YurikumaArashi, the latest series from Revolutionary Girl Utena and Mawaru
director Kunihiko Ikuhara, is a bit jarring to get into,
throwing you headfirst into a storm of trippy visuals and mild sexual content.
However, the show is well-served by the classic “three-episode rule”,
and certainly hooked me once the third episode had ended.


We start in a world where the destruction of a minor
planet has caused the debris of that planet to rain down on earth, raising
bears up to the mental level of humans. Seeing humans as their natural prey,
the bears immediately began attacking people, and an enormous wall called the “Wall
of Severance” was erected by the humans to keep the bears at bay. The wall is
not perfect, however, and a handful of bears have slipped through and disguised
themselves as human transfer students at the school of our protagonist, Kureha

The setting of this world is very much in line with
Ikuhara’s other works in that it’s very surreal and unrealistic; the world this
story takes place in is not meant to be a real or believable place, but simply
a frame for the story we’re being told and a medium for Ikuhara’s favorite
visual metaphors. The architecture is bright with sharp lines and extremely
contrasted colors, and the Wall of Severance that stretches to the sky is made
of towering black-and-red hexagons. Kureha’s school is also almost entirely a
very sharp black and red. The whole world has a very surreal feeling to it from
the moment you first see it.


While Ikuhara’s previous works were not slackers in the
trippy visuals themselves, they started you on a somewhat more grounded plane
compared to this show. Penguindrum
starts in a very believable aquarium filled with realistic animals, for
example. Yurikuma Arashi, in
contrast, is surreal as soon as you turn it on and it can be a little hard to
follow at first. Coupled with some scenes that are fairly blatantly meant to
titillate and I started off this show with a fairly negative impression.
However, the story takes some very interesting developments once it gets its
wheels on the ground, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing where they take
me. I’m frankly ashamed to have doubted Ikuhara, as Penguindrum is one of my favorite shows of all time. I’m also
excited to watch the first couple of episodes again after I’ve finished the
series, as I’m sure I missed subtle and important developments.

Altogether this has made for a very promising start to
this show, and while it’s certainly a little early to call, I foresee myself
owning this on Blu-ray in the future. With some fantastic visuals, a unique and
interesting setting and what seems like will be one hell of a plot-ride, Yurikuma Arashi is definitely worth
giving a chance.

SCORE: 8/10

-Edward (Left Knee of A7)

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