Yuri Kuma Arashi – 08

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Is it just me, or are we getting our money’s worth? I can’t remember the last time Yuri Kuma Arashi wasted a spare moment; probably because it essentially hasn’t. Eight episodes in, and while things are hardly ideal for Ginko, Kureha, and Lulu, most of the big mysteries have been revealed. That’s the efficiency of a one-cour, 12-episode run: pleasantly brisk storytelling that engages and excites without feeling rushed.

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One mystery that wasn’t was whether Yuriika was a bear baddie; what remained to be known was just how bad of a baddie, and why; the latter of which would determine her quality as a baddie. In her flashback, it’s revealed she was an abandoned orphan bear cub picked up by a man in high heels he likes to click (like Dorothy), who regards the school as his “box.”

Box, hive, whatever you want to call it, it’s where Yuriika had instilled in her the idea that only unsullied things kept in boxes had value. Somewhere down the road, her father lost interest in her and tried to leave, so Yuriika killed him.

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Abandoned a second time in her life, a very beautiful Yuriika fell in love with Reia, who didn’t care whether Yuriika was a bear and urged her not to keep everything locked inside, for that’s pretty much the same as not having those things at all. But whereas Yuriika’s love for Reia went beyond friendship, even past their school years, Reia grew up and had a baby. To Yuriika, Kureha becomes a squirming, cooing symbol of Reia’s betrayal.

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That’s the third time Yuriika is abandoned, and it’s the last straw, as she decides to give up on love, and return to being a box. It is Yuriika who eats Reia, trying to fill the box that is her by force. She ate her just moments after Reia gave a departing Ginko her pendant, in hopes she and Kureha will one day reunite. And getting back to the idea that putting something in a box forever is the same as not having that thing, eating Reia only left Yuriika empty, still starving and yearning.

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Enter Kureha, herself a box containing Reia’s love. Yuriika considers that love rightfully hers, stolen by Kureha, and proceeds to formulate an intricate and devastating life-long con on her; a scheme that makes Kaoru’s bullying seem like child’s play, which it was. Kureha is her titular “bride in a box;” hers to do with what she pleases at her own pace.

Only Ginko and Lulu can interrupt those plans, but she has Kureha believing Ginko is her mother’s killer, restoring the blind rage with which Kureha dispatched Yurizono. Lulu takes this opportunity to suggest she and Ginko run back to the other side of the wall; that Kureha is a lost cause; that Ginko at least has Lulu, and she her. Ginko isn’t ready to throw in the towel. She’s so determined to win Kureha back, she abandons Lulu in an important moment, ignoring her pleas not to leave her.

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The court orchestrates a confrontation on the school rooftop, and it’s interesting how they’re perceived as ageless, having delivered a very similar verdict to Yuriika years ago that they delivered to Ginko and Lulu, only with different stipulations. Yuriika gave up on love, Lulu on kisses, but Ginko gave up on neither.

Things don’t go as smoothly as Yuriika hopes, as even though Kureha is in Full Bear-Ruining Mode thanks to the incorrect information on her mother’s killer, Kureha hesitates to shoot Ginko, because Ginko isn’t backing down. It’s dawned on Ginko that perhaps the only way to get a kiss from Kureha is through a bullet…a LOVE Bullet…which explains that part of the title.

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Ginko awaits that bullet as the only way Kureha’s love for her, lost when they parted ways, will reawaken, which is obviously the absolute last thing Yuriika wants in her moment of triumph over the one who stole Reia’s love from her. It’s as if someone is opening all the boxes and dumping the contents on the dirty ground, sullying them all. But there’s also a distinct pathos to Yuriika on that roof, egging Kureha on; whether those boxes are full or not, she’s empty, and this is all she has left, and no matter the outcome, it won’t fulfill her either. She’s as tragic a figure as everyone else on that roof.

But then, suddenly, Yuriika gets a surprise assist—from Lulu. Obviously hurt from Ginko flat-out abandoning her, she hurts her right back by relaying to Kureha the what she learned from the anonymous note (which was written by Yuriika, making Lulu her trump card), which is the particulars of Ginko’s “grave crime”, which we had thought to this point was doing nothing as Yurizono ate Sumika.

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The sound of the rain drowns out everyone’s voices (a little heavy-handed, but effective), but we do hear Lulu say that Ginko “is Sumika’s…” and it’s clear from Kureha’s reaction (re-training her gun on Ginko, her rage renewed, and firing) that Lulu’s next word was something like “killer.” That could be another of Yuriika’s lies, but like so many of she’s told Kureha, this lie got her the desired effect.

