Yuri Kuma Arashi and the Effects of Symbolism, Part 16

by BanjoTheBear

One doesn't need symbolism to understand how adorable baby Kureha is

One doesn’t need symbolism to understand how adorable baby Kureha is

If you haven’t already, I highly suggest you head back to Part 15 and peruse the symbolism for even more of the characters found throughout the anime. There we received symbolism in relation to cast members such as Eriko, Konomi, and Yuriika. And once again, 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 C of the character study, the last section before the conclusion. This section contains symbolism for our two big leads, Kureha and Ginko, as well as the Life Bears and Lady Kumalia, who have been watching closely over the former two for the entirety of the anime. These are the last symbols to be looked at in-depth, so make sure to pay close attention once again to the ideas of love, sin, and mirroring that have been paramount in getting us to this point.

Day sixteen, 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 C

(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])

~Kureha and Ginko (Pride)~

Tsubaki Kureha

Tsubaki Kureha

(As a side note, Kureha’s name is perhaps the most profound and impressive out of the entire cast. The amount of detail and attention given to it is immense and nothing short of genius)

-In a fascinating move, Yuri Kuma Arashi actually provides the audience with Kureha’s name’s meaning. Reia describes her baby daughter as having derived from “akai” and “hane,” meaning “red” and “wing,” respectively (and corroborated through further research). But why is Kureha given the name “red wing?” It seems to hold no connection to her person; at least, from a visual standpoint. So, as the show would have us do, instead of being narrow-mindedwe need to take a step back and peer at the whole picture.

Consider, once again, the myriad of dove references throughout the anime. Doves are predominantly white in color and, when in huge flocks, it becomes rather impossible to distinguish one dove from another. Meaning, the Invisible Storm can be seen as a flock of doves. [79] Kureha constantly finds herself evading or skirting near the Invisible Storm. Looking at her name once more, red sticks out in a sea of white; that is, she is easily found among the girls because she’s the “odd one out.” At the same time, though, red mirrors white; or in other words, red complementswhite. This can easily be seen through common, everyday examples – the United States of America’s flag, Super Mario of Nintendo, Coca-Cola products, etc. The colors work in unison, reflecting Yuri Kuma Arashi’s own ideas on the subject. And finally, she herself can be seen as a dove. Her having a “red wing” symbolizes the impurity that ruins herhomogenous white. That is, despite the great love she feels towards others – Ginko, Sumika, etc. – she, too, partakes in sin.

-Not stopping there, Kureha’s last name, “Tsubaki,” translates in spectacular fashion. Part of her name here means “radiance; shine; sparkle; gleam; twinkle.” Hearkening back to “The Moon Girl and The Forest Girl,” Kureha is named and alluded to being “The Moon Girl.” The moon, like the stars that surround it, is known to radiate and shine in the night sky. But even more amazing is the other half of her last name; it means “camellia.” This flower is found not only during her court-cleansing appearances but also atop her head when she finally transforms from a human into a bear. In Japan, red camellias represent love. [80] It’s known for its “symmetrical beauty” due its overall design; the Chinese view the camellia as being a combination of both man and woman; and it also “symbolizes an everlasting union between lovers” due to its petal and calyx falling off the flower together. [81] The choice of having the camellia symbolize Kureha’s person is as perfect a flower as could have been chosen.

-Her name is very similar to Lady Kumalia (“Kumaria”). Since Ginko views Kureha in a similar light, the similarity in the girl and the goddess’s name makes it appear that Kureha’s love is likewise just and true.

-Kureha’s name is close to “kurehateru,” meaning “to fall completely dark.” This holds a connection once again to her position as the “Moon Girl” of the picture book; the moon comes out at night when it is “completely dark.” [54][55]

-Her hair is beige, symbolizing neutrality and blandness. The former has ties with the ideas of balance and equality that have been strongly established; whereas the latter coincides with her position within the Invisible Storm that Ginko and Lulu desperately try to save her from.

-Furthermore, she, too, wears the blue-colored outfit that the girls of the class wear, continuing with the idea that she is constantly in danger of being swept away by the aforementioned storm.

