Category Archives: Yuri Kuma Arashi

Yuri Kuma Arashi [94/100]

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Kunihiko Ikuhara.  From Revolutionary Girl Utena to Mawaru Penguindrum comes a story about young girls falling in love.  His stories as I’ve mentioned previously contain a narrative pattern–  repetition, sexual symbolism and of course the addition of fanciful elements.  In this case its bears and what these creatures represent both for women and the important of the absence of males in Yuri Kuma.  I believe the reason for this is to enhance the dynamic between true love and lust.

Kureha Tsubaki lost her mother to a bear, fell in love with a bear and is coming to grips with Sumika being eaten by a bear.  She’s trying to find her own place in a world [the school] caught up in the Invisible Storm.  These Kumalia bears are depicted as the aggressors both out of survival instinct and sexual desires.  An incredible look at same-sex relationships by using a court system [which interestingly enough is led by males] to judge human compassion, the validity of friendships and how far people will go in order uphold these ideals. As strange as the beginning may have been for a lot of viewers its typical Ikuhara fashion.  A style I find engrossing.  The final three episodes were probably the best this show has to offer as it ties any sort of confusion together quite nicely.  The weird elements of bears ‘eating’ girls’, the imagery of lilies being deflowered/clipped and Lulu’s seductive behavior towards Ginko act as symbolic pieces to a fairly straightforward narrative about maintaining friendships and understanding yourself from a girls perspective.  Perhaps this is why Ikuhara decided on shifting the focus away from manly tropes–  Yurika’s father is represented as a male with female features in masculine clothing.  The judges aren’t even human which is why they are oddly designed to be a patriarchy with moe designs.  Really stick out with Yuri Kuma because underneath all of Ikuahra’s intentional softcore visuals, naughty dialogue and whimsically-driven storytelling lies a simple story about friendships and love overcoming societal structure!

One of the most incredible character study series I’ve ever seen apart from Simoun.  The focus isn’t just on Kureha but for most of episode 4 towards the beginning there is a look at Lulu’s life at the kingdom, eventually we get to see Yurika’s backstory and the motif behind bride-in-the-box.  What’s even more prevalent throughout is how dead characters are just as important as the main cast!  Sumika represents Kureha’s courage, Reira is the reminder to her that you should never give up on your dreams and accept things with your heart fully.  The picture book [and it’s incredible watercolor drawn art] amplifies innocence from Kureha’s perspective wonderfully.  Mirun, Lulu’s brother is the same as well!

The animation in this show is done amazingly solid.  This and Rolling Girls have some of the best background art of the Winter 2015 season!  Especially the storybook sequences!

The soundtrack is top notch.  Paint animator on Patema Inverted and composer/arranger Yukari Hashimoto wrote songs for this that are filled entirely with chromatic piano melodies, chorus and techno sections!  It fits Yuri Kuma perfectly with its transitions from downright weird to passionately engaging and heartfelt.

I highly recommend this series if you are a fan of Ikuhara’s other works.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: [94/100]

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Yuri Kuma Arashi Episode 12 [END]

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The ending is finally here.  It’s been awhile since I’ve talked about this series that aired in the Winter 2015 season: Yuri Kuma Arashi is extremely thought-provoking.  I’d really like to see him do an original work with Masaaki Yuasa.  The class excluding Kureha because she’s different–  she loves a bear.  Lulu’s bear death is the final key to Ginko’s courageous actions against the class.  Exclusion represents the Invisible Storm this series has frightened its girls with.  I really like how the rooftop is the confrontational backdrop in illustrating this somewhat simple idea about abandoning friends.

The girls with their rifles standing in a triangle shape, Kureha tied up, Ginko standing at the edge of the roof–  Yuri Kuma‘s imagery is the larger part of this series that explains more than what the story lets on to be.  Kureha is tackled by the chains of society, forcing to be accepted into a group of deceitful classmates.  The triangle these girls form is wonderfully drawn in as it speaks about gender equality, harmony between young girls, integration into a uniformed lesbian society and the Celtic belief about Birth (renewal), Death (Closure) and Transcendence (rebirth). In a way Kureha has passed all these obstacles and is about to transcend into a world these other girls don’t understand–  a true love that never backs down by becoming a bear herself!

