Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear, Vol. 11

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.

Another light and fluffy volume, though we are given a hint of the next major villain as Ellelaura has a noble who hates her… and hates Yuna, albeit for different but related reasons. He’s clearly going to be an antagonist at some point, but is merely shown off here in order to provide SOME drama in a book that otherwise meanders even more than a volume of Kuma Bear normally does. As for Yuna, she’s still doing her best to be blase about everything, but it’s getting harder, especially when it gets shoved in her face by multiple people that all the things she’s done, such as the tunnel, or the various new dishes, or taking out an entire noble family, cause lots of problems for the King and other nobles afterward… problems that Yuna herself has remained blissfully unaware of. That said, despite her feeling a bit of guilt over this, I don’t expect ‘The Bear Becomes a Civil Servant” to be a subplot here. Yuna is who she is.

The main plot of this volume is that the Academy is having a school festival, and Shia would like Yuna to come. This ends up roping in Noa, Fina, and Shuri as well, with Yuna acting as their bodyguard. Which, of course, means she has to walk around in the bear suit, which embarrasses her more than usual this time around, as the festival feels very much like the ones she… did not go to back in Japan. Honestly, most of the second half of the book is Yuna getting it ground into her face how much she is NOT a normal teenage girl. Yuna helps Shia’s group by suggesting they make cotton candy, an unknown quantity in this land. She also meets Flora’s older sister Princess Teilia, who has been someone upset at the rest of the Royal Family for hearing all about this amazing bear girl but never meeting her.

If that doesn’t sound like a plot, that’s because it isn’t. I’m happy everyone gets to have fun, but the main drawback to this volume is that there just isn’t any conflict at all. Previous volumes had a contract between Yuna’s fluffy antics and some surprisingly dark storylines, but that does make this one seem a bit shallow. I also urge Fina’s parents and Yuna to do something about that girl’s self-esteem, as there’s “I am modest” and then there’s this. Even as Fina shows off how she’s the best monster butcher in the land (and yes, how to butcher a monster is a booth at the festival), she still acts as if she’s going to be thrown in the dungeon the moment she makes a wrong move. She needs some confidence.

We’ve only finished the first day of the festival, so I assume it will continue into the 12th volume. But before, that… yes, it’s 11.5, featuring short stories posted to the web, original short stories, designs form the artist, and more. So I guess we’ll leave Yuna is festival mode for a few more months.

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