Oh damn, I got the hour wrong. I thought this was going to be airing in 45 minutes, rather than 75 minutes ago.
Well, time to get started. Last episode was very Ikuhara. I think the main theme, and what “The Silent Storm” is about is gossip, giving those who stand out the bad eye. Sumika is probably gone, and it’s just Kureha and the girl-eating, girl-loving bears. Let’s see how it goes. And no, taking notes for this show isn’t wise, but I’m going to do it anyway.
Thoughts and Notes:
1) Just Bear Things:
1) “Bears eat people, it’s what we do!” – Again, preordained destinies, of obeying our inner natures.
2) It makes sense, you come to a “Keep Out!” sign, you don’t pay attention, and you learn things you weren’t meant to, shocking bear things. Beary shocking things.
3) “I see, the transfer students are bears masquerading as people!” – Erm, Yurizono Mitsuoko is seeing two bears, how can she tell they’re actually people? Unless of course, being a “bear” isn’t simply literal, so the “bears eating the girl” are actually two girls ravaging another girl, or killing her.
4) Referring to Sumika as a “wild flower” who “never hid her true nature”, again fits the theory of “The Silent Storm” as being societal disapproval. Of course, “Who was generous with her love,” and Yurizono sure wished to have received some of it, it seemed.
2) Reflecting Memories, Reflecting Relationships:
1) Kureha is out of sorts, and gone is her cold determination to exterminate the bears, and her skill with the rifle. Is it due to Sumika dying, which is what she’s saying out loud, or about the weird dream of what the bears have done to her?
2) Did they just close a drawer with Sumika’s portrait? A wall of drawers is more than a bit reminiscent of a morgue, in this way. And that wall sure has a lot of drawers. Think if each is for an “eaten girl”.
3) Most shows take much longer to do the “before and after” reflecting one another scenes. Kureha had the sniper-scene mirroring the first episode, and here we have her talking to her mother’s memory, the music box, also mirroring the first episode.
4) “Does the Wall of Severance even do anything? A bear got through.” – If we look at how all of this is also imagery for sexual awakening and sex, would the “Wall of Severance” be chastity? No, chastity is what’s taken away, is it one’s virginity, is it a condom? Yes, I’m being a tad too literal here. But it feels as if the bears infiltrated, then they’re the signs of a new life, like sperm. After all, we say “impregnable defense”, so the bears impregnated it :P
5) “We can’t target her if she doesn’t come to school.” – Sounds like something bullies would say. If we takethis route, of the bears being girls who take other girls’ innocence and convert them, Sumika isn’t dead, she just transferred out. Of course, the “chaste girls” who gossip about those who step out of bounds can do the same.
6) On a more serious note, it’s interesting how the two bears’ behaviour towards one another isn’t symmetric – Lulu (the brown bear) keeps trying to get Ginko (the black bear) to notice her, to have her affection, while Ginko is focused on Kureha. Of course, Kureha was focused on Sumika who was focused on her as well. Removing Sumika was probably an act of jealousy, to free up Kureha’s attention.
3) The Fangs of Jealousy, the Claws of Desire:
1) Yes, yes, this scene with Mitsuono and “rat-teeth/eyes” (Yurikawa Konomi) is getting all my flags out. Just the thematic ones, get your minds out of the gutter. “Girls who don’t follow the mood of the herd get excluded.” And those who get excluded get struck by “The Silent Storm”, unless the “being excluded” is itself the manifestation of “The Silent Storm.”
Furthermore, note what Mitsuono noted as the cause of Kureha getting targeted, “She did not back down from her love for Sumika.” – Remember how the first episode opened, and the message that repeated itself, how she would not back down from her love? That’s the Greek Tragedy model, of people following one law (the gods’) and clashing with another (humans’). In Ikuhara shows, it’s often couched in terms of “destiny”. Though going against expectations is sometimes present as well. This feels a bit as if we’re in Victorian England, where showing affection for others is forbidden. With a school-name that’s a play on “Wuthering Heights”, that sort of atmosphere is to be considered.
