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REVIEW: Yurikuma Arashi BD+DVD


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Raebo101



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PostPosted: Thu Aug 11, 2016 10:06 am Reply with quote
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It's a laudable effort for a show so potentially difficult to dub that was produced at simulcast speeds (right when Funi was first starting their broadcast dub process), and it could definitely be useful for making the show easier to follow and understand, but it still struggles tonally compared to the Japanese track.


I applaud FUNimation for Broadcast Dubbing an Ikuhara show and having it sound as good as it does. It couldn't have been easy. Still... This dub probably would've benefited from the extra time a normal home-release would've given them.
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Key
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 11, 2016 10:24 am Reply with quote
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its commitment to telling its story through symbolic writing, dreamlike imagery, and frequent artistic cross-referencing could make it off-putting for audiences unprepared to devote 110% of their attention to deciphering its ideas. . . .

These repeated sequences are clearly a deliberate choice by the director rather than pure animation shortcuts, since they always serve a purpose in the incredibly tight story, and he's employed them liberally throughout his work, but any repetition of footage this transparent can still feel like a crutch in such an artistically ambitious story, which could push any viewers on the edge of their patience with Yurikuma's style off into complete rejection.

These two statements articulate precisely why I gave up on this series after five episodes. It was easily the most frustrating viewing experience I've had in the past several years.
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Greed1914
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 11, 2016 10:30 am Reply with quote
I'm debating whether or not I'll buy this. When I watched it as a broadcast dub, I usually came away from each episode feeling like I wasn't fully grasping what was happening and was obviously missing something, which made for a frustrating experience. I'll probably need to stream it again to see if another viewing helps before I commit to buying it.
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Parsifal24



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PostPosted: Thu Aug 11, 2016 10:35 am Reply with quote
I tried to watch this streaming and only made it three episodes before I gave up, in short, it's a work I can respect even if I didn't like or agree with its worldview of what I saw of it.
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Animegomaniac



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PostPosted: Thu Aug 11, 2016 10:42 am Reply with quote
The greatest problem any work of art can have is that it exists fully in metaphor. My own take on this series.. I believe I made it through three episodes before deciding the subject was a bit lopsided in both depiction and goals... is I assume quite a bit different than the "This is how you should view this series we love" episode by episode guide. Or not?

For starters, what's the narrative point of what would be to us an "alternative lifestyle" when there is no alternative presented... oh, Simoun, what are you doing here? Feeling a little lonely, huh? Too bad, you're not "art" enough... but in attempting to do so, the whole series came off to me as... yuri fanservice, that's a thing, right? Not a fetish but I certainly got a feeling of "This is awesome!" from the director. And his interviews. Oh, his interviews. I have penguindrum on BD but if anything is keeping me from Utena, it's the director's own words.

But then there's the bears.... yes, predators and prey depicted in a single sex, as a single sex, I get it... or I get something... is what I get right?

Are there right answers to metaphors? This really always has bothered me, from English to film studies; I don't like metaphor as tool myself for precisely these reasons. Would the "We love it, so should you" guide be unbiased in its analysis? I can only bring my own perspective and imagination to viewing a work of art, coming in with a known conclusion would change that, yes? But doing it after the fact would be a more a process of "you're doing it wrong!". And I'm not new at studying and analyzing art...

Final words:
1 If you have something to say, come out and say it.
2 Shock! Kuma Shock!
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Yttrbio
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 11, 2016 11:23 am Reply with quote
This series felt like a Ikuhara whiff to me. I loved Mawaru Penguindrum, so my problem isn't with the symbolic presentation, but rather that I felt that the actual message here was pretty shallow.

I think someone could start by reading Jacob's summary of the show's message, and then, after watching the entire show, have not learned anything new about that message. The show spent most of its time beating a dead horse in creative and interesting, but generally unenlightening ways.
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Shay Guy



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PostPosted: Thu Aug 11, 2016 11:33 am Reply with quote
I watched this show as it was coming out, like Penguindrum before it. I've also seen all of Utena, including the movie. I loved all three series; I think that they're fantastic and that Ikuhara's one of the best directors working in TV anime, and I'll be right on board if he ever manages to get another show greenlit.

Which is why it may sound weird when I say this, but... he's really not my thing.

See, I'm That Guy. I'm the guy who keeps thinking things like "But why did the asteroid explode?" or "How did they get from the forest to the tower?" or "Are we not supposed to care that this character is a literal serial killer?" These things bother me even when I know they're not supposed to. My attention drifts away from where the writer wants me to look. Ikuhara's a masterful storyteller, but I'm a really bad audience for him. (And YKA is a romance at heart, even more than Utena was, and that's not remotely native genre territory for me.)

