Yuri Kuma Arashi: Act 2

Sure, Hunnylingus is a word.

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Let’s embark on a tour of plot entering this series.

Episode 4 begins as a backstory episode.  It’s rather cute, with the Judges narrating Lulu’s life.  She was nobility, apparently royalty if the tale is to be believed as 100% accurate, but again, you can’t trust everything you see as is. She was doted on by her parents. But as soon as her little brother is born (see: the new heir is born) she begins to miss her old life of privilege as everyone’s attention turns to the young prince.

And credit where it’s due, this little story takes on the form of a western fairy tale, even incorporating the “trial of three”, something modern retellings generally abandon.

Speaking of our trial of three, it comes in the form of Lulu putting her little brother in a box and kicking him down a cliff to his death. From which he returns almost completely unharmed.  He does this to earn Lulu’s “promise kiss”, because he wants to marry his big sister (he is like, three).  This is the first mention, but it will recur many times from now on, and it seems to be something within Bear lore similar to “true love’s first kiss”.  And yet, the choice the judges present her is the following.

“Will you give up on love? Or will you give up on kisses?”

So is the kiss PERSONAL love, while love in general is just the concept? Or what? Who knows, still up for debate.

Lulu’s little brother dies trying to bring her a pot of pure honey.  Ginko, however, is the one who returns it to her.  She is a “criminal bear”, and is off to the other side of the Wall of Severance. Lulu, feeling a combination that she owes Ginko a debt and that she must repay the favor of a promise kiss by helping Ginko claim hers, will join her.lululooksoutthewindow

Lulu’s definite theme is that she has failed utterly to appreciate anything she had while it was WITH her. Be that her parent’s affections, her brother’s love, and it’s demonstrated best when he brings her the first pot of honey, saying that it sparkles like stars.  She scoffs that it’s “just honey”, ignoring the sparkling qualities of the pot. When she dreams her brother her alive and he presents it again, she just looks sad, saying “If you give it to me, I’ll throw it away again.” She’s very much a person who wants love desperately, but knows they are horrible at relationships.

But Episode 5 is our real game changer. Continuity finally takes a grip of the series as we open on a flashback of Ginko with Kureha and her mother. They’re having like a playdate.  Getting to this.

Kureha wakes from a dream, and we find the bears have built an addition onto Kureha’s place, all tree-house amateurish construction.  It’s rather adorable.

We finally get a hint at what this really is about, more than just not wanting to “replace” Sumika.  Kureha is the target of the Invisible Storm, and people around her die and die.  Which is absolutely true. And she does see that Lulu and Ginko are well meaning people, and doesn’t want them caught up in it.

Meanwhile, Kureha is having a hard sell that Bears can masquerade as Humans. Her teacher dismisses it out of hand, and we get more insight into how close she was to Kureha’s mother.

Kureha is approached by Kaoru, the new ringleader of the girls. She’s apologetic, and thinks the class may have acted harshly. She vows to make amends.  Being high school girls, I don’t have to spoil the betrayal for you.

More confirmation that the scene at the beginning WASN’T coincidence, as Ginko just knows Kureha’s favorite foods, things “only Sumika would know”.

The girls in class are offering to rebuild the flower garden they wrecked for Kureha’s birthday, but Lulu and Ginko overhear that they still consider her an invisible girl.

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Trial time.

Life Cool argues that Ginko simply wants “to be Kureha’s only friend”. Lulu balks at the very idea, but Ginko confirms it. Life Sexy is confused, for the first time we’ve seen.  He asks if Ginko is okay with her love it is a SELFISH love. Ginko says fine, she’ll do anything to see her love through.

Yuri is approved, and the girls leap into action. They confront Kaoru, but she already has a trap laid for them. A literal bear trap. Which is awesome. Lulu takes Ginko and is forced to retreat.

So going with my preferred theory, Kaoru fits into it so very well.  If Ginko is “honest” love, and Sumika is “white as the driven snow” love, Kaoru fits another Yuri cliche that drives any homosexual person up the wall.  “Which one of you in the man?”  Her attire is androgynous, and meant, clearly, to be the “boy” in any Yuri relationship.  And she’s cast as the villain, which is perfect.Like  Sumika, she lacks a “yuri” in her name.

