It’s a bears night out!
Shirokuma Cafe was back to its 2-segment format in episode 11. The first was probably one of the weakest of the season as it centered around Penguin, who was his usual emotionally-driven-by-Penko self. This time he was down in the dumps after having witnessed Penko on a date with another animal — Tortoise, of all animals. This of course leads to a predictable result.
As much as I like lovelorn Penguin, this seemed like a real step back to the Penguin/Penko narrative that’s been pretty consistent throughout the season. After seeing Penguin this close to asking Penko out in episode 9, the next natural step in the story should have been Penguin asking Penko out for real. This half of the episode seemed like an unnecessary detour in that story, one that should have happened before episode 9, and it ended up feeling like a big waste of time.
The meat of the episode was in its second half, where Grizzly once again saves the episode. After Grizzly comes by the cafe to pick Shirokuma up for a bears night out, Panda unsurprisingly tags along. The three then have a nice, fun bonding session at the batting cages, at the public bath, and finally at an evening street vendor.
Gags were at full force in this segment, and they were often at the expense of Grizzly. Despite his temper naturally exploding at most instances, he still took everything in stride. Unlike the Penguin/Penko relationship in the first half, the Grizzly/Panda relationship took a big step forward. Slowly but surely Grizzly has grown to like naive Panda, finding joy in taking him under his wing and teaching him about some of life’s experiences.
The adventures of the Three Bearskateers snatched this episode from the jaws of a sub-par rating. It very well had the making of Grizzly’s last hurrah on Shirokuma Cafe, with the bear completely turning the corner on his relationship with Panda. If so, then I just want to say that I very much enjoyed his character, one that infused some well needed edge and spark into the show. Of all the interesting side animals in the series, he was my favorite by far.
On the other hand, the Penguin/Penko relationship better find a conclusion soon.
GO Rating: 3/5