We’re back with another episode of Yuri Kuma Arashi, the number one show for those who like high school lesbians being eaten by adorable bears! The last episode ended with a damn fine twist that this one will hopefully build upon to give us something amazing! Do they succeed at making the most of this revelation, or do they end up squandering the potential that it had to really flesh out this series!? There’s only one way to find out and that’s to keep on reading!! The episode begins with a very confusing bit of narration.
We then go to the school auditorium where the headmaster (I think) is holding an assembly to remind the students of the dangers that lurk among them and who has already been lost to the bears. It’s made clear in this scene that the humans can’t tell if a bear was at any point disguised as a human because Konomi is mentioned as one of the missing students and not as the dead bear. What STILL isn’t clear though is if the humans KNOW that bears can turn into jailbait school girls. Wait, are the bears attacking anywhere else besides the school? Anyway, Mitsuko is sitting with Kureha and she’s clearly getting bolder with her advances by trying to hold Kureah’s hand. Kureha however refutes the invitations, which only drives Mitsuko’s lust (or hunger) for Kureha even higher.
After the assembly, we get an interesting new dynamic where it turns out that Kureha is friends with the headmaster. Not only that, but the reason they’re close is because the principal (Hakonaka) was Kureha’s mother’s “special friend.” Okay, seriously? Is EVERYONE in this show a lesbian?
The scene is actually pretty decent because while the parallels between the headmaster and Kureha are a bit TOO overt for my tastes (they both lost potential lesbian love interests to bear attacks), we at least have a character that Kureha can relate to who ISN’T actively trying to devour her internal organs. Then again, we never know who exactly will turn out to be bear so maybe the headmaster is playing an even longer game than Mitsuko is. Kureha reveals to the headmaster in this scene that there’s still one more bear on the loose and that she’s certain it’s in the school somewhere. Why this wasn’t reported sooner is anyone’s guess, as is the reason why she doesn’t mention that the transfer students are bears. Speaking of which, where are they hiding right now? Mitsuko and Kureha know who they are, but considering how tight-lipped the two are about it, I doubt that being at school would pose that much danger to Lulu and Ginko. We cut back to the classroom where Mitsuko seems to REALLY be stepping up the creepy factor. While we admittedly didn’t get a lot of screen time with her BEFORE The reveal, I can’t help but think that this character is wildly different than the Mitsuko we saw previously.
She grabs a random girl in the middle of class (who by the way is VERY much into it), which is NOTHING like the Mitsuko we saw before! Wait… she DID fondle Konomi in the last episode. BUT THAT WAS IN PRIVATE WHILE THIS IS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CLASSROOM!! Besides, if she DID have a habit of going through classmates like tissues, wouldn’t someone have brought it up!? Then again, we’ve only had like five characters in this show.
Does anyone else think that the Mitsuko reveal was too early? I know I said it was the best thing in the last episode, but in hindsight, it doesn’t have NEARLY the impact it should have had. We don’t know anything about Mitsuko other than she’s the class president and that she comes off as friendly and protective to the audience. We didn’t have much of a chance to get to know her or see how she fits into the school because the show’s focus has been on showing off its weird and artistic chops instead of building up a well-defined universe. Had they bothered to do that yet, then a revelation like the one we got at the end of the last episode would have had further-reaching consequences. It’s a good twist, but it’s starting to feel a bit premature. Anyway, we get some more classy symbolism…
And I think Mitsuko is part vampire because she appears to charm her latest victim (Eriko).
This seems to set off Ginko’s Spider-Sense (or Bear Sense I guess) who now seems worried that she and Lulu won’t be the ones to eat Kureha. Oh, and they seem to be chilling out in a park somewhere. I’m still not sure exactly how much their cover has been blown and whether or not they’re intentionally avoiding the school because of that. Ginko and Lulu don’t seem to do much about this other than stare at Kureha at night while bitching about Mitsuko.
So wait, they know that Mitusko is a bear now? When did they find that out!? Was it when Ginko felt a disturbance in the force earlier!? We cut to the next day where we get some good scenes of Kureha thinking fondly of Sumika. This leads to some flashbacks of her and Sumika together, and while they don’t make Sumika any more interesting, we at least get a better idea of what Kureha has lost. Then we cut to a rather odd scene that I don’t fully understand and I REALLY don’t like.
