12 of 12 episodes seen
First off, Yuru Yuri is based on Namori's manga series which is serialized in Ichijinsha's anthology Comic Yuri Hime and as its title already tells us, the series heavily relies on yuri (sub-)text. Possible romantic entanglements are deliberately emphasized, no goggles are required. In fact, most of the jokes in Yuru Yuri are based on the countless potential pairings. However, the series only goes a little beyond subtext and it's unlikely that any of the relationships will ever become canon. Therefore, yuri fans should keep in mind that Yuru Yuri is mainly a comedy - a shipteasing show - and not a yuri romance. Even if something "notable" happens, the storyline is simply reset in the next episode and a new adventure begins. It is regrettable for a dedicated yuri fan who may prefer something more substantial, but Yuru Yuri is a nice pastime nonetheless and it's not like there are many anime series yuri fans can choose from anyway.
Official sources say that Yuru Yuri has 4 main characters and 4 major supporting characters. However, after watching the anime adaption, one might as well say that the series has 1 main character and 7 supporting characters. Toshino Kyoko dominates the entire anime and almost everyone and everything revolves around her. Everyone loves Kyoko – even those who start out tsun turn a little dere for her in the end. I daresay that your opinion on the series will highly depend on how you feel about the troublesome and hyperactive boke character. I don't dislike Kyoko, but it would have been better if the series – especially the second half of it – had treated all the characters equally regarding screentime and storyline. All the second-years revolve around Kyoko: Ayano has a crush on her, Chitose fantasizes about Kyoko/Ayano, Yui keeps her in check and Chizuru "dislikes" her. It's always the same routine and without Kyoko, these characters would simply lose 90% of their personalities. The first-years on the other hand have their very own group dynamic and could have provided a contrast. However, they weren't granted a lot of screentime because their screentime was sacrificed for the second-years. These sequences increased the fun for Kyoko fans/shippers but as a result, Sakurako and Himawari who shine throughout the manga only get to to shoot death glares at each other in the background. Kyoko's character type might sell well, but the imbalanced cast is one of the adaption's major flaws in my opinion.
Now let's take a closer look at the characters themselves. The Yuru Yuri cast consists of one-dimensional character archetypes with close to zero character development. But even if we don't see the characters maturing, the series knows how to combine and juggle with them. Whenever the archetypes clash, funny moments ensue; some combinations are even surprisingly refreshing. But then again, there are characters like Rise who has neither a voice nor a personality or Nishigaki-sensei whose extremely weird personality seems out of place (she might be better off in a series like Nichijou, where explosions and testing drugs on your students don't seem too abnormal). Chitose is another weak link in the character lineup: Her running gag is often poorly executed and gets boring after three or four times. It doesn't help that her sister Chizuru fantasizes, too. The chain of fantasies creates more frustrating cop-outs for actual developments and perpetuates the eternal standstill. On the other hand I should probably be relieved about the lack of serious developments, as the few serious, supposedly heartwarming moments in Yuru Yuri weren't that great. A comedy has to be subtle when it decides to throw in something serious or sad in order to come across as natural and credible. Otherwise it just feels like a poorly executed melodrama shoved into your face. I simply didn't know whether I was supposed to laugh or frown during these scenes.
When it comes to comedy, however, Yuru Yuri can be very entertaining. It often makes fun of itself and there's a fair amount of breaking the fourth wall humor. At this point, I just have to mention the most notable running gag: Akari's lack of presence. First established in episode 1 (a little too soon if you ask me since you'd usually let the audience get acquainted with the characters first before slowly shifting the focus away), it quickly became a popular marketing gag: Akari would always be in the background on posters, sometimes with her face covered. This cruel fate befell her even though episode 1 presented her as the typical school anime protagonist: a cute little girl who runs out of the house with a toast in her mouth because she's late for school. This sequence in the beginning raises doubts about the series' originality, but those doubts evaporate once you see the characters question Akari's distinguishing features, listing various tropes that the audience itself usually attributes to a series on pages like TV tropes. Without the running gag, Akari wouldn't stand a chance against the rest of the cast. We've seen personalities like Kyoko (boke), Yui (tsukkomi), Ayano/Sakurako/Himawari (tsundere) and Chitose (shipper on deck) before in other series and while they might get all of our attention during the episodes, in the end the real novelty of Yuru Yuri is Akari. Although the anime adaption went a bit overboard with the joke, I think namori's original idea is a stroke of genius – and Yuru Yuri doesn't have a lot of them. Most of the jokes will make you snicker but you won't find yourself rolling on the floor with laughter very often.
