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EP. REVIEW: Yurikuma Arashi


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Gabbomatic



Joined: 21 Aug 2014
Posts: 74
PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2015 11:47 pm Reply with quote
Kaioshin_Sama wrote:
Redcrimson wrote:


Against my better judgment, let me try to explain what "context" is as simply as I can: YuriKuma is a show that is specifically about sex and sexuality, and specifically how that sexuality is viewed by society, i.e. the viewing audience itself. Cross Ange is a show about Hot Anime Girls being conscripted into piloting robots to fight alien monsters with hilariously eye-rolling acronyms. Which of those sounds like it would benefit more from the graphic display of sexual imagery and nudity?


I choose the 3rd option and say neither. Believe me I'm all for trying to be more open about sexuality and tolerance for gay and lesbian couples, I just don't think this shows approach is even close to the right way to go about it and it still feels very much like Ikuhara is directing scenes that the audience is supposed to be getting off too rather than making some sort of direct or even indirect statement about the intolerant manner in which highly conservative Japanese society views the idea of gay and lesbian couples.

JesuOtaku wrote:

If you say something silly and someone else responds to it like the thing you said was silly, they're not "baiting you." They're just responding to the words you saw fit to share. You have the right to express yourself. I have the right to react. Just how it works.


Fair, but I don't see how you're winning any points for your corner of the conversation and debate (whatever it's supposed to be) with that sort of approach. Just looks like what you're doing is sensationalist shit flinging to me if I'm being perfectly honest.

Also believe me I know all about reacting to people that say things that I think are silly, I think I've demonstrated that in this latest totally productive dialogue we've shared.


This claim is belied by the fact that after months of following the show's Tumblr tag I have never seen any explicit fanart. I googled "Yuri Kuma Arashi hentai" and found nothing. Even checked Pixiv. After ten pages I’d only found one marginally explicit image.

To compare, the first thing I found in the tag for Yatterman Night (a very good and entirely non-sexual new show this season) was a pornographic drawing of its child protagonist.

So, yeah, I’d say dudes are not getting off to Yurikuma.
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SquadmemberRitsu



Joined: 26 Jan 2012
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2015 12:10 am Reply with quote
Accidentally deleted the text and can't be bothered to fix it. Kaioshin quoted it anyway.

Last edited by SquadmemberRitsu on Tue Jan 20, 2015 2:27 am; edited 2 times in total
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Animerican14



Joined: 19 Aug 2006
Posts: 957
Location: Saint Louis, MO
PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2015 12:19 am Reply with quote
Gabbomatic wrote:


So, yeah, I’d say dudes are not getting off to Yurikuma.

Oof, now that's probably a bit of a stretch. Beyond the general and unfortunate infallibility of Rule 34, I think there's been more than one NSFW or ecchi fan art. Just skimming through an /a/ discussion of it recently (it's probably archived now on archive.moe), I saw something that was definitely more than "marginally explicit." (spoiler[Think it might've involved a blurred dildo shared between Ringo and Lulu, or something like that.]) Pretty sure it was from pixiv; the style and quality of it seemed to indicate as much.

Not to mention, some lewd official art has already been produced, as evidenced by this small gallery of promo art that's appeared in the magazine scans. https://yande.re/post?tags=yuri_kuma_arashi+

Note that most recent one (of this posting) where Kureha's white panties are in a torn state. Confused Believe me, I think there'd be disappointment by some at SILVER LINK if no one got off to anything they did.
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Keichitsu0305



Joined: 24 Apr 2010
Posts: 1546
PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2015 12:31 am Reply with quote
Great review Gabriella and, as someone who never watches horror films, thanks for the reference photos.

I guess my only issue with Yuri Kuma so far isn't the whole "let's prove lesbians are more than just moe or molesters by having cute girls symbolically going down on a girl" but rather it seems like lesbians is a more 'safer' way of talking about LGBTQ+ issues in anime (or at least for Ikuhara). I really wish more directors/writers would also use well throughout storytelling for gay man, transgenders, and other people who identify as queer. I can name at least five shows that aired within the past 2 years that have that stupid 'grown man with husky voice and 5 o' clock shadow wearing makeup & hitting on boys' cliche (including good series like Log Horizon). I would more impressed if Ikuhara took on that challenge than just using women touching women as an 'easy' method.

