# A Thing So Simple (Yuri Kuma Arashi) Since watching (most of) *Umineko no Naku Koro Ni* I've refused to try to understand metaphors. Applicability is good, but I'm only interested in shows that also work on a purely literal level. Fortunately, *Yuri Kuma Arashi* is one of those. Stripped of embellishment, the plot is simple enough for a picture book - and indeed one is used as a "show within the show". Lead Kureha loses her love to bears, encounters bears who want to eat her, but gradually rediscovers lost memories of her first love, and the shocking truth about why she forgot. There are a few other threads - one that ties in relatively neatly, a couple more less so - but fundamentally this is about characters, relationships, and Kureha's refusal to ever back down on love. Objectively, this is perhaps unwise. Social exclusion and, ultimately, death are the result; the bears are real and dangerous, as are our gun-wielding classmates. Prior to the ending I entertained the notion that this was more warning than celebration of love: our culture declares love the be-all and end-all, the epitome of human achievement, even when that love is unnatural, destructive, and wrong. But even though our leads ultimately (if I'm understanding correctly - remember my views on metaphors) sacrifice themselves on the altar of their childhood (childish?) romance, this show seems to have nothing but praise for the act. In the denouement we are expected to cheer for the love between a schoolgirl and a cyborg zombie animal. Even the mildest of episodes are full of aggressive fanservice, mixed with the bears' (mostly offscreen) desire to literally eat schoolgirls and almost daring the viewer to object. I'll say this for the show: it has the intellectual honesty to portray homosexuality as *sexual*. But politics aside, it works because we care for the characters. There's a very slow start, with a repetitive structure to the early episodes and a decoy couple who are ultimately discarded unseemingly thoroughly, but for me all that was swept away by the naked, futile, but thoroughly romantic heroism of second lead Ginko. This is old-fashioned, childish, fairy-tale stuff, but told with incredible conviction that has the scent of truth - because don't relationships mean the world to you when you're a teenager? The production values help too. Everything is beautiful - bright colours, elaborate transformation sequences, dramatic gunshots, and wonderful music, particularly the opening and ending themes. During the repetitive early episodes it's almost irritating, a flagrant waste of budget that could have gone on giving each episode more unique scenes. The phone calls and the court sequence, though in some sense the premise of the show, feel detached and awkward in their interaction with the rest of it, especially as the show moves on and characters start to break the rules. Magical girl shows tend to leave attacking during a transformation sequence to the parodies, and for good reason; allowing the mechanics of outright magic to take place in real space and time stretches suspension of disbelief so far. But *Yuri Kuma Arashi* presumes to place its judges, who have the power to grant wishes via a court that seems to exist in its own spacetime, into the real world, and even (spoiler follows) has one character fake a court session. Ultimately, the final revelation hit me nowhere near as hard as that of, say, *Macross Plus* (which is very similar in spirit), simply because it takes place in one of these magical court scenes where the normal rules of logic cease to apply. But these are intellectual complaints about a scene that was, at the very least, a massive emotional high (and with a delicately timed *Madoka* reference that was natural enough to not offend my sensibilities). Going back and thinking about it, I remember the awkward start, the points in the second and third episodes where I almost dropped it. I see loose ends and politics. But at the time I was in love, with the depth and purity that only a teenager can be. It doesn't - quite - dethrone *Madoka* as the best show I've seen, but *Yuri Kuma Arashi* is a monumental show, and quite unlike anything else I've watched. Not everyone will enjoy it, but it's well worth seeing for anyone willing to step outside their comfort zone. [Home](/) <div id="disqus_thread"></div> comments powered by Disqus