We getting close to the end of this twisted little series, and it’s been on an upward swing for a while now! Can the show maintain the momentum it’s built up for the past few episodes, or will all this build-up be for naught once everything is said and done? Let’s find out!! The episode begins where the last one left off. Kureha has just discovered that Ginko is her friend from long ago, but notices that she’s wearing her mother’s necklace and now wants answers. Before Ginko can explain herself, we get a flashback to twenty years ago where a bear was left on the school steps. GEE! I WONDER WHO IT COULD POSSIBLY BE!!
So Principal Yuriika was found by the then principal who I THINK is a guy wearing high heels. The heels are red by the way and he clicks them three times, so throw Wizard of Oz onto the giant pile of movie references this shows has managed to cram in. I’m not sure if the person is transgender, but either way the show uses male pronouns to describe them.
Yuriika’s upbringing was anything but wholesome considering she was locked in a damn box most of her childhood, though that might just be a metaphor. I honestly have no idea at this point. The principal showered her with adoration and love because she was pure and unsullied by the world, hence why she had to stay in a box lest she be tainted. One day however, the principal decided to leave because he found someone even more precious. We don’t actually SEE this challenger, but needless to say that Yuriika doesn’t take it well and does the one thing a bear knows how to do.
I believe we cut to a couple of years after that event where Yuriika is cutting the flowers out of the flowerbed in order to box them up before they wilt. Despite the terrible way her guardian treated her, she’s still taking their lessons to heart and has a really messed up and selfish view of love. Fortunately for Yuriika, Kureha’s mother (Reia) approaches her and starts to make friends.
For the time being, Yuriika has found salvation from her lonely existence and might just learn how to have healthy interactions with those around there. For a long time, that seemed to be the case what as the two of them are neigh inseparable, though it isn’t clear if they became lovers.
Everything changes however when Reia gives birth to Kureha and this breaks something deep with Yuriika. In her mind, her friend’s love has been lost forever because she allowed her friend to live her own life and not force her into a (metaphorical) box.
This backstory for Yuriika is probably the best part of the entire series so far. Like everything else, it’s full of metaphors, strange imagery, and confusing bits (does anyone else care that a bear is hanging around the school?), but what puts this sequence above and beyond is how well Yuriika’s pathos is written. We’re constantly in her head and get to hear her thoughts on everything that happens. It’s heartbreaking to watch as she throws away everything that meant something to her due to some sort of idealization of love that can never be matched in the real world. She’s likely too far gone to be saved at this point, but it’s still fascinating to see how this monster came to be. The flashback jumps straight to the night of Reia’s death which coincidently is the day the giant wall of severance was (literally or metaphorically) erected. Reia takes Ginko to the bear side of the wall but gives her Yuriika pendant so that Ginko won’t forget that there are those that do in fact love her. On her way back home, Yuriika jumps her and demands to know why the pendant is gone. Knowing that the only person she ever cared for gave away the symbol of their friendship is the final straw to push Yuriika over the edge and so she kills and devours the only person who could save her from the lonely existence she’s erected around herself.
And so ends our flashback. We return to the present where Yuriika is hearing Kureha’s story about what happened the night prior. Ginko apparently refused to tell Kureha why she has her mother’s pendant and both she and Lulu were gone by the next morning. Okay… why? Is this another one of those silly rules that explain why people act in asinine ways that only attempt to increase the drama? Seriously, why can’t you say “your mother gave it to me and I didn’t kill her”? Hell, even if you can’t prove it, you could still say it to try and assuage Kureha’s doubts. You would have at least you given your side of the story before the principal could fill her head with mistrust and paranoia. Speaking of which, apparently Kureha hasn’t figured out those two are bears yet so the principal provides her with proof that she somehow obtained.
Kureha doesn’t seem too horrified by this considering how close those two have been and how much she absolutely loathes bears, but the principal still convinces Kureha that Ginko is the one who killed her mother and tells her she has to exclude those two, which I GUESS might mean kill them? I have no idea. All I know is that the principal can go piss off.
