243rd G-View: Yuri Kuma Arashi

How to describe this show…hmhmhmhm. I’ll do my best. This is Yuri Kuma Arashi.

Be warned that like the anime this review will not be safe for work.

For viewers who wish to talk about the ending, go here:

Yuri Kuma Arashi Poster

Alternate Title: Love Bullet: Yurikuma Arashi

Genres: Drama, Psychological, Fantasy, Romance

Themes:Bears, Ecchi, Fanservice, Girls with Guns, School, Yuri

Number of Episodes: 12

G-Rating: 9/10 (Favoritism), N/A Overall.

Plot Summary: Far off in space, the asteroid Kumaria blew up, sending bits and pieces to rain down on Earth. For reasons unknown, this causes all the bears (“kuma” in Japanese) to simultaneously rise up and begin attacking humans. Finally, a giant “Wall of Severance” was built to divide them from each other and end their ceaseless war and hatred. In the human world, at Wuthering Heights Academy, Kureha and Sumika are friends who’ve fallen in love. When they find a lily blooming in their favorite flower bed, their eyes meet…and all at once the Bear Alarm starts ringing, signalling that the human world is under attack.

Yuri Kuma Arashi Poster HD

First of all it needs to be known that this anime was directed/produced (or at least had his handiwork all over it) by one Kunihiko Ikuhara. The man is heralded as a god of scriptwriting thanks to his past works of Utena, a bit of Sailor Moon and Mawaru Penguindrum. He’s worshiped in a similar manner as Hideo Kojima but not quite as mainstream. So this guy is known for two specific things: 1) He likes to make his viewers think about what they are watching. 2) He likes to toy with viewers’ emotions. Whether the viewer enjoys the ride or not they cannot say it was a “normal” one, even for anime standards. Basically this show’s narrative is the way it is on purpose.

Reason I started the review this way was to emphasize the point that this show is weird, chock full of symbolism and profound messages around every corner and in order to figure out the hidden messages one will need to often think outside the box. HOWEVER, this does not mean the show is inaccessible to casual yuri or curious viewers. The first three episodes’ purposes are to introduce viewers to YKA’s world, its denizens and their twisted mannerisms and worldviews, the world’s cooky but strangely logical culture and gimmicks. Episode 4 and onwards retains the madness but slowly begins unraveling what the main plot is, character motivations (good and bad) and flashbacks that make sense and are not random. Basically casual and curious viewers need only be patient and everything will be cleared up in time…which is usually how any good storyline works come to think of it.

ikuhara-bingo

Either that or it is an excuse to get fluent “Ikuharan” speakers to play bingo and identify tropes often used in the guy’s works. I guess casual viewers could also play along. Yes, many of these tropes do pop up in the show besides the heavily marketed ecchiness. Speaking of…

No comment

The fanservice actually has a reason for being the way it is other than using the Monogatari-Saga’s sexology infused dialogue heavy approach to storytelling. See, it covers a debate between yuri fans on what exactly it is they want in their yuri. You have one side who specifically prefers pure yuri and anything beyond kissing is seen as blasphemous, possibly even kissing for some. The other side embraces yuri in its simplest form, girls/women lusting, desiring and loving each other both as beings who exist and their bodies. Of course there are those (even some characters on the anime show this mentality) who only crave raunchy lesbianism and all the sexual goodness pertained to seeing two ladies “doing the macarena”.

Continuing from the above explanation another one of the many messages the show conveyed was the argument of how Japanese (or possibly any large rural society) society views lesbianism or anything deemed different (to this day) from the cultural and religious norms of said society, what it means for the people labeled as “different” and why society unfairly views these “outcasts”s beliefs and worldviews as bad. Either that or the unfortunate “eh. It’s just a phase” mentality towards homosexuality, especially lesbianism. This also includes how the uneducated react towards lesbians. And yes, the “infamous” “but they’re both girls” trope rears its ugly head in a subtle manner at some point during the show.

