gh02t's avatar


  • Oak Ridge, TN
  • Joined Jun 23, 2007
  • 33 / M

Yurikuma Arashi

Apr 1, 2015

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 vagueYurikuma 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.

2/10 story
8/10 animation
7/10 sound
3/10 characters
4/10 overall

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