Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear
by Richard Eisenbeis,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear ?
“In which our heroine starts to explore the greater world.”
As I mentioned in last week's review, the biggest problem with Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear is that it's so utterly predictable. Once you know the conflict of the episode, just think of the happiest way everything could turn out and you'll be damn close to what actually happens on screen. And then comes this episode, which avoids that problem by doing away with conflicts altogether.
This week, Yuna finds herself roped into being Noire's bodyguard on her trip to the capital for the King's birthday. While Yuna is doing it for the cash (and to stay on Cliff's good side), Fina decides to join her for the heck of it.
For the most part, this episode is character development for Noire—largely by pitting her against Fina. Noire and Fina are opposites in every sense of the word: one is rich and noble, the other poor and common. But it's not their differences that upset Noire—it's that Fina has spent far more time with Yuna and the bears than she has.
Noire, despite her status, is immensely jealous. As a spoiled noble, she's clearly used to getting what she wants. However, she can't have Yuna's bears nor can she force Yuna to listen to her whims—especially with her father's fear of Yuna and how he is willing to put his own butt on the line to keep her happy. So she has no choice but to accept what she is given by Yuna at any time. Of course, “spoiled” doesn't equate to “bad person.” For the most part, Noire is able to keep herself in check and not go ballistic on Fina too much. She treats Fina as her “bear rival” and seems to be as excited to have someone in this role as she would be in gaining a new friend.
When the crew reaches the capital we are introduced to two new characters: Noire's mother, Eleanora, and her elder sister, Shia. Eleanora, while appearing as carefree as her youngest daughter, is far more devious than you might think. Not only does she take her husband's words to heart about the danger that Yuna represents, she later reveals her husband's true thoughts to Yuna in order to provoke a reaction.
Shia, on the other hand, has her mother's fearlessness but none of her guile. Upon hearing of Yuna's strength, the first thing she wants to do is knock Yuna down a peg and prove her superiority. However, when it becomes clear that she is inferior to Yuna on the battlefield, she is able to accept it, changing her worldview rather than doubling down on stubbornness and pride. It's a good and somewhat subtle example of character-building, especially given that Shia is the first character in the show that is Yuna's age.
Beyond the character-building, this episode is full of silly comic beats, like Noire seeing Yuna's idea of "camping" for the first time or Shia coming home to be greeted by her mother and sister riding giant bears. These little moments are spread evenly throughout the episode to keep this episode enjoyable despite its barebones plot.
All in all, I enjoyed this episode more than all the previous episodes since its premiere. There so much new in this episode; from locations to characters, there's plenty to keep you invested even without a sense of looming danger. The only potential issue is that this is a trick you shouldn't try to pull off several episodes in a row. Once you have set up all these new things, it's time to use them to tell some interesting stories.
• Of all her powers, why is it “house construction” that Yuna wants to keep secret?
• I hope we get more Shia. I want more of Yuna interacting with people her own age.
• Shia's villainess drill hair is out of control.
• The image of the two bears dancing got a full laugh out of me.
• This week's animation was a little rough in parts. I especially liked the size-changing salad bowls in Yuna's temporary house.
• The food situation of this kingdom continues to baffle me. They don't have potatoes, cheese, or eggs in any kind of meaningful supply. Potatoes I can potentially understand; in our world, they were initially native to the Americas only—it wasn't until the Spanish came that the crop started spreading to the Old World. Cheese, on the other hand, is likely to have been around since the domestication of sheep. (It's not that hard to accidentally make cheese and was apparently created independently in both the Old World and New.) As for eggs... well, we've dived into that insanity plenty of times already.
• Why doesn't Yuna want to open a restaurant? I mean, it's not like she has to cook personally. She could just teach some chefs some otherworld recipes, give them each a “bear convection stove” and let the money flow in.
Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear is currently streaming on Funimation.
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