Eat me Ginko

Having mentioned some of the deep themes covered on the show it may seem like this show is most intimidating. However, believe it or not, (even Ikuharan speakers agree), YKA is the easiest of the guy’s work to follow. See, despite all the hidden messages about society and the yuri fanbase the main plot is very simple and familiar. YKA’s main plot is a lesbian love story about two girls from different races (or in this show’s case species) overcoming the prejudices of both their separate worlds in order to find the answer to the big question: What is (romantic) love? or “Is your love true?”. Our ladies and others have their own journeys to take in order to find the answers they seek and once they find them will they be ready to face the ultimate truth?

One minor trait I appreciated is that during the more violent moments the show never resorts to bloody and gritty brutality. All of it is either cartoony or symbolic. I do so appreciate shows/games that once in a while have brutal imagery that has viewers imagine how violent the pain or suffering was rather than graphically show it, for example gunshot wounds and gang beatings.

Storybook

Watching this show’s animation felt like a storybook come to life. It may sound corny but I am a sucker for shows that combine old-school with modern animation and throw their own spin into the mix. The CG claws are harmless. The soundtrack is second to Koufuku Graffiti as my favorite of the Winter 2015 season but this show’s “perfect motivation to have sex” OP and fun ED are my favorites of said season with KG’s coming in second.

Bringing up one of the guy’s previous works he was involved with to explain my character portion of the review, Mawaru Penguindrum, despite the profound messages he and team PD wanted to convey that show’s main problem in my eyes was that around the 2nd half there was almost no one worth caring about because they were unlikable doodoo brains (Others will disagree). Not so in YKA. Almost everyone who is meant to be likable is likable, those who are pitiful are pitiful and The Invisible Storm is intentionally pathetic. While Ginko is awesome and Kureha goes through a mountain ton of emotions, there are two ladies who stole my heart:

lulu yurigasakiMitsuko Yurizono

Lulu and Mitsuko. One is a heroine who has all the qualities a likable heroine has, both good and bad. Ginko does also but Lulu won me over more. The second is a hero not everyone wants but all deserve, a definition of perfection and omnipotence in all yuri. One of yuridom’s greatest heroines, Mitsuko Yurizono.

Bear Court

Oh and yes there are male characters. The judge, jury and prosecutor of this world, The 3 Lives who represent the three best traits of a likable male, sexiness, coolness and beauty. Basically they are observers, guides and fabulous peacekeepers with sweet catchphrases besides the now iconic “gao” that was once thought lost after KEY’s Air concluded. Of course like everyone else there is more to them than what I described.

The Invisible Storm

Now for the villains, or rather misguided people with twisted beliefs, the Invisible Storm. This is an Organization whose main goal is to maintain order throughout the world they live in in order to be accepted by society. Again they are not evil, just scared whelps willing to stoop to any low possible in order to be accepted by the higher ops of their world for doing “the right thing” according to said world’s norms and values. Of course like all organizations…there are cracks. I’ll leave it at that. There are other antagonists who are far greater than this group is but why spoil the fun?

OMG

As for the yuri…think Sakura Trick but instead of kisses from here to Timbuktu it’s high intensity level skinship in most episodes. Like the former this is one show not suitable for children.

Overall, while I thoroughly enjoyed Yuri Kuma Arashi and proudly deem it my Winter 2015 anime of the season it is not for everyone. This anime will test viewers who claim they are okay with weird stuff. Despite the straightforward main plot, all the symbolism and weirdness in between could be a bit much for casual viewers and the curious. Perhaps even some Ikuharan speakers may also not be satisfied with this script (especially Utena loyalists who believe Utena is one of the best mmmmmmmmotherf’ing anime in the world). If yuri fans want a familiar love story told in a wonderfully bizarre and fantastic way give YKA a shot. In any case tread carefully when picking this one up. Oh and in case people doubt this is a yuri show…it is EVERYWHERE!

PS: If any of what I said is wrong, the guy gives questions and hints but has the viewers themselves find the answers. Whether they are right or wrong also depends on the viewers’ understanding. So yeah, this review is what I ultimately got from YKA and it worked for me. Others are free to form their own theories and conclusions.

