Before I start, I’d just like to say that this OVA is WEIRD! Now, I don’t mean in an ‘Oh I say old chap, this is jolly odd’ way, I’m talking of a sheep wearing roller blades skating around the top of the Eiffel Tower kind of weird.
Super Kuma-san is set in a plaza where children gather to play, draw pictures and watch a large blue stuffed bear named Kuma-san and his clown friend perform their act. Unfortunately, this also happens to be the crime hotspot of the city, complete with armed bank robberies and gangs of joy riders – seriously, would you still let your kids play there? Luckily, help is at hand as when our fuzzy protagonist gets mad, he transforms into ‘Super Kuma-san’ to fight off the enemy. However, it’s not quite so simple, as soon a rival appears in the form of a revenge-seeking sadistic doll that’s like something out of a more twisted version of Rozen Maiden.
Impressively for such a short OVA, Super Kuma-san has a pretty solid narrative – it’s just bloody barmy. There’s crime, action, rivalry, tragic pasts and a decent resolution at the climax – you couldn’t ask for much more. It would be easy to dismiss the plot as silly nonsense at first glance, but (worryingly) each aspect of the show makes perfect sense within the grand scheme of things. In reality, this anime’s biggest selling point is its inherently wacky nature. Depending on how you take it, the bizarre brand of comedy will either invoke maniacal laughing every few minutes, or fall into a dingy barrel marked ‘what the hell is this crap’. Indeed, seeing Kuma-san toss his ear at a terrified armed robber is oddly hysterical, and his habit of wearing his headscarf as a neckerchief after he transforms is the most ingenious superhero reveal I’ve seen since Clark Kent took off his glasses. This is definitely one of those series, which is so utterly rubbish that it quickly becomes brilliant. I mean come on, a slightly retarded stuffed bear fighting crime, that’s good nonsense if ever I heard it!
Super Kuma-san’s animation is quite clean with a reasonable smoothness of movement. Though not the best specimen by any stretch, it far outranks a lot of the other OVAs out there in terms of visuals.
This anime boasts some admirable character designs that are wholly befitting of the plot’s tone. Kuma-san is suitably cute, but at the same time, somewhat creepy with his blank appearance. Meanwhile Super Doll has a simultaneously beautiful yet harsh visage, and her mix of delicate features with piercing azure eyes and often-emotionless expressions give her an ominous presence.
Pretend for a moment that you’re truly terrified of both clowns and the circus. Then envisage that you’re having the most horrifying nightmare of your life about them dancing around threatening to attack with large knives and chainsaws… Now imagine this represented in musical form and you have the ending theme to Super Kuma-san. The convivial and upbeat melodies receive a menacing edge as the percussion section goes nuts all at once and creepy choral overtones reverberate in the background. Then, just to ensure that no one will sleep easy, Super Doll’s sinister theme makes a return to leave the sound of a lone, eerie music box echoing around your head all night long.
Super Kuma-san’s incidental music helps to re-affirm the series’ nature, often encompassing light carnivalesque themes to re-iterate the circus-like nature of Kuma and his clown friend. To continue the theme of the utterly bizarre, some of the score has an oft-distorted sound to it, at times appearing much like the instruments performing it are winding down or running out of power; likewise, on occasion, it simply sounds like tuneless racket. ‘Super Kuma-san’s’ personal song in particular incorporates a melody hidden under a mish-mash of musical noise, and while not something I would choose to listen to, it ideally fits the temperament of the character.
Kuma-san as a superhero is pretty useless. His attacks consist of lunging at criminals and standing around banging his drum – that is if he isn’t distracted by ice cream – however, as a character he has a surprising amount of personality. Even though he’s a bit dim, the bear has a kind heart and loves kids, so much so that when he catches a glimpse of his own ‘scary face’ he becomes traumatised and sinks into a mild, puddle-flailing depression. Through a single, short flashback the viewer learns a little of his past and gains insight into why he acts as he does, which for a rather batty, half-hour OVA is satisfying to see.
The other characters vary in their amount of personality and development. Kuma-san’s rival, Super Doll, exudes a truly eerie vibe from the outset and, much like the title character, we learn of her motivation for both her actions and bloodlust through flashback, which even encourages a slight sense of empathy. Meanwhile, the clown character is woefully unexplored; we learn next to nothing of his life, and he serves little purpose other than as a companion to Kuma-san.
