Yuri Kuma Arashi: Episode 8

Warning: Doll yells at lesbians.

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This week begins with the cut off from last week. Kureha’s put together that Ginko is her childhood friend, and is about five seconds away from molesting her on the porch. Until, that is, she sees that Ginko is carrying the pendant her departed mother left.  This railroads into straining our patience.

See, Kureha already makes the observation “Only the bear who killed my mom should have that”.  And Kureha has been ADAMANT to tell others who she thinks will believe her that bears have taken Human form and have infiltrated the school.

But she doesn’t make this connection, not on her own.  Being generous, we can say she secretly thought this, but was trying to rationalize this away. Because…because a friend so unimportant to her life she COMPLETELY forgot about her by the time she was five has suddenly reappeared and that’s just SO SPECIAL she can’t bear to feel betrayed? I’ll get into this business later, but keep this info filed away.

The rigging on the good ship Yuri Kuma is starting to buckle. It’s being forced to carry far more weight than it is designed for, and these little issues which hurt a little have become too obvious to our gaze as we head towards wrapping up Act 3.

It’s time for Sensei’s backstory, much as Episode 4 was Lulu’s. Though this will be more of an interwoven narrative than a cut-away.

She was an orphaned bear, and taken in by the former headmaster of the school.  The headmaster explains that “only the unsullied have value here”, which is probably something we should be keeping in mind as the revelations pile on in the coming weeks. Translations have referred to the headmaster as male, but I don’t think that’s the intent. If anything, the headmaster is a nod to the manga-version Court, where the judges (collectively here though I realize only Life Sexy is judge) are totally androgynous, rather than their “femboy” stance with male voices as presented in the anime.

Or at least that’s assuming it’s based on a female using “bokuwa” (which happens all the time). If this is just because she’s wearing a shirt and tie I’m pulling this internet over and giving everyone a stern talking to.

I have no idea if this trivia will influence how we see the headmaster at the end of the series, or if she’s even meant to correlate to the Court of Severance,  Maybe one of you is more clever and sees a connection there though, so there you have it.

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So, Sensei is very happy to be put into that wall of heart boxes which we’ve seen in the present. But the headmaster soon leaves, saying another pretty thing has her eye. The way this scene is cut, it’s difficult to say, but I think we’re meant to take away that Sensei kills the headmaster for betraying her. We see the ehadmaster put on a hat, and walk away, then we get a “Kuma shock”, and the hat rolls around on the ground. Again, this is dubious, but I think that was the intent considering how Sensei thinks of “boxing” as she speaks here during the voiceover.

So we cut to where sensei meets Reia. Sensei is discussing how sullied things have no value, which is why you must “cut flowers” before they’ve lived a full life. She says the things in her box (her sense of order, if you will) are precious because they are innocent.

To phrase this another way, if you don’t sever (yuri) before it’s had a chance to bloom, it will lose its innocence,

Now I want you to think about things regarding “but think of the children” and so forth, about how their innocence must be protected.

Reia counters that if you don’t handle things you have roughly, it’s the same as not having them at all. She tries to show Sensei (I know her names Yurika but I don’t care enough today)

So ultimately, this comes down to Kureha (doesn’t it always?) and Sensei feels betrayed that Reia could love anyone else besides her.  She even blames herself for leaving her “box” and getting “sullied” with Reia. Phrasing!  So we see where this is going, if you weren’t already calling this three weeks ago.

Topping this off, the star shower occurs NOW.  Yes, the Wall of Severance comes up now, after Kureha’s birth, so there has been a lot of interaction between Bear and Human worlds prior to this. Sensei remarks that it was too late for her, she was trapped after she was already sullied.

So we then see Reia giving the pendant to Ginko, saying it’s a charm of love and that it helped her love bloom, and irony cannot possibly undo this touching moment.

Well it turns out irony can indeed, as Sensei appears at just the wrong moment to plead for Reia’s love again. So, duh, she kills Reia.

ALRIGHT. THAT’S IT. I’m pulling this planet over and we’re going to have a conversation.

So Kureha forgot Ginko, that I’ll buy.  But what the fuck is Ginko doing here now?

“Well what do you mean, Doll, this is obviously when she departs Kureha’s life”

No. No it is clearly not. Because when Reia is telling Kureha the story of the Moon Girl, Kureha has already forgotten about Ginko.

Now, this probably ties into the cliffhanger, so I won’t come down hard. But for now, I’m just going to say this is part of an unsettling pattern of shit happening because it is convenient pathos, rather than a well thought out “intellectual fantasy”.

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So, turns out, everything that’s happened has more or less been because Sensei wants revenge on Kureha.  Shock. (pretend you’re shocked).

