Hey guys! So, this isn’t exactly a classic time stamp writeup, but I took a whole damn lot of pictures during the first episode of Bear Storm, and plenty of notes besides, and so I figured I might as well assemble what I do have. What writeups I eventually settle on is still an open question – I might actually be covering this show for ANN (you can check out my more structured thoughts on this episode over there), I might do my own writeups, or I might collapse in a heap if I try to do any more work than I’m currently doing. We live in a world of uncertainty.
I will say I loved this first episode, and that there’s plenty of rich stuff to dig into already, and that it’s clear that Ikuhara hasn’t given up on any of the stuff that makes his work so compelling. Watching an Ikuhara show feels like some kind of thematic symphony – different repeating refrains and meaning-infused symbols all flow past each other and reflect on one another, the variant ideas charging all of his points with the depth of interconnectedness that only narrative can achieve. It’s a hell of a ride. Let’s run this first episode down!
Opens with “Yuri” and the bears. The first shot is of a speakerphone with birds on top of it – obvious symbols of control and freedom
Ikuhara’s shows always let the imagery do so much of the talking. They assume you’re keeping up, that you’re learning the language as quickly as he establishes it
This first shot of the girls as tiny in the face of the building. Again, immediately purposeful visual storytelling – the human players are dwarfed by the systems that surround them
Everyone’s being announced with “Yuri”
Musical trills. It’s always a stage play
“I think we can be together here without anyone seeing us.” Alright, so they’re already held down by some system
“I’ll never back down on my love.” I’m going to love this show
KUMA SHOCK omg
And those bear-paw hexagons. Hm
So the sirens are there to “protect them from the bears.”
“We hated you from the beginning… and loved you from the beginning, too. And so we wanted to cross the wall, and become true friends.”
“Never Back Down On Love.” And the ornate title cards, and everything. Why doesn’t Ikuhara direct every show
The planet “Kumalia” exploded and made bears start attacking!
The “Wall of Severance”. Severance, huh?
“Guess what, human rules don’t work on bears! Gao!” The show is basically making fun of its own sense of unreality. “Bears do what bears do” is the extent of the explanation for any of the real-world physics of its storytelling – the real-world physics could not be less important. The signifier “bear” has some emotional import, and Ikuhara isn’t above making it clear that you shouldn’t give a damn about the physical “bear-ness” of that signifier instead of seeking its emotional truth.
That background is also gorgeous. Love this world under construction. People always building walls.
They disguised themselves as humans… somehow…
Alright, so the short-haired bear is Ginko
All the backgrounds look like they’re painted in three coats of lighting. Wavy lines through everything, gorgeous background designs
And all the dialogue is just oral sex jokes. Of course it is
That background construction is such a wonderfully inescapable part of the show architecture
Seems like the narrative will have them stealing each others’ lovers. Maybe those are what the walls are reflective of?
The flowers of their garden being snipped
“The Invisible Storm will destroy everything, until we’re worn away into nothing.”
Their classmate, Yurizono – class representative. She volunteers to help fight the Invisible Storm
“It’s just cruel to cut down flowers in full bloom.”
The jackhammer of their teeth is great
Lovely shot. The colors are wonderful
Lulu’s having fun. Ginko’s on a mission
Kureha’s mother was stolen by bears. Efficient storytelling!
Oh no, Sumika was eaten by bears!
“That’s why we need friends.” “It’s her fault for not being invisible. To the bears, we’re just weak prey. We have to stay in the herd.” Peg that stands up gets hammered down, etc. This early in the show, our protagonists aren’t strong enough to counter the idea of invisibility being a virtue.
Ikuhara shows make me hungry. Hungry for THEMES
“This is a challenge from the Wall of Severance. If your love is real, go to the roof.”
The music’s great
Bears judging bears at bear court
These are the first men we’ve seen in the entire show, and somehow they get to decide what is sexy. Playing both prosecution and defense. Dunno if the show’s even going in that direction, but it’s there.
“Will you be invisible? Or will you eat humans?” ‘Invisible’ cropping up again. As in the classroom and at the beginning of the episode. From Nanami’s “I need to be a star” to the child broiler to here, Ikuhara is always obsessed with who society sees and who society looks away from.
One last beautiful, ominous shot. Can’t escape the walls. Might as well be the student council tower
Yeah, plenty to unpack in that first episode, but there’s already a few prominent threads. Classic Ikuhara themes are coming up once again – adolescence and identity, invisibility and society’s eye, sexuality and self-love. It’s dense and fast and ridiculous, and I’m excited to see where it goes from here!