Yuri Kuma Arashi and the Effects of Symbolism, Part 14

by BanjoTheBear

The characters symbolize so much, you can practically hear it

The characters symbolize so much, you can practically hear it

If you haven’t already, I highly suggest you head back to Part 13 and peruse the symbolism from the OST. There we received symbolism that demonstrated the anime’s connections to the themes it has been presenting this entire time, while also gaining respect for how intricately designed the musical scores were for each of the situations they were found in.

Today, having completed the investigation of symbolism, the episode breakdowns, and the sound ideas, all that remains from the anime are the characters. Understanding who they are is important, but as or even more so than their actual persons are what they each symbolize in the grand scheme of things. They each mean something, both on their own and in relation to the theme of love as a whole.

Day fourteen, 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

A Character Study

Yuri Kuma Arashi does develop its own characters throughout the anime. But it focuses more heavily on what theysymbolize, in order to reinforce the themes that have been present from start to finish. Some characters obviously receive more attention than others, but every single one has a purpose to their inclusion. And in a visual medium like anime, much of the symbolism comes from the visuals themselves. Meaning, the characters and what they symbolize can actually be derived from their very designs that they’ve been given.

We know this anime to be a show that is “telling a complex yet richly unique love story.” But it isn’t just a love story; it’s a story about love. That is, and as we see through the symbolism of the characters, love’s very facets are showcased depending on the cast member in question. As has been said countless times up to this point, love is an incredibly strange emotion that contains both good and bad aspects. While it is ultimately good, it’s important to understand those areas of it that aren’t as pretty.

In particular, pay attention to the characters’ names, their hair styles, the clothes they wear, the adornments they choose, the colors that are picked, and their other mannerisms. Their eyes are also important; “eyes are the mirror to the soul,” after all.

The anime also does something quite clever: each character (or group of characters) has a matching partner. Or contextually, there exists pairs whose members mirror one another. This should come as no surprise by now; mirroringis an essential part to Yuri Kuma Arashi’s way of dealing with its offerings. Everyone involved is either a couple, is closely tied to another, or both. And given the talk of sin there is an interesting number pattern or theory that is given. Separating The Life Bears and Lady Kumalia from the other pairs due to their “special” status, there exist sevencouplings. As discussed in other Parts, there also exist seven cardinal sins: lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride. While there are apparent overlaps that exist between all of them, each couple can loosely be categorized into a particular sin. Once again, this idea fits comfortably within the show’s own themes; love and sin mirror each other on a number of levels, which the characters and their couplings help to make evident.

Part A

(Translations provided by [54] and [55]. Due to my highly limited knowledge on Japanese, the translations of the names are rough. Regardless, as much time and care into their investigation was given as possible)

(Unless otherwise specified, color symbolism provided by [65])

~Mitsuko and Sumika (Lust)~

Mitsuko Yurizono

Mitsuko Yurizono

-Can almost be seen as a slut; she uses “friends” and tosses them aside, which speaks nothing of her rather flirtatious moves towards others in the show

-Her burgundy armband and tie symbolize leadership and, in terms of her behavior, vigor

-Her red eyes demonstrate both her sexiness and her aggressiveness with and towards others

-She looks the most bear-like due to not only the beads in her hair but for also being the one most steeped ininstinctual desire.

-“Mitsu” translates into “nectar; honey.” Meaning, like the opening theme and the anime depicts, Mitsuko’s trickery causes her to “honey up” her enemies – with words to seduce them or mentally “sticky” them – usually to the point of death.

-Her conversation with Ginko, her actions towards both the bears and girls, and her sensual way of speaking paint her as the embodiment of lust. Furthermore, due to her absolutely sinful behavior, she mirrors the goodness that is Sumika. In other words, Mitsuko is wholly evil whereas Sumika is wholly good.

Sumika Izumino

Sumika Izumino

-This was talked about in an earlier Part, but Sumika’s glasses signify that what she represents – pure love – isn’t possible due to her death being the first within the present storyline; glasses are used to augment bad or incorrectvision, meaning pure goodness is itself incorrect. This makes sense with the anime’s portrayal of love being simultaneously good and evil – the prominence of sin is unmistakable by now.

-Sumika’s name is actually quite difficult to symbolize. “Sumika” means “home; den,” “I” means “greatness,” “zu” means “not,” “mi” can mean “beautiful,” and “no” simply means just that. In other words, Sumika’s first name implies that she is the den of all that is good but her last name continues with the same idea that her type of love isn’t possible; each positive – “greatness, beautiful” – is countered with a negative – “not, no.”

-Her hairpieces are yellow; this color symbolizes happiness and idealism. Once more, pure love’s inability to exist shines through; Sumika loses the same hairpiece on two occasions – happiness and idealism are lost – but has it foundby the final lovers, Kureha and Ginko, on different dates. That is, the women who do end up finding true love are the very same girls who end their journey as one.

-Her eyes are brown; this symbolizes reliability and endurance. Both interpretations showcase that, as Yuri Kuma Arashi presents, pure love might not exist but love ultimately endures and is able to be relied on in the end.

Mirroring Mitsuko, Sumika is not lustful whatsoever. Her love is for Kureha to be happy, and in order to accomplish this, she attempts to save Kureha by foregoing their relationship altogether. In short, Sumika has no sin; where she is wholly good, Mitsuko is wholly evil.

~Ooki and Harashima (Gluttony)~

Chouko Ooki

Chouko Ooki

-Ooki actually has an informal dialect/way of speaking; this indicates lower intelligence and therefore higher ignorance.

