We’re back with another episode of everyone’s favorite series about stalker bears! When we last left off, Lulu’s backstory was explained and they were trying to get ever closer to our hero Kureha! Now the last one ended on a pretty good note what with the solid storytelling and the surprise twist at the end of the episode that Lulu has Kureha’s mother’s necklace. All good stuff, but that puts a whole of pressure on this episode to not only live up to the quality of the last one but to expand on what was revealed before! Was the last episode a sign that the rest of the series will be headed in a similar direction, or is it back to business as usual for this neigh impenetrable show about lesbian bears? Let’s find out!!
The episode begins with a look back to when Kureha’s mother was still alive. She’s taking a picture with her daughter as well as someone else! Bear Shock!!
Okay, admittedly my deduction skills weren’t pushed to the limit to figure this out after the reveal from the previous episode, but I’m REALLY interested to see how this affects what we already assume to know about Ginko and Kureha. Also, am I the only one who thinks Kureha’s mom is being a terrible parent right now? I know she’s cute and fuzzy, but a bear is not a damn pet!! We cut from the flashback to the present where Ginko is gently waking Kureha awake. Upon realizing who’s in the room with her, Kureha greets her loving friend with a smile on her face.
Nah, just kidding. Ginko’s having a fantasy and the REAL Kureha is not quite as pleased.
Get used to this by the way. Ginko ha A LOT of fantasies in here and they are all pretty damn funny. Kureha is demanding to know why GInko is invading her personal space and she informs her that she and Lulu have officially moved into her house. They must have gotten a lease from the non-existent dad who must be pretty lenient on references. That, or Kureha lives all alone and has no power to stop transients from staking out rooms in her house.
So far this episode is starting off great. Maybe not necessarily the right tone considering what the previous episodes have been about (and that Ginko was REALLY pushy with Kureha in episode two) but on its own it’s really funny and a delight to watch. Things get a bit more serious when Kureha is walking to school and trying to lose the two bears while the other students are looking at Kureha with scorn and derision. More so than before, the students are clearly ostracizing her because of some perceived curse or stigma that she has after the misfortunes that have surrounded her. Once at school, Kureha visits the principal (I think) and tries to convince her that Mitsuko was in fact a bear in disguise. The principal doesn’t believe here and doesn’t seem all that concerned that Kureha just admitted to shooting a student to death, so I can only conclude that the principal is in fact a bear as well! It’d one thing for her to not believe Kureha, but the way the principal is overly sympathetic while trying to convince her she’s crazy for thinking such a thing is setting off a whole lot of alarms in my head. Plus, she has a connection to Kureha and her mother, so there’s no way there isn’t some funny business going on here.
The conversation eventually moves to the fact that Kureha’s seventeenth birthday is coming up but that she doesn’t want anything this year. We find out that the pendant that can be seen in pictures of Kureha’s mother (and currently in the possession of Ginko) was a gift from the principal on her seventeenth birthday. I’m certain this will have some significance later (THE PRINCIPAL WAS THE ONE TO EAT KUREHA’S MOTHER!!!!!) so I felt it was important enough to point out right here. Kureha is still feeling pretty down about Sumika’s death and doesn’t feel like making friends or having fun. Gee, if only Kureha’s support system wasn’t fraught with endless peril, then she might be able to deal with her grief in a healthier way than to simply shut everyone out. Seriously, the deck is stacked so much against Kureha what with the death of her friend, her ostracism by the rest of the school, and almost every friendly person around her secretly trying to eviscerate her internal organs! Kureha ends up leaving the office in a huff (because the principal suggests she start making some new friends) and ends up eating lunch on the roof alone once again, and by alone I mean with the two bears not so subtly watching her. We get a flash back from Ginko which I doubt we’re supposed to take seriously considering it implies that Kureha and Ginko met on the field of battle.
It’s weird because Kureha (who’s no older than six in this flash back) just strolls onto a fresh battlefield surrounded by rotting bear corpses and finds the one who ISN’T dead and declares themselves as friends. Like I said, I DOUBT this is to be taken literally, but I don’t know what the point of it is when you could have shown us a realistic portrayal of their first meeting. Does the war imagery add anything? I guess it shows that there was indeed a time where bears and humans were in heated battles rather than this sort of Cold War thing that’s going on now, but a revelation like that didn’t need to be crammed into a scene that already accomplishing something important. Back in the present, it’s the end of the school day and Kureha is about to head home when one of the awful students in her class comes up to… apologize? WHAT!?
Huh. I did not expect this. I guess with Mitsuko gone, there’s no one left to lead them in their bull shit exclusion rituals which made them see just how wrong it was in the first place. Kureha naturally rejects their apology and I’m right there with her. These girls don’t appear to be motivated by any real sense of compassion, but by the guilt for going along with something so stupid. Let them feel bad for a bit. It’s the least they deserve. Lulu and Ginko aren’t too pleased by this because they want Kureha to themselves (excluding a person from their peers is a classic sign of a toxic relationship which Ginko certainly seems to be after despite her proclamations of love) and decide that there’s a whole bunch of girls just ready to be eaten. Before that though, they have to prepare a fantastic meal for Kureha to get into her good graces! Oh and they do it naked because reasons.
Ginko apparently knows Kureha’s favorite meal (further cementing the idea that they spent plenty of time together as kids) and the two make it for Kureha which delights her to no end.
