As a new year starts, anime fans are certainly looking forward to all the new anime the year will bring. They are also looking over at the past year and making their “best anime of 2016” lists, or putting in their write-in votes for Crunchyroll’s Anime Awards. Something about a new year makes people want to both look forward and look back. We want to look forward to new anime, but we also want to look at what we liked and disliked from the previous year to see what exactly we are looking forward to. Naturally I do the same thing, but as I look back at my favorites of the past year and how they differ from what seem to be the “popular” picks, one big question begs to be answered…
…how did I get so hooked on cute-girls-doing-cute-things shows?
Probably no other type of anime is as niche among English-speaking audiences as the cute-girls-doing-cute-things show. Most fans view such shows with a “how do people enjoy this” sort of attitude, as the idea of just watching a bunch of anime girls do random everyday stuff understandably does not fit with the usual definitions of “entertaining”. And yet, something about such shows does click with its fans. In my case, I had already become a fan of both moe and slice-of-life, so it was easy enough for me to pick up and enjoy a few cute-girls-doing-things shows. However, while there were certainly specific such shows that I became a fan of before then, it was not until the Spring 2013 anime season when I would become a fan of this kind of show overall.
It helped that it was around the Spring 2013 anime season that watching currently-airing anime weekly had become a solidly-established part of my anime-viewing habits. Anime simulcasting through sites like Crunchyroll had grown to encompass almost all the major new shows, and my awareness and interest in such shows had hit a high point. As such, that season I gave almost every full-length show a try. Some stuff interested me, others didn’t, and I think hearing about how graphic a certain Attack on Titan was kept me off that bandwagon until the end of the season. Overall, though, the shows were largely serious affairs, which in and of itself was not a bad thing.
However, towards the end of trying out new shows, I got to Yuyushiki, which did something that no other show I had tried did: it put a smile on my face from beginning to end. And for that reason, it became my favorite premiere, and eventually my favorite show of the season.
The show itself functions like most other cute-girls-doing-cute-things shows. One slight difference is that the main girls, Yui, Yuzu, and Yukari, are established friends already, meaning the show does not need to start with the whole “girls getting to know each other” part and can jump right into their silly interactions with each other. Overall the show has a strong “friends goofing off” vibe to it, and captures well that sense of comfort and cheerfulness of talking about random stuff and messing with each other. There’s also a good secondary group of girls and a teacher (voiced by the ever-wonderful Yui Horie) who takes care of her students so well that everyone calls her “Mom”. Adding to all this is the show’s main gimmick, in which the girls hit up an Internet search engine to look up information on various topics. It not only helps feed into the whole “girls having fun with everyday activities” vibe, but it also makes for a surprisingly educational aspect as you learn about stuff like the Maunder Minimum.
All this might seem nice enough for a feel-good show, but saying that it was my favorite show of the season might sound like a bit much. However, this show was also the one that showed me just how nice it was to have such a smile-inducing show to watch every week. It might seem wrong to put the value of “feel good-ness” over things like depth of plot or thematic strength or character development, but I think that it is at least as important as all those other things. Cheerfulness is not something to take for granted. We live in a world where so many things threaten to drain the cheer out of our lives, many of which do so a little at a time so that we don’t even notice it. Having something that could restore a bit of cheer each week was not only helpful in and of itself, but also a nice reminder to keep looking for the cheer in everyday life.
From that point on, the cute-girls-doing-cute-things show has become the symbol of everyday cheer, something that I could return to every week for just a little more warmth in my life. And while I understand that shows like Yuyushiki are not everyone’s cup of tea, I think such shows are a good reminder of how sometimes, that warmth is all a story really needs. Whatever your interests are, I encourage you to find some everyday sources of cheer, both within anime/game/other entertainment fandoms and outside of them in your own daily life. Just remember that it’s more than just finding happiness; it’s adopting an attitude of happiness. Rather than just getting pushed around by things that bring or take away cheer, take charge to find the cheerfulness around you.
If you are interested in Yuyushiki, it is available for streaming on Crunchyroll. Like many other cute-girls-doing-cute-things shows, there’s a good amount of yuri teasing, so be aware of that.