Yuri Kuma Arashi is a twelve-episode anime series produced by Silver Link and directed by Kunihiko Ikuhara.
In the past, the planet Kumari exploded. Fragments of rock fell to Earth, which caused the bears to rise up and eat humans. The humans responded by building the Wall of Severance to keep the bears at bay.
Some time later, two bears, Ginko Yurishiro and Lulu Yurigasaki, disguise themselves as humans and enrol in Arashigaoka Academy. Ginko develops a particular interest in a human girl named Kureha Tsubaki.
Kureha Tsubaki serves as the main protagonist of Yuri Kuma Arashi. At the beginning of the series, she is in a relationship with Sumika Izumino – a relationship which is looked down upon by most of the students of the academy, as it isn’t “normal”.
That is a key part of Yuri Kuma Arashi. Several times characters are asked if they will back down on their love or become “invisible”.
To be invisible to act according to the rules of society. Those who don’t conform, such as Kureha, are labelled as evil. The people who decide what is “good” and “evil” are the conformists, the ones who want to be invisible.
This is allegory for Japan’s views on homosexuality, in contrast to the large amount of yuri fiction that is available. In addition, Ikuhara has mentioned in interviews how bears are seen in real life as dangerous animals but pop fiction often portrays them as cute creatures – this is parallel to Japan’s view of lesbians vs. how they are depicted in fiction.
To begin with, some viewers might find it a little tough to get their heads around the plot of the anime. However, continuing to watch it has things fall into place. Sticking with the series will reward the viewer, particularly as more information about the characters is revealed.
There are some interesting visuals present throughout the series. A lot of these were inspired by or are shout-outs to horror films. Also, there’s a lot of stairs.
Ultimately, Yuri Kuma Arashi is a self-aware deconstruction of the yuri genre as a whole. There is a single-gender school, but this doesn’t lead to cute moments like one might expect from a series of this genre. Instead, homophobia runs rife throughout the school and lesbian love is forcibly hidden and excluded.
As for the self-aware part… well, just look at all the lilies. Also, the word “yuri” constantly appears, and in some rather strange places – yuri beef, anyone?
Yuri Kuma Arashi is certainly strange to begin with, but things begin to fall in place as the plot continues. It provides an intriguing tale, with a healthy dose of symbolism for viewers to really think about.