We’re back with another episode of everyone’s favorite highbrow show about lesbian talking bears! We left off the last episode on quite a strong note with the death of Principal Yuriika and the endless possibilities that this event can take the story. With only three episodes left, are we about to watch this series become one of the all-time great anime series, or will this crash and burn like many others before it? Let’s find out!!
The episode begins with a flashback to the night Reia died where Little Kureha is wandering the house looking for her mother who is nowhere to be found. She ends up finding a note left by her mother that says she’s going to take Her back to her world. Kureha doesn’t know who Her is which begs the question, how fast did Kureha lose her memory? Reia died the night that Ginko left their house which means that the opening of episode seven (where Kureha is watching her mother craft the book and has no idea who Her is) had to have happened WHEN GINKO WAS STILL LIVING WITH THEM!! After that, we cut to the present where things have changed significantly since the death of Principal Yuriika.
Yeah, the school has gone full Gestapo and is on the hunt for bears, yet still can’t find one when it’s staring them right in the face. That’s not the worst of it. They’ve ALSO gone full mad scientists and… well just look.
So in the time between this episode and the last, the Exclusion Group has gotten military-grade weaponry, SWAT trucks, and bear powered generators!? Oh, AND THEY WENT ALL FRANKENSTEIN ON KONOMI!? I don’t even know if this is supposed to MEAN anything, or if it’s intentionally absurd. I’m leaning towards the latter. The group asks Lulu if she’s seen anything suspicious and Lulu denies it in a fervent and unconvincing manner that still somehow fools the group. The officials of the Severance Court are watching on and once again start to muse about character motivations. Wait a minute… I think I finally figured their purpose in these scenes! In the last few episodes that they appeared in the real world, they’ve been representative of the audience. They’ve been asking the obvious questions, coming up with their own theories, and perving on the girls in a way that most (if not all) viewers of the show are bound to do. That said, I’m still not sure what to think of the fact that the show is flat out acknowledging how obtuse this material is. If they KNEW it would be confusing, then they probably should have cleared it up a bit is all I’m saying. We cut from the Officials of the Severance Court to Kureha in her room reading the book that her mother left her again. While she reads it, we can see parallels to the goings-on in the real world, mostly pertaining to the Exclusion Group’s increased efforts to stop the bears from encroaching any further into the human world. Kureha eventually gets to the part of the story she found in Yuriika’s office and it turns out… well, it turns out to be the ending we already heard it was, but at least Kureha knows it now. For a quick refresher, the Moon Girl and the Forrest Girl decided to risk their lives to destroy the wall that separated them and they succeeded in their goal.
Kureha is super conflicted right now because this is basically her mother’s wish for her and Ginko, but she has to take into account what Ginko has done to her. She let Sumika die. How the hell can she get past Ginko doing something like that? Is it right to forgive her for this, or will Ginko once again betray her further down the road? Before she can ponder her situation further, Lulu arrives to return her mother’s pendant which she’s spent the last day or so looking for. Lulu begins to leave, but Kureha (looking for answers and maybe even a friend) invites her in to take a bath.
While washing Lulu’s hair, Kureha informs her that Yuriika was a bear and was actually behind a lot of the bad things that have happened recently. Lulu is shocked, but they don’t really go into detail about it and instead move the topic to the night Kureha shot Ginko. Kureha is still confused as to why Ginko would admit to killing Sumika even though she knew Mitsuko did it and is hoping that Lulu has some answers. Lulu informs her of what we already know which is that Ginko was jealous of Sumika and let that get to her. She also confesses that she had a similar motivation when she revealed Ginko’s involvement in Sumika’s death to Kureha that night. She felt that Kureha was taking Ginko away from her and tried to show Ginko that Kureha would never forgive her so that she’d stay with her instead of pursuing Kureha. So I guess everyone’s a terrible person instead of Kureha! GO TEAM KUREHA!! Hey, at least we get an explanation for Lulu’s actions. Sure it was simple, but at least we have confirmation instead of yet another thing to guess about. The only thing that’s a bit odd is that Lulu clearly feels remorseful, but doesn’t seem all that concerned with finding Ginko. Hell, neither of them has even brought up the fact that she’s been gone for probably two days now and most likely needs help for her gunshot wound. After the bath, the two of them share some tea, and Kureha gets her mother’s music box. It appears that there’s a place in the box to put the necklace, which opens up the picture compartment once it is placed. Kureha finally gets to see the full picture and has confirmation that she and Ginko used to be friends.
During their chat, Kureha gets a call from Oki who informs her that the Exclusion Group has discovered that Lulu and Ginko are bears and to be on the lookout for them. Kureha agrees to let them know if she sees either one of them and fails to mention that Lulu is sitting right across from her. That, of course, is EXACTLY what Oki wanted to hear because she KNOWS Lulu is there and was just setting a trap!! Bear Shock!
The schoolgirls wearing skirts and ties instead of Kevlar and combat boots arrive at the Kureha household in their attack vehicle and start to search the place. We once again get another flashback, but this one is VERY brief and probably intended to be some foreshadowing for later. They don’t give a specific date, but I THINK it’s the night Reia died considering that the Kureha in this scene is about that age. The bear alarm is going off in town and Kureha is in the park for some reason. We hear a voice (I don’t recognize it but it might be familiar to those who pay attention) say “I don’t want to be alone.” Kureha turns around to see who said that and we cut back to the present where the Exclusion Group is still scoping out her house. Kureha was smart enough to now it was a setup, so she and Lulu have already escaped and are now on the lam! This won’t deter Oki though because apparently she has a surveillance system throughout the city to rival that of Batman in The Dark Knight.
