The Infinite Zenith

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Tag Archives: Chinatsu Yoshikawa

YuruYuri Ten: Tenth Anniversary OVA Review and Reflection

“Real love stories never have endings.” –Richard Bach

To commemorate YuruYuri‘s tenth anniversary for the manga’s release, Akari, Chinatsu, Yui and Kyōko of the Amusement Club decide to reminisce on events of the past ten years, but inadvertently end up including the prehistoric era. When Ayano and Chitose arrive, they decide to host a party celebrating ten years worth of manga. They decide to help set up decorations for the party, and Himawari decides to help Chinatsu bake some cookies for the party. Meanwhile, Akari and Chitose continue with the decorations after everyone’s left. The next day, the girls kick off celebrations, and play a variety of games. When Akari loses in a rock-paper-scissors variant several times in a row, she ends up passing out from exhaustion after being made to partake in the penalty. She dreams of the encouragement and support her friends have offered her, and after waking up, it turns out that they’d planned a second surprise: the tenth anniversary of YuruYuri happens to coincide with Akari’s birthday, and they’d planned this out for her, as well. In the post-credits scene, Akari wonders how Yui and Kyōko got the photos of her for the birthday slideshow, but Kyōko remarks it’s better not to know. With its combination of comedy and yuri situations, YuruYuri has remained quite consistent in providing good laughs for readers since it began running in 2008. The anime’s first season aired in 2011, and since then, there have been three seasons, plus a special OVA and a web mini-series. Following the life of Akari Akaza and the everyday antics at the Amusement Club, YuruYuri opens as a pure comedy, using its characters purely to drive moments that elicit a smile. However, as the seasons wore on, the series did begin showing a subtle shift as the characters matured. Rather than purely focusing on gags (often at Akari’s expense), YuruYuri began showing a more genuine, tender dynamic between everyone as they come to treasure the time spent together as students. Ayano slowly begins to take the initiative to spend more time with Kyōko. Sakurako demonstrates a more mature side to her personality. Akari becomes less prone to random ills. The sum of this showed that even when character dynamics in YuruYuri began shifting, the series lost none of its edge, and continued to entertain viwers while at once, adding new depth to the characters

By the time of YuruYuri Ten, the series has struck a masterful balance between the heart-warming moments and the hilarious moments. The OVA opens with an unexpected insertion into the prehistoric era, which sees the girls gather fish and wild edibles without any dialogue. This sudden shift in the environment reinforces the sense that YuruYuri is still able to create ludicrous moments for the characters to drive humour. The OVA shifts between more gentle moments where the characters spend time together in preparation for the coming party, whether it be Chinatsu learning to bake under Himawari’s watch (and somehow managing to create a monstrosity that isn’t fit for human eyes), or Akari and Chitose boosting the club room’s decorations. During the party, YuruYuri Ten appears to relapse into the series’ old ways when Akari constantly loses at rock-paper-scissors, but this segues smoothly into a dialogue about what Akari means to everyone. While the OVA could have performed a cruel joke on her in its ending, it concludes in a meaningful manner; per Kyōko’s promise, the OVA did indeed give Akari the focus that she was often denied in the series, showing that over time, people mature and learn as a result of their experiences and time spent together. This is the theme in YuruYuri, and while it is not apparent during the earlier seasons, over time, subtle differences in the characters show that viewers have been watching a very dynamic and changing cast whose adventures become worth following because they show that one’s present situation won’t necessarily always be thus, especially if it is unfavourable, and over time, it is encouraging to see everyone make the most of their time as students while improving their circumstances.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Ten years is a lot of time, and a lot has happened in the past decade. In fact, when YuruYuri first began running as a manga, I was still a secondary student, just getting into anime. When the anime began airing, I was an undergraduate student. That YuruYuri has found a way to keep the party going after all this time is nothing short of impressive, and while the anime might have slowed, the manga is still ongoing.

  • While many things have changed, some things also never change: YuruYuri Ten opens with the same hajimaru yo~! that the first and second seasons utilised. On the other hand, season three employed a much more conventional setup, starting each episode with the opening song. Seeing this introduction come back, together with Akari being interrupted, immediately sets the tone for the rest of the OVA.

