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Friday, 23 January 2015

Yurikuma Arashi

When my best friend Wendy told me about this anime she loves, it sounded so surreal that I almost didn't believe her. The idea of bears disguised as human girls in order to eat all the lesbian couples in an all-girl school sounded absolutely bizarre! Of course, it's only something a Japanese anime could come up with...
As I watched it I was feeling sceptical about how good it really would be, but surprisingly, I'm really into it! At first I thought it would be a strange form of anti-gay cartoons by the dubious way she described it - or perhaps I'm just too defensive - but it is actually really good if you watch it with an open mind. Then again, I'm no stranger to the yuri/shoujo-ai genre, am I. It's a lot deeper than you'd think.

The whole concept and art style is very theatrical, especially the shifting city backdrops; in fact, some of it reminds me of my wannabe manga artist days where I drew the comic Soul Collector (which is now a story called Ghost Under the Umbrella). But I digress.
Despite this anime being set in Japan, European church music can be heard in the background, especially during sad times in which the main female lead's girlfriend was killed. At one point I think I even heard Ave Maria! It gives the anime a really unique feeling, and really reminds me of the other gay/lesbian films I've seen before (Special Friendships and Don't Deliver Us from Evil for example).

Kureha Tsubaki, the main protagonist who really hates bears, was in a really sweet, innocent, touching relationship with her best friend Sumiko Izumino. That was, before she got eaten by an evil bitch that ruined my possible shipping moment, I mean, bear. Alongside this, two transfer students, Ginko and Lulu turn out to also be bears! There is a lot of danger and deception in the world they live  in, so some moments can be horribly sad. I'd like to say more, but I've only seen three episodes so far; more is yet to come.

Yurikuma Arashi also has a lot of symbolism, which isn't surprising considering the director - Wendy has told me a great deal about him. Sometimes the symbolism is meaningful, but in others it can be very amusing, especially if you get the sexual innuendos! Still, it's more than just lesbian fan service (although it really helps!). The main message of the series is "don't give up on love". I have this theory that it is a message to girls and guys living in countries less accepting of gays (Japan and China for example) that would otherwise end up in a dull marriage to a member of the opposite sex - hiding their true love and sexuality - that it's okay to be gay, so they shouldn't give in to social pressures. That's my interpretation, although I may be looking too far into it.

P.S. This has really helped me understand the anime better, and her in-depth look into the symbolism is amazing! I really recommend you get comfy and read these!
 Although, some details and symbolism are really obscure and it may take a couple of re-watches to pick all of them out; it's a very thought-provoking anime in a way, if you look past a lot of the fanservice.
One of the best theories I've seen out there is that, apparently, the two bears Ginko and Lulu represent Kureha's repressed sexuality, and are in fact, "Love" and "Lust"... This has given me a lot of food for thought regarding future stories, so I can't wait to see what the anime producer has in store for us. 

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