Has a teacher, parent, drunk uncle or any other breed of obnoxious peer ever subjected you to one of these analogies about optimists and pessimists? Yuru Yuri is an anime perfectly suited to one of these. An optimist considers it to be an adorable anime that tries to put some actual effort in getting a laugh out of you. A pessimist probably thinks it to be just another anime about cute girls doing cute things — this time with lesbians added to the mix for maximum capitalist efficiency. Hail Keynes!
There is certainly a hint of truth in the latter’s argument, though for once, I am supporting the optimist’s way. Something about Yuru Yuri’s pink-tinted view on the world just clicked with me and it managed to provide a summer’s worth of fun for me last year. Now, Kyouko, Yui, Chinatsu and that other girl are back for a second season of lesbian antics. Did it really need to be the same Yuri antics, though?
The first half of this season première is the part everyone is talking about. For good reason, as it was one of these “optimist and pessimist” moments in itself.It was cheesy, idiotic, repetitive and even a bit grating, but the intentionally obnoxious execution and the way in which it reintroduced the characters and their quirks was a small stroke of genius. The second half, however, brought things down to earth and thus, mediocrity. Yuru Yuri’s trip to the hot springs proved that the interactions of the Amusement Club might be starting to get a bit rusty. Yes, Kyouko lusts after Chinatsu. Yes, Chinatsu lusts after Yui. Yes, Yui corrects Kyouko whenever she does something stupid, and yes, Akari is ignored all the time. This is nothing we needed to be reminded of.
It is a flaw most comedy sequels suffer from. However illogical this may seem, the same jokes that made a show memorable can lose much of their original impact when they return for a second go. In fact, the words “the same jokes” are already a call to caution. Working!! became oddly predictable during its second run, especially after bringing down the retcon on most of the romantic development in the first season. Squid Girl’s second season is in no way as loveable as its first one. Even Baka & Test managed to turn out even more generic and repetitive when it returned a few seasons ago.
To avoid this, a comedy sequel — like any good sequel — always needs to go above and beyond its predecessor. Bigger, better and more badass. The stakes have been raised. Multiple Aliens instead of one. 99% more wub wub. Quirkier characters, funnier jokes, faster pacing and more utter insanity. More of the same simply won’t cut it. You do not write a sequel to a book by rearranging some lines and changing some words. You do not script the sequel to a game without justifying its existence. A good sequel is a resurrection.
A great example would be the second season of Detective Opera Milky Holmes, where the main characters became even more stupid then they already were, jokes were fired off at an even faster pace and the chaos was cranked up to eleven. Running gags and references to the first season were cut up, kneaded and mixed with other jokes. Or look at Arrested Development, a show that started out as a beautiful comedic painting and ended out as a multidimensional collage, stuffed to the brim with in-jokes, characters stealing other character’s catchphrases, meta humour and a network of references more complex than a dialogue chart for Clannad. And incest.
The first part of Yuru Yuri’s second season première was a step in the right direction, but the second part a recipe for disaster. More of the former, and less of the latter please, or else this second season will stand out even less than that one girl…
What was her name again?