Yuri Kuma Arashi was my first Kunihiko Ikuhara show and, like Yoru no Yatterman, it was a big influence on my decision to start blogging about anime. I actually tried to do an in-depth analysis of episode 1 because while I hadn’t seen Ikuhara’s particular style of storytelling for myself before, I had heard many stories, and to some extent I knew what to expect when it came to metaphors and symbols and stuff.
In other words, I was prepared to be assaulted by symbolism, references and metaphors, and my analysis of episode 1 was written with that in mind. As a result, I wrote a long text full of speculation, guesses and hypotheses, garnished with a heap of self-doubt. And I wrote all of this with the expectation that my ideas would be either confirmed or disproved, which turned out not to be the case. What this taught me was that Ikuhara doesn’t just dump a bunch of symbolism into a show and magically make it work and make total sense later on, there’s actually a more elaborate process to it.
The key is not in the individual symbols themselves, but in the repetition of them. Having seen Mawaru Penguindrum made me realise that the very frequent repetition of scenes, lines and/or events is one of the things that is characteristic of Ikuhara’s shows. Through repetition, the viewer finds out what is important and what is not, even if they don’t necessarily understand what the important things mean. And I think the fact that I ignored this while watching Yuri Kuma Arashi was why I didn’t end up getting nearly as much out of the show as I did from Mawaru Penguindrum. Though, in my defence, I feel like YKA was too short to really make the repetition stand out to me, at least compared to Penguindrum, which had twice as many episodes.