Film & TV

How three relatable bears are taking over Asia

When a friendly grizzly bear, a tech-savvy panda bear and a quiet but incredibly stealthy ice bear formed what they call a “bear stack” during their first episode almost four years ago, they ultimately formed a reputation among viewers that would soon lead to their show’s popularity. The hit Cartoon Network comedy “We Bear Bears” will be getting a movie and a series spin-off, according to an announcement on May 30.

The history behind the story

“We Bare Bears” originally started out as a webcomic back in 2010 by Daniel Chong, who worked for companies like Walt Disney Animation Studios, Illumination Entertainment and Pixar prior to landing a gig at Cartoon Network. The webcomic, then titled “The Three Bare Bears,” ran from 2010 through 2011. The network revealed they had picked up Chong’s bear-friendly comedy among a lineup of other greenlit projects, which included the acclaimed miniseries “Over The Garden Wall.”   

While the show was slated for the summer of 2015, it had gotten the attention of the internet when a clip from the 2014 pilot when viral, where baby Grizz can be seen playing the harmonica on the curb for money all while baby Panda sees someone drop a half-eaten hot dog in their hat and saying in a disappointed that “I’m a vegetarian.” The internet’s interest in this adorable moment ultimately foreshadowed how popular the baby bears would be, and considering their current favorability, prompted Cartoon Network to make a series spin-off for the young bears.

Winning over Asia

While the North American premiere of the show, different Cartoon Network channels across Asia began broadcasting the show, and in no time the charming bears found themselves the center of attention. The show, which had been praised for its portrayal of Asian Americans, quickly hit a high note among Asians as well. Not only has “We Bare Bears” successfully delivered a relatable but culturally-aware experience as a show, but its adorable presence has also lead to successful merchandising.

“In recent months, all around Asia, bear merchandise has been flying off the shelves,” according to a press release released in March by Turner Asia Pacific.

Chinese retailer Miniso, which has stores across Asia and in countries like the United States, collaborated with “We Bare Bears” and sells bear-related items from neck pillows to skincare and cosmetic products.

Cartoon Network Asia also launched a “We Bare Bears Hugs Tour,” where the three show protagonists visit countries in Asia and fans of the show are able to take pictures with their favorite bears and participate in events and win prizes.

Unifying Identity

While Chong may not have seen the impact of the bears when he began posting his webcomic online, it’s undeniable how much the show means to Asian and Asian Americans all across the world. Just like the theme song says, wherever the show is, there’s always some fun to be found.

Photo taken from Deadline courtesy of Cartoon Network.

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