Spade of Trades’ Winter 2015 First Impressions: Yuri Kuma Arashi Episode 1

Remember me? Well due to some circumstances i was not able to work on the Fall season, but I’m here to write about the Winter season with my first impressions, half way points, and concluding thoughts. I’ll be talking about four or five different series here, one at a time, and posting thoughts on them. Anyways, here’s Yuri Kuma Arashi or Yuri Bear Storm or Love Bullet Yuri Kuma Arashi, which ever title you prefer.

I remember a few years back we got a desperately horrible ecchi anime to kick the year off called Rio Rainbow Gate. This year, Ikuhara, the man behind Penguindrum and Utena, kicks us off with some yuri… and bears… and yuri-bears….

Set in a post-apocalyptic world where one day an asteroid named Kumaria exploded in space and fell onto earth like shooting stars causing bears to attack the human race, eating them en-mass. This forces the human race to build a literal extinction barrier to prevent the bears from killing off what’s left… Which appears to be the female gender only with the main focus is set at a school and a yuri-couple Kureha Tsubaki and Sumika Izumino, or even more future couples. But, the wall doesn’t seem to affect certain alien bears with the ability to disguise themselves as humans, coming to the school with the intent to devour more girls. But later in the episode it is confirmed to be a sin for the alien bears to eat humans, otherwise they get judged by a trio male bears…

At face value, this can come off as some weird This-Is-Definitely-Japan-As-Fuck shit, even talking about the premise of the first episodes has my brain on a spin cycle. Almost nothing seems to be completely coherent… at face value, and if you look at this anime at face value alone, I will guarantee you will miss the point. And what is the point? Yuri… Bears eating yuri girls?

The furries, they hunger.

It’s faaaar too early to give it a fair judgement, especially with Ikuhara’s track record. But, it’s interesting that for this anime the supposed themes, in this case the Yuri and, um, bears, is more in your face than anything I’ve seen in his previous works. A lot in this anime is choke full of sexual themes, from the female alien bears wanting to eat other human girls to a trio of judges which one of them is named Life Sexy. And the subtlety of it all. NSFW:

THAT SUBTLETY THO.

Especially with the character costumes, they’re like some sort of fetish with bears. And unlike Penguindrum, the bears in Yuri Kuma have a much bigger focus as a theme than being a set piece. Speaking of which, the bears themselves are actually quite adorable, more so than the penguins in Mawaru Penguindrum in my opinion. And the overall look of the anime is filled with plenty of artistic nuances here and there, though not quite to the level of his previous works, though Penguindrum started kinda light too… Wait I just remember Survival Tactic, in comparison this one is his lightest yet. But the character designs are pretty appealing, fitting with the overall tone.

From what I can tell, I feel like this is going to be Ikuhara’s least subtle anime and his most misleading one as well. And to be honest, I can’t get a full real grasp of what to expect. It can go literally anywhere, it can possibly go no where at all or even become something that might be try to present a story where it’s all up to the viewer to interpret the real meaning in Yuri Kuma like any of his works. Which to be honest is what exactly I’m expecting and I’ll be watching it for, even though this is an adaptation and not an original work by him. It’s going to be an interesting show without a doubt and I’m completely curious to see where it could possibly lead up to.

In fact, the interpretations online have already begun, here’s my favorite one I found on 4chan of all places:

“As far as the bears go, all the “yuri” so far has really just been a metaphor for eating humans. Really, all of it. That might change later, in fact it very well may, but so far, no. The only actual yuri so far was between Kureha and Sumika, and was accompanied by this not-so-subtle bit of symbolism.

To me this says, in effect, “this won’t be yuri, people”. The first ep is when you send a clear message about what you’re going to be doing. To me this scene suggests that Ikuhara is telling us “all the ‘yuri’ in this show is a metaphor, don’t expect much actual girl/girl romance”.

Though, images like this make me feel like it counters the metaphor claim, though who knows what Ikuhara is thinking?

Either way, this anime is looking to be 2015’s most curious title.

(animation by Silver Link / distributed by FUNimation Entertainment / streaming on FUNimation.com)

Advertisements