We flashback at episode six, with Sumika and Kureha reading the very last book her mother was working on.  It’s a children’s fable about a “moon girl” and a “forest girl”. And the forest girl has bear ears.

Oh don’t spoil it for me! I want to find out who these could possibly be!

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The moon girl drops her mother’s pendant (a star, ah-wink-wink), which the forest girl finds.  They appeal to the sky goddess, Kumalia, to allow them through. Kumalia is interesting, we’re unsure how strong she is in Human lore, but in Bear lore she’s prevalent as the symbol of the Wall of Severance. And she’s a goddess with Human and Bear characteristics. Further, what do sky gods almost invariably control? Storms.

Kumalia capitulates, eventually, to the two girls wishing to see each other, even though they have never met yet. She says if their love is true, their love will be waiting on the other side. The girls find a mirror, showing them each of their reflections. Kumalia says they must shatter the mirror to see the other.

This story is a repackaging of a lot of the key themes we’ve seen.  True love being represented by stars, which we’ve seen already this post alone in Lulu’s fable with her brother, who brings her honey because it sparkles like the stars.  And now here, where Kumalia is basically asking the same question of the girls as Life Sexy asked of Ginko.  “Will you destroy yourself for love?”

Ah but this is where the story ends.  Kureha’s mother died before completing it. We then see the complicated web of intrigue that led to Sumika being cast out as part of the invisible storm. She opted to vote for herself rather than Kureha.

We’re then given a not-very-subtle bit of foreshadowing.  Lulu is reflecting on the ambush. Somehow Kaoru knew, but how? This flashes the pendant, and we cut to Kaoru having sex with…someone.  Someone who told her about the bears.

It’s the fucking teacher, okay? Almost guaranteed.  Who else knows about Kureha’s birthday and would recognize her mom’s pendant around Ginko’s neck? This would also explain why Kureha’s mom was totally cool that her daughter made friends with a Bear, as she was in a relationship with sensei. It would also be why she dismissed Kureha’s remarks about Bears in Human form out of hand.

And now comes the real moment when you realize continuity has taken a hold of you.

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The girls trap is set, leading Kureha to the flower garden, with an elaborate plan that Sumika wrote a letter to Kureha breaking up with her (at Kaoru’s urging) in order to break her heart both ways.

Ginko and Lulu receive a phone call, with a very familiar ring.

It’s Life Sexy. Now the call is to the bears. “Is your love the real thing? This is a challenge from the Wall of Severance. Give yourself to the flames, and your love will be approved.” This is over a gorgeous sweeping shot of the city at sunset, all the buildings bathed in red light, with Life Cool smirking as he speaks into the phone, “The Moon Girl is waiting for you.”

The Court is standing atop the half-built Wall of Severance, and this scene…it is far more badass than it deserves to be, but there you have it.

Court has thus far seemed impartial, literally playing its role.  But this is the first time it takes on this new role, of outright encouraging strife to “prove” love. The calls to Kureha have been cryptic, almost a “wait and see” approach to see if she’d bite.  But this call is very different, Life Cool almost taunting Ginko with what she wants.

The class turns on Kureha’s birthday surprise, and burn the rebuilt flower garden down.  Symbolism! Kureha is declared “evil’ because she “cannot follow social cues”.  They take Sumika’s last letter to Kureha, and toss it into the flames.

Ginko pounces on it, leaping right into the fire to save the letter important to Kureha. Knowing where one bear goes the other follows, the girls beat a hasty retreat.

And Sumika’s words take on a poetic light. The words which were meant to convey betrayal, “Before you is your new friend”, now have an honest meaning.

But…

SHOCK! KUMA SHOCK!

We get a brief aside that Ginko could have saved Sumika. Yes, it really WAS Mitsuko who killed her. And Ginko watched. As established, to have Kureha all to herself.

…So we’re not sure who the hell Ginko and Lulu were eating.

So from this point on, we’ll be tackling Yuri Kuma Arashi one episode at a time. The continuity is rolling and there’s a REAL narrative now, instead of a bunch of confusing shit thrown on the screen.

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