Kuma Miko Girl Meets Bear Review : Countryside Complex

Kumamiko_screenshot_08Kuma Miko is the first anime in 2016 that I have finished watching. Also the anime with second highest expectation in 2016 so far. The TV Anime aired from April 3, 2016 to June 19, 2016. Two special episodes are scheduled to be released on June 24, 2016 and August 24, 2016.

The story takes place in Kumade Village, a village in Japan which location is quite isolated, even more isolated than Asahigaoka in Non Non Biyori. There is no phone signal reception in the village. But internet is still available via different line.

Most people are already old and there are only 4 kids in the village, including Machi, the main character of the anime. There is one bear in the village and the bear can talk named Natsu. Machi is the Kuma Miko. She is a very close friend of Natsu and perhaps can’t be separated. Machi wants to leave the village and get into a high school in the city. However, her lack of knowledge makes a lot of things in big city feels awkward to her.

The story mainly develops between Machi and Natsu’s relationship and Yoshio’s effort to promote the village. It’s mainly until episode 10. On episode 11, I’ve read articles about many viewers complain about the story development and things get even worse on episode 12. Many people complain about the ending and even refers the ending as one of the worst. While I disagree with them, I’d the ending isn’t good either. It ruins the story development and brings discomfort.

The animation is quite attractive. The background seems like a water painting. It’s artistic. The character design is quite good as well. Since there is no other female teenager other than Machi in the village, we won’t see much attractive female characters. But that doesn’t mean bad. Since other villagers are mostly elder people, the design is just right.

Sound & Music
I got mixed feeling about this. The opening theme is “Datte, Gyutteshite. (だって、ギュってして。)” by Hanatani Maki, a member of girls unit Fullfull☆Pocket who was only 14-year-old when she made her solo debut with this song. I really like the opening theme. Yeah… Really! I got addicted to it for sometimes. The ending theme is KUMAMIKO DANCING by Hioka Natsumi and Yasumoto Hiroki. It was okay. Fits nicely for the TV anime but not something that I really like to listen. However, the BGMs are lacking of impression. It’s decent but not enough to boost one’s impression on certain scene.

Two main characters and two secondary characters. The main characters are Machi and Natsu. Machi is a 14-year-old girl who serves as Kuma Miko in Kumade Village. She is shy and awkward because she has no friend around her age in the village. She has no idea how to live outside the village and she also gets scared easily with foreign things. Natsu is the talking bear on the village. He grew up together with Machi and has developed special relation to Machi. Natsu has much more knowledge about things outside of the village despite being a bear. He also know how to operate electric stuffs more than Machi. Despite having a big body and can be look scary, Natsu is actually a gentle bear. Machi is voiced by Hioka Natsumi and Hioka Natsumi’s main character debut starts with Machi. I’d say I’m quite impressed with her voice acting. Not as outstanding as Suzaki Aya’s main character debut in Tamako Market but still something I would consider very good even for a non-newbie seiyuu. Natsu is voiced by Yasumoto Hiroki, a veteran seiyuu and he also did very good. Voicing a bear is not an easy role after all.

The secondary characters are Yoshio and Hibiki. Yoshio is Machi’s cousin. He is very dense but on the good side, he is very dedicated to the village. He is doing everything he can do in his capacity to promote their (dying) village. Hibiki is Yoshio’s friend who has a crush to Yoshio but embarassed to admit it. Hibiki is Yankee. She is often seen smoking and riding motorcycle. She works in a Pachinko. Yoshio is voiced by Okitsu Kazuyuki while Hibiki is voiced by Kitamura Eri. Both of them are experienced seiyuu and they voiced the two characters here is not disappointing at all.

Kumamiko Main Characters (left) and Their Voice Actors/Actresses (Right)
Voice Actors/Actresses photo taken from Hioka Natsumi’s twitter account.

Final Thoughts
The creator of Kuma Miko, Yoshimoto Masume apologized for the largely negative review of the ending of Kuma Miko. This message below is taken from his tumblr account and you can also read the news from Anime News Network.

また、最終回の脚本に関してですが、 私も構成会議には参加しており、「最終回どうし­ましょうね」という相談に「センダイに行けばいいんじゃないですか?センダイでアクシデ­ント起こしたまちを助けるためにナツも車の上を飛び飛び走ったりして、合流してひと盛り­上がりして、終わる」というようなこと提案しましたので、もし該当する部分に違和感を感­じる方がいましたら私の責任です。申し訳ございません。


Is Kuma Miko really a bad anime? I am clearly not satisfied with the ending but the “damage” is not beyond repair. I have watched the first special episode. It has nothing to repair the impression of Kuma Miko. I hope the second episode can improve it because this anime still has a hope to be a better anime.

Putting the story aside, I like the animation and opening theme song. The ending theme song is decent, fits the image of Kuma Miko anime but it’s not everyday music. The BGMs still have a lot of room for improvement. With this anime having quite a lot of hype on its airing period, I’d say I feel not satisfied about it ends. However, I still won’t called this anime a disappointment.

Story 7
Animation 8
Sounds & Musics 7
Characters 7
Voice Acting 8
Overall 7
Rated as Good

(+) Very good looking animation with artistic background

(-) The ending is not satisfying



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