“There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt.” —Erma Bombeck
I do not believe that I’ve written about YuruYuri here for quite some time, so this post will presumably break that streak I held. YuruYuri Nachuyachumi! (from here on out, simply referred to as the YuruYuri OVAs) follow Akari and the others during their summer vacation, as they partake on a camping trip, water fights, tell ghost stories, and look over their vacation photos. Later, both the amusement club and student council have separate sleepovers, with the amusement club trying to capture a photo of Kyouko while she’s sleeping, and Sakurako working her hardest to express appreciation towards Ayano. This is something that I should have watched during the summer, but one thing led to another, and so here I am, three months late to the party. With that being said, the YuruYuri OVAs were remarkably entertaining to watch.
Some three years have passed since I last watched YuruYuri, and this may have an impact on my recollections of it; at present, I find that in comparison with YuruYuri and YuruYuri♪♪, the YuruYuri OVAs take on a more reflective tone. The jokes are dialled back in comparison to the TV series, and there appears to be a greater emphasis on the characters interacting with one another as friends, rather than polar opposites. Yui seems less exasperated at Kyouko’s antics, and Ayano’s bashfulness around Kyouko isn’t as pronounced. Chinatsu isn’t so prone towards concocting lethal meals or frightening artworks, and Akari’s presence is not so frequently neglected. Similarly, Chitose indulges in fewer fantasies, while the vitriol between Himawari and Sakurako as lessened. While this might initially lead to the sense that YuruYuri‘s strongest attribute, its humour, is less effectual, the OVAs manage to show the characters in a different light. In particular, Sakurako’s desire to properly express gratitude towards Sakurako shows that, despite her typically immature actions, she’s matured somewhat, and consequently, the YuruYuri OVAs are a refreshing, laid-back take on a series otherwise characterised by its over-the-top comedy, offering a very rewarding and relaxing take on the Amusement Club and Student Council’s activities over the course of their summer vacation.
Screenshots and Commentary
- We’re now in the depths of autumn now, and ever since Halloween ended, a cold weather pattern has made itself at home, bringing a chill into the wind. With Daylight Savings now over, the sun sets much earlier, and it already feels like winter is right on our doorsteps. It’s been three years since I last watched YuruYuri, and it’s quite pleasant to see all of the characters back together again for what will be presumably the last season of the anime. The OVA begins when a rice pot is discovered in the Amusement Club’s club room, motivating the girls to go on a camping trip.
- I say “presumably” because anime about life in high school tend to only have three years’ worth of material to work with. Here, Chinatsu, Sakurako, Himawari and Akari enjoy beverages at what appears to be a coffee shop with a small library. One of my favourite places to hang out is a bookstore just a train station away from campus: it’s a bookstore with an attached coffeeshop, and I do love the smell of coffee accompanying me as I browse through the volumes.
- While some elements of YuruYuri‘s first and second season do make their way into the OVA, for the most part, the jokes have been dialed back: Chinatsu is shown to have put together a delicious lunch that stands in stark comparison to the concoctions she was known for creating earlier. Likewise, while Kyoukou is as boisterous as ever, she doesn’t appear to cause any major trouble for anyone (her desire to photograph the Mirakurun doesn’t cause everyone to miss their train, for instance).
- I was a little surprised to learn that a different studio would be at the helm of producing the YuruYuri OVAs (and the third season), so well have they reproduced the style from earlier seasons. The only major difference appears to be the colour saturation, but even then, it’s very subtle. I imagine that either they have some of the artists and animators from the previous studio on board, or else their artists and animators must be fantastically skilled.
- Another change from the YuruYuri TV series is that Sakurako seems to be much more likeable: she still retains her lazy personality, but it feels significantly more natural in the OVAs compared to the TV series. Here, she and Kyoukou cycle between arguing about different foods to get, and then suddenly agreeing on one another’s tastes. Despite the potential for a disaster, they wind up picking an excellent curry.
- Consequently, without any major scenes of chaos or destruction, YuruYuri is able to present a rather heartwarming story about a group of friends on a camping trip. I’ve never gone camping proper myself before: the closest was with my junior high’s band at a campsite with cabins during band camp (we define camping to be roughing it under the stars with no running water).
- Himawari and Sakurako’s relationship during the TV series felt more antagonistic than what one might expect two friends to reasonably share, and it is in the OVAs where the two’s friendship feels more realistic. Before I forget, the summer OVAs’ title Nachuyachumi (なちゅやちゅみ) is roughly equivalent to saying “Shummer Vacashun” in English. The mispronunciation holds several implications for YuruYuri, mainly that it’s supposed to be a comedy.
- A test of courage allows the different pairs to bond: YuruYuri translates directly into “easygoing lily” in English, but “yuri” itself refers to a form of love amongst females. The precise definition and etymology is sufficiently complex to be considered worthy of academic study, although 1) for our purposes, I’ll consider “yuri” to be interactions amongst female friends where romantic overtones are clear and present to a much greater extent than a conventional friendship and 2) I do not believe that yuri is meritorious of academic study for the present, especially considering that research funding is limited and would be better spent elsewhere.
