Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear, Vol. 8

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.

One of the odd things about this series is how it references its premise several times while also being completely uninterested in doing anything with it. Yuna was, as we saw in the first volume, a very disaffected Japanese teenager, someone who literally paid her parents to go away. This is crucial for seeing how she deals with people in this fantasy world as well, and also in figuring out how much of her narration is simply pretending that she can’t see the obvious problem. And yet, after Yuna’s original transport into the game, we’ve never really dwelt on who put her there and why it happened at all – it reads as “I needed an excuse for an isekai”. It feels awkward to have it both ways, but I suspect that’s what we’re going to have to deal with, because the series in Japan is up to the 18th volume and I don’t think has devoted one iota of its time to “why did Yuna end up here?”.

The bulk of this book has Yuna, Fina, Cliff and Noa going to attend the birthday party of Misa, the noble they’d met in an earlier book. Unfortunately, Misa’s family is currently on the bad side of a power grab by the other noble family in the town, and her party – as well as a party for adults held by her grandfather – is desperately required for them to survive. Also unfortunately, the other noble family knows how these sort of fantasy isekais work – Yuna even says they’re like she imagined nobles to be like. Their grandson is sneering and bullying, they employ thugs to break the arms of head chefs, etc. Fortunately, Misa and company have Yuna, who solves things by just popping over to the palace and asking the King if she can borrow the palace chef. That said, Yuna also faces the biggest crisis she’s had to deal with so far… attending a party in a dress, instead of her bear onesie.

As always, the main reason to read this series is to watch everyone’s reactions to Yuna, and her reaction to everyone. They’re in a new town this volume, so there’s even more “it’s a bear!” than usual. Yuna knows this is a normal reaction to someone like her, but still gets irritated by it. She is a very nice, overpowered person to have in your corner… provided that you do whatever she says, something that I suspect I am thinking about more than the author would like me to. Unfortunately, she does not seem to have learned anything from Fina’s blowing up at her last time. That said, part of the problem may be that she had less to do than usual here – this is a second volume in a row with little conflict, aside from the political power struggles. In fact, we’re due for something to happen soon. Yuna works best when she’s hitting things, I think.

Fans of the series should definitely enjoy this one, though it’s pretty clear that there’s no overarching plot beyond “whatever the author wants to do next”. If you don’t mind that, hang out with the bear some more.

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