Yuri Kuma Arashi and the Effects of Symbolism, Part 15

by BanjoTheBear

More characters, more symbols

More characters, more symbols

If you haven’t already, I highly suggest you head back to Part 14 and peruse the symbolism for some of the characters found throughout the anime. There we received symbolism in relation to cast members such as Lulu, Ooki, and Mitsuko. Each symbolizes many different facets, including love and sin, with each helping to clarify the themes that the anime has been using this entire time.

Today, we’ll be investigating Part B of the character study. This section contains symbolism for some of the more important characters, such as Yuriika, while also delving into the symbolism for some of the minor but still equally compelling ones, such as Ai. Remember to keep in mind many of the characters’ own details, as well as the ideas ofsin and mirroring that Yuri Kuma Arashi constantly turns to, in order to make its themes that much more purposeful and powerful.

Day fifteen, 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

Part B

(Unless otherwise specified, translations provided by [69], with names taken from [70]. 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])

~Katyusha and Eriko (Sloth)~

Katyusha Akae

Katyusha Akae

-“Katyusha” actually translates as “Alice band; horshoe-shaped hairband made of metal or plastic (often covered with cloth).”

-“Akae” derives from “red” and “creek, inlet, bay.”

-In other words, her name is literally derived from the very headband that she is known to wear – her red Alice band – and her prominence within the story – like a creek, inlet, or bay, it’s relatively small in comparison to where it is found. Her naming makes sense in this fashion since she isn’t known for anything else but her headband and her near nonexistence.

-One of the, if not the, first student(s) killed by Ginko and Lulu. That is, despite all of the warning signs that she personally puts up, she couldn’t follow her own advice because she’s too slothful.

Eriko Oniyama

Eriko Oniyama

-Her eye color is terra-cotta; this symbolizes stability. She’s content with the position she currently holds.

-Her first name, “Eriko,” derives from three separate parts: “child,” “pear tree,” and “creek, inlet, bay.” The first part fits with her and many other actions presented throughout the anime; what she does is very childish in nature. The third part mirrors Katyusha’s; her significance is next to nothing, or rather small in relation to everyone around her. The most intriguing part of her name is easily the second. The pear is a fruit that symbolizes a variety of aspects: it’s most often associated with religions and gods, while also holding connotations of relationship separation. [71] It also maintains ideas of temptation due to sin and even “Christ’s love for mankind.” [72] Given all of the talk thus far about love, religion, and sin, such a choice in fruit could not be more purposeful.

-“Oniyama” translates as “ghost, demon” and “mountain.” She is the first person shown to conduct the Exclusion Ceremony, meaning her description as being a demon – acting in an evil manner – and also as being atop a mountain– high position signifies high leadership – is an apt one.

-She wears a single pony tail on her left side. The one-sidedness coincides with her biased behavior. Its placement on the left may be a way to showcase how wrong she is in what she’s doing. That is, she isn’t right.

-Her inclusion and removal mirrors that of Katyusha’s. In other words Eriko is eliminated and forgotten early. Her position as masthead of the group demonstrates her emotional apathy, and therefore her sin of sloth. [73]

~Ai and Konomi (Envy)~

Uchiko Ai

Uchiko Ai

-“Ai” possibly translates into “come after” and “consequently.” That is, like her newfound perspective and actions, she represents what happens next at the conclusion of the story.

-Part of “Uchiko” is composed of a word that means “beat; attack; defeat; conquer.” This part of her name is interesting due to the mirroring that occurs. That is, where she at first attacks Ginko and the others by taking part in the shooting and killing, she later on conquers such morally wrong ways.

-“Uchiko” may translate into “flour; powder (for polishing, dusting, etc.).” The former definition could be a play-on-words – “flour” sounds like “flower” – whereas the latter definition can be seen as herself being polished from dirty to clean, given her newfound look on life. [54][55]

-Her eyes are colored olive-green; symbolic of not just the military (which she takes part in) but also peace (which she later embraces).

-Her even and plain twin-tails signify a sense of balance.

-Her close connection with Konomi is fostered throughout the second half of the anime, where she at first thinks nothing of her, but later gives way to empathy by the end.

-Her envy is unique because it isn’t used for bad but for good. That is, she envies Kureha and Ginko’s deep love for one another, which motivates her to fully go against the norm.

Konomi Yurikawa

Konomi Yurikawa

-“Konomi” may translate into “nut; fruit; berry,” given the berry that rests upon her head.

-“Yurikawa” has, besides the obvious “lily” derivation, a possible translation of “kawa” as being a “river; stream.” This is incredibly fascinating once more, similar to the pear from earlier. Rivers can be looked at quite negatively: they symbolize boundaries, keeping not only areas but people separated – much like the Wall of Severance does throughout the anime. Rivers also symbolize movement due to their constant flowing; quite relevant given the ideas of moving to find balance. They also symbolize the “progression of life itself;” they have a beginning and an end with an exciting middle with various ups and downs, highs and lows, twists and turns. Once again, progression holds enormous relevancy given the theme of prejudice. [74]

-She has beady eyes, a bucktooth, and freckles; rather unattractive and therefore tries to commit an unattractivecrime based entirely on sin rather early

-The berry that rests within her hair as a human and as a part of her head as a bear most closely resembles mistletoe, which represents peace and friendship. [75]

-Her bucktooth makes her look like a beaver despite being a bear. Beavers build dams, or walls, that prevent the flow of water – reinforcing the river symbolism from earlier. In this context, she’s built walls around herself to prevent others from getting to her – the only person she confides in is Mitsuko.

