Yuri Kuma Arashi – Episode 4

TIME FOR THE BEAR STORM! Also time for the actual storm, as New England is about to get hit by a crazy snow storm and I’m just sitting here like an idiot. Hopefully I can finish the bear storm before the other storm kills my power.

Anyway! Last episode cleared up a whole bunch of stuff regarding the invisible storm, along with giving us some necessary character elaboration for Kureha. We’ve still got a ways to go on the character front, but things are coming together. Incidentally, I ran into this great blog post on a recent Ikuhara interview, which contains lots of interesting details on Ikuhara’s conflicted feelings on creating a show about/for women, his thoughts in selecting Bear Storm’s character designer, and much else. The struggle of making a piece that’s true to an experience you don’t have personal insight into is always a tough one, but Ikuhara’s clearly approaching this with all the help he can find.

But enough about that, it’s time for bears!

Episode 4

0:52 – Backstory time! Jeez these backgrounds are lovely

Yuri Kuma Arashi

1:04 – An unanswerable question

1:17 – So by making her a human girl, she’s allowed love but not kisses. Seems simple enough – while human girls are allowed to express “pure love,” only bears can express physical affection, which damns them in the court’s eyes. You’re judged for loving in socially unacceptable or unsanitized ways, just like with the invisible storm

Also interesting to note that it’s apparently the court which allows bears to even pretend to be girls

1:34 – A problem for the ages

2:32 – This shot in the OP, where kissing makes Ginko and Kureha burst into flowers, now makes some sense

Yuri Kuma Arashi

3:12 – Aaand now they’re in bear form. Alright then

3:25 – Goddamnit these bears

3:44 – And now they’re telling a story directly to the audience and commenting on their own appearance. Alright Ikuhara

4:03 – As always, Ikuhara loves his ornate framing devices, self-aware stagecraft, and use of classic fable tropes. Fables are a good way of articulating society’s expectations – they demonstrate what is accepted knowledge, what children are supposed to internalize

4:30 – So now bears are being framed as an actual race. But this is Life Sexy’s story, so…

Yuri Kuma Arashi

4:39 – Hey Lulu. And that red star again, which is apparently a bee? And Lulu is the princess, not Ginko – but Ginko’s colors are red

5:01 – Great hats for the bears in waiting

5:43 – Very nice

5:50 – Bad news, Lulu. You’re about to be replaced by your star-brother

6:10 – Yep

Yuri Kuma Arashi

6:15 – YEP. Lulu you’re the best

6:23 – oh my god


7:08 – And the bee defends Lulu from Life Sexy

7:26 – Oh my god Lulu your face

Yuri Kuma Arashi

7:35 – Talking about picture books as propaganda within a picture book within the show. “Real love becoming stars” – so far, all we know of stars is that they fell and the bears rose up. And also that Prince Mirun is himself a star, possibly?

7:54 – True love turns to stars. Stars turn into “Promise Kisses.” Kissing and love are incompatible. Kureha wants the “Promise Kiss,” and also insists that her love is the real thing. Maybe the “Promise Kiss” is the only kiss that’s compatible with love according to the rules?

8:46 – DESIRE. This show has the best catchphrases

8:52 – I like the bear tree on the right

Yuri Kuma Arashi

9:11 – Oh My God

9:31 – The world’s pretty fickle, Lulu

9:48 – Another shot from the intro given some context. And another symbol to keep in mind. Bears love honey, which I’d guess would make it a sign of unaccepted, physical desire – which would make sense, given Ginko and Lulu seem to lick honey off Kureha

10:39 – MIRUN STOP

10:59 – This episode is amazing

Yuri Kuma Arashi

11:06 – So good. Mirun vs Antlion, Mirun wins


11:36 – I can’t imagine why this show doesn’t have universal appeal

12:25 – A complicated feeling. It’s not his fault society decided he would oppress his sister simply by existing

12:58 – Now that the fairy tale’s over, it’s time to return to our regular scheduled show, where a bear is currently cooking porridge

Yuri Kuma Arashi

13:32 – Quit stressing the small stuff, Kureha

14:04 – We’ve finally arrived. We’re past the introductory stuff now, and so the characters can actually just talk honestly with each other

14:30 – Obviously “eating” is a charged term etc etc

15:30 – And the judgemens take the place of visiting princes, all vying for the right to control the princess

15:40 – They’re like pick-up artists. What shallow surface affectation is the correct way to woo a lady?