-Her eyes are purple; here, they symbolize not only royalty – the “Moon Girl” is a princess – but also enlightenment – Kureha comes to realize the error of her ways by the anime’s conclusion.

-Kureha fully represents the sin of pride, as shown through her unknowing actions. It’s not until after she overcomes her sin that she finally adorns the aforementioned camellia upon her head, symbolizing that, at last, she has obtained the love she has always wanted.

Yurishiro Ginko

Yurishiro Ginko

-From now on, if anyone asks, you can correctly point to Yuri Kuma Arashi as a show where “the childhood friend wins!”

-“Ginko” is roughly translated as being “silver” (“gin”) and “child; young (animals); young woman” (“ko”). The latter part has actually been seen on numerous occasions with the characters – Eriko, Mitsuko, Konomi, etc. Here, for Ginko,all of the interpretations fit: she is childish in her selfish adoration, she herself is an animal, and she is, in fact, a young woman. The choice of silver, though, is interesting. Ginko’s crown is gold, her bear form is black, and her most distinguishable color in her human form is pink. The show actually describes the reasoning behind her name; she was born on the day of a “silvery blizzard” and was named accordingly. But similar to, but not as deep as, Kureha’s name, it’s important to take a step back. Silver, as has been talked about already, symbolizes both female energy andbalance. However, it also mirrors the color gold; Ginko’s name embraces the color that is her opposite.

-Her last name, “Yurishiro,” follows the usual trend; “yuri” simply means “lily” but for Ginko, “shiro” means “castle.” And once again, such a name is purposeful and profound. Castles are constructed of tough walls; Ginko actually puts such walls up against Lulu by not receiving the love that the laugh-inducing bear tried to give her. [82] Castles also symbolize a goal to be achieved; the entirety of the anime is Ginko attempting to obtain her goal of getting Kureha and her to fall in love once more. They also hold connections to idealism. “Idealism” is defined as “the cherishing or pursuit of high or noble principles, purposes, goals, etc.” (emphasis mine). [83] That is, Ginko’s pursuit of a “taboo” love – one between women and between race – is based on a righteous purpose while simultaneously being the goalshe is striving towards. Finally, castles symbolize protection; while they prevent others from getting in, they simultaneously guard that which is inside them. And for Ginko, what’s inside her is the love for Kureha, which is successfully protected. [84]

-She has a gold crown on her head; crowns represent both power and victory. [85] For Ginko, it’s the power and strength to overcome the trials she faced, and the foreshadowed winning she would inevitably meet. The gold coloring symbolizes courage, passion, and “illuminating the path toward your goal.” [86] The first interpretation is precisely what Ginko has throughout the show; the courage to seek out the love she holds dear. And because of this, she is passionate about getting and giving her love. The last interpretation reinforces the castle symbolism; rulers of castles wear crowns and demonstrate the accomplishing one’s goal. Ginko’s goal of course having her and Kureha be lovers when all is said and done.

-Her main color is some combination of fuchsia and pink; the former represents sensuality and femininity while the latter symbolizes love, romance, and fidelity. In essence, Ginko maintains all of these qualities without question.

-The star pendant is a staple item throughout all of the anime, and more or less belongs to Ginko. The first role it has is symbolizing her and Kureha’s Promise Kiss, as the love that the couple shares between one another. Its two colors that it maintains are gold – holding the same interpretations as the crown – and the fuchsia-and-pink ribbon that supports it – also holding the same interpretations associated with the color choice. The shape of the actual pendant is a star; stars hold strong religious meanings. Not only do they see prominence within Judaism with the Star of David but also as a symbol of creation in Christianity; transformation can be seen as a form of creation, which both Ginkoand Kureha experience in one form or another. [87] Stars are also located in outer space; that is, the stars (Ginko) and the moon (Kureha) are technically together. They also act as good luck charms and signify a “turning point in one’s life.” [88] Finally, many stars are used as guides; for example, the North Star is commonly used for directional purposes. It leads one to his or her goal should they get lost along the way. And for Ginko, the star pendant – herPromise Kiss – does just that.

