Review: Yurikuma Arashi Complete Series (Blu-Ray)

Once upon a time, the planet Kumalia exploded, showering Earth with meteor fragments which caused the bear population to rise up against humanity. After a fierce battle, humans and bears are separated by the Wall of Severance, but some bears continue to infiltrate the human world disguised as schoolgirls in this strange tale of love, loss and lilies from legendary director Kunihiko Ikuhara.

Ginko and Lulu, two bears in human guise, have just transferred into the class of Kureha Tsubaki – a girl with a deep hatred of bears after the death of her mother who has been systematically ostracised by her classmates for not following the social norms. When her only friend and lover Sumika Izumino, who refused to take part in the exclusion of Kureha, is also taken by bears, a sad, cute, charming and strange tale begins to unfold as the truth about bears, the past, and the relationships that many of these human and bear characters share unfold and the past is revealed, and both human and bear learn to fight for their love.

If it all sounds weird, that’s because, quite frankly, it is. Coming from the mind of Kunihiko Ikuhara, the man responsible for Revolutionary Girl Utena, this comes as no great surprise. It’s a somewhat abstract allegorical story of love, loss and acceptance and to try and summarise it in a paragraph or two does it a bit of a disservice. It is slow to get going, but as more pieces of the puzzle fall into place the series becomes more compelling as the history of the bears and humans plays out in snippets and the truth of Kureha’s relationship with bears, the pasts of transfer student bears Ginko and Lulu and the fate of her mother all intertwine towards the ending.

Visually, the series is simply gorgeous, with fantastic animation and incredible backgrounds setting the scene perfectly. They certainly didn’t skimp on the production values. Or the use of lilies as symbolism. Seriously. So many lilies. Yurikuma Arashi is bizzare and equal parts heartwarming and heartbreaking along the way.

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