Review: Netflix’s “Rilakkuma and Kaoru” (Season 1)

Maybe I’m emotional these days. Or not. When I wrapped watching every episode of the first ever Rilakkuma stop motion animated work, Rilakkuma and Kaoru , I had emotions running through me. I wanted to cry, remembering a time in my life when I can never return: elementary school me eating Japanese food at my great aunt/great uncle’s house in Urbana, Illinois, watching Japanese animated shows and cartoons I was gifted, playing with my origami with joy. I felt like the critic in Ratatouille , sour and bitter but when he takes a bite of the food, he remembers why he loved cooking. FYI, a fav business role model of mine, Mr. Thomas Keller, was a supervisor on Ratatouile ! Go eat at his cafes and restaurants!

My fav character on this show is the chicken,  Kiiroitori. The show is a Kajaki animation lover’s dream with touches of Japanese life I didn’t remember since growing up learning about it. The way things look at home. Minimalistic friendships. The workplace. Superstitions. And the storyline about two bears and a baby chicken playing roommate to a twentysomething everyday girl? Beautiful. Touching. Close relationships you cannot get in any American sitcom are expressed in friendships between furry and human.

The series isn’t a viewing. This is an experience. Halfway into the season, you fall in love with the characters. I was always familiar with the Rilakkuma brand. The stop motion takes it to another level. You see the potential for this show as a cult classic. I listened to it in the authentic Japanese for the experience with English subtitles to catch whatever I’m missing and learn slang. A must, if you want to watch the show properly.  Creativity is too small a term for the show. We see UFOs, a trip to perform in Hawaii when the animals go viral on social media, a wedding, the animals getting cleaning jobs, wow, wow, wow, wow! What I love about Japanese animation wrapped into tiny packages of barely ten minute episodes.

I am wishing for a second season, and a hit Netflix film. If pursued, you have a Best Animated Feature nominee, Netflix.

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