"The Amusement Club, a thinly veiled premise, essentially allows the students to use the school’s tea room as a hangout spot. Think Community’s infamous Study Group."
Yuru Yuri does not mask content behind misplaced pretense, and the literal translation “Easygoing Yuri" perfectly describes the show. The unofficial tagline of “cute girls doing cute things” couldn’t be more accurate. Yuri, a popular genre of anime and manga, features female centric relationships. Unfortunately, Western viewers frequently misinterpret the term yuri, making automatic associations with elicit content. It actually encompasses comedy, drama, and even the supernatural. It is nothing short of amazing Yuru Yuri was brought over to the North American audience by NIS America, because it's a lesser-known release within a category that would struggle hitting cable.
Yuru Yuri depicts the colorful events and mishaps of the Amusement Club, composed of four students - Akari, Kyoko, Yui, and Chinatsu - at Nanamori Middle School. The Amusement Club, a thinly veiled premise, essentially allows the students to use the school’s tea room as a hangout spot. Think Community’s infamous Study Group.
"Like any slice of life comedy, the episodes follow a loose, unrelated structure, featuring everyday activities as the characters attend school."
Every anime trope imaginable makes an appearance in the brief first season, as the show revels in caricature. Everything from the moe character designs to the bubbly theme song drips with super-charged cuteness. The characters themselves emerge from archetypes – and many look like kawaii redesigns of famous magical girl heroes. Like any slice of life comedy, the episodes follow a loose, unrelated structure, featuring everyday activities as the characters attend school. Quality rather than originality sets Yuru Yuri apart from other offerings. Excellent voice actors sound every bit as animated as their screen counterparts.
The Blu-ray release enhances the attractive, clean-cut animation. The show takes advantage of “breaking the fourth wall” as the characters speak directly to the viewer, both acknowledging and referencing they’re in a television show. Yuru Yuri borrows concepts from popular contenders like K-On and Lucky Star, but injects even more humor and chaos. Rather than love triangles, this comedy features infinitely-sided romantic webs where everyone likes everyone. Don’t expect serious romance, as the predominantly one-sided relationships exist to incite comedic conflict and push the characters into increasingly awkward situations.
"The included art book does not skimp on content and boasts expertly laid out pages of beautiful sketches, screens, and concept work accompanied by insightful descriptions."
As straightforward as Yuru Yuri is about its content, anime fans not particularly interested in the genre may want to look elsewhere. For a lighthearted semi-parody, the show delivers in an incredibly enjoyable manner, but viewers won’t find serious storytelling or truly iconic characters. NIS America’s packaging and presentation are expectedly first rate. The stylish design of the premium boxes continually impresses. The included art book does not skimp on content and boasts expertly laid out pages of beautiful sketches, screens, and concept work accompanied by insightful descriptions. In comparison to their other releases, there’s a notable emphasis on production images illuminating the creative process behind the show’s creation as opposed to simple reprints of promotional images. It adds an air of exclusivity to this worthwhile special edition.
Review by: Ameenah Salamunic | Review Format: Blu-ray | Running Time: 288 Minutes