A simple slice of life anime can be hard to appreciate and for every five anime fans that may appreciate the genre, there are another five who may find it boring or unimaginative. Comedic slice of life anime can be just as divisive as ones sense of humor can either leave viewers with their sides hurting after an episode or leave viewers staring blankly at the screen. Two years ago, YuruYuri seemed like a series that would never hit English speaking shores, but NIS America has brought this yuri-tinted slice of life to the States and now that the first season has been released, is it worth picking up?
YuruYuri follows the story of Akaza Akari as she enters a new middle school and joins the Amusement Club with two of her childhood friends. Wait, did I say that Akari is the main character? She’s pretty much invisible most of the time with her friends Kyoko, Yui, or Chinatsu taking the spotlight as Akarin fades into the background and gives off little presence until someone needs some sort of assistance.
In reality, YuruYuri does follow the story of four girls who all join the Amusement Club with Kyoko and Yui being the senior members, their childhood friend that is a year younger than them, Akari, and a new friend in Akari’s class named Chinatsu joining the group. The Amusement Club has taken over the defunct Tea Club’s building but it ultimately has no purpose, allowing these four girls to do pretty much whatever they want, which usually leads to butting heads with the Student Council or simply passing time in random and often hilarious ways.
YuruYuri has no real plot or storyline and in the place of a story it has instead given us a comedic slice of life that excels in a number of areas. These areas happen to be the most important for a series such as this one and those areas are the characters, these characters’ interactions with one another, the quality of the comedy provided and of course, a little hint of something else to give the series something to set it apart from others.
Starting with that last area, what sets YuruYuri apart from other series is right there in the name, a heavily hinted yuri aspect. There is a fine line walked throughout the series where many of the girls can simply be considered either close friends or rivals with each other, but this line often ends up being crossed over the course of the first season.
There are characters such as Chinatsu who clearly harbor crushes on another girl, while others are more subtle, allowing viewers to make their own assumptions on whether or not the relationship is just friendship or something else. Of course then there are exceptions such as the neglected Akari and the deluded Chitose who seems to simply enjoy living in her own yuri colored fantasies more than paying attention to reality.
Of the aforementioned areas, the characters and their relationships with one another are the biggest draw in YuruYuri. With the yuri aspect in tow, the cast is populated by a number of bright and cheerful characters who play well off one another. The four or three depending how you look at it, main girls of the Amusement Club each have a unique feature that, while stereotypical, manages to be hilarious and entertaining when paired with the rest of the cast.
With such a nicely gathered cast of characters and numerous areas to take advantage of, I can honestly say that YuruYuri made me laugh with almost every single joke told. Of course humor is suggestive and there may be some that don’t appreciate the numerous yuri jokes, but this series isn’t for those people. YuruYuri takes advantage of its yuri tone throughout the series to deliver numerous punchlines that will leave viewers in stitches. The gags come from everywhere as wordplay, situational humor, slapstick, visual gags, picking on Akari, and numerous other humorous gags kept me laughing non-stop throughout the series.
Now despite how well these girls play off one another and the great way that everything comes together, YuruYuri is still a series that is at its core an anime literally only about one thing. Cute girls doing cute things together, this time with some yuri added to the mix. This does lead to some repetitiveness and all of your standard slice of life moments are included in this first season, such as the beach and hot spring episodes and even a Christmas episode. However what still makes these moments enjoyable, despite being cliché, are the cast of characters and the abundance of humor at play that will leave many viewers sad to hear that there is going to be a few months before the second season is released.
YuruYuri is a rather bright and cheerful looking anime as it makes use of bright colors and cute designs for their main cast with enough diversity in their appearances and numerous outfit changes, averting the rather plain school uniform look that many series suffer from. Thanks to the slice of life nature of the series, the cast visits a number of different locations with some nicely detailed backgrounds.
The art style for YuruYuri is pretty basic at times, but it undergoes numerous style shifts that are often played for laughs. Thanks to the many fantasies of Chitose, there are plenty of literally rose colored moments of two girls having some mildly romantic interactions but nothing that is really serious as it is always meant to make the viewer laugh, especially since it is also paired alongside Chitose suffering a massive nosebleed.
It is worth noting that YuruYuri Season 1 comes with only the Japanese voice track which means that there is no English dub for this release. That is alright however as the Japanese voice actresses do a perfect job working together and sounding different enough despite there being eight main girls who are often talking back and forth with one another.
It is interesting to note that almost every girl in the series, or at least the main eight to say the least, has their own little theme music that will play when they are taking charge or the highlight of a specific section. Outside of that, the background music is rather basic at times and often forgetful. The opening theme is “The Great YuriYurarararaYuruYuri Incident” sung by the members of the Amusement Club and it is incredibly catchy while the ending theme is “Let’s Go at My Pace” also by the voice actresses.
NIS America has given YuruYuri Season 1 the ‘Premium Edition’ treatment by giving buyers not only a few on-disc bonuses but also a number of physical bonuses as well. The on-disc extras are unfortunately rather limited as all it features is trailers for other NIS America anime, the clean opening and ending themes and ‘B-side’ previews.
The physical bonuses make up for this however as the series comes with a glossy chipboard slipcase that features artwork of the four main girls on both sides, with the opposite side featuring Akari, Yui, Chinatsu and Kyoko posing with a certain box that serves them well throughout the first season. The cases the Blu-rays come in feature both the Amusement Club and Student Council at the beach while the art book comes with a brief summary of each episode, followed by character descriptions and sketches of each of the eight main girls of the series. After that there are numerous black and white sketches of the various places the girls visit over the course of the first season and the art book closes out with numerous color pictures, likely original promo art, of the cast in various situations.
YuruYuri may have seemed like a series that had no chance of coming overseas and if that ended up being the case, it would have been a loss to numerous fans. While nothing new and imaginative at its core, YuruYuri Season 1 gives us a cast of characters that mesh so well with one another that the comedy they deliver packs quite a punch. While the yuri aspect does work as a launching point for most of the series’ humor, there are many tricks in this series’ bag. As such, YuruYuri’s first season offers an absolutely hilarious anime that anyone with a sense of humor should be able to enjoy.
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