Not that I always have these kinds of problems. Like, YKA episode 4? I swallowed that with no problem. In retrospect, I think I was interpreting it like a Haskell function, where the internals have no impact on the rest of the program outside of what the function returns. (Yeah, I'm a STEM type. KUMA SHOCK, right?) So Lulu's once-upon-a-time backstory tells us nothing about the setting that's necessarily "true" in the context of the broader story (beyond maybe the "thematic environment"?); it exists solely to tell us what sort of person Lulu is and what sort of relationship she has with Ginko.

(A sudden thought: It's the abstract concepts that matter in these stories, but they're illustrated with concrete details that don't always make sense. Like, I can't even visualize the Wall of Severance beyond the hexagon/pawprint background texture used to represent it, or the occasional shots of the skyline we see. The concepts of the "human lands" and "bear lands" have zilch to do with the real-world geography we see shown from orbit.)

I should maybe watch this series again someday; I've only seen each Ikuhara show once. A couple thoughts on the ending, though:

The backstory twist in the last two episodes is basically perfect, in a lot of ways that I don't think I can articulate, but thinking back on it now, part of it is the idea that "the problem isn't that you are what they hate, it's that they hate what you are" -- I can absolutely connect to that, even though I'm not coming at it from an LGBT perspective. What we saw happen is something that absolutely makes sense for the (very sympathetic) character to do and at the same time is easy for us to see is the wrong choice for both characters affected. I also like the idea that self-sacrifice is easy to get wrong, even as Ikuhara reiterates his conviction that it's practically the only way to get anything worthwhile done.

And the final scenes are one of the best expressions I've ever seen of the saying from Pirkei Avot chapter 2: "Lo alecha ham'lacha ligmor, v'lo atah ben chorin l'hivatel mimena." You don't have to finish the job, but neither are you free to abandon it. Or in more modern terms: "What is a legacy? It's planting seeds in a garden you never get to see."
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DuelGundam2099



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PostPosted: Thu Aug 11, 2016 12:52 pm Reply with quote
>two Bs and two As
>goes for A rating

The math on this.... Not only do I disagree on literally EVERYTHING in this review, but also
Quote:
thought-provoking ideas

Yes, a bear powered maser cannon homage makes you wonder what other animals can be subjugated by genocidal maniac teenagers along with wondering where all the men are (seriously, nobody has a dad, that's just bad world building and that's ignoring the lack of male soldiers in the war flashbacks).
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Shay Guy



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PostPosted: Thu Aug 11, 2016 1:16 pm Reply with quote
DuelGundam2099 wrote:
>two Bs and two As
>goes for A rating

The math on this....


It's not like grading a test.

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(seriously, nobody has a dad, that's just bad world building and that's ignoring the lack of male soldiers in the war flashbacks).


It's also not like building a model train, which is the mindset people usually use when they talk about "worldbuilding" (and the mindset I'm native to).

This is another thing I'm not sure how to articulate, but the overall absence of male characters has to be deliberate. See Gabriella Ekens's review of episode 8. You can't really make sense of it in terms of in-universe mechanics, but that's not the same as "storytellers aren't allowed to do this". Storytelling is kinda like a magic trick -- sleight of hand, misdirection. And a story like Yurikuma Arashi, which ignores coherence of universe mechanics altogether? You can do that, but it lives and dies based on how well you can direct the audience's attention away from it and focus on character and theme. Those tricks work better on some people than others -- maybe it's related to why some babies look at the face and other babies stare at the ticking clock.

I mean, it's not entirely like Animal Farm keeping the reader's attention away from the question of whether we'd really slaughter animals for meat if they could talk... but it's a little like that.
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DuelGundam2099



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PostPosted: Thu Aug 11, 2016 1:30 pm Reply with quote
Shay Guy wrote:
the overall absence of male characters has to be deliberate.

Why? Humans made this, humans make mistakes, by logical indication nothing is truly perfect, and nobody on staff confirmed this so taking such thing in absolution is, well, silly.
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You can't really make sense of it in terms of in-universe mechanics, but that's not the same as "storytellers aren't allowed to do this"

Actually I can: Time distortion, dimensional warping, the women might reproduce asexually (are they sharks?), light bending, sound modification, and the like are all logical explanations. There are other things I could say about that article, but I'm not ending my last month here being disrespectful, lets just say I have massive trust issues.
Quote:
Storytelling is kinda like a magic trick -- sleight of hand, misdirection. And a story like Yurikuma Arashi, which ignores coherence of universe mechanics altogether? You can do that, but it lives and dies based on how well you can direct the audience's attention away from it and focus on character and theme.