PPS: As for the guy’s claims that this anime would revolutionize yuridom, frankly I did not buy into the hype too much and was mainly intrigued because it was another 100% yuri show. This too I leave up to viewers to decide. HOWEVER, liked it or not the yuri nation can agree that never in the history of yuridom has there ever been a love story (despite its familiarity) presented the way YKA did.

About OG-Man

Yuri and Slice of Life are my anime passion.
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36 Responses to 243rd G-View: Yuri Kuma Arashi

  1. kracen says:

    A lot of times watching this, I kept thinking “This show is on drugs.” and sometimes I was thinking “This show is on lots of drugs.” though that doesn’t change the fact it was very enjoyable.
    At first I thought the whole “Gao Gao” thing to be kinda weird and wasn’t keen, but by about episode 4 I found myself saying it with them so…. Yeah….
    Not to mention the sheer amount of times I had to go “Aaaand they’re naked again”

    The characters were likeable, Lulu easily being my favourite I think with Ginko coming in second place once her character became less psycho stare-y and more developed.

    The invisible storm I just found amusing, because it was just a extreme stereotype of high school girls picking on the less popular students and excluding them, except they have guns to.

    The most important factor of this anime though… it is a tease the entire way through, but the patience pays off, not enough Yuri anime pays off in the end and remains us having to convince ourselves that off screen what we want to happen happens.
    I’d talk about the judges, but I think what I said in the first sentence covers it.

    The ending was strange, we’re very much left to our own imagination to determine what ended up happening, as nothing is really clear, and there are many ways you could interoperate it, I personally chose the option that it was all a story by Lulu because not only does that mean Lulu is okay at the end and the Yuri goodness still happened.
    As for the robo-bear part…. My only comment to it is, “Why?” I mean, I understand more people stepping away from being invisible and making their own choices, but (unless something happened early on that I’ve just forgotten, which is probably the case) did she chose that robo-bear specifically, what connection did she ever have with them to make her do that?

    Either way, very enjoyable, good Yuri which means good watching.

    Like

    • bloo says:

      Wasn’t she the one controlling the bear and the machine? She probably connected with the CSB just by being around/with it. That always happens with anime pairings.

      At the scene where everyone is becoming aware of the consequences of their actions, they’re told to “not think,” and instead persuaded into thinking that what they’re doing is the right thing. Twintails is the only one who “sees” what’s really going on (hence being the only one who saw Kureha/Ginko going to Yuri Heaven through the smoke) and she realizes that what they’re doing isn’t right. The others were almost there. Her conscience (and cough love) bring her back to the CSB and that, I think, is showing that understanding/awareness takes time but there are people who will come to accept “nontraditional” love. Twintails is the first.

      Like

    • mutopis says:

      this is speculation but twin-tail girl was the one in charge of the ray machine since its introduction, so that means that perhaps she probably spent the most time with squirrel-bear chan, setting her up on the treadmill, overseeing her vitals during testing, fed her, etc. and got to see bears up close:

      noticed bears have feelings
      is aware of the hardships that lies ahead
      accepts bear anyway
      they’ll probably go chestnut collecting together

      Like

      • kracen says:

        I think if they had shown more interaction between them it’d have made more sense to me, or if they were friends before it was revealed she was a bear, beyond that it just felt like another Yuri ship for the sake of it with no special weight behind it, I want my Yuri pairings to mean something and have weight behind them, not just be there.

        Like

    • Overlord-G says:

      It’s like bloo and mutopis said.That’s exactly what happened. TT was in charge of the van. thus was with CSB from the start. She then noticed CSB’s exhaustion and felt sorry for her. Then when she saw the true love between KureGin she “saw the light” and turned lesbian for CSB, seeing that the IS’ ways were wrong so she risked starting a friendship-love relationship with CSB. It did not need several episodes of development. It was clear as day.