There’s a lot of bizarre anime out there; Cat Soup is messed up, Nekojiru Gekijou is a comically violent mindfuck, but Super Kuma-san is just plain weird. It certainly is not the kind of anime for everyone; those who get it will probably love it, those who don’t will most likely hate it and want it to end as soon as possible. If you like odd anime then give this a go, because it really doesn’t get much more obscure than this, but regardless of how you feel about it, I defy anyone to watch this OVA without yelling ‘what the hell?!’ at the screen at least once.
I was joking with someone the other day that I’d rather watch weird anime than good anime, and then almost immediately afterwards I found myself watching this little number. Before I begin, I think it’s necessary to say that the sole redeeming quality of this show is that it’s bizarre. For some, this might be enough. Others… not so much.
When I say this is strange, I mean that, as someone who actively searches out this kind of stuff, this is the strangest thing I’ve seen since Cat Soup, three years ago. It’s simply mind-boggling that something like this would ever be made.
Like Alien 9, the cutesy, saccharine-sweet style of animation belies some decidedly sinister undertones. The colors are bright, the ideas are not. For what it’s worth, however, the OVA looks nice enough, with clean animation and, um, creative character designs. The music is similarly simplistic and childish, and fits with the animation well.
You have the title character, Kuma-san, who most definitely WILL weird you out with his inexplicable dialogue and borderline absurd body contortions. And then, you have the “villain” of the show, a marionette in a tutu with murderous intentions. Are they loveable? Deep? Amusing? No, but they’re certainly interesting.
Unlike some of the other totally strange anime out there, Kuma-san actually has a storyline, albeit a fairly simplistic one. However, the sheer presence of a coherent plot only serves to further increase the confusion about why this was ever made. With Cat Soup, the focus was clear: awesome, mindbending visuals. There’s no such luck with Kuma-san, which as mentioned earlier has a pretty simplistic and childish look. Is the show supposed to be funny? Touching? Scary?
Whatever the case, the OVA isn’t really any of these. Also, if you haven't seen Cat Soup, I'd heavily recommend seeing that first, as it does all that this does better. However, as another notch on the belt for people that are looking for the mindfucking obscure stuff, this makes a fine addition. Just don’t watch this for, you know, actual entertainment.
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.
Don't you be fooled by that cover image, because this OVA is a brutal, savage look at a world where a stuffed bear can go about and maul the everloving fuck out of bank robbers and dolls can do things. The doll would be spoilers because she is absolutely darling! But in tune with this OVA, brutal and moralistically ambiguous. Ness.
First off, it starts with a bank robbery and child endangerment, which is more like taking a child hostage and threatening to splatter his brains all over the place. The bank robbers, in their genius ingeniousness failed to take into account the face wrecking tribal drumming of Kuma, The Bear That Will Maul Your Nuts Off. Kuma steps in and gets a few whacks for his troubles, the start of a show of violence and brutality. But Kuma, he ain't no punk bitch. He ain't going to take that shit lying down. He just fucking unloads on that fool, smacking the everfuck out of his bitch face. And shit, then it gets hardcore. Kuma gets shot at by a six shot revolver and the guy misses 7 times. He hits twice or trice and Kuma gets pumped full of led while people outside probably got shot by the terrible accuracy of the felon.
And then he threatens to blow the kid away, right in front of Kuma. Big mistake. Kuma just went fucking ape shit, turned into Super Kuma, sprouted some claws, ripped off his ear and threw it at the bandit. He fucking ripped off his fucking ear and threw it at him. With him distracted by the dismembered ear, Super Kuma charged the robber like a SCUD missile, taking him the fuck down and just tearing his fucking face to shreds, ripping and mauling and tearing and holy fuck the kid was still there watching the relentless savagery go down.
I neglected to mention the tribal drumming, which is kinda like tribal drumming of cannibals on the hunt for dumbass travellers or dumbshit university students trying to study them or some shit. That drumming... some haunting ass shit. Also like drums of war, to scare the crap out of your enemies before you tear them flesh from bone.
