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Have you been watching The Rolling Girls? So far, it’s one of my top 3 shows of the Winter 2015 anime season. I’m planning a larger write-up for the series, but for now I wanted to point out a small reference in Episode 4 of the show.

Episodes 3 and 4 take place in an area named “Always Comima,” a land that is a perpetual Comic Market doujinshi festival. At one point, the girls end up at a house in Always Comima, whose owner once met one of the girls, Kosaka Yukina, who gave her gratitude by drawing a portrait of their family. You might have noticed that the portrait looks somewhat…peculiar.

The style used in the portrait is actually a reference to a manga artist named Jigoku no Misawa, or Misawa of Hell. Having gained popularity among 2ch users, Misawa is mainly known for his bizarre one-panel comics depicting silly-looking characters trying to act cool.

While his claim to fame is like some Bizarro version of Family Circus, Misawa’s actuall had a few manga long-form published in Jump SQ by Shueisha, the same company that puts out Shounen Jump. I’ve only read Kakko Kawaii Sengen! (“Cool-Cute Proclamation”), which features a girl who is known for being clumsy and popular with the boys, while still looking like this:

Kakko Kawaii Sengen has actually received an animated adaptation, and some merchandise to go along with it.

If you’re interested in checking out Misawa of Hell’s stuff and you have a smart device, then you’re in luck. His series, The Great Phrases Women Fall for, is currently available translated into English on the Manga Box app.

iOS

Android

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The original Tantei Opera Milky Holmes is an anime I viewed as largely a disappointment. Ostensibly about a group of cute female detectives with superpowers, the premise is more window dressing for moe comedy and reference humor. That combination can be okay, but in Milky Holmes the jokes are very hit or miss (mostly the latter). The majority tend to be rather one-dimensional (That’s from that anime! Haha!), though every so often there would be a truly impressive gag. Case in point, I fondly remember the “Baritsu” gag, which spent an entire episode setting up the name of a semi-fictional martial art found in the Sherlock Holmes novels in order to deliver a pun based on the climax of Laputa: Castle in the Sky. However, because the show felt so flimsy and the humor fell flat so often, when it came to the next one, Futari wa Milky Holmes, I felt little need or desire to check it out even if there were some brighter moments.

I’ll be honest when I say that, if it weren’t for my Patreon sponsor Johnny Trovato, I probably would not have given the franchise a second look. As wide as my tastes are in anime, and as willing as I am to give shows a second chance, I had ignored it in favor of other current series. That’s why I was rather surprised to find that the third and latest anime, Tantei Opera Milky Holmes TD, is pretty much an improvement all around compared to its original predecessor.

milkyholmestd-jojo

While the humor continues to be a mixed bag of weak, one-note references and stronger, more developed jokes, what makes Milky Holmes TD work better is that its story provides just enough stability that the anime doesn’t live or die by its gags alone. The four main characters, Sherlock, Nero, Cordelia, and Hercule (all named after famous fictional detectives), must solve a rather bizarre missing “persons” case. An idol, whose songs are powered by fairies that have been a part of her since birth, have gone missing, and nobody knows who is responsible. What makes this mystery even more difficult is that the fairies end up in the bodies of people who are unassociated with the original crime, and so the girls of Milky Holmes work towards finding them one by one, with the ultimate goal being to find the original culprit. Though not much actual detective work goes into the series, it’s enough to get a sense of progress from one episode to the next, and to inspire a viewer to feel invested.

Essentially, as the girls find each of the fairies, there is this general forward movement where they move one step closer to accomplishing something. In contrast, although the first anime starts off somewhat similarly with the Milky Holmes girls themselves losing their powers and by extension their positions as the best detectives in school, that storyline doesn’t go anywhere until the last episode (which admittedly was an enjoyable finale). I doubt that existing fans of Milky Holmes care too much for that sort of thing, at least within the context of Milky Holmes itself, but I think it gives an “in” for those who might otherwise pass it up. It might not seem that significant, but I believe this is the sort of thing that can expand a franchise’s fanbase, if only a little.

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Speaking of abilities and reputation, I like the fact that the Milky Holmes girls are re-introduced in Milky Holmes TD with a kind of reverence. I think it’s meant to show just how far the Milky Holmes media franchise has come, and that while they were “rookies” of sorts in the original, now they’re back and better than ever. Also, because they have their powers and at least try to make use of them, you can believe that they’ve actually had past success in helping others out. It’s a fine line, I think, because it’s not like the girls show powerful deductive reasoning, and for the most part that is barely even a consideration in Milky Holmes. However, having capable yet humorously hopeless characters appeals to me more than just having them be all but useless.