      Like

    • emmony leath says:

      to explain the robot bear – heterosexual society only sees lesbians as valuable when they can exploit us for their own gain. we are only allowed to exist when we are commodified (a great example of this being “lesbian porn”, for instance), and the only lesbians society accepts are the assimilationist lesbians who posit themselves in ways deemed acceptable by society (i.e., ellen degeneres, for a western example).

      Like

  2. automaticimperfection says:

    I loved it,so far it’s my favourite yuri anime so far,and my first Ikuhara work ❤

    Like

  3. elkat4 says:

    While I enjoyed this anime, I seriously doubt this will be the game changer for yuri anime. I could go into detail, but I can’t manage to organize my thoughts in on the matter into something coherent. However, I can say what I feel this anime actually did well that we rarely see any yuri anime. Male characters! GASP!
    While most yuri stories are lacking in male characters for personal reasons (the author/artist didn’t really want to write/draw male characters), I feel there might be something a little instinctive, like a primal fear, when it comes to seeing male characters in yuri. Maybe it’s the fear these characters exist as a “safe option” for the author/artist to take at the last second. However, I never felt the judge bears were a “threat” to the yuri. While I won’t demand more male characters be present in future yuri, I won’t mind seeing male characters.

    Like

    • kracen says:

      Consider the following;
      Its not that they get in the way, its just that if the characters were instead female, there is more Yuri potential, not to mention I won’t feel the need to hit my head against a wall every time they speak (male characters in general, not just the judges).

      Like

    • Overlord-G says:

      Male interference is the problem. For it to work have the guys be there but not steal the girl from the other girl. Lose the love triangle or win ONLY if the lesbian is an irredeemable douche. There are very few irredeemable lesbian characters in anime and manga.

      Like

  4. mutopis says:

    There is so much symbolism in this show that it would be very difficult to talk about it. Perhaps it would take a long time to dissect all of it. I think I will dwell in a couple of details that some people have complained about it, like why Kureha is such a wavering weak character that seems to go back and forth when it comes to Ginko, why is Kureha forgiving Ginko after what happened to Sumika, and was the ending really too predictable?

    I think some people need to realize that Kureha is not a wavering or weak character, she is in fact too human of a character. Considering the setting this is happening it makes sense. Rewatching some of the scenes where Kureha is sitting in her bed sulking, showing her most vulnerable moments while reminiscing about her mother, we come to realize that there is an internal struggle within Kureha. While is true that Kureha wont give up on love, she is still afraid of coming out to society. She keeps telling herself over and over again that she wont give up on love, but was that really true? to not give up on love also means she would have to leave the safety and protection that society provides, could Kureha survive on her own under such conditions? Kureha lacked courage and conviction to be open to her sexuality in the open. Things were fine within the confines of the school and home, something the school would overlook as long as it wasnt obvious, the damage and bullying was minimal very minimal. But once in the open, where the whole society could judge her, that would had been different.

    The flashback makes it clear that young Kureha lacked courage and understanding of how society works. Kureha’s sin wasnt just pride (her inability to understand that what Kureha wanted may not have been what Ginko wished; this is no different from the Invisible Storm desire to push their views on others against their wishes, regardless of their intentions), but also a lack of courage. The problem with Kureha’s wish is that even if Ginko was made fully human, the two of them would never be fully accepted by society, the Invisible Storm was targeting humans and bears alike so young Kureha’s reasoning doesnt make much sense, but that’s because child Kureha didnt understand society’s complexity, in the end Kureha understood that this way of viewing things was incorrect. To wish for Ginko to become human, would imply that there is something wrong with Ginko and with bears, but in reality there was nothing wrong with them to begin with, this is what it means “to reject her”. That wish caused an unnecessary break up and the consequences that followed. It was this failure that caused Kureha to reexamine her views and she came to the realization that her wish was a selfish one, it was a safe and convenient wish but it was selfish. It would have made life for Kureha a little easier if Ginko was human, so the two of them could be together, but in the end that relationship wouldnt have lasted for long because: 1, it is based on a lie. 2, sooner or later the Invisible Storm would target the both of them anyway because such relationships would still be frowned upon. So Kureha’s wish was not driven by love but by convenience. With such a logic perhaps it was inevitable that Kureha discovered that she needed an alternative, one that was more dangerous and risky but that it was the right one.

