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EP. REVIEW: Yurikuma Arashi


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Penguin_Factory



Joined: 28 Oct 2007
Posts: 732
Location: Ireland
PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2015 6:25 am Reply with quote
I'm enjoying this so far, but it feels very rushed to me, with a lot of rapid-fire scenes and clunky expositional dialogue. I kind of get the feeling Ikuhara might have intended for it be to longer originally, and had to truncate things.

(Also I really hope we get a soundtrack to this soon, because damn some of the background music is gorgeous)
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Maidenoftheredhand



Joined: 21 Jun 2007
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2015 6:32 am Reply with quote
I really enjoyed this review and analysis. Although Ikuhara may be making the characters stereotypical for a reason (and will hopefully break that apart as the show goes on) it's hard for me to feel any interest or attachment to the characters when they are like this. So even if I am intrigued I am also turned off.

Also as a woman some of the imagery does feel uncomfortable and fanservicey to me. And I have seen other women complain on tumblr so I know I am not alone.
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Errinundra
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2015 6:33 am Reply with quote
Amongst the extras in the recent release of Revolutionary Girl Utena is an interview with Ikuhara. Given octopodpie's comments above I think this question and answer is particularly relevant to Yuri Storm Bears. In answer to the question, "Why is the issue of homosexuality so important in the Utena universe?", Ikuhara said,

Quote:
It’s not like it’s-- How can I put this? Lesbianism is… I’m not interested in lesbianism itself. Of course there are scenes with lesbian elements… I used those elements as… sorta like, as a symbolisation of “minority”. That is, in order to express, and… especially stress “minority” elements in the animated film, I portrayed them like lesbians. I didn’t want to, say, illustrate lesbianism. I wanted to express what it feels like to be a member of a “minority” group. The genre of animation really is symbolising things as pictures. If you want to express some story, say, about being a minority, if you portray that as-is, it’s not really interesting. So I turned it into, in this case, lesbianism, for its visual portrayal. When I meet lesbians, I am a straight guy by the way, it seemed very similar to being a so-called “minority”. It’s not the difference in nationality or skin colour particularly that defines one as a minority. Rather, it’s a difference in, shall we say, their personal identities… that gets them classified as a “minority”. And I find that very interesting. It’s very contemporary. I, myself, felt some anxiety on how I create things… and make my living, but not being able to fit in… and work together with those who lead a normal work life. I imagine lesbians can feel like outsiders. Those feelings that come with being a minority… In that sense, I have my own understanding of those feelings. Well, more sympathy than understanding. I wanted to portray those things in an interesting manner.


For sure, Ikuhara lays it on much thicker in YSB but in the scene octopodpie mentions the horror of being ostracised and labelled as evil is chilling.

There a couple of things in that quote that struck me powerfully. The first is his comment, "When I meet lesbians, I am a straight guy by the way, it seemed very similar to being a so-called minority." I get what he's saying. I once shared a house with an active, forthright lesbian - just the two of us. I found myself involved in her social group at times and, to my confusion, suddenly discovered how irrelevant my male identity was in this group. Don't get me wrong - they were nice people - but the tables had been turned, so to speak. I got a notion of their identity issues in the wider society.

That brings me to the second thing about that interview answer: Ikuhara's sympathy for outsiders. He's rooting for the underdog, er... I mean underbear. Well, something like that.

Anyway, it's taken until the 3rd episode to start warming to Kureha. That's actually fast for me by normal Ikuhara standards. It took much longer in Mawaru Penguindrum and RGU. Now that I've jumped that hurdle I'll continue to be bemused, befuddled and astounded and I look forward to it.
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Yttrbio
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Joined: 09 Jun 2011
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2015 8:02 am Reply with quote
I feel like I'm out on an island here. I didn't watch Utena, but I did watch Penguindrum, and loved it, so I don't think I'm one of those uninterested in the Ikuhara style. At the same time, I also don't have the faith that everything Ikuhara touches is gold, so I'm deeply concerned that this may be a lead block with a yellow paint job. So I'm hoping that if I post here, fans can help me out a bit.

On a logical level, I've never really appreciated the use of storytelling as a form of messaging. Watching something like LesBearStorm is like digging through a box of packing peanuts for the mixed-up, unnumbered pages of a PhD dissertation that wants to teach me something I already know. Logically, I already know that LGBT people suffer ostracism. I already know that Japan can be brutal to those who stand out. Just telling me these themes wouldn't seem particularly interesting or challenging to me.

But I don't engage fiction on a logical level. It seems like the most inefficient possible way to learn. For example, I could read Atlas Shrugged, but I could also just read the Wikipedia entry on objectivism and get 99% of the benefit with 1% of the effort.

What storytelling brings, that an academic paper or essay can't, is empathy. (In fact, I get the impression this is why a lot of academic papers and essays have stories in them) I can engage with a show on an empathic level, not a logical one. And the thing that connects me, empathically, to a story is people. Not human beings, or even characters, necessarily, but a set of storytelling tricks that tells my brain "this is a person."

