Yuri Kuma Arashi – 09

yuri91

The cutting-out of the dialogue (not to mention taking a week off!) was certainly irritating in a “Goddamn It I Wanna Know What Happens!” kind of way. But I was confident when Yurikuma  returned, much would be revealed, including the contents of the conversation that led to Kureha shooting Ginko off the roof, to the delight of Yuriika, who’d manipulated both Kureha and Lulu against Ginko.

yuri92

What is revealed is not entirely surprising, which is to say it makes sense based on everything that’s come before…which is good! Kureha shoots Ginko, but doesn’t kill her. Ginko ends up in “the center of the sky that divides the worlds of the moon and forest,” in other words, limbo.

Her wounds are tended to by someone that appears to be the late Yurizono Mitsuko, but is really(/also) the manifestation of Desire, the surrender to which has governed the actions of many a girl and bear alike on this show.

With Desire’s help, we explore the particulars of grave crime Ginko committed, which as suspected was not the direct killing or eating of Sumika, but the act of doing nothing to stop it despite having the power to do so.

yuri93

Ironically, Ginko had the perfect opportunity to stop Sumika’s demise when she found her hairpin on the ground. The last time Sumika lost that pin, it was Kureha who found it, which led to their friendship and eventually far more. For Ginko to have come so far to reunite with Kureha, only to find she had given her love to another while she was away, created a crack in Ginko’s heart, more than large enough for Desire to slip in. Her desire for Kureha at any cost kept her from warning Sumika, and led to her murder.

yuri94

Getting shot was punishment not just for letting Sumika get eaten, but abandoning Lulu, whom Ginko knew loved her but abandoned her anyway, at a crucial moment. That allowed Yuriika to create a wedge between them. Lulu’s revelation that Ginko was an accomplice in Sumika’s death, along with a very guilty Ginko’s admission that she killed Sumika, period, caused Kureha to fire.

As Ginko heals, Desire isn’t quite done with her, nor she with Desire, who disrobes and “becomes one” with her. The red spark in Ginko’s eye suggests Kureha’s bullet (whether it’s a love bullet or not more on that later), has only heightened Ginko’s desire for her. Being deprived of that which one desires can twist a person, as we clearly see with “Bride-in-a-Box” Yuriika.

yuri95

As Kureha’s class, now led by Chouko Oki, prepares to vote on whom they believe to be the bear residing among them, flouting social cues and eating them, we find that Kureha’s exclusion seems to have been commuted for the time being.

As Life Sexy creepily spies on two girls going at it in the nurse’s office, he states that the girls’ exclusion of what they deem to be “evils”—be they bears or girls—is a ritual that bands them together and gives them a sense of connection. Desire is not merely an individual vice, nor a collective vice; but also a potentially destructive yet effective means of forming communities and societies.

yuri96

Recognized as a victim of the bears they believe she’s already been too friendly with, Kureha’s peers offer Kureha a chance to re-enter the fold, by voting Ginko the bear among them, which will undoubtedly lead to a concerted hunt. But now that she’s had time to cool off, Kureha isn’t so sure Ginko deserves to be “ruined.”

Despite Yuriika’s warning about the wearer of the pendant and Lulu’s snitching, Kureha knows it was Yurizono, not Ginko, who killed Sumika. Far from being ready to deliver a guilty verdict, she’s desperate to learn the whole truth. Up on that roof, flanked by Yuriika and Lulu, there was neither physical nor emotional room for elucidation. Heck, even Ginko didn’t give Kureha the chance to forgive her, preferring to take the bullet as punishment for her sins.

yuri97

But Desire isn’t wrong when she says everyone in the world sins at some point in their life to achieve or gain something they desire. Everything is up for grabs; it takes desire to identify what you want and take it, which means others will go without. It’s what Reia did when she gave her love to Kureha instead of Yuriika. It’s what Kureha did when she gave her love to Sumika instead of Ginko. And it’s what Ginko did when she gave her love to Kureha instead of Lulu, and let Yurizono eat Sumika. (Whew…Still with us?)

