Yuri Kuma Arashi

Title:Yuri Kuma Arashi
Yurikuma Arashi
ユリ熊嵐 (Japanese)
Keywords: , , , , , , , ,
Notables: ARAKAWA Miho
IKUTA Yoshiko
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.
(Synopsis courtesy of ANN)

? episodes
OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Buy 9 8 8 7 10 9 Ggultra2764 [series:2995#1552]
Yuri Kuma Arashi is the third animated work of director Kunihiko Ikuhara focusing on a world where a giant wall divides up the human and bear worlds and our young heroine Kureha gets caught up in the conflict between bears and humans as a pair of them are seemingly protecting her from the influence of the Invisible Storm, a group of schoolgirls who hunt bears and ostracize her. Ikuhara's sexually-charged symbolism used from Utena and Penguindrum are retained for this series as lesbianism and a fair number of implied situations are frequent sights throughout this mind trip of a series.

Yuri Kuma Arashi offers some critical looks at how society as a whole can view lesbianism and female sexuality. Any positive relationships between bears and humans which are frowned upon by the Invisible Storm in this series is actually a symbolic representation of how Japan's group mentality frowns upon same-sex relationships and tend to ostracize those that don't follow their society's cultural norms and plant labels on them. The group mentality is as such where the loss of a leader still allows the mentality to function and those that are gay or support it (or in this case, bears for Yuri Kuma) are labeled as a source of "evil" that has to be cleansed, hence the existence of the Invisible Storm representing societal pressure and conformity. In addition, the Life Judgement Guys that Ginko and Lulu often encounter for their "yuri trials" are representations of the dated, male-centric Freudian concepts of id, ego and superego where the bears of the series must behave an expected way to retain their ability to take on human forms that the Life Judgement Guys granted to them. Learning more about these concepts will allow you to get a better appreciation for how Ikuhara uses real-life events and concepts to paint symbolism into his work.

Outside of symbolism, the series also tells a rather cohesive story with Kureha trying to seek out answers about the death of her former lover Sumika and seeking answers about what past relations she may have with Ginko and Lulu. Many of Yuri Kuma Arashi's characters get fleshed out to reveal their motives and any past connections they have to Kureha, including what is driving the Invisible Storm to ostracize her. In addition, the story gradually builds up to explore the tragic developments of the relationship that Kureha establishes with Ginko and Lulu due to their different upbringings and events escalate with both enemy bears and the Invisible Storm stepping up their efforts to wreck apart said relationship. The story structure for early episodes in the series is repetitive at first and the symbolism does get hammered at points, but these don't hurt the show's strengths too badly.

Presentation-wise, Yuri Kuma Arashi sports beautiful scenic shots and character designs that depict bright, vivid colors and a good deal of detail with scenic designs. However, animation is not as heavily emphasized with some scenes having limited movement and some reused shots.

Overall, Yuri Kuma Arashi is another strong work from Ikuhara offering his usual unique direction with the sexually-drive developments driving Kureha and others in its symbolic look into female sexuality. The heavy symbolism employed in it won't be for everyone. But for those looking for unique titles that require you to think, this is a definite recommendation.

Last updated Friday, September 30 2016. Created Friday, September 30 2016.
Unevaluated Stretch [series:2995#628]
(Three episodes watched):

I got a feeling that the artwork, music, and general nonsensicalness of this show reminded me of Mawaru Penguindrum, and sure enough the two series have the same director. That could be a problem; I recall that Penguindrum was a avant-garde show with a lot of originality to it—it was just so damn confusing that it made my head hurt when I watched it. Indeed the impression I got from the first episode of Kuma was that it was artsy but confusing and therefore boring. Is it supposed to be funny? I guess. But things are funny when they make sense, just not in the way we were expecting. Therefore, a show which makes little sense can't be particularly funny. Pure nonsense isn't good enough; if that were so, anybody could be a first-rate comedian. But without serious, LOL humor, some sort of plot is needed to pick up the slack. But the show has to make some sense not just in order to be funny but also in order to be intriguing, and it definitely doesn't do that. How can bears transform into human form? What is the significance of lilies? What's this courtroom for (actually, the courtroom scene was kind of amusing)? Which events are really happening and which are dreams or metaphors? It's a shame to see so much originality apparently go to waste. Perhaps the director was operating under the assumption that if he understood it, everyone would. With things as confusing as this, I can't muster the concentration to keep track of who's who (and who's really a bear), and without that I can't make much sense of the plot. This is the sort of bizarre anime that leaves me thinking 'was there something wrong with the show, which kept me from enjoying it, or is everybody else loving it and was there something wrong with me?

Last updated Monday, March 09 2015. Created Wednesday, January 07 2015.

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