Yurikuma Arashi – 08 Review
To quote a running-gag of the Archer-TV-series: Phrasing!
Does anyone even care that a frigging comet has caused all bears to become the enemy of mankind? I mean, not that it was different before that comet hit earth but you know you’re in trouble when animals start to talk to each other and shit. You could say, this series is the Yuri-Version of Planet of the Apes except you know the bears actually look like humans because Romeo & Juliet is great but bestiality isn’t, I guess.
Again: Phrasing! But seriously, Reia’s and Yuriika’s relationship seemed completely fine and possibly romantic but Yuriika’s narration was like “But I knew that Reia didn’t love me the same way I loved her.” and I was like “Wait, she doesn’t? Because so far I’ve seen no proof of that…”. But that’s when they fast-forward in time and show Reia with a baby. That’s when I knew what she meant with that. But really, way to go, spoiling a plottwist like that.
This is a love-story. You have people who express love, worry about love and do stupid stuff out of love. But Yurikuma Arashi isn’t the kind of love-story that explores love but rather it presents it as a search for true love. Everything this series is doing is just a long-winded way to ultimately have a showcase of ideal love ready for the audience. Instead of focusing on the flaws of love, this is a series that longs to claim that love can be perfect and when it’s not, someone did something wrong.
If you look at all the characters in this series, you notice how EVERY character expresses love in some way. It’s clear that the series ultimately wants to show that Kureha’s and Ginko’s love is true and perfect but along the way the series has thrown all these characters on the path to that perfect love. When you look at the love expressed by all the characters we’ve seen so far, then they are defined by how flawed they are.
There are a lot of cases of unrequited love present in the series. The first two bears who got killed at the start of series both loved someone who didn’t love them back. Then there’s the relationship between Lulu and her little brother. And in this episode you have Yuriika’s relationship with Reia. In all these cases love isn’t rewarded as the bears end up being consumed by a desire that kinda makes them blind to love, I guess. Those characters become egoistic and what defines all these characters is how they become blind to the love they do receive and simply hunger for something they can’t have. And that’s when they get punished for their actions by losing their chance to receive more love.
The other side of flawed love present in this series is the one relying on exclusion. As much as a there’s love, there’s an equal amount of hatred for something outside the loving relationship. The way bears and humans are separated by the Wall Of Severance, the way the humans from Kureha’s class behave and the philosophy of the dude from Yuriika’s flashback promote this model of isolating yourself from the pain of the world in order to stay pure. Instead of freely expressing your desires, you limit yourself to a rational perspective that avoids emotional pain. If you look at the dude in Yuriika’s flashback you get the extreme version of that as he loves Yuriika for her purity but then can just leave her behind since he has found some other pure thing to keep in a box and marvel at. There isn’t any emotional attachment present and with that no desire or passion. While you get these bear-characters that are overcome by passion and do stupid things because of that, the human characters seem aloof and actively stay away from getting too involved with each other. The humans in this series keep their emotions hidden inside boxes and outwardly only show the, let’s say, “proper amount” of affection. Meanwhile, the human characters aside from Kureha have met a grisly fate when they were shown having secretly indulged in a romantic relationship with another girl. I guess, the series is punishing them for their hypocrisy.
This is where the relationship between Sumika and Kureha is important because this is a relationship that exemplifies one of those many catchphrases of this series: “Never giving up on love.”. The point of love is to be unconditional and absolute as far as this series is concerned. There’s also a line in that “Forest-girl and Moon-girl”-book where it says that fulfilling their Promised Kiss may cost them their lives. And Sumika as well Lulu’s little brother both die while in pursuit of their love. This also ties into Ginko’s speech at the end of this episode where she talks about being ready to get shot by Kureha for the sake of her love (Get it, “shot”, “Love Bullet: Yurikuma Arashi”…?!). One of the important steps of love is apparently to get hurt in the process of finding it, I guess.
And it’s very indicative of this series that talking about its themes means just listing incidents/characters and what they may mean. The pacing of this series is very inflexible and controlled. At no point does it feel like you watch a story unfolding on its own. The plot never seems alive or dynamic. The series is telling me the story to the point where the story is more important than the characters in it. And yet, this is a series that wants to talk about love and romance.
Love-stories expect you to get involved in what the characters are doing. That’s why stuff like shipping exists. Characters that have a good chemistry together seem like people you want to see in a relationship together and if them getting together is the whole point anyway, all the better! That’s what love-stories are about: You need to sell the characters being romantically involved with each other! Of course, you need drama so that you can have a story-arc and therefore you add some depth to the involved parties and voila, you have a great love-story.
But this series doesn’t have that. People are in love with each other or they aren’t. Most of the time they aren’t actually. Kureha had a few romantic moments with Sumika and Ginko but that’s about it as far as functional romances go. And even those aren’t great. The way love was portrayed in these scenes with Kureha and Sumika was by them telling each other how much they love each other. Nearly everything they said was in some way linked to the notion of how much they love each other. That’s fine and dandy but if love is the only emotion present in their relationship, then it doesn’t seem like a very believable one. It just seems cheesy. And I mean, it’s even worse with the relationship between Kureha and Ginko. Kureha’s affection for Ginko seems to originate from the discovery that they have loved each other when they were children – and that’s it. The series wants to talk about love but the way it’s portraying it is that it’s either ideal or doomed to fail in some way.
