The three muskabears (see what I did there?) go on a road trip.
I’ve developed a love-hate relationship with Shirokuma. One on hand, he’s precisely the “pun-loving, nice guy” that he’s been labeled as. On another, he’s too much of a troll for me to consistently root for each episode.
Take episode 8 as an example. A crew from Furafura Walker Monthly — a journalist named Mayumi Ohsaka, a photographer, and an intuitive and non-English speaking shoebill who happens to be the editor-in-chief — visits Polar Bear Cafe. They’re there to interview Shirokuma and feature him and his cafe in their magazine. This leads to Shirokuma divulging how he came to be an owner of the cafe, which I was pretty excited about because I’ve always yearned for Shirokuma’s backstory.
The story he tells is a rather touching one, too. He was born near the Hudson Bay in Canada, and at a young age was tragically separated from his mother and siblings during a snowstorm. After the storm, he accidentally found himself on a piece of ice that ended up breaking apart, which then floated out to sea for days. Incapacitated due to hunger, he was finally rescued by a fisherman, who then allowed his parents, who owned a seal restaurant, to adopt and raise Shirokuma. Shirokuma learned everything he knew from his new parents, and when he eventually became too big to live with them, he moved out and opened up the cafe we know now, which he hoped that one day would be successful enough for his polar bear family to find out about.
It’s a very nice origin story, and after hearing it the audience feels like they’ve gotten to know Shirokuma that much better. But then Sasako reveals that the origin story Shirokuma told her a few days ago differed from the version he tells in episode 8. And just like that, not only did Shirokuma succeed in trolling us once again, we’re back at square one of not really knowing Shirokuma and how he came to own Polar Bear Cafe. Such a frustrating conclusion and a waste of 3-4 minutes.
The second half of the episode was less aggravating and much more fun. Grizzly was back, and he, Shirokuma, and an uninvited Panda take a road trip to the river to fish for salmon. There, Grizzly shows off his natural fishing skills, which he honed during fishing adventures with Shirokuma back in their younger days. He then, with the help from Shirokuma, tries to make Panda fulfill his bear duties by trying to teach him how to fish. This of course leads to expected but hilarious results.
Whenever the hot-tempered and foul-mouthed Grizzly is around, the atmosphere of an episode always picks up. His amped up interactions with both Shirokuma and Panda were the highlights of the entire episode. While Grizzly’s attempt at trying to squeeze the wuss out Panda fails, he eventually comes to respect him, and a bond starts to grow between the two.
Grizzly ends up saving an episode that was torpedoed early on by Shirokuma’s trolling antics. You could say that the episode survived Shirokuma’s….trollpedo. No? In any case, Grizzly has quickly become one of my favorite characters. His hyper aggressive machismo really balances out the laid back and passive personalities of the main cast.
Honorable mention goes to Mr. Shoebill. Can’t really put my finger on it, but the fact that a mute shoebill is an editor-in-chief of a magazine amuses me. It just does.
GO Rating: 3/5
Do me a favor and please keep this ship at bay.