Any show can be about school girls, but it takes a certain kind of show to make it as enjoyable as this.
What They Say:
Right after starting middle school, Akari Akaza joins the Amusement Club, whose only other members are her two childhood friends Kyoko Toshino and Yui Funami. Chinatsu Yoshikawa, Akari’s classmate, becomes the fourth member after falling head over heels for Yui. The Amusement Club meets at the abandoned tea ceremony room and has no clear purpose, leaving the girls to do whatever they want. More often than not, Kyoko stirs up some wild scheme to get everyone in trouble as a means to pass the time and experience the ideal middle school life!
Contains episodes 1-12 plus a hardcover, full-color, 32-page art book complete with episode guides, character art and descriptions, and promotional art.
The audio presentation for this release is standard for NIS America in that we get the original Japanese language only in stereo using the uncompressed PCM format for it at 1.5mbps. The series is one that is largely dialogue driven but it has some good incidental music throughout and plenty of expressive moments from the cast and their actions that helps it go beyond just the dialogue and all. The structure of the series makes for a few fun flights of fancy that come up and with a whirlwind of camera angles at times, dialogue gets moved around well with some decent placement and directionality. While it doesn’t play in the same realm as an action series, it does stand above a lot of other standard school based shows and is a lot of fun with its mix. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during playback.
Originally airing in the summer of 2011, the transfer for this twelve episode TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codlec. The show is spread across two discs with nine on the first and three on the second, which is fairly standard. Animated by Dogakobo, the series has a lot of good colors to it and plenty of motion throughout in many scenes, especially the flights of fancy, so it’s not just stuck to the real and familiar. The colors come across as very solid here and while the main aspect of the show has a sort of standard and not altogether vibrant look to it, that makes the vibrant bits stand out, such as the whole Mirakun transformation in the first episode that just pops beautifully. THere’s a good bit of detail to the show overall and the transfer captures it very well with a clean, solid look to it that’s free of faults such as line noise or cross coloration. Colors generally remain very solid with little in the way of noise there, though some does creep in from time to time.
The packaging for this release continues the solid tradition of excellent premium edition releases. The heavy chipboard box is really nice with its glossy feel that fits the show as we get the front cover with the core four girls of the series, with Akari off to the upper side no less, with lots of soft colors that makes it feel bubbly and alive. The back cover works just as well as we see them along the door in their clubhouse so we get some of the interior but also the outside shot as well with all of them being cute and silly. Inside the box we get the two clear thin cases where the front covers provide beach scenes featuring all of the main girls overall with lots of sun, sand and amusing fanservice as well. The back covers bring out a number of shots from the show itself that are different on each disc which highlights the cast and the designs quite well. Silly cast shots dominate each back cover in general and we get a good rundown of the episodes by number and title along with the respective technical information for that volume. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The best piece though, once again, is the excellent hardcover book that’s included. This one just feels thicker and better overall and it’s done up in some great colors that totally fits the age of the cast here. The book is filled with all kinds of great material, from the episode summaries done up in a cute and engaging way to a series of character sketches and rough pencil design work for them. We also get a lot of pages with the full color promotional artwork and original cover releases that’s just beautiful and really well done, making for a book you want to leaf through more often than not to ttake in and enjoy.
The menu design for this release is fairly straightforward and appealing as we get a mostly pink background with character stills floating over it along to some bouncy and fun music. The color scheme works nicely in making it all bright and colorful that fits the show completely. With it avoiding the whole static aspect that many menus do, it comes across well here with a fun attitude about it. The navigation is kept simple to a small strip along the bottom that’s quick and easy to navigate. With the show having only the Japanese language track and locked subtitles, there’s no language submenu to work through.
The only extras included in this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences along with the episode previews.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga of the same name by Namori which began in 2008 and has ten volumes released to date, Yuruyuri is a twelve episode series that was broadcast in 2011 and did well enough to merit a second season, which NIS America has also acquired. The show was one that during that summer was a whole lot of fun to watch as it didn’t overwork the gags in each episode, instead allowing for shorter stories to take precedence and to shift between gags regularly rather than overlong story arcs in each episode. With animation by Dogakobo, they worked the familiar schoolgirls after school club about nothing format quite well, giving us some fun and interesting – and sometimes perverted – characters to deal with that at times expands a bit too far with who they add to it. Shows of this nature can be hard since they are a dime a dozen, but Yuruyuri manages to hit many right notes and stands out against the crowd.
