Yuri Kuma Arashi and the Effects of Symbolism, Part 13
If you haven’t already, I highly suggest you head back to Part 12 and peruse the symbolism from the ending theme “TERRITORY.” There we received symbolism that showcased just how much focus the anime has been having on mirroring, with not even the OP and the ED being able to escape its gaze.
Today, having talked about both the OP and the ED, all that is left sound-wise is the original soundtrack, or OST. We’ll be investigating each individual piece, learning about the names they’ve been given, their purpose within the context of the show, the actual music they contain, and what kind of symbols can be discerned from their presence.
Day thirteen, 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: Original Sound Track
(I encourage you to listen to the tracks named and talked about here. Even for the ones that are not; they’re all spectacular in their own right)
(Translations provided by  and )
“Danzetsu no Kabe,” “Taiketsu no Puroguresshibu,” and “Mis Teria Suto Wai Light” each have quite the mysterious vibe about them. They work nicely with the times in which they’re played; during moments of duress or spooky happenings. More importantly, they sound alien, garnering a feeling of fright. “Fear the unknown,” as they say. And when thinking of the themes, it makes sense; the anime itself is rather “alien” in its presentation and possibly even the ideas that it’s working with. The audience may find the investigation of the themes to be “scary” to behold, should they go against what is “normally” thought. These “alien” tracks also fit within the realm of the anime itself. That is, the bears’ rising up is due to an outer space phenomenon.
“Tsuki no Musume to Mori no Musume” is played when Reia’s picture book, “The Moon Girl and The Forest Girl” is being read or talked about. “Kuma Teru (Mukashi Mukashi),” played during Lulu’s backstory, sounds similar in content due to it being a fairy-tale of sorts. That is, each piece sounds rather fantastical and dreamy. What’s interesting – and is perhaps easy to spot at this point – but mirroring occurs here once more. The former piece deals with the futurewhile the latter piece deals with the past.
“Koibito Tachi Tokimeki” is played when Yuriika and Reia are young and the best of friends, or when Kureha is running to find Sumika in episode one. Basically, when Yuriika or Kureha are thinking of good memories. “Koibito” means “lover; sweetheart.” “Tachi” actually has one definition of “the dominant partner in a homosexual relationship” – quite relevant, considering both Yuriika and Kureha are the dominators in their respective connections. And “Tokimeki” means “palpitation; throbbing,” most likely of the heart. Translated fully, the phrase comes out as “Lover’s Crush,” and in combination with the base meaning of the words, is a fitting name for the scenes that it encompasses.
“Fureai” is played when Harishima finally convinces Kureha to let her and the other girls be her “friends,” just before her birthday and Ginko’s injury from the giant bear trap. The song’s title translates to “contact; connectedness,” which, given the situation, is both correct and ironic.
“Danzetsu no Coart,” “Yuri Shounin!” and “Shounin Field Beni Wa” all “happen” at generally the same place: the Severance Court. The first song, “Severance Court,” is church-like in its sound, with the hard and slow organ playing. “Lily Approved!” is the transformation music that plays when Ginko and Lulu are transitioning from their bear to their human selves. The piece itself is both fun and angelic, with the lyrics, “Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum” (“Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee”) being taken from the historic “Ave Maria” prayer (more on this a bit later).  Continuing with the theme of mirroring, this track finds parallelism with a later one, “Kuma Ria.” Both incorporate “Ave Maria” in some fashion and are used near transformation sequences, but their beat – fast versus slow – and their purpose – curing versus summoning – remain different.
These first two pieces go hand-in-hand with the religious undertones that the anime has been known to have for some time now. The last track roughly translates into “Approval Field of Crimson Feathers.” Essentially, the track is almost literally taking what is happening with Kureha when she is being cleansed by Ginko and Lulu: she is “lying” in a white “field,” surrounded by crimson petals. This piece is not only quick – given the “outside” circumstances occurring while this strange act is being performed – but also quite uplifting, coinciding with Kureha’s renewed vigor following the ritual.
“Chinkon Kyoku” is played during nearly every instance where Yuriika appears. That is, this piece is, more or less, her theme song. “Chinkon” means “repose of souls” and “kyoku” means “piece of music.” Considering the song’s use around not just Yuriika but for the funerals that take place at the school, the name makes sense. Filled with a very somber organ, it takes on a very church-like tone. Due to its melancholic nature, it captures the loneliness and death that Yuriika surrounds herself with constantly.
“Kuma Mystery” is very jazzy; the saxophone makes it more sensual to the ear and for the situation. It’s played during a specific moment, when Ginko pushes Kureha down on the couch, before Mitsuko shows up and causes both Ginko and Lulu to front-flip out of the window. The “Bear Mystery” that the song describes itself as makes sense in this context, for this is technically the first time Kureha and Ginko meet, showcasing Kureha’s confusion as to who this girl is, why she talks so strangely, and where she could have come from.
