Yuri Anime: Yuru Yuri (English)

July 6th, 2011

I would like to begin this review with a sincere apology to the fine people at Ichijinsha. I know that a lot of work and energy went into the making of Yuru Yuri and I wish, I truly do, that I could have liked it. But, I did not. If you habitually like the kinds of anime and manga I dislike, If you love series like Lucky Star and A Channel, then do not read this review, just hurry over to Crunchyroll and watch Yuru Yuri – you’ll love it.

I have spent more than a decade promoting Yuri, highlighting series that focus on women in love with one another, pointing out over and over that “Yuri” is not, really, anything like the fantasies creepy loser guys have about girls. Yet with Yuru Yuri, the creators go right to Fanboy territory, then crawl slowly steadily down to wallow in the most banal, most creepy possible tropes. I’m genuinely frustrated by the choices made here.

Yuri Yuri is the story of four girls who hang around and do nothing. These four are all very typical moe types, so forget having any kind of personality. Less than 5 minutes into the anime, there were already 4 underwear gags, the main character had forgotten that school started that day (which is totally likely if you have no family or friends, live in a box and have no media access, I suppose.)  The entirety of the second half of the episode is a systematic destruction of the protagonist’s ego. As a *joke*. Because making fun of a friend until they cry is absolutely hilarious, as we all know.

At 8 minutes in, I had a crisis and almost gave up watching altogether. It was so horrible, so tedious, so completely un-fun. My number one criteria for entertainment is that it ought to, you know, entertain me. Watching Yuru Yuri was the anime equivalent of a dentist’s appointment.

There is “Yuri” of course. Of the most excruciating kind. Kyoko likes to look at panties and wants to possess the cute loli. Chinatsu, the loli, crushes on Yui, the moe equivalent of the cool princely character. And let’s not forget the implication of a deep, pathological, stalking sister complex Akari’s sister appears to have for her. That’s always good for a laugh.

The one thing that really wasn’t terrible was Crunchyroll’s subtitling. It’s not perfect, but it was definitely one of the least objectionable jobs I’ve ever seen from them. So that, at least, is something positive to note.

I’m sorry, Namori-sensei. I’m sorry, editors of Comic Yuri Hime. I’m sure that Yuru Yuri will be very successful, but I won’t be watching. As much as I want it to succeed, I actually like the anime less than I do the manga. And I don’t like the manga very much at all. I came into the anime with very, very low expectations and this managed to not meet any of them.

In the end, Kyoko described this series best when she described the protagonist Akari with “A lack of outstanding qualities is your most outstanding quality.”

Ratings:

Art – 5 If you like moe you will probably think it a 6 or 7
Characters – 4 See above
Story – 3 See above
Yuri – There is no real affection, love or desire here. Just gags.
Service – 10

Overall – 4

Pain upon realizing that Comic Yuri Hime‘s first “Yuri” anime ever is everything I have fought to get rid of, in order to be able to tell stories of women in love with one another – 100

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28 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    I hate yuru Yuri, I really do. It’s banal, it is boring, it is the worst possible choice of a Yuri hime manga to turn into an anime. I don’t even think it’ll be successful.

    The studios now have a perfect anime for them. If it suceeds, it’s because it wasn’t really Yuri. If it fails, it was because it’s Yuri. Yuri loses regardless how the anime does.

    BUT. Is it really the anime/manga that one should fight as, as a Yuri fan?

    Of course not.

    There is another that people keep putting on a pedestal. It’s called gunjo.
    Sure, sexuality is complicated, yes, there’s a lot of creepyness in yuru Yuri (since when is stalking sexy? How is episode 1 not full of bullying?) – but at least it lacks all the horrible, unrealistic, exploitative garbage gunjo has. I still do not understand how you can label it good, and claim that trite, boring things like yuru Yuri are what one should fight against.

    In my book, the target should be gunjo. And no, I’m neither teen, nor male. No, I don’t mind of a woman had sex with a man in their life, I did myself. But gunjo? Seriously? There seems to be a gargantuan disconnect here.
    Gunjo is the manga equivalent of a sexploitation movie that happens to star a lesbian (who, obviously, has to have lots of sex with men, to prove women need this). THAT is the enemy. I rather have a thousand yuru Yuris than that, with their moe moe bullshit and their wide eyes. At least yuru Yuri isn’t dehumanizing lesbians in general.

