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Review: ‘A Polar Bear in Love’ Vol. 1

Polar Bear in LoveA Polar Bear in Love Vol. 1
Writer/artist: Koromo
Yen Press; $15

The world is simple. Every living thing sustains itself by eating another living thing that is weaker than itself. Polar bears, for example, eat seals. That’s a harsh reality, particularly for the seals that get eaten, but then, that’s just how nature works. And there’s no force powerful enough to disrupt the laws of nature, to challenge, subvert and ultimately rewrite the rules of the world.

Well, except, perhaps, for one thing: Love.

That’s the simple but winning premise of manga-ka Koromo’s Koisuru Shirokuma. A young polar bear, referred to in Yen Press’ English translation as “Mr. Polar Bear,” one day comes upon a young, still fluffy white seal, lost on the Arctic ice. Mr. Polar Bear immediately falls in love with the seal.

Although Mr. Polar Bear is head-over-paws in love, and vows to devote his life to making the “li’l seal” happy, their potential union has more roadblocks than that of Romeo and Juliet. First, there’s the fact that they are different species, with very different ecological niches they fill. Secondly, the little seal turns out to be a male, too. (Mr. Polar Bear thinks this over for the length of a blink or two, before deciding that doesn’t matter to him.) Thirdly, and most importantly, the seal is completely terrified of the polar bear and is convinced that it is his true intention to kill and devour him. (The bear continually confesses his love, but to the seal’s ear, it sounds like he’s saying that he loves him in the same way that, say, I might say I love Entenmman’s raspberry danish twist.)

The first volume of the ongoing series contains several short chapters that are remarkably full of action and content, given the fact that it stars two rather realistically drawn white creatures–they have “a couple’s look,” in Mr. Polar Bear’s words—in a stark environment of snow and ice. The artist gets a lot of mileage out of the simplicity of the design, actually, playing it for laughs—particularly in the case of the seal, who is basically a hardly mobile blob-shape with a face.

While the seal continually plots his escape, the two share their stories and some experiences and, when the seal finally does get the opportunity to escape to safety, he realizes he does have some feelings for the bear. By the end of the volume, it seems that the seal has reluctantly become friends with the arctic predator, which is, at the very least, a step in the direction of what Mr. Polar Bear wants.

There are a few other characters who come and go—the seal’s mother, a wise old blue whale, some other polar bears, a jerk of a sea gull—all of whom, in one way or another, reinforce the fact that the bear and seal belong together…at least as friends.

How long Koromo can keep the story going, and whether the pair will actually become a romantic couple or remain friends, remains to be seen, of course. Based on how many pages of story have come out of the rather simple gag premise though, well, I wouldn’t be surprised if this lasted a half-dozen volumes or so.

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J. Caleb Mozzocco About J. Caleb Mozzocco

J. Caleb Mozzocco is a way-too-busy freelance writer who has written about comics for online and print venues for a rather long time now. He currently contributes to Comic Book Resources' Robot 6 blog and ComicsAlliance, and maintains his own daily-ish blog at EveryDayIsLikeWednesday.blogspot.com. He lives in northeast Ohio, where he works as a circulation clerk at a public library by day.

Comments

  1. Annonymous says

    Most definitely NOT a “good comic for kids”. Has mature themes.. the polar bear even suggests that the baby seal be his “Lover”. It’s literally a predatory story. Seems like grooming to me… made me and my coworkers incredibly uncomfortable.

  2. This manga would be appropriate for kids above 12 years old.

    This manga series is very cute, the art style is very flexible and pleasing to the eye. The lettering is well-written and simplistic to understand, plus there’s translation notes on one of the last final pages to give context. The plot moves fairly alright, it doesn’t drag itself and deals out enough entertainment to keep the audience attracted.
    However, I think that this manga will need warning tags or a heads-up before being recommended.

    Warning: depicted violence, childhood trauma, [blurred/censored] blood
    Potential caution: Unknown age-gap
    The violence is not out-of-hand, although in the 1st book, it’ll appear in a flashback to Mr. Polar Bear’s backstory. There are other moments where blood is depicted, but it’s pixilated and censored.
    Although this manga series has romance as a theme, there’s an unknown age gap between the 2 main characters. The seal is characterized as a young individual, not being able to swim and still retaining his white coat. Mr Polar Bear on the other hand is shown as a growing/grown individual since he has become larger since his cub days.
    BUT the author does not write the Polar Bear as a character with malicious intentions towards the seal, instead, the Polar Bear is aggressively(but as gentle as possible) affectionate towards the seal. In the 2nd book of the series, the Polar Bear is very caring and kind to a lost cub in a brotherly-like manner. Although I find it disconcerting that I can’t identify the ages, I’m relieved that the author only wants to keep this manga in a slice-of-life genre.
    The author seems to have taken creativity with the vague ages of the characters, however some characters have traits linked to a certain age group (child, adolescent, adult, elderly) There are also some creative liberties taken, so this manga is not 100% realistic.
    Please don’t let this review scare you, this manga was relatively enjoyable to read, thank you for your time.

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