After twelve action packed instalments of Annotated Anime, you should be pretty clear on my thoughts of Yuru Yuri, so I'm not really sure why I'm writing a Final Impressions article. Those were twelve of my best written pieces, so it might be worth...
...what do you mean you didn't see them? They weren't there? I can't believe it. That's certainly the last time I use a fax machine...
Random gibberish aside, I was of course not on the Japanator team when Yuru Yuri began airing. I figure that the show is certainly worth writing about, so join me after the jump for what may as well be my first and final impressions of this show!
Yuru Yuri seems to have filled the requirement for this seasons mandatory moe-blob show, and I must admit that I was a bit sceptical as to whether it would hold its own, or exist primarily to rake cash from those who don't know better. The trailer showed it was guilty of super cheerful openings and giant glossy eyes, all of which could suggest that the anime only exists to capitalise on K-On!'s recent successes. Regardless of this I risked my purity and picked this show up anyway, and boy do I not regret doing so!
The four members of the self-created 'amusement club' are the main characters of this anime, which follows their antics in and out of school. Yes, that's right, another school anime! Don't let it put you off though, as Yuru Yuri should most definitely not be lumped in with the regular forays into animated Japanese school life.
The first member is the sweet and good-natured Akaza Akari, who begins the series as the protagonist, only for her screen time to fritter away as she fades into obscurity. Funami Yui acts as the most mature member of the group, very much a 'Mio' character for those familiar with K-On!. Toshinou Kyouko is the tomboy amongst them, acting on impulse and making the everyday meetings of the amusement club completely unpredictable. Yoshikawa Chinatsu is the fourth and final member. She's a girl that originally wanted to join the tea ceremony club, but sticks around after making friends with the other three girls.
At first glance, Yuru Yuri seems like a fairly generic slice-of-life/comedy anime. You have the typical cast of four girls plus supporting characters, it's set in a school environment and each character has their own quirks. You only need to look at anime like Lucky Star to know that this isn't exactly an original formula. However, the series is quite aware that it is indeed the comedy that matters in a show with no distinct 'aim' or plot, and you'll be pleased to hear that it certainly delivers in that department.
I may be harping on about similarities, but there are also some pretty distinct differences between this and other anime sharing the genre. Shows such as Lucky Star and Azumanga Daioh are 4-koma (or 4-panel) manga, which often lead to a lot of short but unrelated jokes, at least for the majority of a given episode. In my personal experience, this can really grate on you if the jokes aren't done particularly well, which in my opinion is why I couldn't enjoy A-Channel. On the flip side, Yuru Yuri is not a 4-koma manga, which makes the jokes and general theme of the episode flow into one another a lot more smoothly.
The art itself is at first glance very typical of the genre (as proven in the above image,) but after multiple viewings you can come to appreciate some of the finer details. Re-using animation, as well as rushing characters and objects that appear in the background are just a few of the tell-tale ways to spot the little effort that can go into some anime these days, and I'm both relieved and glad to say that Yuru Yuri does not succumb to this. Everything is vibrant and striking, which is an absolute necessity when telling visual jokes. In simpler terms, it looks great and it helps itself out in the long run by not cutting corners.
Many slice-of-life anime fall victim to neglecting their soundtracks. It's a simple and effective way of luring people into watching a series, a rule which undoubtedly applies to all anime. The problem is that they need to be original and catchy, and it's the reason why you can still remember openings from shows like Lucky Star and K-On!, but are less likely to remember the opening from Hyakko for example. To its benefit, the opening and ending to this show are very catchy, and even the insert tracks are suitable and memorable. I'm not trying to say that you'll be in tears over the musical score, but it's certainly commendable.
I imagine that a fair amount of people will have glossed over Yuru Yuri due to the latter half of its title, which to be fair is reasonable if you dislike the yuri (girls loving girls) genre. Strangely enough, the show never uses it as an excuse to build relationships, instead using it for comedic purposes. What we are left with gives the characters in the show more ammunition for their jokes, hitting the sweet spot between uninspiring and overbearing.
If you are a fan of slice-of-life and/or comedy anime, I most certainly recommend giving Yuru Yuri a try. Don't let the yuri put you off if you generally dislike that either, as it exists to the shows benefit rather than to scrape out a passable romance. The show is genuinely hilarious and I simply hope that we will soon see a sequel.
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