika from becoming happy meal but not all seems easy. And by this point, you’re probably having a lot of thoughts on whether you should venture into this show further. Make no mistake, this series stretches beyond the boundaries of imaginations and easily takes risks. So if you’re really curious, then keep reading on.
As a testament of Ikuhara, there’s a lot of symbolism combined with themes to illustrate the nature of this series. Love plays out as a prominent idea. In fact, there are several key catch phases in the show that capitalizes on this idea such as “I will not give up on love”, or “We hated you from the beginning... and we loved you from the beginning, too.” Kureha treasures the people in her life that she cares for dearly. These include Sumika and her deceased mother. And while this series has a lot of subtle yuri gimmicks, it also crafts romantic friendships that is charming to the eye. It is how the show plays with its plot that really makes our characters change though. Losing Sumika for one thing creates a breakdown for Kureha. And seriously, who can blame her? She already lost her mother and that was an experience she won’t forget. Now that she’s lost an important friend, what else is there to lose? The show illustrates an insight on Kureha’s motivation to get to the truth, especially about the bears such as Ginko and Lulu. After learning that there are bears who are part of the school she is attending, we can easily see how determined she is to flesh them out.
It’s also hard to describe exactly where this show fits in when it comes to the main story. A combination of slice of life, horror, and fantasy comes to mind while it throws most logic out the window. From the trials to the menacing murders (with cannibalistic symbolism), Yuri Kuma shows exactly what it is capable of when it comes to mind games. The judges of the series that initiates the yuri trials in the Court of Severance adds both a psychological and seductive twist. Because let’s face it, the bears are being judged for approval and while this seems like a serious trial, the seductive speech mannerisms takes the cake in another direction. Don’t believe me? Just hear it for yourself. Several catchphrases such as, ‘That's the sexy way. Shaba-da-doo’, ‘I’m so cool’, and ‘Delicious smell!’ are just among a few of them. Of course, the series isn’t a stranger to peculiar dialogues throughout the majority run of the show. The constant growls and roars (with a peculiar ‘Gao’ aesthetic) gives the fans something to think about in regards to the bears. What’s more horrific is how the series also capitalizes on an avant garde style of fictional violence. The backgrounds and violent scenes makes it easy for viewers to interpret themselves at what happens. It shows how dangerous the bears are and exactly why society fears them so much; enough for them to build a damn wall anyways in attempt to keep everyone safe. It also shows how much of a predator some of the bears are as part of human society. Mitsuko is a good example of this as she shows her true colors even from the first episode.
From another story perspective, the narrative of this series is directed with brilliance and creativity. Flashbacks are literally told as what they are with a stylistic tone through both its visuals and dialogues. From a fantasy point of view, we also have certain episodes that really brings it to life when it comes to the style of the characters. The mass amount of symbolism such as the royalty, honey, bear claws, etc further enhances the style and purpose of this series. Unfortunately, at some point, fans will get to a point of confusion where they feel like it’s trying far too hard. I had a similar feeling for the first half of this series with all the sexual allusions and cryptic dialogues. It’s also unsurprising that there are a lot of key words or phrases that holds more meaning than just its catchy choice of words. (ex. Invisible Storm) And for all its worth, Yuri Kuma is like dream for fans who appreciates shoujo-ai with its heavy yuri undertones. After all, there are literally no other male students (it’s a damn all-school girl school) so relationships are built by trust, connections, and love. Just ask Kureha and her lover and you’ll see the dedication she puts in to find out the truth about the bears. Revenge or not, the series’ cat-and-mouse like game between humans and bears is hard to ignore with its thought provoking factors.
Then, there was the art. How to describe it really? On one hand, it can be simple and imaginative with the countless symbolism and motifs. The sexual allusions are also all over the place each episode relating to the behavior of the bears. Finally, we have the yuri. As a series with girl-on-girl relationships, it shouldn’t be a surprise to see some of it being visually depicted. The OP and ED songs wastes almost no time with its heavy fan service scenarios. And to be honest, this show takes fan service to a rather ambivalent level because of how much it indulges on the yuri tropes. And to say the least, this series’ fantasy and world fiction has a peculiar tone. In retrospect, Silver Link delivers its art’s purpose but how you appreciate it can be a hit or a miss.
Soundtrack on most parts is decent with a good amount of effort. The main part though is the dialogues. It isn’t used just as a way with mannerism of speech but with its style to tell the story. The catchphrases are imperative to the show’s core while characters’ voices deliver the consistency of their personalities. I give praise especially to the bears with their way of speech. It has a combination of peculiarity, attachment, and in all purposeful with their roles in the story. And to not top it off, who can forget those seductive judges? Oh I think I know. The OP song. Brace yourself for a brave attempt at a performance from one of the heaviest yuri tone songs you’ll witness and hear with the ears.
