Yuri Kuma Arashi – Episode 7

So Ginko really is a criminal-bear after all. I’m definitely a fan of how knowing she watched Sumika die (or “die”) complicates her character. It was a heartless act, and clearly reflective of how selfish her interpretation of love is, but it’s far from an irredeemable action. Ikuhara shows are full of characters with selfish or violent streaks that are nonetheless also full of humanity, and it wouldn’t be satisfying to see characters triumph if they didn’t start off in positions of great personal weakness. Ginko and Kureha each have their own forms of weakness, and with so much of Yuri Kuma’s worldbuilding secrets already revealed, I’m hoping the second half will spend some time building each of them back up. Let’s get to the gao gao.

Episode 7

0:49 – More lovely backgrounds, fairytales, stars. The significance of the star is one of the few variables that still seems kinda vague to me – it’s Ginko and Kureha’s mother’s necklace, it was tied to Lulu’s brother’s birth, and it seems associated with the Promise Kiss. And then there was “true love becomes a star” from that Lulu episode. So I guess I just answered my own question

Yuri Kuma Arashi

1:01 – Yeah, let’s just say that outright. Also a very nice image

1:11 – A planetarium, a false sea of stars. Shades of Utena

4:03 – Perfect. There’s really only one person this mystery bear can be. Which makes it seem very possible that the teacher was the one who devoured Kureha’s mother

5:24 – Ginko just can’t stop trying to possess Kureha

6:15 – Not leaving much room for debate here. “Search for what you want, and then accept me.” She doesn’t really sound any different from Lulu’s suitors

I like how the pink ribbon of the necklace is being used as a red ribbon of fate here, and also as a kind of binding device

Yuri Kuma Arashi

6:52 – Well that sure makes this ambiguous

7:01 – Like in the Ginko-Kureha scene several episodes ago, the show uses Kureha and Lulu’s relative positions in the frame to visually signify Lulu pressing against Kureha’s personal space

8:06 – So was Ginko excluded and over time forgotten entirely? That would fit with how the show continuously returns to the idea that things you have lost will eventually be forgotten, and thus the importance of remembering and not giving up on them

8:43 – Throw a friend a birthday party and this is the thanks you get

9:11 – So was the teacher also involved in Ginko’s disappearance, then? Perhaps Ginko saw her crime

Yuri Kuma Arashi

9:44 – Obviously “friend” is a charged word in this story, considering how unwilling Kureha was to accept any friend but Sumika

9:49 – Nice, Funimation

Also on the bad subs note, apparently “Kumalia” is also a crap translation, which is a shame. Overtly tying this show to the idea of the idolized virgin woman is a natural fit, both in how its overall society seems to value women and in how Ginko seems to idolize Kureha without understanding her. It reflects the way culture kind of poisons us against ourselves in a way similar to Utena’s priorities

10:37 – But that’s enough about how Yurikuma’s wordplay reflects on societal oppression, here’s a bear shaved ice machine

Yuri Kuma Arashi

10:59 – So here we go. Kumalia as sacred feminine

11:05 – Aw. More fairy tale mythbuilding

11:18 – Oh my god these bully bears

11:49 – So even the bears exclude. Bearsville is kind of a vague metaphorical idea except when it’s also an actual place full of bears

11:59 – So this makes a lot of sense. As I said before, Ginko’s actions seem reflective of someone who’s internalized the way this world works as the only route to her goals

Yuri Kuma Arashi

12:18 – Lovely background. This show’s colors are wonderful

12:50 – More lovely styles. Really hammering the religious imagery, but with the star as the icon instead of the cross

13:21 – Those rejected by the system become its guardians. Also putting the small-scale rejection of the invisible storm on a larger scale

13:32 – So each side excludes the other. The important thing is that there is an “Other” to fear and shun

13:47 – Oh my god

Yuri Kuma Arashi

13:49 – Well that sure is something

14:10 – And of course the entire human army is young girls

14:24 – This sequence is great. The element of this world that’s the most vague and visually busy gets told in this absurd and ambiguous but evocative style