Throwing away her existence she overcomes Lady Kumalia which turns out to be Sumika.  I like how Sumika has been the protection and courage for Kureha to stand up against anyone that’s been misguided throughout this entire show.  The repeating flashbacks where she’s seen moving her hair away from her ear, near the garden with Kureha and at the Tsubaki house alludes to her goddess nature perfectly!  This episode finally explains her existence amazingly well.

Standing up for her ideals, Kureha doesn’t back down on her love for Ginko through her Lily judgment in the Court of Severance–  I really like how Life Sexy gives off the impression he’s known all along about what was to come.  Kureha has to confront her past love, her human existence by shooting herself in the mirror in order to break the bonds that society has strapped her down to.  She’s made Ginko’s wish come true and the Promise Kiss to fruition!  Yuri Kuma Arashi wrote a very solid yet bizarre story about adolescence!  This ending was fantastic and what a charming way to give the robot bear a happy ending–  Kureha made it known that bears and girls can co-exist that scene amplified this nicely.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 9/10

Yuri Kuma Arashi Episode 11

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We’ve got a pretty new episode director with this–  I’m really impressed with this one here.  Yuki Yase helmed last year’s Mekaku City Actors so I can definitely see a few elements tied into  this episode with the obscure camera angles–  close up shots of the character’s body movements.  This does have some of the best music scores out of a lot of what we had for the Winter 2015 season–  Yukari Hashimoto is really amazing and helps elevate an already awesome character study about girls ridiculously well!  Director Kunihiko Ikuhara knows how to reel in an audience–  the repetition is for good reason especially with Sumika’s hair scenes and Ginko’s past (which we get to see more of here) all coming together.  I’m really glad that we actually get to see how Ginko and Kureha react to each other and the sacrifices that they make in order to be accepted into society.

Lulu being right about Kureha losing her memories about Ginko points out a great deal that these three girls are very much closely connected than I initially thought.  This is where the finally revealed camera angles come into to play–  the stairs but most importantly the roof of the school is a triangle.  I’d like to point out that every single time this rooftop sequence occurs is where one girl confronts another–  perhaps this is foreshadow that someone might not make it out alive.  Lulu is the sacrificial element that this entire episode needed in illustrating that Ginko and Kureha are destined together.  What’s interesting is how Lulu’s lustful desire for Ginko represents a bigger picture that that the love she never wanted to accept was in fact towards her own brother and he died.  “We hated you from the very beginning we loved you from the very beginning” really speaks volumes to a lot of the personal connections this anime depicts.  Lulu is considered a failure in her own eyes that the only way she could redeem herself is by living out someone else’s dreams but she came to fall in love with that idea and that person–  Ginko.  I like how its her brother’s Promise Kiss that provides the foundation for Ginko’s friendship with her and the death scene at the end here amplifies this immensely.  On the other side we’ve got Ginko and Kureha which they signify a hope of breaking out from society: which in this case is the student body class and the Life Cool, Life Beauty and Life Sexy.

So Ginko makes a trade with the Court of Severance in order to become a human.  She was shown as an outcast just as Kureha had been for being a bear.  I feel it’s this point that will be the crux of the finale of Yuri Kuma and another sacrifice [literally or symbolically] will have to be made.  This episode is all about a bear wanting to be a part of the very society Kureha is from and what Kureha may have to give up to realize their loving friendship as a reality.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 9/10