“Yuri Rabirinsu” is techno-y but filled with, once again, whispers and sultry singing. This piece, like “Chinkon Kyoku,” almost always follows a particular character: Mitsuko. Mitsuko’s theme song contains the word “rabrinsu” meaning “labyrinth.” So it is the “love labyrinth” that she places others within when she is seducing another or is involved within a particular scene.
“Yuri Elegie” is played during Reia’s death by Yuriika. Elegies are “poems or songs that are melancholic in tone, especially in relation to a deceased person.”  Given not only the kind Reia’s death but also Yuriika’s murder due to the sadness she felt, this is all too fitting. The music itself is very frantic yet passionate, fitting Yuriika’s heinous crime to a tee.
“Haijo no gi Toumei na Arashi,” or “The Exclusion Ceremony and The Invisible Storm,” is played during the Exclusion Ceremony; the piece is very robotic, similar to the girls emotionless ways and desensitized dealings with those they ostracize. A song that is nearly identical is “Haijo no gi Yochou” that can be heard playing when Kureha first learns of Sumika’s death. The biggest difference is how much more foreboding it sounds; it places a lot of the blame for Sumika’s demise on the class’s decision to “exclude” her.
“Aku no Hana Tatakai” is played when Kureha finally confronts Mitsuko on the rooftop, episode three; where Mitsuko’s mean manner mocks Sumika in her final moments. “Aku” means “evil”, “hana” means “flower” and “tatakai” means “battle.” So, in essence, this is the “evil flower’s battle.” The evil flower in this instance is obviously Mitsuko. The battle, however, is being fought on two fronts: the first taking place between Kureha and Mitsuko while the second taking place within Kureha’s mind – each of which is aided by Ginko and Lulu.
“Shounin Field Gyakuten” occurs when Ginko destroys “herself” and rises above sin (Mitsuko) when going to save Kureha. “Gyakuten” translates into “(sudden) change; reversal.” The song sounds almost space-like – somewhat fitting the “location” of where the song takes place – or even like in a video game when one “levels up.”
“Dezaia” translates into “desire,” and represents Lulu’s theme song during the time she spent “killing” her younger brother Mirun. Lulu’s desire being both her want to rid herself of the boy that she had “hated” for so long and the loveshe had always wanted but never knew was so near. The song itself actually sounds rather western and cowboy-like. The hard trumpet, funky guitar, and James Bond-ish tone – most likely due to her tricky or conniving way of dealing with Mirun – is simultaneously a strong fit and a hilarious contrast.
“Yakusoku no Basho” is played when Lulu is leaving with Ginko after her own, personal trial at the Severance Court. “Yakusoku” means “promise” and “basho” means “place; location.” Meaning, the title could be translated into “The Promised Land.” The Promised Land in turn is often taken to have one of two meanings: a place given by God to Abraham and as “a longed-for place or situation where satisfaction and happiness will be achieved.”  The second definition is the stronger interpretation. “The Promised Land” for Ginko and Lulu, in this context, is the human side of the Wall of Severance. For it is there that both Ginko and Lulu’s ultimate happiness, their love, will be discovered.
But what about the first definition of “The Promised Land?” For argument’s sake, one can see this song as being symbolic of the Biblical tale – however, it is quite a stretch. Abraham was a man chosen by God, who had complete faith in Him. One story of Abraham is how God tasked him with sacrificing his son, Isaac – who was given to Abraham by God – atop a mountain to prove his faith.  What’s interesting is that the events of Yuri Kuma Arashi loosely follow this same story. Lulu is “given” to Ginko, with Ginko seeing Kureha as her “God.” And as we see, upon the rooftop, Lulu is sacrificed. The high location, the three girls being representative of the three religious figures, the sacrifice taking place, and the aforementioned “Promised Land” certainly paint this as being intentional. However, there exist disparities: Isaac was ultimately not sacrificed, Lulu does this sacrifice of her own volition, and Kureha wasn’t the one to “provide” Ginko with Lulu. In other words, the symbolism is there and this interpretation does hold some sense. However, sometimes the arguments aren’t supported enough causing such a perspective to be weaker than intended.
“Gojasumeru” is a song that can be heard during Kureha and Ginko’s bath (the one in Ginko’s imagination); “Yuri Amor,” the Japanese-and-French phrase, translates to “lesbian love.” It precludes this very track, working nicely in unison with this already very sexy song.
“Kiss Shi Te” roughly translates into “to kiss.” Or in this context, wanting to kiss, because this song is played during moments of intense loneliness or longing. For example, this track is featured when Ginko is patiently waiting for the time in which she is allowed to trek back across the Wall of Severance, with her wanting to obtain “The Promise Kiss” that will allow her to be with Kureha forever.
“Suki Da Kara” contains a simple guitar riff and melodious singing. It’s a very peaceful song and thus played during those very touching moments. For example, Ginko saving Kureha’s letter and Kureha realizing that Ginko was the one to protect her this whole time (during their confrontation on the roof before Lulu shows up). The name of the track translates into “Because I like,” and due to the situations in which it is played, is more of a feeling than a saying. In other words, Ginko saves the letter and Kureha doesn’t initially shoot Kureha because they love one another.