  • The Palaeolithic segment of YuruYuri Ten brings to mind the antics of B.C. SpongeBob, which placed familiar characters in a prehistoric setting and similarly reduced the characters to short vocalisations. While B.C. SpongeBob was outright hilarious (it was made before the series degraded into the unintelligible drivel of the present), the YuruYuri Ten version is short, succint and adorable, showing the Amusement Club’s members working together to start a fire and prepare a meal.

  • The prehistoric segment draws to an end once Ayano and Chitose appear. While Kyōko and Akari are quite happy to see them, Chinatsu and Yui are embarassed to have been seen doing this sort of thing. The girls sit down to discuss what to do for the tenth anniversary of YuruYuri, and ultimately decide on a party. Ayano’s tsundere mannerisms have been dialed back during the OVA, but her uncommon talent for making bad puns remains, and she is one of the few people who can consistently make Yui laugh with said puns.

  • It’s quite rare that Himawari and Chinatsu spend time together: ever-driven to impress Yui and win her affections, Chinatsu decides to try her hand at baking cookies, but ends up creating a concotion not dissimilar to Bender’s cooking from Futurama. So appalling is this creation that the contents are blurred out, and from what is seen, Chinatsu’s cookies appear to contain swarms of things. Chinatsu asks Sakurako to try one, and it’s an indicator of how terrifying it is when even Himawari is worried about what will happen to Sakurako after.

  • While Sakurako may be more mature than she was at the start of YuruYuri, she’s still envious of Himawari’s bust and will not hesitate to make her displeasure known whenever something is against her favour. This reminds me somewhat of GochiUsa‘s second season, when an irate Sharo chases Chiya around after Chiya tries on her Fleur de Lapin costume and causes a button to pop off. Himawari’s look of embarrassment is priceless.

  • Subtly has never been YuruYuri‘s strong suit, and Chitose is fond of imagining her friends in various raunchy situations with one another. The dynamic between Ayano and Kyōko has been one that dates back all the way to the series’ beginning, and while Ayano is tsundere in these situations, Kyōko is blissfully unaware of Ayano’s feelings for her: she does all sorts of things that fluster Ayano in the series. YuruYuri Ten makes a call-back to this when Kyōko, seeing Ayano struggling to inflate a balloon, takes the same balloon and inflates it. Ayano blushes because of the implied kiss, but Kyōko is completely unaware of this.

  • After a day’s of work, the Amusement Club’s main room is properly decorated. If memory serves, Ayano met Kyōko while she’d been on a mission to eliminate the Amusement Club as a part of her student council president duties, but over time, came to tolerate and accept the club’s existence. At present, the Amusement Club is no longer a thorn in her side, and she participates with the aim of getting to know Kyōko better, planning to one day make a kokuhaku.

  • The next day, the Amusement Club’s party is under way, and opens with everyone sitting down to food. Chinatsu’s cookies end up scaring Yui, but beyond this, have no long-lasting impact on her health, suggesting they look much scarier than they taste. It is fortunate that such constructs are absent in reality: on top of providing sustenance, food exists to be enjoyed, and I’m always fond of a good meal. Yesterday, I returned to a Chinese bistro that’d I’d not visited in some years for their evening special, which is both tasty and inexpensive. On Saturdays, it’s a flank steak with Russian-style sauce on spaghetti, garnished with pumpkin and carrots.

  • Having seen the club room with the basic decorations, the special decorations Akari adds to it make things even flashier than before. The party starts out fairly relaxed, with much food and conversation, but this would admittedly make for a duller OVA. Once the last of the food is enjoyed and cleared away, the fun and games come out. This is where YuruYuri Ten gets knocked into twelfth gear. The wild antics of YuruYuri match those seen in Rick and Morty at times, and in fact, despite radically different premises and characters, Rick and Morty shares a great deal in common with YuruYuri, striking a balance between storytelling to drive home a certain message and providing no-holds-barred comedy.