So apparently Mitsuko’s puppet here is leading the class in some sort of ritual they do where they decide who’s going to be the next victim… I think. Apparently, anyone who has been eaten was a dynamic and unique individual (*snark*) who DESERVED what they got because not being a homogenous part of the class means your EVIL and deserve to get eaten. So wait, if unique/evil people are already getting picked off, why are you deciding who gets excluded next? Do the bears need your help in determining who to eat next? Whatever the reason is for them to do this, I REALLY think it’s an unnecessary thing to bring into the show’s mythology at this point. The public turning on the wrong people IS a staple of paranoia stories, but the characters that do are either bad guys or non-characters that collectively represent a group rather than individual characters. By having the ONLY classroom we’ve seen so far taking part in this weird ritual, we’ve all but determined that these characters (the only real pool we can generate new and interesting characters from considering there’s almost no other “population” in this show) are just paranoid sheep. If one of them starts to warm up to Kureha and starts to have a significant role in the story, it’s going to be hard for me to think about anything other than the fact that they were willing to throw one of their own under the bus (somehow) by doing this asinine ritual. So anyway, I think the ritual is a vote where each of them uses their phones to decide which one of them is going to get eaten next, and it turns out to be Kureha. What a shock. The decision of course gets Mitsuko a super bear boner.
Oh and if you’re wondering, Kureha is not here obviously. I guess that’s why she was chosen because I can’t think of any other reason to choose her. Well, she did get attacked by bears twice now. I guess we’re not going for the whole “humanity unites when they’re faced with a tough challenge” perspective and instead are going with “SCREW EVERYONE ELSE!!! I WANT TO LIVE AND I’LL KILL AS MANY OF YOU AS I HAVE TOO TO DO SO!!!!!” angle. I never liked that view of humanity. It’s just annoyingly cynical. Do we just have Kureha left to root for? I guess there’s the headmaster, but I doubt she’s gonna have a significant role in this show. Wait, if they’ve done this ritual in the past, how did it come as a surprise that Sumika got eaten? I ASSUME she had to have been voted for at some point because Mitsuko seems to be taking the results seriously. She’s only going to take out Kureha NOW that she’s been voted for which must have been a tough wait considering how much she’s salivated over her. But then again… GAH!! THIS ALL MAKES NO SENSE!! MOVING ON!! Ginko and Lulu are listening in on this and are now concerned that Mitusko really will get to Kureha before they can. Well what the hell are THEY waiting for!? They got approval TWICE to eat her!! We cut back to Kureha and get some more flashbacks of her and Sumika while she just sits around the house depressed, itching to shoot some bears. For me, these flashbacks end up further confirming that Sumika was indeed a nice person, but not very interesting otherwise. She’s just coming off like a martyred saint than a real person, and that’s just boring. The only thing interesting about her was the fact that she died which gave Kureha some angst to work through. We go from there to Mitsuko who is heading to the school roof and she starts to monologue in a way that’s slowly draining all interest I have in the character.
Apparently, animals don’t “live in the past” and only concern themselves with the present. Gee. I hope this show doesn’t immediately contradict Mitsuko’s statement! That would imply that Mitsuko is a fool or the writers have no idea what they’re talking about!!
Apparently Lulu has this thing called ‘memories’ and her decisions are partially informed by them. Who would have thought? Now I’m going to be a bit fair and say that Lulu could be an exception rather than the rule when it comes to bears. I don’t know about “only living in the present” but the rest of the bears have been pretty single minded. Ginko hasn’t talked about anything other than eating Kureha, Konomi was focus only on eating Mitsuko, and now Mitsuko has revealed herself to also want nothing more than to munch of Kureha’s internal organs. Lulu on the other hand seems to be conflicted about Ginko’s constant focus on eating Kureha. Hell, I don’t even think Ginko has talked to Lulu since this show began. Anytime Lulu talks to Ginko, it’s a one sided conversation. Could they be hinting at a bit of rebellion from Lulu? That would definitely be something I’d like to see, and it’d force Ginko to acknowledge Lulu’s existence. We cut to Kureha who gets another call from the mysterious dude telling her to once again go to the school roof to “Prove her love.” I guess it makes sense that Kureha keeps going there because she wants nothing more than to kill some bears, but why is it always the school roof? Once Kureha gets there, she finds Mitusko waiting for her and this is where Mitusko really gets to shine. Her monologue here is disturbing and the animation makes her look quite deranged. It’s especially chilling when she starts talking about eating Sumika alive.