It’s hard to say exactly what Yuri Kuma is aiming for. If it’s just pure entertainment, then it this the nail hard in the coffin. But for story, this could be quite a headache for those who knows little about the director’s style. It’ll take some patience and an open mind to get through this show because the mass amount of symbolism and its peculiar way it’s presented. For what’s worth, Yuri Kuma crams these symbolism not just because it wants to be or feel unique but rather for telling its story in that appealing way. Although this may steer away some people from giving the series a chance, I’d still recommend giving Yuri Kuma at least a try even if you aren’t on the same track as those menacing bears. Gao.
Yuri Kuma Arashi. I’m going to be flat out honest, I utterly loathe this show for the sheer fact that I’ve fallen in love with it. Now I must caution you all, this show will alienate you if you haven’t seen Ikuhara’s previous works like Penguindrum or Utena so upon viewing this as a first title his style can be rather overbearing. But, back to the topic at hand, there are some anime out there that can only be described as otherworldly and Yuri Kuma is just that. Today I will be reviewing the anime Yuri Kuma Arashi so without further
ado KUMA SHOCK.
Yuri Kuma Arashi is produced by studio Silver Link who created the best Fate in the franchise Fate Illya, and also created Strike the Blood… Yeah they done fucked up. It was constructed by Kunihiko Ikuhara who is the mastermind behind Penguindrum and Utena. It is a psychological fantasy seinen that consists of 12 episodes.
Yuri Kuma Arashi is set in a futuristic world where an asteroid titled Kumaria explodes in space, and as the fragments rain down from the sky, this causes the bears from all over the earth like Yogi Bear to all initiate an attack on humanity. As a result a huge wall of extinction erects between the two societies to bring peace, kinda like Attack on Titan and the Berlin Wall. One day, academy student Kureha who despises bears is with her lover Sumika as the bear sirens sound. Bears are attacking the human world, and questions begin to arise, mysteries start to appear, and the yuri will yurinate all over your brain.
To begin, this anime is highly niche and isn't for everyone, especially those who take things at face value and consider Aldnoah.Zero a masterpiece. Before watching this anime I'd recommend seeing a past Ikuhara work like Mawaru Penguindrum or Utena so that you are familiar with Ikuhara's surrealist style of storytelling.
If you take the story at face value what you perceive initially is just women and bears rubbing their carpets together in harmonious motion while symbolism is being thrown, but Yuri Kuma is a more deeper anime commenting on religion, love and about conformity to the general public.
Yuri Kuma Arashi’s theme of homosexuality is often seen as face value rather than anything deeper, and I can’t blame the average anime watcher for only seeing sex because of how yuri is portrayed in the medium with animes like Sakura Dick. But the homosexuality is utilized as a method to convey a commentary on how people identify the gay vs straight argument, only in this anime it’s taken to the extreme with its themes. The bears being represented as corrupted for having homoerotic feelings while the females represent a type of religious purity that looks down upon those who have the qualities of the bear which is shown through an abstract method of storytelling. Despite the name, Yuri Kuma Arashi after its first 3 episodes lacks in yuri which is honestly a pro allowing the yuri to be perceived as more symbolic rather than fan service to the naked eye due to the non overbearingness of it. Funny thing is, the people who shun this anime for the nudity and it's sexual themes are the same people who will turn around and state that Elfen Lied is beautiful FOR THE SAME REASON. The homosexuality nods at biblical concepts stating that being with another person of the same gender is a sin, which is amplified to the extreme in the sense that being with the same gender or in this case have bearlike behaviors will cause you to be excluded and shunned by society paralleling to Puritan age customs like the Scarlet Letter only on a grander scale. Other interpretations on the work see the student body as a religion based government and the main characters as radicals.
This brings me to the symbolism, which at times can be highly forced to the point where it gets jammed down your throat like abstinence in high school. Ikuhara is a crazy motherfucker renowned for his symbolism within his fiction and this show is no exception. The show is like a puzzle piece, waiting to be solved by you the viewer and succeeds at being an interactive experience along the way. There is symbolism plastered everywhere, in the gardens, heck even the wall is symbolic, everything in this show is a physical representation of a theme, concept and ideal.
A gripe with the show I had was its pacing, specifically within its first 3 episodes which were repetitive in nature allowing little to no variation and was at times slower than deaf person using a Bop-it toy. Also, those first 3 episodes were extremely jarring and indecipherable which definitely hurt the series and in that regard very difficult to follow its themes. But luckily it improves upon the initial flaws and becomes more approachable to the audience.
Finally, a comment about the atmosphere and the world provided by the show. The atmosphere is uncanny and it works hand and hand with the show’s perplexing storytelling. As for the world, surprisingly I have varied opinions. On one hand, the world expands on a grander scale with the edition of the Kuma Kingdom, but on the flipside the human world seems to only consist of a school and Kureha’s house which is sad considering how the anime could have exploited its eccentric foundation to become something better.
