Erin Watches: Yurikuma Arashi, The Last Ship, Moon Knight

RL news is awful, feel free to recharge with this low-stakes post about TV problems.

I finally watched Yurikuma Arashi, the infamous “you all loved my smash-hit Utena, now come watch my show about lesbian bears” anime.

Tried to watch it in 2015 when it first came out, got through 3 episodes, and thought “I can’t tell what’s going on, I’m having a hard time telling all these characters apart, I’m not sure how seriously to take any of these metaphors, and it’s not convincing me to care about any of it.”

(How many people in this picture are secretly bears? The answer may surprise you!)

So this time, before tackling it again, I did some prep:

  • re-upped my paid Funimation account, apparently for the last possible time before they merge with Crunchyroll, so I could watch the dub instead of splitting my focus with subtitles
  • saved the Imagine Me & Utena episodes where they watch Yurikuma, and listened to them every 1-2 episodes to explain all the things I missed
  • opened the SailorMoonSub commentary on each episode (currently only through episode 10) for bonus insights, and also jokes

…and it worked! I got through the whole thing, understood it (you know, as much as you can with an Ikuhara show), and enjoyed it.

Still wasn’t super emotionally invested in most of the characters. Or the main romance. But it had a lot of fun details, and I’m glad I made the effort. (Also glad [spoiler] got to be happy at the end.)

The Lost Ship, episode 1: we are something bigger than the US Navy now, our duty is to the world

Episode 2: meet some evil Middle Easterners, no alliance possible, firefight to the death

Episode 3: meet some evil Russians, no alliance possible, firefight to the death

Episode 4: in transit all episode, don’t meet anyone new…

Episode 5: meet some evil Costa Ricans, but also some good ones! And the evil ones are conveniently unambiguous about it. Firefight to the death with the evil ones, then our heroes left the good ones in charge.

Episodes 6-8: meet one (1) non-evil Jamaican…a teenage girl, retrieved from a boat where everyone else died. So she’s immune, which is magic in Hollywood virology. They rescue her once they deduce she’s useful to them. Our heroes!

Yeah, it’s a “post-apocalyptic-pandemic” show. Aired 2014-2018, so the medicine is awful, in a ton of “now we all know it doesn’t work like that” ways. Once somebody says “nobody here is sick”, everyone instantly believes it (also, asymptomatic carriers, what are those?) and is happy to take off their PPE! The current strain is “stable” and will never mutate! A vaccine takes all of 3 weeks to develop!

But after 2+ years of COVID, the “our duty is to the world” speech in the first episode had me genuinely tearing up. We need so much more of that kind of leadership.

…then I kept watching, and the show seems to have 0% interest in living up to it.

Episode 10: season finale took us back to the US, and I was all set to be annoyed at how (comparatively) well it’s doing. But don’t worry, it’s also run by evil people — they’re Surprise Twist Hidden Evil, not Conveniently Obvious Evil.

It’s also the stupidest kind of cartoon evil. The US city’s power plants are now run on plague victim bodies! Because, as we know from the Matrix, those are the most efficient kind of fuel. And the leaders are killing extra people on purpose, because I guess the fictional pandemic that killed 4 billion humans didn’t provide enough bodies.

…yeah, I’m not going back for season 2.

Okay, it’s official: episode 5 catapulted Moon Knight up my rankings from “pretty good MCU TV” to “top-tier MCU TV, on par with WandaVision.”

I just. I love it when you get people in a fantastical world going through all kinds of magic/alien/mutant/shouty-pigeon trauma, and actually being reasonably traumatized by it, you know? And it’s not just a metaphor for real-world kinds of trauma, it exists alongside them, and interacts with them. And their coping methods involve both believable IRL strategies, and dealing with the magic/alien/mutant/divine stuff on its own terms.

Also, I love a good “headmates learning to work together” story. (And they finally got to hug.)

It’s got me writing fic again, for the first non-Yuletide time in…oooh, a long time. I’m on tenterhooks waiting for this finale.

My family has been keeping up with it week-by-week and talking about it. We’re all fannish in different ways, and in this case I’m the one checking out the comics and reading the online discussions and reporting back with interesting tidbits.

So here’s my mother’s very serious prediction for Episode 6: “It’ll be a recap of the whole series so far, but from Jake’s point of view, showing all the things he experienced that we skipped over. Then there will be a secret Episode 7 that’s the finale.”

(…Maybe next week I’ll regale them with the story of Apple Tree Yard.)

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