Interestingly, the Judgemens, perched dramatically upon girders overlooking the city, observe everyone below them with a distinct neutrality and their own desire to see how things shake out. They approved Ginko and Lulu’s plans of action, but before them they also approved Yuriika’s. All, as they say, shall be as Kumaria wills it.

yuri98

When Kureha rushes to the lily bed, lured by a call from Yuriika posing as Life Sexy (a nice inclusion of specific modern technology in an otherwise very elemental story), she can’t find Ginko, I got the distinct feeling that anything could happen, not knowing Kumaria’s particular will any more than the Judgemens.

Yuriika comes so very close to putting Kureha “in the box that is her,” but it would seem her own Desire betrayed her. Eating Reia didn’t fill the emptiness inside her, because at that point Reia had already given her love to Kureha.

yuri99

So for years, Yuriika kept her true nature secret from everyone and waited as Kureha, the box that contained Reia’s love grew up. But in her hour of victory, Yuriika suddenly becomes incredibly reckess, and falls victim to her own food source: Kureha’s classmates, on Full Bear Alert ever since Kureha shot Ginko.

I have to say, to have so much go right for Yuriika by the end of previous episode, only to snatch it all away due to what amounts to overzealousness, actually ends up making Yuriika a tragic figure; as much an unfortunate victim of Desire as Ginko risks becoming.

yuri910

That tragedy is driven home in Yuriika’s final moments, as she apologizes to her beloved Reia, and confesses that she stole and locked away the ending to her book, which contains the rightful future for Kureha and Ginko. As Yuriika passes away, Reia assures her they’ll be friends forever…even if that friendship only goes so far.

Interestingly, while Reia is portrayed as an almost angelic if not Virgin Mary-esque figure throughout Yuriika’s end; the very Kumaria who determines the future of others, one could also interpret Reia as a mere hallucination, as it’s actually Kureha she’s talking to. Thus, Kureha is able to find the rest of her mother’s story, but like last week, Yurikuma only reveals so much in one episode.

The “impossible future” Kureha has uncovered, and the consequences of Ginko absorbing Desire, will have to wait until at least next week.

9_ses

Advertisements

Author: sesameacrylic

Zane Kalish is a staff writer for RABUJOI.

6 thoughts on “Yuri Kuma Arashi – 09”

  1. I have mixed feelings about this episode and my ambivalence is related to my sense that YURI KUMA should be 2 coeur. If the OP/ED is anything to go by then I can accept that the story is not about any of the other girls outside of the trio of Kareha, Ginko, and Lulu. Still, I am offended and disappointed that Yuriika met a fate similar to those other disposal pretty girls we hang out with briefly but are quickly kicked aside.

    Sure we experience mixed feelings about Yuriika’s misguided evil and her fall but it happens so rapidly that I am left with mere superficial regret. If Yuriika is a tragic figure, it’s of shallow depth. We hardly knew her except in shorthand and it’s silly to attribute tragedy to a tale told mostly in montage.

    I get that the story is told through metaphor/allusion/allegory-building. But even here it is the human aspect that connects emotionally to the audience and puts convincing meat onto the airy abstract stuff. And it seems obvious to me where more fleshing out could have taken place. There should have been greater emphasis on and number of scenes establishing a more complex relationship between Yuriika and Kareha before Yuriika is killed off. Instead the Yuriika of the relationship we get is as a stuffy mentor/counsel/confidant/slain mother’s friend. It is an emotionally cool detached role better suited to create mystery and suspense at the beginning of the anime than to advance the dramatic potential at the middle of it.

    Yes, Yuriika really really hated Kureha. But Kureha is also much like the beloved Reia to Yuriika. There was a lot of potential ground here to explore. But, no. Yuriika dies just as we are getting to know her and we are ushered off to discover the next mystery before the episode is even over. There could have been a more meaningful fall but emotionally Kureha is already moving on and so do we.

    Yuriika is the most interesting character so far. She carried much dramatic and tragic potential. But her full use as an asset to the story seems to have been needlessly wasted.

    Yes, basically I am whining over something that happened in some erotic girly anime. Episode 8 should have been S1 coeur ending episode 13. Episode 9 should have been S2 opener episode 14. Waah waah! It’s just that I was unexpectedly blown away when I saw Mawaru and am still hoping for a similar emotional payoff here. Comparing this to Mawaru is unfair. But when you consider that Ikuhara makes an anime about once a decade, it should be understandable when your expectations get screwy.

