As a whole Yuri Kuma is incredibly far off than a lot of other series that present sexuality at the center of their stories. Look at it this way. Cross Ange, Shinmai no Testament, or even this season’s highly aggressive male-gazed shows Shokugeki no Soma and High School DxD BorN display an idea of “its ok to fluff this series up with strong sexual situational tension”. Yuri Kuma has been very different than this style and even the other aspect that Japanese anime creators utilize with moe. Hibike! while I like it for focusing on band is a prime example of selling cute innocent clutzy girls to the viewer in order to bring in a larger audience. Like I keep saying Yuri Kuma strays far from these paths and it works in a lot of ways: this episode handles it with the aforementioned males. In short, Yuri Kuma‘s brilliance stems from the unknown– it lacks a clear villain but instead its the silent majority of voting someone out of being a part of something like friendships that can be even scarier.
The only men that are represented in this show act as judges in deciding what bonds may be formed between human girls and bears. Whether or not they can evolve from bullying is a point that hits straight home here. Lulu’s brother works because he’s far away from the title of man that this show seems to detest– his innocence. The promise kiss reflects this idea greatly between Ginko’s love for Kureha. As does Yurika’s comment about it’s better to die young and pure than to die all grown up risking yourself of corruption. Something she knows all too well about. Yurika is finally brought into the spotlight for most of this episode. As this presents to us a clear picture at how closely connected Reira has been for a lot of its cast– mainly Kureha and Ginko it shows us the love that is repeated as well as the hate that is repeated. I’m starting to sound like this show, haha. It’s interesting how the two dead characters in this show– Sumika and Reira are laying the foundation work for Kureha’s transformation from girl to woman; or perhaps from human to bear?
Yurika’s father only holds the name “Him”, I find this intriguing because it really shows how little influence males have in Yuri Kuma. The problem lies with how late in the game the creators decide on using males as a integral piece to the story. This episode would have been awesome as a second or even third episode where we are still learning about the world. Moving back to her father he is a shining example of Japanese fashion and traditions. In the fashion world of Japan around 20 years ago began a pioneering brand Lad Musician. This brand focused and still as of today sums up the idea that men want to be fed or devoured by women. Yurika’s father represents this idea greatly– he wears heels, and carries a slim and tragic silhouette-style figure. His love is ultimately devoured by Kureha’s undeniable existence and it reflects a lot in how she accepts others. The second aspect of his style is how his past with Yurika acts as a theatre play. Bizarre take on the bishonen genre that literally speaks out exactly what men strive to be when they’re pretty. Where he taps his shoes yearning to find a home suitable for himself and the baby bear he is leaving behind pays homage to the Wizard of Oz really well. There’s no place like home but what do you make of your home if you don’t know what it is or who represents that feeling? It’s a generic backstory– abandonment with a ton of fantastical elements to back it up!
When you add in the fact that no other male is present in the real world it strikes quite strongly for how much influence they actually have in the background of this series entirely. Shifting back to what I said earlier about the success of this series is the mystery it leaves to the viewer: this episode gently gets that point across for me. Solid set-up by bringing the two criminal-bears Ginko and Yurika– whom both had been saved by a Tsubaki family member at the cusp of evolving on their hunting grounds at the school with a really tense cliffhanger.
The second man in this is Kureha’s father. He’s never seen nor heard from but implied. With how important masculinity is in bridging the gap between male to female love and female to female love it seems to me like this is an important area that director Ikuhara could have polished up a bit more. Perhaps use this flashback sequence more towards the beginning of Yuri Kuma. The director’s intentions are clear: as he’s trying to drive home how different friendship between young girls is and what exactly changes this when two girls fall in love. The Invisible Storm portrays this point with it’s nudge to school bullying and of course bears disguising themselves as women corrupting other girls. Putting on a change in personality to get noticed by others. Yurika’s innocent nature towards Reira becomes clearly twisted and shattered when Kureha is introduced and emphasizes this wonderfully well. Ikuhara is illustrating a fantasy world that’s surrounded by women without any idea of a masculine romance unfolding. Brilliant!
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 8/10