In my review of Volume 1, I finished up with this line: By the time Volume 2 comes out, if indeed it does, the anime will likely be over and I’m sure we’ll have concocted meanings for all the things that don’t mean anything at all. ^_^.
And here I am at Yuri Kuma Arashi, Volume 2 (ユリ熊嵐) and I have a completely different perspective. An Ikuhara series is more like a set of writing prompts than a 3-d perspective. He hands you a set of cards; “Yuri”, “Bears”, “A Promise Kiss”, “Bears eat Humans”, “A Love Story,” and pushes you out of the room with a “Go, write something. Make it look pretty and feel profound.”
And y’know, I’m 100% okay with this. ^_^
Kureha and Ginko like each other. Kureha has kissed Ginko, and said she feels that she wants to be more than friends, which makes Ginko pull away. Kureha is befriended by Sumika who is rumoured to be a “kumajyo,” a witch, and this makes Ginko miserable. Something is coming between her and Kureha, but no one can tell what it is.
Lulu visits Sumika and learns that her house is indeed imbued with magic. Lulu sees a vision of her dead younger brother. In the anime, this story felt like it went on forever, but here it is more banal and therefore more touching. Lulu loved her brother Mirun, but when watching him one day, she left to go to the convenience store to get them food, and he, not wanting to be left behind, ran after her, out into the street and was killed by a car. This was much improved on the long, confusing and inexplicable story Lulu told in the anime.
It’s Lulu who uncovers the truth about Ginko’s mood, when she and Ginko share a memory of Yurika and her boyish girlfriend from high school. They go to visit Yurika and Lulu discovers her in bed with that woman, now beautiful and feminine, and is shocked to learn that the boyish girl she remembers from her youth is none other than Ginko’s mother, Kale (pronounced Kah-re, as in “kareshi”, i.e., boyfriend, but also linked to Kali, we’re told. While Yurika’s name is, more properly, Eureka.)
In the anime, Ginko’s mother was not a character. Here, we learn that Kale wrote the picture book that Kureha’s mother read to her all the time, about the lost bear princess.
The upshot of all this is that Yurika, Kale and Leila (Kureha’s mother) were all close. And in the manga, it is Ginko’s mother, Kale, who ate Leila.
Phew. I spent all night trying to figure out how to explain that. ^_^
As the book comes to an end, Kureha runs after Ginko to tell she knows the truth now and she doesn’t care. “Ginko is not alone! I’m here!” Kureha yells, embracing Ginko. Will the bear princess forgive herself? How will Sumika die (oh, let’s be honest, she has to go.) Tune in to Volume 3 to find out!
The final few pages are the three boy bears complaining that they didn’t get much time in the manga for which I can only say…good. They were so utterly meaningless in the anime, repeated footage that was never connected to any of the rest of the story. Morishima-sensei makes a good point, though, about how they could easily be a BL spinoff.
I’ve spent the last few days trying to piece this review together and in the end, I have to say that I’m much preferring the manga to the anime. Once you took away the repeated footage and meaningless visual statements, there was exceptionally little world-building or storytelling going on in the anime. Without long, lingering flashbacks and explanations and “Wall of Severance” scenes, this story is starting to make some sense.
Art – 8
Story – 7
Characters – 8
Yuri – 9
Service – 5
Overall – 8
Let me editorialize – Once upon a time, there were 2 bears and a human girl and they were all friends. But the bears wanted to eat the girl, because that’s what bears do. When one bear fell in love with the girl, the other bear decided to eat the girl, because she was jealous. Now, that bear’s daughter, and the girl’s daughter are falling in love. That’s what I’ve got so far. We’ll see if I’m right or not. ^_^