We’re back with another episode of the Lesbian Bear Soap Opera Extravaganza! The last episode ended on a really high note with Kureha finally standing up to the bear menace and landing a decisive blow against one of her enemies! Needless to say that this episode has a lot to live up to after such a great ending. Does the show continue to impress, or will it fall back on old tricks that always kept me at arm’s length? Let’s find out!!
The episode begins with a bit of back story for Lulu. Right off the bat, this episode is headed in the right direction because the one thing I’ve been begging for this show to do is flesh out the world and the characters we follow. That said however, it still doesn’t quite make sense.
So apparently Lulu had to give up kisses so she could go the human world with Ginko. Okay… if the intention here is that she gives up on physical intimacy in exchange for love, then doesn’t that kind of undercut just about everything this show has been throwing at us? Despite Lulu’s constant flirtation with the GInko we’re supposed to think of her as virginal? To what end!? We don’t get much of answer because we go from THAT flashback to ANOTHER flashback which is now being told by the three members of the Severance Court (now in bear form because it’s their day off). The three of them decide to tell the story in… well storybook fashion which means that we should probably take anything they say here with a grain of salt. It turns out that Lulu is the princess of the bear kingdom and is loved by all their citizens. That is until her baby brother is born (which occurs on the same day as that meteor shower that caused all the bears to rise up, so make of that what you will) and Lulu is not able to handle the fact that she’ll have to share the limelight.
Jealousy and resentment start to well up within the princess over time which I THINK is being manifested as a bee that’s almost always circling her. The little prince though seems completely oblivious to his sister’s grumpy behavior and is always trying to connect with her.
This discussion about love and stars ends up with Lulu telling her brother about a legend where shooting stars that fall to Earth turn into “promise kisses” and the brother decides to get one for his sister to prove his love for her. Lulu takes this opportunity to… “help” her little brother.
Yeah, she stuffs the little bastard in a box and kicks his sorry ass over a cliff that’s very reminiscent of Homer’s fateful tumble off of Springfield Gorge. Surprisingly, the kid actually survives and brings his sister the “promise kiss” which turns out to be a jar of honey. Lulu throws the jar out the window and tells the kid to retrieve it again. THIS TIME it’s going to go MUCH better!
No luck again. The kid somehow survives the Sarlacc Pit (a feat that Boba Fett couldn’t pull off), but this will hardly stop Lulu from trying yet again.
Still, the prince survives and brings back a jar of honey with him each time. She tries this over and over again, but the kid will not disappear, until one day her servants come to her bearing awful news (I think I just unintentionally punned there). The young prince has died. It appears to be some sort of accident, but Lulu doesn’t care to know the details because she’s finally gotten what she wanted.
The story stops here and goes to the present day so that we can get caught up on what has happened to our characters since the last time we saw them. Kureha has been sleeping off the trauma of the previous episode (where she killed Sumika) and has been taken care of by Lulu and Ginko. She’s finally awake to find that Lulu has just made her some Honey porridge is trying to spoon feed it to her because they’re friends.
It’s still not clear why the hell the bears are waiting so long to eat Kureha (maybe they have some weird ritual that hasn’t been explained yet) but I find it odd that the two of them are so friendly at this point. It’s probably just a false front to get into Kureha’s good graces, but Lulu and Ginko aren’t letting the audience in on that fact just yet and it feels like it’s being played way too straight. I’m genuinely curious if they have some ulterior motives that have yet to be explained, but we’ll have to wait and see if they manage to pull that off successfully. Kureha is a bit peeved that two strangers broke into her home (which still seems to be completely empty of anyone other than her) and swats Lulu’s porridge away. From there we cut back to Lulu’s story to find out what happened after the death of her brother. She’s back as the number one child and is beloved by the kingdom once again. She gets requests from suitors all over the world (here being represented by the Severance Court Officials) but each one is repelled by that bee that keeps circling around her. She had let her resentment and jealousy for her younger brother grow and grow, but now that she has everything she wants, she can’t let those feelings go. She’s become a sad and miserable creature due to the grief she won’t admit she’s going through and for the guilt of wishing for this exact thing. You see!? Is it REALLY this hard for the rest of the show to have proper world-building, character development, and satisfying character arcs!? Lulu is all alone in her room when there’s a knock at the door.
She tries to ignore it, but the door opens and her younger brother comes through carrying yet another jar of honey.
He promises to always search for the promise kiss no matter how many times his sister throws it away. Lulu reaches out for it but just before she is able to grasp it, she wakes up and it turns out to be a dream. What ended up waking her was a knock on her window. Lulu opens it to find Ginko standing there with her younger brother’s jar of honey. Seeing this stranger return the symbol of her brother’s love for her jogs Lulu’s memory and we finally find out what ended up killing the young prince. You wanna take a guess what it was?