The conclusion to the show is very hit or miss depending on how a person interprets what happened, all I have to say though is the ending is satisfying. Every loose end of the story comes together and wraps up with a nice little bow.
Now it’s time to move on to the characters.
Yuri Kuma Arashi struggled in the beginning with characterization, but towards the conclusion it repairs these issues and the characters differentiate themselves from others. However, this doesn't stop it from being weakest component of the show, and as a result of their symbolic meanings the characters halt in characterization
Kureha's initially is portrayed as having blind hate towards bears, desiring to witness their destruction. But as the series progresses you learn through backstory on the reasons why she despises bears, and how she became the person she is in the anime. She represents individualism as she acts outside of what society considers normal which causes her character to be shunned by others showing a great deal of growth as she copes with society rejecting her. Though her character I feel her character lacks depth.
Ginko is a bear who appears to have her own agenda, and though unrelatable and bland in the beginning, she results in being unique and relatable. Seeing her on her endeavors on screen is hilarious, and watching her grow from her experiences and develop as a character truly fashions her as a well written character. She gets proper backstory, and as witnessed sticks insanely to her motivations being revealed as a determined character.
Lulu is also a bear that follows Ginko on her journey and along the way provides for some zany humor. She’s highly outgoing, and is portrayed as the genki archetype. Receiving some backstory she’s not the most developed character but by the end is characterized properly.
The rest of the characters arguably aren’t characterized conventionally which to a certain extent is true and can be perceived as a flaw. But the fact of the matter is each character holds a purpose in the plot, mostly a symbolic purpose. Some characters represent desire, others have a more religious purpose, but in conclusion they all hold some sort of purpose. Though I do agree that the characters are the weakest part seeing how anyone outside the general cast have a lack of characterization.
Yuri Kuma Arashi's art can be described in 3 words, abstract as fuck. The use of color to convey symbolism and to show importance on certain elements within shots is astounding, and adds to the surrealist nature of the story. From the school's color of period blood red, to the lush forests of booger color green, the colorization is on point. The character designs for the humans are somewhat bland but as for the bears, they all look eccentric and really eye catching like an ISIS member at a Protestant Church. But though bland, the facial expressions on the characters are constructed extremely well emphasizing the emotions each character feels. Lighting is something this show nails, with high key and low key lighting occurring at the right time generate some wallpaper-esque gorgeous scenes. But, where the flaw lies within its magical art is the horrendous looking CGI in some areas, especially the bear claw which looks worse than a girl who is depressed about Zayn Malik leaving One Direction.
The animation however is very inconsistent, with some areas appearing to be smooth but in other areas looks like Microsoft PowerPoint which is a real shame considering that this is a psychological anime. The movements in the background characters are minimal to the point where it seems lazy. But, there are two sides to one coin as Clinton showed us, where one side the animation is ugly, but on the other side it sparkles and improves over the course of the show. All and all though, the art is presented in a unique fashion while the animation though lazy in the beginning slowly begins to improve by the end. But shall I make note that I appreciated the nods to Penguindrum, Utena and even The Shining, because incorporating those references were cool.
The ost of Yuri Kuma Arashi can be described with 2 words, ominous and unique. This is an unusual show, and the music highlights its unconventional nature by being extremely different from ordinary soundtracks. There are a sufficient amount of songs ranging from slow music for the passive melancholic scenes to swiftly paced haunting music accompanying intense scenes, the music is composed brilliantly, and is reminiscent of sci if horror esque soundtracks. It also in some instances creates clever hyperboles, playing intense music over an event that is presented in a non serious way is genius. The opening and ending themes fit the show with the opening being slow yet gets you immersed upon watching it. As for the voice acting, ughhhhhh, it's varied. On one side Ginko and Kureha's voice actresses represent the characters wonderfully, presenting emotions and confidence. On the other hand, you have the voice actress of Sumika and other characters who sound more annoying than North Korea watching the Interview or just standard.
In conclusion Yuri Kuma is a very niche show that I’d only recommend to 2 types of people.
A person familiar with a work of Ikuhara’s and has seen either Penguindrum or Utena.
A person who can look beyond the sexual aspects of the show and see the deeper underlying meanings rather than what’s at face value. Yuri Kuma Arashi is not good anime as a piece of social commentary as well as entertainment and I believe that this anime is a cult classic.
So you wake up one morning and decide to create the perfect human. So naturally you go out for a walk with your favourite butcher's knife. Hey black male man, nice muscles you have there, "SLASH!" hey white guy, can you give me a hand? "SLASH", hey asian girl, nice everything, "SLASH". So you just stick together the best parts you found and set your new creation for a walk. But instead of recognising your brilliance and worshipping you as a god, everyone starts screaming. And then Mary Shelley writes a book about it. Do you know why that is? a) Because they're giant pussies.
b)Because your creation has no CONSISTENCY.
