All the colours of the yuri rainbow.
By and large, Yuru Yuri is not the type of series that’s bound to surprise. There’s a certain familiarity to its comedy and its characters that has been felt since the very first episode. It’s ever sweet and ever charming, yet somehow Yuru Yuri San☆Hai! managed to surprise me. After watching three seasons of this simple slice-of-life show, I’ve come to the conclusion that Yuru Yuri is one of those rare cases where each season is better than the last. It’s not groundbreaking by any measure; it’s simple, pure slice-of-life comedy with very little actual content. Yet this time it around it managed to surpass my expectations.
It’s hard to say whether it’s because I laughed more, or because the best characters got the most screentime (Akari is still my favourite and the most underused!), but I have a feeling it may be down to the people behind this third season. Dogakobo and director, Oota Masahiko (Love Lab, Kotoura-san, Minami-ke) did a good job with the first two seasons of Yuru Yuri, bringing the characters to life in a cartoonish manner that fit with the studio’s image. That approach worked, so when the OVAs and third season were to instead be produced by TYO Animations, and director, Hata Hiroyuki, the man who gave us the abysmal Saikin, Imouto no Yousu ga Chotto Okashiinda ga., I wasn’t too optimistic. Even watching the OVAs, I felt like something had changed, and perhaps not for the better. However, a few episodes into this third season I realised I was laughing more than ever before, and the change in art style looked so much better than I expected.
Not only were the character designs and colour palettes different, but the backgrounds were much more realistic and lived-in, as opposed to the goofiness of the first two season. I thought that was a risky move, but in doing so it allowed more appreciation for the animation and newfound longs shots that were absent before San Hai. It was different, but different does not mean worse. Nor does it mean better. It could have gone either way, but for me, it made this third season the most enjoyable of the bunch.
One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the characters. They’re all still the same, and I wouldn’t want any of them to change. Every episode flies by so fast that it feels like I’ve been watching it for five minutes, not twenty. Akari, my personal favourite, was very much underused this time around, but it didn’t bother me as much as it could have – perhaps because her invisibility is always going to be her defining trait. Chinatsu’s love for Yui always gets me, and I loved their moments together this season. And then there’s the ever-confident Kyouko, the most popular character of the series. She’s never been my favourite, but I thought she was the funniest of the bunch. Finally, I can see why everyone loves her so much! Other characters that I especially liked this time around were Ayano, and the various sisters of the main cast. We didn’t get to see too much of them, but whenever they showed up I always felt like we could stick around with them for another few minutes.
All in all, Yuru Yuri San☆Hai! is the best Yuru Yuri has ever been. I don’t know if we’ll get a fourth season eventually, as that’s a rarity for any anime nowadays, especially a plotless slice-of-life. But if we did get another announcement, I’d be up for that. Yuru Yuri is like diving head first into a comfy beanbag that you never want to get out of. It’s one of the easiest anime to just sit back and watch, and a solid contender for the best slice-of-life of 2015.