An adorable titular duo

14-year-old Machi is the miko of a remote woodland shrine near the village of Kumade. Instead of a god, however, the shrine has a talkative, fatherly, slightly overprotective brown bear named Natsu. When Machi informs Natsu she wishes to go to school in the city, he is both proud of her maturity and sad about losing her. He tries to dissuade her by quizzing her on “city life,” which ends up revealing how horribly unprepared she is to live outside her village.

Meanwhile, Machi’s cousin Yoshio, an excitable village official, tries to tell Kumade’s history to some local children. Long ago, the people of Kumade used to sacrifice young women to a bear who was revered as a god. However, the bear fell in love with one of the maidens, and he became an ally of the village. Yoshio claims that the couple had children – bears that could speak the human language, called Kumai. The children refuse to believe him until they encounter Natsu (and Machi, who is furious with Yoshio for telling the kids the “dirty version” of the village history). Yoshio impresses upon the children that the Kumai are a secret, and their existence can never be revealed to the outside world. However, the children’s introduction into the mysteries of the village takes a turn for the awkward as they start imagining Machi being…intimate with Natsu, as a result of Yoshio’s story.

Natsu you are a bear not a cat stop that

Well, that’s not at all what I expected.

Rather, the first ten minutes where pretty much exactly what I expected, and then it veered off into…something completely different. It honestly felt like the two halves were two completely different shows that happen to have the same set of characters. That’s not to say that the second half was bad, necessarily, just….different.

The first half of the episode was pretty much exactly what you would expect a show called “Girl Meets Bear” to be: cute hijinks starring Machi and Natsu. I absolutely fell in love with Natsu’s character even from this first skit – a large, imposing (but still cutely drawn) bear acting as an overprotective father figure may not be the most intellectual humor, but I found it hilarious. Natsu somehow knowing more about city life despite being a bear was also pretty great. This first bit honestly reminded me of Guggure! Kokkuri-san, though Machi is a lot more open and emotive than Kohina.

And then…the second half. We go from cutesy arguments about village vs. city life to ancient sacrifice cults, inter-species marriages, and an entire race of intelligent bears being kept secret from the rest of the world. We also get Yoshio, who may very well be in the running for my favorite character (not named Miles Edgeworth) of the season. What can I say, I have a thing for overworked, clumsy public officials who occasionally display a sinister side. We also also get some rather obnoxious nine year old children interrogating Machi about her sex life.

Just look at that adorable face

This is not to say that the second part of the episode was bad. It still held my interest, and it still definitely made me laugh. It was just….surprising, as this show had entirely been marketed as “cute girl and bear shenanigans”. I’m trying to remember if Yoshio even showed up in much at all of the promotional material. While Yoshio’s overly-descriptive dirty storytelling was a bit weird to me personally, the only part I would describe as in poor taste was the children demanding to know if Machi and Natsu were intimate. Machi is I believe FOURTEEN, guys. While it wasn’t accompanied by any fanservice shots, which is refreshing, it was still….weird, and not as funny as it thought it was.

As surprising as the two different halves were, it ultimately worked well. It kept me interested, where an entire episode of just Machi-Natsu interactions might have seen a bit slow. The show is cute, (mostly) genuinely funny, and if Machi is a bit generic, Natsu and Yoshio more than make up for it. I’m eager to continue watching this show, if only because I’m completely unsure where it will go from here – will Machi actually go off to school, or will it just be a series of skits about life in Kumade Village? Will there be more Yoshio? (Oh, I hope so). I don’t know yet if I’ll blog this, as I still have a lot of FIs to do, but I’ll be watching for sure!

Out of 5 Dios:

diodiodio

No Yoshio stop that go back to being cute

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