Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear, Vol. 10

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 is a lighter volume of Kuma Bear, despite the threat of the destruction of an ancient sacred tree. You know Yuna’s got this, though the fight is difficult enough that she has to switch from black bear onesie to white bear onesie, and she ends up fairly exhausted. Speaking of that switch… Kuma Bear is, I think, mostly written for a male audience, but I also think we’re supposed to go “aww” at the antics more than “Cor!”. Yuna has to strip to change her costume, and there’s a shot of her in her underwear. But it’s not particularly sexy, and the narrative is far more concerned with Yuna’s childish bear panties and her reaction to anyone who finds out about them. Yuna has an image that she wants to keep up of her as a cool lone wolf (or rather lone bear) sort, but it’s constantly undone by the reality of her being the big sister to 11 million kids and also having older than she looks issues. Is embarrassment fanservice?

Arriving at the elf village allows the author to bring out a whole mess of fantasy novel elf tropes to make fun of, from their supposed perfect hidden tracking skills (which Yuna spots immediately) to the fact that even “grandfather” looks, at most, about 40 years old. The barrier nis weakening, however, and it turns out the problem is that the elves’ sacred tree has been infested by a parasite, who is slowly killing it and weakening said barrier. So it’s up to the elves to fix things… along with Yuna, who can enter the protective ward that no one but elves can, because, you know, OP bear. There’s also other dangerous monsters to fight, some of which might actually kill off an elf or two… but probably not, as this is not one of the dark Kuma Bear books. The worst we’ll see is Yuna worrying about her secrets.

Yuna has, for the most part, remained quiet on her origins and the basis of her awesome powers, not even telling Fina, the one person she’s closest to. I had wondered briefly if she might open up a bit to the elves here, given that they sign a contract that tortures them with unstoppable laughter if they reveal her secret, but no, it turns out she’s just telling them about her bear gates so she can set one up here, and her bear phone so that the village can communicate with Sanya and Yuna when they want to. It doesn’t feel like she’s revealing much here, but I get it. Yuna hates making ties with other people, but does it anyway, and she also hates it when people praise her because she doesn’t think of any of it as HER. The Bear Suit is the OP heroine. She’s just the girl inside it. Which is an interesting psychological trauma to dig into, but I doubt we’re going there soon.

If you read Kuma Bear, you’ll enjoy this. If you don’t, we;ll, cute but OP bear girl slice-of-life again.

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