Personally, I find the bears devouring girls to mean rape or sexual assault rather than 'they have escaped the system'. Since the bears and anyone not 'normal' are deemed evil (hence the Crusader lecture), than the bears are forcing the women to awaking their sexuality IMO.

Also, I really want a Kuma plushie; they are adorably devious.
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SailorTralfamadore



Joined: 25 Feb 2014
Posts: 473
Location: Keep Austin Weeb
PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2015 12:32 am Reply with quote
@Animerican14;

Who is to say that that "Rule 34"* or "ecchi" fanart is made by or for men, though? This is a show specifically about not-men who are into women, and people are still assuming the presence of female nudity in it and its fandom must be "for the male gaze"?

Believe me, you have not spent much time in the more fandom-y corners of the Internet if you think it's only men who like to draw fanart of naked ladies. Razz

I'm inclined to agree with Gabriella because, from what I've seen, the dudes who love male-targeted yuri series (stuff like Sakura Trick) have not been reacting well to Yurikuma. I've seen a lot of furious, betrayed reactions from that crowd. Heck, you can find quite a few just on these forums. On the other hand, most women I've seen who are watching it, queer or otherwise, do seem to enjoy it and feel like it speaks to them on some level. It's clearly aimed much more at the latter than the former.

(*"Rule 34" seems like a weird term to apply to something that has sexuality and nudity in the original work. The original joke was that people will make porn of even the most innocent and asexual media out there.)


Last edited by SailorTralfamadore on Tue Jan 20, 2015 12:39 am; edited 1 time in total
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Kaioshin_Sama



Joined: 05 Feb 2005
Posts: 1215
PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2015 12:39 am Reply with quote
SquadmemberRitsu wrote:
Kaioshin_Sama wrote:
I can only imagine how different the reaction to this series would be if this wasn't Ikuhara directing and/or if the ANN staff didn't have a raging hard on for the guy. Reason being without fanboyism/fangirlism to fall back on with regard to the guy (I don't need anyone on the ANN staff to tell me they think the guy is a super genius godsend that produces only masterpieces) I just envision a whole lot more WTF reactions and people balking at the brazen sexually charged symbolism and general incoherent nature of the end product to date.

I predict something a little closer to how Cross Ange was reviewed before Theron stepped in to do something a little more down to Earth with the weekly reviews for it.
'I have no clue what I'm talking about and as a result have no ability to critique this series without resorting to child like cynicism, nonsensical buzzwords, insults towards the people who enjoy the series and harshly criticising everything short of the show itself. And that's exactly what makes me the voice of reason!'


I'm going to assume this was actually meant for JesuOtaku and just a misquote.
{Stop trying to derail this thread -- this thread is not about you. --nbahn}
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whiskeyii



Joined: 29 May 2013
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2015 12:41 am Reply with quote
Kaioshin_Sama wrote:


Personally I don't see how male-gaze approach makes a difference, though IMO that's pretty present here too in some of the imagery and how the characters are treated. The framing might be a little different in how it attempts to portray the girls as some sort of victim of bears or whatever that are fighting back, but at the end of the day they chose to go with the kind of brazen sexually charged imagery in this case and I just don't see how it comes across as any more meaningful or less cheesecake than what we see in Cross Ange.


The male-gaze angle makes a difference to me because, well, I'm not male. I was very painfully aware while watching the first and second and third episodes of Cross Ange (after which I couldn't take anymore) that the show was going "Hey! Listen! Ain't this SEXY???!!!" It was constantly interrupting action sequences with fanservice, and I found it wildly distracting. The fanservice itself was not in service to the story, it was just (intended to be) titillating. By contrast Yurikuma seems to be aaaall about sex and sexuality. I'd liken it more to, say, how Bayonetta (the game, not the movie) uses sexuality as opposed to how Duke Nukem uses it.

As for why it would be more meaningful, that's entirely due to Ikuhara's track record. Compare this to Michael Bay or Peter Jackson. You know, going into a Michael Bay movie, that there will be explosions and probably some body-humor jokes. Likewise, Peter Jackson will find some way to work in some epic battle sequence. They're trademarks of the movies they make.

