February 7, 2023

AKA Lilly Bear Storm. AKA Lesbian Bear Storm.

It’s a show about lesbians, bears, and lesbian bears. How good could it be?

It’s from Ikuhara? Oh, snap!

AKA Lilly Bear Storm. AKA Lesbian Bear Storm.

It’s a show about lesbians, bears, and lesbian bears. How good could it be?

It’s from Ikuhara? Oh, snap!

Unlike the 14 years for Mawaru Penguindrum, Ikuhara’s next anime was only a 4 year wait. Produced with mostly the same staff (mostly female), Yurikuma Arashi once again delivers a show full of Ikuhara trademarks that manages to set itself apart from the previous two shows it was born into the shadow of. Like Penguindrum the series is loosely inspired be a real life event, but much more emphasis on “loosely” here. This is a much older event, and smaller in scale: The Sankebetsu brown bear incident occurred in 1915, it was the worst bear attack in Japanese history, leaving seven people dead.

Yurikuma itself is a smaller scale story than Penguindrum, and also a more intimate one. It ups the ante on sexual content, in its metaphor as well as its literal content. On its surface the show is delivering a lot of lesbian fan service, but there’s so much to the show below that. The sexual content is in line with the themes and ideas the show is wrestling with, existing on its own terms and not just pandering to the audience.

The show is probably closer to Penguindrum than it is Utena, especially upfront, with its high production values and stylish look. But by the end of the series I think the three shows sit at the corners of a triangle in terms of relating to each other.

Yurikuma stands out mostly with its juxtaposition of content and style. Most explained by the repeated use of a comedic stinger for dramatic moments. There’s a comedic joy and frivolity to the energy and sensibilities of the show, despite the content of the show tending more towards drama and even horror. The show wants you to know that this is really a horror story, with obvious visual references to PsychoThe Shining, and Suspiria. It may be in large part about lesbian bears, but these are still bears known for eating humans; and the bears are not even the most monstrous part of this world.

This world is just as unpleasant as Ikuhara’s others, but it’s also more of a background feature than ever before. There is no main villain here, instead it’s more of a rotational duty; with certain girls or bears posing a threat at the moment. That’s a result of where this show is coming from thematically: instead of overcoming the fucked up nature of the world, Yurikuma is more about owning up to your own sins. Sins that were spurred on by the fucked up nature of the world, but still personal.

At only 12 episodes it just doesn’t accomplish what Penguindrum and Utena do. It’s still just another riff on what Ikuhara’s shows have dealt with already, but it’s a worthwhile one.

Final Verdict

Tier 2: Perfect

The full Tier list can be found here.

Thank You for Your Time.

Never back down on love.

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