The Yuru Yuri series is by far one of the more popular and well-known Shoujo Ai series to exist in Japanese media. Taking the simple concept of a high school comedy and mixing in its own unique characters, the series as a whole has become well known in the anime community. But with it's third season, a lot of that luster seems to have faded over time, and with TYO Animation taking the reins this time in production instead of Doga Kobo leading to some...unexpected results.
Story: The story of Yuru Yuri still maintains the same general plotline, featuring out four main girls, Kyouko, Yui, Akari, and Chinatsu spending time in their signature clubhouse as the Amusement Club, spending more time together with all of the other characters in the series and generally creating a lot of wackiness and moments that make the show so memorable and great. That however is not the case this time around.
As a result of the production company change, this season feels a lot more disjointed and watered down from the original. While a great number of the things from the previous seasons when the series was produced by Doga Kobo crossed over, such as Sakurako and Himewari's breast warfare, Chinatsu's fangirling over Yui, and Kyouko's extremely bubbly and Kyouko-like manner, a couple of the more signature things about the series before like some extremely wacky scenarios and most predominantly the lack of the vanishing "Akarin~" gag just don't exist in this season. In fact, I will go as far as to say that the show as a whole lost a lot of its charm and felt a lot more standard and normal than it should've been.
The show does bounce back a little bit by having several characters grow in development in this season, but it's not as noticeable as a lot of the 'development' happens with the side characters that get far less screentime than they deserved. Not to mention some characters feel different than they were previously in previous seasons. (Cue Mari, who feels more child-like to her previously smart appearances.)
All in all, while this season of Yuru Yuri was by no means bad, a lot of what made the Yuru Yuri series great just didn't feel like it was there or was blocked off by Chinatsu's excessive fangirling. (Seriously though, they go overboard with the whole Yui-worshipping thing. Far more than they should've.) It just felt too normal, and normality is not something that I expected from this show.
+ Same Yuru Yuri plotline
- A lot of the old format is missing or watered down
- Lack of some iconic gags
Characters: Characters in Yuru Yuri are still present and accounted for. We still have the main four girls, Akari, Kyouko, Yui, and Chinatsu. There's still the student council consisting of Rise (who gets FAR too little screentime. Even less than before), Ayano, Himawari, Sakurako, and Chitose, and the other girls that come in and out of the screen whenever they need to.
One of my complaints about the characters is that there are some that don't really show up or are so pointless to the series that they never show up. This includes Akari's sister, Chitose, who only shows up 3/4 of the way into the series, Nishikagi, and the whole Mirakurun cast. While they were never the most vital characters in the series, it was a bit sad to see already pronounced and known characters be shoved even further into the background. They were a part of what I felt made Yuru Yuri more exciting as a series and as such, contributed to the lack of spark that this season has.
+ Main cast is all here and accounted for
- The more side characters get little to no screentime and are mostly absent from the series
Art: As I mentioned before, Yuru Yuri's third season was produced by TYO Animation instead of the two previous seasons' makers, Doga Kobo. As such, the artwork for San Hai is a lot duller in comparison to the brighter and more colorful artwork that the characters had before.
While the characters looks the same in terms of design, the color palette just isn't all the bright, as the normal colors of the characters are muted to look a bit grayer than normal, and the lack of exaggerated comedic effect doesn't really happen here. Akari's buns don't pop off, we don't get too many stylistic changes in order to show off a more comedical moment, or anything like that. It just feels a bit bland and odd.
+ Characters look the same
- The different color palette and lack of comedic appearance made the show look more bland.
Sound: The sound for Yuru Yuri isn't really something that I found to ever really be all that exciting. The opening and the ending of this season are both songs that reflect the show's general excitable and energy-filled feel, but don't really have much of a place in anime as a memorable soundtrack. They both pretty much sound the same and while are good, aren't really tracks that I found to be worth remembering.
+ Good soundtrack
- Not really all that memorable
Personal Enjoyment: While Yuru Yuri was never really my first go to choice when it came to watching a high school comedy about 4 girls (because lord knows we have plenty of those), this season just felt a bit like a disappointment. Not only because of the lack of Akarin (seriously, what happened to that gag? I want it back!) but because the show didn't feel the same as it did before.
Did I like this anime?
I'll admit, it was still rather fun to watch. Kyouko makes the world go round and all of her antics make up Yuru Yuri, so I'm happy to see that she still takes the spotlight and moves the plot forward as much as she can.
What didn't I like about this anime?
Aside from the lack of appearance for a lot of cast members and a lot of comedic changes since they relied mostly on comedic retorts and Kyouko antics for the majority of the series, the one thing I was not happy about was how much they focused on Chinatsu. As a character, Chinatsu's entire schtick was the fact that she wanted Yui-senpai to notice her. As such, the show focused what I felt like an excessive amount of time on her and her gag and not really on others as much. This created an imbalance that I personally was not too keen on.
Would I recommend this anime?
If you've seen any of Yuru Yuri, I would say tread lightly on this one. Because the production change made so many things different in the series, I'm a bit on the fence as to suggesting this for Yuru Yuri fans, especially those familiar with the anime. While it still is the same base concept and the same characters, there's just something about it that feels off when watching it.