Yuri Kuma Arashi Episode 10

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Before I dive into this I want to talk about how this series was conceived.  Kunihiko Ikuhara contacted famous yuri mangakan Akiko Morishima around the time Mawaru Penguindrum was finishing its run on Japanese television waves.  Popular BL and yuri mangakan Akiko Morishima being a huge fan of his works initially didn’t want to ruin the creativity Ikuhara had in store for Yuri Kuma Arashi but decided anyway to help develop a love story that wasn’t too cliche.  He wanted something different and with the yuri genre he could do that however his presence would guarantee that some elements would be too loose-ended.  I’ve been following the manga and there are quite a large amount of deviations from what we’ve got with the anime adaptation–  the origin of the bears are almost non-existent in the manga as well as the heavy use of metaphors and allegories.  It’s interesting to see how more developed Reira’s scenes with Yurika are as opposed to the other girls.  Morishima is known for writing love stories about older women so this is no surprise here.  What’s interesting to note is that Ikuahra wanted to receive inspiration from Morishima by using a story concept he wrote that was only one page long.  She filled in the details and thus created a bond between this obscure director and yuri mangakan to establish the identities of Yuri Kuma‘s characters.  Most of the staff that worked on this manga and animation project are female just like Ikuhara’s other works.  The staff that would initially be hired on were just receiving the title before coming on board the project:  a lot of the responses were mixed.  Just some interesting details about the how this story was created.  On to the tenth episode of Yuri Kuma Arashi!

Thought I would point this out as I may not have mentioned it before: every time we see Kureha’s house and the two streets divide it there’s a human sign on the left and bear sign on the right.  So The Severance Wall separates bears and humans and the Invisible Storm separates society.  This episode finally brings these two diverging points together!

This is probably the best work SILVER LINK has ever produced because of how good the facial expressions are.  The backgrounds by Studio Kokoro in this series are incredibly detailed too. Having quite a few talented animators working on various designs even in this episode paid off extensivly.  The storybook sequence is some of the best artwork out of this entire series and provides a nice contrast to the bears uprising against humans.  The city setting and just outside of the school is done by Sakamichi no Apollon background animator Hiroaki Matsui.  I can really tell because he uses a distinct hand drawn style on objects that is really defining.

Remember how I said language in Yuri Kuma is somewhat disillusioned in this world?  We’ve heard “is your love true” so many times I feel it has lost its meaning intentionally.  It’s worn out over so many different people and for good reason.  Lulu originally was jealous of Kureha because Ginko only had eyes for her, Mitsuko wanted Kureha–  everyone desires someone they can’t have.  I wonder if Kureha will become the leader of Kumalia after all this, I only say this because it’s interesting to see how many girls are interested in her that its only fitting for her to become this unattainable goddess of the world.  Also how after the credits, Kureha shows up in front of the judges inside the Severance Court.

Ginko’s absence throughout the majority of this episode is barely noticeable because Lulu steals the spotlight with so many wonderful moments!  Ginko’s love is keeping apart the friendship that Lulu and Kureha share and I like how greatly explored in the scenes at Kureha’s house ventures into this train of thought.  Lulu doesn’t want to back down on her love and promise kiss [devotion] to Ginko and what do the creators do here?  Well towards the beginning we see her obtaining information and hiding from the newly formed and downright bizarre KMGRT team of girls and one brought-back-to-life robotic bear.  She’s devoted to Ginko and will do anything even sacrifice herself to make her dream come true.

The Door of Friendship flashback scenes provide just enough fill in to what connects bears from humans and how they form bonds.  I really like how we get confirmation that it’s indeed a backdoor in crossing the Wall of Severance.  Follow your temptations, never backing down on your love and you just might remove any distance between bear and man to escape the harshness of bullying.  In a sense its like absolving of your sins.  Lulu revealing the transformation sequence to Kureha is in fact a sin among bears becoming humans.  So the judges have a pretty strong system set into place for situations like these–  smart move.  It’s neat to see how she’s unable to change back into a human after the judges’ decision on keeping with the rules. I do wonder what bear the KMGRT ended up killing by mistake.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 9/10

Yuri Kuma Arashi Episode 9

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Ginko had a chance to stop Mitsuko from killing Sumika but she didn’t, she chose out of one simple notion:  jealousy.  For all the bears we’ve seen in this series they seem to show quite a strong affection towards Kureha.  Sumika and Kureha present an innocent love and everyone seems to be after them for feeling this way.  Ginko wants exactly what they shared and I’m glad the writers decided on showing us that Kureha and Ginko knew each other as kids after the fact to tie the bond of true love between the three of them.

Kunihiko Ikuhara doesn’t label the sexuality of this show with a phrase or term throughout the story–  smart move.  With this episode we see the divide that separates man [for the show’s sake–  women] from bears more closely.  Mitsuko is very much dead I like how the inner sanctum of the garden represents a place between life and death.  It’s Ikuhara’s version of Death Parade‘s QuinDecim!  It’s fantastic during that entire scene because Mitsuko embraces her femininity just as every other girl, bear and males have throughout even though she’s lost and Ginko is on the edge of it.