-Ginko mirrors Kureha in the pride she has. The Life Bears at one point call her love “egotistical” and that such pride could “destroy [her].” And in a way, it does; being “The Forest Girl,” she gets lost among the trees – among herself – due to the selfishness she carries for nearly the entire show. It’s not until the end where Ginko foregoes desire, and subsequently her pride, where what she wants isn’t all for herself but for Kureha, too.

~The Life Bears and Lady Kumalia (Divine Judgment)~

The Life Bears

The Life Bears

-There are three Life Bears. The number three is one of the most natural numbers in existence, being used in any number of situations and containing any number of meanings. For example, and having relevancy here, Christianity has the Holy Trinity – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The number is found in countless religions, folktales, shapes, states, and ideas. [89] Its uses are wide and varied, with its inclusion here also representing balance; one bear for attacking, one bear for defending, and one bear for mediating.

-As was talked about long ago, the Life Bear’s names – Life Sexy, Life Cool, and Life Beauty – not only coincide with their person – each is what they are described as being – but also they represent the dichotomous way in which we view the world. That is, (and repeating what was said earlier) life is often categorized as sexy or unattractive, cool or lame, beautiful or ugly, etc.

-Each bear has a vocal saying: Life Sexy says, “Shaba-da-doo,” Life Cool says, “I’m so cool,” and Life Beauty says, “Sparkle!” Each catch-phrase mirrors their very person (bear); “Shaba-da-doo” isn’t that sexy of a thing to say to someone, calling yourself cool doesn’t really make you cool, and the sparkling is sometimes followed up with a smirk or smug, which isn’t too beautiful of an expression to make.

-Life Sexy uses a color combination of red, brown, and white; red is sexy, brown is masculine, and, white is, given his role as head judge and holy position at the Wall of Severance, representative of “fresh beginnings and renewal” and “goodness,” “heaven,” and “understanding.” [90]

-Life Sexy uses a gavel to keep the proceedings in order; gavel’s are immediately symbolic of justice, of which the court attempts to bring to each of the people who enter their domain

-The objects that cascade upon him and those that make up his column are roses, one of the premier symbols of love. Their inclusion at the court designed to manifest love makes as much sense as is humanly (and bear-ly) possible.

-Fascinatingly, Life Sexy has a rhombus near the front of his neck on his clothes. Rhombus’s aren’t just composed of two opposite triangles – the number three once more – but most importantly balance of the self. [91] Considering the Life Bears’ location – at the Wall of Severance that balances both sides and how their trials take place within ourselves– such a choice in shape fits beautifully within the show.

-Life Cool, as his name implies, utilizes light blue, a “cool” color by temperature.

-Life Cool is the only other character in the anime to wear glasses; here, it aides in highlighting his intelligence. Furthermore, the use of books, those that he holds, those that make up his column, and those that cascade upon him, increase his sense of smartness. He is a “book bear (worm),” if you will. Therefore, Life Cool can be seen as someone who has great understanding when it comes to the problems – both that the anime directly and indirectly – presents to the characters and to the audience.

-As opposed to a rhombus, Life Cool wears on his clothes a tiny bow. Such a bow makes him appear more proper and therefore more intelligent.

-Life Beauty’s main color is green; in this context, it symbolizes nature and generosity. The former due to both love’snatural presence and his defense of the bears’ natural actions, with the latter coinciding with his generosity in allowing the bears to continue eating.

-Perhaps due to his beautification, he is somewhat feminine in appearance: his light green coloring, his higher pitched-voice, and his medium-length hair make him out to be a mix of both male and female. This has been seen elsewhere with “The Man” (but there, to a much greater degree), so this isn’t too much of a surprise. Such a design makes sense logically, given the anime’s focus on homosexuality; that is, men acting or looking like women is perceived as being homosexual.

-Life beauty wears a rose upon his clothes, as opposed to a rhombus or a tiny bow. Again, roses are one of the quintessential symbols of love, meaning him having one on his person makes perfect sense.

