All the while during the brilliant first sketch, I kept thinking “This is exactly like one of those touching nature films narrated by Morgan Freeman”. And sure enough, Polar Bear’s moving, heartwarming saga was all a lie – but as I’ve said, Polar Bear is stamping himself as the best anime troll since Prince Baka. Thing is, Shirokuma really is a nice guy – he just can’t help but sow mischief sometimes, and that’s why he’s such a lovable character. I liked pretty much everything about that chapter though, right down to the extreme weirdness of “Shoebill-san” the “Editor-in-Chief” of Furafura Walker – which is an interesting pun in itself, as “furafura” means to stagger, or reel drunkenly. The way the camera lingered on Shoebill’s blinking, the poses he took, the eventual photos from the magazine – I love the way this show embraces the absurd.
Second sketch was another winner, featuring the return of our GAR friend Grizzly-san. This was more of a character piece, I guess – though it was just as much a humorous look at the differences between species. I’ve certainly never seen bears go on a fishing trip like this one, but each found his own niche – Polar Bear came to cook, Grizzly-san to fish, and Panda-kun to eat bamboo and lie around. Especially genius was the bit where Grizzly tries to teach Panda to “fish” for bamboo shoots (“To be a bear is to hunt!”) then they each try – with no success – to learn to appreciate the other’s tastes in diet. This extends to the lunch special at the café the next day – where Grizzly gives Panda his bamboo shoots, and Panda gives Grizzly his salmon.
A couple other things I especially laughed at this week: Grizzly and Shirokuma as teenagers, the montage of Panda shots reflecting the passage of time, and Panda’s imaginings of what makes up a fun trip – the mountains (“Lots of bamboo leaves”) and the beach (“Lots of pretty girls”). Unique among the main characters Panda, it seems, has an appreciation for cute human females. Which is ironic, because he’s also by far the biggest otaku for his own species. Unfortunately for Panda-kun, so far he’s only caught the interest of grade-schoolers and male florists.