2015 new winter shows #1: Yuri Kuma Arashi

Welcome to my quick look at the new shows as they come out, part one. As usual, I start with a screenshot of the first second or two of episode one, for no good reason. I don’t cover every show, just the ones I might watch myself. And I usually go with RC order, meaning I’ve already missed Tsukimonogatari (Well, I watched and enjoyed it, but don’t intend to include it here, because it’s over already). Not going to watch the latest Milky Holmes because I didn’t get past episode 3 of the first season. No Absolute Duo or Doamaiger D subs out yet that I can find, meaning I’ll start with …

We start with a bear frame that gets out of the way in a second.
We start with a bear frame that gets out of the way in a second.

Yuri Kuma Arashi. I was expecting a silly comedy about girls fighting bears, paused to find out who was singing the OP, and instead found out who was behind the whole series. Ikuhara Kunihiko. … Oh oh … This information fills me with equal parts delight and dread. Delight, because his shows are dazzlingly strange and funny, dread because he lays on the symbols so thick that if you blink you might miss an important moment. The apples in Penguindrum were so loaded with importance that I basically gave up. In other words, I would watch every episode with a puzzled smile on my face.

They haven't given up on love yet, but they haven't met any bears yet.
They haven’t given up on love yet, but they haven’t met any bears yet.

Which pretty much sums up episode one. We got two girls, Kureha and Sumika, in their lovey-dovey yuri romance situation, dully talking about love while tending the lilies (meanwhile, the school the garden is attached to is all sharp angles of red and black–like some sort of weapon), and we get news about bears getting through the “Wall of Extinction.”

Gao!
Gao!

Then we meet two of the bears, Ginko and Lulu, disguised as new transfer students, doing lots of cute “gao gao” noises in their interior monologues, while they decide which girl they’ll eat first. After talk of an “invisible storm” where all the lilies get cut down, Sumika goes missing apart from a shoe, Kureha gets a phone call (from a MAN), confronts the bears, and we go to a courtroom scene, then some apparent sex, and, well, I TOLD you it would be confusing.

The courtroom.
The courtroom.

Nothing we seen in this show should be taken at face value. Sumika is probably not eaten, or if she is, she is eaten metaphorically, and it’s too soon to know what the metaphors are, er, for. But we do know that the bear-girls are attracted to Kureha and Sumika and want to consume them (in some way or another) at the expense of the main girls’ own feelings. Maybe that’s going to be a theme: predators of love, or maintaining a relationship while faced with lurid alternatives. But who knows! It’s only the first episode. Meanwhile, I’ll say it is as visually stimulating as Penguindrum or Utena, though I don’t really care for the character designs, not that that’s a reason to drop it.

I’m rather relieved that there’s nothing more to watch right now, because I need to recover from this episode.

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