We go from the principal’s office to the nearby park where Lulu and Ginko are crashing after leaving Kureha’s house. The show reminds us that Lulu knows something terrible that Ginko did (the post-credits cliffhanger from the previous episode) but we’re still not privy to that information. Lulu tries to use this vague information as leverage to get Ginko to give up at this point and go back home with her. Clearly this information is quite damning if even Lulu thinks Ginko has no shot with Kureha now. Ginko refuses to give up on love and once again gets a call from Life Sexy telling her to go to the rooftop to prove her love. Lulu refuses to go and tries everything she can to keep Ginko from walking straight into a death trap. Yuriika is aware of the imminent confrontation and she’s waiting patiently on the roof for Ginko and Kureha to arrive. We get one more flashback where Yuriika is before the severance court (it’s been a while since we’ve been here) and tells the court her fateful decision.
She’s too scared to let go of what she keeps because life is too uncertain and she’s so afraid of losing anything. I’m sure SOME of us can relate to that.
I SWEAR I’M GONNA PLAY THAT DEMO OF TOMB RAIDER 2 AGAIN!!! I KNOW IT’S FOR WINDOWS 98! I DON’T CARE!! DON’T MAKE ME THROW IT OUT!!!
Where was I? Oh right. The court gives her their Yuri Approval, yet we don’t get the full transformation sequence as we did in the past. Really? The show is gonna pass up on a chance to show T&A? What, is she too old now that she’s legal? Back in the present, Kureha has arrived on the rooftop to find both Ginko and Yuriika waiting for her. Kureha points her rifle at Ginko and is convinced that she’s responsible for her mother’s death, but isn’t quite ready to pull the trigger. GInko then begins to give her side of the story and eventually starts to win Kureha over. Yuriika isn’t having any of this though and starts to fill Kureha’s head with even more doubts. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, Kureha begins to waver and break down. Then GInko does something I HATE which is to accept death as some sort of noble sacrifice when it’s completely pointless.
Her sacrifice here is completely self-serving and is only meant to manipulate Kureha. You know, GInko isn’t really a prize either considering how many she’s killed to get this far. As uninteresting as I found Sumika, she’s still the only person who seems to have cared for Kureha in a way that isn’t uncomfortable. Sure enough, Kureha is persuaded not to go through with shooting Ginko in the face.
It seems like everything is going to be alright. Sure, there’s still a lot of patching up to do between Kureha and Ginko, but at least they’ve taken the first steps towards reconciliation. That is until Lulu enters the scene, just as a begins to kick up around them. She appears on the rooftop and starts to tell Kureha what crime it is that Ginko committed. What is the crime? No idea. They cut out the dialogue’s audio.
SERIOUSLY!? You’re just gonna stop the audio as a way to keep the secret until the next episode? THAT’S CHEATING!! Okay, they pretend to justify it with the storm getting louder, but if it’s so loud that WE can’t hear it, how the heck are they supposed to hear each other!? Whatever the heck it is that Lulu says, it cause Kureha to point her gun at GInko and get ready to shoot her. So why is Lulu betraying Ginko? Who cares! WHAT A TWIST!!! SAVE IT FOR THE NEXT EPISODE!! And so the episode ends with another cliffhanger, only this time it feels completely unearned and cheap.
This episode was absolutely amazing for almost its entire running time. The backstory on Yuriika was exactly what this show needed and it was the culmination of everything they’ve been able to do right up to this point. The mix of story, metaphors, and artistic direction were at their absolute best and cohesive for that backstory and it did a great job of giving us an understanding of character who could have easily been a one-dimensional jerk like Mitsuko turned out to be, and even the stuff after the flashback is on point and very well executed and gave each character a moment to shine. The episode works so well because it’s about the characters and what they’re going to do next rather than being intentionally obtuse. Sure it’s still got its pretentious moments (I still don’t think the officials of the Severance Court serve much of a purpose when they’re in the real word) but the episode never wallows in its pretentions like earlier episodes would. The only thing that ends up hurting this episode is the ending and I think it REALLY hurts it. The audio cutting out there isn’t just a really cheap tactic to draw out the drama; it actively snaps you out the episode. It’s not the slightest bit convincing that the weather is the reason we can’t hear them (they didn’t even bother to include muffled voices) and that someone in the editing room just muted thirty seconds of the vocal track. Despite its lackluster ending, this is probably the best episode of the series so far and I can only imagine how they hell they’re gonna finish this thing off in the four episodes we have remaining! Hopefully Ikuhara can pull off this completely insane experiment of a series! … WAIT A MINUTE!!! HOW THE HECK IS IT RAINING!? DON’T THEY LIVE IN A DOME!?!?
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