  • To the uninitiated, there are two Yuis in this scene: Kyōko’s brought wigs for everyone and passes them out, allowing everyone to take on different appearances. This is a visual gag that is only possible because unlike a live-action work, the fact that hair only has one texture means that palette-swapping is trivially easy to accomplish. For the remainder of the OVA, I’ll only be showing some moments off, as they are best enjoyed in their original form.

  • I don’t recall Yui being quite so touchy about Kyōko’s antics in the original series: after the girls begin playing an imitation game, Yui grows angry and spins Kyōko round (like a record). Yui’s long been presented as the most level-headed of the bunch, and is usually the one who counteracts Kyōko’s wild personality. All of the characters in YuruYuri are likeable, but for me, Yui stands out from everyone for providing insight into how ordinary folk might react to the sorts of things in the series.

  • While soft-spoken and gentle for the most part, YuruYuri Ten also shows Chitose as becoming rather displeased with Kyōko during the imitation game. There’s actually a scene here that involves her overactive imagination painting an image of Kyōko looking after Ayano as a doctor: even in its shorter run, YuruYuri Ten manages to bring back many of the things that made YuruYuri particularly memorable, and while it’s been four years since I’ve watched YuruYuri‘s third season, my recollections of what made this series so hilarious came flooding back upon seeing the OVA.

  • Having taken a look around, I can say with confidence that this is the only complete discussion for YuruYuri Ten that exists on the internet that comes with screenshots. There aren’t any more substantial talks beyond reactions, and to the best of my knowledge, reception to YuruYuri Ten has been quite positive, being a trip down memory lane for most. I have also seen YuruYuri Ten being stylised as YuruYuri、. This is a pun on the fact that the enumeration comma (頓號, jyutping deon6 hou6, literally “pause mark”) in Japanese is pronounced ten.

  • It just wouldn’t be YuruYuri if Akari wasn’t made to suffer at least once: the rock-paper-scissors game that Kyōko suggests has losers act in a much more upbeat, high-energy level with each successive loss. The setup reminds me a little of the Tension Meter seen in Angel Beats!‘ OVA, and because Akari is intrinsically kind, she gets into the spirits and attempts to amp up the tension.

  • While it’s all fun and games initially, the others eventually grow nervous when Akari sustains several losses in a row. Something like this cannot be attributed to pure chance anymore, and as Akari’s efforts eventually has even Kyōko wondering when Akari will snap from being pushed too far. Eventually, Akari seemingly outputs enough energy to create a singularity and ends up in the void. Frightened and alone, she bursts into tears, but the spirit of her friends soon join her.

  • After ten years, YuruYuri has found its feet in being able to turn Akari’s suffering into something heartwarming. In the void, her friends remind her of all of the good she’s done and precious memories they’ve created during their time together. They wish her a happy birthday before Akari wakes up back in the club room. Rather than any Akira-level explanations, it is more plausible to suppose that as a result of having to become increasingly high tension, Akari passed out from exhaustion.

  • In the time that Akari is out, the other members of the Amusement Club prepare a cake and slide show to celebrate Akari’s birthday, as well as her contributions to everyone’s experiences despite being relegated into nonexistence in some cases. It was a bit of an unexpected but welcome twist: Akari’s birthday is given as July 24, which is when YuruYuri Reset began running, and the summer weather does seem to corroborate this, but this also creates a bit of an inconsistency in things, since YuruYuri‘s manga started its journey on June 18, 2008.

  • Of course, it is not my objective to pick apart minor inconsistencies like these, and I’ll let it slide since viewers ultimately end up with a fun return to YuruYuri. The OVA does everything well, capturing the full spirit of the original TV series over the course of its runtime, and as a result, I have no problem recommending this to anyone who enjoyed YuruYuri. 

  • In the post-credits, it turns out that the slideshow was made from photographs that Akari’s older sister, Akane had. Akane’s tendencies are questionable, and Kyōko worries about Akari finding out, so she simply opts not to tell Akari how they’d come to get the photographs. The Amusement Club then decides to figure out what their next activity should be, bringing the OVA to a close. This also brings my discussion to a close: we’re now nearing the end of November, and the only post on the plate is for Jon’s Creator Showcase.