This episode focuses a lot on this point–  Yurika acts as a double-entendre piece in this really well.  Her final meal is out of her animalistic desires to feed her hunger and secondly she wants to indulge literally [this acts as a sexual metaphor: plucking the lily of a girl] in the very person that took Reira away from her.  To Reira, Kureha is her promise kiss, the love she doesn’t want to back down from and Yurika will do anything to remove that idea out of existence.  I like how subtle and easy her death is–  Kureha is saved by her classmates.  The kuma shock sequence shows up again:  red background against a black silhouette provides a fleeting moment of death for Yurika.  The last moment she sees is Kureha looking like Reira.  Really detailed animation!

The flower garden that we’ve seen so prevalent in Yuri Kuma finally peeks its head here as the Door of Friendship.  This resonates to Reira’s storybook about the Moon Girl and Forest Girl having to shoot themselves in the mirror to embrace the love they don’t want to back down from quite well.  The Door of Friendship that is deeply hidden inside the garden alludes to the idea that there is some kind of afterlife for bears.  The intimate moments between Mitsuko and Ginko depict how a bear manipulates another bear/human for their own selfish gains. I’m curious to see how Ginko is going to act after leaving this place of darkness.

I’ve seen this episode twice now and I have to say its great how visually different the garden is from the inside compared to the outside of it.  The garden is beautiful and rays of sunlight shine down portraying how people come together regardless of the Invisible Storm.  The inside is dark, a bed is shown and its all colors of pink and black–  a lot of what we’ve seen from Ikuhara’s previous work in Revolutionary Girl Utena.  This depicts a ton of themes at the surface:  temptation,  twisted friendships and all the sexual desires that come with it.  What a fantastic episode!

What a funny scene where the judges are peeping at the girls embracing each other.  Very candid for Life Sexy to be the one staring at them.  Sex above all else haha!  All of this has been very peculiar.  It happens to be these small details–  comedic or not–  that push the idea of sexual identity into focus.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 9/10

Yuri Kuma Arashi Episode 8

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As a whole Yuri Kuma is incredibly far off than a lot of other series that present sexuality at the center of their stories.  Look at it this way.  Cross AngeShinmai no Testament, or even this season’s highly aggressive male-gazed shows Shokugeki no Soma and High School DxD BorN display an idea of “its ok to fluff this series up with strong sexual situational tension”.  Yuri Kuma has been very different than this style and even the other aspect that Japanese anime creators utilize with moe.  Hibike!  while I like it for focusing on band is a prime example of selling cute innocent clutzy girls to the viewer in order to bring in a larger audience.  Like I keep saying Yuri Kuma strays far from these paths and it works in a lot of ways:  this episode handles it with the aforementioned males.  In short, Yuri Kuma‘s brilliance stems from the unknown–  it lacks a clear villain but instead its the silent majority of voting someone out of being a part of something like friendships that can be even scarier.

The only men that are represented in this show act as judges in deciding what bonds may be formed between human girls and bears.  Whether or not they can evolve from bullying is a point that hits straight home here.  Lulu’s brother works because he’s far away from the title of man that this show seems to detest–  his innocence.  The promise kiss reflects this idea greatly between Ginko’s love for Kureha.  As does Yurika’s comment about it’s better to die young and pure than to die all grown up risking yourself of corruption.  Something she knows all too well about.  Yurika is finally brought into the spotlight for most of this episode.  As this presents to us a clear picture at how closely connected Reira has been for a lot of its cast–  mainly Kureha and Ginko it shows us the love that is repeated as well as the hate that is repeated.  I’m starting to sound like this show, haha.  It’s interesting how the two dead characters in this show–  Sumika and Reira are laying the foundation work for Kureha’s transformation from girl to woman;  or perhaps from human to bear?

