Binged: Yurikuma Arashi

Guys, the adorable bears gave me feels.

Watched On: Hulu

Bingeability: Great after the first three episodes

Spoilers: Mild

Overall: -A

The Beginning: Episode 1-3

Over the weekend I indulged in Yurikuma Arashi a completed anime series from the winter season. It is the newest anime from notable director, Kunihiko Ikuhara (Utena, Mawaru Penguindrum) The story takes place in a world divided into humans and bears. Ginko and Lulu, our two main bears, have disguised themselves and traveled to the human world trying to find Tsubaki Kureha, a human girl.

(Left to Right) Kureha, Ginko, and Lulu

 

When the show first aired I watched the first two episodes and found it hard to get into. A lot is jammed into the first episode; along with the initial introduction of characters and plot there was a introduction of tone. It was a very sexy tone that was borderline uncomfortable. I was afraid this might be one of the shows that I’d have to scrap because of it.

the world was also particularly difficult to grasp and I found myself asking questions faster than the show’s pace.  How often do bears become humans? How often are bear attacks? Where are all the male characters? Do bears really EAT these girls or is this all some metaphor for something else?

Some of these questions are addressed and some are not but after the first three episodes those questions don’t really seem prominent anymore  Eventually I settled on, “Don’t think about it. Enjoy the ride.” Which seemed to work until the story picked up in episode three. After that, I was hooked.

On a positive note one of the most entertaining factors of the show is the adorable depiction of the “monstrous bears.” They’re just so… tiny… and adorable.  Yurikuma also has the colorful finesse that Ikuhara is known. These were what really kept me watching the show even though I had NO idea what was going on.

 

Middle: Episodes 4-9

 The mystery of Lulu and Ginko picks up a lot of speed when they finally start interacting with Kureha. We finally jump into character stories and development that propels nicely throughout the rest of the series. Small character traits like the bears, “Gou Gou” (Growl Growl) and “Shabadado” (Shabadado) became incredibly enduring as the show went on.

The episodes end one after another with a dilemma that propels the viewer to want more. We are introduced to a variety of villains that all do their part in introducing a different aspect to the story and moving it forward. A positive of the show this length is that the villains don’t linger. They are handled quickly and the diversity among them means no episode is wasted.

The real heart of the plot lies in Ginko’s fascination with Kureha. At first I wasn’t sure what to make out of the strange threesome between Kureha, Ginko, and Lulu. Why should I be rooting for the bears? But the show answers this question at a slower pace, and I’m actually glad for it. The build up of tension between Kureha and Ginko really makes the viewer become invested in them and pacing of “answers” given in every episode is just right.

One of the key turning points of the show for me was when we’re introduced to the “Moon Girl and the Forest Girl,” a tale written by Kureha’s mother. The story is animated in a beautiful watercolor style that I can’t stop thinking about! It is clear the story plays a prominent part in the overarching story and adds one more layer of dimension to Ginko and Kureha’s relationship. Their story is the love story I didn’t even realize I needed in my life until the end of the series.

Scene from “The Moon Girl and The Forest Girl”

 

End: Episodes 10-12

And god, it’s been a long time that I finished a series and had so many feels. I honestly didn’t know how I wanted the show to end until the final episode, where it gave me everything I didn’t know I wanted. The build up for it was spot on with moments that effectively fooled me into thinking something would happen only to trick me and twist the knife of emotions lodged in my chest. That final episode was absolute payoff for the shaky beginning, propelling this series up to one of my favorites.

Immediately afterwards I wanted to watch the show again.I felt like I could pick up on lot of things in the story that I might have missed in those first couple episodes. On the second watch I’d be more willing to turn on my Thinking Cap and watch the show with a more critical eye. Looking for the symbolism that seems to be overflowing both in dialogue and animation.

Overall, this was a satisfying binge watch for me and I’ll probably be doing it again soon! The show might not be for everyone though. It contains triggers for bullying and sexual situations. If you are not a fan of Ikuhara’s other works you probably won’t like Yurikuma.

If you’re intrigued though you can watch Yurikuma Arashi on Hulu and Crunchyroll.

For more information on my Binge Watching please read this post. 

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