It’s been rarer lately, but from time to time I’ll actually start and finish an older series. Now, this one isn’t that old, but it was on some ridiculous whim that I picked this up and started watching it. I’ve only watched the first season of YuruYuri, so this review will reflect that. It’s a short 12 episode series, airing from July to September 2011. It’s done by studio Dogakobo, and, to be honest, they don’t have much else under their belt. Just some minor work all over the place. Curiously, they worked on Aria: The Animation, which instantly makes them a quality studio in my book. Anyway, you’ll notice that my final score section will be a little different today (and in the future). Instead of a series of 1-5s, I’ll throw out a pros/cons list followed by a final score. It’ll be cleaner, trust me! And, without further ado…
Well, YuruYuri is a comedy/slice of life show. So as far as plot goes, there isn’t much. In fact, it’s pretty much just a background situation, a setting, followed by a bunch of gags. Kind of standard of the genre. Hell, I think “4(or more) cute girls doing cute things” is becoming its own genre nowadays, and they’re all fairly similar. The background for YuruYuri is a group of 4 girls all in the same club, the Amusement Club. They get together in the abandoned tea house in the school, since the tea club has no more members, and they have some jolly times. And… that’s pretty much it, though all the episodes don’t take place in the club room. The plot isn’t really important for a show like this, but the characters are!
And the characters are… kind of mediocre, to be honest. Some are better than others, of course, but none of them are all that great. Starting with the main four, you have Akaza Akari, Yoshikawa Chinatsu, Funami Yui, and Toshinou Kyouko. They each have their own gimmick to their personality. Akari’s, oddly enough, is being not important. That, and her little… buns in her hair. For some reason those get a decent bit of focus. Other than her gimmicks, Akari is a kind of generic bright and cheerful girl. Next is Yoshikawa Chinatsu. She’s the only one of the four that is a newcomer to the group. Akari, Yui, and Kyouko are all actually childhood friends, so being together is natural. In fact, Chinatsu came to the abandoned tea house to join the tea club, but found instead the Amusement Club, and kind of fell in line.
Now, I have to admit, part of the reason I watched YuruYuri was because it was a slice of life/comedy show with some, well, yuri elements. So I was wondering how the show would handle that. It’s barely important though, and is used entirely for more gags. I guess that makes sense, since this is mostly a comedy show, but I was just a bit disappointed. And that brings me to Chinatsu’s gimmick. She likes Yui. Really, really likes Yui. And she’s the type of character that seems all cute and bubbly to most people, but is in fact quite vindictive and mean at times. That’s about all there is to her, though. She’s definitely the least funny of the bunch. Moving on, Funami Yui. My favorite character, probably because she’s not… Extreme in any direction. I suppose Akari isn’t as well, but Akari doesn’t really do all that much in the show, even though she’s a main character. Yui more or less plays the straight man (woman?) to Kyouko and the other characters. That’s about all there is to her character, but because she’s not a crazy character I find her easier to enjoy.
Lastly is Toshinou Kyouko, and she’s definitely the driving force to this show. She instigates most major events and comes across as the de facto leader of the little bunch. She’s also the most outspoken, and is quite enamored with Chinatsu. Kyouko probably has the most going for her, and while I wouldn’t say she’s the most developed character, she’s definitely the one with the most spotlight. Without her the show would be very, very boring, so it’s a necessary role. She’s also fairly funny, which is good considering how often she’s the center of attention. Considering her role in the show, I think she does a good job of coming across as funny and a little bit interesting. Maybe her gags and gimmicks can get a little old at times, but that’s about it. There are other characters (particularly the bunch from the student council) but they’re not all that interesting. To be quite honest, while the characters mostly make shows like these, YuruYuri’s characters are kind of mediocre, which is a disappointment.
The art for YuruYuri is okay. It’s not good, it’s not bad. Animation is likewise. The character designs are similarly okay. I think Akari looks pretty good, and the rest of them look… okay, except for Kyouko. Something about her face and here eyes especially strike me as weird. It might have something to do with her slightly off-kilter personality, but she seems a bit like a mad woman at times. I suppose that fits her character, and of course you get more and more used to it as you watch more. Still, it’s just a little bit creepy.
The music is about as generic as music can get. If you’re into really generic anime-y pop done by the VAs of the main characters then you’ll like this. To be honest, I see it entirely too often. The opening theme is Yuriyurarararayuruyuri Daijiken… Yes, that’s actually the name. Don’t ask me why. It’s by the voice actors of the 4 main characters, so Mikami Shiori, Okubo Rumi, Tsuda Minami, and Otsubo Yuka. They play Akari, Chinatsu, Yui, and Kyouko, respectively. The ending theme is performed by the same bunch, and is called My Pace de Ikimashou. The songs are super generic and not all that great. The BGM is similarly mediocre at best.
As a final note, I don’t really want to say this show is awful. I mean, I watched through all of it and it was okay. The one area these kinds of shows need to excel in to be really great though, is the characters. If you can’t deliver there, the show’s overall quality really falls apart. That’s kind of what happened here.
–Some of the characters, like Kyouko and Yui are okay and fairly funny. Considering Kyouko gets the most focus, this is a big plus.
–Music is generic and mediocre
–By and large the characters don’t make this show as good as they should
–The comedy gets a bit stale at times since the characters rely on the same gimmicks, and there are only a few characters.
Director: Masahiko Ohta
Character design: Chiaki Nakajima
Music: Yasuhiro Misawa
Original creator: Namori
Original run: July 4, 2011 – September 19, 2011
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