We’re back with another episode of everyone’s favorite lesbian furry romance horror adventure!! While I wasn’t overwhelmingly happy with the first episode, I definitely saw enough potential to stay excited about what the series has to offer! Will episode two improve on the first, or is this show going to be one big downward spiral? There’s only one way to find out, and that’s to keep on reading!!
The episode begins at the funeral of Sumika who has been murdered by Lulu and Ginko, the two transfer students who are actually bears in disguise. The eulogy is being delivered by the class president Mitsuko, who’s aware that the new kids are the murderers, but doesn’t seem to have found time to discuss this with anyone. Hell, the bears crash the funeral and Mitsuko doesn’t seem compelled to rat them out for some reason.
Are you telling me that the character who in the previous episode VOWED TO FIGHT THE BEAR THREAT doesn’t feel the need to keep any of the other students safe by mentioning that two monsters are in their midst!? Kureha (Sumika’s kinda-sorta girlfriend) didn’t show up for the funeral because she’s still in denial about everything. You know, like Marky Mark’s character in Four Brothers.
Really? No one else got that? THAT WAS AN AWESOME MOVIE!!
Actually, Kureha is hardly able to keep up this false hope and we watch her begin to accept the loss of Sumika. Kureha is proving to be an interesting character, and shedding the dead weight that was the ultra-passive Sumika might give her a chance to meet someone she can actually interact with. Have I mentioned I’m not a fan of Sumika? Let’s make that clear, SUMIKA WAS BORING!! They didn’t bother to give her any interesting characteristics because they KNEW she’d be gone by episode two, so don’t try to get me to think of her as some saintly martyr. I’m hoping at this point that Kureha hooks up with Mitsuko, though considering how aggressively small this cast is, it’s not like we have that many possible pairings anyway. Speaking of Mitsuko, she’s still contemplating what to do with this REALLY important information she’s keeping to herself. You know, about the whole “the transfer students are murderous bears” thing she’s keeping a secret for some reason?
While wrestling with this issue, she gets a visit by a fellow classmate (Konomi) who seems to be concerned with Mitsuko’s recent behavior. And by concerned, I mean she wants to bone her. The feelings though appear to be mutual, so there’s that at least.
I get that most people became aware of this show due to its overt fan service, but am I the only one who cares if these relationships make sense? This is the first time these characters have interacted, and there’s nothing in their dialogue that clues the audience in as to whether or not they’re together. Does Mitsuko just pounce on any girl who crosses her path!? Hell, I wouldn’t be opposed to that if they had bothered to establish this aspect of her personality beforehand, or even confirm it to be true now! The whole scene comes across as just a way to distract us for a minute because the script (as it were) came up a bit short. We cut back to Kureha’s house where the bears are putting their ingenious plan to eat her in motion.
Because the show is non-existent with details (and we haven’t even seen if Kureha’s dad is still around), I have no idea if Kureha lives in some sort of boarding house or not which would make the bears’ plan make a little bit of sense. Kureha is completely flustered by them showing up at her doorstep with claims of homelessness and ends up agreeing to let them use her bath. Lulu runs up the stairs, talking to herself about how clever she is, while Ginko stays downstairs to lick Kureha’s face.
I can’t tell which is worse. These two bears being so damn unsubtle (Ginko ends EVERY sentence with “Growl”) or Kureha not being smart enough to pick up on it. Then again, they have yet to establish whether the humans KNOW if bears can transform into humans. Mitsuko knows, but maybe the reason she hasn’t shouted this revelation from the rooftops is because no one would believe her. FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, SHOW! SET UP YOUR INTERNAL MYTHOLOGY!! It’s almost like they made this show for a completely separate reason than to tell a compelling story!
Before Ginko can have her way with Kureha (and I’m not sure if that means eating her or EATING her), she gets Honey Pot Blocked (apparently that’s a thing) by someone at the door.
Kureha, Ginko, and Lulu (in a towel) go to see who’s at the door and find Mitsuko standing there with a rifle and a list of accusations. Wait, how did Mitsuko know that these two were at Kureha’s house? Anyway, she points her gun at the two bears and informs Kureha of their true identities.
The bears make their valiant escape by jumping through a nearby window and scurrying away at top speed. Kureha is still confused about what just happened, but Mitsuko is TOO DAMN BUSY to explain exactly what happened.
Attention all writers!! NEVER have a character say “I don’t have time to explain.” Even if it’s true, it just comes off as asinine for a character to take time to tell you they don’t have any time to spare. After Mitsuko hops out the window (instead of going through the door which ISN’T covered in broken glass), Kureha gets a phone call from the same mysterious person who called her in the last episode. I THINK it might be Sexy Life, but I’m not sure. Once again, the voice tells Kureha to go the roof where the bears are waiting for her in order to “prove her love.” We cut from there to the school where Konomi is hanging around and lamenting the fact that Mitsuko apparently loves Kureha. Uh… okay. We also find out that Konomi is ALSO a bear! BEAR SHOCK!!