The problem with Yuri Kuma is that it can't decide if it wants to be fanservice, horror, drama, comedy, social commentary, an action flick, a romance or a psychedelic experience. For example, the opening is simply AMAZING, and gives off a very psychedelic feeling. Then we move on to the main story, that looks like a comedy, since in a world where no males exist, humanity, which is called "yuri", aka "lesbian", has built a wall to protect itself from the intelligent BEARS that wage war against it. There is no single statement in that sentence that isn't utterly laughable. But then we meet our main character, Kuroha, who is hands down one of the best drama queens to ever exist. Kuroha is also followed by something called "The Invisible Storm", which at times the show presents to us as a conspirancy to make her life miserable, sometimes as a supernatural curse, and at others as an idea that only exists in Kuroha's head and simply isn't there. Half of the background cast acts as if this is a horror story, &the other half as if it is a romance. The supporting characters on the other hand act as if it is a comedy because lets be honest, bears vs lesbians is simply stupid as an idea, which in turn makes Kuroha, aka drama queen, stand out even more.
Do I really need to go on? The show has amazing elements of everything (hell, even the bears with their cartoonishly cute appearance can manage to be creepy at times), but absolutely none of them fit together whatsoever. Actually especially because all of them are so good, they have trouble fitting together. If the acting of Kuroha was less intense I wouldn't have a problem, but exactly because she gives such an amazing performance the laughable setting becomes even more evident. Even worse, the story can't decide if it wants to be symbolic or not. I'm sure SOMEONE in the cast (either the animators, or the mangaka or someone) believes it is symbolic, but frankly, most of the actors seem to believe it's quite literal, especially Kuroha.
If I dig deep enough, I guess I can find the moral is that bears and humans can be friends, aka we should accept those who are different, and people can be friends regardless of race..., but in that case WHY THE YURI SETTING? After thinking about it I mused that maybe it's trying to pass a message about homosexuality being acceptable rather than someone's heritage, but that makes even less sense since in that world homosexuality is already the norm (hell, humanity calls itself YURI), and in fact being straight is weird. And in the end I just gave up and said "fu$k it".
Yuri Kuma Arashi, I’m sure that your first impression on it was the series is purely about “lesbian”. No doubt, Yuri Kuma Arashi is a series that talks about something related to lesbians, but what the series wants to present to the audience is more than the lesbian theme. Yuri Kuma Arashi, was translated to “Lesbian Bears Storm”. The title, however, is very misleading. “Yuri” actually refers to pure maiden while “Kuma” actually refers to sexual predators. In other words, Yuri Kuma Arashi actually is a show that symbolizing the difference between pure romantic friendship between two girls & the real lesbianship. Ikuhara might had
set an objective for the series which making the audience able to differentiate a pure romantic friendship & a lustful lesbianship.
About the story, Yuri Kuma Arashi basically was about a bear who named Ginko wanted to be loved by Kureha who once was her friend in past. The series was set with a setting which at long ago, a far off planet known as Kumalia exploded, turning into a meteor shower that fell upon earth. This lead to the bears becoming violent and attacking the humans, who created the Wall of Severance between them and the bears. The setting was actually similar with Shingeki no Kyoujin (Attack on Titans) which human were living in the wall to avoid the attacks from the monster, but what made Yuri Kuma Arashi more interesting was bears can actually disguise themselves into human. The series started off by after several years, two bears, Ginko and Lulu, disguise themselves as humans and enroll in Arashigaoka Academy, where Ginko takes interest in a human girl named Kureha.
Having a great premise doesn’t mean the series was good. A lot of series which had a great premise usually failed to be a great series because most of the time the development was bad. In term of “development”, we’re talking about the pacing & the plot quality. Yuri Kuma Arashi is great part of the reason have to thanks to the slow-pacing development. Making the audience confused episode by episode and slowly revealing the truth is what Yuri Kuma Arashi had. The plot was developed with a slow-pace to present what Ikuhara actually wanted to prove us, the difference between a pure romantic friendship & a lustful lesbianship. From the series, you can actually see the love by Ginko to Kureha was changing slowly from the beginning to the current episode.