Ikuhara is known for subverting expectations of what his series seem to be about (Utena seemed to be about fairy tales; it ended up deconstructing them to bits and looking at how harmful those archetypes can be. Penguindrum seemed to have an incest angle; it ended up trumpeting the importance of platonic familial love over romantic). Knowing that, you can go into Yurikuma expecting that it's going to do something insightful and unexpected with the idea of fanservice and lesbians (and in my experience, lesbians in anime tend to be used almost exclusively FOR fanservice, which makes the fanservice-lesbian combo something of a double whammy).
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Kaioshin_Sama



Joined: 05 Feb 2005
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2015 12:55 am Reply with quote
whiskeyii wrote:


The male-gaze angle makes a difference to me because, well, I'm not male. I was very painfully aware while watching the first and second and third episodes of Cross Ange (after which I couldn't take anymore) that the show was going "Hey! Listen! Ain't this SEXY???!!!" It was constantly interrupting action sequences with fanservice, and I found it wildly distracting. The fanservice itself was not in service to the story, it was just (intended to be) titillating. By contrast Yurikuma seems to be aaaall about sex and sexuality. I'd liken it more to, say, how Bayonetta (the game, not the movie) uses sexuality as opposed to how Duke Nukem uses it.


Oh believe me I know. A lot of the stuff that happens in either of the two shows is pretty much equally distracting I find though.

Quote:
As for why it would be more meaningful, that's entirely due to Ikuhara's track record. Compare this to Michael Bay or Peter Jackson. You know, going into a Michael Bay movie, that there will be explosions and probably some body-humor jokes. Likewise, Peter Jackson will find some way to work in some epic battle sequence. They're trademarks of the movies they make.


This is just my opinion but I've never really liked much of anything I've seen from the guy and find it to be incredibly pretentious if not outright annoying, particularly his tendency towards repetition of certain cues that seems to find clever. I get that a lot of people think he's an absolute genius, but really I don't, I just see an annoying director with little restraint that may have the odd symbolic scene once in a while but for the most part just tends to smother his own efforts.

Quote:
Ikuhara is known for subverting expectations of what his series seem to be about (Utena seemed to be about fairy tales; it ended up deconstructing them to bits and looking at how harmful those archetypes can be. Penguindrum seemed to have an incest angle; it ended up trumpeting the importance of platonic familial love over romantic). Knowing that, you can go into Yurikuma expecting that it's going to do something insightful and unexpected with the idea of fanservice and lesbians (and in my experience, lesbians in anime tend to be used almost exclusively FOR fanservice, which makes the fanservice-lesbian combo something of a double whammy).


If that's the case how then can a reviewer assign a near perfect rating to the first set of episodes when they might not even have the bearing they think they will latter on. I get having a lot of faith in somebody based on personal belief in their track record but that just seems a little much.

By all means though people can take that approach, I just don't see the genius and any reason for benefit of the doubt. If anything what I've seen of Ikuhara is more likely to fill me with worry and doubt that it'll ever amount to anything more personal and meaningful for me. Just not big on these weird incest and yuri angles in shows that seem to be doing more to glorify these tendencies and the sexual exploitation aspect than to represent them in some progressive manner.
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whiskeyii



Joined: 29 May 2013
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2015 1:04 am Reply with quote
Kaioshin_Sama wrote:


If that's the case how then can a reviewer assign a near perfect rating to the first set of episodes when they might not even have the bearing they think they will latter on. I get having a lot of faith in somebody based on personal belief in their track record but that just seems a little much.

By all means though people can take that approach, I just don't see the genius and any reason for benefit of the doubt. If anything what I've seen of Ikuhara is more likely to fill me with worry and doubt that it'll ever amount to anything more personal and meaningful for me.


I'd just like to point out that the review does contain this bit here:

Quote:
There are plenty of people who he just doesn't speak to, and whether [he] do[es] or not in no way reflects your intelligence or acumen.


I'm also not sure if the episode(s) deserves a straight up A, in that it seems to be speaking more towards expectations than any actual revelations so far. Still, since my ability to pick up on symbolism in film (and only film, strangely enough) pretty much sucks unless you beat me over the head with it, I'm happy enough putting my trust in folks like Hope and Gabriella, who have proven to be very analytical in their reviews, so the grade usually means very little to me.

Now, I might not necessarily agree with them (or might not even see indications of what they do), but I appreciate the thought they put into their work, and it often serves as a jumping off point for my own conclusions, whether they line up with theirs or not (for example, I just couldn't muster up much love for Penguindrum, whereas, Utena, I couldn't get enough of).

