Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Yurikuma Arashi wastes a lot of good potential (ANIME REVIEW)

I can't remember where, but some review of Yurikuma Arashi felt inspiring enough that I decided to watch it, even though the description did not seem like my sort of thing. Sadly, after two episodes, I decided it wasn't my sort of thing. So be forewarned, all you who may have loved this show, I'm basing my review on only two episodes. Please feel free to disagree with my assessment in the comments, I'd love to know why this resonated with people.

The plot, from what I can gather, is about alien bears from another planet who crash on Earth and begin to eat people, so the people build a wall: The Wall of Severance, to keep the bears out. Only now, some bears have snuck into an all-girls school to eat those tasty girls!

We meet Sumika and Kureha who are deeply in love with each other. Kureha gets eaten (probably) by the two transfer students who are really bears in disguise. We also find out about the "invisible storm" which is some force (?) that punishes any girl who doesn't follow the crowd. We find out the bears prefer girls who have been excluded due to this. Thus starts the story.

First off, let me admit that there are stylish and creative flourishes everywhere. The music is a perfect blend of sappy piano music essential to a high-school yuri anime and could have been ripped right out of Maria Watches Over Us alongside some very evocative electronic and other styles of music. The plot is total craziness, which could be good (it's nice when there's something new in anime). There is dry humor everywhere and I love the "Shock" narration that comes when there is a supposed plot twist, it's just funny somehow (and intended to be, I'm sure).

Okay, now let's get to the problematic things. First, the characters are like cardboard cut outs. They are the most boring, uninteresting characters, even when they have a deviant personality, that's all they are. They're not three-dimensional people. However, I understand that that may not be the point of this show. It certainly isn't a realistic show, but I don't really give a rats ass about the characters and that isn't good either.

The art has moments, but is also pretty stiff and mashes CGI into random places in an incongruent way. And then there's the service. Oh my, it's just fanservice everywhere. All the time. For no reason. And that in an of itself, isn't necessarily a deal breaker, however when some of the service is random (shower scenes, naked transformations), some is used to hurt other people (lots of licking girls faces, pushing them down, knees rubbing their crotches suggestively, and other assaultive acts), and some is used for god knows what reason (licking nectar off a lily in the clearest cum-shot sort of way possible) it goes beyond what I can tolerate. You may be different.

There's also the overuse of the word "yuri." It's in most character names, they host "yuri" trials which don't seem to be about anything at all, and dominates the imagery as well. I am all about a range of yuri and LGBTQ narratives, including those that might not be very well constructed. However, I worry that this show misappropriates the term and the imagery not in service of the yuri-loving community or broadening that community, but instead to feed into lascivious or perverted minds who want yuri to be nothing more than modestly-clothed hentai. I'm worried that that is actually who this show is for.

This is further suggested by the mention in episode 2 that the bears prefer to eat the humans who have been excluded (due to falling in love with another girl) because they taste better. The way the bears eat and talk about eating girls is very sexualized. The bear-eating is just one of many many innuendos throughout the show (see the licking the nectar from a lily over the naked girls body mentioned early - oh, I didn't mention it was above a naked girl, my bad). Again, I'm not judging people who like this sort of thing, it's just not what I wanted to watch, and I wish this show wasn't considered yuri.

What I was hoping for was a bat-shit-crazy show that explored love without EXPLOITING people with constant service and sexual battery and assault (yes, licking someone's face when they don't want it while making "mmmm" sounds is assault! - and so are all the other unwanted touches happening in this series). I don't mean to be a downer, but there was so much potential with the crazy ideas, the symbolism, girls in love, cute bears, girls with guns, great music, etc... that if they had just left out the service and added more nuance to the character portrails, it would have been awesome.

So with that said, I'm giving the first two episodes a 5/10 ("don't waste your time on this one") which means I won't be watching the rest. But please feel free to disagree with me and even try to convince me I'm wrong and should give it another try. Maybe there's a payoff that's worth it?


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