Now remember when I told you to file away Kureha’s reaction to Ginko? Bring it out.  Kureha is discussing things with Sensei (her only remaining confidant, after all).  Kureha is just rather casual about the whole affair, not afraid or hesitant, just “Oh, Ginko has that pendant, but she shouldn’t, isn’t that weird?”

Sensei then offers photographic proof that Lulu and Ginko are bears.  While a fucking adorable gag, this breaks the story, possibly irrevocably. So we’ve gone from Kureha pleading with Sensei to accept Bears in Human form, and being dismissed out of hand, to Sensei shoving proof in Kureha’s disbelieving face. And not once is this commented on. Kureha is actually RESISTANT to the idea that the Bears are her enemies.

You know, the SAME BEARS that she’s flipped out on for killing Sumika and vowed a bloody path of vengeance in her name?

The story wants us to accept that “Well, Ginko was Kureha’s special friend FIRST, so that’s what counts, not the fact that Sumika is the one present in Kureha’s memories.”  Don’t get me wrong, I loathe the Kureha/Sumika relationship. I would punch it in the face if I could. But the story has desperately wanted me to believe how true this love was before her “Tragic” death, and now Kureha just transfers those emotions WITHOUT EVEN SHOWING IT to her long-ago-forever-more love with Ginko.

Now I get that we’ve seen Ginko do some noble things.  And I DO believe she legitimately cares about Kureha.

But!

Not everything that we, the audience are privy to, is also known to Kureha.  Sure, she saved that letter from Sumika. And she’s tried very hard to be friendly to Kureha (along with Lulu). But she doesn’t know about the trials. She doesn’t know about the bear trap. She doesn’t know (well, maybe she could infer) the sacrifices (whatever they are, but the show is adamant there WERE sacrifices) for her to cross the Wall to see Kureha again.

In probably the only really good scene, Ginko and Lulu are sitting under that gazebo, with Ginko studying the pendant hard. Until now, it has been a promise of her future love. But now, it might be the artifact that COSTS her that love. She does look like she’s having this little sentimental crisis.

And Lulu does her best to divert her from that fact, offering to take her back to the other side of the Wall.  She says she knows what Ginko did (the secret deed from the letter), but doesn’t care. She’ll still love Ginko regardless, but that Kureha offers no such guarantee, and maybe they should quit while they’re ahead.

Now the Court drags in Sensei. She responds that her love IS the real thing.

…A curious detail as she gave up on love in favor of boxes.

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Kureha and Ginko are also summoned, and we’re supposed to be really impressed with Ginko’s love.

…Only…we aren’t.  We don’t have a lot to go on yet, and frankly, while we can give Ginko some benefit of the doubt, we don’t yet have the information to warrant FOCUSING on her.  Because, frankly, at this point, it’s starting to sound like George Lucas wrote this romance.  There was more development between Anakin and Padme than the things we have here. Sure, they loved each other, but THAT’S NOT ENOUGH!  Come on, guys, you’ve been doing so well, only for your resolution to cock it all up?

It’s all well and good that there’s still an entire act left, but the show’s almost running its victory lap before its earned it. “Look at our main characters at odds! Feel for their plight!” But there’s nothing to connect to so there’s nothing to feel.

Again, there might be a hail mary at the last act, but I’m not optimistic at this point.

So the Court is discussing things, and they finally admit that this is all some manner of test by Kumalia. It seems likely that Reia and Yurika were such a test once, hence the convenient happenings on around Reia’s death, and now she’s trying the second generation to see if it’s “ready”. For whatever.

So the confrontation on the roof is…weird. It’s Ginko trying to convince Kureha that she DID love her, as if that’s more important the connection they have NOW. And Kureha is already in denial that she loved said friend, even though that’s what we opened the episode on.

I only give this scene a pass as, perhaps this is allegory for a woman who engages in a homosexual relationship and dismisses it as a “phase”. As Japanese women are typically pressured to do, in fact.

In a hilariously unintentionally funny bit, Ginko asks for a Promise Kiss, baring her soul. And Kureha has a moment of “gasp!”  And we montage all the precious scenes these two have shared over the past eight episodes….and we come up with three scenes.

I can’t come up with a metaphor more apt for the problems with this relationship than the actual show has given us.

This convinces Kureha, though. And she’s ready to forgive Ginko.

EXCEPT! Dun dundunnn! Lulu appears and mute-screams Ginko’s crime, which makes Kureha infuriated again, so she pulls the trigger.

As we said when it came up, this can’t be about Sumika. Ginko was already using the title “criminal bear” before coming to the Human world. So I guess we’ll see.

I’m not saying the show CAN’T turn it around, but it’s been making some very self-assured moves that would indicate this phase of the “relationship” is over, and we’re moving into another. And it has not earned that, not one bit.

