Yurikuma Arashi – 12 Review

[C12] Yuri Kuma Arashi - 12.mp4 - 00006Wonderful! It only took you twelve episodes and getting caught in a deathtrap together with Ginko! Talk about great timing!

Maybe it should’ve been a sitcom. The way Ginko and Lulu just invite themselves into Kureha’s home (scenes about how Kureha’s house is dusty and how Ginko’s and Lulu’s idea of a nice home includes having frame-hives for bees for example), the haughty class-presidents who constantly die and somehow every new class-president gleefully performs the role the same way (maybe show a scene of the drama-club performing a play called “How to be an evil class-president – And Death”) and a school-president who’s basically a hoarder with all her boxes. You know, make it a fun series instead of this overly serious atmosphere the series had most of the time.

Review:

[C12] Yuri Kuma Arashi - 12.mp4 - 00000Well, seems like Yurikuma Arashi knows how to make cheese.

What is love? In this series it’s certainly a transformative force. The barrier between bear and human becomes a mirror getting smashed into pieces by the lovers as the differences between bear and humans fall away enabling the two to be together. Lovers are able to reach a state of balance in a very personal way. What makes them different disappears through their need to be with one another.

On the other hand the series presents the concept of being invisible. Similar to love it’s all about balance but it’s a very impersonal sort of balance. The feelings of the individual are buried in a collective consensus that one is supposed to agree with. And in that its evil nature is revealed: That it really isn’t the consensus of everyone. It’s just that everyone who disagrees immediately gets excluded. And where love leads to transformation into something more, invisibility leads to a reduction of individuality. During the course of the series all the class-presidents have essentially acted the same. They all looked different and one even turned out to be a bear but their behavior and the way they talked were all eerily similar (which isn’t hard to achieve in this series with all its catchphrases, mind you).

And so it’s in this final episode where the actual reason for the story was revealed: All those years ago when Kureha had forgotten Ginko, Kureha’s love hadn’t been real. Instead of matching Ginko’s sacrifice/transformation by wishing to be a bear Kureha was prideful and wanted to Ginko change for her own benefit. But Kureha fixes the mistake and with that there’s love again in the world – which was the entire point. Whether Ginko and Kureha have magicall survived or not isn’t as important as how their defiance has inspired another girl to share her love with another bear.

That’s the story and hell… way to fuck up the execution-part of those story-ideas. It’s simply laughable how poorly written this series’ story is. We arrive at the final episode, the showdown is happening and what is breaking the stalemate? Kureha remembers something… AGAIN… but this time it’s EVERYTHING…! You know, in contrast to all those other times Kureha has “remembered” or “realized” something (I guess even Kureha’s amnesia keeps its dramatic relevance alive by withholding vital information). And it happens just like that! There isn’t even a conspicuous hit on the head or something like that. Kureha just remembers it all suddenly. That’s the amnesia-trope at its worst when characters can just willy-nilly remember forgotten memories whenever the story feels like it.

I’ve already talked at length about how the story stupidly tries to profit from withholding vital information and you can really see that here as the series just fails to organically create an ending. Instead of capitalizing on build-up provided by previous episodes and trying to create a dramatic conclusion, most of the episode is spent talking about what is going on. Like usual we get a poorly paced episode whose only plot-points rely on vital information the series had previously kept from the audience on purpose. And it’s the talking which really hurts this series.

Forget the problems of wasting time repeating all those catchphrases this series has. It’s stuff like the final dialogue between Kureha and Ginko that is just insufferable in how drawn out and predictable it is. Also considering how Ginko had just confessed her love to Kureha while ignoring Kureha’s attempts to dissuade her from walking into the trap, it’s ridiculous how the finale is repeating the same scene with reversed positions. In the first of the two scenes Kureha insists on hating bears and in the second scene Ginko insists on just wanting to eat Kureha. But the second scene happens without any self-awareness that they’ve merely switched their roles in the dialogue. And the whole creepy class (or at least the class-president) should’ve immediately interrupted that dialogue. After all, they had been there when Ginko had confessed her love to Kureha and had made this big speech about how she would be Kureha’s friend no matter what. I mean, the creepy class doesn’t buy it for one moment but this is a great example of how shitty this series’ writing is. We spent a couple minutes on a dialogue that has more symbolic than practical value.

This show’s writing has been impractical right from the start. There are all these neat ideas in this series and at no point does the series come together as a cohesive story with an arc. It’s all just bits and pieces that get thrown at the audience almost randomly. It feels like this list of stuff you’d like to see in the show and then you only produce the flimsiest of excuses for why that stuff becomes a story. Someone should’ve heavily edited this show to give it a more concise and effective presentation. But of course, then you would’ve gotten an 8-episode-series or something like that because this series sure as hell shouldn’t have needed 12 episodes to tell its story.

[C12] Yuri Kuma Arashi - 12.mp4 - 00008Wait, people can do that in this series’ universe? Just wishing for something related to love-troubles and Lady Kumalia will make it happen?

