After one episode and some discussions about Yuri Kuma Arashi, here are what I think are its most solid interpretations, theories and analyses as well as other noteworthy details. I’m curious how much of that post will hold up after the end of the series.
Let’s start this post with one of the worst blogging sins: quoting TVTropes. Skip this if you are familiar with “Class S”, but the text contains very important information.
… “romantic friendship”. This practice waned at the turn of the 20th century, as adults, particularly men, did not want to be mistaken as homosexual. Generally, it only still occurs between young girls, where it is more socially acceptable, and non-indicative of sexual orientation.
In Japan this is known as “Class S” and is far more common than in the West. Due to the influence of Western female literature the Japanese developed a belief that young girls are expected to have friendships with each other that emulate boyfriend/girlfriend relationships. This is considered a temporary but wonderful part of adolescence. They can then graduate from these friendships to “real” relationships with boys. To remain in a “Class S” relationship past middle school is seen as a sign of immaturity. It is expected that these friendships will continue into adulthood, but without the romantic elements. The possibility of one or more of the girls involved in a “Class S” relationship being truly invested in the other romantically is usually ignored.
If the romance starts to become too passionate, parents will often intervene to separate the girls, perhaps entirely. This should never become physical that way; it would sully the Incorruptible Pure Pureness. Which is then traded in for marriage. If the girls do cross the line into sex (or even passionate kissing), they are no longer this trope, instead becoming Schoolgirl Lesbians, and are treated very differently.
Kureha and Sumika are in a “class S” friendship. They treasure their purity and run away from anything that is vaguely sexual and might corrupt their pure relationship. For example, the bears, who are straight homosexuals and accept their sexuality and love (but are frowned upon by society unlike class S relationships); the second example is the invisible storm, which I interpret as puberty: it cut the protagonists’ lilies, which is a symbol of their purity. Because the antagonists in this show are homosexual as well, I don’t believe that the lilies are a symbol of their homosexuality and hence the invisible storm a symbol of homophobia.
The invisible storm might specifically refer to periods, as it is one of the most noticeable changes in (female) puberty, but maybe it doesn’t need to be that specific. Periods were also done several times in anime symbolism: the giant period monster in FLCL, Nanami’s egg in Utena. And lastly, I think the age of the characters is not mentioned in the anime, but in the manga they are 16, which is a bit late to have your first periods.
Ikuhara asks if Kureha’s love is real, and so might be asking her to acknowledge that class S relationships are no different from lesbian relationships and that running away from sex is silly; maybe Ikuni’s just trying to make Kureha come to understand her own sexuality. Or perhaps Ikuhara is saying that lesbian/homosexual relationships are no worse than class S relationships and that people have double standards. I can see the end of the series with the bear side being depicted as righter than the school’s and Kureha joining the bears. (I need to make actual, sort-of bold predictions in this article or else it’s not fun, lol.)
I am not sure how the Sankebetsu incident will tie thematically into the series. Perhaps, unlike the sarin gas attack in Mawaru Penguindrum, here the attack is just used as an aesthetic reference rather than something to talk about. It should be noted though that if the humans are responsible for the explosion of the asteroid that woke up the bears we could make a parallel with the attack which people blame human deforestation for. (Bears don’t usually attack humans, but deforestation reduces the availability of natural preys.) But maybe the parallel with deforestation should be with the wall rather than the asteroid?
My guess is that the bears, AKA the homosexuals, are trying to corrupt the public’s cherished “class S” friendships as a revenge for being treated with double standards. Whether this translates into a criticism of anime and manga, media in general, or society, this is still unclear.
The differences between the anime and manga series can also inform us as to the series’ thematic intentions.
Also of note:
– Arashigaoka, the name of the school, means Wuthering Weights.
– The school and the trees around it are a pink triangle in a green circle!?
– There’s a photo of the attack in Kureha’s room.
– The opening by bonjour Suzuki has a french verse at the end saying “I need you”. French might be reinforcing that platonic, pure romance.
– Certain parts of the school make visual references to horror films like Suspiria or The Shining.
if you would like to read more analysis of the show, read the very interesting conversation in the comments! It adds a lot to this post, and changes some of its conclusion. The analysis itself is in the comments but here are the conclusions:
– The protagonists might not be running away from the Invisible Storm and the bears, which only the president and the rest of the class do. The president is actually trying to convince the protagonists to halt the storm and kinda forces them into it, while the protagonists are accepting their sexuality, i.e. not backing down on love. The Invisible Storm is not puberty but rather perversion/”unrejected homosexuality”. The bears are a real threat but the protagonists would rather face danger than give up on love (i.e. being visible)
– The other, pure/heterosexual students are, as stated in the dialogue, invisible, and have the support of the group, while lesbians are visible and risk being eaten. Accepting one’s homosexuality — becoming visible — means losing the support of the group and taking the risk to be eaten so as to save one’s love.
– The judge, in asking if the characters’ love is real, actually weighs if they care enough about their love that they can face the consequences of it (social rejection, or being eaten by bears), and if the love is stronger than the need to conform, then the judge “approves the yuri”.
– Therefore the social commentary that I thought would focus on “Class S VS Homosexuals” may actually focus on “Heterosexuals VS Homosexuals”. Instead of mainly critiquing society’s double standards about Class S and Lesbians, could actually simply make a study about the risks, consequences and dilemmas of realising and acknowledging your non-straight sexuality.
Do you agree with this post’s speculation? Disagree?
Later, or after the series ends, I will make a new post comparing my early speculation with updated theories.