Of course that’s not what happens. Ginko’s fantasy once again comes to a screeching halt when Kureha tells the pair to fuck right off. She then goes into rant mode where she starts accusing everyone of trying to get her to forget her love for Sumika by having her, you know, move on and actually process the grief.
It REALLY has to suck to be Kureha right now. She’s being evasive and closed off from anyone who wants to help her, but it always turns out that everyone wants to either kill or eat her! Ginko once again feels dejected by Kureha’s constant rejections and ends up in a bath with Lulu, clearly not enjoying herself. That is until Kureha joins the party.
It’s obviously another fantasy sequence, which is like the fourth one this episode. Was this what Ginko was doing in the last four episodes when we WEREN’T inside her head? When she was fixing the window in the last episode, did she keep imaging Kureha coming downstairs to help her wearing nothing but a tool belt? We cut from the two bears bathing to Kureha who’s remembering something Sumika did before she died. About a month ago, Sumika gave Kureha her present early (which is in an envelope) and makes Kureha promise not to open it until her birthday. Wait, something seems fishy here. Who wants to bet that the letter Sumika wrote is going to have the answers to EVERYTHING in it when Kureha finally reads it? They did this in Monk, they did it Texas Chainsaw 3D, and I bet they’re going do it here. You know what? I bet Sumika isn’t even dead. Think about it. We never saw her get killed, and the only evidence we have is a pair of glasses and Mitsuko’s word that she killed her. Why the hell should we trust Mitsuko!? Fuck it, I’m calling it RIGHT NOW!! Sumika’s still alive, and she’s the one behind everything somehow!!
The next day, Kureha finds that the police tape has been removed from the garden and that it’s been resoiled. It turns out that the rest of Kureha’s class did this and want to help her replant it as a tribute to Sumika.
See, now this is something that I can get into! I LOVE the fact that the nominal bad guys (society at large or whatever the classroom is supposed to be) are real people who can make mistakes and learn from them. I like that they are making an effort, even if it still feels motivated by guilt than anything else. This is a great direction to take the show and will no doubt lead to things getting better for everyone… right?
THE CYNCISM!! IT HURTS!! Maybe I’m just a gushy wussy, but I REALLY don’t like anime that shows society as weak minded and evil, especially when it’s intended to be some sort of message about humanity. There are A LOT of shit bags in the world, but can we PLEASE not pretend that “everyone sucks and society is bullshit and groups of people are always evil” is some sort of highbrow intellectual statement? Whatever, the class is still excluding Kureha and is trying to build her up first so she’ll have a massive fall. That’s right, they’re gonna pull a Carrie, and we all know how well THAT works out. Lulu and GInko are listening in once again and seem to be happy about this development. I think.
We cut from there right to the severance court without the usual Kureha falling down stairs schtick so maybe the writers are getting as tired of that as much as I am. And just to cement my fucking confusion about this show, this is the first line we get from Ginko in this scene.
There’s not as much wiggle room about what EATING someone means. Sure, we can nyuk nyuk about cunnilingus all we want (I certainly have), but the way they use the word in THIS scene can only imply killing and devouring an individual. We’ve seen Ginko’s fantasies about Kureha, and NONE of them implied that she wants anything other than sex, which I guess might be the point… somehow. Is sex supposed to be the same as murdering and eating someone? WHY!? I don’t know, and maybe the show doesn’t want me to know yet… or ever. Life Cool calls bullshit on Ginko’s plan to “save” Kureha and rightfully points out that she wants to keep Kureha from making any friends so that she can have her to herself. Life Beauty and Lulu try to defend her, but Ginko flat out admits that she’s being selfish in the name of love. She also admits to committing a serious crime, but we don’t get the details because Life Beauty stops her from elaborating.
Life Sexy asks Ginko if she will risk being destroyed by her own selfish desires (which is sure to happen if her love isn’t true) and Ginko says yes without hesitation. The court approves her… doing something. Whatever the fuck is going on, it’s got the A-Okay from the severance court. We cut to that night where we see a familiar scene begin to repeat itself. Lulu and Ginko take the new leader of the Exclusion Ceremony (Kaoru) to the flowerbed and reveal themselves to be bears. The girl runs off and Ginko goes in for the kill. Then THIS happens!! BEAR SHOCK!!!!!
Yeah! Apparently Kaoru isn’t as dumb as the rest of the victims of these two because she (or maybe everyone?) already knows that they are bears and laid a trap! Needless to say, I have mixed feelings. And so our episode ends with one of our heroes/villains stuck in a trap that can spell doom for them and possibly something else for Kureha.
The show is really starting to hit its stride now and I can only hope it will get better as time goes on. There were a lot of genuine character moments in this episode that gave us a better idea of how they think rather than how they represent some bigger concept or whatever. Hell, even the evil classroom showed a bit of dimension here by being actively manipulative rather than passively excluding people. I’m still honestly confused as to what GInko’s end game is here, but considering how good the rest of the episode is, I’ll let it slide for now. Still, I want it to be made clear sooner rather than later because being this vague about whether a character is going save or harm your main character makes it hard to feel strongly when something happens to them. It’s one thing to not always be sure HOW a character will act to further their goals, or even be deceiving the audience into THINKING they have one goal when they actually have another, but to have a character have a specific goal and not tell the audience what that is (she’s either gonna kill her or fuck her) is just gonna make them feel out of the loop. I still feel at arm’s length with this series because of this, but the rest of the show is steadily getting better so I can definitely call this episode a success at drawing me in further into this series. We’re almost at the halfway point people! Let’s see how well they can pull this madness off!!
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