Because the YuruYuri manga began its journey in 2008, 2019 technically is not the ten-year anniversary, and the OVA (along with this post) would be more appropriately labelled as being the eleventh anniversary. However, since the OVA was announced in 2018 as a celebratory project, the ten-year designation can be said to hold true. From what I’ve seen, production on YuruYuri Ten was delayed, and this is why the tenth anniversary special came to be a year later. Eleven years after the manga’s beginnings, and eight years since the anime adaptation first began running, YuruYuri has become a bit of a forgotten title: while reception to the series was quite positive, the reality is that the last YuruYuri finished running in 2015 with season three. Thus, the fact that YuruYuri received an OVA to celebrate its tenth anniversary at all is nothing short of miraculous, showing both the creators’ commitment to the series, as well as the fan’s dedication: the OVA was funded by a crowd-funding project that met its objectives in February 2019, and it was a few weeks ago when YuruYuri Ten released. Despite being produced by a different studio (Lay-duce handled this, whereas TYO Animations had done the earlier seasons), YuruYuri Ten retains all of the pacing, character designs and stylistic choices present in the series. Overall, the OVA is a welcome addition to the series, providing a reminder of a series that has done an excellent job of striking a balance between gag humour and meaningful character growth amongst the cast. YuruYuri Ten is therefore quite worth watching, bringing back many of the elements that made the TV series so enjoyable while simultaneously celebrating a well-deserved tenth anniversary.

YuruYuri☆San-Hai! Full-series review and reflection

“It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

While it might not be immediately apparent in this blog’s archive, I have watched all instalments of YuruYuri prior to this third season: the earlier seasons yielded a highly comical depiction of life as middle-school students, placing particular emphasis on the interpersonal interactions between the anime’s all-female cast after Kyōko Toshinō creates the Amusement Club out of boredom, roping Yui Funami, Akari Akaza and Chinatsu Yoshikawa into things. There seems to never be a dull moment in their everyday lives, especially once Ayano Sugiura, Chitose Ikeda, Sakurako Ohmuro and Himawari Furutani, members of the student council, become entangled in the Amusement Club’s antics. Previous seasons placed particular emphasis on each character’s eccentricities, and how these dynamics produce the humour that YuruYuri became known for. By the third season, the anime had changed hands, being produced by TYO Animations rather than Dogakobo, and while TYO’s artistic style has remained quite faithful to their predecessors, there is no denying that TYO also brings to the table a new direction for the YuruYuri series, forgoing the over-the-top comedies in favour of something more down-to-earth.

This new direction ultimately alters the atmosphere of YuruYuri☆San-Hai! compared to its predecessors: lacking the same comedy, San-Hai! focuses more on maturation between the characters as they spend more time together: no longer overcome by shyness, Ayano finds herself gaining the courage to spend more time with Kyōko rather than fighting with her, whether it’s as simple as a day at the park or together at the movies. Similarly, Himawari and Sakurako’s interactions this season appear more natural: while both still clash frequently, the number of tender moments between the two have increased, as well, to underline that their relationship’s true nature is that of friendship. Another aspect that I welcomed is that Akari is no longer the victim to a lack of presence: the everyman in YuruYuri, Akari simply serves to help the other characters out as they go about their adventures. These changes are subtle, but definitely noticeable: while the characters still largely retain the personalities that made each of them distinct, the new interactions hint at maturation that gives San-Hai! a different atmosphere relative to that seen in seasons one and two.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • This is technically the third YuruYuri post I’ve written, although it’s the first full length write-up I’ve done for a season. For the first season, the review here was meant to be a supplement for my review back at my old site and thus, I did not include the usual twenty (or ten) images most of my talks have. In comparison with previous seasons, San-Hai!‘s colour palette is less saturated, and the gag involving Akari’s lack of presence has been removed from the opening sequence.