While running for their lives, Lulu takes this chance to finally explain some things that are LONG overdue. Lulu’s theory is that Kureha can’t remember anything about Ginko because whenever a bear has to cross the Wall of Severance, she has to give something up that’s very precious to her. For Lulu, it was Kisses which you may recall from episode four. Lulu believes that Ginko gave up Kureha’s love which means that Kureha doesn’t remember GiInko and therefore doesn’t love her like when she DID have those memories. So in order to come to the human world (and disguise herself as a human girl), she pleaded the court to wipe out Kureha’s memory so she can get her to fall in love again. I guess I can buy that, but I don’t understand the timing of everything. It’s clear that even from a young age Kureha forgot who Ginko was and it’s only recently that Ginko got Yuri Approval from the Severance Court to become a human girl. Did the Officials of the Severance court go back in time and erase Kureha’s memory THEN instead of when Ginko got Yuri Approval? I’m not going to spend TOO much time harping on this because Lulu reiterates that this could ALL be bullspit and we’ll probably get another theory later on, but it IS another thing that I imagine the show doesn’t feel it needs to explain to us. Things take a turn for the worse though because apparently Lulu isn’t allowed to talk about the Severance Court or whatever, and therefore her Yuri Approval has been revoked.
So what if Lulu is a bear now? She can probably still run pretty fast! Hell, Kureha can probably carry her and take her to the door of friendship or whatever and get her somewhere safe. Wait, where’s Lulu running off to?
AHH!!!! I was REALLY going to lose it if Lulu got killed!! WOO!!! Seriously, she’s been the only redeemable bear in this entire series and I HATE it when really likable characters get killed. Sure she’s not a SAINT but compared to what all the others did, she’s practically the embodiment of Lady Kumaila. Kureha is running her ass off to the Door of Friendship, which will get Lulu safely outside of the human world, when she has another flashback. We go back to the one that was foreshadowed earlier and they reveal that this takes place on the day that she met Ginko (so I was wrong about it being the day Reia died). The voice in question is GInko’s which is softly coming through the nearby Door of Friendship and so Kureha follows it. Huh. You know, now that they threw in this inter-dimensional portal, the whole “Kureha found Ginko on the battlefield” thing doesn’t seem so ridiculous. I seriously thought that it was all a metaphor, but nope! Inter-dimensional portals! We inter-cut between the flashback and the present wherein both cases Kureha is going towards the Door of Friendship. This isn’t just a flashback for the sake of the audience but is also Kureha finally getting her memory back and by the time she reaches the door, she remembers pretty much everything. Like her mother all those years before her, Kureha risked life and limb to get a dear friend to safety and reminding them that they always have a friend on the other side.
Yeah, I don’t buy this. Hell, I don’t even think we’re SUPPOSED to buy this because right after sending Lulu away, Kureha assures herself that she did the right thing (a Shoo The Dog moment if you will). Kureha’s momentary satisfaction for doing something noble doesn’t last long though because the Exclusion Group was right behind them. Not only do they have Kureha, but they now know about the Door of Friendship and probably have some SERIOUSLY diabolical plans for it as well as Kureha.
So Kureha deserved to get excluded because she took revenge for you guys excluding her? Good. Well, I guess it makes sense if you’re a fool which the Exclusion Group seems to be. Also, i’m pretty sure I should be calling them the Invisible Storm, but screw it. I’m set in my ways at this point! Things look grim for Kureha, but off in the bushes Is Ginko with plans to eat… someone. Wait, is she after Kureha as well!?
Well dang! Kureha’s in quite the pickle right now! The episode ends with one final Bear Shock after the credits, which is that… Kureha is having a Yuri trial? Okay…
This is yet another great episode for this series that’s proving to be quite remarkable in a lot of respects. What helped this episode out immensely is that characters took the time to talk to each other and discuss things! Even the things that don’t make any freaking sense at least get ACKNOWLEDGED as such! While a lot of other episodes would be a bit meandering in service of some sort of metaphor or overarching theme, this episode was right in the middle of the action and treated each character like real characters instead of symbols to stand in for some greater theme or whatever. The only thing that kind of hurts this episode is the weird changes that happened all of sudden between this episode and the last. The Exclusion Group becoming militarized? Sure. They’re stepping up their game now that their principal is dead and turns out to have been a bear (though it would have been nice to have SOMEONE had brought up THAT important detail). Where I draw the line is SWAT trucks, reanimated bear corpses, and A FREAKING LASER BEAM!! This show has dabbled in the absurd before (the great war between bears and humans is a good example) but all that felt COMPLETELY out of place and unnecessary. Did they NEED all that hardware to do what they did in this episode? They would have been just as threatening if it was just a group of the girls carrying rifles and would have had the added bonus of not being as silly as a tactical response team made up of sixteen-year-olds. If all that was in service of some bigger point the show wants to make, then it was completely lost on me. Then again, what else is new for this show? Anyway, I really dug the hell out of this episode and while it may be sad to say goodbye to Lulu, at least she got to make it out alive. We’ll find out in the next two episodes if Kureha and Ginko will get to do the same!
Wait a minute! Who the hell was the bear they killed with the giant laser beam!?
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