That is just the tip of the ice berg, as the show tackles mature subject matter such as depression, suicide, drunk driving, reckless endangerment of children, assault and battery, grand theft, vehicular manslaughter, depressing ass shit, even more robbery, mayhem (Not the band but the act of maiming), destruction of city property, vandalism, attempted murder and the concept of sucking out the souls of man.
This is some fucked up shit. Kinda reminds me of Popee the Performer, but vastly less homoerotic.
For 2003 or therabouts, it's fugly as all hell. I've seen 80s OVAs look better than this shit. The doll is both cute and creepy as all hell and there is plenty of pants shitting terror moments in it as well as horribly depressing crap that transends it's generally shitty ass animation. Got nothing else to add.
The video I had didn't play the sound. I'm pretty sure Kuma sounded like Winnie the Pooh and the tribal drums were one of the most terrifying things in it.
The kids and the humans, nuts to them. It's all about Kuma, a savage bear who masquerades as a clown's pet bear and does tricks and shit while eating ice cream. When he isn't maiming the everloving tits off of robbers or various douchebags, he is doing that clown thing. He likes kids and tries to not maim people in front of them if he can help it but sometimes you just get consumed by your hatred for humanity and lash out at those who rightfully deserve your fang and claw-filled wrath.
The doll, holy fucking shit. No spoilers on her but she provides some of the most feels, terror and that primal terror feeling. Like getting buried in a shallow grave or crawling in a place where you can't even kneel and then it gets darker and darker and you can't even turn around and holy shit it's just so cramped and dear fucking god there is only darkness ahead and why death where are you-
Score was brought down because there was no sound for my vid. If there was, it would have been like an 8 or so. Kid friendly my ass. Just like Popee the Performer or Funny Pets is kid friendly.
Super Kuma-san / Mister Super-Bear is on the weirder side of the spectrum of the anime I've seen so far. The premise seems very childish, yet more bizarre and somewhat darker elements are added to it.
The story is set in a park in a roundabout, where children come to play or watch a clown and his blue walking, talking stuffed bear. That idea may remind you of Winnie the Pooh, but contrary to Winnie, Mister Bear (or Kuma-san) is a superhero "in secret". His alias? Mister Super-Bear! Once transformed (meaning he rearranges his scarf), he goes out to save the day and stop evil! His superpowers consist of being pluche, so punches and bullets don't effect him (kind of like Monkey D. Luffy's rubber powers). Of course he can also do crazier things, like punching, jumping a guy, or tearing his own ear off and throwing it... wait, what??
Mister Bear is interesting to see, because he clearly wants to help people, but he also wants to amuse the kids. The fact that this is hard to combine becomes clear very soon, when he almost traumatized himself because of his own scary face after he got angry. "Scary face is bad", he says, and hides his face so the kids won't see how scary his job actually is (which kind of reminded me of Ares, who also wanted to protect his girlfriend without having her see how he killed peopled). His useless attempts at hiding his identity are also quite hilarious, as are the sequences where he just bangs his drum while he should be helping people.
Then a second player comes into the game: a living doll, who has an approach that is a lot more violent than Mr Bear's. Doll isn't looking for justice or to save the day, what she wants is revenge. Of course, that makes her scary, so Mister Bear has to stop her so kids don't see scary things (like someone getting killed).
The climax and conclusion to this conflict are satisfying, and most loose ends are tied up neatly. However, there are some questions left unanswered, such as "what is the police doing?", "how come Mister Bear and Doll live?" and "why do all those kids play at a crime hot-spot?". This after all only a 25-minute OVA catered towards a younger audience so it's quite normal that not everything is answered. This is also the reason why Maa-kun and the clown aren't fleshed out too well.
The animation is quite clean, although often too simple. This was painfully true when Maa-kun's plane was stolen by delinquents, after which they rotated around him. Still, most of the time it's good enough to be enjoyable. The character designs are nice too, although aimed at children.
The music was a perfect fit for the atmosphere. The circus-sounds when we got happy scenes were put in contrast with the musicbox-sounds at the "creepy" scenes with Doll. The voices were good too, and I loved the sound of Mister Bear's voice. It was such a bizarre yet nice sound.
Overall, this was an enjoyable OVA. Kids will definitely love this, but even for adults there is enough material to like it.