‘Rilakkuma and Kaoru’: The most relaxing stop animation around
Rilakkuma and Kaoru hits a note of tranquility in the souls of its viewers. This slice of life series about two bears, a yellow pet duck, and their human owner is arguably the most relaxing modern stop-animation around.
Not only are the anthropomorphic teddy-bear-style animals awfully cute, but the painstaking depiction of Kaoru’s mundane life and environment are amazingly detailed. From the calming, head-sway-inducing music, to the pitter-patter of footsteps across an apartment, this show oozes relaxation.
In fact, some of the main characters’ names even include the word “relaxing” in it. The name Rilakkuma is actually a combination of the Japanese words rirakkusu (relax) and kuma (bear), as is Korilakkuma’s name. This little bear’s name carries the Japanese prefix ko-, meaning small, to denote that he is like a small version of Rilakkuma himself.
The Calming Aesthetic
Adorable names aside, the aesthetic in this stop motion animation is all about tranquility. We swear this show must have been made with the idea of calming anxiety in mind because it is oh so relaxing: take a look-see at the soothing lighting and shots of felt animals napping.
It’s worth mentioning that neither Rilakkuma, Korilakkuma, or Kiroiitori (meaning yellow bird) speak in the animation. They all make little animal noises and gesticulate with their bodies to get the viewer to understand what’s going on.
As are their voices, the silly antics they get up to are very cute. There’s just something adorable about watching a teddy bear flip a pancake or a pet duck mop a floor.
Clay People Have Problems Too
Let’s not forget about Kaoru. It’s easy to relate to the everyday problems of this young female office worker. The show explores topics such as feeling like you’ve been left behind by your college friends and making the best of a streak of bad luck. In each episode, Rilakkuma and his friends try to make Kaoru feel better or take on some whimsical task.
Although–as in real life–the problems in Kaoru’s life are rarely ever completely solved, the creators of the show always manage to end the episode on a positive note. Often that means Kiroiitori, Rilakkuma, and Korilakkuma cutting through the bitterness with the sweetness of their personalities, and sometimes that means Kaoru gaining a new outlook.
The sheer attention to detail that was paid in this stop animation is amazing. Despite the time-consuming medium used, this show leaves no attribute of everyday life out. From the wrinkles in Kaoru’s socks to the fluffiness of the grass in outdoor scenes, the artistry is breathtaking.
When you consider that it took the crew many endless hours of shifting and repositioning these clay and felt figures, it only makes the craftsmanship more amazing. It’s said that they could only simultaneously shoot 10 seconds of footage per day on 10 separate stages. Now that’s dedication!
The show Rilakkuma and Kaoru is actually a spinoff of a character created by Aki Kondo, an employee of Japanese stationery company San-X. Creator, Aki Kondo, says the inspiration for the endearing Rilakkuma was a desire to create a character that exuded relaxation since she was lacking time to do so in her own life.
Well, Aki Kondo, we’d say you succeeded because Rilakkuma and Kaoru turns out to be a slice of life delight. Your slothful bear has spurred the creation of a very relaxing show. Watching Rilakkuma and friends embark on silly shenanigans and Kaoru make the best of her mundane life is an absolute evening of peace.