- Alt. Name
- Rilakkuma to Kaoru-san
- Release Date
- Spring 2019
- No. of Episodes
Life can be hectic and easily troublesome if we have so much going on. Whether it be working an extraordinary number of hours, being a single parent, or maybe losing a loved one. With so many potential problems, how could anyone relax? Sometimes people don’t have time to take a break because life is too in the way, but sometimes a series tries to offer relief. No matter what country ones in, there are specific series that will either take us back to our childhoods or make our inner child fall in love with whatever we’re seeing. While those series are few and far between, but now and then, something magical happens that makes us stop and take a break from our busy lives.
Rilakkuma and Kaoru is a 2019 Slice of Life stop-motion Original Net Animation anime series by Dwarf Studio and in cooperation with San-X. While this short-form series wouldn’t be on anyone’s radar when it originally came out, especially when series like Demon Slayer, Fruits Basket (2019), and One-Punch Man season two came out within the same season, but sometimes the best parts of life are overlooked. With so much hype behind those three shows alone, it’s easy to forget potentially great series from smaller studios, which is a real shame, especially for newcomers. Usually, everyone will be talking about the biggest and most popular shows of the season.
Rilakkuma and Kaoru follows the daily life of Kaoru, a hard-working woman living in Tokyo who’s struggling to find her value in life. Thankfully, she’s got some friends to offer her a unique perspective on life; Rilakkuma, Korilakkuma, and Kiiroitori, to be exact. The four of them grow and experience life together over time; the anxiety of being an adult and how one doesn’t need to worry and sweat every little thing slowly goes away. Life seems to appear a lot easier when one has friends who can help them through life’s problems.
While the synopsis doesn’t go into depth about what Rilakkuma and Kaoru possess, that’s the biggest flaw within this series. Much like most Slice of Life series, the stories are somewhat lacking a central plot or action and start giving off the impression that this series is boring. As individual episodes, there is no overarching plot; however, as a whole, collectively, the story is symbolic. Within each episode, the viewer will go on a journey that changes one’s own experiences, and the journey is the best part of the series. The pacing within the series is relatively slow and almost nonexistent, and while that may sound like a negative, it’s genuinely positive. This series isn’t intended to be observed quickly but at one’s own pace.
However, there are many more positives within this series ranging from the calmness to the Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood feeling, but the negatives are potentially just as detrimental. For instance, if one isn’t keen on stop-motion animation or series slower than standard anime, this probably won’t be a series they’d enjoy. Another potential negative about this series is that it lacks significant problems since it’s so slow, meaning the characters’ biggest dilemma is potentially some ludicrous matters. If one wants to watch a more quick-paced and barebones genuine slice of life anime series, this is not the show for them.
If the story didn’t win the viewer over, then the art style most definitely will. The beautiful and high attention to detail with the smallest aspects of this series reveals this series’s production team’s passion. From its warm and inviting colors to unique and memorable settings, one will potentially instantly fall in love with this beautiful work of art. One of the high points of this series was everything that needed to look warm and soft looked like it would feel like a soft cloud. Which was genuinely unexpected; it’s almost an early birthday present to the viewer’s heart.
While the series is based around four simple characters, somehow, this series uses the small cast correctly. The main character is named Rilakkuma, a soft brown bear that looks like a toy. He is mostly interested in sleeping and eating, but he is also the sweetest bear one will ever meet. Korilakkuma is also a toy-like small white bear. He is very close friends with Rilakkuma, and as it was the case, he also appeared at Kaoru’s apartment one day, where he stayed for good afterward. Then there’s Kaoru, whose hard-working woman in her thirties lives with Rilakkuma, Korilakkuma, and Kiiroitori. Kiiroitori is Kaoru’s pet yellow chick, whose surprisingly great at cleaning.
Outside of these four characters, the series has a minimal amount of characters. The only additional name worth mentioning is Tokio, a lonely boy who lives in the same apartment complex. Though there are two other characters within this series that appear, they don’t do much or progress the story. With such a short list of characters, this series quickly mastered character development and made the viewer become attached to these characters. If a viewer is looking for a cast of characters who are verbal and communicate with one another, then this series isn’t for them. But bears don’t talk, so why would we expect chicks to talk?
After watching these short twelve episodes multiple times, it’s become evident that this series was very much needed for viewers. It’s whimsy and fun in all the right areas, especially if one is looking for an anime series to watch after a long stressful day. This series will take any viewer on a journey back to their childhood where they’d watch Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and felt like they had no cares in the world. Rilakkuma and Kaoru is a beautiful series that viewers will quickly fall in love with and treasure for a long time.
No matter how many times one may watch this series, it’ll never become repetitive or boring. The animation and attention to detail is the definite selling point of this slice of life series that any anime fan can love, and then some. This series takes a simple yet challenging subject and perfectly crafted this stop motion masterpiece for one’s own heart. Though this series may not appeal to everyone, the vast majority can quickly get behind this and easily become a hidden gem. While some websites claim this series to be a kid show, this series is more towards the late twenties to early thirties. However, anyone of any age who chooses to watch this fantastic series can easily enjoy it.
Cody Senpai is the creator of BakaNow, an anime review website that specializes in spoiler-free reviews for everyone. He is an avid anime watcher who has traveled to Japan numerous times to not only experience the culture and history but also to build friendships with people through a common interest. He is an avid animation fanatic from birth and even went on to major in communication to help share the importance of the stories we love to watch and listen to. Cody lives in Denver, Colorado and loves to do anything adventurous.