After an asteroid explosion and meteor shower lit up the sky over planet earth, strange adorable bears began to attack and devour humans. The earthlings responded with violence of their own, and in the end, a massive barrier – the Wall of Extinction – was erected to separate man from bear. This fragile peace lasted until two high school girls encounter a yuri flower blooming – only to be shaken by the piercing warning of the Bear Alarm! Once again, bear and man - or bear and girl - will be pitted against each other in a deadly and mysterious showdown.
Yurikuma Arashi is an anime you really have to give a chance to envelop you, give it the full chance to let yourself enjoy it. It starts off fairly strange, characters you don't know, a plot line you get dumped into, very little explanation, and harldy any answers. Before you know it the answers are slowly unfurling before your eyes and you're sucked into the story, even if simply to find out what the heck is going on. Story: The story depicts love, friendship, inclusion, exclusion, and bias. It incorporates a lot of strong ideals in such a whimsical facade. Two old friends who are drawn to each other once more for the sake of finding true love; during the hardships of being excluded because of differences from the "herd" mentality. (I don't want to say too much for fear of ruining this for someone who has yet to watch) Animation: I wasn't entirely a fan of the animation style used in this anime. It's unique and effective for this type of show. It balances the weight of both the plot and the whimsical nature they tried to achieve. Sound: I found the music in this anime to be very pleasant. I rarely notice the music in whatever I watch, I found myself listening to the intro over and over instead of skipping ahead as I normally would. Characters: The characters are well developed and grow as the story progresses. They show real pain, passion, confusion, and anger. Overall: I'd reccomend this anime to friends of mine, I'd tell them to give it a shot. The story was well thought out, abeit confusing at times. The animation was pleasant enough. The sound was wonderful. The characters will make you love them and find yourself joining in their emotions. P.S. I found that this anime confused me to pieces and before I even realized it I had started to understand what was going on. As someone who hasn't always fit it, and who has been the "evil" to exclude I found it to be quite relatable. Give this show a chance and really keep your mind open to the plot that is sure to elude many under it's whimsical disguise.
It's been a while since Penguindrum (which I rather liked, though I don't understand the appeal of Revolutionary Girl Utena) and Ikuhara Kunihiko is finally back, this time with Yurikuma Arashi. One way to translate that title might be the completely nonsensical "lesbian bear storm." And such a title is nonsense because you have a hard time imagining someone making an anime (or anything, for that matter) about a raging tempest of bears and lesbians. However, that title actually isn't nonsense and pretty much describes the plot of the show- it's about a school full of girls (most of which are lesbians) + bears in a storm of bizarre events. Just to be clear, I don't have any sort of problem with the cast being lesbians... but surely even the most open-minded person would ask "hey: wtf?" Well, the creator (Ikuhara) has gone on record saying (paraphrasing) that he thinks typical boy-girl relationships overwhelm the rest of the plot. I might even buy that argument, except for a) Penguindrum did just fine and b) the rest of the plot that was left over by scrapping pretty much any male characters at all (except for one child) is pretty damn weak. The lesbian relationships don't have any interesting dynamics to them, they're just used as a vehicle to deliver up some stupendously raunchy girl-on-girl fanservice. I'm really not a fan of fanservice, but I generally don't care; it is what it is. However, Yurikuma tries to present itself as deep and full of complex metaphor. To really hammer in on the "metaphor" it takes two approches. The first is the kind of obvious metaphor that screams "HEY LOOK AT ME AND MY METAPHORICAL STUFF"... imagery like blooming flowers for sexuality and honey for innocent affection, things that make a 6th grade literature teacher salivate. That's one layer in the show, but the other tack taken in Yurikuma is the one that Ikuhara is really known for: weird, batshit crazy and vague. Yurikuma features a mountain of utterly bizarre imagery that seems to absolutely beg for interpretation. The problem is, I never got the sense that any of it was with any other purpose than to shovel in more things that are left open to interpretation. Open ended and interpretive plots can certainly work very well (look at Mushishi), but the best of those use vague imagery to lead the reader/viewer to deeper appreciation. It's a difficult style of storytelling and is a slippery slope, if you don't get it right then your story comes across as trying too hard to be "deep" and instead is just pretentious. It is a slippery slope that Yurikuma does a running leap into a backflip with a cartwheel to the sound of the 1812 Overture and cannon blasts right off of. The central plot is naught but the faintest, weakest thread, floating on top of an ocean of insanity. Many (most) elements of the plot are unbelievably vague, to the point that I'm not going to waste space with a synopsis. All this is wrapped up in so much random junk that is supposed to make it appear deep but, as I already said, it fails. So, does Yurikuma do anything right? Well, it's pretty. The animation has a pretty distinctive style and I really like the way colors and backgrounds are used. Also, the music and sound are fairly nice. The writing is also somewhat clever in places and there's lots of memorable/catchy dialogue (my favorite: "Shabadadoooo"). These are also some of the same things I liked about Mawaru Penguindrum, but it's just missing the plot, and characters and... well a lot. Penguindrum was also plenty vague and strange, but I felt like it was much more cohesive and well-conceived. As it stands, it's been a while since that show aired and I think you'd be much better off just watching that again instead of watching Yurikuma Arashi. This show was a big disappointment.
Yurikuma is a surprisingly practical reflection of the real world. In contrast the story is told in an obscure way. Any reserved viewer is sure to utter "WTF?!" at least once. The whimsical images are purely symbolic and every piece of the story is made ready to be applicated to our own lives. At face level YKA is truly befitting the title Weird As Fuck. However, that's not to say the show isn't a masterpiece. These dancing, human-eating bears do not lie to us. Pain is neccessary in overcoming adversity and we see our heroines suffer thoroughly. We are rudely seperated with the most sympathetic characters over the course of the show. Yet, as is true for the real world, hope is not lost. Reality is never the same, but we use the love we have left to forge on. There is no huge, gratuitous backlash for the wrongs committed. The outcome is more realistic. The ending gives us a sincere interpretation of hope. Also, I never thought I could be this emotionally attached to talking bears.
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