“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.