    I have mixed feelings about this episode, yes, but enjoyed it nonetheless.

    1. I half agree about Yurrika’s quick exit. It did feel abrupt for a ‘final boss’ but it also messes with our expectations, shows the danger of weaponizing a social group so completely against your own (secret) life choice/identity, and avoids dragging out a battle that may be less important than the battle to come between the 3 lovers. (One of which is poisoned by pink-eyed-lust)

      Ultimately, YuriKuma’s use or recycling and repeating imagery would make a 2nd coeur risky. Maybe 2-4 more episodes to help intertwine and flesh out the show’s villains would have worked but a second coeur would have to pad a whole lot more than that… and 8 padded episodes is a lot to ask us to sit through.

      We probably would sit through it though… I mean, this is miles more interesting (even just for wacky style and music) that most shows most seasons. It’s certainly the most stylish and reliable this season, if not the best.

      1. Nice point, Oji-san. As well-rendered and tragic a character as Yuriika ended up becoming–light years from your typical leering villain we loathe so much here at RABUJOI, Yuriika trapped herself in a box of her own making by cultivating a culture of suspicion and predation. I still maintain that while I’d sit through a second cour, fleshing Yuriika out more so her ultimate demise is a little more impactful isn’t enough to justify twelve more episodes, especially since one of this show’s merits (at least to me) has been its brisk and steady pace of storytelling. One could certainly brain(or bear)storm other things a second cour could cover, but at the end of the day the story is being stretched.

        Also, as a practical matter, we have a very full Spring season coming up, to be followed by a likely just-as-full Summer and even-more-full Fall after that. RABUJOI is committed to reviewing not just good anime, but as much different anime as it can, and there are only so many hours in a day to watch and review it all. With all that in mind, the fewer carryovers from Winter to Spring and so on, the better. It’s not that I’m expecting certain shows to surpass Yurikuma, but I won’t know that until I sit down and watch them, and the more time not occupied by carryovers, the better.

        Yuriika’s demise here in the ninth episode seems to suggest this will be one-cour-and-done, and I think I’m okay with that. That opinion might change depending on how the final three episodes fare.

  2. (Here is much shorter version.)

    1. I do not consider Ikuhara’s 2 coeur PENGUINDRUM to be blighted with fillers. So I think he is capable of avoiding that if that is a concern. I do not think we should assume that KUMA would have had fillers if there had been a serious attempt at character development and over more episodes.

    2. From your replies I think I see where you two are coming from. You like the abstract surreal conceptual direction of this anime–as do I. Taken as such, KUMA has a concise, spare, and focused feel. I do note your concern that this focused direction may be harmed by greater character development. I just happen to disagree.

    3. Rightly or wrongly, I came to KUMA wanting to get the same kind of fix I felt as I marathoned through PENGUINDRUM. A fundamental source of pleasure in PENGUINDRUM is in the way it slowly reveals how the lives of the major characters have somehow become intertwined by an incidence of mass murder that occurred years before the show takes place. Well, KUMA has something similar in Yuriika’s tale. Further, KUMA also offers pleasure in the ways it reveals how some characters relate to others, just as in PENGUINDRUM.

    But PENGUINDRUM draws strength in taking the time to explore how most of the important characters struggle against and ultimately accept each other in their mutually entangled–and for some, doomed–fates.

    But in KUMA, not all characters can be reconciled. And as the number of important characters in KUMA is fewer, the fact that some relationships will not even be explored means that there is not that suffocating tangle in the relationships in KUMA that offered so much pleasure in PENGUINDRUM. And yet even so, there is not much exploration at all when the anime does go exploring. This is because there is not the time to do so in 1 coeur.

    So in comparison to the richly drawn out relationships from the previous anime, relationships in KUMA generally feel less substantive. As a result, the quality of the emotional stakes involved in KUMA end up feeling inferior than what I experienced in PENGUINDRUM. For instance, I was significantly stricken by Himari’s near death at the end of S1 of PENGUINDRUM in a way I did not feel at Yuriika’s actual death in KUMA. And I don’t know that that had to be that way. More generally, I think that viewers feel greater anxiety and empathy for the poor girls and boys of PENGUNDRUM than for anyone in KUMA. In this way I think that this focused style of storytelling is harming the dramatic potential of KUMA.

Comments are closed.