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EP. REVIEW: Yurikuma Arashi


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anonamon



Joined: 05 Feb 2015
Posts: 15
PostPosted: Wed Apr 01, 2015 7:22 pm Reply with quote
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Now that yurikuma is now at an end( AND I LOVE IT), I have 3 issues I feel I don't know how to resolve

1)why was there so much monsterous feminine imagery in the show? It's Barbara creed feminist film student 101 that the second you use horror imagery in a film/TV show (abject female bear monsters; big ol suspiria = the scary womb; scenes where everything goes red is the fear of female menstruation, etc)its a deep psychological construct of female fear towards the image of femininity. So why does Yurikuma uses it SO MUCH to the point it feels self aware? I'm just curious from that perspective

2) Why does ginko sexually assault kureha in episode 2? It's not embedded in a dream sequence so it's not contextualised as an embodiment of kureha's sexual desire with her fear of bears/internalised homophobic conditioning.

3) what kind of love was being championed in lulu and Milne 's final moment? was this championing a familial over homosexual love as true love? I just felt it fuddled lulu's character arc within the wider perspective of gay oppression a bit. I could be wrong tho!

I'm just interested in other's opinions


1) I think you're looking at it too deeply there. The modeling of the school after Suspiria is used to undermine the "cute all girls school" setting in anime, and to point to the fact that the extreme Class S system at the school is horrific.

2) Ginko is a bear, and a big part of her character arc is her struggle with controlling desire, possessiveness, and jealousy. She appears stoic on the outside, but in episode 5 we can see what's really going on inside her head. When Ginko licked Kureha's cheek that's probably her way of trying to comfort Kureha as we see the same thing in flashbacks from when they were children, and when she pushes Kureha on the couch it's referencing a scene from Oniisama e... where Fukiko attempts to seduce Nanako out of jealousy. In this case Ginko is jealous of Sumika and just like in Oniisama e... someone interrupts before it goes too far.

3) Uhh no. It's not championing anything over anything. Lulu and Milne's relationship was hurt by an oppressive system (patriarchy) just as Kureha and Ginko's relationship was.
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SejinPK



Joined: 22 Dec 2013
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 01, 2015 7:59 pm Reply with quote
It might be obvious to other people and I'm dumb and only just realizing this, but when a bear eats a girl, is that rape? The show plays with eat/"eat", food is clearly sensual/sexual, and one of the things the bears represent is the predatory lesbian stereotype. If a bear "eating" a girl is rape, then it would make sense that they'd "die" because in the eyes of the pure world of the humans they'd be defiled, which is considered unacceptable regardless of the reason (e.g., you were involved in this thing that I can't accept, even though it was forced on you against your will; you're dead to me now). Am I completely off base with this?

On a different note, I'm slightly confused by some of the stuff in the article about the Shibuya ward certifying same-sex partnerships. It makes it sound like LGBTQ rights issues in Japan aren't as bad as some of the other stuff that's been linked to in relation to Gabriella's reviews says. I know there's a big difference between recognizing same-sex partnerships and legalizing them. The end of the article says: "A recent survey by the newspaper Sankei and television network Fuji News found that more than half would support legalising same-sex partnerships and nearly 60% support the ordinance in Shibuya." It doesn't specify if the "more than half" is just in Shibuya.

If those figures are for Japan in general and not just Shibuya, wouldn't that mean that the majority (even if it's just a slight majority) support gay rights? If so, how does that fit in with the stuff that I saw mentioned in earlier reviews about how discrimination against LGBTQ people is notoriously hard to change in Japan because it's so strongly collectivistic (the people who oppress aren't confronted about it and are absolved of responsibility for it, so the fact that oppression is going on is glossed over, thus making both the oppressors and the oppressed "invisible")? And if oppression of LGBTQ people is still a big problem in Japan, how can the article say that "the country remains tolerant of homosexuality"?
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SejinPK



Joined: 22 Dec 2013
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 01, 2015 8:17 pm Reply with quote
Quote:

Im just speculating that the yuri world of yurikuma could have such deep, ingrained influences of patriarchal conditioning within itself.


