Yuru Yuri Eps04-05

Watching these two episodes back-to-back with the previous ones really increased my attachment to these characters. Seeing their growth was very interesting, since this is a comedy anime and I didn't expect such advancements.

Super fanservice, all day long.

Ep04 settled the long-forgotten competition between Ayano and Kyouko (regarding the term tests) and then turned into a beach scene with lots of fanservice. Ep05 dealt with a visit to Comiket by the older cast members, while the younger ones hung out in pairs. It ended on a sour note with me, with a "sexually violent" scene performed purely for comedic reasons. While I await resolution on that situation, I have to note that these episodes really birthed the inkling that this might be dangerously close to a real shoujo-ai anime.

Eating with unclean pencils?!

The matter of the exam contest between Ayano and Kyouko was finally settled in ep04, since it began with Ayano proclaiming that it was almost time. The montage of her studying habits was disturbing; just like with Run's marathon in A Channel (and a multitude of other anime showing this kind of scenes, actually), I question just how much it helps. Then again, if the testing is heavily based on memorization, then I'm sure seeing the material almost constantly would help. The interesting bit about the pencils doubling for chopsticks is that during my entire stay in Hong Kong, I kept finding chopsticks that were actually a pencil on the other end. As novelty items, they were quite hilarious (not enough for me to drop money on them, but that's another story). I wonder how it would work realistically; after sharpening the pencil, wouldn't it eventually become useless? Moreover, carefully washing only one end of it (unless you wanted to die from the bacteria accumulating) would also be pretty annoying. So...novelty items.

Public wishes should have some decency.

As Ayano studied non-stop, the club members meandered around, stumbling on a "wish tree" set up for Tanabata. The deep friendship and admiration between the girls was heavily implied to be love instead throughout the entire episode, starting from this point. While Kyouko pondered writing for a kiss from Chinatsu as her wish, Chinatsu did write for a kiss from Yui on her paper...which Yui fulfilled by kissing her forehead (and stating that on the lips was too embarrassing). Her wish fulfilled before even stringing it on the tree, Chinatsu cheekily changed it to "mouth-to-mouth" instead. There's really no "hinting" anymore, at this point... Akari's (lack of) presence was once again mocked, as her wish was that she would stand out more often. The wind blew away the paper before she could string it up; the said paper was seen for the rest of the episode blowing passed the scene. Poor Akari. I'm happy that this anime has an amusing main character, though (by which I mean Kyouko).

I once got a 0...back in kindergarten. I'll never forget.

Ayano's dream of beating Kyouko came into fruition, as she placed first in the term tests and won the contest. Her victory was slightly jaded, as she had previously wondered what to do about the clubroom matter. (Chitose claimed that Ayano's threat had only been an excuse to talk to Kyouko. While she vehemently denied it, Ayano had previously stated that she didn't want to take the clubroom away from them.) Of course, the feel of her victory got worse after Ayano saw Kyouko's terrible test scores. It turns out that our resident blonde is an amateur mangaka (in the form of doujinshi), and she had been too burned out from her deadline to study. Poor, poor Ayano...


The episode degenerated into a beach scene without any pause, as Chitose had invited the four girls to a day out (for Ayano's sake, of course). With the entire student council present, the day was comprised of a lot of fanservice (helped by Chitose's earnest delusions). I can't help but wonder when Japanese girls begin to develop, considering the flatness of the girls currently (save for Sakurako and Yui), but I'm hindered by the fact that many (or maybe most) Japanese girls are extremely flat. When nightfall came, the girls changed into summer yukata and Ayano realized that, since she had worn her swimsuit from home, she had forgotten to bring a change of underwear. To be fair, yukata is traditionally meant to be worn without underwear (the premise of many ecchi scenes). The girls played around with fireworks, and Ayano seemed to have gotten her wish of being able to get along with Kyouko...until the latter tripped into her, then brazenly asked why she wasn't wearing underwear. I'm glad the premise of the Ayano-Kyouko rivalry hasn't been resolved; it's much too early for it to disappear.

The president, thus far, seems most normal.

Interestingly enough, the student council president was present in pretty much all of the scenes for this episode. At the very beginning, she was the one using the tissue before the scene cut to the OP. She was the one handing Chitose tissue throughout the beach scene, given her constant nosebleeds. The watermelon was cut in 9 pieces (what a feat...), and she was the last one to take it. Amusingly, she was always either the first or the last in a rolling shot, so she got carefully cut out. I wonder if this premise will continue throughout the series or if she will eventually be introduced. I don't know what to hope for; the concept is funny for now but probably won't be with time and repetition, and yet on the other hand I worry the introduction will take away the mystique if she isn't an awesome character. I'm so conflicted...!