And the happy end is basically created by two deus-ex-machinas in this episode: One is Lady Kumalia reappearing as Sumika and the other is Kureha not only remembering everything but also suddenly realizing what had went wrong all those years ago and how she could fix this mess. It’s the sort of developments that are akin to an on/off-switch. One moment there’s nothing and then all of a sudden the situation changes without reason.

Well, actually it was kinda necessary. This series’ story just makes you angry because of how it has turned a simplistic premise into a patience-testing odyssey. Ginko just wanted to be friends with Kureha but due to complications they had to part ways. Now they got a chance to reconnect and lo and behold they meet very shortly after the start of the series. Ginko and Kureha are SO FUCKING CLOSE to becoming friends again. We’ve spent 11 episodes in this “nearly there”-state where all the developments are just these baby-steps of back-and-forth where no development is decisive and the motivation for why Ginko keeps trying despite that is treated like a stupid mystery. And the kicker is of course: neither character’s actions are very helpful to achieve that goal. Ginko starts to immediately stalk Kureha and invades her privacy without ever explaining why she’s so pushy. On the other hand, Kureha is just pushing everyone away, her classmates, Ginko, Lulu and so on. Ginko’s like “You HAVE to become my friend! But I can’t tell you why…” and Kureha’s like “I have only one friend – and she’s dead!”. Watching these two characters trying to rekindle their friendship obviously needed some sort of miracle. But to watch them try to do that without a miracle for 11 episodes has definitely not offered a lot of entertainment.

It’s especially Kureha’s character that has hurt this series the most. By waiting 12 episodes for Kureha to actually grow a spine and remember what the hell the deal is with Ginko, the series had been wasting a lot of momentum. Most of the time Kureha has just been sitting on her bed alone hiding from a world that just confuses and bewilders her at every twist and turn. And the point of the story had been for her to become friends with Ginko again. There was no back-and-forth here as Kureha really just stumbled through this series’ plot until she finally started remembering things. And she only really did that in the fucking last episode!

Yurikuma Arashi has an abundance of style and ideas but no matter how hard it tries to shine nothing can hide the fact that its story isn’t elaborate enough to warrant all of the stuff this series is pulling off. So much of this series to polish mediocre stuff but the series utterly fails to uplift the material above its natural state. The series certainly gets a lot of points for how it visually presents itself but with such creativity on display, the contrast with the sub-par writing becomes stark. Not only do you have this mediocre story but writing is actually making things worse. Drama relies on withholding vital information, characters are constantly at odds with each other and genuine conversations rarely happen, the series is padded with unnecessary repetition and lengthy explanations (which also get repeated) and then there’s the series general overreliance on plot-convenient storybeats.

Episode-Rating: 5.0/10

Series-Rating: 6.0/10

Random Thoughts:

  • Also, it has to be said: This series’ yuri-fanservice is gratuitous.
  • Of course, one of the series’ driving forces are the three judges and Lady Kumalia whose miraculous interventions aren’t bound by the rules of space and time. Whenever they become part of the plot they can just push the story into some convenient direction. I wonder what would’ve happened if the three judges hadn’t asked Ginko and Kureha what they wanted after Kureha got bullied by the other children.

About M0rg0th

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

Posted on March 31, 2015, in Anime, Reviews, Yuri Kuma Arashi and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. “That’s the amnesia-trope at its worst when characters can just willy-nilly remember forgotten memories whenever the story feels like it.”

    TV Tropers shouldn’t review – well, anything, actually.

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  2. This anime really shows that Ikuhara is getting old…

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    • Maybe… Personally I just felt like this was one of these series where the director stood between you and the screen waving his hands to call attention to his directing. Ikuhara’s stylishness was there but everything stylish about this series just made me think “Just get on with the story!”. Because at some point the series either repeated itself (and couldn’t shut up about what happened before) or you got these new pieces of information that appeared out of the blue.

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      • Honestly, I think Ikuhara’s best work by far was on Sailor Moon. Everything he’s made since has reeked of over-indulgence and the lack of any kind of self-awareness or editorial check that there is a need to please someone besides himself.

        And while he may have earned his anime auteur status, I think too many folks are willing to cut him far too much slack based largely on his reputation and pure directorial skill, which is admittedly quite distinctive.

        As a storyteller, however, he makes me pine for the simple pleasures of a “good” harem comedy, and for that alone, I hate the guy!!

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  3. @DP:

    “And while he may have earned his anime auteur status, I think too many folks are willing to cut him far too much slack based largely on his reputation and pure directorial skill, which is admittedly quite distinctive.”

    Especially in this case I feel like Ikuhara’s direction is overindulgent. You can read this series as this reflection of the yuri-genre and that’s there… but it’s a subtext completely separate from the text. The adapted story never even goes there and is just this story about a dramatic romance with twists and turns. Because of that this intended discussion of the yuri-genre ends up merely being a blunt presentation of what Ikuhara thinks the yuri-genre should be like. And along the way he directs a meandering story to the finish-line whose drama consists solely of jerking around the audience by withholding vital information.

    I’ve said it before but what I think Ikuhara should do is direct a full-on anime-musical. It’s far easier to cut corners with the narrative stuff in favor of stylization in a musical. And if the songs are good as well, it’s easier to get invested in a story that maybe doesn’t have that much meat on its bones.

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