Saturday, October 22, 2011

Yuruyuri Anime Review (And more on the latest Penguindrum. Weird combo, I know.)

This might be the worst review I have ever written. Why? Because I really have nothing much to add to what I first said about the Yuruyuri anime. I hated the first episode, but from the second episode on, I became lulled into a blank, zen-like state of boredom. Kind of like how, if you stick your hand in near-freezing water, the pain eventually gives way to a lack of feeling.

I mostly remember the characters as an amorphous, candy-colored mass that I felt nothing for. The girl whose friends always made fun of her for being bland? (Because they're so much more interesting, obviously.) Nothing. The endless tsukkomi-boke routine by the magical girl-loving blonde and her brunette friend? Nothing. The girl whose gag was nosebleeding while slashing her friends? Nothing. Her twin who did the same thing, but with drooling? She actually creeped me out for getting turned on by the idea of her sister getting action. Ick. Well, I guess that's a feeling.

I was incorrect when I said that no two characters in this series have feelings for each other. I forgot about the two girls who are tsundere towards one another. But it's hard to root for them when all they ever do is have conversations like, "You think you're so great because you have huge boobs?" "Screw you!" I did think it was kind of cute when Ichijinsha created a marriage license for them, but also kind of asinine that they joked about how the government wouldn't accept it simply because one of the two characters filled it out incorrectly. It's similar to how eye-rolling it is when some female seiyuu makes a Katy Perry-like show out of how she "married" another female seiyuu, tee hee. But I'm getting off track.

The girl who likes the blonde seems to have genuine feelings for her, but I can't for the life of me see why. (Granted, that's part of the joke.) The student council president has a "forbidden relationship" with her mad scientist-like science teacher- meaning that she volunteers to be the subject of her experiments. The explanation of why their relationship is forbidden did elicit a chuckle. The one really funny gag was the one about the pink-haired pigtailed girl's macabre drawing style. Since she has the cutesiest character design while being the bitchiest character on the show, she had the most potential to be entertaining, but it was wasted aside from the drawing joke.

I actually turned out to have quite a bit to say about this show. Nothing that really surprised you, I'm sure.

Story: Zzzzzzz
Art: B-
Overall: D+

I'm really happy that there's more for yuri fans this season. You have:
  • A canon side couple in a crappy series. (Horizon) By the way, screw you, Horizon. Watching you feels like a weekly chore. Like, "Empty trash can and recycling container in the garbage and recycling area on the first floor, do laundry, watch Horizon." I'll do the same thing I did with Yuruyuri, and catch up to what's left of it after it finishes airing.
  • A character with a one-sided crush in a crappy series that I haven't seen. (Ben-to)
  • A character with a one-sided crush in an okay series. (Working!!)
  • A character with a one-sided crush in an awful series. (Shinryaku?! Ika Musume)
  • I'm still slashing Iris and Saber- or as I think them, "Iris and OMGSABER!!!" *shameless fangirl* (Fate/Zero)
  • A canon major character in a fantastic show. (Penguindrum) I hope 46 year-old Ikuhara lives a long, long life so he can keep producing weird, wonderful shows. (Even if he only does it every 14 years. I'll take quality over quantity any day.) Some commentary on episode 15 after the jump, for anyone who has seen it.
Alright, so...Ikuhara played us by making it seem like a worst case scenario was happening at the end of episode 14, but- surprise!- subverting it.

Going by the message on Ringo's phone that sounds like it was recorded when she was still 100% lucid, it seems like she decided to sleep with Yuri and let Shouma know what she was going to do just to snub him for how he behaved when he left her and test how he would react. (Would he be jealous? Would he be like, "I'm sorry! I was wrong, don't do it!" That is how he reacted.) She even used the same  language Yuri used ("Hey, I'm going to be messed up! Tata." Yes, I'm paraphrasing.), so it seems like she expected that kind of scenario and was fine with it, although she didn't seem to know that Yuri was using her as a substitute for Momoka. (I'm still glad Yuri realized that she couldn't use Ringo as a substitute for Momoka, though.) It's really the message on Ringo's phone that I'm basing most of my interpretation on.

Of course, the meat of this episode was the flashback. Momoka is a great, quite possibly yuri character. We finally know much more about the diary, which explains why the realities of the different flashbacks don't completely match up. My biggest question is still how there are twin Takakura brothers in the present when only one was born in the flashback that depicted the morning of Momoka's disappearance. As for Yuri's father- I think that he physically and sexually abused her, but Ikuhara simply chose to convey what he did in a symbolic way. Glad he disappeared, at least.

