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Kawaii Bear Energy
By Ghia Vitale
Rilakkuma and Kaoru is a simple yet heartwarming anime on Netflix. Its cuteness is overwhelming in the best way possible.
Rilakkuma and Kaoru is based off of Rilakkuma, the popular San-X character created by Aki Kondo. Rilakkuma means “bear in a relaxed mood” in Japanese. Technically, Rilakkuma is a person in a bear costume, but he has all the appeal of your favorite teddy bear enchanted to life. True to his namesake, Rilakkuma is the definition of chill. He’s also very lovable.
You might recognize Rilakkuma from San-X stationary, plushies, stickers, and other merchandise. This bear was such a hit, Dwarf Studio and San-X worked together to create Rilakkuma and Kaoru. When I found out about this anime, I was immediately intrigued by Rilakkuma, the stop-motion animation, and the show’s visual aesthetic. Watching the first episode convinced me to finish the whole first season.
One of the first things I noticed was that most of the character’s names have self-explanatory names. Korilakkuma means “little Rilakkuma” in Japanese. Kiiroitori’s name means “yellow bird” in Japanese. The name Kaoru, however, means “fragrant” in Japanese. I would guess that if Kaoru had a smell, it would be a soothing scent like linen, jasmine, or lavender.
In this anime, Rilakkuma lives with Kaoru, a human woman who works at an office job. Rilakkuma and Kaoru also live with Korilakkuma (another person in a bear costume) and Kiiroitori (a bird). Sure, having roommates in bear costumes sounds outlandish, but the show presents this situation as though it were entirely natural and plausible. Nothing about the living situation seems out of place or forced. After all, who wouldn’t want to live with 3 cuties like Rilakkuma, Korilakkuma, and Kiiroitori?
A major reason for this naturalness is the fact that Kaoru is easy to relate to. Much like the protagonist of Aggretsuko, Kaoru isn’t content with her job. She deals with being underpaid, chatty coworkers, and other common workplace issues. She also deals with relationships, crushes, and feeling left out of her friend circle. The issues she faces are issues that people often face in real life. I couldn’t help but see a little bit of myself in Kaoru.
In fact, I could almost see myself in her position: living in an apartment with 2 cute bears and a little yellow bird.
The art style is what made me want to be fully immersed in the world of Rilakkuma and Kaoru. Some of the visuals from this anime are absolutely priceless. For instance, I loved seeing Rilakkuma wear sunglasses and sip on a drink like a boss. This anime contains entertaining and lighthearted stories, but I found its art and overall look to be very charming. It was actually the aesthetic that made me wish I could transcend the screen and inhabit that happy world for just a little while. The good-looking food in this anime is enough to make you wish you were there, enjoying snacks with the characters.
I’m starting to feel like I need a Rilakkuma-status bear of my own... Perhaps a plush will do the trick?
I’d recommend this anime to anyone needs more kawaii goodness in their lives. Sure, some people might think this show is only for kids. However, I think anime isn’t only for kids to enjoy. You are never too old to revel in cuteness.
If Rilakkuma and Kaoru sounds good to you, watch it on Netflix. This anime will provide that extra bit of sweetness you need in your life.
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