The American broadcaster’s We Bare Bears features a panda, a grizzly, and a polar bear…and in its most recent episode, also an anime schoolgirl pillowcase.
Created by Daniel Chong, Cartoon Network’s We Bare Bears follows a trio of ursine brothers as they deal with aspects of modern society as filtered through their own bear-like frames of reference. In some ways, it’s sort of like an American version of anime/manga Polar Bear Cafe, albeit one with a bit more youthful energy and traditionally cartoony character designs.
In the final episode of We Bare Bears’ first season, Grizzly has a bit of an identity crisis. While Panda can boast the largest molars of any carnivore and the ability to eat bamboo, and Ice Bear has special rough-textured paws that help him keep traction on frozen surfaces, the only special characteristic Grizzly is able to find about himself is the fact that his species hibernates (pandas never sleep through the winter, and among polar bears only pregnant females do).
Being largely acclimated to a human lifestyle, Grizzly has never hibernated before, but decides to jump into the practice with both feet. He gorges himself to pack on calories for his season-long nap, then sets out grabbing every cushion, blanket, or other soft material he can find to create a cozy bed on which to sleep until spring comes.
Among the items he collects is one that should be very familiar to anime fans: a dakimakura, or huggy pillow, with a schoolgirl character printed on the cover.
Actually, the dakimakura seems to belong to Panda, who’s seen reading comic books and pretending to share a box of Pocky-like snacks with it earlier in the episode (which is titled “Hibernation”). The schoolgirl character even seems to have a name, as both Panda and Grizzly refer to her as “Miki-chan.”
▼ While we’re counting off the Japanese pop culture references, the vertical word bubbles in Panda’s comics make it almost certain that he’s reading Japanese manga, and that green ball in the background looks an awful lot like Gundam’s spherical companion robot Haro.
But while human otaku often use their dakimakura for…prurient purposes, Panda and Grizzly’s admiration for Miki-chan seems to be rather chaste.
▼ Although certain freeze frames of Grizzly carrying the pillow around can make it look like he’s literally pawing at her.
In the end, Panda reclaims his prized piece of anime merch. With three residents in the house, though, Grizzly and Ice Bear might want to consider picking up some dakimakura of their own, considering all the health benefits they provide.
Source, images: Yurukuyaru