Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear
Episode 12

by Richard Eisenbeis,

How would you rate episode 12 of
Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear ?

“In which our heroine is her own final boss.”

From the very start, Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear has been a show about an overpowered protagonist smashing through every problem she faces with relative ease—until these last two episodes, anyway. Last week saw her pushed to her limits physically in the battle with the Kraken. So it makes narrative sense that her final challenge would be a psychological one.

What's truly interesting is how this episode goes about setting up the problem. Rather than focusing on Yuna, the episode spends much of its time on Fina. At the start of the show, Fina was Yuna's only friend and companion. But as the series has gone on Yuna has become a major part of many people's lives. While the Yuna at the start of the series would have likely spurned this attention and retreated to her home in search of peace and quiet, the current Yuna has grown enough to respond to the expectations placed upon her—however reluctantly.

This leaves Fina in an odd place. While the two of them used to always be together, Fina is now often left behind as Yuna goes off on her adventures. Fina tries several times to make plans with Yuna but the latter is always too busy. When they do spend time together, it is always about what Yuna wants to do and when she wants to do it.

Moreover, activities that were supposed to involve just the two of them are now group endeavors—either because of Yuna's growing celebrity or because Yuna doesn't realize Fina wants to spend some time with her alone. And even when Fina is invited on Yuna's adventures, it's almost like an afterthought—like she's a third wheel at best. All this leaves Fina feeling alone, unimportant, and inadequate.

Yuna, on the other hand, doesn't really notice this at first. Her way of life has always been “do what you want when you want to do it.” It doesn't occur to her that others (like Fina) don't necessarily have the self-confidence or the power to do the same. The fact that Fina isn't as involved in her life as she used to be is brushed aside as Fina having her own things that she wants to do.

It's only when Fina starts actively removing herself from Yuna's life—making their relationship professional instead of personal—that Yuna starts to realize something's gone wrong. Luckily, with a little help from Noire, Yuna is able to have a personal revelation—or half of one at least.

Yuna realizes that, unlike her biological family (or anyone in the real world), she has become attached to the people of this world—most notably Fina. With Fina removed from her everyday life, part of her has become hollow. To rectify this, she invites Fina out to the place where they first met to explain in person how exactly she feels about the younger girl. It's a touching scene as well as a solid way to show that Yuna has overcome something that has been holding her back. She has finally gained a true family in Fina and has grown enough to understand its importance.

However, the reason I call this half a revelation is because while Yuna has come to understand her own feelings, she hasn't realized Fina's own. I've written at length in these reviews about Yuna's self-centeredness, but perhaps it would be better to call it a lack of empathy. It is almost by chance that Yuna gives Fina the words she needs to hear; she never considers Fina's own feelings and why she has been acting differently than normal—i.e., depressed. Yuna tells Fina how important she is to her out of her own need to express those feelings—not because she has come to understand how Fina has felt as the two have drifted apart.

All in all, this is a fitting end to the season. It shows that while Yuna is growing into a better person, she still has a long way to go. But now that she has realized how important Fina is to her, she won't be alone on this personal journey—no matter how famous she becomes.

Rating:

Random Thoughts

• I wonder how depressed Grandpa would be hearing how little Yuna cared for him. (Yep, still not letting that throw-away line from the first episode go.)

• I forgot Noire hadn't seen the chibi-bears. I'm surprised she didn't explode.

• Did the three adults just blackmail Yuna into being responsible once she admitted how selfish she is? Good on them!

• While this series certainly wasn't my cup of tea personally, I think Yuna's personality flaws make her an interesting character and I enjoyed watching her grow and overcome them.

Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear is currently streaming on Funimation. Save on Anime Streaming Subscriptions with Funimation.

Richard is an anime and video game journalist with over a decade of experience living and working in Japan. For more of his writings, check out his Twitter and blog.


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