After I got to review Daily Lives of High School Boys, I was absolutely certain that Yuru Yuri was going to be completely cracked out and insane but was hoping it would be in the same vein as Daily Lives. Well it is crack and like Daily Lives, but in a good way from a different perspective. Yuru Yuri is almost a companion series on the other side of the coin from Daily Lives but is focused on a younger group of middle school girls and has stories that run for full on episodes instead of a series of sketches put together to form episodes. This means there’s an overall plot and the show isn’t quite so over the top that you’re left scratching your head wondering what you’ve witnessed, but there are some seriously over the top characters in this that really make the show a blast. This is a Blu-Ray only set that NIS America have put together and there is a second season for it that’s due out next year. Let’s take a look at what you’ve got here.
The season starts off focusing on Akari Akaza, a middle school student who’s now going to the same fictional middle school as her childhood friends, Kyoko Toshino and Yui Funami. The trio are the only initial members of the Amusement Club, a club that does whatever it feels like unlike the other clubs which are all based around one activity or another and they’ve hijacked what used to be the Tea Ceremony Club house for their own purposes. The trio are joined early on by Chinatsu Yoshikawa who was actually hoping to join the Tea Ceremony Club and has instead stumbled upon the three of them using the club house and they drag her into joining the Amusement Club with them. All is not wine and roses, however, as the Student Council vice-president Ayano Sugiura has decided that the Amusement Club has taken over the abandoned Tea Ceremony building illegally and has made it her mission to go after her academic rival Kyoko. Or is she actually a rival? Chitose Ikeda is close with Ayano and harbors some interesting fantasies involving Ayano and Kyoko, and the ‘rivalry’ between the two escalates into competitions over grades and all over the fate of the club’s illicit house.
The other two Student Council members who share a rivalry between each other and get involved with the battle between the Amusement Club and the Council are Sakurako Ohmuro and Himawari Furutani. The rivalry between the two is very visible and often hilarious and the pair often end up involved with either side of the Council and Club’s battle for supremacy, some times without even knowing it and especially at the beginning. Sakurako and Himawari’s rivalry is more often akin to friendship although Sakurako has leanings more towards a relationship deeper than friends. This is akin to Ayano’s relationship to Kyoko as both follow tsundere, the Japanese character development process that starts a relationship as cold or even hostile and warms over time. Both of their relationships are at slightly different stages of this and both are amusing to say the least. Although Sakurako and Himawari’s relationship doesn’t have the same kind of backing that Ayano’s and Kyoko’s does with Chitose and her rather creative imagination when it comes to the two girls hooking up.
There is a bit of back and forth and while the original trio seem to be the thrust of the show’s storytelling, the other girls do get some decent spotlight as well. The Amusement Club tends to get into all sorts of different trouble and areas as they have no real goals or set objectives. The whole point was to keep themselves amused without having to do any work and aside from the relationship drama and hilarity, the rest of the comedy comes from the group trying to come up with things to keep them amused or to get over their current personal crisis. While it may not sound all that amusing, the characters interacting are most of what make this a really funny show without taking it into complete insanity, just mostly there.
The animation and look of the show is a bit more stable than Daily Lives of High School Boys which I was initially comparing this to. You have your chibi and simplified expressions for comedic effect, but the show as a whole is really nice to simply watch. The voice actors do an amazing job bringing the various characters to life, and whenever Chitose drops into her daydreams about Ayano and Kyoko and her voice changes that little bit it adds to the hilarity and the situation. The Blu-Rays look and sound great on my big screen and through my sound bar. I’ve had almost no issues with any of NIS America’s transfers on either Blu-Ray or DVD and this set doesn’t fail on that standard at all.
This is the Premium Edition so on top of the show itself you’ll be getting other goodies as well. The discs are usually sparse with NIS America releases but usually include clean opening and closing credits and this set also has B-Side episode previews for episodes as well. The audio is Japanese only with English subtitles like all of their releases. All of their Blu-Ray discs have the subtitles on by default and there is no way to run the Blu-Ray releases without the subtitles on, just a forewarning. Since there isn’t much to go on with the discs themselves, the Premium Editions do come with some other bonuses, including some gorgeous packaging.
The two discs are packed in a set of slim cases with different artwork for each case that go along with the included artbook and box. The discs themselves have a bit of art on them as well. The box is around eleven inches by seven inches sitting at about an inch thick which would look great as something sitting on your coffee table but will be a tight fit on the DVD or Blu-Ray shelf. If you have space issues where you live, keep this in mind, but the slim cases are labeled well enough that they could be taken out and put on the shelf and the box and artbook stored separately if you wanted to.
The artbook itself is 32 pages long and contains an episode guide to the first season as well as descriptions of the characters from the show and artwork of said characters. There’s also promotional art further on that looks great. This is a pretty standard artbook set-up for them just tailored to the show. They’re all pretty decent and I haven’t really had any problems with them. It’s a good companion piece to the discs and is very nice to look through.
The set retails for $64.99 but is currently tagged for $51.99 off the NIS America website. It’s a little cheaper than some of the other premium sets as its Blu-Ray only not bundled with both DVD and Blu-Ray. I would have like the DVD option but the Blu-Rays will get far more play time at my house anyway, although a digital copy I can drop on my tablet would have been welcome. I’ve started buying all my Blu-Rays and DVD combo sets with the digital copy for that reason. It’s a great set overall and I really enjoyed the comedy and flow of the show. This one is easy to recommend for people who like their slice of life more than lighthearted with a bit of insanity thrown in the mix. Yuru Yuri is a show that not everyone will like, but for those that do get a kick out of it you won’t stop watching it without a smile or a laugh.
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