A Room With a View: Yuri Kuma Arashi’s Lulu Yurigasaki

January 27, 2015 § 4 Comments

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Yuri Kuma Arashi‘s fourth episode reintroduces us to Lulu Yurigasaki as a princess trapped by her inability to accept the love of her brother. When unoccupied with nefarious activities like boxing up her younger brother and kicking him into volcanoes, Lulu spends the majority of her leisure time isolated in a tower befitting a story book princess. Similar to the use of Himari Takakura’s bedroom decor in Mawaru Penguindrum, Lulu’s surroundings, and how they change throughout the episode, reveal quite a bit about her situation and desires.

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Yuri Kuma Arashi: A Lily By Any Other Name is a Bear

January 13, 2015 § 5 Comments

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Did you know that “yuri” means lily? Did you also know that “yuri” is used on Japan to denote a girls-love story? You did? Good. Shall we continue?

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The Rolling Girls and Elder Siblings

January 12, 2015 § 3 Comments

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I’ll never know what it’s like to be a younger sibling. Growing up, my personal heroes were ones well beyond the scope of my immediate family. At their closest, they were charming upperclassmen, and with the manner in which both my junior high and high schools stratified themselves, they may as well have been on the moon. On my younger brother’s good authority, it’s indistinguishable from hero worship.

As the eldest, hearing tales idolatry from your younger sibling is awkward to say the least, and completely unrelatable to your personal version of the same history. By the same token, my own version of our childhood was full of annoyance at my brother’s existence along with fierce feelings of protection.

The Rolling Girls takes these simple but strong emotions and manages to pack it in a revisionist Warring States-era history that bursts with color and style. Between frenzied fights, explosions, and dastardly amusement park plots, The Rolling Girls‘ most impressive moment arrived quietly at an evening stoplight as a conversation between two sisters.

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The Loneliness of an Invisible Storm

January 6, 2015 § 14 Comments

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One day, while listening to a friend speak about music, he remarked that he often dislikes listening to strings only. He was quick to add that this was a personal preference, but expanded on the statement by saying that he prefers a mixture of piano and strings. In his mind, the presence of a piano keeps the strings grounded.

Similarly, I can say the same thing for an anime series directed by Kunihiko Ikuhara, where the grounded narrative serves to enhance any symbolism or subtext that arises and relate to the viewer immediately. In the first episode of Mawaru Penguindrum, one can find a simple story of two brothers treating their terminally-ill sister to a day of her own at the aquarium. The penguins, survival strategies, and monologues regarding fate are placed strategically around this setup. Utena Tenjou’s scenario is arranged as a fairytale in Revolutionary Girl Utena. She searches for the prince of her childhood while that prince serves as inspiration for saving a classmate from perceived abuse. This tale comes with setpieces, a Greek chorus, and daily after school duels with the student council.

With its more airy trappings, Yuri Kuma Arashi‘s first episode lacks a similar foothold to ground the production as a whole. Kureha Tsubaki’s search for her missing classmate – and lover – Sumika Izumino, is intrinsically tied to the supernatural elements of the story.

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A Story of a Doll and a Snake: Tsukimonogatari

January 1, 2015 § 6 Comments

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“That is why this is the beginning of the end. About how a human named Koyomi Araragi. About how myself, Koyomi Araragi, is going to end and begin.”

-Koyomi Araragi, Tsukimonogatari

Koyomi Araragi says that Tsukimonogatari, the story of Yotsugi Ononoki, marks the beginning of his end. However, he only speaks of the end that he is aware of. There are a variety of ends for different facets of Koyomi. The most interesting end begins not with Ononoki, but with Nadeko Sengoku.

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