Yuri Kuma Arashi Episode 1 – Setting the Scene, Eating it Up

(Note: Episodic notes are still mostly to be found on the Episodics Notes’ page, but up to a couple every week will have their write-up appear on the main page, when I think they warrant it. For those who don’t know, I take the notes as I watch the episode, and merely re-order them afterwards.)

So, the new Ikuhara show, eh? Should be full of symbolism, and a story where one can’t tell where the symbolic ends and the real world going ons begin. I thought of Mawaru Penguindrum a while back, and thought how my brain would’ve fried had I tried taking notes for it.

Well, I’m not sure if the notes will be “per scene” or “per moment of interest” here, but there will be notes. Now just to hope my brain won’t melt, as I need it.

Thoughts and Notes:

Screenshot album part 1, screenshot album part 2.

1) “Yuri! Yuri Bears Everywhere!”:

Yuri Kuma Arashi anime episode 1 / Lily Bear Storm anime episode 1 - Tsubaki Kureha and Izuimino Sumika clutch and hear of the bears

1) “I’ll never back down on love.” And here we already have our narrative conflict. “How far will you go for love? How far before you’ll break down, how much of a price are you willing to pay?”

2) “Bear Shock!” – It hit me, we have our two “lilies”, and then we have bears. It made me think of how Red Riding Hood is also a story about sexuality. Big furry animals, in a story otherwise about “pure” maidens? Yup.

3) Oh, they translated “Yuri” as “Lily”. So, “Girl lover”, above. And of course, the visual cue.

4) Interesting how the wall’s design, with the bear claws, is fractal. No matter how much of a vantage point you gain, it’s still the same picture.

5) “Bears eat people. That’s just how we are.” And here we have fate, the natural order of things, and what we rise against.

2) Sensuality, Threatening and Alluring. Growing Up:

Yuri Kuma Arashi anime episode 1 / Lily Bear Storm anime episode 1 - Yurigasaki Lulu wants to eat up the girls

1) “I’m gonna do my best and gobble them all up.” – This is something I also touched upon in my write-up of the first episode of Tokyo Ghoul, and to which I’ve alluded earlier, stories about werewolves are often stories about our hidden sexuality, about our sexuality manifesting, and how we might find it monstrous. Here we have a story about werebears, or rather, and of course, the intentionally thin line between “eating them” and “taking their innocence”. Were-animals are a Structural blurring of the lines (a-la Claude Levi-Strauss), so it’s all about taboos, and sex, here, even more than usual.

2) Kureha is worried about Sumika going off alone while there might be bears nearby, so she runs off alone after her. Master plan. And they go to their own secluded part, a home in the forest, beset by flowers.

3) And now that the two girls are together on the roof, we have the green doors with the same diamond motif.

4) Everyone and everything here is about food. Well, eating is a sensual activity. I think we’re being hit a tad too hard on the head with the symbolism here, though.

3) Social Pressure:

Yuri Kuma Arashi anime episode 1 / Lily Bear Storm anime episode 1 - The cut lilies, social pressure

1) Someone frowns upon this dalliance and had cut down the lilies, someone has cut down the yuri. And of course, Sumika is starting to enact what I predicted above. As Kureha points out, the things they care for will be removed, one by one. And each time, they’ll have to reaffirm their resolve, to not back away from their love.

2) Another girl whose name contains “Yuri”. “The Invisible Storm”. I guess that’s as good a name as any for jealousy, for disapproval, for “Tsk, tsk”. A susurration of gossip and disapproving glances against which you cannot fight back, but which sweeps all.

“Together, we can halt the Invisible Storm.” – Can you? Of course, with everyone together, there’d be no storm of gossip, but the whole thing stems out of you not being the major group.

3) Damn, that sniper pose. Also, that emblem on the wall, a lily framed by two guns. “This time, I will protect those I love with my own two hands.”

Yuri Kuma Arashi anime episode 1 / Lily Bear Storm anime episode 1 - You need friends

And the enemy is the bears, the invading presence that threatens the pure girls, for some more allusions. Speaking of furry invasions, for those who don’t know, in the original Cinderella story, it wasn’t a glass shoe, but one of fur, which the prince tested of all the girls, until he found the match, ahem.

Of course, knowing it’s going to be a love story between the bears and she who cannot forgive the bears is another layer of fighting against fate.

4) Oh yeah, somehow missed this. The safe haven of the two girls, their nest of love, had been invaded and defiled by those from without. First those who disapprove, then a third wheel, and now blood, and things can never be brought back to how they used to be, after the bears invade.

