Yuri Kuma Arashi Ep. 1: Hardly about bears

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Right. I’m not going to pretend like I know what this show is about. It’s just the first episode, and nobody can really say they knew what Penguindrum was really about from just the first episode alone. So y’know, I’m not going to sit here and come up with all these wild theories about the show’s meaning and/or subtext at such an early juncture in the series. Oh, we’ll have plenty of time for that later. I’m sure the Ikuhara fanatics are already salivating at the thought. For now, however, I just want to focus on what this episode makes me feel — what it evokes from me. But first, we should probably get the surface plot out of the way. I really shouldn’t recap the plot events of the episode like this, but maybe putting it together in my own head will help me… I don’t know, organize my feelings about the show or something.

We at Arashigaoka Academy, an all-girls school. The story also takes place in this alternative universe where a meteor storm had turned bears into bipedal, human-“eating” g…girls? Are there male bears in this universe? The only male characters I see are the Judgmens, and they have bear paws, but at the moment, I would definitively state that they are bears themselves. Anyway, a Severance Barrier was erected to keep the bears out, but two managed to infiltrate the academy and disguise themselves as regular, human girls. Likewise, I’m not sure if there are any human males in this story. If there are any, I haven’t seen one yet. Our two sneaky bears are Ginko and Lulu, and the former is especially interested in Kureha, who appears to be the main human character of the story.

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At the beginning of the episode, Kureha and her lover Sumika by the school’s lily garden (one of many?). It appears that their love is not exactly condoned, but Kureha assures Sumika that they’re doing nothing wrong. Plus, she’ll never “give up on love,” a phrase that we’re sure to hear over and over as this series unfold. They are suddenly alerted to the presence to a bear sighting. Kureha promises to protect her girlfriend, but as luck would have it, Sumika ends up disappearing one morning. When Kureha receives a mysterious phone call about whether or not her love for Sumika is “true,” she grabs her rifle, which she has conveniently stashed away in her locker, and quickly rushes to the school’s rooftop. There, she finds herself attacked by two bears.

Immediately afterwards, we see the same two bears undergo a “Yuri Trial,” where three Judgemens decide whether or not the bears should be allowed to proceeding with their feasting of human girls. Apparently, even in the bear world, it’s not exactly kosher to hunt your prey? Shrug. After a short debate, Love Sexy (yeah, really), the head Judgemen (Judgeman?), declares, “Lily, approved!” As a result, the two bears undergo a mahou transformation scene in which they become human girls again, and then they proceed to lick nectar from the white lily growing out of a naked Kureha’s chest. When Kureha finally wakes up, she finds herself in the infirmary. Elsewhere, a girl stumbles upon Sumika being eaten by a pair of bears. Aaaaaaaaaaand… end episode. Phew. Was a that a mouthful or what?

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Right, so what do I even think? To be honest, the first thought that came to my head was, “Yuri again?” I liked Penguindrum, though. I felt it was ambitious and large in scope. Hopefully, Yuri Kuma Arashi can be the same way, but I won’t pretend that I don’t have my misgivings about the show’s largely female-looking cast. My second thought was, “Man, this is gimmicky and repetitive.” And honestly, Ikuhara’s storytelling has always been gimmicky and repetitive. He loves to reuse images, motifs, and metaphors in different contexts. It can sometimes be fun to piece together what he’s trying to say (Penguindrum), but other times, it can get tiresome (Revolutionary Girl Utena). After one episode, I’m not going to rule one way or the other with Yuri Kuma Arashi, but it’s a thought that’s going to linger at the back of my mind for the rest of the series.

To sum things up, my initial impression towards this anime is a mixture of… of… curiosity and a whole lot of eye-rolling. I mean, the show’s different, but I’m way past the point of praising something just for being different. And until Yuri Kuma Arashi can prove to me that it can tie its gimmicks together into a compellinginteresting story, then all the metaphors in the world doesn’t mean shit. For now, I remain apprehensive about the show’s direction.

Stray notes & observations:

— There’s going to be a lot of this. And a lot of stairs in general.

— The yuri antics do nothing for me. Doesn’t even raise an eyebrow.

— What’s with all the construction in the background? What’s an Invisible Storm? What does it mean to go invisible? Why is eating equated with love? Why does it have to be called a Severance Barrier instead of just a simple wall? What does eating Kureha’s nectar even do? Stay tuned for the next episode of Dragon Ball Z.

— But really, is the Severance Barrier just a hymen? It’s a hymen, isn’t it?

— Speaking of hymens, here’s a white flower. And now, we have a red flower. And midway through the episode, someone had snipped the white flowers from their stems, and the human girls end up dirtying their hands in order to hold one of them. I don’t need to spell it out what flowers represent, right? Right.

— And they attend a triangular school whose walls are red.

— The girls like to eat fishy food, man. Lots of fishy food.

— And we have a ton of fountains in this show. A ton of fountains spewing forth their shimmering water as the heroine desperately searches for her lover.

— Sometimes, a rifle is just a rifle. Especially when you aim it down a dark, cavernous corridor in the hopes that you’ll be able to protect your lover from lesbian bears hoping to eat out of her.

— Technically, the animation is alright, but the characters look mega dumb sometimes, especially Sumika.