What we have here is some more squandered potential. This COULD have worked because there was no indication that this character was a bear until now, and it goes with the themes of Paranoia that the show seems to be going for. It’s supposed to put the AUDIENCE on edge because this time, WE were the ones who were fooled. It ends up falling flat because no one cares about this character because she’s only spoken like once or twice and the fact that they crammed this in right after the big scene of Genko and Lulu’s cover being blown once again makes this feel like an afterthought. Kureha is on her way to fall into the same trap yet again, but is there really anything else she can do? She wants revenge and another opportunity is being given to her on a silver platter. I actually buy that Kureha is willing to go back on that rooftop. What she finds when the gets there is NOT Lulu or Ginko, but Konomi! Kureha starts firing, but can’t seem to land a hit.
Konomi gets close and takes a swipe at Kureha. She steps back but this causes her to… fall down a flight of stairs AGAIN!? WHAT!?!? THEY’RE PULLING THIS NONSENSE A SECOND TIME!?!?!?!?
They even have another trial! It’s not even Konomi who’s on trial this time which might make sense considering SHE’S the one who knocked Kureha down the (most likely metaphorical) stairs! It’s Sumika and Lulu again, and the same exact arguments are being made and they have the same transformation sequence, and I CAN’T BELIEVE I HAVE TO EXPLAIN THIS LUDICROUS THING AGAIN!!
I thought this whole thing was a pointless distraction in the first episode, but the blatant reuse of footage here is inexcusable. If they had put Konomi on trial it would have given us an opportunity to get to know more about her. Maybe her motivations for killing Kureha are different from the reasons that Lulu and Ginko want to. I don’t understand what this scene is supposed to accomplish. I don’t understand why it had to be repeated in this episode. All it does is waste time that could have been used for better things like character development and world-building. Instead, we’re seeing the same stuff we saw last week, only now it’s not even interestingly weird because we already saw it!! We cut from the trial, transformations, and metaphors for whatever the heck, to find that Konomi has been shot through the head.
Turns out that Mitsuko came to the rescue and shot the bear before it could take out Kureha. By the way, Kureha is just fine and still conscious, so I guess that whole sequence we just sat through had ABSOLUTELY NO REAL WORLD CONSEQUENCES.
Kureha is still worried that another bear is out there (she thinks that Konomi was either Lulu or Ginko) but Mitsuko assures her that they won’t attack again right away. The cops eventually show up to investigate the dead bear (will they be able to find out that it’s Konomi?) and Kureha ends up resting in the nurse’s office while Mitsuko watches over her. It looks like everything has worked out for the humans. OR HAS IT!? BEAR SHOCK!!!
That’s right! Mitsuko is ALSO a bear. WOW!! I did not see that coming! This revelation actually helps some of the problems I’ve had with this episode (like why the heck she wouldn’t tell anyone who the bears are) and gives us a whole new threat that’s probably a lot more dangerous than Lulu and Ginko. Not only that, but she confirms that SHE was the one who ate Sumika! DAMN!!! And so the episode ends with Mitsuko ominously threatening to eat Kureha, who now three bears after her and no one to help her.
So THIS show got a lot more interesting all of a sudden! While I can’t excuse the fact that this episode was weak for the most part, the last-minute revelation has REALLY got me hooked! Having Konomi turn out to be a bear might have just been a red herring so that we would be blindsided by THIS reveal. All that said there are still a couple of things that still bother me about this show. The trial is COMPLETELY useless and yes, I’m aware that the show’s director (Kunihiko Ikuhara) did stuff like this in his previous shows. The thing is, I HAVE seen a couple of episodes of Mawaru Penguindrum and know what scene people are comparing the court scene too, but I contest that Penguindrum did a MUCH better job than this one. In Penguindrum, the ‘Rock and Roll Night’ scene had characters who were just as confused as we were, and what happened in those scenes had real-world consequences. The brothers were basically there to be an audience avatar and to assure us that we were not missing anything vital by being confused about what the hell we are seeing. The trial scene on the other hand doesn’t feel the need to explain itself in any way because everyone in it is already well aware of what’s going on. Even more pertinent is the fact that the main characters were receiving messages that were VITAL to them keeping their sister alive (I think). Every time they went there, the Penguin hat thingy gave them some sort of vague orders that would in some way indicate where the show was headed. As I’ve mentioned before, the trials don’t have any real-world consequences because both times they agreed that Kureha should be killed and she has yet to be murdered. Hell, there isn’t even the excuse the first episode had that it could have been a failed attempt because she ended up in a nurse’s office instead of in a morgue. SHE’S STANDING IN THE SAME SPOT AFTER THE TRIAL AS SHE DID BEFORE THE TRIAL!! So where does this leave me with the show? Well, I’m still REALLY excited to see where this goes and the last-minute revelation that indicates the creators might just know what the hell they’re doing is certainly reassuring. There are still some problems (the world is still a bit vague and we seem to go through characters a bit too quickly for their deaths to have any impact), but the good is now definitely outweighing the bad. Let’s just hope they can keep it up!
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