On Beginnings, Endings, and Yuri Kuma Arashi

anthy himemiya, anthy, utena, revolutionary girl utena end, anthy leaves ohtori academy, the rose bride

“You really don’t know what happened, do you? It doesn’t matter. By all means, stay in this cozy coffin of yours and continue to play prince.”

-Anthy Himemiya to Akio Ohtori, Revolutionary Girl Utena, episode 39

Each Kunihiko Ikuhara series begins with a system, and the system always remains, even at the series’ end.

Revolutionary Girl Utena ends on a positive note. The shocked look on Akio Ohtori’s face as Anthy tells her older brother that she is leaving the academy says it all. For him, there is no life outside of Ohtori Academy and the rules of the Rose Bride and the duelists. Trapped within the system, we are meant to see Akio as foolish. Anthy’s parting words to him only serve to frame any of Akio’s further machinations as utterly meaningless. The scene is preluded by a montage that mirrors the first episode. This time, it’s of an Ohtori Academy not only without Utena, but freed of Akio’s influence. Utena’s absence is palpable, as is the lack of control that Akio has over the school. The system remains, but it’s a toothless one thanks to the actions of Utena Tenjou over the course of the series.

momoka oginome, momoka, mawaru penguindrum, penguindrum end, momoka leaves sanetoshi

 “The train has left. You’re stuck here now.

‘The train will come again.’

I don’t know about that, but I’m leaving.”

‘I see.’

Goodbye.”

-a conversation between Momoka Oginome and Sanetoshi Watase, Mawaru Penguindrum, episode 24

Like Revolutionary Girl Utena, Mawaru Penguindrum ends with the shattering of an existing system and a sacrifice. Kanba and Shouma Takakura disappear from the world, leaving behind a new life for their sister, Himari. Penguindrum also ends with a bookending sequence, revisiting the series’ beginning without the presence of Shouma and Kanba. Their absence is felt, but again, the ending is a hopeful one. While Sanetoshi reiterates that the system remains – the train will come again – Momoka simply shrugs, smiles, and walks away, leaving Sanetoshi to his ghostly library. Sanetoshi isn’t made to look as foolish as Akio was – playing at being a prince while the world moves on around him, even within the academy – but there’s a distinct feeling that, when he tries to exert his influence again, Momoka, or a similar entity, will stand in his way.

In both instances, Akio and Sanetoshi’s influences are well-neutered by the events of their respective series. Each series also leaves a survivor: Anthy remains in the changed world of Utena, Himari remains in the changed world of Penguindrum.

Who survives in Yuri Kuma Arashi?

exclusion ceremony, yuri kuma arashi, yurikuma

“People who refuse to fit in with us are a nuisance, agreed? People like that, who can’t follow social cues, are evil. Now, let’s decide on the next evil to exclude.”

-the closing words of the Exclusion Ceremony, Yuri Kuma Arashi, episode 12

While Yurikuma‘s ending sequence is similar to that of Utena and Penguindrum – with a sequence similar to its beginning – there is not a solitary survivor for whom the sacrifice has taken place. Kureha Tsubaki and Ginko Yurishiro cease to exist in the world, and the system carries on as normal. It’s a bit more of an ominous ending than Ikuhara’s two previous series, in that the existing social structure remains very much intact. There is no framing of a fool, like Akio’s end, nor is there an assertion that something or someone will be able to stand in opposition, like Sanetoshi’s end. Instead, the Exclusion Ceremony continues, poised to hunt down their next victim with one notable exception.

yuri kuma arashi, yurikuma, yuri kuma arashi ending

A former participant in the Exclusion Ceremony leaves the proceedings, travels to the Door of Friendship, and discovers the half-cyborg, half-Konomi Yurikawa. While there is no clear survivor within the world – Lulu, Ginko, and Kureha have all vanished – the vacuum left behind is filled by someone who was visibly affected by their sacrifice. There is a strong sense that Lulu, Ginko, and Kureha’s actions radiate outward. Even if change is slow it will eventually come, one heart at a time.

7 comments

    1. It’s a bit different than the sacrifices made in Utena and Penguindrum, and that’s why I think that the ending of Yuri Kuma Arashi is a bit more . . . tempered, I suppose. The sacrifice made is that Kureha sacrifices her existence within “the real world,” for lack of a better term, to become a bear and be with Ginko. I do think they depart for a fabulous life elsewhere, but the unfortunate thing is that the world remains unchanged. In Penguindrum, the train tracks shifted, and while Shouma and Kanba left, Himari remained, able to lead a normal life. Likewise, Anthy leaves Ohtori Academy to search for Utena – who has left the world – now able to move about freely.

      I think the world of Yuri Kuma Arashi will change, it’s just obviously going to be a slow, and possibly painful process.

      Thank you~

  1. It’s been a while – welcome back! ^.^ As for Yurikuma, I admit I haven’t seen it, but it sounds like the ending leaves hope for the future. Even if the protagonists could not achieve anything throughout the series, someone can; life goes on, and change doesn’t always come easily. This reminds me of Citizen Kane, oddly enough – we’re let not knowing who Charles Foster Kane is, but his larger-than-life personality leaves an indelible reminder that if you do not check yourself, you may find yourself in a tragic situation.

    1. Thanks! I’ve been getting paid to freelance elsewhere, so I haven’t had much time to write. That should change going forward.

      It’s difficult for me to comment because I must confess that I have not seen Citizen Kane (yes, I know that I should ^ ^;). I do like the idea that, even if it is a slow process, the affects of one’s actions can radiate outward, as well see with Cyborg Bear!Konomi and her former handler.

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