At the same time, Ginko wanted Kureha to shoot her, and she did. But I doubt Kureha killed her. She may have even missed. But whatever happened when that shot was fired, Kureha, Ginko, and Lulu have never been further apart, through a combination of their own choices and Yuriika’s conniving. With three quarters of the show complete, it’s tempting to believe these girls have reached their nadir, but one shouldn’t underestimate Ikuni’s capacity for plumbing new depths.

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Author: sesameacrylic

Zane Kalish is a staff writer for RABUJOI.

7 thoughts on “Yuri Kuma Arashi – 08”

  1. This is the episode that finally redeems the 2 months long wait for revelations. It was beautifully handled.

    1 I am still hoping that Yuri Kuma will actually be revealed to be a 2 cour anime even though the show seems to be revealing all its secrets now.

    2 The show is packed with double meanings and visual motifs. I am still trying to figure out why Yuriika and the school carries the Christian-like flying white dove motif. Yuriika’s white dove actually is a golden lapel pin. Doves also hang alongside stars in the hanging mobile. I don’t understand what it could mean but if you check out the beginning of B side of the episode when Kureha visits Yuriika’s office you’ll notice something interesting. On the left side of the screen on the wall behind her executive desk you can see an MC Escher-like pattern of a series of doves transforming into a series of lilies.

    3. You should at least mention that the high heels are an allusion to the Judy Garland ruby red slippers adaptation of The Wizard of Oz. It is used to nice effect. At first, you can’t understand why this man wears high heels even though the visual fits thematically in the show. It works as a nice kuma shock to gender expectation. More important, the last time you see Yuriika’s adopted father tapping his heels 3 times he is already dead and the effect is to bring Yuriika back “home” to where she feels most comfortable, which is as an empty box that cannot accept love.

    4. I love how the box has multiple meanings. The box represents repressed feelings and stunted emotional growth.

    In addition it’s a vault to keep pure things from corruption or at least a place to keep a collection of pure things but it is also where the dead are stored. It may be where the pure are stored. But after Kureha’s birth the obviously not postlapsarian Yuriika feels she cannot return; she thinks she has become sullied even if no one would consider her so. Certainly Reia would not. Yuriika becomes a kind of dead thing pathologically and she thinks she cannot return not because she actually ate of the fruit of Reia but merely because she desired to.

    Later she becomes an empty box that frequently feasts but whose hunger can never be satisfied–a walking coffin of terror! How beautiful this metaphor! This is why the Wolf’s Rain-like animal-human characters had to be created; the gimmick and the cute implementation diminishes the impact of cannibalism and makes the predatory coffin idea scary and meaningful.

    The box is something that improperly defines things. Things that go in the box are supposed to be pure things. But for one thing Yuriika stores sadistic girls inside. Are sadistic postlapsarian girls pure once they are dead? Or does being dead purify sullied girls. Also it is obvious that what she really wants is to store Reia’s love inside. When she runs to Reia in the storm Yuriika desperately cries out her wish to have Reia fill her empty place meaning both emotionally and sexually. But once in a fit of passionate rage and as she consumes Reia’s flesh into her box she understands that she has forever denied herself love–a literal example of the eating and having dilemma. She accepts her fate and plans to eat Kureha to avenge herself of what she mistakes as Reia’s two time treachery. She does not even pretend that Kureha’s murder will fill her empty box.

    Yuriika is pathetic in an appealingly villainously tragic way and this is why Yuriika is my favorite character. :D

    5. I don’t think we know exactly why the man left Yuriika. My reading is that he just got bored and found a new bauble. I think Yuriika remained unsullied in the box.

    6. The moment you realize that Yuriika and Ginko are mirrors of each other is a moment of pleasure. I like how both have similarly cynical epiphanies about how cruel the world is. I like how from their moment of epiphany the differences in their experience with the Tsubakis lead them to opposite desires–one to blind hope and the other to despairing vengeance.

    7. I don’t think we should assume that Reia had a male lover. Yuri Kuma is a show whose goddess–Kumaria-sama–is both a pun allusion to the bear motif and an allusion to the Virgin Mary. They call her a virgin because she had a child through immaculate conception. Yuriika may be jealous not because Reia has a man but because she had an unsullied thing to love in Kureha. Pathologically, Yuriika desires to be unsullied even when she feels relieved that Reia seems not to mind Yuriika being sullied. Of course Reia does not even conceive the world in terms of sullied or unsullied.

    I do not mean that Reia did not have a male lover: I only mean that the fact of a male lover seems unimportant. Nevertheless, I too felt a kuma shock down my spine when I realized that Yuriika may have been jealous of a male lover. It is admittedly natural to assume he exists.