Now, let’s talk bout’ the characters. The characters are great and memorable. They are actually some realistic characters that you can related them to someone in your life. Almost all the major characters in Yuri Kuma Arashi get their character development. Start from the protagonists, Kureha Tsubaki. Kureha is a character that don’t give a fuck to the others except those who close to her like her best friend, Sumika Izumino. Moreover, Kureha is a character who not really well in making decision even though her hatred to bears are deeper than anyone. Also, Kureha is a character who was thirsty for having friends. You can actually relates her to Ruuko Kominato from Selector WIXOSS series. Move to the 2nd protagonist, Ginko Yurishiro. Ginko is a character who will do anything for Kureha’s love. Ginko is also a selfish character who ignore others as long as it doesn’t related to her. Comes to the final protagonist, Lulu Yurigasaki. Lulu is a character who similar to Kureha, cares about those who close to her. But at the same time, Lulu is also a character who full with jealousy. Aside from the protagonists, the other characters are well-written too and how that acted on situations are splendid. You can actually sense that realistic human nature are inputted to all the characters.
Advance to the arts, it’s great with a standard of above average. As you know, Ikuhara, who was great in symbolism usually take the advantages of visual to symbolize some messages he wanted to present to the audience. In Yuri Kuma Arashi, he used lilies to symbolize the purity of a maiden. This sounds confusing but Ikuhara actually did used more that lilies to present out some messages. Aside from the visual effects, Yuri Kuma Arashi actually had a great character designs. The characters looks cute and suitable for the series. Moreover, the background the series used is another tricks that Ikuhara used to plot something mystery. You can actually find something interesting from the background through series like Kureha’s room which was symbolizing Kureha was a lonely person by making her room looks full (Loners actually did this. When they are lonely, they actually filling up their rooms with a lot of objects so that the room isn’t big enough to fit in the second person, which at the same time the loners could able to make excuses for themselves that they aren’t lonely at all).
Move to the sound, Yuri Kuma Arashi also did well on it. Instead of hiring experienced voice actors for their protagonists (Kureha, Ginko & Lulu’s VA isn’t popular at all), the studio hired the experienced voice actors for side-characters. The studio was aware that the side-characters need a more professional voice acting compare to the protagonists to bring out great effects for the series. For example, they hired Junichi Suwabe (Archer from Fate/stay night’s VA) for voice acting Life Sexy because they know that his professional voice acting’s skill might bring effects to series. Not to mention, “SHABADADOO~~” had already became a memorable term to the audience. Aside from the voice acting part, Yuri Kuma Arashi also did well in bringing up the soundtracks. The OSTs are great which the audience able to feel the atmosphere of the situation. In additional, the sound effects that Yuri Kuma Arashi used is another kind of tricks for Ikuhara to plot some messages to audience.
My thoughts on Yuri Kuma Arashi is actually quite simple. Despite being about lesbians, this show manages to be great in its own right. The series actually does symbolize all kinds of stuff like friendship, desire for something, how the society treats lesbians, how people treat sex differences & the power of love. Besides that, the series was progressed well with a mysterious way which makes me getting more interested for the show. The characters are great and memorable most of the reasons because they’re realistic like someone who close to us in real life. As a conclusion, missing out Yuri Kuma Arashi might be regretful for you since it’s one of the best series in Winter 2015.
Kunihiko Ikuhara sat down one day, picked up a Mad Libs book, and found his first prompt: "Adjective, Noun, Noun." Of course, he chose "Lesbian," "Bear," and "Storm" as any normal and respectable individual would.
Although it certainly might seem like Ikuhara just threw some words together to make this series, Yuri Kuma Arashi (Lesbian Bear Storm) is not a "thrown-together" series by a long shot. Now please bear with me-- I promise the puns won't be this terrible-- for my take on YKA.
Disclaimer: Although I am majorly biased towards Ikuhara (Utena and Penguindrum are my #1 and #2) I'd like to think that
this review attempts to eliminate bias. If my fanboyishness is too flamboyant in some areas, please tell me so I cna review that and correct it.
I don't just hand out 9s for stories-- YKA has a damn good story to tell. Contrary to what some other yuri shows might present us, YKA isn't just girls mashing their faces into one other (although that certainly does happen and is welcome, oh based Ikuhara).
As with any Ikuhara show, YKA is riddled with extended metaphor, symbolism, various motifs, and a whole bunch of other fancy terms. Don't get me wrong, they're all great and I like them a lot (the ones I picked up on, anyway. There's plenty I missed, I'm sure). However, YKA is great in that it's enjoyable even if you don't read heavily into the symbolism. Despite it's somewhat outwardly wacky nature, it's a fairly accessible story, as opposed to a show like Utena. Of course, some people are immediately turned off by any hints of symbolism, writing the show off as 3deep5me and cursing everyone who likes the show, calling them "anime hipsters" and the show "pretentious." I don't really care. We all have our own opinions, and I happen to enjoy the symbolism.
Anyway, YKA boils down to a story about love, bullying, and society. It doesn't take an Einstein to figure that out. And despite a limited arsenal of 12 episodes to work with (as opposed to his 39 with Utena and 24 with Penguindrum), Ikuhara manages to seamlessly craft a heartwarming story with a few KUMA SHOCKS! along the way. With a genius like Ikuhara writing, it's no wonder that the story is so good.