Kureha is in complete shock upon learning that her friend Mitsuko is in fact a bear and murdered her best friend. She snaps out of it though once Mitsuko starts talking smack about Sumika. Kureha fires a shot but misses wildly. At this point Mitsuko starts to approach Kureha without any fear because she knows that Kureha doesn’t have what it takes to shoot her. MItsuko turns into a bear and starts to charge. She takes a swipe at Kureha who falls down the stairs and you know exactly where this is going. OR IS IT!? BEAR SHOCK!!!
I guess the trial scene isn’t THAT much different than it was in the previous episodes considering the reason Ginko wants to save her is so SHE can eat her, but I appreciate that we now have proof that the trials won’t ALWAYS be the same. In fact, it also differs in the transformation sequence AND it ends up having some real world consequences!! I know, right!? Kureha is actually awake for… whatever this is, and ends up getting a pep talk from the two bears.
I don’t know why being licked by bears who want to eat you while getting vague messages about love is enough to inspire Kureha to action, but it does. Maybe she understands what’s going on better than I do. But hey! One of these random sequences finally has some real world consequence!
Kureha finally takes the shot, but I doubt it’s a killing blow. We see Mitsuko’s armband get destroyed which indicates a shot in the arm, and she flies off the roof but we clearly hear her land in a tree. The weight of what just happened and the revelations she had to learn are finally making their impact on Kureha, and she’s so traumatized she faints on the spot. It’s a really great moment for her; though it does inform us that she didn’t know something I was certain she was already aware of.
So she WASN’T made aware that bears can turn into humans in the last episode!? Gee, that would have been nice to let us know!! What did she THINK was going on when Mitsuko barged into her house brandishing a gun and ordering the transfer students to “show their true colors”? WAS THAT TOO VAGUE!? If it was, THEN WHY DIDN’T KUREHA EVER FOLLOW UP ON THAT!? Why didn’t she ask Mitsuko why she chased the transfer students of out her house!? Kureha faints and ends up falling into the arms of Ginko and Lulu who don’t eat her on the spot because of reasons. Instead, we cut to later that night where they meet Eriko (the girl who was putty in Mitusko’s hands and led the Exclusion Ritual) behind the lily garden which STILL has police tape around it. The reason they brought her there is to show her the mass grave they have behind the crime scene where they buried the remains of all the students they’ve eaten so far. Why would these two show this to someone? Take a guess.
And so the episode ends with promises of the disembowelment of a character we’ve known for a single episode. I’ve been REALLY up and down with this series, and this episode is probably the biggest example of that. The episode started so strong with it making good on the promises made in the last episode. Mitsuko plays it off damn well at first, but her over the top actions in this episode (which I guess could be explained by her increased excitement that she’ll soon eat Kureha) just kind of killed what interest I originally had at the start of this episode. She was supposed to be playing the long game, but her crowning moment (like every bear in the show) was on the roof with her prey having a damn gun. Also, the more we got to know her the less intelligent she seemed. Hopefully this botched attempt on Kureha’s life (which better not have led to her death) will give her enough time to reevaluate her mistakes and strike back with a vengeance. Other than that, there wasn’t much going on. This was clearly Mitsuko’s episode, and while Kureha had a few moments here and there, it was clear that everyone else was to take a back seat. I’m still looking forward to the next episode, and I’m REALLY hoping this show will click for me at some point. As it stands though, the show is still quite interesting with bits and pieces that work, but still can’t manage to give us some sort of context where everything has actual meaning and impact. Hopefully they’ll move away from the metaphors and pointless babbling about love to give us a taut thriller with themes of love, loss, and paranoia that has some weight and meaning besides just looking really pretty.
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