“/ Yurishiro Ginko” is Kureha and Ginko’s “love song” that is played by the music box, hummed by Kureha, and sung by Ginko; ironically, this song is forgotten afterwards despite being used to have Kureha remember Ginko. It contains the same arrangement as Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Prelude in C Major.” Bach’s piece comes from his famous book entitled, “The Well-Tempered Clavier,”  where “tempered” is defined as “tune in accordance with some other temperament than just or pure temperament, especially tuned in equal temperament.”  (emphasis mine). Given the idea of society finding equality through love, this particular musical choice is quite amazing to see.
“YuriFurenzu” is played in episode five, where Ginko and Lulu are eating “neighbor noodles.” It’s a very comical and funny scene, with this light-hearted track fitting it quite nicely. The literal translation would be “lily friends,” but it’s more reasonable to take it as girlfriends. For that is what Ginko and Lulu attempt to become to Kureha throughout that episode – really good friends.
“Futari no Mirai” is a gorgeous track, one of the best the OST has to offer. It’s most prominently played during Lulu’s death. “Futari” means “couple” and “mirai” means “future,” so it’s “the couple’s future.” Sadly, there is no longer a future for Lulu and Ginko, making this incredibly sad song perfectly relevant. This song also plays when Sumika talks about the time she first met Kureha – when Kureha found her hairpiece and during their fireside chat. But like Ginko and Lulu, she and Kureha would never have a future together.
“Aku no Hana Carnival” is a song that is played when Kureha is running to the lily garden after being prank called by Yuriika. “Aku” means “evil” and “hana” means “flower.” Calling the piece “The Evil Flower Carnival” works quite well. The “evil flower” is obviously Yuriika, with the harsh tone of the song matching her motives. The “carnival” portion is derived not only from the hectic nature of the piece itself but also the “fun” that Yuriika is finally looking to have.
“Shounin no Senjou” translates into “Battlefield of Approval.” Most of the approvals happening throughout the anime always occur with some relation to the Severance Court – either with the Life Bears or with Lady Kumalia. However, this song doesn’t play during those instances. Instead, it is found in two: after Ginko “smashes herself” when trying to save Kureha from her hostage situation and during the war between the humans and the bears – the “Day of Severance.” But similar to the Yuri Approvals, these cases are approvals as well. The former is Ginko seeking approval from Kureha while the latter is a conflict based on approval.
“Kuma Ria” is played as Kureha hands the pendant back to Ginko, right near the end of the series. But it isn’t dealing with the pendant; it’s dealing with Kumalia. The beginning of the song actually begins with a certain phrase: “Ave Maria.”  “Ave Maria” is both an incredibly famous Catholic prayer (that begins with the same phrase) and an incredibly popular composition (also beginning with the same phrase).  “Ave Maria” means, in Latin, “Hail Mary.” Another way to say or translate Lady Kumalia’s name is actually Kumaria. Interestingly, then, the name of the song can be seen as “Ku Maria,” as a sort of play-on-words of “Ave Maria.” Contextually, this is astounding; having an adaptation of “Ave Maria” play just before Lady Kumalia descends symbolizes her as the Virgin Mary, who is “blessed…among women” – in regards to Yuri Kuma Arashi, becoming a protector of female homosexuality – and will “pray for us sinners” – which holds significant relevancy throughout the anime due to the constant allusions to sin.  And looking at the song instead as “Ku Maria,” “ku” translates to “maxim,” or a universal truth. Meaning, that Lady Kumalia’s words and actions can be viewed as entirely right and good.
Listening to both songs – “Ave Maria” and “Kuma Ria” – there is more mirroring that occurs. “Ave Maria” is beyond soft; it’s a hymn that is designed to be as peaceful as possible. “Kuma Ria,” however, starts off in a similar fashion but then diverges, using resounding organs and pipes as a way to instead announce the arrival of the majestic, divine being whose love looks over them all. It doesn’t want you to revel in its comfort; rather, it wants you to understand the significance of the event that is now occurring.
There’s a final detail that establishes Lady Kumalia’s entrance. Sumika isn’t just known for her kindness and glasses. During the anime, she is also given a unique sound clip: every time she pushes the hair on the left side of head behind her left ear, a bunch of chimes go off. The focus on her action and the sound itself usually introduce Sumika into whatever scene she is found in. And in order to both fully introduce Lady Kumalia and reinforce her representation on all-things good, she performs the same action as Sumika does with the same sound effect included.
“Yakusoku no Kiss” is played as Kureha transitions from human to bear-human, and finally her and Ginko share their Promise Kiss – which is the convenient name of the piece itself. It’s an extremely beautiful arrangement, another of the best tracks that the OST has to offer. The emotional sounding music resonates not only with the scene in which it finds itself but also with the audience. We, witnessing the climax of the anime, both see and hear the magnificence unfolding before us.
List of References for Part 13