But is it about loving other girls, or even loving someone else at all? Konomi tells Mitsuono that those who are close to Kureha will get targeted, is it because she shares her affections, or because at this point she’s been marked as an “other”, that she’s been ostracized, and any who dare get close to her will also get ostracized (which is how it works, or otherwise you can’t keep someone excluded. Need to keep thewall of separation intact and strong). Because if it’s about the love, isn’t Konomi herself right now declaring her love for Mitsuono, for all intents and purposes? Is she not refusing to back down on her love for her as well? Hmmmm.
2) And that’s yet another way to treat the bears who crossed over the “wall of separation”, who also spoke of their hatred for those who’d disrupt others’ love (even as they removed Sumika from Kureha) – they’re those who’ve been excluded, but who will break down the loneliness of others.
4) Home Invasion, Teasing Out Tears:
1) “We want you to give us a house!” – Heh. Well, those bears are all about impregnating their way past barriers of separation, especially lonely girls’ barriers, right?
2) “You can call me Lulu!” and Kureha is at a loss for words, one so great she doesn’t even react to the lick. Kureha lives alone in her house, and wanted to keep everyone out. She too knows how The Silent Storm works, so seeing those who not only invite themselves into her life, but appear to want closeness, is completely unexpected.
3) “Sad and lonely tears taste like a treat.” On one hand, it’d make sense for bears to target vulnerable and lonely girls then, because they’d get to feast on their treat. On the other, it’d make sense for them tokeep them sad and lonely, to keep the treat coming. That could explain Sumika’s removal. Then they can insert themselves, and then once more crush the prospect’s hopes, for more delicious tears. Those of us who watch sad anime are sort of like that as well, treasuring the delicious tears.
4) Yurizono is now a jealous girlfriend, comes to her beloved’s home with a gun, ready to shoot at the new lovers who took her place, or even, the place she never had, but only wished for.
5) Once More Into the Storm:
1) Yurizono, if you end up dying, Kureha won’t know Ginko and Lulu are bears :< Everyone in this show runs off after another, alone. Remember what happens when you get excluded from the herd? You get removed, you get targeted.
2) “Go to the roof.” – As if she’d fall for the same trick a second time. Then again, isn’t that how “love” works, how you fall in love with one person, then another? Or as Kureha said, she will not back down from love, and make the same choice time and time again, for hope?
“What does that mean?” – Good question. What’s “real love”, what does it mean to have your love “Approved”, and by the bears? How is the Separation Barrier the one offering the challenge? I won’t count on having answers by the time the show’s done ;-)
Kureha did get told her love’s the real thing just before the phone-call, so it’s as if the decision has been made for her. At least, if she’d choose to trust in Ginko’s words.
3) Konomi appears at school at night, heralded by the vortex of leaves that this episode had been attached to “The Silent Storm.” She worried the storm would target the one she loves, even as she, as part of the herd, is an agent of the storm.
6) That Sweet Nectar:
1) So, Konomi is also a bear? Didn’t expect that. Truly was a “Bear shock!” this time. Makes you wonder, is love a bear thing? Is it an eat or be eaten sort of world? Where the flowers love, and get eaten, and the bears love, and eat? Where the bears take ownership? Hm.
2) Kureha’s mother’s theme was “Yuri”. And indeed, we’ve never seen a male’s photo in the house. In fact, aside from the bears, it’s a girls’ world. The only men are bears. Do bear that in mind.
3) They could’ve just given us one longer flashback, but they’re showing us, well, step by step, as Kureha walks, what motivates her, and what occupies her mind.
4) Everyone is interested in Kureha’s love. Her love, which one would think is a personal thing, between her and her mother, between her and Sumika, between her and perhaps Yurizono, would be her own business, but it’s been publicized. The bears meddle with whoever she loves, Konomi does. The Silent Storm does. Love is a public thing, and the public domain demands entry. Of course, planting those yuri flowers in public was an act of sharing her love with the world.
Kureha had sown the seeds of yuri, and had reaped the silent storm.