Ohmygawd was this show pretty. So many scenes were screenshot worthy. Every location, every surreal still shot... just gorgeous. The characters all look brilliant. The yuri is high def. What more can you want?
Just to drive it home a little more, when I say surreal, I mean surreal. This god damned show freezes certain moments in time with some shots, mostly towards the end. Bobduh's episodic screenshots capture most of them.
Soundtrack was great, too. Ikuhara knows what he's doing so he knows when to play the music, etc. etc. But wha really makes YKA stand out musically is its OP and ED. Bonjour Suzuki does the OP and it is phenomenal. Breathy singing is exactly what this show needed. And it works so well. The ED is a techno-sounding tune that's really upbeat. It might be slightly generic, but it contrasted certain scenes EXTREMELY WELL. I'm not going to spoil a thing, but I was a bit listless after a certain scene nearing the end of an episode, then BOOM the first few notes start playing to confirm reality and shake everything back into existence. I guess that might just be limited to a personal experience I had, but boy did I like that.
This category is really where any Ikuhara show excels. YKA's characters are the backbone of the entire show. The characterization and development of the three main characters (Kureha, Lulu, and Ginko) is just stellar. All three are so interesting, so unique, so... Ikuhara. The interactions between these three characters are just fun to watch because of how well these characters are portrayed. The three of them have overarching essences to their being that Ikuhara emphasizes with dialogue and actions. For instance, Ginko initially acts out of pure desire. Her desire is portrayed through her actions around Kureha, her ignoring of Lulu, etc.
YKA also succeeds in making its other characters interesting. Anthy 2.0-- excuse me, Sumika-- serves her purpose well (no other words on her). The student council president is such a fun character. All of the girls that lead the exclusion ceremonies are unique. [Not really SPOILERS, as you'll have no idea what this is until it's literally right in front of you, but skip the next sentence if you're so inclined.] I cared about the girl in the van with the cyborg bear effortlessly, because just with all of the characters in YKA, Ikuhara makes the audience care about them.
Uniqueness, archetypes, and the ability to make me give a damn? 10/10.
Okay, so the fanboy can't hide here. This show has been the highlight of my week for the past 13 weeks (including the week with the interview). I couldn't wait until Monday to watch my lesbian bears.
This show is just so god-damned fun to watch. Bias aside, with all of the aforementioned factors working together to create this beaut of a show, it's hard NOT to have fun. Watching YKA unfold was bliss. Watching it end was sad.
Yuri Kuma Arashi gets a 9/10. It's not a masterpiece, but it's a damn good show.
WATCH OR DON'T WATCH:
With a 9/10, this should be accessible to all audiences, right? I wish. As much as I'd like for this not to be true, technical greatness of this show aside, the symbolism can be a turn off for some. Although YKA can still offer you a great story even if you don't read into it, this show is best enjoyed with some analysis and thought of what's going on. I'm not saying it's necessary to pick every symbol apart-- you'll go mad. But I'd say to watch this if you're willing to think. If not, probably not the best choice. Whatever your choice is, don't let others judge you. That' s the sexy way. Shaba-da-doo.
Shaba-daa… Shaba-daba-daabaa. This anime is a prime example of why people should not quit watching a non-linear show after the first few episodes.
Art is outstanding – beautifully designed characters, colorful background, lots of attention to details and expression. The OP is good on its own; the soundtrack blends into the storytelling perfectly and doesn’t distract you.
Despite all that, Yuri Kuma Arashi is definitely not an easy anime to watch. As many people may have noticed, the first three episodes – no, make it five episodes – had one of the highest WTF-per-minute factor. The story didn’t make any sense. Asteroid exploding, cute-looking bears uprising and
eating human, Kureha and her inexplicable not giving up on love… nothing seems to fit anywhere.
Luckily, the murder of Sumika, the catchy OP, and the irresistible “Shabadadoo” of Junichi Suwabe kept me watching. And I felt so lucky I did. Since the way the story is told is similar to having a puzzle with pieces being revealed one at a time which, while confusing at first, once there are enough pieces, it makes your mind try to interpolate and fill in the unseen pieces. It is rewarding when you guessed the right missing piece; but Ikuhara’s genius directing piques your interest even more when you guessed it wrong. To that end, a fun game you can try for the first 5 episodes is to guess which characters are bears and which are humans.
Did I mention that Life Sexy’s voice is aptly very sexy? His voice is so good that I have been eagerly waiting for the Judgement section of every episode. And episode 4 is worthy of several re-watches, because one just cannot get enough Shabadadoo.
Don’t let the initial confusion shy you away from this otherwise great work of art. There are many things to enjoy in Yuri Kuma Arashi.