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3 thoughts on “Yuri Kuma Arashi: Episode 8

  1. “She even blames herself for leaving her “box” and getting “sullied” with Reia.”

    I should have made that connection earlier but… remember that Lulu has put her little brother into a box as well when she tried to stop him from giving her the Promised Kiss and how when he came back with the Promised Kiss he was “sullied”. Now what I’m still not sure about what the series thinks about when it’s okay to get “sullied”. I mean, if we look at each moment where someone gets “sullied” or “doesn’t give up on love” it ends in disaster for some reason. So you either got the “box”-solution which might as well not be love anyway as Reia sort-of explains. in this episode or you see the romance being “sullied”… which hasn’t once turned out to be a good thing in the end. Personally, I think this series really only cares about explaining/celebrating “true love”, so I guess, it all depends on what all the previous relationships in this series that had reached the “sullied” stage had been missing.

    “So the confrontation on the roof is…weird. It’s Ginko trying to convince Kureha that she DID love her, as if that’s more important the connection they have NOW. And Kureha is already in denial that she loved said friend, even though that’s what we opened the episode on.

    I only give this scene a pass as, perhaps this is allegory for a woman who engages in a homosexual relationship and dismisses it as a “phase”. As Japanese women are typically pressured to do, in fact.”

    Hmm, I read the scene more as a conflict of conscience as Kureha does remember (sort-of) that Ginko had been a dear childhood-friend but Yuriika is insisting that Ginko is the killer of her mother. They’re both there as well to sort-of lay out for her why she should or shouldn’t shoot. But Ginko has then this small monologue about what really had happened and that she’s ready to take a “love-bullet” for that if Kureha so desires. That Moon-Girl/Forest-Girl made a big deal of how the two girls have to risk their lives to meet despite the barrier.

    The scene doesn’t work mostly because Kureha has a very boring and extremely gullible personality. This moment at the beginning of the episode where Ginko and Kureha have sort-of a romantic moment as Kureha confesses to remember her again… What does that even mean? A normal person would just be confused by such a discovery and ask a lot of questions, something along the lines of “What is going on…?!”. But Kureha asks only one question of Ginko and she… DOESN’T EVEN ANSWER the goddamn question! Actually this should’ve been the time for a flashback establishing the bond between Ginko and Kureha because they don’t have any real chemistry in the present day as previously Kureha has just acted confused or indignant in reaction to Ginko’s attention and willingness to be her friend. Ginko had to get “sullied” as she threw herself into the fire for the letter in order to be acknowledged as a friend by Kureha. Kureha’s just SO passive in this story. She doesn’t do anything on her own. It’s always someone else pushing her buttons and making her do something!

    • Well, the thing is, Kureha was emphasizing that Ginko betrayed her and Reia, so I think that knowledge of the past was there, but she was phrasing it in terms so that it “didn’t count”. I don’t even know if there IS a significance to the scene, or just another case of where the past connection these two share is more important, ultimately, than anything the pair does NOW.

      On the whole I think those are good points about the unclean theme, but I personally am not giving it a LOT of thought as, it’s probably something that will be spelled out for us in the very last episode after ten episodes of being cryptic. Subtlety has not been this series’ strong suit, I would be very confused if they left something THAT important up in the air and symbollic xD

      • Ginko technically lied to Kureha by not immediately telling the truth. So I assumed that this is supposed to be the dramatic element of this scene. Kureha thinks Ginko has killed her mother since Yuriika is arguing that this is probable. And Ginko hasn’t offered any sort of defense or excuse up to that point. The problem with this logic is Kureha, of course. No matter how you interpret that scene it’s weird how Kureha practically contributes nothing to it. She just reacts to what other characters throw at her. Kureha just doesn’t matter in that scene because she doesn’t do anything that matters in that scene. Even when she finally decides to shoot Ginko, it’s because of Lulu and not anything she has decided by herself. Kureha is literally a blank slate as far as this series is concerned.

        I mean, you may be right with your suspicion that this is about more than just Ginko involvement in Sumika’s murder but seriously… that would be even worse. We have no real indication of what originally has turned Ginko into a criminal-bear so why make that into a dramatic story-beat?

        “Subtlety has not been this series’ strong suit”

        Well, being blunt hasn’t been that either. This series’ storytelling feels very artificial in how it’s clearly controlled by the writers. Watching this series feels like you get to see an elaborate pitch for what the series should eventually be like but it isn’t there yet. This series has so many ineffective kinks that everything slightly ambitious about it feels superficial.

        And yeah, this series has the kind of stupid story that only starts to make sense if you’ve seen all of it for no good reason… except to create a cheap sense of suspense and whatnot.

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