  • Exchanging comedy in favour of character growth, San-Hai! pushes the characters towards new directions; here, Kyōko and Ayano share a conversation. Despite Ayano’s hostility towards Kyōko in earlier seasons, she’s allowing herself to come to terms with her feelings and by San-Hai!, finds herself spending more time with Kyōko. Similarly, Kyōko seems somewhat aware of Ayano’s feelings, and while she never expresses so outright, compliments Ayano every so often as appreciation.

  • With that being said, comedy is still present in San-Hai!, with much of the humour arising from the sheer ridiculousness of the situations that characters set themselves up for. For instance, during a sleepover, Kyōko requests that Yui does a “sexy” pose, and wastes no time in snapping an image after coercing Yui into doing so, sending it to Akari, whose reaction is priceless. She later uses the photograph to defuse a prank that Sakurako and the others are playing on her during their sleepover.

  • The animal pajamas from the first season have become somewhat of a signature style to YuruYuri and have made an appearance in all seasons of the anime. While everyone has an animal motif, Kyōko sports tomato-themed pajamas that are rather unique. Consequently, when these pajamas are seen in the Sabagebu! OVAs, its quite clear that it’s a callback to YuruYuri.

  • When Himawari finds herself unable to perform a back hip circle for physical education, Yui and the others spend a bit of time in helping her. However, it’s ultimately Sakurako who manages to “motivate” Himawari sufficiently to successfully perform one. It’s revealed that Sakurako’s kanji recognition is atrocious, and she oftentimes will create some rather unusual puns as a result.

  • Chitose is still prone to fantasising about her friends engaging in yuri activities, although the frequency of said fantasies have declined substantially in comparison to previous seasons, and moreover, experiences nosebleeds as a result. Previous seasons had her covering a room with blood in a similar manner as seen in Rainbow Six Siege. Done purely for comedy, it’s been dialed back in San-Hai!.

  • Despite acting with no semblance of self-awareness and her own interests in heart for the most part, by San-Hai!, Sakurako has matured and is better able to pick up on the environment around her: here, she yields an apple that Kyōko had carved to Ayano, and she had spent a fair bit of the OVA preparing dinner for Ayano during a sleepover. Things went surprisingly well there, showing that Sakurako is capable of being more mindful of others.

  • Kyōko’s bold personality is a good match for Ayano’s bashfulness, and while seemingly exasperated by the former’s antics, Ayano does come to appreciate Kyōko’s company. They spend a day together at the movies, and upon learning that Ayano had tickets to a movie Kyōko was looking to watch, the pair decide to watch a second movie in one day.

  • One of San-Hai!‘s best moments is set without dialogue: after Rise returns Akari’s notebook, exchanges akin to that seen in Straw Millionaire occur. Each trade progressively helps one individual, and in paying it forward, minor problems the characters experience become solved. It’s a surprisingly effective story that mirrors some of Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes strips that told stories using purely imagery.

  • Chizuru and Kaede share a moment together at the park, after which Chizuru resolves to try and maintain a more approachable air about her, eventually befriending two of her classmates a as a result. Watching Kaede and Mari’s interactions with the rest of the cast is particularly enjoyable; they are remarkably wise for their years and

  • The dynamics between Sakurako and Kyōko are seen less often in comparison with the others, and despite both characters’ propensity for causing others trouble, the two get along surprisingly well: Kyōko instructs Sakurako in the ways of working claw machines, and while her approach is seemingly wasteful, Sakurako does manage to get what she came for in the end.

  • In a progression of events reminiscent of GochiUsa‘s Sneaking Stalking Stalker Story, Mari and Kaede’s errands are being followed by Himawari, Sakurako, Yui and Kyōko. On a somewhat unrelated note, I believe this is the first post I’ve ever published to feature a ☆ in its title, and of greater note is that said star appears to be a part of the post’s URL slug. Neat.

  • Kyōko-class antics make a return after Akari and Yui shovel out the walk at Mari’s home. Much as how snow only covers the ground in one episode of San-Hai!, the weather where I am this winter has been surprisingly mild. In fact, it feels distinctly like spring, and contrary to the weather typical to my area this time of year, the temperature has not dropped below -15°C for more than five days for the past month.

