I ended up rambling and going off on tangents with this one because I had so much to say and just didn’t know how to say it properly. Which means I really liked this show more than I ever expected to.
Man, Yuri Kuma Arashi. I don’t even know where to start with this one.
Well for one, I guess I didn’t hate it. I expected it to be much worse than it was. Given a lot of the things I had seen beforehand and what I knew of the manga, I had expected something with a lot more fanservice and not as heavy as this was.
Because I feel super comfortable calling the series Shakespearean. Especially the second half. It was dishing out tragedy like it wasn’t even shit and not batting an eye at all. Well I mean they killed characters off super easily from the beginning but it seemed to increase around the middle until the end when Ginko was slaughtering girls left and right.
Anyways, besides what I expected it to be, I expected to hate it. I had serious doubts. I thought that a work about females and their role in society and lesbians and their place in society was a super interesting concept but being handled by a guy… well, I’m sure it’s understandable that anyone would be doubtful.
(Though in retrospect I suppose it IS a bit amusing, then, that three of the four male characters in the series are responsible for their “yuri approval”. That as soon as their love is approved by men, they take on scantily clad, sexualized forms. Compare with when Kumaria grants the wish and Kureha’s outfit is a lot more conservative.)
What we got instead was fantastic. It’s easy to misjudge Yuri Kuma Arashi. It does have it’s fanservice moments to the point where it’s ridiculous. But if you’re judging the series by that alone then you’re missing out.
I originally thought “well, you can’t have your cake and eat it too, Ikuhara” 1 because I suspected that it would be “well this played up lesbian fanservice is CRITICIZING played up lesbian fanservice!” but in the end, I don’t think it was that at all.
Everything wrong with yuri anime/manga/culture (and holy christ is there a lot) is played up to an extreme in Yuri Kuma Arashi. It’s intentionally uncomfortable and invasive. It’s showing off exactly what’s wrong with what yuri exists as in the public eye, to anime and manga and then going a step further and being like “well this is also how it is in real life, and it sucks”.
At this point I’d like to strongly recommend this fantastic piece as further reading on why Yuri Kuma Arashi hates yuri and embraces (or at least imagines) a healthy change for lesbian anime. That may sound goddamn ridiculous because it’s Yuri Kuma Arashi but I honestly believe in it and I guess I believe in Ikuhara. (It goes over a lot more with why YKA is better than expected and can say it so much better than I can)
But anyways, I’m not very good with all that stuff clearly. So I want to talk about how YKA impacted me. Because I’m a big ol’ gay and I hate yuri. I love girls smooching girls but I hate yuri. 4
While I loved the series for it’s message and for it’s fantastic final episode, I can’t bring myself to give this series a 10 though. Maybe if I rewatched it knowing what’s going to happen and with certain themes in mind, I might enjoy it more.
But the constant flashbacks and feeling of it trying to out do it’s self in terms of shock value took a lot of enjoyment out of the series for me. Not to mention the disjointed feelings, relying so heavily on those flashbacks, made the characters mean less to me than they should.
I think that’s why Lulu is so popular. She’s the only one whose personality really shone. The other two were too busy being sad. Even when we saw them being together or in the past, in the present they’re so hung up on one thing that Kureha and Ginko don’t really feel fleshed out even though we know so much about them.
Despite that, I found the ending very touching. I couldn’t see them walking away from all this and living a normal life so I’m glad they got something better than death (because, to remind you, that’s another stupid yuri (and lesbian fiction in general I guess) trope and perhaps one of the worst of all) in the end.
I don’t think they died and then went with Kumaria. I think this would have happened regardless after the promise kiss since they had both wished to be/been told they would be together forever. I think that isn’t, literally, possible on Earth so they went to some where they could be together safely and forever.
I kind of thought Kumaria was just taking the form of Sumika like Ginko’s desire had taken the form of Mitsuko but then I saw people talking about Sumika just always being Kumaria in disguise and I kind of like that idea more. I think it’s a lot more endearing and cute and nicer for Sumika who otherwise died and got replaced.
I know that was a whole big thing but because it was such a big huge thing that it still felt weird for Kureha to pick Ginko even though they’d been together first. So imagining that she was actually Kumaria does relieve some of that guilt.
And perhaps the most important thing the finale gave us was Konomi and Ai (the twintailed girl).
Just like in real life, there are some people who will never be swayed from their bigoted ideals even when faced with love and even if it means doing something horrible. However there are those who will waver and who can be reasoned with and can change. And people do change. Some of the girls in Eriko’s group who seemed unsure about shooting. They still followed orders and did as they were told even if they disagreed.
Ai was the only one who didn’t because after her initial doubts she saw what others didn’t and was changed. She left the invisible storm even at the risk of becoming the next one targeted. Perhaps especially so with the witch hunt still going on even though the “evil” had been eliminated.
And then she befriends Konomi who has been abandoned by the world, betrayed by those she loved and trusted and used by those that hated her. And then one of those people reaches out for her and needs her.
I don’t think it would lead to tragedy all over again, maybe because she saw Kureha and Tsubaki get their happy ending.
But just the idea. The idea that at least one person could be changed by this. That the world didn’t stay the same, remain awful and cruel after our protagonists leave it. That there are good, compassionate people who can be swayed by love and who, in turn, won’t give up on love.
I think if one person changes their views from that of hatred to that of love and acceptance, that’s a wonderful message and the most important thing to take away from Yuri Kuma Arashi.
It will be for me. These two minor characters, one whose name I don’t even think we heard, represented something so important. It was unexpected and appreciated and showed to me that YKA was exactly what it wanted to be. Something that was positive to lesbians while rebuking the anime idea of them and an actual unfortunate reality.
I can understand why some people were uncomfortable with the show and that they may not give it a chance but I think it did some very important things. It may not shake up the industry or change all the things it pointed out were so wrong and gross, and it may be lost on people who don’t look past the fanservice or just want to jack their dick. Who knows. That’s the risk with anything with a big message I guess.
But I’ll always know how much those final scenes, that unexpected friendship and the hope they represented mean to me. And it’s more than I could possibly explain.
- Which is a thing that also came up with Kill la Kill when people foolishly, oh so foolishly, claimed it was feminist but lmao seriously? ↩
- Don’t get me started on what “yuri culture” even goddamn is because that is a big ol’ rant for another day and another series. ↩
- While not directly related, I recommend reading this as well because I think there are still lots of misconceptions with some people about homosexuality in Japan and I think that’s going to hurt when it comes to discussing and viewing YKA as a critical work or whatever. ↩
- In the future I plan to preview some manga about lesbians that are alternatives to the usual yuri trash and I’ll get into that reasoning all later. ↩