-“Ooki” translates into “upper; senior,” indicating her position as the leader of the group for the final episodes of the show.

-“Ooki” might be a play on words: it sounds similar to “okay” (“Are you okay?” is asked of others when worrying about them). This is because, despite how moral her actions might be, she is always looking to protect the girls of the class.

-Her hair doesn’t have a bun in it, but instead some circular formation; circles represent unity, infinity (she continues on and on with her misguided ways) and female power. They also have connections to “Mother Earth,” which follows her and the girls’ thoughts of “no gods, only the invisible atmosphere.” [66]

-The most interesting aspect is her hairpiece: a butterfly. Butterflies can only fly well in breezes; storms destroy them. They represent transformation, change, and the never-ending cycle of life (similar to her circle’s infinity meaning). They also bring with them joy due to their movements and colors. [67]

-The butterfly is pink, representing sweetness and compassion

-Her eyes are purple, representing transformation

-Her tie is greenish-yellow, representing acidity – she holds acidic personality towards others

-Wears the normal, blue school uniform, indicating her position within the Invisible Storm

-She herself represents irony in love; her whole person exemplifies embracing change, yet she downright refuses to.

-She revels in the fighting, shooting, and killing; Ooki, more so than anyone in the cast, performs the most Exclusion Ceremonies. She’s gluttonous when it comes to dealing with the bears and humans, doing whatever she can to bring whoever she has targeted to ruin

Kaoru Harishima

Kaoru Harishima

-“Kaoru” translates as “to smell sweet; to be fragrant;” that is, Harishima is inviting to others by the “sweet” smell she gives off – her “kind” personality.

-She is outwardly friendly, affable, but unknowingly hypocritical; that is, she puts on a front for others that constantly hides her true intentions, both towards Kureha and the rest of the class

-Her frazzled hair, popped collar, unique outfit (not suit-like), strapped tights, and high-heels comes off as easygoingand therefore extremely friendly.

-Her orange tie and orange-bottomed heels indicates generosity and warmth.

-Harishima’s eyes seem devoid of color or detail; this indicates the fact that she is “hiding something.” That “something” being her true personality – not friendliness, but meanness.

-She herself represents betrayal in love; she acts and appears friendly, but later on betrays Kureha and technically Sumika. In other words, Harishima mirrors Ooki in that both act one way but mean another.

-She revels in not just hypocritical sex but in crushing those in the Invisible Storm; she, too, is gluttonous when it comes to her behavior personally and towards others.

~Lulu and Mirun (Greed)~

Yurigasaki Lulu

Yurigasaki Lulu

-Lulu may be correlated to “ruru,” which translates into “continuously; unbroken.” Given the constant talk of “not backing down on love,” and given her ultimate sacrifice, this description makes sense.

-She’s the comic relief character; much of who she is and what she does makes her the “funny girl.” Her name is playful (it’s fun to say), she wears a bowtie, her twin-tails are long and curvy, she is very expressive, she loves to sing made-up songs, she combines “growl” with other words (“growl-sniffle,” “growly-gooey,” etc.), and is always performing crazy antics (“Bear Flash,” flipping out of a window in a towel, sleeping in a bear sleeping bag, etc.)

-Her dominant color is green; green symbolizes fruitiness, it’s refreshing, and lively.

-One of her catch-phrases is, “I’m so clever!” Yet, she nearly never is; what she does either doesn’t constitute as being particularly smart – trying to have Ginko and her live with Kureha, giving Kureha a nickname (“Kure-chin”), surrounding Ginko with shaved ice, etc. One instance, she’s even completely incorrect – she thought that it was Ginko, not Kureha, who gave up her memories to change Ginko into a human. While she may not use her phrase in the right way all the time, her misuse of it makes her not only more cute but provides more smiles to see her so proud of herself. Her last words, and subsequently the last time she says this phrase, are the only time when its use works – after taking a bullet to save the girl she loves. Which, mirroring its other uses, is not a happy moment.

-Before, she kept everything close to herself; now, instead of being greedy, she instead gives everyone – both the characters and the audience – something. To the characters, she’s the ultimate “wing girl” by always looking out for Ginko and Kureha. And to the audience, she provides us with the most laughs throughout the entirety of the series.

Yurigasaki Mirun

Yurigasaki Mirun

-“Miru” actually translates into “to take care of.” And as we see, he looks after Lulu during his life, trying to bring her the love she had always wanted.

-Navy-blue robe not only symbolizes authority – given his prince status – but also strength. In this case, the strength to keep fighting for the Promise Kiss he’s wanted from his sister.

-His light-blue eyes symbolize pureness and understanding.

-As a child, he represents innocence and goodness

-His gem is green and hexagonal; combined with the heart-like design – symbolizing love – and the previous discussions on the color and shape, it fully represents that love is natural. And as has been talked about at length, the anime itself represents him as love’s ability to have no weaknesses other than you yourself.

-His crown is silver; denotes not only feminine energy but also balance due to its position between black and white (gray) [68]

-Never thinking of himself and always trying to give Lulu the jar of honey – the Promise Kiss –Mirun is the least greedy person within the show, mirroring Lulu’s initial and present personality.

List of References for Part 14

[54] http://www.romajidesu.com/

[55] https://translate.google.com/

[65] http://tuesdaynights-thegameroom.blogspot.com/2011/02/color-symbolism-without-religion.html

[66] http://www.crossroad.to/Books/symbols1.html

[67] http://www.pure-spirit.com/more-animal-symbolism/611-butterfly-symbolism

[68] http://symbolism.wikia.com/wiki/Silver