I think this makes a lot of sense, actually. The Wall of Severance (as well as the city scattered among the chunks of wall) being blue most of the time, as well as the color design of Kureha's living room (among a couple other things) gave me the distinct impression of a male "presence", for lack of a better word. Kureha's living room in particular screams "even in this world of women who are focused on women's issues, men still hold the power". I thought it strongly spoke to the reality of current society: men have been the dominant sex in society for so long that even in groups that seem far-removed from patriarchal values, those values still exert influence because of how prevalent they've been and generally still continue to be.
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JacobC
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 01, 2015 8:31 pm Reply with quote
SejinPK wrote:
It might be obvious to other people and I'm dumb and only just realizing this, but when a bear eats a girl, is that rape? The show plays with eat/"eat", food is clearly sensual/sexual, and one of the things the bears represent is the predatory lesbian stereotype. If a bear "eating" a girl is rape, then it would make sense that they'd "die" because in the eyes of the pure world of the humans they'd be defiled, which is considered unacceptable regardless of the reason (e.g., you were involved in this thing that I can't accept, even though it was forced on you against your will; you're dead to me now). Am I completely off base with this?


Yes and no?

Rather than it being literal RAPE BY BEARS, the show uses symbols to speak for larger concepts overall; they don't correspond to just one direct real-world thing. Consumption by bears symbolizes a forced, aggressive, possessive expression of desire or affection, since its victims either disappear or are forgotten. (The act is one of self-gratification, so it doesn't really matter how it makes the other person feel. This is also true of literal sexual assault, but in a broader sense it refers to any kind of possessive love.)

On the plus side, bears are not in denial of who they are and what they want, but their affection is only "allowed" to be destructive, selfish, and possessive, undeserving of actual reciprocal love in return. Bears are forced to become the predatory lesbian stereotype that gets off on conquest, is purely a selfish sexual being, and demonized for possessing "predatory masculine" traits as a woman, (while men still get off on the idea.) That's also why the Severance Court are bear-men and not yuri-men: men are able to be open about their sexual desire, even to an aggressive extent, without societal conditions or punishment. Boys "will" be boys, while by contrast, bears "must" be bears.

So while there is absolutely a sexual component to their predation, it's not "these girls are literally being raped," but "these girls are being harmed by negative expressions of love and desire."


Last edited by JacobC on Wed Apr 01, 2015 8:46 pm; edited 2 times in total
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anonamon



Joined: 05 Feb 2015
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 01, 2015 8:37 pm Reply with quote
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I think it links in with the phallic/vaginal imagery in the show (the phallic lilies, all girls have guns, the phallic water fountain at the scene where kureha is bullied by the clapping girls in the "everything goes red, monstrous feminine scene etc)


Lilies represent female purity and Class S, the only time that I recall that they were shown in a phallic way was during the transformation sequences at the beginning of the series, and that was done in a mocking way on purpose. Those scenes were basically poking at magical girl anime where the girls are kept "pure" yet have transformation scenes which just consist of lingering butt and boob shots while their clothes fall off. Recall that it only happens after the judgemen "yuri approve" and it's only then that Kureha hits whoever she's shooting at with her rifle.

SejinPK wrote:
It might be obvious to other people and I'm dumb and only just realizing this, but when a bear eats a girl, is that rape? The show plays with eat/"eat", food is clearly sensual/sexual, and one of the things the bears represent is the predatory lesbian stereotype. If a bear "eating" a girl is rape, then it would make sense that they'd "die" because in the eyes of the pure world of the humans they'd be defiled, which is considered unacceptable regardless of the reason (e.g., you were involved in this thing that I can't accept, even though it was forced on you against your will; you're dead to me now). Am I completely off base with this?


I don't think so, food and eating isn't just associated with desire and sex, but also loving relationships (Sumika and Kureha), those things aren't acceptable to Class S and would be cause for rejection. Rape isn't on that list because for the purposes of Class S that is against the girls will and she can still be considered pure. You can see this kind of "non-consent" at work in other yuri (esp. manga), where girls can have sex after they're pushed down and typically following a line where they raise some kind of weak objection, their non-consent is taken as proof of their purity. And yes, it's thoroughly ridiculous.

Edit: Just wanted to add that in anime the element of rejection/non-consent is more subtle and is usually done by undermining romantic elements or by turning any kind of sexual contact into a joke (boob groping gags, etc).


Last edited by anonamon on Thu Apr 02, 2015 5:08 pm; edited 2 times in total
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GeOMeek417



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PostPosted: Wed Apr 01, 2015 8:51 pm Reply with quote
On the the topic of the Yuri approval, that is a totally true reading and I agree with it. the court bears are the embodiment of patriarchy so naturally their infulence on the female world is natural.