    8. Does the star pendant stop the love bullet?

    9. Yuriika is the sexiest character even with her hair bunned up. :p

    10. Finally, my prediction is that Kureha may end up playing the role of savior to the four girls on the roof. Along the way, I predict that Yuriika’s name may prove to be a pun for the Greek word Eureka. However it ends, I am happy with Yuri Kuma so far.

    1. Wonderful comments, all, a kuma! (I consolidated them all into a single comment.)

      Here are some responses to some of your points:

      1. I’m glad so much is being revealed now. IIRC we were a lot more in the dark at this point in the two-cour Penguindrum. If there must be a second cour, I’ll watch it, but for now the way the efficiency of the storytelling while maintaining its gravitas is very admirable. We’ve been burned by other shows stretching to two cours, that’s no automatic indication Yuri Kuma will fail too; only a concern. Filling two cours is a lot harder than one.

      3. When he/she first clicked his heels, I immediately thought “Dorothy”. Tying those clicks to home is another great reference to another iconic work of art. BTW, Gabriella Ekens over at ANN explained the gender-bendingness of Yuriika’s dad: it’s a reference to Takarazuka Revue theater.

      4. The more I learn about Yuriika, the more I like her.

      5. True that; one possibility is Yuriika became “sullied” by becoming so dependent on having the guy around; that combined with finding something new may have motivated his attempted departure.

      7. Ooo…good point. Especially with this show’s use of “Ave Maria”, it’s possible Kureha’s was a virgin birth.

      8. I don’t see why not!

      10. Kureha as savior makes a lot of sense, especially if you go back to point 7. Kureha could well be YURI JESUS.

  2. I would add more points:

    1. The first 2 instances of shoe tapping also seem to work as Pavlovian conditioning. The third instance prompts the learned response back to home.

    2. Both her discoverer and Reia tells Yuriika that they have found her. Yuriika wants someone to find her, save her from misery, and fill her. But once she gives up on love she uses all her agency and time to plot revenge against Reia who she sees as the worst betrayer.

    Sadly, Harishima wanted from Yuriika what Yuriika wanted from Reia.

    Question: has she truly given up on love or is it possible that Yuriika can still be redeemed–as Lord Vader was–by the offspring.

    3. I really like the potential bear-human romance aspect. A predator–whether they be vampires, werewolves, or kumas–desperately in love with a prey object–usually a delicate female human–is inherently and intentionally erotic. Interestingly, only in Yuriika’s unrequited desire for Reia is the potential for eroticism even touched. That is because no matter how much we see the three heroines’ naked bodies the love that Ginko and Lulu want to establish most desperately is the friendship part. But Yuriika already had the friendship part. Reia had no intention of forsaking that friendship. But Yuriika was not interested. She wanted a more selfish kind of love, which so far in the show has been shown to be of the sexual kind.

    4. Whoa! I didn’t realize that the three male judges are called JudgeMen! Ha! Another wonderful pun. I was thinking that they were an allusion to the 3 weird sisters as in Macbeth–female witches who have beards and give unreliable prophesies with lies of omission that move actors to their doom.

    5. Kureha may be nothing more than a fragile human among bears but she is the one armed with a high powered bear ruiner. And she is also the judge of fates. Each of the three bears on the roof as well as the JudgeMen have maneuvered Kureha into passing judgment on the strength of faith and true love. Up to now Kureha, as a representation of potential love in one way or other, has been a manipulated ignorant sheltered object. Suddenly everyone awaits her judgment. Of course we too must wait–at least another week.

    6. In episode 8 my favorite gif moments would be when Yuriika peeks behind her when Reia first calls out to her, all those moments of joy shared between the two, and when Lulu slumps and makes a dejected gao as Ginko abandons her.

    7. Ginko might be the male in a relationship with Kureha. But even though Ginko and Yuriika are mirrors neither Yuriika nor Reia are male.

    8. Between the three heroines, Lulu is the willing third wheel of the potential love triangle. Yet she is my favorite. I don’t know what to make of her potentially having backstabbed her desire, Ginko.

    9. Every time I see the cabinet of boxes I think of a morgue. But the red-black color scheme keeps making me think that there is an implied pattern with the red part forming the bottom of a heart shape.

    10. My favorite revelation is the fact that Reia gave the star pendant to Ginko because it had actual real emotional value as proof of love/friendship for Reia. By handing over the pendant to the rejected Ginko, Reia wanted Ginko to have faith in Kureha’s love/fs just as Reia has faith in Yuriika’s love/fs. I love that Yuriika is so twisted she prefers to misunderstand Reia’s action and pass judgment without a hearing. That is tragedy kuma style! :D

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