COUNTRY LIFE IS UNBEARABLE
What They Say
Machi has spent her life in a small mountain village with no reception, no asphalt, and, well, a whole lot of nothing! Oh, and she also happens to be a priestess that lives with a talking bear—typical country life! Now, at fourteen, she’s ready to try school in the big city. But Natsu, her bear companion, doesn’t believe she’s prepared to go from country hick to city girl. To test her knowledge of life outside the mountains, Natsu sets up trials and quizzes for Machi to complete. If she’s successful, she’ll be ready to move on. That’s easier said than done. After all, what items are used at the train station? And what are those moving stairs at the mall? What is this crazy world of the city?
Truly, the world outside the mountains is a mysterious place. It may be too much for Machi, but her determination could be enough to bear the grizzly trials Natsu has planned!
The audio is Dolby TrueHD: Japanese 2.0. Sadly, this series doesn’t come with an English version, despite the anime being owned by FUNI. That said, the audio is still very high quality. All the sounds and voices were crisp and clear, though I did sometimes feel like certain voices were too clear or too loud. The sound effects, fortunately, did not overpower the voices, which is sometimes a problem in anime.
The 1080p High Definition 16:9 video quality is quite outstanding. Images were all clear except during specific scenes where the art gets a little blurred, but that’s an artistic style choice rather than a fault of the video quality. This anime featured consistently high quality throughout and never suffered from lag, blurred colors, or pixelation.
A standard bluray covered without a sleeve, Kuma Miko the Complete Series features lovely artwork of the main cast (Machi and Natsu) and two of the main supporting characters. The background setting is a torii gate—the kind you see at the entrance of shrines—set in the middle of an idyllic mountainside setting. The characters stand out from the background by having a more colorful art style, while the background uses muted earth colors and a different color pallet that vaguely reminds me of pastels. The description in the back is located on the right side with the catchphrase. Machi and Natsu are located on the left side drinking tea. There are screenshots below the description and image, along with technical information regarding the anime.
The menu features Natsu and Machi, the two titular protagonists. About one-third of the screen is taken up by the background. Meanwhile, the menu option is very basic, offering only the play all and episode selection options. Disc 2 contains the extras option.
The extras in this anime are two OVAs titled Day of the First Snow and Natschan’s Shocking Debut! Aside from the two OVA episodes, the extras menu also has the textless OP and ED, along with several trailers featuring other FUNImation anime.
Content: (Please note that this portion of the review may contain spoilers):
When I was watching the opening sequence for Kuma Miko, my firsts thoughts were, “I know exactly what’s going to happen next.” The scene a young girl traveling alone through the forest, a frightening bear stalking her, and creepy music to make you think the bear was going to eat the little girl. Of course, because this series is a comedy, it was already obvious that wouldn’t happen. Lo and behold, after the bear catches up to the girl, he excitedly calls the girl by her name, thus further telling me that nothing in this series would surprise me.
I ended up being pleasantly surprised.
While I wouldn’t say Kuma Miko is a great anime that breaks boundaries, subverts tropes, or really pushes the envelope with its storytelling, the anime is a solid series about a girl who wants to attend high school in the city and her talking bear companion who doesn’t want her to leave. The humor in the series is definitely this anime’s strongest point, and it serves as a great counterbalance to even out the more serious issues this story contains—the biggest issue being Machi’s low self-esteem and inferiority complex over her country girl origins.
The biggest plot point in this story is that Machi wants to leave the country, but she has a massive inferiority complex. The few times she leaves her small village of Kumade, this inferiority complex kicks in, making her believe that every person around her is making fun of her for being a hick. Her over reactive imagination tends to create incredibly dark scenarios that she believes are really happening even if no one is thinking what she believes they are thinking. A good example of this is close to the beginning when she and Yoshio travel to a mall to buy something at a store that reminds me of Hot Topic before it became mainstream. Yoshio tries to force Machi to enter the store, but she panics when everyone begins looking at them, imagines all the mean things they are saying about her (which no one is actually saying), and runs away.
While the series itself is quite cute, with great artwork, adorable characters, and well-delivered comedy, it does suffer from a number of issues. The greatest one deals with Machi’s inferiority complex. While this aspect of her personality is a recurring theme that heavily influences all of Machi’s decisions, it is also something that, while present, is never addressed. What’s more, everyone around her doesn’t seem to realize or care that she’s suffering from an extreme disorder that actually inhibits her ability to function outside of her little village. Yoshio is the biggest perpetrator of this. He often forces Machi to do things against her will. Not only does Machi undergo what could be at best considered mental stress and at worst mental abuse thanks to his machinations, she ends up suffering so much that she actually decides to never leave her mountain village by the end of the anime. Also, while I did speak of the well-delivered comedy, not all the comedy was great. Every comedic moment dealing with Machi’s inferiority complex felt like it was making fun of people who have such complexes. I’m sure many people will laugh at Machi when she’s trying to sell Nameko mushrooms at a small grocery store and can’t even talk out of fear, but I didn’t find moments like that humorous. Instead I found them sad.
Anime has a bad habit of making light of serious issues and never addressing the issues themselves. However, while this anime does indeed have the same problems and the others, I still thought the series was cute, funny at times, and deserving a watch. Machi is a truly adorable character who I kept wishing would succeed in her goal of getting out of the country and moving to the city. I also thought Natsu was really funny. He’s got more knowledge about human conveniences than Machi does, uses the internet to order stuff online, and is just in general an interesting character. I think most of the characters were fun. The only one I didn’t like was Yoshio because of how dense he was over Machi’s plights and inferiority complex.
Content Grade: C+
Audio Grade: A
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: A
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: December 4th, 2018
Running Time: 300 minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p
Aspect Ratio: 16×9 Anamorphic
55″ Class AQUOS HD Series LED TV LC-55LE643U, LG blueray/DVD player