Shirokuma Cafe’s grand tour of Japanese holidays continues this week with Hina Matsuri, the quite famous “Girl’s Festival” (boys get theirs in May, though sadly it appears we won’t see Shirokuma’s take on it). This was a chapter that featured an overdose of cuteness, always in the cards when Baby Emperor and King Penguin are in the house – and this time they brought a few friends. I was wondering why these chicks were celebrating Hina Matsuri so enthusiastically – was it possible I’d guessed their genders wrong (well, obviously it wouldn’t be a stretch)? But no, of course this was yet another PBC pun, as we’re reminded that the Kanji in “Hina” are the characters for “Baby Chick”.
The lesson learned here, I suppose, is that Grizzly-kun really is good at everything. With his typical growly bluster he steps in and shows the kids (who must be perceptive, because they weren’t scared of him at all) how it’s done when it comes to setting up the Hina decorations (no yams whatsoever). Grizzly seems to have basically given up on his hibernation (not hikikomori) at this point, as he’s waking up before Polar Bear even has the chance to call him. He’s less than impressed, however, that the chicks are the only Hina around after all his work, and that means drafting a reluctant Sasako-san into the role (Grizzly must have had to wrestle that kimono off Shirokuma-kun by force). There’s a little bonus here as Handa-san shows up and with the door blocked by the decorations, ends up eavesdropping as Panda-kun and Penguin-san interrogate Miss Sasako about her love life and Mr. Handa specifically, but sadly she’s either too clueless or too clever to offer a substantive response.
As is so often the case, the second chapter is more heartwarming than comedic, but it’s these episodes that really bring home just how much I’m going to miss these characters when they’re no longer a part of my weekly routine. There is some hilarity, as Shirokuma-san gets sick and goes to the animal doctor – which sounds kind of somber until it’s revealed that the doctor is in fact a Tarsier – which is either the cutest or ugliest animal on Earth (possibly both). The notion of Tarsier-sensei as a little old man with oversized spectacles is an outrageous sight gag of the highest caliber – I was in stitches from the moment he appeared.
As for the rest of this number, it’s just good, basic sentimental friendship stuff. Panda-kun and Penguin-san visit Shirokuma-kun and earnestly try to help, though their efforts are questionable in their efficacy. They discover while searching for recipes that Shirokuma-san keeps an album full of pictures of himself and Grizzly-kun as cubs, and of his new friends as well – proving that he’s quite the sentimental fellow himself. Shirokuma being too sick to crack more than two puns in a row is serious business, but fortunately Grizzly shows up in the nick of time to take charge (both Panda and Penguin have joined Shirokuma in sick bay). For all the wisecracks and needling that goes on, everyone in this cast is always there for each other when it counts – even Panda-kun. It’s corny but it works, at least for me – friendship never gets old as a theme. As to Panda-kun’s request to Penguin in the preview that he get him a chance to talk to Bill Gates, I think that’s one area where friendship can only carry you so far.