Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear, Vol. 16

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 Lorin Christie.

Every few volumes, the series needs to have Yuna go somewhere she’s never been before, partly because otherwise the series would get even more boring than it already tends to be (sorry, Yuna, I really don’t care about you making omelettes from giant eggs), but also so that the audience can remember that a girl walking around in a bear onesie is not normal and does, in fact, make people think Yuna is either a child or deeply weird. They’re not wrong on the second part, but the bear suit is, of course, absolutely essential for Yuna – and she can’t actually explain why. Some folks have seen obliquely that when Yuna is not in the suit (such as the beach scenes two books ago) she’s super weak, but I don’t think they’ve connected it to “the bear stuff gives her all her power”. Honestly, if this series ever ends, that may be the final boss. Someone who steals her bear suit/gear and forces her to rely on others.

After a few introductory chapters like “let’s make pressed flowers” or “let’s make ice cream”, Yuna decides to do something she’d been meaning to do for a while: go visit the dwarves’ village. She takes Fina, because shed get lonely otherwise, and ends up picking up Luimin from the elves’ village as well. (Elves and dwarves get along fine here, confusing Yuna, who is used to fantasy cliches.) While there, they also meet Jade’s party, who are there because Toya is finally going to get his mithril sword… or at least, he would be if the blacksmith didn’t reject him for not being good enough. As for Yuna, she’s busy buying pots and pans for everyone she knows, as well as talking with the mentor of the dwarf blacksmiths she knows, who is currently refusing to make swords.

It is interesting sometimes to imagine the audience for this series. It’s filled with cute girls, so you’d think that “guys who like to see cute girls” would be the #1. That said, the book really does like to hammer home how useless the guys in it are. Yuna sometimes forgets that Fina also has a stepdad in addition to her mom. Toya is basically a punching bag for everyone else in the cast until right at the end of the volume, and his story is still going to have to wait for the next book to get resolved. Is the book for yuri fans? The author is definitely writing in more yuri tease, with both Shia and Fina indicating they’d be very happy being Yuna’s bride. Unfortunately, like a lot of yuri tease series, Yuna is always there to say things like “but I don’t like girls that way” or “that’s not happening”. Is the book fans fans of grumpy 15-year-old girls in a bear suit who constantly worry about her flat chest? That seems most likely.

This book ends in the middle of the dwarf plot, so I’d expect the next book to resolve it. Till then, this sure was a volume of Kuma Bear.

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