Jun 19, 2016
Stark700 (All reviews)
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.