There’s something inexplicable about Yuyushiki that makes it a difficult sell. Frankly, the premise of “three girls goofing off” is about as original as “three guys walk into a bar”. Furthermore, a considerable number of the jokes are patently unfunny, and the characters will probably find themselves laughing more often than the audience will. On paper, Yuyushiki sounds like every other largely forgettable 4-koma slice of life adaptation out there. So what makes Yuyushiki stand out in a veritable sea of similarly themed shows? Quite a lot, actually.
To start, good character dynamics are paramount in these plotless slice of life shows, and in that respect, Yuyushiki delivers in spades. Yuzuko is a somewhat typical, perpetually ebullient character, and is often the instigator of Yuyushiki’s humorous situations, while Yukari is more of an airhead and quick to get caught up in Yuzuko’s antics. Yui, the tsukkomi to Yuzuko and Yukari’s boke, is the more serious of the three, and generally the one to keep the conversations somewhat grounded. Respectively, none of the girls really stand out from the ilk of their genre, but the sum of their personalities constitute a very natural and thoroughly entertaining rapport with one another.
The bulk of Yuyushiki is dedicated to the frankly inane conversations among these three friends. The way their conversations veer wildly, often at the whims of Yuzuko, from one nonsensical topic to the next is always surprisingly natural. They change their cadence in an attempt to make one another laugh, pull innocuous little pranks on each other, and repeat meaningless phrases until they become funny; all typical things that most kids would be guilty of, but it’s more in the way that Yuyushiki portrays them that makes it special. An illogical joke suddenly becomes infectiously hilarious when all three girls, even the comparably stern Yui, burst into unwarranted and uncontrollable laugher. Heck, even something as commonplace as the word “potato” is enough to set them off.
Despite all the goofiness, Yuyushiki is perhaps at its best when the girls exhibit moments of genuine introspection. Lurches in the girls’ conversation frequently lead to surprisingly serious topics, ranging from their plans for the future to their thoughts on death. These moments serve as subtle yet invaluable reminders that the girls are more than mere comedic devices, adding more depth to these small understated moments. Of course, it isn’t long until the show shifts back to its pervasive silliness, but these fleeting moments are particularly memorable nonetheless. All of this conversational inanity and brief stints of sincerity culminate as an experience that is surprisingly realistic and easy to relate to. There’s something particularly endearing about the way Yuyushiki effortlessly draws you into its lackadaisical atmosphere; it’s simply a delight to spend time with these characters.
With that said, Yuyushiki’s sense of humor certainly won’t appeal to everyone. A large portion of the jokes simply aren’t funny, as the emphasis is often on the absurd journey it took to get to the punchline rather than the actual destination. In fact, many of the jokes don’t even have a punchline – which in the context of Yuyushiki’s jocular gait could even be seen as the punchline – so those looking for a more traditional joke/punchline structure might be left dissatisfied. However, for those able to embrace the unusual comedic stylings of Yuyushiki, they will be rewarded with a truly unique and charming experience.
Yuyushiki pulls through with formal excellence as well. Every little detail contributes to the joke. The colorful palette lends itself well to the genial atmosphere, and the animation, while unassuming, reveals marked craftsmanship upon close examination. Great care was taken into making small gestures and slight cues in body language as fluid and authentic as possible. Simple jokes are often elevated by a unique framing of the shot or a perfectly timed change in perspective. In many ways, Yuyushiki’s production values are inextricably linked with the actual content of the show, but it does so in a very unobtrusive manner that can be easy to miss providing one isn’t looking for it; ideal for this type of show, really.
In closing, Yuyushiki takes a simple premise and adds its own signature flair. It’s easy to forget you’re watching a show that is essentially about nothing when the experience is as fun as Yuyushiki is. With a wonderfully laid-back mood, some of the best character dynamics in recent memory, and topnotch production values, Yuyushiki is a show that is head and shoulders above most of the genre. Give it a chance! You won’t regret your time spent goofing off with the cast of Yuyushiki.