Yuri Kuma Arashi

16:29 – Oh my god, the details in this room are so great. Of course Lulu plays guitar

16:34 – Ain’t got time for that shit

17:02 – The Promise Kiss can’t really be thrown away, because the Promise Kiss as an object is far less important than the person who will continuously seek it

17:39 – A wonderful storybook moment

17:50 – “If you forget what you’ve lost, you really will lose it.” A straight echo of last episode’s reflections on Kureha losing her memories of Surika. Life is a long progression of losing things, and a belief in love isn’t stolen all at once – it’s lost over time, worn down by the erosion of a society that will always disagree with your personal identity

Yuri Kuma Arashi

18:28 – And now bees killed Mirun

18:46 – And here it makes perfect sense. She hates what society makes him to her (a valued oppressor, someone who wipes out her existence), but loves him as a brother just the same

19:12 – Great shot

19:53 – She “got love” from… Kureha? In the past?

21:38 – Man, this sequence is so good. The music’s perfect, and it’s such an appropriate storybook ending

Yuri Kuma Arashi

21:56 – Entrusting Ginko with her hopes. A very Utena choice

22:23 – Beautiful

23:04 – Ah, of course. Linked through her mother

And Done

Oh man, such a good episode! I think that was easily the best episode so far – Lulu’s a ton of fun to follow, the whole story with her brother was adorable and hilarious and still reflective of the show’s big ideas, and the characters are finally coming into focus as people. And that ending was so great! The song did a lot of heavy lifting, but it was just a triumphant moment in general. This show’s always been really smart and interesting, but I think it’s finally developing the emotional resonance it was lacking. Good times ahead!

7 thoughts on “Yuri Kuma Arashi – Episode 4

  1. Yeah, this was a great episode. I felt so sorry for Mirun!

    One of the major things I still don’t get is the meteor shower and what exactly it’s supposed to represent.

    To me, it seemed like the talk about true love turning into stars, which turn into promised kisses when the fall to earth was commentary on notions of love. On the one hand, as a society there’s definitely this idea of love as something magical, powerful, awe-inspiring, hard-to-reach thing, like stars when we look up at the night sky (it’s also an entirely positive depiction). And then, if you actually find love, it’s in the form of a promised kiss, which sounds very predetermined, like it HAS to be a certain way. All of that is very fairy tale-esque.

    But on the other hand, actual love is a lot like the first half, plus its negative aspects and not nearly as clean-cut, and it can be difficult to find, and even more difficult to maintain. So it seems like that whole scene is both a criticism and an acknowledgement and understanding of the general societal notion of love all at once.

    I also really liked how the servant bears’ hats/caps were designed, with a thick veil coming out of the “mouth” of the hat. Along with the general fairy tale setting, it really helped convey the stuff about societal expectations and how pretty much everyone only saw Lulu and Mirun as their expected roles. The servants were effectively blind, so they just assumed things like Mirun’s death being an accident because OF COURSE no princess would do that to her brother, indirectly or otherwise. It was ironically hilarious (and kinda sad) when the servant literally says she saw Mirun’s accidental death with her own eyes, yet that’s impossible.

    • Yeah, love’s a weird one in this show and in Ikuhara shows in general. There’s always a clear distance between the socially defined concept of love and love as a lived experience, and so it seems unlikely we should trust basically anything the fairy-tale storytelling puts forward as an idea of “what love is supposed to be.” Where that leaves us as far as how love actually works, I think we probably need a bit more context to guess.

  2. great episode, the only thing i didnt really get was the symbolism behind the hornet. What does it actually represent, besides Lulu’s self defense? Whats its connection to the honey?

    • I’m not sure myself. It seemed tied to Lulu’s pride and power, and they certainly highlighted it often enough for it to seem important, but the connection between it, the honey, and Mirun’s death didn’t quite come together for me.

  3. Here’s my take. The bee portrays the duality of her love/hate relationship (“I hated you from the beginning and I must have love you from the beginning too”) The bee’s sting is a dangerous embodiment of Lulu’s pride that eventually leads to Mirun’s death, but the bee also turns into a star, a sign of real love. On a similar note, Kureha’s mother showed Ginko love and her necklace is star-shaped. Anyway, thinking about the symbols fundamentally: bees protect honey (also a sign of love). Thus, the bee circles around Lulu and people who bring her honey (“sparkly and the same color as a star”) like Mirun and Ginko.

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