Yoshiyuki Tomino did the same thing with G-Reco (and pretty much everything that wasn't King Gainer) which is endlessly berated on this site despite praise and popularity in Japan. For all we know half of Masami Obari's discography does symbolic stuff like YKA. Go Nagai uses similar stuff except his stuff is far easier to follow. Here's a good question: Why do works from X get a pass when Y does the same thing and doesn't? I'd like to see people from here review mecha classics the same way they see whatever is supposed to be in Ikuhara's four works (five if you count Sailor Moon runs, but he isn't the creator so I don't count him for that especially since I've never seen SM).
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it's not entirely like Animal Farm keeping the reader's attention away from the question of whether we'd really slaughter animals for meat if they could talk

Genetics giving them superior brain power to their real world counterparts, advanced vocal cords, mimicking capabilities like those of parrots, a lack of linguistic divisions when humans divided into tribes during the neolithic age; those are my explanations: Short, simple, easy to fill in, and they make sense.
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Shay Guy



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PostPosted: Thu Aug 11, 2016 2:20 pm Reply with quote
I'm really not sure how to conduct this conversation.

DuelGundam2099 wrote:
Shay Guy wrote:
the overall absence of male characters has to be deliberate.

Why?


Because it's not the sort of thing that happens by accident? And certainly not the way it happens here?

DuelGundam2099 wrote:
Yoshiyuki Tomino did the same thing with G-Reco (and pretty much everything that wasn't King Gainer) which is endlessly berated on this site despite praise and popularity in Japan.


Not having seen Reconguista in G (or any Tomino other than the 0079 movies), I wouldn't feel qualified to comment on it, or what any critics have said about it. That said, Tomino and Ikuhara definitely do different things with their stories.

DuelGundam2099 wrote:
Actually I can: Time distortion, dimensional warping, the women might reproduce asexually (are they sharks?), light bending, sound modification, and the like are all logical explanations.

...

Genetics giving them superior brain power to their real world counterparts, advanced vocal cords, mimicking capabilities like those of parrots, a lack of linguistic divisions when humans divided into tribes during the neolithic age; those are my explanations: Short, simple, easy to fill in, and they make sense.


The question, I think, is why these questions even need to be asked or answered. Some do (I'm not willing to say plot holes are flat-out irrelevant), but I don't think these do, and certainly not with the answers you gave, which have no place in the types of stories being told. It's more model-train-building.

The line between "needs answering" and "accept as part of premise" is definitely subjective, and a big part of it is just "Does this bother me?" The way YKA avoids talking about Kureha's presumed father does bother me a little, but I think it's at least close to the line.
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Arale Kurashiki



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PostPosted: Thu Aug 11, 2016 2:30 pm Reply with quote
YKA is perfect as a commentary on the anime industry and everyone is foolish. Really? You think that nobody having a dad is a mere oversight? That's a very deliberate point. The fact that Reia had a child at all proves that you are supposed to wonder about this. Ultimately, male characters aren't allowed to appear in this world, but their presence is not allowed to be forgotten about either; even in the human world in which so many girls have close relationships, they still arbitrarily return to a socially acceptable relationship, to the shock of Yuriika.

Anyway.

What the hell are you talking about about Ikuhara's past works being dubbed? Utena's didn't "destroy the meaning of the show" AT ALL. Aside from a very minor handful of changes during the first act of five (counting the movie), the script was very, very close to the original's at most points. So that's a lie. You might hear about the Utena dub being "bad" but that's only because of weird stilted line delivery, something which many fans would actually agree fits the show when it wouldn't fit any other. Penguindrum I haven't watched, but from what I heard the dub is also very close-to-script. Obviously this mistake wasn't written maliciously, but it's still completely incorrect. Ikuhara dubs have NEVER "destroyed the meaning of the show".
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Zin5ki
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 11, 2016 3:13 pm Reply with quote
Hello Shay Guy!
Shay Guy wrote:
I loved all three series; I think that they're fantastic and that Ikuhara's one of the best directors working in TV anime, and I'll be right on board if he ever manages to get another show greenlit.

Which is why it may sound weird when I say this, but... he's really not my thing.

That is an interesting admission to make. To laud a director to the extent that you do, but to simultaneously say that their creations are not really for you, whatsoever this means exactly, strikes me as unorthodox. Now, many people afford a respect for Ikuhara's abilities despite his works' content or presentation not quite resonating with them. Indeed, had I seen any such things, I would probably fall into this group myself. (Regional locks are fun.) Judging by Jacob's highly lucid review though, the bar to entry does appear to be placed above those unwilling to adapt to the imaginative requirements the director imposes on his audience, and you openly admit this, yet your praise also transcends a mere expression of recognitional respect.
Are the enthralments provided by Ikuhara's abstractions so great that they outshine the issues you take with their means of conveyance? Do his shows evoke and invoke in a good way more than they provoke in a bad one? I would be interested to know the degree to which his works affected you in general.
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SejinPK



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PostPosted: Thu Aug 11, 2016 4:13 pm Reply with quote
DuelGundam2099 wrote:
Shay Guy wrote:
the overall absence of male characters has to be deliberate.

