Just by reading the title and looking at the poster you’ll probably be able to guess if you’ll like “ Girl meets Bear “ or not. Some cute characters, jokes and the occasional emotional episode with nothing of real substance and if those were your thoughts and you decided to skip it then you aren’t too far off and you can probably give it a safe pass, if however you have some interest in the show but don’t know if you should pick it up out of all the other shows airing right now then I’ll explain why Kuma Miko has its moments and is a safe bet.
The basic premise is that far up in the Japanese mountains is a remote village called Kumaide Machi, a middle school student serves as a shrine maiden at a Shinto shrine and takes care of a bear who is the descendant of a bear deity. The bear, Matsu, has the ability to talk and is Machi's guardian. From there on they get into various adventures and mischief as Machi tries to get Natsu to approve her move to the big city.
First off the animation is phenomenal, the backgrounds are all beautifully drawn watercolours which is something I haven’t seen in a while but is undoubtedly a welcome return. The style lends to the shows overall relaxed tone and pace while creating gorgeous scenery shots. The characters are all energetic and brim with personality. The direction is solid with a few interesting experimental shots.
The two main characters, Natsu the brown bear and Machi the girl and shrine keeper are great. They’re an adorable pair and the comedy springs off of them , the side characters aren’t bad either and there’s a slight quirk to everyone in the small village ; such as the kid with the constantly running nose something that blends in the background but separates him quietly from the others. The hand drawn line art-style gives them each a distinct look and adds personality to the show.
The soundtrack is a mix of traditional Japanese music and more up-beat modern ones which reflect the show’s theme perfectly. All the voice actors do a great job, Natsu is played by Hiroki Yasumoto who’s best known for playing Germany in the comedy shorts series “ Hetalia “. In a rare instance I found the ED better than the OP with its charming duet and paper craft graphics.
As it often is with these types of shows there’s no one long running plot rather the episode is split into two or three short stories focusing on different characters. I don’t expect there’ll be any serious development but that’s not what the show is focusing on so it’s forgivable.
The comedy is all over the place to be honest and has trouble holding down on one joke before jumping straight to punch-line of another. There’s also a problem with the tone switching seemingly out of nowhere every few seconds which leads to a few funny moments but gets a bit tiresome. Despite that the characters are enjoyable enough to keep you laughing and there are few decent one-liners here and there along with some visual gags that work great with the smooth animation. What I did have an issue with was the show trying to be overly emotional despite us only having met the characters and then playing it off as a joke.
I honestly had a lot of trouble pinpointing my thoughts on this one as it’s seemingly a bit of a mess of everything thrown at you at once though with often hilarious consequences. The characters are original enough and the art style is unique that the very first episode won me over so if you have a spare 20 minutes Kuma Miko wouldn’t be a bad choice. While these types of comedy shows manage to usually amass a few good extra seasons it doesn’t take long for the jokes to start spreading thin but in this case I don’t think a second season of the adorable Kuma Miko could hurt.