Tuesday, August 2, 2011


The summer's still sizzling, but no worries! Go to your local convention and GET THAT ICE COLD WATER FOR ONLY ONE DOLLAR. If you only have 99 cents, then cool off with some of our Summer 2011 anime reviews. This time we cover YuruYuri, an anime adaption of the manga written by Namori currently running in Comic Yuri Hime.

It's hard to really judge what sorts of genres in anime are capable of fitting together with the likes of yuri (girls' love) comics. For the most part, yuri seems to enjoy using high-school dramas as its hiding place (Maria-sama ga Miteru, Aoi Hana), but that doesn't mean that yuri can't be set in an action show (Revolutionary Girl Utena) or a comedy (Miyuki-chan in Wonderland). However, it's a little unsettling to come across the concept for YuruYuri, the latest comic from the pages of the Comic Yuri Hime anthology to be animated, as it attempts to stitch light-hearted comedy and slice-of-life situations with girl-on-girl fantasies.

YuruYuri both gravitates towards and away from the life of middle-school student Akari Akaza, the show's "main character" and token dojikko. While she's airheaded in nature, she does lead a happy school life with her upperclassmen Yui and Kyôko and spends days with them in the "Amusement Club", which does nothing but sit around the school teahouse and talk. Of course, this lazy activity gets the ire from Ayano, the class president.

Enter pink-haired Chinatsu, and the dynamic shifts almost instantly. We soon understand that Kyôko's a total otaku for magical-girl shows and is in love with Chinatsu's similarity to the main character "Mirakurun". However, Chinatsu has fallen for Yui's kind-hearted nature, while Ayano has this tsundere approach towards Kyôko in the process. With all that going on, vice-president Chitose envisions naughty situations between Ayano and Kyôko, thus developing constant nosebleeds in the process. All of this imagined and self-professed love between schoolgirls leaves Akari in the dark, often the butt of the joke for being the "invisible main character".

Okay, there are many different discussions I could lead after watching the first third of YuruYuri, but not too many of them are positive. The art isn't overly childish and the designs by Chiaki Nakajima are pretty stable, but at times the show feels like it would rather display the characters as posable dolls. The situations are pretty much unchanged from other "no-boy-characters-allowed" slice-of-life shows, even going as far to steal the "Removable Ponytails" idea from Azumanga Daioh and the "Let's Go To Comiket!" idea from Lucky Star.

It is a little disappointing to see that director Masahiko Oota (Mitsudomoe) was put in charge of a school comedy that really misses the point. While the yuri genre tends to explore more adult situations and more committed versions of love, YuruYuri opts for childish subjects by seeing what would happen if middle-school girls crushed all over each other. This one-sided attention to the show provides no change in the schticks put into place. Probably the only thing that will grow on you is the catchy opening and closing themes, and even those might grate on your nerves.

Story: 1
Animation: 2
Characters: 2
Track: 3
"Hype": 2

Overall: 9/25

YuruYuri seems to have made the terrible assumption that fans would be happy with a complacent cast and hints of sexuality, but putting such devices in a middle-school slice-of-life show just feels creepy. Yes, it's likely that there won't be anything more than misguided fantasies and "Sempaaaai!" calls, but this show is a lot like that "Do Not Enter" door in Akari's house. Do we really want to explore this side of yuri?

(YuruYuri is simulcast on Crunchyroll every Monday at 1:30 PM EDT.)

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