Yurika’s father only holds the name “Him”, I find this intriguing because it really shows how little influence males have in Yuri Kuma.  The problem lies with how late in the game the creators decide on using males as a integral piece to the story.  This episode would have been awesome as a second or even third episode where we are still learning about the world.  Moving back to her father he is a shining example of Japanese fashion and traditions.  In the fashion world of Japan around 20 years ago began a pioneering brand Lad Musician.  This brand focused and still as of today sums up the idea that men want to be fed or devoured by women.  Yurika’s father represents this idea greatly–  he wears heels, and carries a slim and tragic silhouette-style figure.  His love is ultimately devoured by Kureha’s undeniable existence and it reflects a lot in how she accepts others.  The second aspect of his style is how his past with Yurika acts as a theatre play.  Bizarre take on the bishonen genre that literally speaks out exactly what men strive to be when they’re pretty.  Where he taps his shoes yearning to find a home suitable for himself and the baby bear he is leaving behind pays homage to the Wizard of Oz really well.  There’s no place like home but what do you make of your home if you don’t know what it is or who represents that feeling?  It’s a generic backstory–  abandonment with a ton of fantastical elements to back it up!

When you add in the fact that no other male is present in the real world it strikes quite strongly for how much influence they actually have in the background of this series entirely.  Shifting back to what I said earlier about the success of this series is the mystery it leaves to the viewer: this episode gently gets that point across for me.  Solid set-up by bringing the two criminal-bears Ginko and Yurika–  whom both had been saved by a Tsubaki family member at the cusp of evolving on their hunting grounds at the school with a really tense cliffhanger.

The second man in this is Kureha’s father.  He’s never seen nor heard from but implied.  With how important masculinity is in bridging the gap between male to female love and female to female love it seems to me like this is an important area that director Ikuhara could have polished up a bit more.  Perhaps use this flashback sequence more towards the beginning of Yuri Kuma.  The director’s intentions are clear:  as he’s trying to drive home how different friendship between young girls is and what exactly changes this when two girls fall in love.  The Invisible Storm portrays this point with it’s nudge to school bullying and of course bears disguising themselves as women corrupting other girls.  Putting on a change in personality to get noticed by others.  Yurika’s innocent nature towards Reira becomes clearly twisted and shattered when Kureha is introduced and emphasizes this wonderfully well.  Ikuhara is illustrating a fantasy world that’s surrounded by women without any idea of a masculine romance unfolding.  Brilliant!

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 8/10

Yuri Kuma Arashi Episode 7

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So Reira’s storybook is taken from the bond Kureha and Ginko share.  I like this route because it nails on the head the simplicity of their relationship in a very earnest way.  The dream sequence between the two of them reiterates everything this show has thrown at us sexually with the Lily Approvals that provides an even stronger romance between them.  Lady Kumalia is the tool that connects these the Moon Girl [Kureha] and the Forest Girl [Ginko] from a storybook into reality.

What’s great here is that this is a much quieter episode than some of the previous ones we’ve had–  there’s no action apart from the wonderful scene where bears are standing next to girls with blood spewing out of them in a cut-out animated style.  The personalized mugs of Lulu, Ginko and Kureha are absolutely adorable and depicts life outside the harsh reality their trying to co-exist in.  It’s almost as if Kureha’s house represents in alternate world that’s placed within both Kumalia and Earth where time stops forever for them.  It’s a place they can accept each other without excluding anyone.  I say this because of how many times we’ve see the V shape illustrate a crossroads for the girls and the house is a stopping point for them before they continue on their journey wherever it takes them.  Especially since Kureha is starting to remember her own past.

This show has gone from completely strange to artistic within a single episode and I’m liking where this is going.  As toned down as this episode had been I hope that the creators take into consideration Lulu’s resolution of helping Ginko achieve her dream, the criminal bear that’s revealed at the end of this and of course Kureha’s tie between her mother Reira and previous lover Sumika.  Given how this episode handles Kureha’s conversation with Yurika I wouldn’t be too surprised if she turns out to be the final antagonist of Yuri Kuma.  Those drawers contain pictures of the missing girls and I also wouldn’t be surprised if she’s a bear herself.  I mean she does have “yuri” in her name so she MUST be one of those bears that’s hiding a deep secret in that v shaped drawer room.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 9/10

Yuri Kuma Arashi Episode 6

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Revolutionary Girl Utena and this series share quite a bit from each other–  strong sexual tension between girls, heavily and sometimes overused metaphors to indicate the innocence of youth how it forms and how these characters transition from child to adult.  With this episode it’s the villain of both these series that share similar ideas.  Kaoru reminds me a lot of Lady Touga–  they share the same bedroom and have this innate ability to seduce others into their plans.