7) Following The Prime Directive:
1) Oh, “Go to the roof” obviously meant the school’s, in the middle of the night. Well, she was told there’d be bears there anyway, so it’s not like there’s any more danger to be had, right? I mean, it’s not like she went there once already, and had stuff done to her.
2) Yes, that’s the voice of the Silent Storm, “Nasty”, to those who dare show their love, to those who dare stress their individuality. A long and hissy whisper.
3) And here we go again, to the Court of Extinction/Separation. To prove your love, again and again, even if you get rebuked each time anew. Kureha, you need to find a new love.
Another trial for Ginko and Lulu, does it mean they’ve eaten Yoruzino?
4) “Bears will follow bear instincts, that is the sexy way!” – “Boys will be boys.”, in other words. Also, another repeat of the words with which the episode opened, the pre-OP spiel, about how “That’s just how bears are.”
5) And once again, Life Sexy asks the bears whether they’ll be invisible or whether they’ll eat humans. Just as Kureha is asked to keep proving her love is real, so are the bears asked to keep proving their sincerity. Poor Life Cool though, as Life Sexy clarifies eating is an option. But then again, Life Cool’s problem isn’t eating, but over-eating.
8) Love Hurts:
1) Progress! Kureha and the bears now converse as they drink of her nectar, as they eat her yuri-lily. She’s searching in the Invisible Storm, but for what? Placing her hand over theirs, she had joined with them, rather than just being passively eaten, she’s now an active member – but of what, and for which reason?
2) Poor Konomi, being shot by the one she loved, Yurizono. Of course, it can be said that Sumika died for her love for Kureha as well. But talk about reality-warping, what about the Court of Extinction, and how Kureha was busy being eaten and forming an alliance with the bears?
3) Also, come to think of it, Yurikawa had weird eyes, but Yurizono does as well. Is every girl with a name containing the word “Yuri” actually a bear? That’d mean the teacher is one as well.
4) Tears appear again as a motif. Kureha denied her tears to Ginko, and now she tries to deny them from herself, but she’s told that for true love, tears are acceptable.
9) Bear Shock!:
1) “Sweet Kureha, your love belongs to me now.” – And a lick. Two girls whom we know are bears mounted another girl this episode. A bear licked a girl tonight. Bears keep talking of the flavour of girls. Yeah, Yurizono is pretty clearly a bear, one who will remove others to lay claim to the one they desire.
Bears are fighting one another over their prize, over their honey, over Kureha of the True Love.
2) “Invisible Girls have no flavour, only those who stand out are truly delicious.” – Yes, those who stand out,stand out. This also feeds back into my little note about the tears earlier – if you love the taste of those who are lonely, then you might push circumstances so they’ll indeed be lonely. This raises the question of whether it’s an inherent quality of Kureha that has her stand out, and which then brings about others’ ire, or whether if you’re excluded, you’ll be made to stand out, and develop the “right character.”
This also brings to mind the other thing. Kureha isn’t the only one who stands out, but Ginko and Lulu as well. Ginko did say, “Your love is true, but so is mine.” Had Ginko and Lulu chosen to not eat humans, to not stand out, would they had become normal girls, would they have become part of the Silent Storm? Furthermore, Ginko and Lulu stand out, this means that the Yurizono bear might find them delicious as well…
3) And Yurizono all but admits she’s the one who ate Sumika, not Ginko and Lulu, so who did those two eat? Furthermore, the drawer is open, did she take Sumika’s corpse, or her figurative memory?
Shorter Notes / Asides:
- Now I know what that throaty OP reminds me of, the French duo “Air”, such as in their song, “Cherry Blossom Girl.” No, not exactly, but that’s the general vibe.
- When we view the room, as if from the television set, or the stove, it’s set up like a play.
- Those bears sure are athletic.
- I find it interesting that the colours at night, which seem to focus on the wall, are green, blue and black, and cold. While during the day it feels much softer and “rounder” as it reflects the pink of the school.
