Yuri Kuma Arashi – 04

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Framed as a day in which Yuri Court is not in session and narrated by Shaba-da-doo chief Judge Life Sexy (bear) himself, Yurikuma Arashi 04 is a past-tense heavy, backstory building, infodump.

In spite of that, it’s a wonderful episode full of tight storytelling and some fall on the floor giggling moments that I urge everyone who likes feeling happy to check out.

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Summing it up: Lulu was once a princess, who got all the attention from her bear kingdom. One day, on the day of shooting stars, an adorable little brother was born and her world came apart. No longer the heir, no longer doted on by her maids, Lulu became deeply jealous.

Unfortunately, her little brother loved her very much and, for the promise of a kiss, would go on ‘adventures’ to find her a falling star. I air-quote adventures here because Lulu convinces him to get into a box marked ‘love’ and kicks him off a cliff at the beginning of each.

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The little prince always returns, beaten up a bit, but holding a wonderful pot of honey in exchange for a Lulu kiss — and every time Lulu freaks out and throws his pot of honey out the window and kicks him off the cliff again.

Until one day, the prince dies and Lulu gets what she wants. Years later, surrounded by wonderful things and chased by endless suitors, she is empty inside and, only after meeting Ginko (who’s retrieved one of the lost honey pots) does Lulu find purpose again. Her kisses are gone, her happiness too, but she will be a criminal bear and help Ginko find happiness and cross the wall into Human lands.

The episode closes with Lulu and Ginko under their mushroom-hat tree. Lulu holds her dead brother’s honey pot and Ginko a golden star on a ribbon… which matches the one worn by Kureha’s late mother!

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What earned it a 9: the card-style storybook flashbacks were charming, the backgrounds beautiful, and the added context for the male court-bears in Lulu’s past and the reasons for Lulu being devoted to Ginko were all deftly handled and well integrated.

And Judge Life Sexy’s “Shaba-do-doo’ing along with the background music almost earned it a ten on it’s own.

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Why it didn’t a 10: it’s an infodump episode. Pure and simple. All the elements were integrated very well but the info dumping wasn’t integrated with the current events in any way.

Most importantly, this means nothing really happened in ‘current events’ part of the narrative.

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I’m on the fence over the castle, the bear-infused decorations and architectural elements being a good break from the hard edge, pattern heavy ‘current events’ style or if its general lack of action and ‘otherness’ was distracting.

The art style was beautiful regardless and I especially liked the bonnet-wearing bear maids in waiting.

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5 thoughts on “Yuri Kuma Arashi – 04”

  1. Some of my thoughts on the symbolism in this episode:

    1. “I Can’t Get A Kiss” – The title of this episode, and Princess Lulu’s problem. Kisses are offered throughout her story, but she desires none of them, whether they’re the collective kisses of her adoring subjects when she’s the future queen, or the chaste kisses from her adorable little brother who automatically jumps over her in the order of succession…just because he’s male and he was born.

    2. Princess Lulu holds this against Prince Mirun, despite the fact he can’t do anything about it any more than she can. All he offers her is his unconditional love. But frustrated by no longer being on top and unable to find what she desires, she tosses those promise kisses away one after the other, as if they were disposable. Mirun keeps coming back, dutiful, loving brother that he is, unable to understand that’s not the kind of love Lulu wants.

    3. When the day arrives when it is announce that Mirun is actually dead, it’s at a time when Lulu is so used to him coming back from seemingly fatal incidents, she’s not as happy as she thought to be Numero Uno again. I daresay she misses her little unflappable brother. And being the heir means she must marry a suitor—the three Court Guys, in a nice bit of character re-purposing—but she desires none of them.

    4. Prince Mirun does finally return one night, but only in the form of a dream, with the honey pot she’s thrown away so many times and will throw away again if given to her. That honey pot is her heart, her happiness, and the thing she’s been looking for all this time, but either forgot or was never aware of its significance. When she wakes up in bed, the pot is not in the hands of Mirun, but Ginko, delivering it back to its owner after finding it far away.

    5. When Ginko hands the pot over, Lulu finally feels something she hadn’t felt with any man. When Ginko explains she’s going over the Wall of Severance to deliver a kiss to a human over there—even if that human kills her—Lulu wants to go with her. So Lulu pleas to the court (of her suitors, LOL) to take human form and accompany Ginko. They approve this, because what bad can come of two girls searching for a third? YURI APPROVED! [Stamp]

    6. Lulu seems to pay a price for this approval: she has to choose: love or kisses. Love is something she’s already experienced, taken for granted. Kisses are something she’s already discarded countless times, and led to the loss of her brother. But even if hope for her is lost (not necessarily a sure thing), she’s going to stand beside Ginko and do everything possible to help her – call it a vicarious romance.

    7. It may not be the ideal love she originally desired, but the way she sees it, it’s the best love she can hope to have, more fulfilling than the love of a brother, the love of a man, or the love of a kingdom. And again, while the danger over the wall is real, so are the possibilities.

    8. Lulu’s life as a princess just wasn’t working out for her. The deck is stacked against the likes of her and Ginko in such a place. To grow and find what they desire, they had to strike out to the other side of the wall. In doing so, and starting to befriend Kureha, perhaps they’ve taken the first step towards normalizing bear-human relations. Perhaps.

    1. Another item of note: the wasp/hornet that circles princess Lulu. Her subjects back away from her, even in the beginning. However the hornet circles around her and Murin, not directly threatening him and later, it does the same for Ginko.

      The bee appears elsewhere too and this is the part I’m not sure I get. In her “I always hated you so I must have always loved you too” speech, we see the prince in bear form under a leafless tree. He’s playing or rolling around in the grass aimlessly but the hornet is clearly shown circling the tree itself and not a person. Since it is implied that the prince is killed at this tree by a bee, and because it has Lulu’s hornet’s distinct red glow and contrail, I wasn’t clear on the implication.

      Did Lulu kill the prince, literally? Did her stinging spite finally kill him? Is the tree itself a metaphor for her as a loveless and/or barren thing?

      Who knows! YuriKuma could be the greatest long-con ever and mean next to nothing and I’d never know it because it feels like it means something :) and that may be all that matters

      1. Ooo…I like the hornet as a symbol “Lulu’s Stinging Spite.”

        As for the question “What Is This Show About?, that depends on the person, what they bring to it, and the depths they’re willing to plumb.

        There are many answers, most neither right nor wrong, but the fact the show stokes such thought and conversation is one of the reasons it appeals to me so much, and why I’m perplexed at its very low MAL score.

    1. Wow…I didn’t think she’d write another until after episode six!

      My thoughts above hew very closely to what she talks about in her piece, probably since this was a far less difficult episode to deconstruct (i.e. the symbols are far more blunt).

      Furthermore, Gabby agrees with Franklin about the bee being spite, or more basically, hatred.

      Relatively clear-cut stuff, but mighty compelling.

      “Ikuhara has a talent for being lighthearted about the dourest material without losing his audience. For as fun as this episode was, it’s still a story about a young woman giving up on love.”

      Well. Put.

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