5) “This is what happens when you’re not invisible. That’s right, it’s important to act as a group.” And the theme of gossip to punish those who stand out, who don’t step in line continues.

4) Monkey Business at The Bear Court:

Yuri Kuma Arashi anime episode 1 / Lily Bear Storm anime episode 1 - Life Beauty

I loved this translation pun. A play on “Ad hominem”.

1) “This is a challenge from the Severance Barrier.” – Will you be torn asunder, or will you reach across? All relations are about this question, each and every moment.

2) “Danzetsu no Court” – The court of extinction. Human or bears, love or, well, not love. Of course, it’s “Danzetsu”, which also means extinction, severance, division. A division of the two worlds. But more than mere extinction, of ceasing to exist. Will the girls cease to exist? Will their love? Is the barrier to stand between what is and what is no more? That’s probably the most symbolic and least decipherable of “objects”, and it won’t change.

3) “Bearfendants.” – That was cute translation.

“Ud Ursam” instead of “Ad Hominem”. Wow.

4) And it’s interesting the bear-court is also interested in maintaining the status quo, of bears on one side, and humans on the other. Then again, we don’t let people walk into the safari and eat the various animals within, do we?

5) “Shabadadu” O.O This isn’t close to the catch-phrases from Penguindrum. I am disappoint.

6) “Will you eat humans, or will you become invisible?” – In other words, will you cloister yourself, or will you reach out and engage with others? Even if we don’t look at “eating” as a metaphor for sex, by interacting with others, you affirm your existence. It’s interesting to note here that bears can’t affirm their own existence, and must go beyond the barrier, and reach out to humans. That of course is a metaphor for ourselves and others.

5) A Lily, By Any Other Name (Yuri):

Yuri Kuma Arashi anime episode 1 / Lily Bear Storm anime episode 1 - Yurigasaki Lulu and Yurishiro Ginko lick Tsubaki Kureha's lily

1) And we have a naked Kureha covered in flowers, as if I’m watching American Beauty again.

2) “Yuri Instatement”, is this about the “yuri”, or about them becoming “lilies”, to say, maidens? Some would say it’s the same thing, and that it’s the love, the connection to the other, that allows them to transform.

3) A lily sprouts from within Kureha, a symbol of her love, and the bears are eating it, gobbling it up. Yup, there you go with “yuri symbolism”, and adding a deflowering on top.

4) The real question here is, where is Sumika. Kureha was promised she could reach Sumika if she overcame the Barrier’s test, if she came to the roof, but she’d been lied to. Her only decision was to go to the roof, to affirm her love, but after that, she was just acted upon.

She’s been lied to, she’s been bearboozled.

5) “I’d eat them even if it were a crime. I won’t forgive those who destroy love.” – Now that’s interesting. Are they referring to how other girls tried to destroy Sumika and Kureha’s love? Are they referring to how a girl like Sumika tried to destroy their love for Kureha, or perhaps, those who would try to stop them from enacting their act of love, that of feasting upon the girls?

6) “Yurikuma! Yurikuma! Yurikuma!” Just before the start of the ED. An interesting touch, and the true form of the bears is already known, so we’ll have to see how it ends up, or whether Yurizona is about to get eaten as well.

OP – Not a fan of the “hoarse whisper” voice. But, “Flood me with your sweet, light honey and make me all sticky”? Oh my.

ED – A nice but not very memorable pop-song with a pretty meh electronic/techno beat. Really not a fan. The words are alright, so yes, it’s all about love. The 8-bit tune tone made me think of Disgaea, actually. No Sumika here either though, I guess she really is gone.

Post Episode Thoughts:

Yuri Kuma Arashi anime episode 1 / Lily Bear Storm anime episode 1 - Tsubaki Kureha in sniper pose

I went to upload my screenshot album for the episode, only to find out I’ve taken 245 screenshots. I have no idea how that happened, huh.

Well, this was definitely an interesting episode. Some might say that this is the goal of first episodes, to be interesting. Except it’s not. The job of first episodes is to grab us, to make us want to watch the next episode. Being “interesting” is indeed a very good way of going about it, but interesting in this sense is more “I wonder what’s going on” and “Huh, I don’t really understand.”

This episode didn’t at all grab me, there was no “BANG!” – Yes, we’ve had someone find out who the bears are as the episode ended, we’ve had the titillation provided by lesbian relationships, and we’ve had allusions to Kureha’s past, and there’s some grand and half-symbolic hierarchy beyond the “barrier”. All of these things will do work in the future, but none of them are an immediate “Grab” on one’s attention, and are mostly puzzle-pieces that had been dropped on us and aren’t doing any work, yet.

