The Yurikuma Arashi anime from Funimation is, like so many of Ikuhara Kunihiko’s works, a fairy tale. Like so many of his previous works, in this fairy tale the fairy ex machina is the tale itself.
Tsubaki Kureha has met – and forgotten – a childhood friend who is a bear. Ginko has never forgotten her childhood friend and seeks to become a girl to be with Kureha. Surrounding this bastard child of The Gift of the Magi and every outsider story ever, is a series of repeated, variably meaningful images and a story that is never quite sure if it believes in itself or not.
Because there’s no coherence in the story in and of itself, there’s a lot of time to just enjoy the random bits of imagery and wonder what it means to Ikuhara, since it’s almost never given any meaning in the context of the story.
Buried as we were in overuse of “Yuri” imagery, some with overtly sexual connotation, some completely lacking anything of the kind, all those lilies ceased to have any meaning, which was sort of interesting. Lily petals, whole lily flowers showering down upon the heads of characters and yet, it had almost no connection to the narrative.
There were two standout qualities of the series for me – first and foremost, seeing animated versions of Morishima Akiko-sensei’s art made watching this series worthwhile. Additionally – and I have thanked her personally on Twitter for this – I really appreciated Yuriika, an honest-to-goodness, Evil Psycho Lesbian character. She was my favorite and her death was utterly meaningless, as befits someone who is so pointlessly obsessed.
I do not feel that this series was compelling, in the way Utena, or even Mawaru Penguindrum was, but the ending was not predictable, none of the loose ends were tied up and everything we experience in the body of the story turned out to not be true, so that has to count for something. ^_^
Art – 8 Two great tastes that tasted deeply odd together
Story – 7 Once upon a time…oh fuck it.
Characters – 7 Uncarved blocks, one and all. Just remove everything that isn’t a bear
Yuri – 14 million
Service – 7 Much higher than I’d like
Overall – 7
My final thought on the end of Yurikuma Arashi is this: There’s something right/not right about “Ave Maria” becoming a Yuri anthem.