YuruYuri Season Two Premium Edition

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Sunday, February 9, 2014

The first season of YuruYuri had its moments but ultimately failed to click with me due to the fact that it tended to repeat the same jokes over and over again from one episode to the next. Nearly four months after NIS America released the 12 episode series as a Blu-ray Premium Edition the publisher has put out the second season, YuruYuri♪♪. For those of you who have seen the first season this one will definitely feel familiar, as there is the same mixture of random slice of life and humor with a healthy dose of yuri actin. But the major difference is that the writing has taken a step forward and there are more genuinely funny moments than before, making this set of episodes stand out a bit more than its predecessor.

As YuruYuri is a show focused on comedy, yuri, and absolutely random situations rather than an overarching plot it is possible to jump into this season without having seen the previous one. Each of the main cast members hasn’t really changed from before, as their personalities are almost exactly the same (see more detailed descriptions about each one from my first review here). Akari is still obsessed with the fact that she tends to blend in with the crowd and doesn’t have an easily definable characteristic, Kyoko’s as zany and outgoing as ever, and Chinatsu’s obsession with Yui reaches even crazier levels than before. I liked the dynamic between the main cast in the first season and it still works quite well here, as Akari and Yui are the more normal of the four that help to counterbalance Kyoko’s and Chinatsu’s crazier elements. The secondary cast of Ayano, Chitose, Himawari, and Sakurako get a bit more screen time this time around as well and they continue to bring an extreme dose of tsundere and screen filling nosebleeds. If you weren’t crazy about any of the characters before this set of episodes won’t do much to change your mind, but I still found quite a few of them to be entertaining and they did make the show enjoyable to watch. In particular, any of the scenes where Kyoko’s antics or Himawari and Sakurako got the spotlight this season were ones that stood out to me.

YuruYuri♪♪ does still place a significant emphasis on some of the same jokes that were used to the point of exhaustion previously, but there are enough standout and genuinely funny moments in between them that it isn’t quite as tiring this time around. The episode format hasn’t changed, as each one revolves around one or two random events that take place either inside the middle school classroom setting or when the characters are interacting outside of school. As you might expect based on the title of the series, every interaction has heavy yuri connotations and this continues to be where much of the humor comes from. But the biggest difference is that this is no longer the sole element holding the series up, and there are a lot more ideas that viewers may find themselves laughing at. There is a ping pong scene early on where the main joke is that Chinatsu’s hair somehow eats all of the balls, and a hilarious yet slightly disturbing scene where it is implied that Chinatsu’s ability to give massages essentially broke Akari’s body. The second to last episode even goes for a spoof of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, which worked far better than I had anticipated. While the first series used a lot of overly familiar anime tropes and injected them with some yuri flair, this time around it seems like the scenarios stood out a bit more and there were more that I think I’ll remember for some time to come.

One element that has been consistently great through both of YuruYuri’s seasons has been the animation. Dogakobo has been able to take Namori’s artwork and really bring it to life, as the show pops off the screen with bright colors and cute character designs that grab your attention right from the beginning. I also didn’t notice any real drops in animation from episode to the next, and it seemed like the studio really made an effort to ensure that YuruYuri was as eye catching as possible no matter what scene someone started watching it on. Each of the characters has particular design quirks that makes them distinguishable not only within the show itself, but within anime as a whole. This is an impressive achievement when you consider how many shows there have been in the past five years or so that feature cute girls doing random things, and I think it is part of the reason that the series has gotten a dedicated following.

YuruYuri’s second season continues to use the voice actresses in the opening and ending themes, and this is another area where it really seemed to excel. I’ve noticed a trend in the anime industry in recent years where the voice actors and actresses are also performing all of the music that pops up in the show, but some of the results have been better than others. YuruYuri has been one of the series it has worked quite well for, as not only do the actresses give the characters a lot of personality but they can all sing quite well and provide some catchy arrangements that will stick with viewers. This is one of those shows that seems to have started to bring the next generation of anime voices out, as the majority of the characters are played by relative newcomers rather than actresses that have a recognizable voice and have been in a ton of series over the last decade. It’s great to see that the actresses really seem to be giving their all to the performance and step into the role of these characters, as it helps significantly.

The last couple of anime series that NIS America licensed haven’t had that much in the way of on-disc extras, so it was a pleasant surprise to find that YuruYuri’s second season had quite a bit of content. In addition to the usual clean opening/ending themes there were additional funny episode previews and video artwork features that showcased how a particular scene went from its initial sketch to the final sequence. It’s still somewhat rare for North American anime fans to get this kind of insight into how shows are made, so having this included adds a great deal of value. The artbook included in the Premium Edition goes even further, providing some brief episode synopses and then dedicating the majority of its pages to character sketches and still artwork. I continue to enjoy seeing this behind the scenes look at how much work goes into bringing anime to life, and hope that NIS can continue to include things like this in their box sets.

YuruYuri still may not stand out to me as much as some of the other comedy anime out there, and it’s definitely not one of my favorite series NIS America has licensed, but the show did get better during this season and there were more scenarios that stood out. Clearly it has done well in Japan as it was recently announced that a new anime project has been greenlit (though it remains to be seen if this will be another season, OVA, or movie), but it didn’t quite stick with me the same way that I had hoped. If you already enjoyed the first 12 episodes or are interested in a yuri-centric comedy this one’s still a good bet, but YuruYuri isn’t going to be one of those anime I fondly remember years from now.

http://nisamerica.com/index.php?nav=ap&aid=yuruyuri

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