What does a bear know about life in the big city? For Machi Amayadori's sake, hopefully a lot! The young shrine maiden has spent her whole life in the rural mountains with Natsu, her talking guardian bear. Now, at fourteen, she wants to take a chance and attend high school in the big city. Can Natsu really prepare her for city life? Or will his wacky trials be too much for even Machi to bear?
Kuma Miko is a very cute anime. I quite enjoyed watching the series so far, but there are also some reasons I couldn't feel but disappointment... And I'm just writing this so people who feel the same towards the situation on this anime can already know about it.
Art is amazing, trully outstanding. High quality animation, for real. I really loved the traits, the expressions, the background, everything. Couldn't find anything to criticize, also because this special way to draw characters and animals are kinda my favorite ever.
Sound is great, the endings and openings are cute as well, relaxing musics, pretty voices.
Just the way I also love.
The problem begins with some parts of the story and some specific characters. And I can't talk about it without showing some minor spoilers. It won't exactly change anything on the plot but maybe how you see it. Then, here is where I start to be a seinen-critic-boring-girl. Sorry, not really sorry, but I just can't help it. I rather be critic around it then fall into blind fandom.
Story is mainly around a cute young girl trying to go to a school in a town near her village. Ok, nothing wrong until here. So, then, we have a first strange impression on the first episode: Yoshio (the city tourist guide, I think) tells a group of nine years old kids [saying they could already hear an uncensored story, wtf?] about the village and how talking bears appeared from a bear that had sex with a... priestess? Erm... Start's to get bizarre. But yeah... After this, the plot falls often into lolicon. Old men in the village talking about the beauty and the body of a fourteen year old girl, in a sexual and disgusting way. In a particular scene, the protagonist's cousin (Yoshio again) falls purposely upon her half-naked body, holding her wrists tightly, forcing her to respond in a totally embarrassing scene why a bear could see her like that and he, a grown man, couldn't. I was deeply disgusted by that. What's funny about it, really? Made me sick... It's called sexual harassment, guys... Doesn't matter if he is from the family, that just make things worse. Again, Machi is a 14 year-old girl, but looks confusingly younger, and again, that makes everything look worse. Also, Natsu, the bear, always have these long flashbacks with a quite gross and pedophilia-like scene. Yeah, I know, he is an animal and it's supposed to be cute and pure, but it isn't.
To end with it: I didn't had to make a huge effort to keep watching, it was funny and cute a lot of times, although I find the show decently enjoyable at best. But I couldn't close my eyes totally to the problems I said before. Knowing how some japanese people handle pedophilia and lolicon, I felt sincerely uncomfortable.
I love slice of life, it's my favorite genre of all times. If Kuma Miko didn't had this problems, it would be one of my favorites for sure... Such a pity...
So, if you can't tolerate pedo jokes, child sexualization and this kind of stuff, be aware or be away.
It ended worse than I thought It would. Irritating and frustrating. Yoshio is definetely the worse character ever, just a stupid moron that places a huge burden on a little girl even though she does not want to, even if she panics and create traumas. Natsu is a selfish friend that manipulates her mind until she give up the dream of being able to study in a bigger school. The poor girl had no will respected and were always discouraged until she let go of her dreams only to fulfill others people wishes. Disgusting. This show pisses me off A LOT. I take back the "could be my favorite" part. This anime has too many flaws on the plot to be considered good or even fair.
Terrible ending and scumbag characters ruin an otherwise average slice of life series.
Story: It's about a cute village miko who wants to experience city life. Unfortunately, she has crippling social anxiety which prevents her from interacting with strangers. Fair enough. That's an alright premise to go with. 6/10
Art & Sound: The art was good. The visuals were colourful and the choice of shamanistic BGM was unorthodox but fitting with the show. The studio did some good work in terms of audio and visuals. You can appreciate their high production values and the work they placed in the show. 7/10
Character: Machi's social anxiety gets increasingly worse
as the show progresses. Social anxiety does that to you, and she needs help and loving support to overcome it. My bone to pick is with the supporting cast who aggravate it further with their insensitivity and selfishness.
Her cousin is a static scumbag to the end and accelerates her regression by continuously forcing her to become the village idol despite her protests. The bear (Her sole remaining pillar of support) eventually also regresses from a parental figure who gives her tough love to become increasingly clingy, emotionally manipulative and wanting to maintain Machi's social anxiety and the status quo (I get that this regression is anime exclusive but it still leaves a bad taste in the mouth). 1/10
Overall: This show's dark humour is mostly derived from Machi's ignorance of technology, social anxiety and the many ways her panic attacks sabotage otherwise normal everyday situations. It's a mix of funny and cringe until a certain threshold. Some reach their threshold after a few episodes. Others reach it at the last episode (I reached it at the last episode).
I'm giving it a 3/10 just out of sympathy for the studio people who tried their best to make it work. Otherwise, it's a plain 1/10 based on the characters alone.
Sigh... I hate to be doing this, but I gave this anime one of my lowest scores ever. In all honesty, I didn't hate this anime entirely, it was very cute and sometimes amusing, but unfortunately disappointment and general fucked-upness ruined this anime. Warning further ahead is spoilers, but I suggest you read on because it'll spare you the pain.