From my perspective, you can more than easily skip the original series and go straight to Tantei Opera Milky Holmes TD. It certainly isn’t for everyone, but I think it stands a better chance of drawing in an audience beyond those who think “cute girls and anime references” are enough content. Now if they start to better utilize their detective and phantom thief motifs better, then it’ll really turn some heads.

PS: Akechi is the best character.milkyholmestd-akechi

A couple of months back, Anime News Network announced that they were interviewing Kio Shimoku for the release of the new Genshiken Second Generation (aka Genshiken Second Season aka Genshiken Nidaime) bluray set. The interview is now up, which you can read here. Kio speaks about topics such as why he decided to introduce Hato to Nidaime, how he feels about otaku culture.

Kio actually answered my question, which I’m totally stoked about! I’ve reproduced it below, though I’m sure you could find it by just hitting “ctrl+f Ogiue.”

When it comes to Ogiue, one of the more notable visual changes is how her eyes are drawn. As this quality is unique to Ogiue in Genshiken, why did you decide to express her mental and emotional growth in this manner? Additionally, is it something you planned to do from the start, or was it something you developed as you worked on the manga?

It was accidental and naturally developed.

To put emphasis on her unfriendly look and distant nature, I designed her eyes without the highlight. After her mental transition, those characteristics changed and the initial design for her eyes simply didn’t work anymore.

It’s not surprising to me that the change in Ogiue’s would have come from a whim of sorts, as this is the case with a lot of creators and their characters. As much as I love the original Ogiue’s eyes, it also makes complete sense that they wouldn’t work nearly as well as she began to truly open up to Sasahara. It’s also quite noticeable how differently she looks and behaves compared to her former self (something I’ve tried to show off in my new banner).

The 0ther answer I find most interesting has to do with how Madarame’s “harem” has developed, because Kio states that it’s something of a natural progression. There were already characters interested in Madarame in some capacity, and when Saki finally rejected him, it opened up the playing field, so to speak. He wasn’t suddenly popular, they just began to be interested in him for just the way he is. If I were to interpret it further, it’s not like Madarame became the image of the attractive guy, but rather that he attracted exactly the type of people that would be into him.

As for the rest of the interview, it’s really worth a read and gives a lot to think about, especially when compared to his old interview with Publisher’s Weekly back in 2008. At the time, Kio expressed a lot of discomfort with the increasing attention otaku were getting in the media, and even in this ANN interview he talks about how he came from the generation where people were ashamed to be otaku. It’s really fascinating to see this mindset play out and evolve over time, as well as how the concept of “otaku” itself has become more nebulous. In fact, this sentiment has also been expressed by Tamagomago, who calls himself an old-type otaku standing in the face of these changes. In a way, it makes me wonder if Genshiken Nidaime is an attempt to navigate this newer environment in a way that embraces it, rather than shunning the unfamiliar.

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Artist: Haepo Heidi

After having watched the famous bodybuilding documentary Pumping Iron (1977) featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno, I think that bodybuilding might not be such a bad premise for an anime or manga series.

The reason I came to this conclusion is that there is an important performative aspect to bodybuilding competitions, and I could see this being depicted in a manner similar to a series such as Ariyoshi Kyouko’s Swan, which is about ballet, or Miuchi Suzue’s acting-themed Glass Mask. The way that both the appearance of the body and the way that posing factors in as a way to highlight one’s strengths and obscure one’s weaknesses can provide ample material to dramatize matches and for an exposition-type character (e.g. Speedwagon in Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, Ryousuke in Initial D) to go into some extremely granular detail: “His arm is at 47 degrees instead of 44 degrees, causing it to look slightly bigger than it actually is!!!”

I think the real meat of a bodybuilding competition manga would be the freestyle pose-off, where bodybuilders try to make themselves look better and the other guys look worse by changing their poses in response to what the others are doing. There’s the psychology between the competitors and the psychology of how the judges are perceiving the interaction between them, and so it would perhaps be a nice way for a strategist type to psyche his opponents out. When Akagi with Muscles makes his opponent feel smaller, this could even be represented in the art by having a guy suddenly shrink down to half his actual size.

And if you want them to look freakishly muscular, just get Baki the Grappler artist Itagaki Keisuke to work his magic.

Extra points if this were a shoujo manga.

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Magical Angel Creamy Mami

I recently learned (thanks to Japanese popular culture scholar Patrick Galbraith’s new book The Moe Manifesto) that Magical Angel Creamy Mami is not only an influential magical girl anime but the very first anime about an idol. In other words, idols and magical girls have been conceptually tied to each for decades now. You can see this not only in the the fact that you’ll get the occasional idol + magical girl still (Cure Lemonade and Cure Sword in the Precure franchise, for example), but the fact that the latest competitors to magical girl anime have been idol-themed shows, such as Aikatsu! and Pretty Rhythm, both of which feature magical girl-like transformation sequences. I think Creamy Mami is especially significant here because the majority of magical girls prior to it were more “witch girls,” characters who already have magical powers without the need for transformation and use them for mischief.

Of course, the common trait of magical girls and idols is that they both feature cute girls, and with idols especially they’ve always occupied a position where they are innocent yet sexual, and I don’t mean that necessarily in an “idols are creep magnets” way. Both men and women respond to idols for a variety of reasons, and a lot of it is tied to the image they present. They can be somewhat literal idols for girls and targets of affection and desire for men, and this can be seen in how idols are used in anime. While Creamy Mami built an unexpected older male audience, for example, Superdimensional Fortress Macross reveled in it by combining the idol with the extremely prominent aspects of science fiction and giant robots. The 1970s brought forth a lot of giant robot anime, and the 1980s saw the time when those who became fans of robots and SF began creating their own works, as seen with Kawamori Shouji and Macross and later Studio Gainax and their Daicon III and IV animations. Many of these creators said, “I like SF, and I like cute girls,” and created a defining combination of anime where mecha and other forms of fantastic technology are mixed with cute girls.

Daicon IV

It can also be argued that the girl in the Daicon animations is herself a magical girl, but the connection between magical girls and science fiction is especially evident in the 1990s and the advent of the fighting magical girl, most notably with Takeuchi Naoko’s Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon. While Sailor Moon does not feature giant robots, it’s undoubtedly influenced by the Super Sentai (i.e. Power Rangers) franchise with its own transformation sequences, color-coded costumes, and monster of the week fights. Super Sentai is not only traditionally marketed at boys (though this too changes as they eventually start trying to appeal to the “moms” market), but it’s also more broadly tied to tokusatsu, the costumed fighters and rubber monsters genre that more or less literally means “special effects.” What I find significant here is that when it comes to categorization of genres in Japanese, you often see “SF/tokusatsu,” tying things back, at least somewhat, to science fiction.

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon

Moreover, the manga group CLAMP have been fans of titles like JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Saint Seiya, and Galaxy Cyclone Braiger, and have produced titles such as Magic Knight Rayearth, which features magical girls in a swords-and-sorcery world who also gain the power to summon giant robots. “Rayearth” itself is the name of a giant robot, thus making the title itself reminiscent of the naming scheme of many mecha anime such as Mobile Suit Gundam or Super Electromagnetic Machine Voltes V. It’s as if these female creators have taken the works that were made “masculine” by Kawamori, Gainax, and others, and in a sense re-feminized them in a process that created something new and exciting.

If we’re talking influences though, Sailor Moon and CLAMP works such as Cardcaptor Sakura are huge in and of themselves, and their shadows can be seen in a number of anime from the 2000s on. Sailor Moon basically transformed magical girls to such an extent that many assume that fighting magical girls have always been the norm, and Precure has come up as a spiritual successor that has lasted even longer than Sailor Moon. The protagonist in Sunday without God practically is Cardcaptor Sakura protagonist Kinomoto Sakura, and Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, which has as its primary audience older men, clearly takes a lot from Cardcaptor Sakura as well. In the case of Nanoha, it also incorporates an increasing level of science fiction from one series to the next, as the franchise goes from technology-based magic staffs that shoot lasers in battles reminiscent of Mobile Suit Gundam to spaceships and interdimensional travel. Once again, the magical girl as cute girl is tied to SF. As for idols, they not only haven’t been forgotten, either in real life or in anime (as seen with series such as Love Live! and the aforementioned Aikatsu!), but Kawamori makes his return in the form of AKB0048, a series that not only features idols as magical girls of sorts both piloting and fighting giant robots in a story that spans a galaxy, but is directly based on one of the biggest real-world idol acts in Japan today.

AKB0048

It’s as if magical girls, idols, and SF have been doing a song and dance for years and years, changing partners along the way but always being drawn to each other. They’re seemingly tied together by the fact that just a few tweaks to either appeal to a male or female audience more, while the fact that people will not necessarily stay within the genres or types of entertainment that they’re “supposed” to remain with. Cuteness is a versatile tool that at times reinforces societal and gender norms while other times becoming a tool to defy them, and this continues to influence anime to this day.

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Name: Torisawa, Mii (鳥沢美以)
Alias: N/A
Relationship Status: Complicated/Dating
Origin: Tora to Ookami

Information:
Torisawa Mii is a high school student who works at her family’s restaurant, Himawari. One day while preparing food at the restaurant she meets two older men one day. Sengoku Torajii and Ookami Ken turn out to be two new student teachers at her school, but Mii also uses them as fodder for her BL fiction which she posts on her blog. Mii finds herself attracted to both of them, but due to her familiarity with the two she becomes a target for jealous bullying. Mii ultimately begins a relationship with Ken, moving away to live together.

Mii is an excellent cook and has a very strong sense of responsibility, especially when it comes to managing Himawari and taking care of her grandmother. When a businessman attempts to buy out the land under Himawari, she remains steadfast in her desire to preserve the restaurant that her parents left behind. In the end, she arrives at a compromise with the businessman where Himawari would be sold and replaced by a restaurant that serves food based on her family’s recipes, but Mii also opens up her own new version of Himawari in her new town.

Fujoshi Level:
While she was already into BL, meeting Torajii and Ken made Mii get more into writing hardcore material.

Two of Toei Animation’s most enduring franchises are Ojamajo Doremi and Precure. Magical girl anime that are as different as they are similar—the former is four seasons following the continuing adventures of the same core characters, while the latter is currently running 10 years strong and changes its cast almost every season)—the two are chronologically separated by only one year. What filled that gap was a 50-episode anime known as Ashita no Nadja. Literally meaning “Nadja of Tomorrow,” the title points to the idea of a young girl who, in spite of all hardships, continues to look forward.

Unlike the shows that bookend it, Ashita no Nadja is not a magical girl series, though it is similar in being a shoujo series geared towards a Sunday morning children’s audience. The anime’s story follows a young English orphan in the early 20th century named Nadja Applefield as she travels the world as part of a traveling troupe of entertainers in search of her mother. Initially unaware that her quest will get her entangled in the complications of European nobility, along the way she makes lifelong friends, a few bitter enemies, and manages to make almost every guy she meets fall in love with her energy and honesty. While Doremi and Precure thrive on varying degrees of entertaining “filler” episodes combined with the occasional dramatic climax, Nadja more or less continuously builds up its narrative, though not without throwing in an aggravating twist of fate every so often, to emphasize the small tragedies of Nadja’s life, and by extension her never-give-up attitude.

In this way, Ashita no Nadja bears similarities to both melodramatic 70s shoujo series such as Candy Candy, as well as World Masterpiece Theater series such as Anne of Green Gables. Namely, while the main narrative isn’t about romance, it is a constant presence in the series, and in that respect it’s also similar to Candy Candy in that Ashita no Nadja is sort of a reverse-Bechdel Test. There is rarely a single conversation in the series between two men that doesn’t somehow involve Nadja. Men rich and poor, young and old, and on all sides of the law fall for Nadja Applefield.

If this makes it sound like Nadja is something of a Mary Sue, that’s not necessarily all that far off, but it also doesn’t mean that Nadja is a bad character. The anime as a whole just wouldn’t quite work without Nadja being a strong protagonist both in terms of personality and what she contributes to the overall story. While she does have certain elements of wish fulfillment for a young audience, she always comes across as very human, maybe even ultrahuman (as opposed to superhuman). What I mean is that her humanity, her emotions, radiates seemingly without end.

This is not to say that the series is endlessly optimistic. While I’ve already mentioned that the show has tragic elements at times, I want to emphasize this point again because Ashita no Nadja can get surprisingly dark at times. Although it’s not exactly butchering people left and right, it’s not afraid to take away a beloved character or sprinkle in a bit of betrayal. Notably, the series addresses the gap between the rich and the poor during the period in which it takes place. For example, two aristocrats frustrated at the system also vehemently disagree over how to solve this problem: one believes in working within the system, using his family’s money to help the needy, while the other believes in attacking the system Robin Hood-style. Rather than confine this theme to an episode or two, or using it merely as flavoring, this portrayal of a turning point in history, when nobility is on the verge of becoming a relic of bygone times, is actually a persistent plot point throughout Ashita no Nadja.

The surprising level of consideration for Nadja’s world and the interplay between tragedy and hope are such prominent parts of the series that it even affects the merchandising engine that Ashita no Nadja was supposed to be. Like Doremi and Precure (as well as Sailor Moon, of course), Ashita no Nadja was a vehicle for selling toys. Indeed, the show is full of conspicuously toy-like products, from pink castanets to umbrellas, and even a flashy typewriter for some reason. However, at one point in the series, a male character gives Nadja a kaleidoscope, with the meta-intent being that kids will surely want this exciting new product, but the back-story they created for it is anything but joyful. It turns out to be the most prized possession of his dead mother, who lived a sad and lonely life inside the mental and emotional prison known as aristocracy, and the closest she could come to seeing the outside world was that kaleidoscope. That’s Ashita no Nadja, a show where even “BUY OUR TOYS” comes with an element of sadness.

The last thing worth mentioning about Ashita no Nadja is its visuals. Generally the show looks decent enough, full of vibrant colors and just an overall cute aesthetic. Some episodes better than others, as is expected of such a long series. In some cases, though, the animation will punch well above its weight class. While this also happens with Doremi and Precure (especially when it comes to Precure‘s fight scenes), here it is even more noticeable. In particular, episode 26 (seen above) has such eerily gorgeous character animation, set design, and atmosphere that it’s absolutely unforgettable, and even a little difficult to capture in screenshots or clips. It might come as no surprise that the episode director (and one of the key animators) was none other than Hosoda Mamoru, acclaimed director of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Summer Wars, and Wolf Children. He also directed the opening (seen at the beginning of the post) and ending for Ashita no Nadja, which by themselves probably endorse the show far better than my humble words.

As each episode finished, I actually found it hard to skip that ending. It’s compelling and strangely addictive, which also describes Ashita no Nadja as a whole.

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hanayoriceballmunch

Love Live! is a cool show not to be underestimated. I recently made a guest appearance on The Anime Now! Podcast to talk about it along with ANN’s Bamboo and host Bradley. More importantly, I explain why Hanayo is the best Love Live.

Listen here

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Combining the fun of an anime about card games with the classic idea of “be careful what you wish for,” I genuinely enjoyed Selector Infected Wixoss. It explores the lives of various girls sucked into a zero sum occult game, with a protagonist who defies the rules in the sense that she plays for the love of the game, which has its own consequences. Selector Spread Wixoss is an immediate sequel that follows up on the cliffhanger from the first series, and it tries to take all of the disparate information strewn throughout the series and thread it together into a coherent story. The results are mixed.

At the end of the first series, protagonist Kominato Ruuko has a climactic battle with the fashion model/fellow “Selector” Urazoe Iona, but in spite of Ruuko winning it is Iona’s wish that triggers. Iona, wishing to battle alongside the strongest, becomes Ruuko’s Lrig—her main card. Along the way, Ruuko and her friends have also learned the terrible truths of the Wixoss TCG: those who lose three times have their wishes reversed (someone who wishes for friends can never make friends again), and even those who win have their minds swapped with their own Lrigs. Selector Spread Wixoss explores the origins and reasons behind the Selector battles as well as the truth of a mysterious “white room” and the girl that resides there.

wixoss-spread-ruuko

As elaborate as the story can get, plot was never really the strength of Wixoss and it shows in this second series as there a number of huge inconsistencies. While sometimes narrative consistency can be set aside for dramatic flair and strengthening characters, with Wixoss those plot holes are really impossible to ignore. I won’t go into detail about them, but there are certain explanations, connections, and reveals that just don’t quite make sense if you think about it for a few seconds, and more often than not it’s to instill a major change in a character. The story resolves well enough, and Ruuko’s stance is ultimately an interesting one, but it could have happened without all of the attempts at intricacy.