Many of the reviews I see here are talking about how this show is "difficult to watch" as if it is a chore. My advice is to just not think too hard about the deeper meanings and simply enjoy the cute characters, art, and story. After you become interested in the show, you can always watch it again in order to analyze it.
I decided to watch this show based on the art I had seen...and I was not disappointed because the art used in the show is very good and appealing to the eye. The outfits and character design are very cute as well.
The school uniforms struck me especially because they are very unique. In Japan hats are not often part of the school uniform, and if they are it is only in elementary school. However this school uniform meant for high school kids had included a very cute hat...it's not that important but it is something that stood out to me.
Anyway...I am the type of person who enjoys shows about "cute girls doing cute things" but these shows often have fan service which frankly creeps me out since these girls are almost always under eighteen. Although in this show there were many scenes in which the girls were naked, they did not appear to be meant for fan service. There were only a few times in which it was invasive fan service, such as during the opening and during the bears' transformation scenes. However I feel that they were small enough events that I can excuse them. I know this may seem nitpicking but I can't help but pay attention to these things... Even though the under-age girls are fictional, I still feel creeped out when there is fan service of them. (If you know any shows that have girl characters and no fan service please tell me... I have only found a few like this. Examples are The Rolling Girls and K-ON)
I enjoyed the soundtrack. I liked the softness of the vocals and the lyrics of the opening and ending song were very meaningful.
I give it a ten overall because the good art, the cute characters, the soundtrack, and the story were all very enjoyable to me. I have only seen a few shows in which a lesbian couple was not a joke and also was not clearly made just for fan service. As someone who is part of the LGBT+ community it is very important to me that a show like Yuri Kuma Arashi was made, a show in which people like me are not just a joke in the background or something to be fetishized.
When it comes to making anime that is overflowing with metaphors and symbolism, Ikuhara is your guy. I remember hearing about the project and was excited for a yuri anime to be directed by Ikuhara, since he's always included it in his past work. I came with the expectation that this show was going to be revolutionary like Utena (pun not intended) and Penguindrum. Yuri Kuma fulfilled it to an extent. The first couple of episodes of the anime don't give it any justice since the fan service is everywhere, but the show does get better. The show encompasses the
brave Kureha Tsubaki, and her determination on never giving up on love. The show demonstrates the treatment of lesbians in society to the idea of selfish love all in the span of 12 episodes. The art was nice, and it was enjoyable seeing Morishima Akiko's work in an anime, and the opening and ending songs were really nice. I thoroughly enjoyed the anime and it's one of the few yuri ones that I actually like.
This has to be one of the weirdest animes I've seen but I love it. It starts out really slow and kinda dull but picks up after a few episodes. You'll start out EXTREMELY confused until a couple episodes before the ending, but I liked that it felt like a puzzle you slowly put together. I gave it a 10 but I'm sure this isn't everyone's thing but damn I loved practically every second....gau gau
I am not english, so i apologize if i make mistakes.
ʕ•̫͡•ʔ♡ʕ•̫͡•ʔ Yuri Kuma Arashi. I bet your first impression of this show has not been nice. Bears ʕ ☯ ڡ ☯ ʔ, invisible storm and Yuri, this is what you'll get from the first three episodes and probably even at the end of the series, Why? Because you didn't pay attention to the Yuri elements, dialogue, characters and especially to the symbolism (or you were just too lazy to find explanations on the web ʕ – ▃ – ʔ ). But what is Yuri Kuma Arashi about? Symbolism, love and drama. If you don't
like symbolism stuff, just ignore this Anime, you will get confusion without explanations from the first second to the last one. Since i loved Yuri Kuma Arashi and everything related to the symbolism, weird stuff, ecc...i wanted to write a review.
Go to watch the first half of this show because from now there will be spoilers.
Plot: Revenge > Shoot > Court > Bears > Death > Revenge > Shoot > Ecc... > (இ(エ)இ｀)
well, if you think "nonsense" is what the show is about you started watching this in the wrong way. forget what you've watched. The story of this show is 50% concrete and 50% abstract. Everything has a meaning. The bears, the flowers, everything. This is what makes the story interesting, because it's you that reformulate Yuri Kuma Arashi, not the Studio, the Director or the Writers, but you. This was the 50% abstract story ヾ(;￫㉨￩)ﾉ. Now that you got what you have to do everything will become more clear. The flowers mean love and desperation, the Bears mean the wild love and are who doesn't want to hide her/his true nature, the Wall are who doesn't accept with the gay love and creates a "wall" between Her/Him and a gay person, The "battles" mean...ecc...