But I keep coming back to the infulence of Barbara creed's monsterous feminine. Given that Ikuhara has studied film in America, and clearly has engagements with feminist film theory in his deconstruction of laura Mulvey's male gaze theory with life sexy and the telescope bit. The monsterous feminine is (whilst not as massive as laura Mulvey's article, that thing is the most quoted academic article in the history of forever) is also a major feminist film article and every major film theory school tends to teach it (from the schools I've visited tho), so I find his usage of it in yurikuma quite fasinating. With the amount of gun toting, laser gun shooting, patriarchy walling going down here, it makes sense of the monsterous feminine to also be a patriarchal construct enforced on this female world, much like the monsterous bear is a construct create by patriarchy and handed down into this closed world.
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Gabbomatic



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PostPosted: Wed Apr 01, 2015 9:07 pm Reply with quote
I think that’s important to note that sexual behavior can be predatory, unhealthy, and selfish without being rape.

On a related note, the Queer Japan book does contain an account of a lesbian woman who was driven to rape (she admits to it and uses the word) out of frustration regarding her identity.
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NothingIfNot



Joined: 25 Feb 2015
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 01, 2015 10:23 pm Reply with quote
First, thank you to Gabriella Ekins for writing these excellent reviews.

The reviewer wrote:
I don't like how they played into the imagery of lesbian double suicide (a recurring phenomenon in Japanese history and art) as the bridge to the heroines' transcendence. It felt like a sudden concession to the Class S conventions that the show had previously tried so hard to subvert...

The problem with this, it seems to me, is that the archetypal lesbian double suicide is, well, suicide, and private. Kureha and Ginko don't commit suicide, they are murdered (or the Invisible Storm tries to murder them and they're whisked away by divine intervention; same difference), after they intentionally, publicly reveal what they are.

The reviewer wrote:
I feel that it also misrepresents the situation for same-sex couples right now, as they're winning the right to marry across the world.

Given that we're celebrating the number of places in Japan where same sex marriages are legally recognized going up from zero to one ward in Tokyo, I'd say it's a bit early to be declaring victory on that point.

(I mention Japan because the show is Japanese, but of course the same still goes for fifteen states in America.)

Maybe the world of Yurikuma Arashi is somewhat more desperate than the real world today. But that simply makes it an evaluation of the bad old days that we just recently left behind, and that many people still want to go back to. You know, when queer people Didn't Shove It In Your Face.

-----

Quote:
scenes where everything goes red is the fear of female menstruation

If you believe that one, I've got some shares of the Greek national debt that I can sell to you at an amazing price.

Quote:
2) Why does ginko sexually assault kureha in episode 2?

I would guess, for the same reason that she let Yurizono kill Sumika: She's motivated at that point motivated by selfish desire as well as selfless love, only decisively overcoming the former in the scene on the stairs in episode 11.

Quote:
3) what kind of love was being championed in lulu and Milne 's final moment? was this championing a familial over homosexual love as true love?

Well, it can't be that, since their situation is exactly the same as Kureha's and Ginko's: Together, in a world somehow removed from the human world (and the bear world?).

-----

Gabbomatic wrote:
On a related note, the Queer Japan book does contain an account of a lesbian woman who was driven to rape (she admits to it and uses the word) out of frustration regarding her identity.

I'll take this opportunity to note that book was published in 1998, and should thus be used as a guide to the situation of queer people in Japan today only with the same reservations as a book written at the same time about our own countries.

-----

Anyway, God, what a show and what an ending.


Last edited by NothingIfNot on Fri Apr 24, 2015 3:09 am; edited 6 times in total
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SquadmemberRitsu



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PostPosted: Wed Apr 01, 2015 10:31 pm Reply with quote
The one trap I often find homosexuality centric literature fall into is turning the whole issue with homophobia into a black and white/good vs evil situation. I like to believe that a large majority of the homosexual community are good people with good intentions but to say there aren't also people who go about fighting for their rights in all the wrong ways (Such as violent protests and generalising people who don't follow the same way of life) is just denial. Homophobia is undoubtedly a bad thing and I for one sure as hell will not argue that point. But while there are people on that side who are awful people to the core, there's also innocent victims who think they're doing what's morally right because they were manipulated by the aforementioned people into believing such things.

One of the reasons why I love Yuri Kuma is because it acknowledges that there's good and bad on both sides of the table yet still manages to have a concrete viewpoint on the topic even taking all of that into account. Instead of making stuff up and sensationalising everything to manipulate the viewer into seeing his point of view, Ikuhara just tells it like it is. Albeit through lots of symbolism and cool little metaphors.

But then again, what's so bad with using fancy visual techniques to help tell a story? Anime is a visual medium after all. Honestly I'm not hugely into social justice but I absolutely love dissecting Ikuhara's work and Yuri Kuma is no exception. If the fact that he manages to get me on board and make me really think about issues I normally give too much thought every single time isn't a testament to his skill as a writer and a director then I don't know what is. I know some people don't want to hear it, but there's a reason why he's so well respected.