- The animal-themed pajamas make a return in the camping trip, and although they might appear to be present for blatant fanservice, they also appear quite warm, making them well-suited for a night out in the mountains. Kyoukou’s tomato pajamas were referenced in Sabagebu!; Kayo wears them during an unexpected sleepover at Momoka’s place.
- The first of the YuruYuri OVAs was quite long, clocking in at around 50 minutes and was released back in February, so that makes me around nine months late to the party. I did not even know that there would be an OVA series, but the OVAs are probably intended to raise interest in the third season. After the first OVA, the second and third were released in August and September, respectively. Both of these have a more conventional running length.
- A water fight leaves Akari, Chinatsu, Kyoukou and Yui soaked. They stagger home to change and are mistaken as onryou, sparking some rather chilling ghost stories at school the next day. This water fight really gives the characters a chance to bounce off one another: a major aspect of slice-of-life is its depiction of joy in seemingly ordinary everyday events, and has certainly helped me appreciate the more mundane aspects of life, such as the play of sunlight on the grass during a sunrise while I wait for the bus.
- After the excitement that was the camping trip, the remaining two OVAs seem to convey the sense of nostalgia associated with the end of summer, as the shadows creep back into the world and daylight shortens. Here, the girls look through photographs of their camping trip and decide to pay the student council a visit to share their photographs.
- The ubiquitous nature of social media means that sharing photos in this manner is a lost art: very few people still print their photos, much less gather together afterwards to view them. Because I’m (ironically) somewhat old-fashioned, I still print out vacation photos and share them with family.
- Yui, Chinatsu and Akari clandestinely plot revenge against Kyoukou after they learn that the latter had secretly photographed everyone as they slept: they resolve to push Kyoukou to exhaustion (itself a difficult task) and then photograph her.
- Omelette rice is a distinctly Japanese dish: with origins in Tokyo’s Ginza district, it was influenced by Western-style cooking. Owing to Japanese rule in both nations, omelette rice is also a common dish in South Korea and Taiwan. I vaguely recall watching one of the OVAs while attempting to down a massive pulled-pork poutine a month ago, which is quite telling of my tendency to procrastinate as a blogger.
- Quite separately, Sakurako and Himawari host a sleepover for Ayano and Chitose: after realising how kind Ayano’s been to her, Sakurako decides to reciprocate, and contrary to her usual self, she proves to be very thoughtful and attentive, managing to cook a delicious meal for Ayano and Chitose. Watching Sakurako doing these sorts of things was quite warming, and at times, she does remind me somewhat of Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka?‘s Sharo Kirima.
- After dinner, Yui, Chinatsu and Akari decide to partake in some video games to tire Kyoukou out, making use of their DSes to play an RPG of sorts. I’ve not been to a LAN party for four years now: most of my time hanging out with friends are for raclette, at pubs or bowling (as I will be partaking later this evening). This is mainly because all of us have drivers’ licenses and are able to get to pubs (or whatever venue said activities are held at) more easily.
- One particularly memorable LAN party was set four years ago during mid-August. After my workday had ended, I arrived early and so, watched The Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi on my iPad. After a thunderstorm inundated the area, my other friends began arriving, so we about grilling some burgers, before linking some Xboxes together for Halo Reach. We spent the remainder of the evening playing slayer on Reflection. The days of hooking up four Xboxes together for some 8 on 8 slayer are long past, but the memories are most pleasant.
- Akari, Yui and Chinatsu try several methods to tire out Kyoukou, eventually settling on homework. Even then, it’s tough keeping Kyoukou asleep, but their efforts soon pay off. There’s actually a rather funny (but quick) Street Fighter II reference when Chinatsu decides to wrastle Kyoukou as part of their ploy: Kyoukou uses the hundred-hand slap, but is defeated by Chinatsu’s Sumo Headbutt (complete with E. Honda’s famous dosukoi).
- With their collection complete, the OVA returns to the student council, who’ve had a fantastic time. Sakurako resolves to do this again at some point in the future, and the OVA ends with a preview of season three. A part of the fall 2015 line-up, I believe we’re around five episodes in: I’ll definitely be back to do an after-three review, and that should come out sometime next week. In the meantime, I’ll be watching and writing about Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka??‘s fifth episode tomorrow, so stay tuned!
I’ve yet to actually watch YuruYuri San☆Hai!, as I had resolved to at least finish this post before beginning my journey. With three years having elapsed since I watched any YuruYuri, I’m quite curious to see what it’s going to be like: TYO Animations (of Tamayura fame) is manning the helm for this third season and did a fantastic job with the OVAs (the first two seasons were done by Dogakobo, who also did Love Lab). I’ve heard that compared to previous iterations, YuruYuri San☆Hai!‘s colour scheme is less saturated, but with that being said, I’ve managed to somehow avoid spoilers and discussions on the third season so far. I’m quite interested to see if YuruYuri San☆Hai! will feel distinctly different to the first two seasons, and I imagine that I’ll be following a conventional posting schedule for this one (so, one review after three episodes, and one for the entire season if the series hasn’t been dropped).