How long was the travel time, anyway?

Right off the heels of the newfound closeness from the previous episode, ep05 jumped into the fray by having a very excited Ayano waiting eagerly at the train station for Kyouko. Of course, Kyouko arrived with both Chitose and Yui in tow, and the four of them headed off on a long trip...to Comiket. Kyouko had made arrangements for a stand and, unable to handle it on her own, she brought along Chitose and Ayano (citing that Chinatsu and Akari wouldn't have been able to handle the difficulties). Despite her annoyance at not having been told previously, Ayano jumped at the opportunity to hang around Kyouko...even when that meant cosplaying. (I reckon that Yui actually stopped Kyouko from inviting Chinatsu along, lest the girl be forced into cosplaying...)

...how did they get so many boxes home...?

I wonder if the comment that there were a lot of girls at the convention had any merit. As far as I know, these cons are usually filled with men, although the number of women have been growing in recent years. Still, the anime made it seem as though women were swarming the place. It makes sense; much of the doujinshi was very clearly aimed at females (while I'm sure a lot of men jump at yuri, the ones depicted really seemed much more girl-flavoured, what with flowers and sparkles everywhere). I wonder if Kyouko really made any profit from her sales, considering the amount of goods she was hauling back with her. (The con, at least, seemed to introduce Chitose to the world of fanfiction. I expect her delusions to grow better with each passing episode.)

Little Himawari!

Meanwhile, Sakurako and Himawari were very randomly studying together, at Himawari's house. At first, I assumed they lived together in some kind of dormitory situation, given the bunk bed, but I turned out to be wrong when Himawari's little sister showed up. She put Sakurako in her place, offering to sacrifice herself for the betterment of the elder's health after being abused by the difficult schooling system. These characters... For one of the first times in this anime, Akari's positive points were heralded, as it turned out that Sakurako thought the girl was amazing for always being able to help (with bandaids, a sewing kit, and chopsticks, to name a few situations). For all their fighting, the two just ended the scene with a little more closeness, since Sakurako turned out to have joined the student council after Himawari announced that she would (under the guise of not wanting to lose).

That definitely falls under "knowing everything".

I'm really beginning to question the allusion of lesbianism, and if this anime actually really isn't some sort of shoujo-ai. As Chinatsu and Akari hung out together at the former's house, Chinatsu brought out a questionnaire regarding Yui that she wanted filled out. With Akari misunderstanding that she wanted to be closer as a friend, the anime fully exerted the idea that Chinatsu was entirely serious, wanting to kiss and do all sorts of things with Yui. I seriously do wonder if the yuri isn't real here, because this is pretty far to be taking a joke. As I've insinuated many, many times in the past (such as with A Channel), I would understand the girls dating each other. Not only would it be a "practice relationship" for some (as is sometimes welcomed in Asian culture), but a lot of girls actually genuinely begin thinking that they're gay when in an all-girl situation for a majority of their lives. I guess I kind of just want more transparency...

Detachable buns.

I absolutely despised the end of this scene. Realizing that she had no experience, Chinatsu wanted to practice kissing with Akari, who was vehemently against it. After a chase around the house (accompanied by crying), Chinatsu managed to pin her down by the main entrance and proceeded to perform just as Kyouko and Yui walked in. On one hand, I understand the funny part (and also, it serves Chinatsu right to be misunderstood and caught in such a disastrous situation) - on the other hand, I can't stomach Akari's victimized look that closed the episode. A lot of people tend to fault BL stories due to their theme of force and dominance, and I even had a conversation some time ago about Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi and its own "almost-rape" scene. I'm not a fan of sexual abuse and violence as a cover for love, but I accepted Sekai-ichi mostly because the characters involved didn't seem to be jaded by the experience; I didn't want to make a mountain out of a molehill. However, this scene really crossed my line by showing her beaten down face at the very end. I don't know how to fully move passed Akari's lifeless eyes and single tear (all cliches, I know). It depends on how this is handled in the next episode. No mention will be a minus, but I can accept it because it was meant to be a (crude) joke. Mentioning it and having repeated scenes will really bring this anime down for me, from a pretty high perch.

Damn, more macho than Super Saiyans.

So, this week's batch ended on a sour note, despite beginning pretty well. I am still looking forward to subsequent episodes, partially because the jokes and performances are all still great. In truth, I want to see how far the shoujo-ai aspect will be taken, and how this recent Chinatsu-Akari disturbance will play out.