Mar 30, 2015
HaXXspetten (All reviews)
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.