The ending was just amazing. Visually it was a spectacle but it also perfectly tied back to the show's themes gave a conclusive ending to the series. Homophobia is not just going to disappear one day in a puff of smoke. There are certain people who, regardless of whether it even makes logical sense, are still going to stick to their guns no matter what. But we as a society can change. It might be a very slow process, but it's entirely possible.

But even if we never reach a point where society can come to an agreement on the topic, no amount of brainwashing or manipulation can't stop two people from loving each other regardless of what gender they are. For that is sexy. Shabadadoo. (Sorry, couldn't resist)

So overall I have no problem with giving this show 10/10, A+, 5 stars or whatever. Not because Ikuhara made it, but because it was a good series.
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Animerican14



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PostPosted: Wed Apr 01, 2015 10:43 pm Reply with quote
Very fine review of a finale, and a strong finish to the body of criticism you've put out there for Yuri Kuma Arashi. Thank you for all the effort you've put forth with your reviews; it's pretty scholarly for what needs to be a regular weekly writeup. (Are you getting any recognition from college for this kind of work by the way?)

Saw the series to the end, and as much as I consider Yuri Kuma Arashi the least of Ikuhara's directorial work when compared to Penguindrum and Utena, the finale was still a fairly strong and nicely executed ending, if predictable in its essentials. I had predicted a while ago of there likely being an Utena-sque ending, maybe most in the vein of Adolescence, and I don't think I was far off. (Will say, though, I didn't exactly predict Kureha to become a bear until some minutes before she asked the Judgmens, nor did I expect Kumaria-- never mind in the form of Sumika-- to come down and provide validation to Kureha's wish.)

Was wondering how Gabbomatic would take how the finale "played into the imagery of the lesbian double suicide" as the bridge to Kureha's and Ginko's transcendence to this "exalted space separate from the mundane world." I wasn't particularly satisfied with that either-- thought it kind of too tried-and-true a method for Ikuhara, who again settled for an ill-defined plane of existence to which the chosen heroines "graduate," and somewhat weak-kneed if he's really wanting to make the points that he's been said to be making in these reviews.

It would've been neat if there really was "not a surmounting of the Wall of Severance but the revelation that it was always both there and not there." To go a step further, it would've been kind of nice to have the curtain lift up and have a clear human male presence show itself in the finale at some point, which could have been revealed through, say, an everyday sort of crowd scene filled with blank and anonymous faces through which Kureha and Ginko would pass on through. (Of course, it'd have to have more flair than that.) Having that, I think, could've provided a contrast to further cement the notion that the series is specifically validating a romantic, lesbian love. The lack of clear male presence didn't bother me so much earlier, even with that female figure that Yurika nonetheless referred to as "Him," but now that it's come to this ending with no male presence outside of Milne and the Judgmens (all bears)-- Yurika's father I think was implied at best-- I sort of wish for that clarification. Heck, couldn't this be some fantasy world where no males outside of 'beardom' exist, then, and thus a plane where girls reproduce either asexually or somehow with other girls ? Razz Maybe some stork delivered Kureha to Reina for all we know!

Therefore, couldn't we have an interpretation of the series that make it not so much about lesbian love, but love in general and being open about such love? There is no love, at least no visible love, shared amongst the girls of the student body-- maybe one can say that they haven't dared to venture out of their coffin, to borrow a popular Ikuhara metaphor-- and they reject a love that's dared to be shared out in the open. I even find the ostensibly romantic coupling of Kureha and Ginko questionable because, to echo sentiments of Chrysostomus, justsomeaccount, and possibly octopodpie, it feels lacking in enough substance or depth to keep such a love alive and "romantic," if alive at all. It does somewhat feel like Ginko was "a cute pet" that Kureha adopted in their childhood days-- indeed, a little Winnipeg the Bear with a human-like consciousness. Even when Ginko came to positively show some strong concern and care for her, and Kureha likewise, it honestly didn't seem to venture much beyond the platonic. (It seems even harder to imagine love going beyond the platonic when it comes to whatever is going to happen between the half-cyborg bear Konomi and the one girl of the Invisible Storm who finds her.)

Maybe my definitions of romantic love are too narrow or definitions of platonic love are too broad, whatever; either way, Ginko's and Kureha's relationship, as ramped up as its intensity and the show's overall direction was these past few episodes, didn't convince me enough. It's probably a very unfair comparison, but Mr. Terry Moore's Strangers in Paradise-- a long running self-published American comic that spanned well over a decade of development and writing-- handled the romance between its main two women better.


