Review of Rilakkuma to Kaorusan (2019)

Moving picture, 150 minutes

Seen in 2019.

A diligent office worker lives with two good-for-nothing teddy bears and a fastidious yellow bird, called Kiiroitori ... which means Yellow Bird.

Stop-motion anime. Given the magical-realist yurukyara and the slow pace, the darker sides of Kaoru’s life are surprisingly prominent: Loneliness, romantic failure, low income, crappy working conditions (for a desk job in Japan) and a run-down old apartment that’s so ready for demolition it grows mushrooms in the rainy season. It’s less sugar-coated than contemporary cel-style slice-of-life anime for younger audiences, like Laid-Back Camp (2018), despite having the same basic purpose of relaxation. It’s more sugarcoated than “Mogera Wogera” (2002), but there’s a basic tonal similarity with that older story of empty office work and human decay. Rilakkuma lacks the black comedy of Oruchuban Ebichu (1999) and the like; it’s starkly wholesome. The plot is even serialized, which is a nice touch. The craftsmanship is solid throughout, but this and Kiiroitori’s cuteness are the main points of interest.

moving picture animation Japanese production fiction series