-Her entrance is usually accompanied by a formation of rotating leaves; her type of leaves represent renewal and new beginnings [76], of which she experiences twice. Once when becoming a cyborg and again near the end when she finds new love.

-Her crime is precluded by multiple scenes of loneliness: sitting in an empty classroom, playing the piano in a dark room, and looking at books in a barren library. This highlights her desperation in keeping Mitsuko to herself and theenvy she feels towards Kureha for stealing the only person that doesn’t make her lonely.

-Konomi’s type of envy mirrors that of Ai’s. That is, where Konomi’s is vile Ai’s is just.

~Reia and Yuriika (Wrath)~

Tsubaki Reia

Tsubaki Reia

-Reia’s name may be a play on the word “rare.” Given both her minimal inclusion despite her importance and the kind of person she was – very loving and protecting of both the humans and the bears – it makes herself rather rare in context of the anime. [54][55]

-Her first name, “Reia”, is possibly derived from “water route; shipping channel” and “love; affection; favorite.” The latter definition can easily be accepted; the love she shows towards those around her – specifically, Kureha, Yuriika, and Ginko – demonstrates such affection. The former definition, however, is a bit more interesting. A water routeguides the deliverance of items or goods upon it; in other words, it protects those things nearest it. Again, as is seen by Reia’s actions, such protection is quite clear.

-Her main outfit is turquoise or teal-blue; this color symbolizes uniqueness – a form of rarity – and protection – coinciding with her protective behavior of Kureha, Ginko, and Yuriika.

-Her appearance mirrors that of Kureha, her only daughter

-Reia’s unbelievable kindness towards Yuriika, protection of Ginko, and love for Kureha demonstrates how beautiful of a person she really was. She holds no wrath towards anyone, simply seeking to bring happiness to the people around her.

Yuriika Hakonaka

Yuriika Hakonaka

-Yuriika’s first name may be a play on the word “eureka,” an exclamation normally performed after a moment of realization. In this case, the realization that choosing to ignore love wasn’t the wisest thing to do

-Her first name has a rather easy interpretation; “hako” means “box” and “naka” means “inside.” For clarification sake, her last name reinforces the idea of her need to box those things she loves, essentially putting them inside said boxes. [54][55]

-“Yuriika” possibly translates into “black-headed gull.” As will be talked about soon, the correlation to birds here makes sense given her pendant and the prominent depiction of birds throughout the anime. Furthermore, this bird is known for being mostly white with (obviously) a blackened head; Yuriika mirrors the gull by being mostly blackened – both on the outside and in her heart – with a thin veil of white (goodness) to mask her true intentions. [77]

-Yuriika’s most striking feature is the black colored attire she chooses to wear. It’s a profound color choice given how much it symbolizes her. Black is often associated with power, coinciding with her position as the principal of Arashigaoka High School. The color also represents authority, which falls in line with the previous talk of her, “The Man,” and oppression in general. It also holds connotations with death, of which Yuriika finds herself taking part in constantly – both against the woman she loved and the other girls of the school. Alongside the same lines, it is also used during times of mourning; her theme song “Chinkon Kyoku’s” church-like organ holds connections to funerals. Lastly, it’s both a sexy and mysterious color; Yuriika is undeniably sexy in terms of her body, voice, and demeanor, while still remaining “in the shadows” with all of the actions she takes over the course of the anime. [78]

-The splashes of purple on her clothes not only complement the black given, but also further symbolizes the respectshe has due to her position and the mystery she holds in everything she does.

-Her eyes are a striking yet light blue; in this case, it represents coolness due to her icy behavior. And perhaps evenpeace, in the sense that she gives off the persona that she is content with the life she has but her inner turmoil is anything but calm.

-She wears a tight bun in her hair. This type of hairstyle is most often used to increase one’s sense of formality andimportance, both of which she has in droves.

-Interestingly, Yuriika wears a miniature dove pin. Doves, as have been talked about briefly some time ago, symbolize love. But even more startling is where it’s placed; over her heart. As we see during the anime, Yuriika foregoes love altogether (until her final moments), meaning she has no love in her whatsoever. Instead, it’s found just outside it in the form of the dove pin. In other words, this tiny accessory symbolizes how she prevents love from ever reaching her. This is further reinforced by her aforementioned acceptance of it just before her death. Recalling back to that scene, just before her last words, the pin is shown to have fallen off her person. Meaning that the loss of the pin symbolizes her finally finding the love she had let go of many years prior.

-Yuriika mirrors Reia in that, where the latter is as kind as kind can be, she is filled with hate and anger. Holding a seventeen year grudge that is littered with the death of her lover and countless other women, and culminates in the attack against the girl who “stole” Reia’s love from her, easily paints her as nothing but wrathful.

List of References for Part 15

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

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

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

[69] http://jisho.org/

[70] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yurikuma_Arashi

[71] http://www.aperfectpear.com/fruit-of-the-gods.html

[72] https://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/janick-papers/pearinhistory.pdf

[73] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sloth_%28deadly_sin%29

[74] http://www.symbolism.org/writing/books/sp/2/page6.html

[75] http://www.whats-your-sign.com/symbolic-mistletoe-meaning-more-than-christmas-decorations.html

[76] http://www.frostedleaves.net/leaf-symbolism-and-meanings/

[77] http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Black-headed_Gull/lifehistory

[78] http://www.bourncreative.com/meaning-of-the-color-black/