It’s easy to get fatigued by isekai series nowadays. Ever since the genre was popularized in older series series such as Fushigi Yugi, Inuyasha, and Digimon Adventure, isekai has grown to become a staple of almost every anime season in recent years.
For those who don’t know, “Isekai” (literally: “Other World”) as a genre emphasizes the journey of someone who’s transported to another world, and goes on an adventure.
Recent trends have seen variations of the genre including series where the protagonist wants to simply live comfortably, such as That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, or the subject of today’s review: Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear.
Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear
Studio: EMT Squared
Publisher: Nippon Columbia
Directors: Hisashi Ishii, Yuu Nobuta
Premiere: October 7, 2020
Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear is the latest series from the relatively young animation studio EMT Squared that was founded in 2013. EMT Squared is known for their other series including Nyanko Days and appropriately enough Kuma Miko. The series began in 2014 as a novel series by a writer known only by the pen name Kumanano.
Yuna is a 15 year old girl and one of the top players of World Fantasy Online, a cutting edge VRMMO where Yuna spends most of her time. She lives alone and supports herself with stock market trading. Rather than being sent to another world via reincarnation or a convoluted summoning ritual, Yuna wakes up in a new world after being given a questionnaire during her usual gaming session.
As part of the questionnaire, and as a reward for her consistent playing, she’s given a random gift. In this case, she’s given a powerful set of armor with only one problem: it looks like bear pajamas. Unceremoniously, Yuna wakes up in a new world in the middle of the forest and begins her adventure after hearing a call for help from nearby.
Yuna finds herself face to face with a small pack of wolves closing in on a young girl, and with the strength of her bear costume she easily fights them off and rescues her. The young girl Fina was out collecting herbs to help her sick mother and little sister, and Yuna quickly takes to the child, having a soft spot for kids that try to be dependable.
With Fina’s guidance, she makes her way to the city to join the adventurer’s guild. While she’s regarded with suspicion due to her costume, she quickly makes a reputation with her strength and ability to quickly complete low-tier quests. Meanwhile Fina, works as best she can dismantling the monsters for Yuna, as she absolutely refuses to get her hands dirty directly with blood.
Sine she has no attachments to the real world, Yuna quickly acclimates to her situation. Although she quickly learns she’s functionally stuck in her silly bear costume. She has access to powerful magic, absurdly high stats, and unique skills, but all of them are tied into her bear costume and without it, she’s as weak as she is in the real world.
The series has no standout visual effects or highly choreographed fighting scenes. The character designs are cute, and that’s about what most viewers ought to expect from this show.
Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear does succeed visually at establishing a whimsical feel to the setting. The usage of dots in the background almost like a comic book at times. While it’s a small detail, it’s noticeable and makes the comfy and albeit plain backgrounds more memorable.
Maki Kawase and Azumi Waki stand out as the two protagonists, Yuna and Fina respectively. Each of the actresses also performs the opening and ending themes; with Azumi Waki performing Itsuka no Kioku as the opening theme and Maki Kawase performing Ano ne as the ending.
Both Maki Kawase and Azumi Waki are newer talents, each beginning their careers in 2015 with smaller side roles. The pair worked together previously on the series Didn’t I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?
Maki Kawase as the voice of Yuna in particular does a great performance in voicing the cynical teenager. Her tense tone but high pitched voice is perfect for the role.
Her dialogue flows naturally with the rest of the female cast. Not only does she act as the voice of reason, but she is also able to deliver deadpan humor.
Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear rides the swelling tide of isekai saturating the anime industry, and tries its best to distinguish itself from its rivals. With a leading female cast, a blending of the “cute girls doing cute things” genre, and a cynical protagonist; Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear largely succeeds in carving out a niche.
Those who are sick of isekai series likely won’t find anything they don’t expect in Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear, but those who like the genre and are just waiting for a unique series, they might want to give this one a try.
Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear was reviewed via the reviewer’s anime streaming service account. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.
Images: Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear Official Site