Ah anime; sacred provider not only of perversion in heavy dozes and occasional masterpieces, but you're also a medium that excels at creating material so bizarre that it rumbles the very foundation of human comprehension. Is there such a thing as a mandatory reaction to an OVA such a bizarre as this one? More importantly, are there any vacant indicators that could provide the viewer with information regarding which specific age-group Super Kuma-san yearns to attract? The answer, as expected, is a “no” emphasized by two huge letters displayed on a neon sign. There may be numerous examples of shows that play confidently on our concepts of innocence to create exceedingly disturbing tales where adorable creatures lead their mundane lives in realms occupied with excessive violence and flowing blood, but Kuma-san inhabits a peculiar world where the usually highlighted line between child friendly and inappropriate is insanely subjective. The narrative carefully navigates itself away from bloodshed and mature content, but I doubt any parents would allow their children to watch something as fundamentally screwed up; a fact that becomes the primary source of appeal in this eccentric piece of animation.
The storyline is determined to take a closer look at the life of Super Kuma-san: an animate stuffed bear whose daily agenda includes counteracting injustice and providing his adolescent worshipers with happiness and joy. Though initiating its eccentric course with a childish approach, the narrative quickly escalates into the anime equivalent of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas; you have no idea whether your children should be watching it or not. To its undivided benefit it does seem to encourage virtues like kindness and bravery, but the endearing undertones are muddled by the bizarre ramblings of a confused and potentially frightening Kuma-san. As obscure and short as it may be, the mere thought of such a surreal symbiosis of stuffed animals and border-line gruesome depictions of cruelty is seductive in itself; the material won’t appeal to everyone, but I have confidence that you know whether you can handle messed up stuff such as this or not.
Moments of passivity exude a beautiful atmosphere comprised mainly of the endearing Kuma-san parading throughout sceneries complimented with children overwhelmed with excitement and joy. The fairly poor production values aren’t noteworthy until actual movement is introduced to replace the still images with action sequences, but the otherwise charming qualities of the visual section is enough to compensate for temporary flaws. The character designs, for example, may hover dangerously close over the “too simplistic” category, but are nonetheless inviting and beautiful; the mysterious doll with vivid eyes and gorgeous clothing is a grand example.
The genuinely harrowing combination between jolly tunes and the sinister melodies of a music box is more than enough to establish an enchanting symphony of diversity. As if the creators somehow foresaw and decided to exploit my ambivalence towards the target audience of the OVA, the musical score by the end is creepily effective at reminding me how terrifying circuses truly can be, especially when enhanced by the presence of a threatening and bloodthirsty clown.
The voice actors feature some fairly standardized performances, not only in terms of their actual competence but also since the lines they’re supposed to utter are invaded by cheesiness. We have, among several entries, the somewhat favorable and occasionally obnoxious little boy who preaches on about the significance of justice and friendship, all while sounding painfully cliché. The acting from Kuma-san’s side on the other hand is delivered with confidence; constantly confused and with a tone that derives even the tiniest shred of personality from his verbal communication, he stands out both as a mysterious and memorable character.
Having carefully sneaked up on the subject in previous paragraphs like a phantom in the night, there are but a few things left to say within the "characters" section. A common denominator among OVA’s tend to be futile attempts at compelling characterization; there’s hardly even enough time at hand to feature character development in any form when you’re dealing with just one episode or two. This is where Super Kuma-san contradicts its stereotypical peers with exhilarating glee through the introduction, development and polishing of several fine and memorable characters. Although you only get to witness their routines for about twenty minutes, you somehow feel like their struggles to escape feelings of remorse are attempts you’ve followed and experienced for quite some time; as the golden and universal rule of OVA’s clearly states: if you lack the time to make your characters grow, introduce flashbacks and plot devices that mesmerize the viewers into believing they’ve followed the characters loyally throughout many earlier adventures.
Beautiful yet ugly, vivid yet muted; almost every imaginable adjective used to describe Super Kuma-san would be just as appropriate as its complete opposite. Designed with unknown intentions but with an obvious affinity for disturbance, this often overlooked gem among obscurities is unlikely to charm you off your feet, but is almost guaranteed to distort your facial features into an expression of perplexity. Mediocrity has never been this memorable.
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