And that’s the point. While as a first episode that is supposed to grab us, the grab-bag (see what I did there?) of “interesting” might not have done its job, it did do its job in letting us know of how many angles are going on, and that the “interesting” will probably become more so as we keep on watching. The work was done not to grab us, but because it’s laying the foundation for future events.

Yuri Kuma Arashi anime episode 1 / Lily Bear Storm anime episode 1 - Remain invisible

What else did I think of this episode? The symbolism was there, but I didn’t think much of it in either direction. Bears and werewolves and sex. Eroticism and love as being conflated via the sensuality of food. That’s solid.

The characters? We don’t have characters yet. We didn’t really learn anything of their personalities, and more than that, they didn’t get to interact with one another yet, so they don’t really exist either on their own, or in relation to one another. Considering it’s a show about “crossing the barrier of love”, I’d say that this is a mistake for the first episode, but something which I trust (and hope) will be the focus of the series from here on out.

There was one more aspect I pointed out in my write-up, which I did find interesting of the good sort, but that’s because I love me some symbolism and social commentary, and that’s how the real barrier to love is the “silent storm”, the disapproving glances, the quiet oppression. The force that will hammer down any who will dare to remind us that not everyone is like us, that there are others. Something we cannot permit.

Return to the Yuri Kuma Arashi Episodic Notes page.

10 comments on “Yuri Kuma Arashi Episode 1 – Setting the Scene, Eating it Up

  1. Jordan Cox says:

    Where did you watch the show? Your subs seem much better than the ones I saw.

    • Guy says:

      Those are the Asenshi fansubs, off of Nyaa. I waited, rather than watch the twice-translated meme-subs which were translated from German to English.

  2. Danzetsu meaning both extinction and severance does make a lot of sense. I watched the german dub on crunchyroll and there it was translated as extinction barrier which doesn’t really make much sense. They also had some poorly translated meaningless line instead of “this is happens when you’re not invisible”, which makes a lot more sense if that translation is correct.

    I agree on the first episode not being a great hook. For me personally it doesn’t matter too much, since I know I like Ikuhara’s stuff, but it isn’t a great entry point for people who aren’t familiar with his work.

    • Guy says:

      The Asenshi subs translated it only as “Severance Barrier”. I actually asked my Japanese speaking friend what Danzetsu meant, and that fit. If I had to pick one word, I’d have chosen “Extinction”. They didn’t translate it at the court at all, I think. Or used Severance there as well.

      Well, even if the show ends up being great, this was still not a great first episode.

  3. Sejin says:

    How are the Asenshi fansubs quality-wise? I don’t usually watch shows as they air but I’m heavily considering it for this one. I hear all sorts of things, good and bad, about the quality of fansubs, or even more professional subs like Crunchyroll, and unfortunately I know next to no Japanese so I can’t really determine that for myself at this point.

    • Guy says:

      They seemed fine. They weren’t great though, as “Denzetsu” was only translated as “Severance”. I think in this case a TL note might have been in order. Official subs aren’t necessarily better, by the by.

      My Japanese speaking friend used the previous ones, and he said he was happy to know Japanese, as they were “Not Good” :P

      • Sejin says:

        Thanks for the info!

        When you say your friend used the “previous ones”, are you talking about the Crunchyroll subs that were translated from Japanese to a few different European languages, and then into English (I’m assuming this second translation was done by fansubbers)? I’ve heard that there will be English subs for the first episode on Crunchyroll two or three days after the Japanese air date (so, tomorrow or Thursday), and that all subsequent episodes will be subbed in English on Crunchyroll the same day they air.

        I prefer to use legal means to watch anime when possible, so since the Asenshi subs are okay, I might compare their subs for the first few episodes with Crunchyroll’s subs (just seeing if they translate things similarly, and comparing phrasing and such), and if Crunchyroll’s seem comparable, just watch the rest there. If you’d like, I can let you know the results. Then again, for you it would be much quicker and simpler to ask your Japanese-speaking friend.

        • Guy says:

          Yes, I’m talking about the Japanese > German > Meme English ones as the previous ones.

          To clarify, Crunchyroll will not air this show in English, but only German, French, and Spanish. Funimation will air it in English, and yes, 3 days delayed for first episode, 3 hours after Japanese airing time from episode 2 onward.