In the final episode, After Machi has run away from the Idol contest, she eventually picks up the courage to compete in this competition, Quite a brave act from someone with country-bumpkin complex (where she believes everyone thinks she's nothing but a dumb country bumpkin, when
in actuality she really isn't). After she finished her dance, she is greeted by a crowd of cheers, but she believes them to be throwing rocks at her, etc. When she goes home, Natsu and Yoshio are sitting watching the TV. Machi says she no longer wants to go to the city, which makes Natsu so happy because he selfishly wants her to stay with him. So, instead of her friends clearing up the whole misunderstanding, they just let her believe it happened. This essentially ruined the entire message I think this anime was trying to send. Her complete fuck-up at the contest earlier was all because Natsu prayed that Machi would never leave the village again. An entirely selfish decision, that he didn't even bother rectifying.
Some of the other things this anime does are pretty messed up. Machi attempts to go to a store in Sendai, which takes all her courage. When she goes to the store she was sent to, she believes it is a witches store, and the person with her doesn't attempt to ease her into it but instead keeps pushing her. She goes full fear more, breaks down and runs away. This anime exploits this a lot, often for the sake of a cheap laugh.
There is a scene where Machi is trying to hand out samples of her villages food in a supermarket and is trying her darn hardest to speak up. Sometimes she does. An old woman comes up to her and tells her not to give up, and so do some other senior citizens.
Mostly, In the end, this anime was ruined by the writer being horrible. The message of conquering your fears? Oh screw that, let's be a horrible person. Thank you, Kuma Miko, for giving laughs, but also screw you for being horrible. The message of this anime at the end was, "Live under the total crushing weight of your fears, never attempt to conquer anything!"
There’s so much slice of life content can offer for the anime medium. A simple bucket list would include slice of life about cute girls doing cute things, magical girls, countryside, or slice of life with daily cooking. The list goes on and on. But wait, what about slice of life with a girl and a bear?
That’s what makes Kuma Miko rather unique and it stands out as a series that connects the character, a young girl named Machi with Natsu, a talking bear. It’s literally what the title sounds like Kumamiko: Girl Meets Bear.
Now I have to admit, the premise of the show
sets off initially sets off a red flag. It’s unrealistic because by logic, any human that chooses to live with a real bear is basically food sitting on the table for such an animal. However in this world, they are more like best friends. To start off, Machi is a shrine maiden at the Shinto shrine. Even for someone as young as her, Machi has a serious responsibility. Natsu is her guardian and serves as both a friend and mentor. As most would expect, Machi is also a curious girl at someone her age so naturally, she would want to explore the world. The city of the Toukou region serves as the fitting setting as she realizes the potentials of what awaits her.
The series has a strange vibe. On paper, it’s pretty lighthearted because of the lovable interactions between Machi and Natsu. They have a natural chemistry and strong bond as we see how close they are throughout the series. On the other hand, the show also has some content with hidden mature content. Whether it’d be the awkward jokes or adult humor-like interactions, the show itself plays around with its themes quite often. However, the series is still quite charming with our main characters. Machi is a character that I think most will find to be easily likeable. She’s a kind girl although can be hotheaded with signs of immaturity and having to rely on others (mainly Natsu). And speaking of which, Natsu is the most interesting character as we see how an animal interacts with others in a human society. Oddly enough, the show neglects almost any effect that Natsu is a dangerous creature. With the exception of some minor characters, everyone seems to accept Natsu into society rather than locking him up in some cage. Occasionally, Natsu displays a side of his more fierce nature but most of it is played out in a rather lighthearted way.
Even though Machi and Natsu are the main stars, there are also other characters that I think are noticeable worth mentioning. One such name is Hibiki Sakata, a girl with a tough personality and coolness. In essence, it’s easy to see her as the mature type of character although she can also be hotheaded. The relationship she shares with Natsu is quite different compared to Machi as they seem to be friendly and hostile at times. For her and Machi, their relationship starts off rocky but improves more as time goes on. Speaking of relationships, Machi’s connection with her family is also noticeable at times because how simple and realistic it is. The love she shares with her friends and family really can be an attractive appeal for this slice of life story.
You may guess it by now but the story of this series is mostly nonexistent except for the daily SOL content. Don’t expect any sort of heavy plot emphasis because the show relies far more on selling its comedy. For most parts, the humor works but sometimes stumbles with awkward timings. A drawback of the humor may also be the length as it sometimes crafts far too much of it during certain segments. To make this easier, the series could work out better if it’s half-length. It sometimes just feels the episodes drags more than it should be. I can’t speak for everyone on this but at times, the series feels like it’s running too long for its own good.
Kinema Circus helms the production of the show and on most parts, it captures the artwork well. It looks simple with colorful outlines of the main characters. Machi is designed with the feel of innocence, a contrast to Natsu’s animalistic features. Additionally, the setting gives off a natural feel with its mountainous regions, shrines, and atmospheric backgrounds. Other characters such as Hibiki is designed to match their personalities with good consistency.
Soundtrack is one of the lesser noticeable parts of the show. While it isn’t bad, there’s not too much to go with it besides the creative OP and ED theme song. I do want to point out that Natsu’s VA did a terrific job at portraying the character. It’s not always easy to take on the role of a non-human personality but Natsu is genuinely fun to watch thanks to the voice of his role that makes him a life-like wonder of the world.
What’s to really say about Kuma Miko in the end? It’s pretty much a relaxing slice of life story about a girl and a bear. Every episode embarks on their daily life adventures as they discover new wonders in the world. While the comedy doesn’t always work right, I think the show is on the right track for the majority of the time. It reminds us that how simple ideas can really bring some good popcorn entertainment. For all the series’ attempt at using its gimmicks, it’s fun to watch any day of the week.