12 Days of Anime #8: Courage in Yuri Bear Storm

“I’m not scared anymore. As long as I don’t forget love, I will never be alone. If I don’t give up on love, even if I lose something, I’ll never be invisible. So…I’ll leap into the storm!” -Tsubaki Kureha

Finding yourself alone in a world of intolerance is a frightening thing. You doubt yourself–your morals, your convictions, even your own emotions you might cast away, conforming to the norms and making yourself one with the Invisible Storm that is society, a society that is prejudiced against all things Other.

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Perhaps the oddest title of the year, Yuri Bear Storm (Yuri Kuma Arashi), with its idiosyncratic, liberal use of symbolism is a tale about many things. It is a tale about sexual identity, of forbidden love, of–in the most literally figurative sense–an allegory of sexual intercourse–and it is a story about a bear and a human girl who fall in love and want to be together forever but forces conspire to prevent them from finding happiness.

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It just won’t work out between us! I’m a bear, you’re a girl…think of the children!

“Tsubaki Kureha, this is a challenge from the Wall of Severance. Is your love the true thing?”

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While the finale culminates in the triumphant moment where Kureha figures out that her love for Ginko is “true”, and proves so by sacrificing her humanity to become a bear for Ginko’s sake, the end is disquietingly ambiguous. In the end, while Ginko and Kureha may have very well found each other at least and are presumably happily making out under Kumaria’s stars, little has changed. The Invisible Storm rages on undeterred, the schoolgirls continue their merry habit of Excluding Evil, and the atrocious scandal in which a human became a bear has faded into oblivion in the minds of every girl but one.

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Yuri Bear Storm shows us that while it is difficult and perhaps nigh impossible for a single person (or bear) to overthrow an entire society’s prejudices. But you don’t need to trash the system to effect change. One courageous act can move a heart, even if it is only just one.

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Come live with me (in French, apparently).

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