14:44 – Not the first time Lady Kumalia has convinced a lot of desperate people to kill a lot of other desperate people

15:45 – Reading a picture book within the stage frame. Oh Ikuhara

Yuri Kuma Arashi

19:36 – So I guess we know almost everything now. All that’s really left is Kureha’s mother’s death and Ginko’s banishment, which I’m guessing are pretty closely linked

21:52 – I like how this sequence still has a faint horror movie vibe to it

24:15 – Welp, looks like it’ll be a brief honeymoon

And Done

Well, there’s more of Ginko’s story. Honestly didn’t really enjoy this episode as much as the last several – the stuff about bear society added some nice reflections to the show’s ideas on exclusion and what leads people to become who they are, but the overall episode felt like a bit too slow of a march towards a known conclusion. It felt a little more somber than it needed to be, lacking the color of four or five or the tension of six. That’s not a real problem, since we needed all this stuff anyway, but still, worth mentioning. And I’m happy for the story to have finally arrived at Ginko and Kureha’s actual reunion!

7 thoughts on “Yuri Kuma Arashi – Episode 7

  1. There is some additional wordplay that was brought up in the /r/anime thread on last weeks episode, in case anyone missed it. If you reverse the letters of Suki (love) you get Kisu (kiss). There is a similar mirroring in the words for ‘honey’ and ‘sin’.

    This seems interesting with the imagery if the bear and human world (or the forest and sky world) being divided by a mirror.

  2. I don’t often find myself defending Funi, but how does one “mistranslate” a made-up word written in Kana? In retrospect, Kumaria would have been a better romanization choice, but how were they to know? I don’t know if it is intentional, but the word is also suspiciously close to “camellia.”

  3. Thanks for mentioning that, Saynay!

    Luckily, I watched non-FUNi subs for the first episode, so I was exposed to the “Kumaria” translation (and the religious connotation) from the get-go. I’m honestly surprised that FUNi would screw that up, since I’d think they’d have access to the Japanese materials, or at least to a person who could clarify things for them. Hopefully it gets corrected on the home release.

    With that, though, even though the most recent “version” of Kumaria we’ve been exposed to is Lady Kumaria, it’s also the name of the asteroid that exploded. I’m still not really sure what that means, and at this point my only (tentative) thoughts on it are that it exploding, and the bears rising up as a result, is a metaphor for religion gradually losing influence since the middle ages, which opened up greater possibility for people who aren’t hetero-normative sexually to outwardly express themselves as such. It also seems to work equally well if you take the bears as a metaphor for people who indulge in their impulses and desires, rather than (or in addition to) lesbians, because the church espouses strong views against indulgence in general.

    I find it really interesting that the star imagery was associated so strongly with the bear church and Kumaria. In previous episodes, it’s been associated with ideas of true (or real) love through the Promise Kiss and fairy tales. If the fairy tales in Yurikuma are keeping true to how Ikuhara used fairy tales subversively in Utena (I haven’t seen Penguindrum so I don’t know if it does the same thing), it would go a long way to confirming your (Bobduh’s) suspicions from a few episodes back about not taking all of these notions of love at face value.

    It could also turn out to be really tragic, because it might mean that the book that Kureha’s mom wrote to presumably teach her daughter about other options besides those taught by the rest of society was inadvertently led astray by her lopsided understanding of Kumaria (she learned it from Ginko, who was led to idolize Lady Kumaria through the bear church, which we know to be underhandedly and secretly manipulative and vicious).

    The one thing I’m still the most unsure about is why all the humans are girls. If bears = lesbians, then why are the Judgmens, Mirun, and Lulu’s dad male (I can guess at plausible reasons for the Judgmens being men, but I’m having a hard time with the other two; though, maybe the fact that they’re royalty could explain it…I’m still coming up empty there)? And if bears can be male, why are all the bears in Ginko’s past in bear-land female?

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