Where do I even begin? Don’t be fooled by the bright animation here– this is NOT a series for young kids one bit and the opening sequence was a strong indication of that. For one thing there had to be more sexual innuendos in this single episode than any other series that I had watched from 2014! This promotes Yuri Kuma as an anime that isn’t entertaining but very intellectual and to an extent that not a single line of dialogue should be missed by the viewer.
Going into this I was expecting a dark tone by the end considering how this is coming from director Kunihiko Ikuhara, the same guy whom created Revolutionary Girl Utena and 2011’s Mawaru Penguindrum and that is exactly what we got here. While the earlier series Utena was a deep philosophical view of beauty about an all-girls school introducing women in love with each other by using a defender of justice to uphold peace within the academy. Penguindrum was an oddball-dramedy that focused heavily as a mahou shojo tragedy series with psychological breaks at every twist and turn– especially with Ringo Oginome. Ikuhara took what he did really well with those series and mashed them together to develop this very obscurely sexualized yuri themed mahou shojo anime featuring bears at the forefront. Which interestingly enough, bears and penguins have always been a trademark of sorts for Ikuhara. In Penguindrum‘s case it was in order to help the Takakura brothers find and save their sister while Utena used them as a background device.
Yuri Kuma uses them as a terrifying and alluring evil– amazing divergence of what we see visually with these creatures– fluffy and soft. At first I was worried about the production studio that was going to be doing the animation here, but after what I saw here, I was pleasantly surprised. SILVER LINK did fine work at producing this first episode– it wasn’t over the top nor was it a high-standard in animation but a rather sublimely attractive series with some backgrounds that look right out of a painting. The story also followed this style as well. Really like the character designs!
There are no males in this except the court’s Life Sexy and Life Beauty– have to say this episode didn’t sideline any ridiculous aspects as these names are wildly different. The Wall of Extinction I feel depicts so many elements that this series is going to charge forth with– man vs. bear, women vs. man and the relationships that blossom between them. The Severance Barrier was s solid indication– a challenge against love.
The flower representing a calamity from the humans and bears break of a nonaggression pact wasn’t the only idea that presents itself here as it also focuses on Kureha and Sumika’s romantic discovery of each other in a bizarrely beautiful way. Even in the beginning where Sumika describes the flower garden as beautiful right where Kureha stands symbolizes the heart of this show both visually and in terms of story– an amorously dreamy young love between two girls. This isn’t the first time Ikuhara has made an object like the flower in Yuri Kuma to illustrate young passion. Ikuhara’s earlier 90’s work Utena used rose petals as a way to distinguish the romanticism between Utena and Anthy.
What impresses me the most about this episode was how well it was deceiving the viewer with its characters– the bears in disguise as humans Ginko and Lulu and the attraction that they have is a double entendre of mistaken identity. A ‘bear shock’ so to speak that metaphors on tons of levels! Ginko and Lulu are new transfer students hidden with a guise of wanting to feast on a young girl in a voluptuous yuri tendering way which we see with the flower blossoming from the naked Kureha after the courtroom’s decision. And two being the monstrous yet mysterious ‘grinding’ that these two bears HAVE to do in order to survive and eat. Which Mitsuko discovers at the end here– Ginko and Lulu in their bear forms eating Sumika!
Mystical, widely ambitious, attractively peculiar and intellectually inviting, I cannot wait to see what Ikuhara’s going to do with this series. Especially since he wrote the manga since it finished its first chapter had been a complete derailment from what this first episode did in transitioning from a light-hearted mahou shojo anime into a mischievously naughty and playful anime that uses fantasy themes around a school setting about lesbians battling otherworldly bears that were brought to life on Earth by a meteor shower.
Also want to point out that Space Dandy’s main seiyuu Junichi Sawabe portrays Life Sexy in this.
OP: Ano Mori de Matteru (あの森で待ってる)” by Bonjour Suzuki
This was a fantastic opening as it provides a attractive abstract view of girls in love while bears are invading Earth. The band emerged on the scene just in the past year and uses a mix of styles that include electro, hip-hop, and j-pop. Lyrics are a diverse collection of English, Japanese, and French. The vocalist for this song uses a faint-sounding voice to capture the whimsical perverse aspects of this series really well in this opening. Absolutely fantastic!
ED: “TERRITORY” by Ginko Yurishiro (Miho Arakawa), Lulu Yurigasaki (Yoshiko Ikuta), Kureha Tsubaki (Nozomi Yamane)
A techno-sound mixed with traditional j-pop sounding vocals, not much to say here but that the visuals utilize a pastel theme; definitely an ending that deludes the viewer into thinking that this show is going to be a light-hearted romance.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10