    Does manga need to go away from stupid schoolgirl nonsense? Of course it does. But it doesn’t needs to turn to something more offensive than a manga equivalent of Lesbian Vampire Killers, in my opinion.

    Why is this relevant? Because of the final comment on the review.
    Seriously. Some things you write just seem to have a complete cognitive dissonance from what you’re writing about. This here isn’t as bad as, say, the rape analogy and subsequent rape cutifying in the canada posting (which I still cannot read fully due to how rape cutifying your writing got) but seriously.

    How can you put a target on generic crap like yuru Yuri, and praise exploitative trash like gunjo?

    In a perfect world, neither would exist.

    (and please don’t accuse me of being a moe fan. I loathe moe, I can’t stand K-on, I despise A Channel, and I never could stand Lucky Star. I just hate sexploitation more – since it’s pretty clearly the worse of the two, by a large margin)

  2. @Anonymous

    >How can you put a target on generic crap like yuru Yuri, and praise exploitative trash like gunjo?

    Well, for one thing I didn’t put a target on Yuru Yuri. I said that people who like certain types of anime will like this and they should, absolutely watch it. I *encourage* people whose opinions do not match with mine to watch this. It was made for them, not me.

    I don’t council people to not watch it, or fight it, or raise a stink. All I said was that for myself, I didn’t like it and was disappointed in it. I very explicitly stated that I wish Ichijinsha the best of luck with this series. I think it will be popular, because most of what I don’t like about it, is very popular right now.

    GUNJO is another personal opinion. I see it as a complex, sublime story. Obviously your opinion differs. We are both “right.” That’s the great things about opinions. I can certainly see why you see it as exploitative, although I do not.

    In the same way that both Erin and Katherine loved Aido, but I found it crude, I can understand that people will like things I do not. My opinion is as valid as theirs, which means their opinion is as valid as mine.

    There are going to be people (I *hope* there will be people) who loved Yuru Yuri and write in to tell me that I missed how cute Chinatsu is and Kyoko is wacky, not psychoti, or that by Episode 4, it settles down and is quite fun…etc, etc.

    That’s the whole point of me putting my opinion out there for folks to read…so people can discuss what they agree and don’t agree with. As you just did. ^_^

    As for cognitive dissonance…well, we’re all human, and that’s inevitable for just about everyone from time to time. I’m just as delusional as anyone else. The only difference is that I cheerfully point out my delusions and embrace them, where most other fans get their backs up and start to justify them.

    Perhaps I’m merely delusional when I say GUNJO is a work of genius, but to me, that delusion is my reality. ^_^

    I’m not sure that there is an “enemy” as you put it. The point here at Okazu is to encourage people to read/watch more Yuri, of whatever kind they best enjoy.

  3. Kashim9999 says:

    I lost faith to see true Yuri anime long ago.

    We must admit, anime tv series must target large audience, so it’s difficult to put a serious lesbian romance in an anime! So the choice is sad but logical. I don’t even consider anime series like sasameki or aoi hana true Yuri because they are incomplete (compare to the manga).

    I think the future of Yuri lies in manga and not anime! (may the future makes me wrong^^)

    I didn’t think about it at the beginning but it does seems like k-on/lucky star, don’t really like those^^. Well, i’ll try anyway.

  4. @Kashim9999 In defense of both Sasamekikoto and Aoi Hana, the manga are on-going, so of course the anime were incomplete. ^_^

  5. Kashim9999 says:

    @Erica
    Yes, but the ending of the 2 series were pretty open. I think it’s not impossible to add another season for both. But time has passed, chances are very low T.T

    Oh, I forgot Marimite (a 5th season please >.<, I wonder if the live-action film did well in Japan, any news?)

  6. @Kashim9999 – If a new season of anime is the proof of Yuri you’re looking for, you will not find it. Aoi Hana had poor ratings and bad sales and in a fit of pique the licensors are being difficult about licensing the anime to anyone.

    Sasamikikoto did…okay.Not enough to fund a second season.

    Marimite is also not going to a 5th season, and it’s not a “Yuri” series in any case.

    The audience for manga, anime and Light Novel are different. Sometimes something will go 40 novels successfully, but not get a 5th season of anime. That’s just how the cards fall.

  7. Pocky says:

    why is flower flower not an anime already?