Kaioshin_Sama wrote:
Just not big on these weird incest and yuri angles in shows that seem to be doing more to glorify these tendencies and the sexual exploitation aspect than to represent them in some progressive manner.


Yeah, I'm usually turned off by yuri because it generally feels very exploitative. Still, I'm hoping Yurikuma does something deliciously subversive about lesbian fanservice, since I loved what he did with both Uranus and Neptune, and Anthy and Utena.
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octopodpie
ANN Managing Editor


Joined: 02 May 2011
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2015 1:32 am Reply with quote
I can get people fixating on the cunnilingus licking scene, I mean it's in every episode. But for people to keep saying he's not doing anything progressive? Maybe it's not nearly as emotionally effective to watch characters talk about shunning people who don't fit social norms, that people who don't fit social norms = evil, and then watch them choose to purposefully isolate a person if you haven't experienced that due to your sexuality.

It could fit a variety of situations, but Ikuhara is straight up saying "here's the shitty stuff society does to gay people by making them outcasts, collectively, as a group decision.

Is there any other show that has ever done this? The only other that comes to mind is Wandering Son, kinda. But it still focused on a small group of LGBT kids supporting each other and figuring things out. The manga may have touched more on what happens after coming out.

Most other yuri anime exists in some kind of vacuum where everyone is gay (Simoun) or is strictly Class S style where outside judgment doesn't exist (Strawberry Panic, Maria Watches Over Us, etc.)
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Animerican14



Joined: 19 Aug 2006
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Location: Saint Louis, MO
PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2015 1:36 am Reply with quote
SailorTralfamadore wrote:
@Animerican14;
Who is to say that that "Rule 34"* or "ecchi" fanart is made by or for men, though?

Who is to say indeed? I never explicitly assigned a gender to the people who may get off to Rule 34/ecchi art. Since I was responding to a post talking about how 'guys don't get off to YuriKuma,' I probably subconsciously first thought of what the perspective of a guy would be, but I'm aware that it's not just men who'd find it attractive. Considered going back in and maybe editing in a statement reflecting that before you responded, but I decided against that.

Do I need to go out of my way to be gender neutral or inclusive about everything? Must I make my choice of words even more watery and weak-kneed than they already are and exhaust all the possibilities of who or who may not think or not think or feel or not feel about something or nothing?

Quote:
This is a show specifically about not-men who are into women, and people are still assuming the presence of female nudity in it and its fandom must be "for the male gaze"?

Believe me, you have not spent much time in the more fandom-y corners of the Internet if you think it's only men who like to draw fanart of naked ladies. Razz

Please don't go "believe me" and tell me where I have and have not been on the internet. I spend enough time on the internet, far more than what's healthier, and I know that people are too willing fling themselves at and roll around the masturbatory muck of it all, no matter what their race or gender or purported creed is. It is only the nature of our fallen humanity.

Quote:
I'm inclined to agree with Gabriella because, from what I've seen, the dudes who love male-targeted yuri series (stuff like Sakura Trick) have not been reacting well to Yurikuma. I've seen a lot of furious, betrayed reactions from that crowd. Heck, you can find quite a few just on these forums. On the other hand, most women I've seen who are watching it, queer or otherwise, do seem to enjoy it and feel like it speaks to them on some level. It's clearly aimed much more at the latter than the former.

Isn't that still a big generalization? Indeed, there have been negative reactions to YuriKuma, perhaps more so from males-- the mutterings of low pre-order numbers and figures have attested to that. But yet, and maybe it's just one's anecdotal evidence against another's… from what I've seen of the /a/ threads for Yuri Kuma Arashi-- where "yurifags" (their term, duh), or others with negative reactions to how "impure" the yuri has been, have generally not been warmly received-- plenty have spoken with a male-gaze emphasis using male-gaze lingo in regards to several scenes and characters.

Quote:
(*"Rule 34" seems like a weird term to apply to something that has sexuality and nudity in the original work. The original joke was that people will make porn of even the most innocent and asexual media out there.)

Eh, I think it can be applied more loosely than that-- I tend to think of Rule 34 as 'making anything that's not inherently pornograhpic or porn, pornographic.' For all its flamboyancy and ecchi flavor, I don't judge the show as really pornographic, especially compared to other late night anime who hope to sell more copies with added nipples on the BD version. YuriKuma has nudity, duh, but has the usual bits covered up, and I think it'll remain at this "innocuous" enough level for the home disk versions.

