Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear, Vol. 17

By Kumanano and 029. Released in Japan by PASH! Books. Released in North America by Airship. Translated by Jan Cash & Vincent Castaneda. Adapted by Lorin Christie.

We all have things we’d like to read in our favorite series. Usually they’re things that aren’t going to happen until near the end, such as a romantic couple getting together. It could also be the climax of a series of subplots that is building far too slowly and meticulously. And I have these desires about Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear, only I suspect that I’m never going to get what I want. I want to meet Yuna’s parents. I want to flash back to her life in Japan before this one. I know that her parents are going to be absolutely the worst – they are, after all, the ones who, after Yuna offered them a ton of money to get out of her life, took the money and got out of her life. But they’ve still clearly affected Yuna deeply, and I think a lot of her current attitude towards almost everyone in Crimonia and other areas is due to this. It can’t all be “LOL, she’s a NEET”, after all. Parental neglect is important too.

Still in the dwarf village, Yuna decides to go watch the trials and (naturally) ends up taking the trial herself, as she accidentally arrived about 8-9 hours too early. Unfortunately for the dwarves, the trials basically are designed to match the level of the person taking them, which means Yuna’s is insanely difficult – and also mentally wearing, as she’s forced into combat situations that are poor matches for her, then forced to face herself (see the cover art), and finally forced to rescue Fina from a deathtrap, something which causes her to flip out a bit. After doing this and getting the pots and pans she came there for, she returns to Crimonia – with Lilyka, who’s basically being told to stop being tsundere and go get her man, something she finds easier said than done. The rest of the book is basically “Yuna does cute things”, at least till the end, when she’s on the floating island and sees a remote ship. Are we finally getting to fantasy Japan?

As always, the most interesting scenes in the book are the ones where Yuna is thrown off her game. Facing a version of herself is less interesting, though I was amused at her realization that it’s annoying to fight someone who does this. More interesting was the last battle. I suspected that it wasn’t the real Fina (somethng which is later confirmed), but Yuna doesn’t know that, and seeing her caught in the old “water slowly filling a tank” trap causes her to completely panic – which is, of course, the point of the trials, which remind the person taking them that remaining cool in battle is what you need to do, even if your loved ones are in danger. Yuna here basically admits she sees Fina as her younger sister, which is fine by me, as Fina’s still ten. I do wish Yuna would stop insisting she’s not gay every volume, but that’s a separate issue, and it’s not unique to this author.

If you enjoy picking through “cute bears doing overpowered things” series to find the nugget or two of depth, this sure is that.

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