When Yuri Kuma Arashi first aired, it at first seemed to starkly deviate from what most Ikuhara fans had been expecting. The series was blatant, flashy and lesbian sexuality was presented in full force. The series quickly became a polarizing topic within the community. On one hand, the series was typically Ikuhara, all the ideas and themes that he had presented in the past appeared in full. On the other hand, Yuri Kuma Arashi was loud, the sexuality was blatant, and the series did not run as long as any of his previous works. The result of which was the adverse reaction many fans had towards the series labelling it pretentious fan service. While on the other hand, many Ikuhara fans were left feeling disenchanted by this latest title.
While it is true that Yuri Kuma Arashi deviates from Ikuhara’s previous works, the shift is only skin deep. At its core, the series remains fundamentally Ikuhara. One of the core themes Yuri Kuma Arashi tackles is the issue of social labelling and its consequences. Labels are prominently used in the series to demonstrate that they are a product of misunderstanding, ignorance and fear of other societies and cultures. However, the belief and further application of said labels perpetuate the same sentiments in a cycle which continues discord between two different societies. Yuri Kuma Arashi’s message demonstrates this idea through the use of the example of the conflict between bears and humans. The series acts as a deterrent to the ignorance and fear which begin the cycle and instead suggests love, compassion and an open ear are the solution.