「パンダくんの弟子入り／動物だらけの運動会」 (Panda-kun no Deshiiri/Doubutsu Darake no Undoukai)
“Panda’s Apprenticeship/A Sports Day Filled With Animals”
「ペンギンさんの趣味／二人の少年時代」 (Pengin-san no Shumi/Futari no Shounen Jidai)
“Mr. Penguin’s Hobbies/Their Childhood Days”
We still may not know what Shirokuma’s background is, but we sure do know Grizzly’s thanks to this episode! Surprises are abound when Grizzly isn’t raised in a grizzly environment, but rather a cozy suburb with loving parents and
fun scared neighbors! Grizzly wouldn’t be Grizzly though if he didn’t have a scary streak to him, which in a sense is a unique type of heavy tsun in the tsundere type. Enter Shirokuma though, and all that tsun starts to become soft…or at least for the most part. It’s really adorable how their roots have gone back so far, and how much they haven’t changed since. I would say that the younger Shirokuma was more overt a troll (example being the dog), but throughout the years, their friendship hasn’t changed in the slightest. Shirokuma still isn’t afraid of anything (except for housewives) and is a great cook, while Grizzly still is the best handyman in the house. Their competitive streak hasn’t gone away either, with the sports festival in episode 24 firing up their never-ending desire to one-up the other. However, Grizzly and Shirokuma’s universe of animal pals has expanded since their childhood days, where everyone else can join in their fun as well!
Reflecting back on these 25 episodes, without any knowledge of whether or not the series is continuing from here, I feel like I’ve settled and have become immersed in the universe that Shirokuma and friends live in. So many characters have been introduced with some receiving a background story, but most have yet to have their surface scratched. The characters who have received tons of exposition, such as Penguin, Panda, and Shirokuma, have helped shaped the universe of others around them, such as Grizzly, the Panda Family, and the Pen-chans. Take for instance Penguin’s art exhibit. While the episode itself reveals Penguin’s hobby (forgery or parody, take your pick), the characters that benefit are not limited to only himself. The lack of art appreciation from most of the characters doesn’t reveal their lack of intelligence, but rather their carefree nature. Shirokuma, who was the only person who recognized the paintings, calmly expressed his sympathy at Penguin, whilst also refraining from laughing at all the art references (one of which I think is a van Gogh, but if you guys can name the rest…do so!).
However, there still leaves a universe of characters that still need to be explored, which both saddens me, but also piques my curiosity at the same time. All of their shenanigans, their adventures and explorations, all of it has created this relaxed universe where plot, drama, and tension are nowhere to be found. Although those elements are important in other anime…here it’s essential that they’re not present at all! Shirokuma Cafe is an anime where I don’t have to pay focused attention on all the characters–watching Shirokuma making his puns and Panda giving up is good enough for me.
I will be a little sad if the last episode happens to occur next week. There is just so much to be explored, but even 26 episodes wasn’t enough time to truly explore all the animals and their facets. What about Sasako and Handa? Pen-chan and Penguin-san? Mei Mei and Rin Rin? I would say more, but I’ve got to save some ideas for the final impressions! Until then, let’s look forward to enjoying the (possibly) last episode, after having enjoyed this long, yet chill journey with Shirokuma and friends.