  • While it’s usually Ayano’s puns that send Yui into suppressed hysterics, a rare moment allowing the two to converse allows the opposite to hold true. It seems that Yui’s puns, however poor they are, are sufficient to get Ayano laughing, as well. Despite being cool and quiet for the most part, San-Hai! also illustrates another side to Yui’s personality: she’s prone to skipping about in happiness after learning a new game is coming out, and spends a bit of one episode convincing Ayano that she’s not crying for any emotional reason.

  • In preparation for a flower-viewing party, Himawari and Yui prepare some of the obento while Kyōko spends the night camped out at the site to ensure availability. A quick glance at the calendar shows that we’re now around halfway into the Winter 2016 anime season, and only now have I found the time to write a full reflection for an Autumn 2015 anime. Time flies by, and February, more so than January, disappeared in the blink of an eye.

  • We’re reaching the halfway point in the semester, and I’d been feeling a little on edge with my workload until recently. Besides coursework for my one remaining class on biological computations, TA duties and thesis work, I’ve also spent the past two months working on a second conference publication. Despite this one having an eight-page limit, I somehow managed to overshoot the limit by three pages (plus citations, figures and abstract), and it’s taken two weeks to bring it back down to eight pages.

  • It is remarkably welcoming to see Akari bask in good fortune for once, even if it is only for a little while: beleaguered with poor fortunes for the past two seasons, Akari is easily the easiest character to pity for everything that happens to her, and consequently, when Akari’s luck stablises for San-Hai!, I was most happy to see that misfortune did not befall her with the same frequency or intensity as it did in previous seasons.

  • Although her sash gets blown away shortly after, her friends’ reaction implies that Akari’s luck is endearing to an extent. Later, Kyōko and the others spend the night at the Amusement Club room in order to finish Kyōko’s doujin comics, sleeping in shifts and doing their utmost to finish. My current schedule notwithstanding, I’ve not pulled all-nighters simply because I cease to function after 2300. I counter this by planning things in advance and finishing things in an organised manner, so for said conference paper, although much editing remains this point (and I need to fix the Bibtex file), I’m confident that my supervisor and I will make the deadline of Monday.

  • Once the paper is submitted, I can finally focus my attention back to my thesis paper and coursework as we enter March, as well as turn my attention to another conference with a submission deadline in April. March will yield a few surprises on my end, and so, as has been the norm for 2016 thus far, blogging will be sporadic. Back in San-Hai!, the girls finally near the end of their task and take a moment to enjoy the fresh morning air.

  • While Akari hugs Kyōko, Yui and Chinatsu pet her after hearing Kyōko’s speech about appreciating everything the others have done for her. With this, YuruYuri☆San-Hai! comes to a quiet, low-key end. Despite the differences between San-Hai! and the previous seasons, this third season has lost none of the charm that made YuruYuri distinct. This post now comes to an end, and I’m turning my eye towards talks about the Tom Clancy‘s The Division beta; given the different experiences I had playing through the campaign and dark zone, I’ve decided to do two separate talks for that. I’ve got a bit of a respite over the next little while, so at least the campaign talk should be out before March arrives.

Consequently, YuruYuri☆San-Hai! trades off comedy for some elements from a iyashikei: watching the characters spend more tender moments together is an interesting change of pace from what was seen in previous seasons. In addition to giving the characters some development, this also allows for different characters to interact with one another (Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka?? did this quite successfully). With that being said, comedy is still definitely present in San-Hai!, being fielded in appropriate spots to create moments that elicit laughter (my favourite is during a power outage, where Kyōko makes faces at Akari and denies doing so, until the power is restored, upon which it turns out that Akari had been truthful the entire time). Overall, San-Hai! is a solid addition to YuruYuri, and given how it played out, it would appear that the series has matured: with its characters’ identities well-established, they now have an opportunity to mature. While this results in less comedy, it’s also resulted in Ayano becoming more honest with Kyōko, and similarly, Chinatsu’s begun pursuing Yui’s affections. When everything is said and done, YuruYuri☆San-Hai! is quite easy to recommend as a standalone anime that for depicting the everyday lives of among a group of friends in a humorous fashion, but existing fans will welcome the new directions that YuruYuri is taking.