  8. Felix says:

    First episode in. I do have to say why it is not “great” anime, I am enjoying it so far. It was exactly what I expected, a light, somewhat plot less slice of life series with more Yuri than a normal slice of life series.

    I agree Yuru Yuri wouldn’t have been my first choice to make a TV series out of, but I can see the logic.

    I wonder, if Aoi Hana or Sasamikikoto were OVA or ONA series would have they “failed.”

    So I am going to continue to enjoy it and hope it succeeds and then there will be more and better Yuri Hime anime adaptions.

  9. Pocky says:

    Actually, I just realized that (if it were not an orphaned series) Gretel would’ve been a better series to turn into an anime. . . it’s fanservice-y but so damn funny and in it’s own little world

  10. C. Banana says:

    Just watched the episode. Interestingly enough, I hated Lucky Star and A Channel but found myself laughing at some of the jokes in the episode despite myself.

    Compared to K-ON!, at least Yuru-Yuri showed some self-awareness which was completely absent from the former.

  11. @C. Banana – Would you be interested in reviewing the anime for Okazu? You’re articulate and it would be nice to have a perspective not my own on this.

  12. C. Banana says:

    @ Erica – Alright Erica, you’re on. I’ll submit a review to you after Yuru Yuri has completed it’s dozen or so episode run. Though hopefully I’m not doing this just because your ego stroking played into my insecure need for external validation. ;)

  13. kongetsume says:

    Chitose imagining Kyoko and Ayano in compromising situations and getting random nosebleeds is the only thing I get a kick out of. The rest is pretty (and what I mentioned in and of itself) makes it pretty hackneyed.

    Hopefully their next selection is a step up from this.

  14. @C. Banana – It’s okay if you are doing it for that reason. I externally validate that that is a valid reason. ^_^ Thank you, I look forward to it!

  15. BruceMcF says:

    As they say in the Tour de France, “chapeau” for being able to watch it eight whole minutes before hitting the wall, to say nothing of slogging on all the way to the end. I only made 6:00 before bailing for the season.

  16. Cryssoberyl says:

    I have not yet begun Yuru Yuri. Regardless of its content, it is an obligation watch for me, and I must and will meet that obligation. In the spirit of candor, I predict that I will probably end up enjoying it more than I should. However, it must be said that certain of the comments in CR’s announcement thread from newcomers to Yuri are very telling:

    “Just finished the first episode of YuruYuri. I’ve never really seen a “Yuri” before but this wasn’t exactly what i expected. From the wikipedia page about the Yuri genre i expected some kind of lovey dovey romance thing, but what i got was Lucky Star except with perverts. I love Lucky Star more then any romance so I look forward to future episodes. I just hope they don’t get too perverted as the show goes on.”

    Another:

    “After watching and surprisingly enjoying the Yaoi World Greatest Love [Sekai Ichi Hatsukoi], I’m really looking forward to YuruYuri […] The only thing I don’t like is this: why can’t this Yuri series feature adult females like how World Greatest Love featured adult males? It’s kinda hard to indulge in Yuri when many of these girls aren’t legal. Plus I would feel a better emotional connection with women rather than teenage girls. I guess the Japanese fetish for school girls is very strong….”

    Why indeed…

  17. Anonymous says:

    @Cryssoberyl

    You know, Japan doesn’t care what Western otakus think about their anime, they just care about selling DVDs, BDs and other overpriced merchandise. Dykes are too scary for the average Japanese otaku, the entire point of anime for them it’s to get a new waifu every season, why would they want a waifu who can’t love them back? I know, it’s just a cartoon but otakus already give up on real people.

    If Yuru Yuri is the only way to make Yuri profitable, then Yuri needs to die.

  18. Madeline C. says:

    This show failed my 9 minute test, which started last season when a number of shows were so bad I didn’t bother finishing episode 1. Sure enough, at 8:57, my fiance and I looked at each other, and agreed it was enough. Too many other good shows this season (Ikoku Meiro no Croisee, Natsume Yuujinchou San, Usagi Drop, etc etc) to waste time on this. Sigh.

  19. Cryssoberyl says:

    Okay, watched the first episode, and as predicted, I was more entertained than was perhaps warranted. I console myself with the fact that after the first few minutes, the humor was pretty clean. They didn’t even go the obvious fanservice route with the magical girl henshin. In short, it could’ve been much more abrasive than it was.

