First skipped “Kuma Miko” when going over the spring season line up, but knew I just had to watch this anime after coming across its promotional video which promised it would be a hilarious slice-of-life comedy set in rural Japan, not unlike “Non Non Biyori” or “Barakamon”.
Adapting the “くまみこ Girl meets Bear” manga by Yoshimoto Masume into anime form, the core story of young schoolgirl Machi working as a shrine maiden in an isolated temple up in the mountains with her guardian Natsu, a talking bear, might raise a few eyebrows at first. Was pleasantly surprised how well the show tackles Natsu’s character, creating an eclectic mix of making a talking bear seem like the most natural thing in the world , alongside with a few well placed -yet obvious- jokes about how absurd it really is.
Driving the story and making the most out of the interesting dynamic of Machi and Natsu’s heartwarming relationship, is Machi’s desire to escape from her sheltered village life and attend high school in the city, an idea Natsu is not in favor of. Plenty of silly shenanigans ensue as Machi throws tantrums or desperately tries to overcome silly trials to prove she can handle her own.
The interaction between Machi and Natsu reminded me of the dynamic between Umaru and her older brother Taihei in “Himouto! Umaru-chan”. Although Machi is no clone of Umaru, they do share behavioral and character traits that trigger similar hilarious situations.
What I did not appreciate as much in “Kuma Miko” are the few unexpected ecchi jokes, especially in the latter half of the opening episode when they discuss the legend about the origin of Kumade village. The rendition of those scenes clashes with the overall cutesy slice-of-life atmosphere of this anime, as if the studio simply cut and pasted an ecchi scene from a typical perverted anime into this show.
Am unsure if the manga is able to successfully insert such ecchi comedy chapters in what seems like a leisurely rural-setting slice-of-life comedy where ecchi genre traits are unwarranted. Alas, in the anime it comes across as a skit that is taken too far and grates with the overall aesthetic of “Kuma Miko”.
Still, “Kuma Miko” has been a lovely slice-of-life comedy centered on a pair of endearing main characters who share a heartwarming bond. I hence highly recommend this show to all fans of slice-of-life anime.