Yurikuma Arashi 12

Yurikuma Arashi 12: Youthful indiscretion

Pon. I kept hearing people say that this is a really Ikuhara ending. And, yeah. That is true. There’s some symbol magic, and then it all turns out to have been one revolution of a cycle. Yep.

Oto. I don’t know if this show is Ikuhara enough to stand with his other shows. And when I say “I don’t know,” I mean it. I had the thought, but I’m not sure how I feel about it. I’ll just lay out how I feel. You be the judge.

Pon. Shabadadoo.

Oto. Compared to the other Ikuhara shows it’s definitely my least favorite. As I said before, it’s Ikuhara’s version of a fairly simple yuri show. In my mind that really works against him. Let’s compare. Utena is about growing up, the illusions associated with the act of growing up and the destruction of those illusions, self-sacrifice for the benefit of others even if the other party doesn’t appreciate that you’ve sacrificed yourself for them, and so on and so forth. Penguindrum is about some of the same things and also terrorism and coping with loss. Yurikuma is about two kids getting together.

Pon. Well, hang on. I think there’s an easier way to sum them up. They’re all about stories. The stories we buy into, which may have more or less power, and which may be more or less helpful. So in Utena the almost-all-powerful nemesis is supreme bullshitter Akio, and in Penguindrum we get a guy who can weave narratives that make people bomb trains and a girl who can make stuff come true by writing about it in a diary. And then, like I figured would happen last time, Yurikuma ended up being about these characters learning to deal with the shitty narratives they were stuck in (the cultural attitudes and institutional barriers that made humans and bears kill each other) by creating their own, better narratives … there’s the suggestion in the end that the court amounts to the kind of imagination magic we’ve been running into since Utena, a kind of storytelling with immediate impact on the “real” world. The difference here is that Kureha and Ginko had very little guidance. Granted, the dead mom’s picturebook is probably better guidance than fucking Akio.

Oto. I think what’s happening is I’ve seen the “estranged couple overcomes adversity” plot so many times that I’m numb to it. That’s what immediately pops into my head when I think of a romance story. It’s just been Ikuharafied. That counts for quite a hell of a lot in my book, though. Ikuhara shows know when not to take themselves too seriously. They always have funny moments and I love the humor. They’re all visually interesting. And they’re all pretty easy to watch. Yurikuma might take a minute to reach easy-to-watch status, but it gets there. I can always have a lot of fun with an Ikuhara show. That’s why, when compared to other yuri stories I’ve seen, it might be at the top of my list. And don’t get me wrong. I’m a sucker for a good romance story. Okay, it doesn’t even have to be that good.

Pon. Maybe it’s a whole show spun out of that one line in every yuri manga. You know the one:

BUT WE'RE BOTH GIRLS

Except in this case it’s like, “I mean, I’m a bear and she’s a human and fucking Life Sexy erased her love for me …” You’re getting at something other people have noticed, though …

It’s this idea that, in an Ikuhara show, all the ironic postmodern stuff is front-loaded. It seems like kind of a symbol labyrinth at first, but the ending is always sincere, even sentimental. Fucksake, at the end of this one the brother turns out to be named after A. A. Milne, and then Ginko and Kureha fly off to that Little Prince part of the galaxy with all the miniature planets, and oh by the way, Lulu’s fine, nbd.

Oto. My biggest complaint is–and maybe this is why I say it’s not Ikuhara enough–compared to Utena, which takes the simple structure of monster of the week and does something much bigger with it, Yurikuma has a simple romance plot, but they never seemed to play around with it.

Pon. I guess what I’m saying is that they’re all a lot simpler than they seem. But I also kind of know where you’re coming from. Like, in Utena, it feels like the structure’s been conscripted in service of this other thing. In Yurikuma, it feels like some extra baggage has been hung from the structure, but it still basically does what it’s supposed to do … does that make sense?

Oto. It does. Alright, let’s wrap this shit up. I liked this show. Not my favorite thing ever, but I did generally like it. And, if nothing else, it gave some nerds some sweet-ass ringtones.

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