Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Yuruyuri Anime Premiere


I love yuri.

If Yuruyuri were tangible, I would douse it with kerosene, light it on fire, and roast marshmallows over it.

Something isn't right here.

Yuruyuri is about three middle school girls who take over the room that belonged to their school's now defunct Tea Ceremony Club. They dub it the Amusement Club, where they do nothing in an utterly uninteresting way. Blonde Kyouko gushes about the latest doujinshi she drew starring her favorite anime character, the magical girl Mirakurun. Red-haired Akari is a fitting lead for this show, because she's utterly bland. Sensible brunette Yui acts as a foil to Kyouko. And another girl, pink-haired Chinatsu, stops by because she wants to join the Tea Ceremony Club. Rather than join because she thinks it looks like fun, she gets dragged in by Kyouko because she looks like Mirakurun, and spends most of her time making googly eyes at the impervious Yui while dodging Kyouko's advances.

Going from what I've read/skimmed of the manga, the yuri in this series will never go anywhere, and the yuri-based humor will always consist of gags like "You want to do something stimulating? Hern, hern, boob-grabbing!" and "Akari's older sister steals her underwear and sleeps with a hug pillow of her, but Akari's too innocent to notice! Bwa-bwa-bwaaaaa."

Even if this series disappoints on the yuri front, what about its other selling points? Are the leads convincing as friends? Can I understand why they would want to hang out together after school, when all they seem to do is annoy the crap out of each other? No, and duh. If they all died, would I feel anything? No.

I'll be up front and admit that while I never liked Yuruyuri, I have a special axe to grind with it because it represents everything I don't want out of yuri, but have continued to see in lieu of what I want to see since Aoi Hana and Sasameki Koto aired. (And tanked in sales.) 

I recently used an analogy on Twitter that I'll share here, meant to describe the folks who say that they love yuri when it's an element in something like Kämpfer or Railgun (I like Railgun, but it's a perfect example), but then mostly ignore canon yuri-centric love stories like Aoi Hana and Sasameki Koto. To me, they're the equivalent of people who call themselves chocolate lovers but, when a chocolate shop opens and starts selling rich, mouth-watering, inexpensive chocolates made from top ingredients, they ignore it for M&Ms and Hershey's and the chocolate shop goes out of business, leaving crappy chocolate as the only option for everyone.

Story: Where do you think Yuruyuri fits in the chocolate analogy?
Art: Consistently well-rendered, but character designs are bland. B-
Overall: F

5 comments:

C. Banana said...

In terms of Aoi Hana, the medium likely hurt it quite a bit amongst the audience it was supposed to be targeting. If it was a live action series, it likely would have reached beyond the small subset of Otaku anime fans who also happen to be capable of enjoying slower paced high brow slice of life.

Sasameki Koto was a slightly poor adaptation that really needed to stand out significantly quality wise to really be successful. Tighter scripting and direction as well as better original adaptation material would have helped significantly.

Unfortunately those two series' missteps caused a lot of producers to be shy about bringing forward a different yuri series to anime especially during a major recession.

To go with chocolate analogy, some of the chocolate at the premium store was packaged in a way that turned off customers, or wasn't as good as the recipe could have made it. When you're trying to get new customers, these first impressions matter.

As for Yuru Yuri, you can blame the success of K-ON! and Lucky Star for Yuru Yuri's adaptation. Mind you, you could always just ignore it and wait for the next yuri anime series. Yuru Yuri's formula is not going to be copied as it's not going to be as or more successful than K-ON! or Lucky Star.

Erica Friedman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Erica Friedman said...

Kerosene. Yes. I chose to be apologeitc, rather than flamethrowing for a number of reasons, but my sentiments echo yours exactly.

My analogy for this series was that I expected a slice of life series that was bland, with little Yuri - unripe apples - but received a bag of rotten apples instead.

Anonymous said...

As appealing as the marshmallow plan sounds, it is doomed to failure since there simply isn't enough substance to sustain a good fire.
You know, it's sad, but I've grown used to the grabby archetype in yuri shows over time. So much so that I'm willing to blend it out if there's a good story or an actually decent relationship to be found elsewhere in the show (eg. Kanamemo). I can't see this happening with yuriyuri, it looks like it's going to be A-Channel with annoying instead of boring characters.

Curses, it looks more and more likely that I'm stuck with the few seasons of shows I enjoyed and instead will get more trite crap like this. Seriously, how something like Seikon No Qwerty can get a second season but Aoi Hana looses out is beyond me.

Well, the only upside of this I can see is that if it runs well we'll maybe get some more Yuri Hime material- but if we do, there's a good chance it'll be of the wrong kind.

Come to think of it, I haven't got any problems with smut, at least it's honest in what it does. And I've read a good deal of smut that has more emotional depth than this show has.

Katherine Hanson said...

@C. Banana- But you argument misses the point that a lot of people gushed over shows containing much less/lower quality yuri, partly because said shows included yuri, and then when two good yuri-centric shows featuring characters who were honest-to-goodness canonically interested in each other aired, the general response was a resounding, "Zzzzzzz."

Regarding a live Aoi Hana, I think that it would face the block of how hard it is to do a positive lesbian storyline as a drama. e.g. Last Friends, which put Ruka into a "gray area" (the creator's words, from an interview on Tokyo Wrestling) between cisgender lesbian and straight ftm because they knew much of the viewing audience wouldn't sympathize as much if the story clearly identified Ruka as one or the other. I agree that the Sasameki Koto adaptation could have been better (although it was better than I expected, considering the director's previous credentials), but it was still fun, still good, still very much yuri, and still mostly ignored by folks who gush over much less.

"Mind you, you could always just ignore it and wait for the next yuri anime series." <- Which will hopefully be better.

Despite my heavy snark when it comes to discussing Yuruyuri, I really appreciate that you're expressing your disagreement by calmly presenting arguments instead of being like, "I hate you! You don't get how good this show is!" I probably haven't changed your mind either, but we can agree to disagree.

@Erica- *applause for the apple analogy*

@µ- "As appealing as the marshmallow plan sounds, it is doomed to failure since there simply isn't enough substance to sustain a good fire." <- Burn. (Pun intended.)

"I can't see this happening with yuriyuri, it looks like it's going to be A-Channel with annoying instead of boring characters." <- Pretty much.

"Seriously, how something like Seikon No Qwerty can get a second season but Aoi Hana looses out is beyond me." <- Aoi Hana didn't follow the cardinal rule of fiscally successful storytelling: service, service, service.

"but if we do, there's a good chance it'll be of the wrong kind." <- Hopefully not.