Hey guys, long time no see! My First Impressions for the anime spring season might be a bit delayed, ‘cause I ended up being busier than I expected. I’ll try to get one FI out tomorrow, but if not they’ll probably go up in the next few days.
Last review of Yuri Kuma Arashi is out finally, and it is a trip. Obviously, there are MASSIVE SPOILERS.
Episode 11 Summary:
The first half of the episode once again deals with a flashback—this time, specifically how Ginko wished to turn into a human girl and lost Kureha’s love as a result. After returning to the bear world after this, she was rejected by bear society and remained an outcast until the day she could meet with Kureha again. Along the way, she met with Lulu, who she considers her closest friend.
Back in the present, Kureha is held hostage as bait for Ginko; who is still possessed by Mitsuko’s bear and thus goes on a violent rampage, killing many students in the process. Eventually, Ginko makes her way to the rooftop where Kureha is being held, managing to break free of Mitsuko’s influence once and for all. On the roof, Kureha tries to put on an act to save Ginko, but it fails. Just as Ginko is about to be shot, Lulu jumps in to take the hit.
Episode 12 Summary:
With Lulu dead, Ginko is captured, and set to be executed via firing squad. After Ginko’s execution, Kureha will be executed too. However, just before Ginko is killed, Kureha suddenly remembers what happened all those years ago. It was not Ginko’s wish to be human that wiped her memories, but rather her OWN wish to make Ginko human. Back then, Kureha wanted Ginko to be human so that they could live together happily, failing to realize how selfish this wish was.
After finally remembering the full details, Kureha finds herself back in Bear Court, and this time fully admits to her sin (of pride). Back in the real world, Kureha claims that she finally realizes what true love is, and Kumaria descends—in the form of Sumika! Kureha wishes for herself to be transformed into a bear, which Kumaria grants. Thus, Kureha and Ginko share their promised kiss, and ascend to a place above the Severance Barrier.
In the aftermath of this event, the Severance Barrier is still in place, but there are small hints that the world is slowly changing; as a human girl takes in the cyborg Konomi-bear. Lulu also manages to find her happiness in the afterlife, being united with her younger brother at last. And as for Ginko and Kureha… well, no one knows for sure, but the one thing that’s certain is that they are now truly happy—and can be together forever.
You guys don’t know how tempting it is to just put the sentence “NEVER BACK DOWN ON LOOOOOVE” here and nothing else for my review. Those last two episodes were just amazing.
Even in the last two episodes, the series still managed to pull some utterly diabolical twists. SUMIKA AS KUMARIA-SAMA?! KUREHA BECOMES A BEAR?! There seems to be some divided opinions on these two plot-twists. Some people dislike this, because of the unfortunate implications of Sumika and Lulu basically sacrificing themselves just so Kureha and Ginko could be together; and also the fact that the two couldn’t be together until Kureha became a bear. Some people thought that Kureha should have stayed human, to make more of an impact. You guys can hold whatever opinion you want, so I’ll give my own two cents about this particular issue.
Ikuhara is a man who loves his metaphors. Having already watched Mawaru Penguindrum myself, you quickly learn that you can’t just take the story literally. In Yuri Kuma Arashi, bears seem to embody what society thinks is the more negative aspects of lesbian love—that is, the lust and the sex; which would be totally seen as normal in a heterosexual relationship. Thus, when Kureha turns herself into a bear, she’s finally accepting the fact that she loves Ginko—romantically AND sexually. And it’s only when Kureha accepts this fact can she truly and fully love Ginko. As for Sumika’s and Lulu’s sacrifice… that’s a bit more complicated. I have no doubt that Lulu fully loved Ginko, but she was willing to sacrifice herself to let Ginko live—a sort of “I want my beloved to be happy” thing. As for Sumika, since it’s revealed that she’s Kumaria, maybe her and Kureha’s relationship was just a way to remind Kureha that true love exists. If Kureha had hardened herself that much to love due to her past trauma, would she have been eventually willing to accept Ginko’s love? Anyway, that’s just what I think.
The only few criticisms I have about the last two episodes of this series are that the animation quality seemed a bit lower at times (though it was still amazingly beautiful other times); and also Ginko broke free of Mitsuko’s influence too easily. It seemed more like just an afterthought in the second-to-last episode because of how Ginko was basically just “okay I’mma leave you now bye” and Mitsuko just… let her go? I’m guessing with only one episode left after that, they had to resolve that plot point somehow, but I just wish it wasn’t so rushed.
Overall, a great ending to a somewhat bizarre series. Holy cow.
Out of five for episode 11:
Out of five for episode 12:
Yuri Kuma Arashi starts out with a really strange plot, even by Ikuhara standards. Admittedly, the first two episodes aren’t that great, but episode three is where the series finally hits its stride, and then just barrels straight towards its ending from there. This series is fond of flashbacks, which happens (if I remember correctly) once an episode. This series is also fond of telling things from different characters’ point of views, and even secondary characters like Lulu and Sumika get a day in the spotlight. Even though this sort of storytelling sounds like a mess, it all manages to work and create a very engaging series.
Because Yuri Kuma is only 12 episodes long, its story is very “tight,” and there are absolutely no filler episodes. Unfortunately, as a consequence, more minor characters don’t get to be fleshed out very much, such as the “evil” student leaders. But, on the flipside, the series manages to explore the themes of love and “yuri” rather extensively, even on such a short time-frame. This series is about a girl and a bear who are in love, but it is also essentially ABOUT love—specifically female/female love. This whole series is basically a “take that” by Ikuhara towards Japanese culture’s attitudes towards yuri love.
Obviously this series is not for everyone. Some may find it too weird, some may find it too fanservicey, and some may find the story sort of a mess. But I think that, if you’re looking for great animation and novel storytelling that really makes you think, then it wouldn’t hurt to give Yuri Kuma Arashi a try. Also, that utterly epic ending man.
Out of five for the series as a whole: