Yuri Kuma Arashi and the Effects of Symbolism, Part 12
If you haven’t already, I highly suggest you head back to Part 11 and peruse the symbolism from the opening theme, “I Have Been Waiting In That Forest.” There we received symbolism that not only foreshadowed the events of things to come within the show but also created connections with the very themes it touts.
Today, having talked about the OP at length, instead of moving on to the actual soundtrack we’ll instead transition to its counterpart, the ED. And remember that detail; it’s a counterpart because it is “the same but different.” In other words, as we move through this discussion, keep in mind the mirroring that the anime thrives on.
Day twelve, let’s go.
Yuri Kuma Arashi’s Thematic Presence
As a reminder, here are Yuri Kuma Arashi’s own themes, or what the symbols are being used for:
-Sociopolitical commentary on the perceptions of prejudice, specifically sexual discrimination and racism
-Telling a complex yet richly unique love story
-Challenging religious connotations associated with preconceived beliefs
Sound It Out: Ending Theme
Performance by: Nozomi Yamane, Miho Arakawa and Yoshiko Ikuta, as Kureha, Ginko, and Lulu, respectively
This piece has easily become one of my favorite ending themes of all-time. The song actually builds, and builds, andbuilds upon itself, to the point of breaking. It snaps your attention to what’s about to go down, no matter what may or may not have occurred prior within the episode. This actually coincides with the OP’s own kind of hook: every episode besides the last leads into the opening theme with the iconic, “Yurikumaaaaaaaaaa!”
The rest of the track contrasts heavily with the OP; it’s very quick, jumpy, and isn’t designed to make you chill. Instead, it wants you to enjoy yourself when listening to it. And to that end, it’s amazingly catchy; the simple beats, techno-vibe, and well-paced singing work in unison. Similar to the OP, where love is sexy, the ED’s aim is to have you understand that love is not only contagious but undeniably fun to revel in. The little bear that dances along to the song reinforces this notion.
Not counting that the two tracks are literally musical scores, the inherent way in which the opening and ending themes are placed goes hand-in-hand with the ever-present idea of mirroring. But it goes beyond just their location at the beginning and ending of the show. The OP’s content is mostly focused on protection and love whereas the ED’s content is mired in violence and sin. It’s also important to see the parallelism in the words being used: “shadows,” “honey,” “world,” and many others form a connection of similarity between the opening and ending themes.
~Lyrical Investigation of: “TERRITORY”~
“On the boundary that severed ripe moon from sleeping forest”
“Break the law God shackles us with and smile”
The first line is another allusion to balance that is needed. That is, the moon and the forest are the metaphorical sides that need to come together, with the “boundary that severed” (perhaps obviously) being the Wall of Severance that divides them.
The show has constantly been using the concept of mirrors as much as it can, given its importance within the anime. Therefore, we see the use of mirroring once more; the second line of the ED “matches” the second line of the OP. The ED describes God’s teachings as being “shackles,” which hold negative connotations: unwanted, against what is right, and perhaps even enslavement. It calls for us to “break the law;” that is, go against what religion often teaches us. And don’t do it any other way except with happiness in your heart. For such escape, such freedom, from unjust “rule” is what will make everyone “smile.”
“I turned away from the bleating flock of shadows and howled my bloodthirsty cry”
This is a fantastic lyric, the absolute best from any of the tracks offered by Yuri Kuma Arashi. Take a second to read it one more time…it just sounds powerful and reads powerfully.
The first part, “I turned away” gives the notion that the action is done willingly. That, whoever is doing it, isn’t afraid of the consequences that will be brought forth. “Bleat” is the sound that a sheep makes , which, given the context, is exactly what the girls of the school are acting like. Sheep move in herds, and do whatever the others are doing; “will you be the sheep or the farmer” comes to mind. “Flock” is described as a group of birds or sheep, or even a mass of people, especially a church congregation.  It reinforces the sense that the group in question are acting in accordance with each other, and even possibly doing so through religious guidance. “Shadows” connects with their “invisibility.” Given that this is a group of shadows, it would be nearly impossible to discern one shadow – one person– from another.
The act of “howling” is often done by dogs, but it can be done by anyone to express great pain or anger.  Despite it being done by the girls, the talk here of animals and the bears that exist within the anime make such a yell astoundingly relevant. The use of “bloodthirsty” again finds its place among all of the killing  and “eating” that develops between the humans and the bears. And the “cry” that is done lets us know that going through with this route isn’t easy; it’s a difficult road filled with sadness and despair.
To cap it all off, the line’s first-person perspective can actually be applied to both Kureha and Ginko, following themirrored nature of the show. For Kureha, she applies it to the girls in her class, and for Ginko, she applies it to the bears of the church that raised her.
This lyric is simply stunning.
“Here amidst the Invisible Storm”
“Overflowing honey and soul”
“I want to rend silk with my fangs”
Most likely Kureha is in mind with the opening lyrics; she’s being chased by the storm, with her spirit being covered by the “evil” honey that is always cleaned off by Ginko and Lulu. Therefore, Ginko is looking to use the “fangs” she owns. “Silk” is a very “girly” material, with the use of “rend” signifying the violent tearing of said material.  Or using the connotations, it highlights Ginko’s (and the other bears’) constant violence to the human women. And for Ginko, she does it to protect Ginko from the “Invisible Storm” and “overflowing honey” that seems to be overtaking her.
“I’m afraid you’ll vanish like the world’s last ray of hope”
At this point, the mirroring once more of the anime is known: the OP is apparently “being said” by Kureha while the ED is apparently “being said” by Ginko. Here, Ginko doesn’t want to lose Kurea, for if she does lose her she not only loses her love that she has never given up on, but would subsequently have no more “hope” – nothing left to live for – any longer.
The use of “vanish” is also an important side note. It correlates with the permeated use of invisibility.
“The savage beast inside me tore out the throat of innocence”
This line is actually quite sneaky: it, in a roundabout manner, reveals an important plot point. The plot point in question is Ginko’s “killing” of Sumika. Since we’ve established that the ED is “being said” by Ginko, the “savage beast inside me” refers not only to her own bear-dom, but to the sin that overtakes her in that moment. Animals often “go for the throat” when killing their prey; thus, Ginko’s sin “tore out the throat” of Sumika – the girl who we know represents pure goodness, love, and innocence.
“Come on, shoot me through the heart with your sweet-scented Barrett of love”
At the end of the track, Ginko, like the anime depicts, asks Kureha to shoot her with the rifle to atone for the crime she committed prior – described both in the show and in the previous lyric. “Heart” is being used in three different ways: as an easy “target” to shoot her, for its love-based connotations, and for the place within her that needs to be atoned. The description of the “Barrett” or the rifle as being “sweet-scented” is a great little detail; Ginko’s sniffing and naming of Kureha’s odor as being a “delicious smell, growl” are evident here. And of course, the “love bullet” that the anime touts during the break between Part A and Part B in the anime, and as we have talked about in previous parts, is what is given here. In other words, the “Barrett of love” shoots the “love bullet” that Ginko obtains willingly.
List of References for Part 12