Review: ‘A Polar Bear in Love’ Vol. 1
A Polar Bear in Love Vol. 1
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.
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.
SLJ Blog Network