YuruYuri Nachuyachumi! Review and Reflection

“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).

YuruYuri

Right after starting middle school, Akari Akaza joins the Amusement Club which is composed solely by her two childhood friends, Kyouko Toshinou and Yui Funami. Chinatsu Yoshikawa, Akaza’s classmate, becomes a member after finding out about the dissolution of the Tea Club. The Amusement Club, situated at the tea room facility since the Tea Club disbanded, has no clear purpose, being free for the girls to do whatever they want.

Personal Opinion

YuruYuri is approximated as “Easy-going Yuri” and has nothing to do with Yuri from Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3.  As per its title, YuruYuri is prima facie another slice-of-life anime set in a junior high/middle school setting with a minimal plot. Upon closer inspection, YuruYuri is in fact a brilliant interpretation of the potential for slapstick comedy underlying everyday situations. Coupled with its depiction of rather more curious aspects of friendship, YuruYuri follows the story behind a remarkably diverse cast of characters and their oftentimes unreal adventures. Through its outrageous, over-the-top humour, YuruYuri delivers amusement that is fairly difficult to top, and in conjunction with its character dynamics, YuruYuri ultimately presents a superior series about the implications of specific types of friendship and interaction at the middle school level. If asked, I would likely sum up the series in one word as ‘depraved’, but it is precisely this element that drives the entirety of the humour in the series. Moreover, if I were asked about my favourite character, it would probably be Akari on the virtue that she suffers at the hands of fate more often than the others, and despite that, somehow manages to maintain her cheerful mannerisms.

  • From left to right, we have Toshino Kyouko!, Akari Akaza, Yui Funami and Chinatsu Yoshikawa. Because this review ventures outside the scope of my website, I’ve taken a new direction and have omitted screenshots from the anime. Instead, this page is to be graced by some of the various thoughts I’ve had about the series, as well as some cool-sauce art.

  • Akari is an ordinary character and thus, satirises the genre of anime as being populated by exuberant characters, creating  a setting where ordinary people will distinctly feel drab, or even invisible. In fact, Akari’s lack of a presence forms the basis for some jokes against her, leading her to pout. Viewers may also pity her for all that she goes through.

  • Members of the student council from left to right, regardless of depth in the image, are Ayano Sugiura, Chitose Ikeda, Rise Matsumoto, Sakurako Ohmuro and Himawari Furutani. Despite having enough characters to branch off onto its own show, their inclusion liven up the series substantially. Each of the characters have their own unique personalities, including Ayano’s tsundere tendencies towards Toshino Kyouko!, Chitose’s insane fantasies, Rise’s endearing lack of audible speech, Sakurako’s cheerfulness and  Himawari’s elegant speech patterns.

  • Kyouko is considered major protagonist in YuruYuri. An optimistic and selfish blonde girl, she is often causing Yui trouble and crushing on Chinatsu, who resembles her favorite anime character, Mirakurun, but also displays a remarkably caring and sensitive side, as well. Despite her lazy attitude, she often gets high scores in tests after cram sessions. She enjoys eating rum raisin ice cream and is also a talented dōjin artist. Her presence livens the anime up, especially with regard with respect to the way she speaks and addresses other characters.

  • Akari’s odango hairstyle is imagined to possess funnel-like characteristics, in a manner not too dissimilar to Chiyo-chan’s pigtails from Azumanga Daioh. Polite and timid, she is overshadowed by the other characters, but from a personal perspective, her lack of any defining characteristics is a defining characteristic in its own right.

At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is whether or not I recommend YuruYuri and its successor, YuruYuri♪♪. I personally picked the series up after an intriguing forum signature compelled me to check out the series, and I do not regret it. This series is comedic gold and quite worthwhile to check out for its unique take on humour, unless the reader is a mortal enemy of the entire slice-of-life genre.