Honestly, I loved this episode. I love Ikuhara's brand of messing with my mind, and I'm glad the yuri took a turn for the better from where it seemed it be in episode 14. This show is still twisted and chock full of shades of gray for most of its characters, but that's part of what makes it fascinating. (And my favorite scene: Natsume stealing the fake half-diary, for its insanity.)

Do you agree with my interpretation? Think that I'm off the mark, or being too charitable?


Ali said...

I just finished getting caught up to Penguindrum and I'm with you so far with your conclusions. My mind was certainly blown at the end of 14. Yuri is yuri(!) was a fantastic present to the viewers and I had the feeling she had to be referring to Momoka even before she picked up Ringo and the flashbacks began. (I used the exclamation there to show my happiness that her name wasn't just a cheap ploy but actually had some substance-if I'm making any sort of sense at 3 a.m. here.)

It pleased me to see she retained enough presence of mind to not substitute Ringo as well.

And that Natsume is nuts. But not more so than any other character on this show and that's why I adore them all. :D

Anonymous said...

I don't watch much anime (I read a lot of manga and VNs 'though) so this article really helps me out. Now I'm sure to check out Penguidrum and avoid Yuruyuri (actually my brother also told me Yuruyuri was pretty boring and repetitive). Thanks for the review :D

Oscar said...

Yuri is dead in anime, deal with it. I'm currently watching Penguin Drum, I'm on the 12th episode. I've never expected any yuri in this, I picked because it was the new Ikuhara anime. At least we get something, not that yuri is less dead for it.

What piss me off is people who insist that Yuru Yuri will "save" yuri, in any case it's the final blow to the genre. Yuri commercially failed, the industry really tried but it didn't work. Yuru Yuri is Yuri Hime accepting its defeat by joining the "cute girl doing cute things" fad.

All we have now is the manga market but we rarely have long ongoings and even less traslations. At this point I don't see the point to continue following this genre anymore, it's too depressing.

Katherine Hanson said...

@Ali- "that's why I adore them all" Hear, hear!

Same here. Until episode 14, I thought Yuri's name was meant to be ironic. "She's a Takarazuka actress named Yuri, but she's straight!" But yeah... lol Definitely a present for Ikuhara's yuri fan base.

@yukimi87- Your brother's right. XD Glad you found it helpful!

Erica Friedman said...

I love how you don't use their names - presumably because you couldn't care less what they are.

I never made it past ep. 2 and I feel no regret for not trying harder.

Katherine Hanson said...

@Erica- Indeed. :-)

And good call.

Anonymous said...

I assumed Ringo's call was the pills talking, since Yuri wouldn't have needed to drug her if she consented. However, I don't think Yuri ever intended to rape Ringo. She isn't nearly desperate enough to try and find a replacement Momoka, since her plan to resurrect the original is going pretty well.

I think she wanted to help Ringo and Shouma make up by giving him a chance to play hero a bit. She's tried to budge Ringo towards him a couple of times in the past, after all. She has Momoka's diary, so it's likely she knew Shouma was going to be at the inn. She also allowed Momoka to call him and then presumably opened the phone when he called back. When he burst into the room, she wasn't surprised at all.

As to why, she's either looking out for her beloved's little sister, or her plans depend on Ringo and Shouma's relationship continuing. I'm guessing it's the latter.

Katherine Hanson said...

@Anon- That interpretation makes more sense. Thank you for sharing it!

And I agree that it's probably the latter.

Anonymous said...

Hoho, the pieces start to fall into place. Ep. 15 was great, you have to admire the writing of this show. I have nothing to add to what's been said, only that I'm fully prepared for yet another really big twist. And that will be fun when it happens.

What I really like on Penguindrum is that the characters -despite the surreal setting and the more excentric quirks- feel real. It's so refreshing to see personalities go beyond the one dimensional tropes; actually, I get the feeling those are used here to thoroughly mess with the viewer's expectations.

I'm looking forward to watch the whole thing again once we get to the end, just to count all of Chekhov's guns lying around ;)

Katherine Hanson said...

@µ- I can't wait to see what the next 9 episodes throw out either.

Definitely agree about the characters.

"Chekhov's guns" <- Take a shot with each one you spot, and you'll probably be smashed halfway through episode 1. In all seriousness, I anticipate a re-watch after the entire story plays out also. ^^