The nature of the series is one that has various short stories of various lengths spread across each episode with some minor and incremental growth along the way, mostly in introducing new characters. The show kicks off at the start of school for a new group of middle school students and it’s off to an amusing start right from the beginning. We’re introduced to Akari, a slightly ditzy new student who already hasn’t realized that because it’s middle school, it’s time to wear the uniform so she’s ready for school in her normal clothes. While her friends are waiting for her, she goes off to change and that allows us to see what they’re like. Which is to say, one of them is pretty pervy as she’s keen on checking out the house and looking up her friends skirt whenever she gets a chance. It’s done in a kind of restrained way, which is to say that it’s more than people would do but not over the top. When Kyouko finally gets into Akari’s bedroom, she has a great little moment where she flips her own skirt to show her friend that she and Akari are matching in their underwear department.
The school setting is pretty standard fare, but there’s a nice twist to things as Akari gets a feel for the place and discovers that Kyouko and Yui have essentially taken over an entire building that’s back in the woods a bit. The small building was formerly used for the tea ceremony club which no longer exists, and Kyouko and Yui have taken to hiding out in there during breaks and other times to basically goof off and relax. Akari is kind of shocked by this since she’s trying to be a good, active middle school student, but there is some allure to all of this. To make it even more alluring is that the others have such fun here, particularly Kyouko who goes on about the doujin she’s working on and acts things out a bit for everyone to great effect.
The group gains another member quickly in Chinatsu when she arrives thinking it’s the tea ceremony club. They do manage to convince her to join for the duration while Chinatsu attempts, possibly, to restart the tea ceremony club. What Chinatsu provides is the pint-sized cute girl character that’s adorable, has a crush on Yui and is the object of desire for Kyouko as she visualizes Chinatsu as a real life version of a character that she’s obsessing over. It’s an amusing start to the club to be sure as they get themselves settled with the goal of relaxing and having fun. What allows the show to work so well though is both the dialogue and the characters themselves. They’re all very light in nature overall, but not fluffy. They’re cute but have some great dialogue and interactions between each other that lets it have fun and to be silly while still largely feeling close to the realm of realistic. Watching Kyouko is going to be the best part of the show from what I can see so far as she’s the most defined character, even if that definition is that she’s fairly pervy in nature and definitely far more hands-on with other girls than is normal.
After some time that focused a lot on the relationship between Kyoko and Yui, Yuru Yuri moves on to more of the cast to build things up. The show has taken an interesting approach across the first few episodes in how it’s tackled things, spending a good part of the second episode on the student council members while having the main cast take a serious back seat. It works well enough, but I found myself wanting more of the main cast, which the third episode gave me in spades by letting them go to Yui’s place and see how she lives on her own. The look at the relationship between the two girls who have known each other since childhood really does well to cement things between them and lets you understand why Yui gets along with her so much after so long.
With it being summer and still in school, the girls are dealing with things as best as they can though they’re focusing heavily on studies at times. They have some fun with the fact that the tanabata festival is coming up and Kyoko is adorable in dreaming up her own card that has her desiring to kiss Chinatsu. It’s a great moment for the character as she gets all drool worthy about it and you can see the fear in Chinatsu’s face as she realizes that it simply must be what she’s thinking about. The best part of the summer though is when Ayano and Kyoko get into a competition over the final exams and Ayano goes hardcore into studying, spending all her time doing so. She ends up acting it, as one would expect, but the hilarity ensues when she realizes that Kyoko didn’t even really take it serious because of other commitments and even slept through the exam itself. The relationship between the two continues to be very, very cute with the frustration that Ayano must feel.
This episode also spends some good fun at the beach, which at first could be some concern because of the age of the girls and the perverted nature of Kyoko and the competitive nature of Ayano. Thankfully, they all wear fairly decent outfits (I continue to dislike the school uniform swimsuits being used) and it’s generally filled with simple but enjoyable comedic moments that highlights their personalities in brief, so any particular gag isn’t run into the ground. We get a bunch of the traditional things here, from eating watermelon to playing on the beach with a game of volleyball and some sparklers and fireworks. It doesn’t really stretch itself here, but the fun comes from the characters. With the “nemesis” characters like Ayano having been set up with their own episode, it works better since they’re not just a foil brought out for a few minutes every episode.
The series also spends some time on the comic market event, where we discover that there are some talented people in the group. While we do get some of the usual gags associated with comic market, Kyoko’s varied skills are becoming a bit more noted around the school and one of the first year students is definitely interested in her now. Bringing to her a picture to look at, she asks Kyoko about what it takes to become an artists, which sort of gets to Yui since she has a hard time believing anyone could learn anything useful from Kyoko. But as we have seen, Kyoko is pretty on top of things or else she wouldn’t have done well at the comic market, gotten all the things done to prepare for it and so forth. She may come across as pervy and flighty, but it’s all in pursuit of her goals.
With this story, they have some fun with her again as a manga story surfaces about how Kyoko is into Yui which in turn has Yui being surprised by it and not sure how to handle it. What it leads to though is a competition between Kyoko and Chinatsu over who will win Yui’s heart. While we know Kyoko can work a circle, Chinatsu is a big point of mystery and her comic creation is positively brutal and hilarious. She’s definitely got a style of her own, but it doesn’t exactly fit with what they’re going through here. Kyoko smartly sends things in a different direction though by pulling out some clay for everyone to play with, which has them making some creative projects. There’s a lot of fun to be had with clay and Kyoko really goes far with it in how she makes fun of Akari.