-Life Beauty’s cascading objects and those that make up his column are tiny bows, in this case being symbolic of how much more fun he is in comparison to the other Life Bears.

-What’s interesting is that the Life Bears separate aspects are closely tied together. For example, Life Cool’s bow is found everywhere near Life Beauty; Life Beauty’s rose is found everywhere near Life Sexy; and while not books, Life Sexy has scattered papers in front of him. This represents a form of unity between the three, of which they talk about: “practice what you preach.”

-We’ve discussed a while ago how the Severance Court symbolizes the idea that love balances ourselves. The Life Bears, then, symbolize all of which love is. Love can be logical, love can be natural, and love can be anything in between. As with the Promise Kisses, love is what you make of it. Whether you choose to utilize your love to act sexy or weird, to be cool or gross, to be beautiful or terrible; whether you choose to utilize love for good or for sin falls not on the Life Bears and not on Lady Kumalia. It’s up to you to use love in as pure a way as possible.

Lady Kumalia

Lady Kumalia

-Kumalia’s other name is “Kumaria,” which derives from “bear” and “rear.” “Rear” here may be viewed as “back” or perhaps “last,” as in she is the last bear to be introduced. However, and has been discussed in the sound section, it is best to see her name as being a morphing of Maria, the Virgin Mary – “kuma” meaning “bear” in Japanese combined with “Maria” creates “Kumaria.”

-Lady Kumalia is described as being “The Star of Love”; the previous associations with stars – as a symbol for creation, as turning points in life, and as guides to those who are lost – continue to hold true here. Calling her the star of love is simply reconfirmation that Lady Kumalia is the ultimate being of this emotion.

-Her dress is composed of a large lily flower; lilies have been seen at Reia’s lily garden, at intermittent times during the anime, and even at the end, raining softly down upon Kureha and the girls of her class. The lily, as talked about, is a symbol of love, of female homosexuality, and ultimately of the anime itself. So, having Lady Kumalia wear a dress made of the very flower that defines the show is more than perfect; it’s sublime.

-She is depicted (at least to Kureha) as being Sumika; once again, this helps to reinforce Lady Kumalia as being that love which is pure, just, and good.

-She clasps her hands together, as if in prayer. This gesture simply continues with the notion that Lady Kumalia’s presence and being is a divine one. This is further confirmed by her angelic wings – more bird references.

-In a stunning move, she is shown to be neither human nor bear; she takes the human-bear form that many of the characters have donned. This clearly represents the balance, equality, and union that love brings about.

-Finally, Lady Kumalia speaks two phrases: “Kureha Tsubaki, is your love the real thing?” and “Yuri approved!” These occur during her one and only appearance. Furthermore, these phrases are extremely common; they are said more times than anyone can count throughout the show. At the same time, her overall, total screen-time is roughly thirty seconds. In other words, Lady Kumalia seems to hold zero significance due to her spectacularly minimum inclusion.

But remarkably, that’s the point. Lady Kumalia represents good love. She doesn’t have to be around for very long because, just like Yuri Kuma Arashi and just like the symbols of the anime, at the end of the day, love speaks for itself.

List of References for Part 16

[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

[79] http://www.reddit.com/r/anime/comments/31p2an/spoilersessay_yuri_kuma_arashi_and_the_effects_of/cq3ovqr

[80] http://www.japan-talk.com/jt/new/17-Japanese-flower-meanings

[81] http://livingartsoriginals.com/flower-camellia.htm

[82] http://www.dreamsymbolism.info/dreamdictionary/castle-dreams.php

[83] http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/idealism

[84] http://www.tarotteachings.com/castle-tarot-symbol.html

[85] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crown_%28headgear%29

[86] http://www.bourncreative.com/meaning-of-the-color-gold/

[87] http://www.religionfacts.com/christianity/symbols/6-point-star

[88] http://www.ask.com/world-view/stars-symbolize-73e5a7f988eb29e9

[89] http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/1086220/number-symbolism/248160/3

[90] http://www.bourncreative.com/meaning-of-the-color-white/

[91] http://www.eternalsymbols.com/a-global-and-an-eternal-symbol/