Before I really jump into the heart of this episode I want to talk about the animation in the opening.  Etsuko Sumimoto one of the lead animators on Honey and Clover really poured in her inspiration to animate light-hearted fluffy scenes with the bears and this also shows off quite strongly in this episode.  Kunihiko Ikuhara did a wonderful job at establishing Kureha and Ginko as the Moon Girl and the Forest Girl with this here–  the storybook style is completely different than the rest of Yuri Kuma and it pays off!

It’s obvious where the real story is headed now that we know Reira’s book is unfinished and I’m glad its taking this turn.  It takes a generic story and raises the bar using the real world as a bizarre opposite of it.  I like how we are pulled into Reira’s story, it feels somewhat old-fashioned and a nice breather from the craziness Ikuhara has developed with yuri, bears and a storm that is soon-to-be approaching.  I get the feeling the storm is actually the students in the classroom exorcising evil.  The student council president takes matters into her own hands that if others aren’t fitting in with the group they are evil.  Every time we see this happen it’s always been Kureha being excluded–  she loves Sumika and wants to keep the flower garden intact.  Cutting the flower lilies and burning them represents two things.  Severing ties between friends–  we see that gradual build up where Kaoru and the other students help Kureha fix the garden only to burn it by the end of the episode.  The other is what the flowers depict in a sexual manner–  Kureha has been pursued through desires of various girls and its interesting to see how the fire establishes this.  Wonderfully written and portrays the reality of bullying at school quite well.  Which moves me to my next point about Sumika.  She is one of the most interesting characters of this series for me for a few reasons.

The first being she’s been dead for most of it yet plays such a pivotal role in how Kureha feels about humans and bears.  I’m sure that we will see some interaction between the two of them in some otherworldly form later on due to her flashback scenes being so important that director Ikuhara repeats them.

The second being the theme of friendships.  Ginko deeply cares for Kureha and Kureha cares for Sumika but what’s to happen when she is to find out Ginko didn’t save Sumika from Mitsuko.  The bond between human and bear and what will symbolize their friendship will most certainly stem from Sumika.  The letter represents Sumika’s unending love for Kureha not to mention the girls standing before her.  Powerful message it sends about being unique and finding your own self in the company of others.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 8/10

Yuri Kuma Arashi Episode 5

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The Invisible storm:  this episode justifies exactly what this series has been heading towards and what all these relationships between the girls literally mean: making friends.

The comedy in this series last time took a somewhat twisted perspective of Princess Lulu’s inability to accept her brother’s love by killing him numerous times.  Here we’ve got a repetition of what Ginko yearns for while she is living with Lulu and Kureha.  It is strange to put this at the beginning of the episode but nonetheless it worked in bridging the gap here between Kureha’s love for Sumika and what she needs to find in a new friend.

Tori Takahashi wrote a pretty decent episode that flushes out Kureha’s bond between bears and Ginko’s unwavering resolve turned destiny towards loving her.  The flashback is touching and yet pulled off a wonderfully comical parody of Full Metal Jacket with the helmet.  Deep-rooted emotional scenes that add a bit of hilarity to them is what makes this episode so different than what we’ve had in previous episodes.

Takahashi directed Inari Kon Kon Koi Iroha last year and I can tell how his writing influences this:  a brighter side of life with friends at the academy, Kureha’s interactions with Ginko and Lulu are playful fun.  Although the transition was executed decently here–  these lighter scenes would have been better off more towards the beginning of this series than the middle.  However, this second half is tried and true towards what this series is using as a focal point:  the invisible storm.  It’s great to see this being a reflection on how girls make friends at the academy:  when one acts upon their own wishes they are excluded.

