Yuri Kuma Arashi – Episode 3

Time for more gay bears! I did an absurd megapost for last week’s episode, and that’s not sustainable, but I should be able to keep up reasonably-sized writeups on this thing. I mean, it’s really up to Ikuhara, I suppose – I feel like I’ve got a decent handle on the flower/bird/bear imagery at the moment, but who knows where we’ll be five episodes from now. All that we’ve seen up til now could very well be a clever trap, and the bears will end up being representative of late capitalism instead of societally villainized sexuality. Stranger things have happened.

But no use theorizing on how exactly this show will make me look dumb in the future. Let’s get to the bears!

Episode 3

1:00 – I like the phrasing of this. “Our only line of defense” emphasizes how thin and arbitrary the line between girl and bear is

Yuri Kuma Arashi

1:08 – As their names are called, the spotlight removes the birds that previously covered them. They’re no longer invisible, but are they also no longer birds? In last week’s episode, the birds specifically avoided covering all the girls that episode would reveal as bears – we still don’t know exactly how metaphorical the “being eaten” is for characters outside of Kureha

1:29 – Ikuhara sure does like pointing at his own symbolism

1:31 – Emphasizing that the power of this society lies in the ability of group consensus to maintain conformity. People are most safe from bears in the group, where they are most invisible and least likely to deviate in word or deed

2:01 – Mitsuko makes for a pretty great evil temptress bear

Yuri Kuma Arashi

2:15 – Yeah, she’s great

4:38 – Nice new set, appropriately set at the corner of the school’s triangle. And the teacher knew Kureha’s mother, Reia

4:55 – Everyone is gay

5:05 – Interesting. Does the flowerbed represent a third way, outside of the bear/bird paradigm?

5:09 – “Special memories” for a “special friend”

Yuri Kuma Arashi

5:13 – Love the lighting and framing of this closeup

5:18 – I don’t trust you, teacher lady

6:09 – Classic trick of those who cheat the system getting the most use out of it

6:26 – Black lillies. Mitsuko can’t help herself

6:31 – Laughed out loud at this. Goddamnit Ikuhara

Yuri Kuma Arashi

6:46 – So the bears just hang out and play games out back during the day. Sure, makes sense

6:57 – Someone pointed out in the comments last week that Kureha’s house is actually the Bates house from Psycho

7:09 – I love these bears. This is the best horror movie

7:30 – Ginko don’t give a shit

7:54 – The girls are learning about the crusades. Different directions you could take that, though “long, artificially inspired war against assumed cultural villains” works well enough

Yuri Kuma Arashi

8:20 – Wonderful image. The eraser she gave her getting smaller in her hand. Losing someone is a terrible thing, and then losing the markers of them over time, be they objects or memories, is a second tragedy

8:58 – Yep

9:43 – It seems their love wasn’t violent like the bears’ lust, but still wasn’t accepted. It’s good we’re getting these character moments for both of them – it initially felt weird that we didn’t have nearly enough time to understand Kureha’s feelings before the story began, but we’re getting it now

10:12 – Well that sounds pretty ominous

Yuri Kuma Arashi

10:25 – This is quite the dystopia they’ve created. It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book – create the threat of an assumed “other,” and use that to enforce your own values and the necessity of preventative measures. Here in America, politicians use dog whistle terms like “the criminal element” or… actually, hell, you don’t even have to move the metaphor outside of gay rights to illustrate the ways modern politicians manipulate people to create an assumed “normal” perspective that furthers their personal goals

Not that this has to be the overt scheme of specific bad actors. This is also just how culture works, particularly conservative, communal cultures

10:35 – And yes, this will be on the test

10:54 – Ahahaha. Also wow, that was a really nicely animated phone-raising

10:57 – So is the invisible storm just the court of public approval itself? Makes sense, given “invisible” has already been defined as reflective of the accepted people

Yuri Kuma Arashi

11:05 – Nice image

11:34 – And there’s the spotlight again. They’ve decided you’re a bear whether you like it or not, Kureha!

13:15 – So of course Kureha goes out in a literal storm to protect Love

13:59 – Like the eraser, people are eventually ground down by the society that surrounds them. You can only fight a dominant culture for so long

14:15 – The bears being identified with immediate passion, unsurprisingly

Yuri Kuma Arashi

14:47 – Lulu saying the magic words. She definitely seems less driven by instinct than Ginko

15:46 – Confrontation on the high stage. Theater again


19:00 – And here we finally go

19:06 – “We’ll give you permission to act in socially unacceptable ways, but only on our terms. You’re still monsters.”

Yuri Kuma Arashi

19:09 – Lulu’s sad bear face

19:35 – Gets me every time

21:03 – This is a very deep show


21:35 – Great shot

Yuri Kuma Arashi

22:00 – And the background fades to the red-against-black of the ‘Kuma Shock’

22:37 – How civilized of them

And Done

Ahhhhhh great stuff. The first evil bear has been defeated, Ginko has resolve to protect Kureha, and hell if I know where we go from here. I didn’t expect so much to be resolved so fast – it seems like we already know what the invisible storm is, and the one real “antagonist” so far is likely dead. Kureha seems to have a bad habit of forgetting everything she learns about bears each episode, so I doubt she’ll be outright accepting of Ginko and Lulu next week, but it seems like they’re moving towards the same side ahead of schedule. AND NOBODY’S GIVING UP ON LOVE.

3 thoughts on “Yuri Kuma Arashi – Episode 3

  1. You know, I’m really not sure what I’m supposed to take away from this episode. Sad to see Mitsuko established as a fantastic villain and then swept aside in the space of twenty minutes (the part where she imitated Sumika genuinely got to me!); the whole Big Bad Wolf, all-the-better-to-eat-you fairytale vibe overlaid with horror tropes she had going on was something I really liked. But at the same time, what now? My guess is that the antagonist will shift to being the school as a whole or some other kind of institution; not only did Mitsuko’s bear form wear a school armband, but it was destroyed by Kureha’s shot. That, and the teacher is still one gigantic unknown who’s likely complicit on whatever’s going on (or at least not oblivious to it).

    I like that Ginko and Lulu seem to be growing as characters, though – they actually directly addressed the Bear Court this time around, and both the lawyers seemed shocked when the judge spoke to them directly. It’s also nice to see they have more distinct personalities: Ginko seems to be pursuing Kureha directly, while Lulu seems to be arguably more purehearted and acting more out of affection for Ginko and her wishes (which was also there in previous episodes: Ginko fixating on Kureha’s DELICIOUS SMELL while Lulu tries to get her attention). Honestly, I have no idea what’s going to happen next week and that kind of worries me, but I’m sure it’s going to be damn good regardless.

  2. Ikuhara always places his discussions of alternative lifestyles in the context of the court of public approval. With that in mind, I love his choice to set Yurikuma in a school. Japan’s history of sanctioning female homosexual behavior in adolescence, but nowhere else, clashes with Yurikuma’s refrain of not backing down on love in the face of exclusion and vilification. The court of the invisible in the school, who passes judgment through unilateral exclusion, also contrasts nicely with the Severance Court, who are more permissive on the whole but nevertheless demand total submission in exchange.

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