LesBearStorm doesn't have that. There are no people in the show. Penguindrum had people. Even in the most abstract storytelling moments that made zero logical sense, I could empathize with the people of the show. But this show abstracts away even personhood. And though an argument could be made that that's sort of the point, that's a logical argument, and now I'm digging in a box for dissertation pages again.

And after all that, all I'm left with is metaphor decoding. And deciphering symbols is one of the most tedious and unrewarding ways I've ever engaged fiction, when there's nothing particularly interesting or challenging on the other side. (Thanks, high school English!) Is that all there is, or am I missing something critical, here?
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justsomeaccount



Joined: 24 Oct 2014
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2015 8:57 am Reply with quote
^ I don't agree about the "messaging" of works of fiction, but I feel the same way about the characters in this show, I don't feel them like, you know, characters, and I was waiting them to grow on me, but so far nothing. And big part of this feeling for me is the dialogues, which I don't like at all. Sometimes they try to be sympathetic and give some personality (mainly with the two bears, although sadly for me it's more annoying than amusing, but hey, it's something), but the rest is just lines dedicated only to the basic concepts of the show to the point of repetition (Sumika: "I'll never give up on love to you" and I don't remember any other line she said) with no other trait or emotion coming to the surface. It's not annoying, but it's bland. It doesn't help either the character designs are so generic, moe and with few variability to expressions (the most varied we've seen is the villain bear chuckles), and the aesthetics maybe a few years ago it would have worked when Shaft hadn't done it to death, but now it doesn't come across as interestingly looking (and although I've not seen Utena or Penguindrum, for some pictures I saw through internet they had their own unique look). And I don't find it funny either.

Other subjetive issue for me is, I'm fine with doing metaphorical simplistic ways of representing some ideas, but for me this magnitude of symbolism only works when the inside-world is consistent and autonomous by itself, so you can watch the show and say 'yep, everything makes sense inside its world' and so be comfortable and invested in the way it works and then it brings those ideas parallel to the real ones, that's nice. But if the inside-world is just incomplete and you know you cannot bring any minimal logic to it and the only way to make sense is ignoring the inside and just deconstructing those metaphors to their real meaning to see what they were going for, then I don't think it has that much merit or work, it's more unaccesable and for me it's just alienating to people in a bad sense.

Now, for this show maybe it's a little early to put it in that bag, it's still building up concepts, but three episodes and I still don't know well what any character knows about their own world, what do they think it's the invisible storm or why are they doing it if technically doesn't have anything to do (to their knowledge) with bears, etc. when they could given the places they move. The metaphors don't match together too well to form a clearly understandable situation, we only get it fine because we are making comparisons with the real ideas that we know now (lesbian context in Japan, Class S, etc.), but inside its own it's hard to get it, and as I said before, the characters cannot get us invested so it's a big double barrier. Now, maybe it will change in the future and it's just the intentional initial confusion, but I'm concerned it's going to be like this all the way through. I hope, if it's not minimally consistent by its own, at least give us some resonance at least in characterization or emotion.


Last edited by justsomeaccount on Tue Jan 20, 2015 9:00 am; edited 1 time in total
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CG



Joined: 17 Feb 2008
Posts: 47
Location: Philippines
PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2015 8:59 am Reply with quote
This isn't just a review anymore, it's a veritable analysis. It's amazing how you made sense of the series so far!

And true to Ikuhara, the comments here are split. My take is the thing with Ikuhara's works is that they're more crossroads of different meanings rather that containing one single meaning - the Court of Severance, like the End of the World or the Child Broiler - could be arbitrary and authoritarian societal standards, or they could be religious nadirs against which human existence must struggle. Ikuhara seems to be reducing roles to functions by Lacanian positioning rather than attaching them with fixed identities.

And that's where this otherwise excellent review falls short - it didn't explain what meanings 'Shabadado' might have.
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Zac
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Joined: 05 Jan 2002
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2015 9:03 am Reply with quote
Kaioshin_Sama wrote:

By all means though people can take that approach, I just don't see the genius and any reason for benefit of the doubt.


You should figure out how to express this without completely flipping out and spitting insult after insult at the writer and the staff here. "I disagree, I think Ikuhara is a hack and his work is just as transgressive as Cross Ange" is fine. You can share that opinion.

You just need to do it without completely losing your mind, throwing acid at everyone who dares argue with you and busting out every nasty thing you can think of to say about this site and the people who work here. Surely that can't be that tough.
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drifty1



Joined: 25 Apr 2012
Posts: 97
PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2015 10:45 am Reply with quote
Three episodes? More like one episode filmed three times from different angles. Also, one joke told so often it's become stale. Having seen RGU and Penguindrum, I have to say I'm disappointed in this one. If this anime has any depth, I'll have to admit that it's too subtle for me to see. The only positive thing I can say is that the artwork is outstanding, but even there, it's repetitious to the point of burn out.
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Wyvern



Joined: 01 Sep 2004
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2015 1:31 pm Reply with quote
I've seen a lot of anime fans attack this show with the argument that Ikuhara is just making lesbian fanservice now. Which is nonsense. No one would put this much unique imagery into a simple fanservice show.

