kunihiko ikuhara

Kureha Tsubaki and flower language in Yuri Kuma Arashi

The white lily (shirayuri/白百合) is the third image to appear in Yuri Kuma Arashi. First the anime opens with what we learn later is a bear alarm — resembling a tornado or earthquake siren — next, an outside shot of Arashigaoka Academy, complete with a title. Kunihiko Ikuhara loves stagecraft and with less time to work with, Yuri Kuma Arashi‘s episodes are packed with images, often accompanied by specific titles, to set the stage.

Then a white lily appears.

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The Visible Storm of Yuri Kuma Arashi

At Arashigaoka Academy, blending in is not only a way of live, it’s introduced as the only way to survive. While the body count rises in Yuri Kuma Arashi, so do the cries from various young women in the series to uphold the status quo at all costs. Sumika Izumino is announced as the first casualty within the scope of the series and all her classmates can say about her rumored death is that it was her fault for going out alone. Friends are necessary for survival. The Wall of Severance is constantly being rebuilt to keep the bears, the others, out. The Invisible Storm consumes those who don’t follow the status quo and stay within the lines.

Blend in completely. Be invisible. Those who cannot read the atmosphere are evils inevitably sought after, found, and obliterated by the Invisible Storm.

For people who are supposed to make a homogeneous background pattern, thereby becoming invisible, these young women — lily and bear alike — are oddly conspicuous individuals.

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Introducing Ringo Oginome — Mawaru Penguindrum Episode 2

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“I love the word ‘fate.’ You know how they talk about ‘fated encounters.?’ Just one single encounter can completely change your life. Such special encounters are not coincidences. They’re definitely . . . fate. Of course, life is not all happy encounters. There are many painful, sad predicaments. It’s hard to accept that misfortunes beyond your control are fate. But I think sad and painful things happen for a reason. Nothing in this world is pointless. Because, I believe in fate.”

-Ringo Oginome, Mawaru Penguindrum, Episode 2

Ringo Oginome is a complex character, steeped in guilt, longing, love, and later, forgiveness. Her many facets make her not only tolerable within the scope of Mawaru Penguidrum, but wholly lovable, despite her introduction in the series’ second episode as the stalker of the Takakura brothers’ homeroom teacher.

She’s introduced with a grand speech about fate, rivaling the iconic opening monologue from Shouma Takakura in the series premiere and the equally passionate closing words of his brother Kanba that bookend the episode.

She’s also introduced with a toilet flush, stars wafting from the bowl like a lingering, undeniable stench.

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Bungou Stray Dogs and Takuya Igarashi’s Visual Comedy

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It’s been a short while since we’ve seen Takuya Igarashi and Yoji Enokido together. The last time they teamed up as director and series composer/screenwriter respectively was 2014 Spring’s Captain Earth. Prior to that, the two worked together on Star Driver. Captain Earth started off strong — especially when it came to visuals and cinematography — but lacked Star Driver‘s self-awareness and over-the-top silliness while telling a similar story of adolescence and robots.

In fact, as a director and writer team, Igarashi and Enokido often seem more at home with comedic moments,  or combining over-the-top comedy with a few poignant emotional narratives, than he does when attempting something wholly serious.

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