One Peace Books delivers Masume Yoshimoto’s 2013 series “Kuma Miko: Girl Meets Bear” to the English readers.

Machi Amayadori is the young priestess or “miko” of the small mountain village of Kumade. At the age of 14, she has a strong desire to experience the city life especially since she spent most of  her time at the temple with the talking bear, Natsu. The tradition of the kuma miko (bear priestess) comes from the local legend of the Kumade Mountain God who helped bring peace between bears and  humans—though Yoshio, Machi’s older and aloof cousin, tends to tell a more adult version concerning one of the last female sacrifices. No matter, the community continues to uphold their part of the agreement with Machi and Natsu as the two representatives.

With Machi having her eyes set on going to a city high school, Natsu, like a doting father, does his best to test her to see if she’s ready for the treacherous life outside of the mountains. This seems to set the stage for more interesting adventures to come!

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Yoshimoto introduces readers to the main characters with such a casual feel that continues throughout the manga. It lessens the shock to the strangeness of the fact that there is a large talking bear. She gives the young miko and bear a relationship close to a comedy duo with the furry Natsu as the stooge and Machi as the comic. Both Machi and readers learn bits about the modern Japanese life through Natsu’s lessons though there are some things English readers might need to research a bit more to better understand. Luckily, Machi’s notes are included at the end of the manga with definitions to some of the cultural subjects.

Volume Two of “Kuma Miko” will be released in the late fall, but fans can enjoy the 12-episode anime adaptation from Kinema Citrus and EMT Squared studios. The Spring 2016 series is available online through Funimation. For more information on the manga, visit One Peace Books or your local manga vendor.

 

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