The notion of the school as a “box” is actually quite fitting when you look back and how the series never really distanced itself that much from the school. Previously I had described it as the lack of variation in locale as a way to make the plot feel like a theaterplay but I guess the purpose is a more thematic one as it tries to establish the isolationist nature of the school as a “box”.
The drama is equally tonedeaf in how it’s fixated on love without ever seeming dynamic. This series puts these stilted scenes together that tell the story without ever establishing a real flow. You go from scene to scene in this abrupt manner of “Now we talk about this and here we talk about this.”. The build-up isn’t some subtle undercurrent that heightens the tension in an episode but instead you get these obviously controlled scenarios with very obvious stakes and characters that just perform certain roles.
This confrontation on the rooftop at the end of this episode is a great example of that. It’s already pure bullshit how the episode once again opens with reminding us that the bear with Reia’s pendant is the one who killed her. Kureha discovers that Ginko has the pendant. Already, that this moment even happens: This should’ve happened far sooner because Kureha should’ve immediately recognized the pendant and she should’ve asked her about it knowing that her mother who had the same pendant got killed by a bear. But like usual the series was sitting on that story-bit until it thought it was time to address it and now it did. So Kureha asks Ginko what the deal is with that pendant and Ginko says: “I can’t tell you right now.”. And that’s it! Apparently they all go to bed and Lulu/Ginko leave before Kureha awakes. Drama is about CONFRONTATION! You can’t have such a scene end with “I can’t tell you.” and let that be it!
Anyway, the confrontation eventually does come and Yuriika, Ginko and Kureha are on the roof. Yuriika tells Kureha to shoot and Kureha has a good reason to do so because Yuriika told her that Ginko must’ve killed her mother while Ginko… told her nothing for whatever reason. Kureha is about to shoot her – but that’s when Ginko tells Kureha why she has the pendant. And Kureha believes her. Fine, she loves Ginko after all. That makes sense but what doesn’t is that Kureha then doesn’t confront Yuriika about why she had been so pushy.
And then the series tries to spice things up by adding a bit of melodrama as Lulu SUDDENLY (seriously, she’s just there all of a sudden) appears and she tells Kureha about how Ginko was at least indirectly involved in Sumika’s death, I assume. You see, I have to assume because with the rain, lighting, thunder and whatnot you don’t hear what they’re saying. The only thing you get to hear is Kureha’s vow to kill bears or something like that and then it goes to the book-imagery again and ends with the sound of a shot.
And you know what? That was boring. One, it was predictable. It was revealed in a post-credits-sequence a few episodes ago that Ginko had been there during Sumika’s murder and when Lulu got a message about Ginko’s crime, it was easy to guess what that had been about. Two, the relationship between Ginko and Kureha has only started to develop and Kureha had just proven her newfound love for Ginko – only to immediately put that very relationship into crisis-mode after that moment. Sure, we have scenes of Ginko thinking about Kureha and scenes of Kureha thinking about Ginko – but the series has hardly a lot of scenes where they talk with each other honestly. The series has gotten to a point where it seems at least possible that Kureha can move on and get together with Ginko but as the series reaches that point it immediately introduces a grave crisis to test this newfound commitment. That’s terrible pacing! Three, the series still lacks substance. After all, what are the stakes here? It can’t be just the love between Kureha and Ginko because the series still hasn’t explained Kureha’s amnesia and why Reia sent Ginko away. Also a little bit more world-building would be neat, too. I mean, why do have bears and humans have to live separate? What exactly has set off this exclusion-panic?
There’s a good series to be found in all this. The style seems inspired and the way the dialogue gets turned into this big heap of catchphrases is also kinda neat. And the world-building has some interesting concepts. But the whole thing just doesn’t come together as an entertaining series. The characters don’t seem interesting, the story relies too much on mystery that gets resolved in artificially paced infodumps and the style is pretty much just posturing that may have meaning but it never feel necessary.
- All that talk about boxes in this episode reminded me of that anime-series Mouryou no Hako. It’s a good series although it’s a bit talky, but as long as you can stomach the lengthy dialogues, it’s a very rewarding experience to watch that one.
- The ruby-slippers of the guy and the way he clicked his heels each time is referencing Dorothy’s ruby-slippers in The Wizard Of Oz. In the movie it’s basically a bit of a deus-ex-machina as it’s never explained what it does and Dorothy simply finds out that she can get back home by clicking her heels three times and say “There’s no place like home.”. It’s worse in the sequel Return to Oz where those slippers basically can do anything. Who knows what this reference has to do with the dude.
- This series must have something else to talk about other than Ginko’s and Kureha’s romance, right? This is the 8th episode and I really hope that the series doesn’t try to milk the drama between Kureha and Ginko for the rest of the series now.
- Also, another reason why I think the finale of the series will be about more than Kureha’s relationship with Ginko are the three judges who… talk about the whole thing as if they’re orchestrating these events for a specific reason.