I can understand that you are too lazy to interact with the show, in fact, if you are not in the symbolism just ignore Yuri Kuma Arashi. ヾ(T(エ)Tヽ)
The background are abstract, the colo(u)rs fit perfectly with the show's atmosphere. Dark art when it has to be and colorful with the flashbacks. Simply the art tells us what is the show, nothing too cheerful nor too "dead". I am sure that the backgrounds, colors, ecc...have a meaning but i don't know what meaning lol ┐(´(エ)｀)┌
In poor words, the Art is outstanding, beautiful and unique.
Easily one of the best OSTs used in a show i've ever heard in my life of anime watcher. Yuri Kuma has unique OSTs that will make you both laugh or cry. Them emphasize the situation in a dramatic way or funny one. Sometimes there's electro too (ó㉨ò)ﾉ♡ If you are looking for good OSTs then watch this show.
What is trying to say YKA with the aggressive encounters on the rooftop each week's episode at the beginning of the show, well, if you don't know it, it's telling us the feelings of the human being. Jealousy, anger, revenge, ecc... each character in the show has a meaning, surprised? lol
( ´ิ(ꈊ) ´ิ) The characters have not a cliché personality at all, not unique but surely different from some shows. We can say that are more interesting than funny.
Yuri Kuma Arashi in itself is not a comedy, what will probably make you laugh are the elements of the show. "Shoooock, KUMA SHOCK!", "Shabadado" "Gao, Gao!" ecc... Loved the catch-phrases of this show ꒰♥︎꒱ઽᵘᵏⁱ♡ৎˊ͈ˣੰૢˋ͈ॢॽ∗｡ i am sure you will love them too. They will never annoy you if you are enjoying the show.
Outstanding, from each point of view. Warning: This show is absolutely not for everyone if you like the symbolism, bears and Yuri. Be careful to everything while you are watching this anime and enjoy the weird world of Yuri Kuma Arashi!
I hope you found this review helpful (*ゝ(ェ)･)ﾉ.｡o○
+Cute characters and very good character development
+Very surreal and symbolic
+Weird (In a good way)
+Building up lore and pretty good twists
+good character backstory
+Goddamn that opening
-Not for everyone
Yuri Kuma Arashi I found to be much better than I expected. At first it seems pretty playful and cute and it also seems like it's gonna have a lot of lesbian fan service but actually no. The fan service isn't overly sexual at all. Plus the anime gets deeper and more drama as it goes on. It's so damn surreal and has such a pretty atmosphere. I'm a artist so I eat weird shit up like a
school girl blows senpai-*Cough* Anyways while I can saftely say I fucking adore this anime it's definitely not for everyone. If it intrigues you go ahead watch it , I think you'd love it! But if it seems to weird or your just not into this type of stuff then ahead
A little note here, this anime is touching on a personal level to me, so apologies in advance if you don't wanna hear this sappy childhood tale of mine.
Now then, what is Yuri Kuma Arashi about? It's got it all, it's the best bear-hunting anime I've ever watched for one. If you enjoy bear-hunting and would like to watch an anime that accurately simulates the sport, Yuri Kuma has all you need. Now grab those bear traps and head out to the woods!
It's also an anime about societal exclusion and discrimination. Is the anime about how people (Lesbians in this show) are discriminated and excluded
by society? Yes it is. Does it handle its theme with the subtlety or with the respect/care it deserves. Hell no.
For all its messages on how Bears (which largely represent Lesbians in this case) are discriminated and hunted by humans and how this is bad and all, the show doesn't handle its primary theme with care. What with all the gratuitous fanservice of our characters thrown around everywhere for starters, or how the show is inconsistent with portraying the bears (so they're being discriminated but are also psychopaths who should be hunted?) or all the lovely unfortunate implications this show brings (so a number of antagonists in this show are lesbians and are portrayed as bad people because they're driven by lust or something).
Which brings me to my next point, the characters aren't particularly likable. Lulu and Ginko are fine but I positively loathe Kureha, she complains so much at every and any given opportunity and is always oblivious to danger and the like. The antagonists aren't particularly well written either, mostly boiling down to one-dimensional evil villain stereotypes with minimal depth. Sumiko I particularly didn't like as later episodes that involved her scenes felt forced and out of place since they usually come in the form of flashbacks in the middle of the anime. Life Sexy is the real MVP though.
But on a whole, the show just works. It flows very fluidly and is paced extremely well, and despite my complaints earlier regarding characters and character development, I still found Kureha's adventure fun to follow. The surrealist animation especially gives life to the anime, providing spectacular moments to be enjoyed.
By the ending I was overflowing with tears. It was the first anime I've watched to garner such a reaction from me and it holds a special place in my heart for it.Ya see, kids are cruel. I wasn't a lesbian, but I was still different from the other kids. I acted differently and I was ostracized by it. Our society is one that's just not receptive to strange people. Which is why in spite of all the fanservice, sexism, stupidity and flaws of this anime, I really enjoyed it and would highly recommend it to anyone and everyone.