    Which is why Sumika’s love is so important in Kureha’s journey into maturity. Sumika was in the same position than Kureha. Sumika was ready to not give up on love but she knew Kureha too well, she knew that Kureha’s resolve for love was strong but that emotionally she was just too weak, that she wouldnt survive the invisible storm and the consequences that came with it. Which is why Sumika was willing to let go of Kureha for her safety. Sumika represents selfless love, and since she loved Kureha too much rather than drag her into the storm, she let go of her for her safety, it was a selfless act of love and kindness. Sumika made the right choice, something that Kureha failed in the beginning. Which is why when she was asked by Life Sexy what she found in the Storm, Kureha responded that she found true love (Sumika), in the form of selfless love, something so valuable and precious to her, allowing Kureha to grow stronger. She realized her mistake and tried to undue the selfish damage that she caused.

    Is Sumika Kumaria or is Kumaria Sumika? There is no way of knowing, I think the symbolism is that Sumika and Kumaria are both the embodiment of true love. But here is something interesting. The Judgemen were in a position to test and judge Kureha, but they did not have the authority to grant her true wish, they could only test if her wish was based on true love, that honor could only be granted by Kumaria herself. Once their role of Judgemen came to an end, Kuramia granted Kureha’s wish, free of judgement, because it was based on true love. I take this as a sign that Sumika not only approves of Ginko’s and Kureha’s love for each other, but this is also a form of reconciliation to what happened to Sumika.

    Something that I noticed during the development of the show is the system developed within the school/society. If we go back to the beginning of what the school was like in the past, while it was headed by the original headmaster, the system was based on putting things inside boxes to preserve their purity. We dont know if the system was originally that way or if there was more to it, but if we assume that once Yuriika took over and she started to tamper with the system by adding new things like the exclusion ceremony and such, we start to see a system that is evolving and changing from what it originally was, it is adapting and changing according to its environment. It becomes clear as the show progresses that as the old leaders of the Invisible Storm are getting killed and as the bear threat goes rampant, that the system is under stress and it is overwhelmed with new difficulties and responsibilities. We soon see that the system is escalating the situation by overreacting to the threat and starting to use more aggressive methods to deal with the threat, they move from exclusion to bullying, then from bullying to an armed militia, then to an armed militia to what seems like a WMD, a death ray. What we see is the system incapable of responding to the changes and threats without using extreme methods of violence. In the beginning the Invisible Storm used persuasion and propaganda, if that didnt work then they moved to exclusion, when that didnt work they used bullying and etc. When the system starts to escalate their level of aggression, that is and indicator that the system is facing a crisis, and perhaps it is not capable of dealing with the internal contradictions that could lead to its collapse. By the end of the series it seems like the system has survived, but is it the same as before? The systems has devolved into a different version from what it was originally from, the school behaves like a fascist organization, willing to use violence if necessary to keep the line. one indicator that the system has changed is the fact that we find the red boxes thrown out in the garden, as if the school is rejecting the old beliefs and traditions of the old order/system as it is being replaced by a new system that behaves more extremely with radical methods to maintain order. Not only that but now the Exclusionary Ritual takes place in the open in a larger setting that is the auditorium, instead of the confines of a classroom which is a smaller and a more private affair, indicating the extreme level of power that it has taken over the school. Perhaps the system or society cannot be changed, not without an internal collapse, but what it can change are the minds of individuals, and when that happens then the system is truly doomed. Perhaps this indicates that as long as reactionary forces use revolting or overreaching methods to protect the system, the system is doomed to fail sooner or later. It cannot survive for long if people start to turn their backs to something so hideous.

