Volume 1 and Volume 2 of the Yuri Kuma Arashi manga tell a slightly different story than the anime. The main premise remains the same – human girl Tsubaki Kureha meets and falls in love with bear girl Yurishiro Ginko, who has some connection to her past and her late mother.
In the anime the fairytale about the bear princess and human princess ends up overlapping with reality and Ginko and Kureha end up happily-ever-after, but much of the detail gets lost in the obsession with a “promise kiss,” an overabundance of lilies and a lot of plotline mad libs.
In Yuri Kuma Arashi, Volume 3 (ユリ熊嵐), the story is brought to a conclusion that, in one way, makes a lot more sense, but in order to get there, needs a few key magical handwaves.
In Volume 2, we learned that Yurika, Kale and Leila, Kureha’s mother, were all close. In Volume 3, we learn the truth, that all three were lovers. Kale was betrothed to Yurika’s brother, but fell in love with Yurika instead. Independently they both fell in love Leila. The three lived a lovely, romantic twilight world of joy until Leila broke their bonds and left. It almost killed Kale. When Leila returned she was pregnant so Kale (who had been betrothed to Yurika’s brother, remember) also became pregnant. Their children were fated to be together because they said so.
But, tragedy struck. When Ginko and Kureha were small, Leila was late returning to the house one day Ginko, not knowing who she was, shot her. The real question is how does a small bear shoot a rifle, but just, don’t…
Between Kale, Yurika and Ginko, the full story comes out and Kureha forgives Ginko, as she was only a little bear and couldn’t possibly be held responsible for her actions. In the meantime, Ginko, suffering from a guilt-induced fever is staying at Sumika’s house with Kureha and Lulu. Lulu is finding herself really falling in like with Sumika, but is still worried that she’s a “kumajyo,” a witch who uses magic against the bears. The three bear-boy judges finally get their screentime and judge Sumika, who is their sister, for being a kumajyo. She’s found innocent, and Lulu decides that she could do worse.
Kureha forgives Ginko. To be able to stay together, Kureha becomes a bear, as well.
Yurika and Kale reunite, and all would be perfect if ONLY Leila were still alive.
As Ginko and Kureha play one day, Kureha finds a picture of woman who looks exactly like her mother in an Estonian bear preserve! As magic fills the end of the book, Yurika and Kale head off to find their lost love, Lulu and Sumika head into a new relationship, Lulu runs into her late brother, suddenly resurrected, Ginko and Kureha kiss as they board the Yurikuma Arashi “flight to the unknown.”
I’m not sure that it made any more sense than the anime, but it sure didn’t make any less. And what sex and romance we encountered was far less service-y than the anime. The main difference is in Yurika. In the anime, she was very much the Evil Psycho Lesbian Bear. In the manga, she was the stabilizing force for Leila and Kale. I liked Yurika best in both versions of the story.
Art – 8
Story – 8
Characters – 8
Yuri – 9
Service – 5
Overall – 8
Leila means “light” in Estonian…as one might expect.