— There’s no doubt that I’ve missed some other stuff, but… meh. I’m good for now. Till next week.

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20 thoughts on “Yuri Kuma Arashi Ep. 1: Hardly about bears”

  1. Does the lily pop up from Kureha’s chest? I thought it was from her nether regions…
    Omg that part of the wall being a hymen flew over my head. Also, the school is supposed to be a pube and an uterus?

    1. I guess I’ll take another look at the scene when I get home. I’m under the impression that a previous angle has the flower coming out of her chest.

      1. Yes, sorry. My mind was reading a cunnilingus that’s why I probably overwrote the placement in my mind. Also, perspective-wise aren’t they a bit lower? I’m no art expert but I think they’d probably draw them right next to her boobs :/

  2. Like Ayame, I thought the lily rose from Kureha’s nether regions.

    Danzetsu means “Extinction” aside from “Severance”, so it was The Court of Extinction and the “Barrier of Extinction/Separation.”

    To me “The Silent Storm” was the clear thing, and what it seems to be one of the show’s themes, the Silent Storm was the person who cut the lilies, who cut the yuri, it’s the force of silent gossip and disapproval at those who stood out, who dared to be individuals.

      1. That’d be the yuri. Some could argue that’d be being in a relationship at all.

        The bears are the individuals, but Kureha and Sumika, even if not truly “individual” as relationships require another, are stepping out of the crowd, and standing out.

        1. That’d be the yuri.

          Homosexual relationships in the real world? Sure. Anime-branded yuri in such an idealized setting? Meh.

    1. “To me “The Silent Storm” was the clear thing, and what it seems to be one of the show’s themes, the Silent Storm was the person who cut the lilies, who cut the yuri, it’s the force of silent gossip and disapproval at those who stood out, who dared to be individuals.”

      I didn’t feel like the episode pushed into any direction really (that episode wasn’t definitive in any sense, I guess) but this would make sense. Just like how the main-girl’s lover walking around alone was treated as something scandalous would reinforce this idea of how you’re not supposed to be individualistic and are expected to just become part of the “system”.

  3. Nice episode write up. I especially enjoyed your last notes. People everywhere on the forums is trying to formulate theories, but your observations were probably more enlightening.
    Are you sure is Sumika the one being eaten at the end or you’re guessing from the context?

  4. I…what the fuck?
    I suppose it did it’s job in grabbing our attention and curiosity, but something tells me it won’t be very enjoyable for very long. Hope my intuition is wrong as usual.
    Also the blunt symbolism is just astonishing.

    You know in my search to see if this too is a light novel (it doesn’t seem to be) I came upon a list of best selling light novels. Want to know what was in the top ten?
    7) Sword Art Online Vol. 15
    6) Sword Art Online: Progressive Vol. 2

    3) Sword Art Online Vol. 14

    Funny part is the concept of any Sword Art Online narrative being subtitled as “Progressive”. I have a feeling it’d be a lot like Yuri Kuma Arashi but with a Mary Sue protag and ludicrous battles.

  5. The storm is invisible because it’s going on inside of you and obviously nobody is able to see that. Food is equated with love probably because one is about consumption and the other about consummation, but that’s a wild guess. It’s called a Severance Barrier or Barrier of Extinction because you can’t go back once you’ve crossed it. Back to what? Back to childhood. This thing is all about becoming an adult and maturing, first sexually, then emotionally. That’s also why the bears are frightening: they are basically the sum of all fears of growing up.

    1. Let me change that to “both food and love are about consumption, only that while you consume your food, love consumes you.”

    2. The storm is invisible because it’s going on inside of you and obviously nobody is able to see that.

      Is that so?

      It’s called a Severance Barrier or Barrier of Extinction because you can’t go back once you’ve crossed it. Back to what? Back to childhood.

      But I don’t even see childhood in this episode. I don’t see what is supposedly being lost in the first place. Where’s the cherished childhood that’s being cruelly taken away?

      That’s also why the bears are frightening: they are basically the sum of all fears of growing up.

      Not seeing the connection.

      1. Is that so?

        Nobody can see it, yet it’s there. What else can it be? To be even more direct: it’s puberty. While we do see the physical and behavioral changes, they are only the aftermath. Nobody sees how the changes happen.

        Where’s the cherished childhood that’s being cruelly taken away?

        Not there anymore. Hence “extinction”. The cruelty lies in the fact that you can’t go back to how things have been, even if you wish to do so.

        Not seeing the connection.

        Maybe I should have been more precise: fear of the consequences of growing up. Leaving the shelter of home, being on one’s own, having responsibilities etc.

      2. And, of course, fear of sexual intercourse, although that one’s obvious.

        And then there’s that glasses girl, whose role in this episode has been to show how love is still the platonic and superficial kind that needs to be done away with (beheaded lilies). Not only is it superficial, but also oppressive and unfair, as you don’t really get to know your partner and therefore can’t know what he/she does and doesn’t want in a relationship, so you end up pushing your ideals onto the other, unwillingly or not. Notice how the main girl practically expects the glasses girl to have lunch with her like it’s some kind of ritual and is visibly upset when she sees glasses girl leave.

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