Why? Humans made this, humans make mistakes, by logical indication nothing is truly perfect, and nobody on staff confirmed this so taking such thing in absolution is, well, silly.


The complete absence of men (minus the Judgmens and Milne) in the show isn't something that could be a simple mistake, like, "Oops! We forgot to draw the men!" That kind of thing just doesn't happen. And when you consider the very purposeful inclusion of the male characters that do exist in Yurikuma, the idea that the creators simply goofed by not including other men is pretty farfetched.

Shay Guy wrote:
DuelGundam2099 wrote:
>two Bs and two As
>goes for A rating

The math on this....


It's not like grading a test.


Even if you look at it like grading a test, and give the letter grades numeric values, the lowest possible is still a very high B+.

Using the lower ends of the grade ranges, and sticking with whole numbers for these for sanity's sake, let's say that the "A+" given to "Story" is 97, the "B" given to "Animation" is 83, the "A-" given to "Art" is 90, and the "B+" given to "Music" is 87. We then have (97 + 83 + 90 + 87) / 4 = 89.25.

Looking at it more intuitively, which is how I'm guessing ANN's reviewers do it, you could say that the "A+" and "A-" scores average to an "A" score, and that the "B" and "B+" scores average to a slightly lower "B+" score. Averaging that with the "A" score still gives you a low-mid "A".

The thing is, though, that doesn't really yield anything meaningful. All the fuss over what the "correct" number/letter is ignores the actual meat of the show. It focuses on this little thing at the end of the review that's basically a footnote, instead of the content of the review itself which digs into the show it's reviewing.

Shay Guy wrote:
See, I'm That Guy. I'm the guy who keeps thinking things like "But why did the asteroid explode?"


There's probably not an in-universe explanation for the asteroid exploding beyond "it just happened," but I have some thoughts about it from the standpoint of the show's social commentary:

Yurikuma implicates the Church in the perpetuation and enforcement of anti-LGBTQ ideas and views, and it ties the goddess Kumaria to the Church. Kumaria is also the name of the asteroid that explodes. So, if you look at the asteroid Kumaria as representing the solidarity and influence, overall, of Christianity, then its explosion into tiny pieces could be seen as analogous to how Christianity's influence has waned over time. That waning influence is an important part of what led to society gradually becoming more amenable to pro-LGBTQ ideas and views and to acceptance of people who are LGBTQ. This is why the explosion of the Kumaria asteroid led to the bears rising up. It's not that the asteroid fragments caused some change in the bears, but that the lack of a solid, whole asteroid (waning influence of Christianity) led to the ability of the bears to rise up (greater social acknowledgement and acceptance of people who are LGBTQ).

The reason the bears' rising up is described as such, and is explained as them attacking the humans, is because that's how it's viewed by the humans, as a revolt against what they feel should be the natural order, and as an attack on those in power and privilege. It's similar to the general narrative espoused by those in power against those who they've oppressed and/or suppressed who are becoming able to improve their standing in the world and come to be on equal footing with the people in power. That narrative is based on assumed violence and various kinds of unruliness and inferiority of those who were oppressed/suppressed, as well as fear of that violence and unruliness, and insistence that stricter order, or punishment, or something along those lines, is needed to improve things.

/analysis

Now, I must admit that I'm not 100% sure of myself here, as there are a lot of things about Yurikuma that I still don't understand the (full) meaning of, including some things about other uses of Kumaria in the show. Those things could render my analysis moot, and I do need to re-watch Yurikuma to be more sure of it. But for now it seems decent enough.


Last edited by SejinPK on Thu Aug 11, 2016 4:15 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Lord Oink



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PostPosted: Thu Aug 11, 2016 4:13 pm Reply with quote
Animegomaniac wrote:
If you have something to say, come out and say it.


But then people would complain about info dump or exposition or being ham-fisted. Sometimes people like to look into things for more deeply than they were ever intended to. I thought the show was a pretty decent yuri fanservice, but then I read people talking about how it's actually a super deep critique about being gay or the anime industry. See, to me this looks like hot futanari fetish imagery but it could actually be a metaphor like using a flower instead of a penis showcases that they don't need no man and all they need is women and women can take the place of a man, or something. Sometimes you have to wonder how many metaphors are actually supposed to be metaphors how many cigars are supposed to be cigars. For me personally it's hard to take a comment like " the show is ironically twisting the notion that being lesbian is okay as long as it's sexy" seriously because they still show hot girls doing fanservicey things. It sounds like the kind of excuse a kid would give his parent after being caught watching porn, trying to play it off as an educational thing. Did the creator ever say anything about all this metaphorical stuff or is this all fan speculation?
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