Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear
Episode 4

by Richard Eisenbeis,

How would you rate episode 4 of
Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear ?

“In which our heroine learns she has healing magic.”

This week's episode is split into two parts. In the first, Yuna finds herself called upon by the local lord. Yuna, being lazy and rather anti-social, has no desire to be caught up in the politics of corrupt lords and ladies. Of course, refusing to accept the summons would, at the very least, mark her as an enemy of the kingdom and force her to leave the town, so she has no choice but to meet with him.

However, as expected in such a light and happy show, the lord of the town is kind and noble, and his reasons for summoning Yuna are rather mundane. The first reason is personal: his daughter is in love with the fluffy cuteness that is Yuna and her two bears. The second is that he'd like her to give him the mana stone from the giant snake in episode one. (She gives him the sword of the goblin king instead and he is more than happy with that.)

The back half of the episode deals with Fina's sick mother. Despite all the money now coming in (thanks to Yuna) and Fina's efforts in gathering medicinal herbs, Fina's mother appears to be on her last legs. Luckily, Yuna has recently figured out how to perform healing magic. So after realizing the difference between HP-restoring spells and status effect removal spells, she cures Fina's mom without breaking a sweat.

In this episode, we once again see how Yuna's anti-social tendencies could easily get her into trouble. She doesn't think about the implications of refusing a summons from the local lord and is more than a little rude in her meeting with him. If he weren't such a nice guy, things could have gone very wrong. But perhaps the most telling thing about Yuna as a person is that even though she discovers healing magic early in the episode, she doesn't immediately think about using it to save her best friend's mom. In fact, it doesn't even cross her mind to try until the woman is literally dying in front of her.

Yuna is an inherently selfish individual who thinks little about the plights of others and how she could help them out. Now, when she is faced directly with suffering, she will gladly lend her aid; after all, kindness and selfishness are not mutually exclusive. However, her altruistic actions are completely reactive. Offering help proactively is not something she seems to even consider.

This is a glaring character flaw—and that's a good thing from a story perspective. Watching a character learn and grow is half the fun of fiction. Hopefully, the near-death of Fina's mom will be a catalyst for personal change. After all, there is nothing more boring than a static character—well, other than a paint-by-numbers plot. And make no mistake, that's what this episode is.

Despite things happening and hanging plot threads being tied off, I was fundamentally bored by this episode. From the newest young girl to be head-over-heels for Yuna's “beary” cuteness to the oh-so-convenient discovery that Yuna can use healing magic, everything that happens is utterly predictable. There is no tension when the solution to the problem is so obvious you want to scream at the characters on screen for missing it.

Moreover, there is no lesson nor thematic message to bolster the episode. It really is just Yuna reacting to two new situations. Hopefully, some of what happened will have a lasting impact on Yuna (and make this episode better in retrospect) but as it stands now, while not offensive in any way, it is also so bland and predictable that it feels like it is “bearly” worth watching.

Rating:

Random Thoughts:

• The thing I want to know is: how do you make healing magic bear-themed?

• I honestly wish the costume wasn't magically self-cleaning. It would have been worth a laugh when Noire hugged her.

• Yes, the episode was so boring to me that I added a bear pun to this review to keep myself entertained.

• I think what Yuna and the series overall are lacking is a purpose. At the moment, there is no goal the heroes are striving for. Everything just kind of exists.

• Man, we're four weeks in and I still can't get over the idea of Yuna's grandpa coming over to her apartment to discover Yuna missing, comatose, or dead. And the fact that Yuna hadn't even spared him a thought makes me depressed.

Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear is currently streaming on 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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