Even so, I still hold Selector Spread Wixoss in high regard. While the “conspiracy” behind the Selector battles kind of falls flat, this second series still maintains and even amplifies the strengths of the original, namely the exploration of various characters’ psychologies and the idea of wishes and desires born out of suffering, ambition, and various other emotions. For example, after Ruuko learned the truth about Wixoss in the previous series, she and her friends become dedicated to never battling again. They’ve lost too much, and are too conscious of the dangers. However, Ruuko loves Wixoss, and along with prodding from Lrig Iona she comes across as a recovering addict. “One more card battle, just one more, no biggie,” Ruuko says, as her friends try to pull her away from he deck, which she actually keeps in her pocket the whole time. At the same time, while she eventually finds a reason to battle and a noble wish to grant that is very fitting for her character, it is a bit disappointing to lose her Ryu-like status from the previous series.

I had previously compared Wixoss to Puella Magi Madoka Magica because their similarities make it almost impossible to ignore. In looking at these two works again, I realize that they essentially have opposite strengths. Whereas Madoka Magica thrives on its twists and manages to bring it all together in the end at the expense of characterization (which often feels stiff and unnatural), Wixoss as a whole manages its characters’ stories, feelings, and humanity much more deftly with the overall plot holding together like a game of Jenga. In the end, I find Wixoss to be a fascinating series that doesn’t deliver on all of its promises, but the ones it manages to fulfill are satisfying and thought-provoking.

yurikumaarashi-bearhenshinGif taken from this tumblr

Ikuhara Kunihiko does not direct anime often, but when he does they almost inevitably end up being very abstract, theatrical, and full of hidden and disguised themes. Best known for Revolutionary Girl Utena and Mawaru Penguindrum, this season he comes at us with a new series, Yuri Kuma Arashi. It brings to us exactly what is in its title: lesbians, bears, and some kind of invisible storm.

Episode 1 is extremely disorienting with a lot of seemingly strange decisions. It’s easy to jump on the keyboard and begin typing out how wacky or bizarre the series is. However, while I don’t want to stop anyone from writing their feelings on the show from week to week, I want to warn my fellow anime fans, whether they’ve got blogs, vlogs, podcasts, or maybe even some kind of anime review diary (???) that it is best not to approach Ikuhara’s anime as if they were any other works. This might some a bit pompous or pretentious but I really mean it, especially in light of how episode reviews of Mawaru Penguindrum generally went.

When Mawaru Penguindrum originally aired, I would see reviewers pick apart the show each week, asking something like, “Was episode 8 better than episode 7? Well, the characters didn’t really develop more, so probably not!” People ended up focusing on small, almost pointless details and missing the bigger picture, because they were used to how a typical anime might try to improve itself from week to week. Ikuhara’s anime don’t really work that way.

One thing to watch out for is repetition. Often times, whether it’s use of stock footage or just having characters repeat some process episode after episode, this is generally not merely a time-saving measure nor solely visual flourish but something that gains meaning through that repetition. Ikuhara also likes to build in subtle hints towards the truth of what his series are about, while throwing in a few red herrings. Why would he do that? Because truths and lies and the the blurring of fantasy and reality are big themes of his, practically as big as girls loving other girls.

Given that we only have one episode I, like everyone else, don’t have much material to work with at the moment. I don’t intend to episode review Yuri Kuma Arashi, but I’ll say a few things I found notable that I think are worth keeping track of for this show. First, yuri is often something of an undertone in Ikuhara’s works, but this time it is front and center, to the extent that it appears in the title. It’s overt, maybe too overt if you get where I’m going: it is likely going to be tied to some greater concept than solely girls’ love. Second, the distinction between (yuri) girls and bears and the whole theme of “eating.” Yes, the imagery is clearly meant to imply some serious sexual activity, but why make that metaphor, and why contrast it against the chaste-looking beauty of a girls-only world? Third, consider the concepts of “Life Beauty,” “Life Sexy,” and “Life Cool,” as they pertain to how people view yuri as a genre and lesbian relationships. For more speculation from reviewers more familiar with Ikuhara’s works, check out the Reverse Thieves’ S.W.A.T. Review of Episode 1, who also helpfully ask the question why the only men in the series so far are there to judge the interactions between girls.

Again, it’s not an impossible task to review each episode of Yuri Kuma Arashi, but don’t take the show lightly, and don’t write it off as if it’s merely a vehicle for fanservice. Obviously I can’t say how the show will turn out, but don’t go seeing the inevitable twist and thinking, “But that came out of nowhere!” In all likelihood, it really didn’t.

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