THE BEARS HAVE RETURNED. I am writing this piece in the midst of yet another actual storm, so once again, you may have to bear with me if stormclouds force me to paws the episode or something. Last episode was fantastic, and finally gave the show the sense of humor and humanity it was desperately needing – whatever else happens, we now at least know that Lulu is amazing. Hopefully this week will continue on the humanizing-this-cast theme, but who knows. The bear-filled sky is the limit.
0:52 – Welp, there’s one mystery solved. Kureha did indeed know Ginko as a child
1:09 – omg too adorable. A neat trick how the camera’s framing removes the truth of Ginko’s presence from history. History is often framed as reflective of the present’s prevailing narrative – if bears aren’t allowed to be friends with girls now, bears were never friends with girls
2:10 – Another intro shot explained
3:13 – Yeah, this is how we normally see that image. So has Kureha blacked out her bear-infused history because she blames them for her mother’s absence, then?
3:25 – Sorry Ginko, but you’re dreaming. Flustered lovebird Ginko is great though
4:08 – These weirdo bears
4:30 – All their staring classmates
5:01 – Nice shot and word choice
6:08 – So what’s the teacher’s game? She’s the instrument of this society’s system, regardless of what she says about Kureha’s mother. And the bird brooch…
6:15 – Reaaally loaded statement, considering the Japanese history of “you can fool around with other girls when you’re young, but eventually you must put away childish things”
7:08 – Is there a distinction between ‘not forgetting love’ and ‘not backing down on love’? It seems like you can “not forget” love while still accepting you will not be allowed to possess it
8:40 – WELP
10:21 – YEAAAH GO KUREHA. Nice to see the girls aren’t monsters – they’ve just been raised into instruments of a dehumanizing system
10:43 – These girls better step off
10:57 – omg. This show is too good
11:31 – Lulu trying to help Ginko make a meal for her crush. Yuri Kuma has arrived at a pretty comfortable, endearing place after the whirlwind first few episodes
11:47 – Goddamnit these bears. This episode is clearly more simple than last week’s, but I think I’m liking it just as much – these characters are just so endearing now that we’re actually into the swing of the narrative
12:35 – Ginko plz
13:11 – How can you say no to that face!
13:48 – Fairytale rules
14:28 – Oh my god that face
15:21 – Aw jeez, too tragic
16:02 – Well that seems… suspiciously portentous. Also, “I want you to always be smiling like that, like a flower” seems like a translation of “don’t let this place make a bird of you”
17:30 – Painting her accepting their friendship as Sumika’s wish. I DON’T TRUST ANYONE
18:07 – Nice pan
18:27 – Oh hey, Kureha smiling. Shame your new friends are about to be eaten by bears
18:46 – I KNEW IT THOSE ASSHOLES
19:05 – Imagine the girls in 2nd through 6th place. They must hate evil more than anyone. Fear of exclusion’s a pretty good way to enforce social order!
21:13 – GODDAMNIT THIS SHOW
21:36 – Feels like a Utena thought. There are many kinds of love
22:40 – Terrifying
22:44 – Ono Ginkoooo
Alright, I think we’re there. This episode wasn’t a step up in the way last week’s was, but it was totally comfortable with what it was, and just extremely warm and endearing all through. Lulu and Ginko are both very likable people at this point – this episode’s explication of Ginko’s past wasn’t nearly as full as Lulu’s, but Ginko sold herself through her silly pining for Kureha all episode. This show’s early issues largely came down to too fast pacing and too little emotional center – but at this point, both those issues have resolved themselves. Yuri Kuma’s just way too fun to watch, and I’m eager to see where it goes next.