Karou Harishima, the acting president over student council is the most interesting girl in this episode–  she’s apologizing on behalf of the others for what happened and the turnaround to exclude her provides a good justification for Ginko to save Kureha.  The court scene is at last different and I like how we are seeing these phrases of eating humans or rather Kureha being shifted into being her friend, not backing down on love.

The layers are peeling off of Ginko and I can see Lulu somehow sacrificing herself in order to get this dream of hers across.  Definitely not what I had expected with that cliffhanger–  that song there is fantastic!

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 7/10

Yuri Kuma Arashi Episode 4

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Ikuhara loves repetition–  his comedy lies in how often these parts of the episode remain quite similar but have different meanings each time they are executed.  It’s about time though we get to see things have shifted around as we jump into Lulu’s past and how she meets Ginko.  We start off with the revealing that the courtroom men are in-fact bears themselves.  Their forms are much like their human counterparts and I really like how Love Sexy is used as the narrator for Ginko’s story.  Especially with his bear appearances.  These were really hilarious to watch!

The amount of symbolism during this was ridiculously awesome–  the maids with the bear hats, Lulu’s little brother searching for the Promised Kiss, the shooting stars being the Promised Kiss acting as a sign of hope that they can regain some sort of bond through all this.  More importantly though the biggest metaphor was the honeypot that Lulu is seen with and the Promised Kiss that is throughout this story.  This strongly illustrates the sexual side of this series really well–  Prince Murin wants a kiss from her big sister because he’s tempted from the honeypot.  I love all the situations that Lulu puts Murin through to attain the Promised Kiss–  the delivery was so simple!  Throw him in a box and knock him off various cliffs and sand dunes.  Years later however, the kicker is when Lulu finds the honeypot and tries to return it Lulu.  Being fascinated by the woman standing before her she’s once again caught in the honeypot metaphor but this time its reversed.

Without Prince Murin around due to the accidental death by a bee from an attempt to get more honey for Lulu, it’s the mysterious Ginko that not only returns what she’s lost but reminds her of what she’s lost too.  Really interesting to see this show finally chooses now to get across to the viewer what the two worlds represent.  The bear kingdom, the school and what separates them is a sexual allegory.  The kingdom where heterosexuality is a norm and the other side [the academy]  being the very place that establishes yuri as the leading point of the series.  A rather sexually suggestive way to establish this idea of bear vs. man that is discussed in the first episode.  It’s also the phrase in every episode so far that establishes this even more between Prince Murin and Princess Lulu.  We hated you from the beginning and loved you from the beginning, too.

So the Severance barrier separates man’s relationship with women and what ultimately evolves from this.  Lulu trying to kill her brother Prince Mirun because he’s to succeed the throne leaving her out of the picture completely emphasizes this.  As prevalent as the yuri has been in this–  its this episode that pushes its doors wide open here.  Tossed aside by the family that loved her as the favorite because Mirun a man is born into the family will receive all the duties as heir to the kingdom.

What an impact this has on her character!  She’s always been so abrasive.  Out of jealousy of Prince Murin, she neglects him only to lose him in the process to the very honeypot that lured him in the first place!  The promised kiss from a man so to speak that took away her desires is the same man that gives her this monumental push to go over the Severance barrier and become a human with Ginko.  Whoa!

I really like how this resonates with her feelings of keeping her promise to help Ginko–  following through with her love for Kureha.  Lulu gives up her kisses for a promise that’s not even hers and wants to somehow fill the void of losing her brother.  Ginko ultimately saves her and what a great scene by the end where Lulu is being Lily approved.

Seeing as how this trio’s [Kureha, Lulu, Ginko] relationship is left with pure love and obsession at the forefront one has to wonder how this will end up.  Keeping in mind that the very star that Ginko is starting at by the end of this episode is similar to the necklace Kureha’s mother is seen with in the picture.  This strongly suggests multiple paths for this story to take.  I personally can think of two ideas that can stem from this.  Is Ginko in fact Kureha’s sister and if so was Lulu’s story foreshadow towards this?  On the other hand it could also mean that Ginko ate Kureha’s mother as well.  What would Kureha do with this knowledge if this were the case?

I also want to point out that Life Sexy’s shabada–shabadadada lightning strike scene had me laughing so hard.  What a fantastic scene!

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10