Similar to K-On back then, Yuru Yuri chose four comparatively unknown voice actors for the main roles and it took me a while to get used to them at first. Their performance sounded static in the first couple of episodes but it got better as the series progressed. Especially Ootsubo Yuka sounded shaky at times but overall she's made a decent debut as a voice actor. The voice actor who surprised me the most is Ookubo Rumi; she did a great job impersonating Chinatsu's somewhat bipolar personality. Sometimes the main cast got overshadowed by the amazing supporting cast, but that is no big surprise since it had voice actors like Katou Emiri.
The music in Yuru Yuri is cute like the series itself. There are several upbeat melodies that underline the jokes and create a light and relaxed atmosphere. Each character also has their own eyecatch and those who listen carefully will notice that the eyecatch music is based on the respective character songs. The OP and ED are quite catchy but it's difficult to sing along with the voice actors when you aren't Japanese. Still, compared to the music in other series the soundtrack really doesn't stand out much. The same goes for art and animation. I can't say that Yuru Yuri has stellar animation (like Kyoto Animation's Nichijou), beautiful character designs or dazzling sceneries (like P.A. Works' Hanasaku Iroha) and everything in the series looks rather simple. However, that's totally okay for a moe comedy as long as the characters look cute and the animation's somewhat fluent.
All in all, I think Yuru Yuri is worth a try. It isn't ground-breaking but amusing enough. In spite of what some people are saying, I definitely do not think Yuru Yuri is a K-On rip-off because it has much more in common with other "cute girls doing cute things" series that actually existed before K-On hit the market. Sometimes you are reminded of various series all at once: Chitose seems like an upgraded version of Hiyorin from Lucky Star, Akari's hair will remind you of Chiyo from Azumanga Daioh, Ayano strongly resembles Natsume from Hidamari Sketch and those who have seen Ichigo Mashimaro will instantly recognize the similarities between Kyoko/Yui and Miu/Chika. There's a very high chance that people who enjoyed the series mentioned above will like Yuru Yuri as well. As someone who isn't opposed to the concept of moe, light comedy and yuri shiptease, I had a good time watching it.
Story: 6 (not very unique, has your standard school trip, ghost story, beach and comiket episode)
Art & Animation: 7
Enjoyment: 7.5 read more
2 of 2 episodes seen
The main reason why I am disappointed with the OVA is the story. The two episodes do not have a decent plot at all and the OVA merely recycles old ideas from the first season. The only new things in secondo passo are the three new characters Kaji, Eto and Kira, whereas the last two are negligible as they rarely appear.
The old characters from season one are still there, everything at Seiso is still the same. The difference in season two is that everyone from the old cast apart from Hino becomes a foil for the new main character, Kaji Aoi. Kaji (who can be considered the main male character as the stella quintet hardly gets any screen time) is struggling with a similar problem as Tsuchiura did in the first season - he is hiding his viola playing from the rest of the world until Hino helps him to overcome his fears. Hino, on the other hand, is confronted with an old problem again: She is doubting her violin skills (which I would call a regress in her character development) but recovers with the help of Kaji. In the end, they both resolve that "loving an instrument" is enough, which is the very same message as in the first season.
I admit that it is difficult to think of a decent plot for two episodes, yet I would have expected something new and more interesting - not just a replay of season 1 with different characters.
The only two excelling things about the OVA are the beautiful art, the impressing soundtrack (the insert song, the classical music pieces & the OP/ED were awesome) and the seiyuus. It may satisfy you if you're a bishounen-hungry fangirl; however, if you really want to see any important developments as you would usually expect from a sequel, secondo passo is the wrong thing to watch. It is rather a filler episode, released for money-making purposes. If you want to know how the story really continues, the manga would be a better source to inform yourself :D read more