          The fansubs will arrive after the official release from next week, so I’ll likely watch the official release, unless it’s much worse. And I only ask my friends about specific words, and would’ve probably asked in this instance anyway. Bothering someone for each word/phrase isn’t cool :P

  4. Sejin says:

    Hahaha I didn’t mean to ask about each word or phrase. I meant more of a general overview of whether or not it’s good or bad. But that would be an after-the-fact kind of thing, wouldn’t it?

    Good lord! This first episode alone had SO MUCH in it! And so much of it was imagery that could mean any of a number of things at this point. It seemed like everything was metaphor or symbolism (and I know from reading other peoples’ blogs that I missed a lot of it, despite catching what seemed like a lot of it). It makes me wonder what the point of so much symbolism is, especially since a lot of it is really overt. Having read a lot of other peoples’ thoughts on Ikuhara’s other works and on Ikuhara himself, it sounds like he likes layers. A lot. It’s actually kind of irritating in a way because there are so many tiny threads, but the episode gives very little idea of what direction anything will take.

    It was interesting how specific some of the visuals were. I noticed the Wall of Severance had small cracks in it, and how it seemed so much more massive from the bears’ side than the human side. And when the “invisible storm” cuts the lilies, it only cuts the flowers off, leaving the stems and leaves (it only gets rid of the surface, the acting out of a thing, but doesn’t change what’s underneath it; it doesn’t change its essential nature).

    I definitely think you’re spot on with the social/societal ideas you mentioned. All sorts of things about the visuals of the school, what the school’s authority figures (the teacher and class representative) say (as well as them being the ones to say those things), and even the school’s name seem to suggest that. Also, I think Kureha was the only one who seemed even the slightest bit worked up at Sumika’s disappearance and the possibility that she’d been eaten. You might have already seen this, as it’s on the Asenshi subs webpage for their translation of the episode, but beside just its own meaning, the name of the school is the Japanese name for the novel “Wuthering Heights”, which I read has a lot to do with jealousy.

    I also wonder if there are larger implications of the conflict between pro- and anti-gay rights groups and just human conflict in general. This, combined with some of the lyrics in the opening song also make me wonder if it’s commentary on specifically religious opposition to gay rights. In looking up symbolism for some of the imagery in the episode, I discovered that diamonds have a TON of religious connotations, old and new, and not just Christian.

    And then there are the bears. I’m really curious about why he chose to use bears (he could’ve used other large, furry animals for the sexual awakening symbolism). I’ve read stuff on other blogs about the Sankebetsu Bear Incident in Japan, and it’s very obvious imagery in the episode, but that seems incredibly disconnected to everything else at this point. And then there’s the slang use of “bear” as a gay man who presents himself as ruggedly masculine. Could that imply that not all the bears are lesbians? Are some of the bears gay male bears? And then there’s the fact that bears are a symbol of Russia, coupled with a character named Katyusha. What might that mean, if anything?

    And then, who are the two bears? One’s wearing a crown. Is she royalty? She’s also wearing the same necklace that Kureha’s mother is wearing in the picture. What might that mean? The other one is wearing a maid outfit, so is she the other bear’s servant? Will we see the bears’ side of the wall?

    Some of what the bears say about the state of things right before they’re shown as humans in the school, as well as some of the things the teacher says about how serious the breach of the wall is seemed very reminiscent of the stereotypical narrative or position of anti-gay rights proponents (the stuff like, “they’ll corrupt our youth and change their sexual orientation”).

    One other thing I’ve been thinking about is the possibility of things being presented from multiple viewpoints. When Kureha is “eaten”, it’s all glamorized (maybe “romanticized” is a better word?) and sparkly and stuff, and the bears are shown as human (mostly). At that point, the viewer is watching, but the only characters there are Kureha, Ginko, and Lulu (and Kureha is definitely not anti-lesbian). But when the bears are eating someone at the end of the episode, they look like bears, and you don’t see what the person they’re eating looks like. At that point, they’re seen by a student, who probably holds the view that bears are bad. And we never actually see what happens to Sumika. So that got me thinking that maybe who witnesses the bears eating people influences how it’s shown to the viewer. But if that’s not the case, why would the bears eat some humans figuratively and eat others literally?

    There are just so many questions this episode raises. It gives an almost unbelievable amount of things to digest, but at the same time it gives so little in terms of where it’s going with those things.

    Ugh. I think my brain is going to implode on itself. I understand much better now why you were hesitant to do write-ups for Penguindrum, especially since I’ve heard its symbolism and visual imagery and metaphors are very heavily layered.

  5. […] geekorner has two posts for episodes one and two  that i really recommend you check […]

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