Last edited by Animerican14 on Wed Apr 01, 2015 11:12 pm; edited 1 time in total
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NothingIfNot



Joined: 25 Feb 2015
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 01, 2015 10:52 pm Reply with quote
Lemonchest wrote:
Ikuhara going with his fondness for having his characters escape rather than break the system

But Utena... oh wait, am I supposed to put a spoiler warning here? Alright, in case: spoiler[Utena and Anthy literally break the system (the dueling arena in the TV series, with Anthy's walking out at the end preventing Akio from starting things over again; the entire school in the movie).]

And as Gabriella notes, Kureha's and Ginko's actions have further destabilized the Invisible Storm by moving another girl to rebel.

-----

Animerican14 wrote:
it feels lacking in enough substance or depth to keep such a love alive

https://youtube.com/watch?v=kP2sfBuiHAk
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JacobC
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 02, 2015 12:24 am Reply with quote
SquadmemberRitsu wrote:
Homophobia is not just going to disappear one day in a puff of smoke. There are certain people who, regardless of whether it even makes logical sense, are still going to stick to their guns no matter what. But we as a society can change. It might be a very slow process, but it's entirely possible.


Perhaps one day it may even disappear from your own horribly homophobic post!

SquadmemberRitsu wrote:
I like to believe that a large majority of the homosexual community are good people with good intentions but to say there aren't also people who go about fighting for their rights in all the wrong ways (Such as violent protests and generalising people who don't follow the same way of life) is just denial. Homophobia is undoubtedly a bad thing and I for one sure as hell will not argue that point. But while there are people on that side who are awful people to the core, there's also innocent victims who think they're doing what's morally right because they were manipulated by the aforementioned people into believing such things.


Ugh. Come on, man. Really, you gotta do that in here?
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Animerican14



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PostPosted: Thu Apr 02, 2015 12:57 am Reply with quote
JesuOtaku wrote:

Perhaps one day it may even disappear from your own horribly homophobic post!

--snip--

Ugh. Come on, man. Really, you gotta do that in here?


I was thinking of addressing SquadmemberRitsu's post myself tomorrow, but would tackle some other way he phrased things. I'm still thinking of doing that, but your accusation of horrible homophobia in his post has given me pause. Maybe it's because I'm really tired and want to sleep soon, but I'm not completely sure which parts you immediately took as homophobic. The "violent protests" part (kinds of protests that I myself am not at all aware of), or the greater phrasing that there are those that "go about fighting for their rights in all the wrong ways" (and I guess there's 'no such thing' as fighting for rights in "wrong ways"?) Other/additional things?

It may not have been intentional, and/or maybe he doesn't think it was a horrendously homophobic statement himself. I dunno; I can't at all answer for him but only briefly consider the possibilities at this time. I'd genuinely like to understand this better myself, because "homophobia" can carry different degrees of meaning to people.
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NothingIfNot



Joined: 25 Feb 2015
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 02, 2015 1:37 am Reply with quote
Animerican14 wrote:
Maybe it's because I'm really tired and want to sleep soon, but I'm not completely sure which parts you immediately took as homophobic.


I'm not JesuOtaku, and I skimmed SquadmemberRitsu's post the first time around, so I've just read the relevant part now, but here's what I'm seeing:

1. "I like to believe that a large majority of the homosexual community are good people with good intentions..."

As if that needs proving.

2. "but [of course the next word was going to be 'but'] to say there aren't also people who go about fighting for their rights in all the wrong ways (Such as violent protests"

This part is just strange. Oh yes, that's the problem haunting the modern world. All those violent gay protestors! Maybe this is a favorite topic among anti-ga... I mean, among people who seek to take a reasonable, balanced view of the issues surrounding gays. I wouldn't know.

3. "and generalising people who don't follow the same way of life)"

So now we've got a false equivalency between anti-gay people and people who generalize (no!!!) about anti-gay people. (And remember, folks, anti-white prejudice is just as bad as anti-black prejudice. In fact, the only real racism today...)

Of course, JesuOtaku's objections might be different.


Last edited by NothingIfNot on Thu Apr 02, 2015 1:41 am; edited 1 time in total
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JacobC
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 02, 2015 1:41 am Reply with quote
NothingIfNot wrote:

Of course, JesuOtaku's objections might be different.


Nah, that's about the size of it. The issues are pretty plain here. ANYWAY, I didn't want to start a fight or anything, just wanted to make it clear that this kinda bigotry isn't cool in the forums, please use more discretion before you spray this kinda stuff around SquadmemberRitsu. That is all.
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