Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear, Vol. 4

By Kumanano and 029. Released in Japan by PASH! Books. Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Jan Cash & Vincent Castaneda. Adapted by M.B. Hare.

This series remains very off balance, though I do enjoy it a great deal. It sells itself as a slow-life adventure with an OP girl doing cute things with other girls, and that’s what it is about half the time. But once every volume the author wants to remind us that this world (and, it’s implied, Yuna’s past) can be dark and horrible, and it’s always tonally dissonant. Here we see Yuna stopping a gang of bandits. First of all, the bandits are really adventurers paid by the villain to be bandits. Secondly, they go above and beyond their pay, as they apparently kill everyone leaving the city who isn’t a young pretty woman, and then keep the young pretty women in their cave as slaves and (it’s implied) rape them. There’s a horrific scene where, on finding the villain has among the things he’s stolen a ring she recognizes, one of the victims attacks the villain and demands her husband back. It’s… it feels like we jumped genres.

There’s two main plotlines here. First, Yuna returns to Crimonia with Fina and buys a mansion, then converts it into a bakery. This is the more typical Yuna plotline, with lots of OP ridiculousness, lots of cute girls, and tons of bear accessories, bear names, and beat statues. (But still no bear puns. The series is doing a good job at avoiding that.) In the second half of the story, Yuna goes to the ocean in search of seafood, but finds a city under attack on both sides: there’s a kraken in the ocean making it impossible to fish or get supplies, and there’s the aforementioned bandit gang. Yuna cleans up both, though the kraken seems to give her the first hard time she’s had to date, almost exhausting her mana trying to boil it up in the equivalent of a cliffside hot pot. Throughout it all, Yuna is as matter of fact and blunt as ever… except when she realizes the ocean city has rice. And miso. And soy sauce. Then she gets really emotional.

Yuna’s mindset is the best reason to read this book. the anime softened her a great deal. It adapted both of these plotlines, but also had a final episode not in this book where Fina is lonely and Yuna has to learn how to read emotions. That’s not really here, and it’s not just a matter of Yuna being callous, but an actual deliberate character flaw. Last review I said Yuna was trying to avoid getting too well-known or famous, but after this book I suspect Yuna will try to deflect and praise or thanks thrown her way, and is desperate to not have people get too close to her. She also tends to think about this world in terms of a game – of course, it’s a world she was brought into THROUGH a game – and situations like the bandits and their captives make her remind herself this is a real world with real people. It’s something that needs a bit more reinforcement, I think.

So yes, there’s a bit more here than cute girls doing cute things. There were also some great lines in this – Yunqa’s deadpan delivery helps sell them well. Next book Yuna starts a trade route, and I may see that Yuna and Fina scene that wasn’t here.

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