- It just hit me, after Life Sexy says “Yuri Approved”? They’re dressed either as cooks or as babies who are about to be fed. It’s basically “Feasting approved”. But Kureha doesn’t die. What is it of her that they partake of, and is it diminished by their dining? If it’s love, then I’ve read some writers who use this terminology – love is something that you give, but which isn’t diminished by the giving. But Kureha doesn’t give her love to the bears, they’re taking it. It’s not meant for them.
- “Kureha, you mustn’t blame yourself, Izumino’s death wasn’t yourself. It’s okay to cry, you were her real friend.” Sorry, Aoi Yuuki is talking and all I can hear is Kaname Madoka here.
Post Episode Thoughts:
First thing first, a small thought – Yurizono truly did seem shocked, surprised, and even scared over realizing the two transfer girls are bears, so why? I guess because she feared someone else would come after the meal she’d been nurturing, and I’m sure she’s been maintaining Kureha’s isolation, as tears of loneliness are the tastiest of them all. And it also answers how she knew the two bears are the transfer students.
And that brings us to what I sense are Ginko and Lulu’s role right now, including joining Kureha’s house. On one hand it’s to make her less lonely, but on another, it seems it’s about being lonely, or at least, excluded, together.
This episode had done something the last one didn’t do, it gave us more of a “situation” – someone Kureha trusts is actually a villain and is not only using her, but orchestrated her lonely situation for her own benefit.
We still don’t know much about the characters, what motivates them, and how they’d react to situations. Well, “love” moves them, love moves them all, whether because they feel it, or because it’s delicious.
But think of Kureha. Kureha right now is not much of a character. We don’t know much of her, she doesn’t get to act much. Though she keeps leaping off to save her loved ones and wields a rifle, in the end it’s as if she’s the princess that has to be saved, off in the distance, desired, looking pretty, and unknown. Prince Charming is the same, when the main character is the princess – he’s an idolized figure to come and swoop us up, but what hides behind that radiant smile?
Likewise, Kureha is the flower that attracts all the bees, all the bears, who will fight over it. She’s more of a plot-device than a character, right now, but it’s not like there are other characters in the show that we know better.
The symbolism was much more “structured” this episode, and I think my read on the “Silent Storm” from the first episode is panning out. But of course, it might only be because I read every scene in light of my past assumptions.
It’s definitely interesting, but even more so, as it’s growing more cohesive. It’s also interesting how little knowledge of the characters we gain, and also how little happens in the plot. This is the smallest of moments, which fits, as it’s a story about the smallest of feelings, jealousy, threatening to overwhelm all.
[…] geekorner has two posts for episodes one and two that i really recommend you check […]
I have mixed feelings about the show so far. On the one hand, I’m very intrigued by the metaphors and symbols and all the things they could mean in the context of the show, and am very curious to see where it’s all going. But on the other hand, I don’t really care about the characters. I do like how this episode gave us motivations for a couple of the characters, which is a step up from the first episode. I’m also glad that this episode nailed down the metaphors a little better.
One thing I’m still really unsure about is what the outcome of the trial is supposed to mean for Kureha, especially since I don’t think her being eaten by Ginko and Lulu is consensual (it’s actually the exact same scene and dialogue as in the first episode).
I’ve read some people theorizing that the trial is really a debate within Kureha’s mind, and the three judges represent the id, ego, and super-ego, but that doesn’t make sense because Ginko and Lulu know about the trial. Then again, the fact that they know about it could be saying that this “trial” (the debate with yourself about your desires and indulging or stifling them) is something that everyone deals with.
Something you might find interesting is that, if you pause immediately after Lulu’s transformation and go through the next screen (the pink one with the rapidly moving icons and the computer script-looking thing at the bottom) frame by frame, you can see all sorts of different icons that are probably all metaphors and/or symbols in the show (or will be at some point).
Another interesting thing I came across was this article talking about the current state of lesbianism in Japan, which provides some context for why this show is a thing (other than Ikuhara being Ikuhara) and what one of its messages will probably be. I had already guessed as much due to the current state of LGBT rights, laws, and societal views in the U.S., but it’s kinda nice that it doesn’t seem to be just random theorizing on my part. http://www.yuricon.com/essays/women-loving-women-in-modern-japan/