Don’t let the cute bears fool you. Rilakkuma and Kaoru is more serious and relatable than it lets on!
The series itself follows the adventures of Kaoru, a single office worker in her twenties. As the title implies, her housemates are Rilakkuma (the big brown bear), Korilakkuma (the smaller, white bear) and Koiirotori (the small, yellow chick).
While there’s no real explanation as to why or how the bears appeared in Kaoru’s life, the series itself is pretty easy to follow. We watch Kaoru go about her daily life – struggling with her office job that underpays her, crushing on a cute deliveryman, so on and so forth. She spends most of her time with the bears (and the chick), who communicate with her through muffled hums and chirps, expressions, and flailing gestures.
What makes it special?
First off: Rilakkuma and Kaoru is animated using stop motion, which makes the series as a whole extremely visually pleasing. From scenic views such as cherry blossoms and sunsets, to little details such as Rilakkuma and co.’s fur, the level of detail and care put into creating this series screams out in every shot.
That, and as mentioned – it’s a lot more relatable than you’d expect. Kaoru turns to alcohol when she’s sad, and deals with personal issues such as loneliness and a fear of staying unmarried forever, amongst others.
In the first episode alone, Kaoru reflects on how she’s being left behind by her childhood friends, who are leading more successful and fulfilling lives. Given that Kaoru’s struggles aren’t all that uncommon, it makes her endearing to the viewer. Viewers may even find comfort in her actions, as Kaoru openly deals with her flaws and learns to overcome her struggles.
Overall, Rilakkuma and Kaoru is a charming and refreshing series that balances light-heartedness while keeping it real. Episodes are generally around 10 minutes long and have (mostly) standalone stories, making the series really easy to watch.
Rilakkuma and Kaoru is now streaming on Netflix. Check it out if it seems like your cup of tea!