We cut back to the present where Lulu still has that jar of honey that Ginko had returned to her. Ginko has finished repairing the window (the one the two of them destroyed in episode two) and they are ready to leave for the day. We get one more flashback where we learn why Lulu and Ginko are in the human world (though we should probably take this one scene with a HUGE grain of salt). Ginko was apparently kissed by a human long ago (or something like that) and is going to the human world to return the favor because she won’t “give up on love” (whatever the hell that means). Lulu wants to go with her to help her fulfill her wish because I guess Lulu doesn’t feel she can fall in love anymore and would rather spend her time helping someone else achieve their love (or something). Wait, it can’t be that because then we cut back to the trial the episode started with where Lulu declares once again that she’ll NEVER give up on love and will therefore give up on kisses. Okay wait, so the two are mutually exclusive? Also, they don’t specifically say PROMISE KISSES which might mean something completely different (true love or that fairy tale kiss or what have you).
Whatever it is Lulu is giving up, I guess it’s what allows her to turn into a human and infiltrate their world. That begs the questions as to what the OTHER bears had to give up in order to possess that ability, and hopefully the show will explore that further down the road. That or the show will call me a fool for thinking there’s any significance to my interpretation of what the heck just happened. And so our episode ends with Lulu and Ginko back in the park. Lulu is looking at the remaining honey in the jar her brother gave her and Ginko is looking at some sort of star pendant that must have great significance for her. Where have I seen that necklace before?
I actually think this is the strongest episode in the series so far. Sure, it didn’t have the action or the high stakes emotion that made the third episode memorable, but the fact that most of this episode is a self-contained story means that it avoided most of the issues I’ve had with this series so far. The character motivations were clear and weren’t mired too much in double meanings and symbolism (I still don’t know exactly what a promise kiss is supposed to be) and the show doesn’t feel like it lost anything because of it. That said, I do have a problem with some of the things we learned in this episode, though it’s possible they’ll resolve my issues in later episodes. I think this does some serious damage to Lulu and Ginko’s relationship and how the show chooses to portray them. If I’m supposed to take the “no more kisses” to mean “no more physical intimacy” then why has the show been pushing all the sexually explicit imagery of Lulu and Ginko together? The way it plays out in this episode doesn’t give me the impression that they are ACTUALLY a couple which calls into question the legitimacy of the scenes where they’re naked and being intimate. Admittedly, those scenes mostly appear in the opening credits and the metaphor-laden Severance Court sequences, but it’s still some strong images to put out there. I always thought those scenes were fine because they were actually reflective of the feelings these two characters have for each other but now that the show has (kinda sorta) established that they AREN’T that close, it loses the point to its existence and just comes off as cheap fan service. I was really hoping this show would avoid that pitfall and ACTUALLY make a story about sex and relationships that would justify the use of such imagery. The show is still ostensibly about that, but the implication that Lulu will remain a virgin has some troubling implications about how the creators feel about the legitimacy of same-sex relationships.
What I’m trying to get across is that I get the feeling that they want to titillate their audience with girl on girl action, but have decided not to commit to these two actually being homosexual. I believe this is known as a Class S relationship and while Yuri Kuma Arashi seems pretty interested in showing the horrific consequences that could face those individuals who are out of the closet (isolation, physical/sexual violence) this backtracking with its most prominent and overt couple seems kind of… off to me. I’m sure I’ve stated before somewhere that I’m not a particularly smart dude and that my interpretation of anything this deep should come with a boulder-sized grain of salt, so I could be COMPLETELY off base here and I would really appreciate anyone who has the inclination to give me their theories about this episode and Ginko and Lulu’s relationship in the comments section below. All that said, I still liked the episode and really hope they get deeper into pretty much everyone’s story. Having Lulu’s backstory filled out really helps to ground her as an interesting character, even if my interpretation of some things doesn’t fully work for me. I know this show has a pretty short run, but I’d like to see more episodes like this in the future. Dang, I haven’t even gotten to that last-minute reveal have I!? WASN’T THAT AWESOME!?!? So the person Ginko wants to “kiss” or “return the favor to” or whatever is Kureha’s mother? No wait, she would have been pretty young when Kureha’s mother was killed, so maybe it’s not her, but Kureha? OH! What if it turns out that Kureha and Ginko were friends, but then a bear (possibly related to Ginko) was the one to kill Kureha’s mother!? That’s it! I’m placing my bet! Something along those lines happened in the past!!
PS: If you’re not reading The Mary Sue’s Yuri Kuma Arashi recaps, then do it! I don’t read them until after I finish my own corresponding recap, but they always give me a lot to think about and teaches me things I didn’t know before (Class S relationships for example). Definitely worth checking out!!
If you like this recap and plan on buying the show, then use the Amazon link below! I’ll get a percentage of the order it helps keep things going for me here at The Reviewers Unite! In fact, you don’t even need to buy the item listed! Just use the link, shop normally, and when you check out it will still give us that sweet, sweet, percentage! You can even bookmark the link and use it every time you shop! HOW AWESOME IS THAT!?