    It is interesting how the show ended by suggesting that this is not the end, but the beginning of a new cycle. This was suggested with Yuriika/Reia as the previous generation of love and romance, and with Kureha/Ginko as the continuation of that cycle. So the new cycle is twintail girl and squirrel bear girl. Squirrel-bear chan has some similarities with Ginko and Lulu, just like they had some similarities with Yuriika. Squirrel bear’s love was one-sided, she was betrayed by her first love, shot and abandoned for dead, she was rescued/brought back to life, and then betrayed and abandoned again. Only to be found again by twintail girl and perhaps find happiness of their own, just like Kureha/Ginko did. Perhaps the lesson here is that as long as true love exists, there is hope for change.

    Like

    • Overlord-G says:

      Exactly. That is why I did not get annoyed by Kureha even once. She had lost her mother at a young age, experienced loss once more with Sumika and did not realize she had already lost someone before that in Ginko. Not to mention her struggling with her homosexuality. That’s why I did not look down on Kureha even once. She was an emotional wreck.

      Kid Kureha was too young to think things through when she made her wish and learned the hard way that she was wrong. But again she was young when this wish was made and contrary to child genius characters and the things some children say that make them sound intelligent they still lack experience and logic to make rational decisions.

      Similar to Lulu Sumika sacrificed her life for a greater good that exceeds the common view of what the greater good is. Both made the ultimate sacrifice that was up to Ginko and Kureha not to waste and thankfully they didn’t. Still sucks they both had to pay the price but such is the way of some romantic dramas.

      I’d like to think that maybe, just maybe Sumika was Kureha’s guardian angel who unexpectedly fell in love with her and therefore was willing to do whatever it took to protect the one she loved.

      Valid points brought up in the Sumika/Kumalia and Judgemen role argument. We all knew what the Judgemen’s roles were but you included an interesting tidbit on why they were testing Kureha and other lesbians who stood trial.

      Well said about the Invisible Storm and how it changed from an old order to ironic chaos and then a new world order. Some societies’ norms and values suck doodoo but in time more people will notice the crappiness and it will slowly fade, forcing change once again. Whether the change will be for the better remains to be seen.

      That is what I too got from the ending. Twin Tail had seen the light and inspired by KureGin’s showing of true love wanted to give it a try with Squirrel-Bear. The cycle of yuri would begin anew and possibly the dawn of cyborg lesbian bear-girl hybrids. In all seriousness the message, as you said, was meant to convey that as long as there is love, there is hope.

      Like

  5. Lena K. says:

    In contrast to the walls of text everyone else left you so far, I’m gonna keep it simple.
    This was a great review that I really enjoyed reading, so great job on that.

    However, I’m now afraid to write my own review for various reasons, let’s see how it’ll work out…

    Like

    • Overlord-G says:

      YKA brought out the best in my peeps. You should see what everyone had to say in my coverage of ep12.
      Don’t worry about it. Do your best and when you’re ready write down what you thought about the show. I’m sure all your viewers will appreciate reading what you have to say.

      Like

  6. I want 0 knowledge of this, I just have to watch it.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hanneman says:

    I do not have words to express my feelings about this show. I absolutely loved it, that seems the only thing i can say. It wasnt overly heavy with its symbolism, which is a good thing, and kept you wondering what came next. Not the revolutionary show we were promised, but a freaking great nonetheless.

    Like

  8. yurimylove says:

    Way cool! That’s the same score in my book. While I didn’t get all my questions answered, that in no way deters me from enjoying this gloriously yurific anime!

    Like

  9. All those people that backed out after the first 3 episodes sure missed out. Gee, I thought I was easily weirded out.

    Like

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  11. After all this time of researching, I finally found out – by scrolling through gun memes – that the rifle Kureha Tsubaki uses is a Remington Model 750.

    Liked by 1 person

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  15. I loved Yuri Kuma a lot!!! I cried at the end and for me the main couple was really really. All the story was like a fairy tale, Ikuhara made an incredible work as always and of course, your review was great too!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Random Commentator says:

    I have to admit i was one of the people who backed out of the show during its initial showing, but after recently watching the series i definitely regret having backed out originally as it was a great watch.

    Like

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