The fan art I mentioned, the one I believe Gabbomatic did not refer to, was indeed more pornographic than anything the show itself will do.
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SquadmemberRitsu



Joined: 26 Jan 2012
Posts: 1372
PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2015 2:28 am Reply with quote
So I should probably talk about my own thoughts on the series. Well... I love it. I haven't seen episode 3 yet but I'm impressed with just how 'Ikuhara' the show is. Of course that doesn't automatically make it good. Psycho Pass is a very 'Urobuchi' show but I still found it to be very weak in comparison to everything else I've seen/read of his. Thing is, Yuri Kuma is a good show. A very, very good show.

Honestly, I quite like most of the Yuri I've seen and I find it to be a nice change of pace when I'm burnt out from watching a whole bunch of melodramatic romcoms that can all be described as 'The poor man's Toradora'. But there really isn't much of it. Sakura Trick was cute but a little bit too gratuitous in some parts and not exactly thought provoking. Then you've got stuff like Cross Ange which is such a disgusting, transparent cash grab (I hate to use buzzwords but I literally can't think of any other reason for the show to exist) it's not even funny to joke about and stuff like Akuma no Riddle where the main couple might as well have just been really good friends.

Not only is Yuri Bear a show that falls perfectly in line with my tastes, but it's also being handled with complete respect by one of the most talented people in all of anime. And as if that weren't enough, the series is living up to every single one of my insane expectations. I feel so, so lucky being able to witness the series as it airs in Japan.

As for the speculation of where it's going to be heading next, I mostly agree with what's been written here as well as a lot of the other stuff I've seen all over the web. However, for all we know, it could throw us a curve ball and do something completely different at any moment without warning. It is Ikuhara we're dealing with after all. So while I find what's been said to be interesting reads, I don't want to think too deeply about it until I figure out for sure what exactly the show's true intentions are and what everything means.

But I will take a quick guess just for fun. Obviously, the main themes relate to the undercurrent of homophobia in society. Homosexuality is okay as long as its done solely for the 'amusement' of the opposite gender. But while people don't really complain too often about gay porn or lesbian kiss scenes in movies, a queer couple in love showing public displays of affection will almost certainly make people feel uneasy or even outraged. As a result, the people who are genuinely in love and not just doing it because it's 'sexy' should just keep it locked away from the public eye.

I sometimes find that people in the LGBT community exaggerate a little how much homophobia exists in society but I'm very much supportive of gay rights so I can get behind it. After all, Ikuhara is generally better at articulating his points than moody teenagers with a tumblr account.

Quote:
Also, the lesbians probably represent lesbians. Keep that in mind.
Th-thanks!
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Hameyadea



Joined: 23 Jun 2014
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2015 3:45 am Reply with quote
3 episodes in and all I can write is: if you are not a deep-thinker, you'll find this show confusing.
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SquadmemberRitsu



Joined: 26 Jan 2012
Posts: 1372
PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2015 4:34 am Reply with quote
I just got done watching episode 3. After the amazing second episode of DRRR it and Yurikuma were tied for first place this season but episode three... wow. As good as it is to see DRRR return, it's choking in Yurikuma's dust.

It's not usually Ikuhara's style to lay it on thick especially not this early on in a series. But for some reason he just makes it work. The show has some really good social commentary and it's articulated so well. The direction the story might take is still up in the air but it's very clear what the themes of the series are... at least at this point in the story.

If this keeps up, it's going to become impossible for anything else to take the AOTY slot for 2015.
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Kimiko_0



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Location: Leiden, NL, EU
PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2015 5:50 am Reply with quote
Maybe I haven't been keeping up with reviews of recent anime, but I'm surprised by this review. Not only does it go quite deep in analyzing YKA, it also gives a lot of background info, and isn't afraid to interpret and criticize. Thumbs up ^_^_b

That said, I'm still firmly in the 'Kunihara must've been smoking something illegal again' camp. Utena I found rather meh, and nonsensical. Penguindrum I gave up on after a bunch of episodes for the same reason. YKA I'm not sure I even want to try. I expect I'll have to eventually though, just to keep up with everyone on Twitter referencing it all the time, or because there just aren't a lot of explicitly yuri anime out there.
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