But let's say I'm wrong, and Silly Old Yuri Bear really is primarily a fanservice show: So what? Every season we get a half-dozen fanservice shows aimed at and starring hetero males, where the girls are little more than collectible props whose bust sizes are given more attention than their personalities. And we're so used to it, that no one bats an eye. But if someone makes one fanservice show aimed at women and queer people, then suddenly we've got fans condemning it, as if there aren't countless anime shows that do the same thing with far less style. Straight dudes aren't the only people who are allowed to enjoy naughty anime, folks.

Hell, maybe Ikuhara took a gander at the mountains of lovingly produced sexy Anthy/Utena fanart that has popped up over the last 17 years and decided to take inspiration from it. And that's just as valid as taking inspiration from old movies or Rose of Versaille or any of his other influences.

Even if Ikuhara HAS no larger point this time*, even if the ONLY thing he's doing is making really stylish, creative softcore smut for gay ladies and people who like gay ladies, that is no less worthy a creative endeavor than anything else he's ever done.

(*pretty sure he does, though)
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kamui85



Joined: 02 Oct 2006
Posts: 251
PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2015 1:56 pm Reply with quote
wow this is exactly how i interpreted the show, so many years watching utena somehow made it easier, its like speaking ikuhara's language
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Valhern



Joined: 19 Jan 2015
Posts: 916
PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2015 2:54 pm Reply with quote
I agree especially with @justsomeaccount in my take at this show.

It's more or less the same problem I have with Penguindrum, sometimes I think the characters become some sort of concept instead of a character and it bugged me throughout the whole show, although there are some excellent characters and particulary outstanding episodes, particularly those Hinami-centered.

So far, and with the help of the review, like Penguindrum, concept-wise it is very interesting, but the characters usually don't help. I hope this takes a turn into the characters at some point.
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Mertal



Joined: 17 Mar 2010
Posts: 88
PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2015 3:08 pm Reply with quote
Quote:
The most puzzling aspects of this show's aesthetic are the strong visual callbacks to classic horror films, most notably The Shining, Psycho, and Suspiria. Arashigaoka (Wuthering Heights) Academy's interior is lifted from the school in Suspiria. Kureha's house looks like Norman Bates' down to the mommy dearest bedroom


I'm glad I wasn't the only one that noticed this. I am having a really hard time seeing this anime being anything but a horror genre than anything else, and thus I am this close to dropping it even though I am a yuri fan.

I'm not really a horror fan.
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Maidenoftheredhand



Joined: 21 Jun 2007
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2015 3:25 pm Reply with quote
Wyvern wrote:
But if someone makes one fanservice show aimed at women and queer people, then suddenly we've got fans condemning it, as if there aren't countless anime shows that do the same thing with far less style. Straight dudes aren't the only people who are allowed to enjoy naughty anime, folks.


I think you are a little mixed up here. Ikuhara is a man. He may be making fanservice for women and queer people but that doesn't mean as a woman I can't find it offensive. And while I am not a lesbian and have no right to speak for them as a group I have seen lesbians who are upset at the fanservice in this series and the way the series seems to fetisize lesbians.

That of course doesn't mean there aren't a bunch of other women and lesbians who have no problem with the fanservice and may even enjoy it. But that doesn't mean you should discount if someone feels uncomfortable or act like there is some universal acceptance of the shows fan service by certain groups.

And I most certainly do bat an eye at other types of fan service shows but that is neither here nor there. It's just this show makes me uncomfortable.

Also I do expect there is more to the series than Lesbian Smut or whatever but that still doesn't discount what I said above.
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Scarlet_Scapegrace



Joined: 24 Aug 2013
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2015 4:08 pm Reply with quote
That was some fantastic analysis on the first three episodes and thank you for including that Yuricon essay. I'm only on the second episode but I wanted to add some of my thoughts/observations on how the Severance Court is presented.

What struck me on a rewatch was how story just stops when it comes to court time: Kureha gets plucked from what she's doing on the roof, we get a few minutes of the court hearing and its aftermath, then Kureha and the audience are back on the roof and the story continues. The court seems so far removed from the rest of the school narrative that I think it's fair to say that the Severance Court portion of the show is how Yuri Bear breaks its internal "Fourth Wall."

So I think what's going on is that we (the viewers) are watching the show along with Life Beauty, Cool and Sexy and then the camera pulls back (so to speak) to show us how they judge Lulu and Ginko's actions. Also, since Lulu and Ginko are aware that this is going on, I'm positive that they're performing on their own bear script for the time being (and that their fanservice on the show is tied to that bear script), aware that they are being watched.

Anyhow, I'm excited to see rest of Yuri Bear and to watch what exactly Ikuhara wants to say with this show.
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Key
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2015 4:24 pm Reply with quote
I certainly hope Gabrielle's on the right track with her interpretations because I wasn't making much sense out of the series until I read her review/dissection. If I continue to follow this - right now it's barely hanging on my follow list - then I'm apparently going to need a guide like her. Razz Clearly I am one of the people whom Ikuhara "just doesn't speak to."
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