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Monday Manga Review: Kuma Miko Volume 1: Girl Meets Bear

kuma-mikoMachi is 14 years old and has spent her whole life in the Touhoku Mountains as a miko. Raised alongside a talking bear, Natsu, she knows nothing of modern life. But, she’s enthralled with its mysteries and determined to figure them out. Natsu attempts to prepare her for the trials and tribulations she will face entering the fast-paced city in this comical coming of age story of a backwoods girl in Japan.

Kuma Miko: Girl Meets Bear is a cute manga starring a young girl and a bear in a magical world. Written and art by Masume Yoshimoto, the manga series is adorable and pretty weird.

Much of this first volume is a slice of life in a way focused on Natsu who wants to escape her role and small time life for the fast-paced city. At its core, the story is a parent dealing with their rebellious teenager, but in this case the parent is a talking bear.

Filled with lore, rituals, and a spiritual world, this first volume is very Japanese and I have a feeling the more familiar with the culture and world you are, the more you’d appreciate the series and manga.

I mentioned the story is weird and there’s an odd sexual tone throughout the manga, including a story about people with bears, and a lot of sexual harassment. But, that harassment is constantly called out and it is mentioned multiple times that Natsu is underage. It’s a bit weird to read and I can only think things might flow a bit better in the original Japanese. The English translation at times is a bit stilted and some things are quite clear.

The art is lovely in a kids story sort of way. The art perfectly matches the tone of the manga’s story though nothing really stands out. Still, there’s lots of detail and the characters are very distinctive.

The first volume isn’t pulse-pounding action and that slower pace stands out. It’s not something I find regularly in the world of manga. There’s a focus on tradition here in many ways. For those interested in Japanese culture, this is a manga that might be right up your ally.

Story: Masume Yoshimoto Art: Masume Yoshimoto
Story: 6 Art: 7.70 Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Read

One Peace Books provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review