  20. Anonymous says:

    zzz..you suck..

  21. @Anonymous – Least creative insult ever. Surely you can do better?

  22. Motormind says:

    So I sat down to watch the Yuri Yuri anime, totally prepared to hate the crap out of it. Then it came on and … that just didn’t happen.

    Maybe all those moe series I watched in my lifetime finally turned my brain into gooy mush, making me totally give in to sugary sweetness, but I just couldn’t get myself to dislike the show. I immediately latched onto Kyoko, as she reminded me very much of how I myself was at that age. Yes, I also had the habit of peeking at girls’ panties whenever I got the chance. Luckily I never got a kick in the face, although I once got scolded by teachers when I tried to grope girls under the shower after PE. But it was all just a misunderstanding. Honest!

    I agree that the show could do without that creepy sisterly obsession, but that’s more because I find it unfunny rather than disturbing. I mean, me and my sister have loads of photo’s of each other ‘n stuff, but that’s just normal affection between siblings, right? Right??

    As for Aoi Hana: I am very sad that it didn’t get a second season, since I love that show to pieces. When I visited Japan I even went to Kamakura to check out the locations from the manga and anime. You can’t imagine my thrill when I drank tea at the Milk Hall, or when I had cream anmitsu at that little restaurent near Wadazuka station (Erica, if you ever go there, visit that spot. It’s great).

    I wonder why the Aoi Hana anime got such low ratings. Maybe it would have been better if they had skipped some of the school play bit and given a bit more attention to the character arcs themselves. All in all, it looks like the lack of Yuri anime won’t get resolved any time soon, and we’ll have to settle for one-sided girl crushes that only get used to raise a few laughs.

  23. @Motormind – Yes, that is my point. Kyouko’s behavior is meant to appeal to guys. Girst do not flip other girls’ skirts up, because they know that that is sexual molestation and not at all funny if you are a girl. That Kyouko does these things is an indication that the anime is mean to appeal to guys, not women, and specifically to the kind of guy that find that amusing.

  24. Motormind says:

    @Erica
    What makes you think I’m a guy? I never flipped anybody’s skirt up, either, at least now when I grew past 6 or so. Where’s the fun in that? Being sneaky is much more fun. I’m just sayin’.

    On rethinking this YuruYuri episode, I think the “make Akari popular” bit is indeed off. In the manga she hadn’t appeared for a few chapters, so there it makes some sense, but in the anime it just seems like the girls are bullying Akari for the heck of it. Not nice!

  25. @Motormind – I apologize if I’ve presumed correctly, but your writing style and comments in the past indicate that you’re a guy.

    I agree, the second half was frustrating.

  26. Motormind says:

    I’m Dutch and English is not my first language, so using my writing style to guess my gender might not give the best results. I do write stories though, mostly in English, and from my readers I always hear how my style is so girly. Maybe it’s because of all the romantic overtones I put in there, especially between girls.

    It seems that bullying is all the rage in manga and anime of late. It also happens a lot in Kyoto Animation’s latest offering, Nichijou, to the point where I almost scream at the screen when poor Nano is being pushed around by the Professor.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, although I like this series and thought both the manga (in raw) was quite entertaining despite your review, but I do understand your view of it. In my opinion, having a solid story is something I look for in movies. For Animes, if things gets too complex (like Shakugan No Shana for example), then it is not for me. But comedic slice of life featuring “moe” girls doing not much, such as this, as well as series like K-on, is what I enjoy watching. As for character designs, I have to disagree, I think they did an great job as the drawings in the Anime matches very well with the Manga. As for wether or not it is boring, it is again personal opinion, I have find that every episodes so far, some parts of it has made me chuckle. As for Yuri? what do you expect middle school 7th and 8th graders to do? anything more then involuntary kiss (ep5) will be too much and the serie would have a greater chance of failing as “Yuri” is not generally accepted in the public. heck, by naming this “Yuru YURI” already drove off many people from even give this series a shot.

  28. Anonymous says:

    I’m just happy that there aren’t any panty shots. I love Yuri fanservice.. but not pervy fanservice Ugh.

    I like yuru Yuri, though. I think it’s cute :3. Reminds me a bit of lucky star… but with overtones =_=…

    Some parts are humorous. Like this one episode where they did something with their faces and Akari ended up with a WT* face xD. That was hilarious.

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