While there’s a lot of fun with art in the club room, they also spend some time at Yui’s place where her younger sister Mari is visiting at the moment. She ends up getting one of the more perverted statues that was made which is pretty amusing in itself, and she has a rather restrained but intense desire to have Chinatsu dress up as Mirakurun since it’s her favorite thing ever. It’s where the kid comes to life and where Chinatsu really feels awful about going through all of this again. It’s definitely a cute thing, but a lot of what Chinatsu is worried about is what Kyoko may do to her while she wears this costume. It’s a very legitimate fear considering who Kyoko is. The whole thing is just a series of embarrassments for Chinatsu though she does have that desire to make Mari happy. Putting the two of them together definitely makes for a very cute segment
The series also delves later on into the fun of scary stories as it tends to enter most shows at one point or another when dealing with school characters and Yuru Yuri is no exception. This one actually has some good fun with it simply because the girls are quirky enough in their own way to tell tales that definitely fit their personality while also trying to be scary. Having Yui talk about opening a door to have someone creepily grab you is one thing, it’s another as Kyoko tells it where an older woman comes out and starts talking with you. Or how Chinatsu deals with a story having her walking through the woods and coming across a creepy woman who, contrary to looks, simply helps her find her way home.
The girls don’t keep to one subject too long though as they diverge elsewhere and we have them talking about things they’d like to be able to do, such as being able to fly, to change form and as Yui does it, to warp. Kyoko is comical though as she comes up with a burglar alarm power that basically has her whole body turn into an alarm when someone tries to mug her. Things like this and how they try to keep conversation going while relaxing for the day has a lot of fun to it. Though the ghost stories and the like permeate the episode in different ways, they also spend time talking about other things which helps to give it a bit more of a sense of reality because it’s not so narrowly focused..
With the final episode of the series, Yuru Yuri goes to have fun with its core cast of characters while still making sure that others have their chance in the sun as well. The show is one that at the start felt like it would be pretty tightly knit around the four ostensible leads but it ended up bringing in a lot of the other girls as well. And that was a positive because they played off of each other so well, but in the end it also felt like it slighted the supposed main characters as they got less and less time. If not for Kyoko being such a camera hog, you’d even start to wonder if the original four were supposed to be much of a draw at all with some episodes. When the day spent at the club house has others showing up, even Akari gets upset about thing when the other four show up and she talks about their reduced presence because of it.
Being the quirky group that they are, they end up with some very cute full body sleepover costumes that are like different animals and they get into a bit of amusing role play with it. While the episode has some fun there at first, it does bring the rest of the gang in and they play all sorts of contests and games against each other in a predictable but cute way. While we had the stuffed animal cosplay, we also get more elaborate costumes that we’ve seen before and a whole lot of pervy-ness from Kyoko that’s utterly adorable. She’s so completely a character that should not play charades because of how into it she gets, whether it’s playing the flute, boxing or baseball stances. She’s so easily misinterpreted because her worldview is so skewed that it’s definitely comical.
Some of the best material from this episode comes when a big kissing sequence gets underway that involves multiple characters. It goes so over the top in a way that it’s surprising but yet it’s wholly appropriate for what the show has been angling towards all this time. The pervy nature of the show when it comes to the girls being interested in each other to some degree has been harmless fun, but Chitose gets to go the distance here and provides the payoff that many fans wanted. What makes it work though is that they don’t do it in a smutty, slutty way with deep atmosphere, rich colors and intense music. They do it as a proper comedy thta makes you grin and laugh throughout it.
On a weekly basis, I really enjoyed Yuyuyuri, even through some of the slower stories that crept up into it. Some of the cast additions detracted from the core cast a bit for my tastes sometimes, but for the most part there’s a lot to like with this show thatinvolves no boys. It’s just not a series that I’d recommend marathoning, which I find myself saying often with most comedy series. The release here looks great and definitely has one of the better comedy soundtracks that I’ve heard in awhile. THe really strong aspect of course are the characters themselves and I find myself wishing there were more Kyoko’s in the world to shake things up a bit. Schoolgirl basewd comedies are definitely pretty common out there but Yuruyuri hit the right sweet spot with what it does that had me really enjoying it a lot, both in my first viewing as a simulcast and again marathoned a couple of years afterwards. It’s a very easy slice of life comeldy series to recommend across the board.
Japanese 2.0 PCM Language, English Subtitles, Clena Opening, Clean Closing, B-Side episode Previews
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: A-
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: A
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: NIS America
Release Date: September 3rd, 2013
Running Time: 288 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation 3 via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.