I've been a little dismissive of Yuru Yuri in other reviews, but I'm starting to wonder if maybe I wasn't giving it enough credit. I've just watched 40 episodes of this show (counting the Nachuyachumi! as double) and I enjoyed it all. I didn't start getting restless. I didn't find myself reaching for other shows instead. I'm even capable of binge-watching it, which for me is impossible for a show I'm ploughing through rather than enjoying. If there were a fourth season, I'd happily watch that too. Clearly it's doing something right.
The premise is the same as ever. Schoolgirls hang out together and have fun, sometimes while having lesbian crushes on each other. (There are no boys. There will never be any boys. This universe doesn't seem to contain boys.) In one sense, all the episodes are the same. That said, though, the cast are lively enough that the show can support forty episodes of their antics without noticeable strain and it's rather nice watching them being silly together. I've been thinking about this. Personally I think the difference between this and, say, Is the Order a Rabbit?, is that these characters actually have motivation and drive. They propel their scenes, even the silly, aimless ones. (The lesbian crushes contribute to this significantly.) The show always feels as if it has a pulse and a heartbeat, whereas Is the Order a Rabbit? is entirely static and doesn't actually have a point to its Cute Girls Doing Cute Things.
Kyoko is mental, hyperactive and the show's engine. Sakurako is similar, but lazier and actively stupid. (Theoretically Kyoko's an academic genius, which made me annoyed when ep.5 seemed to forget that, but then later episodes make her unexpectedly brilliant elsewhere. She's extraordinarily good at carving things, although admittedly her main use for this is to adorn apples. It's also possible that she's an incredibly fast reader, although there are other obvious interpretations available of that scene in ep.6.) Meanwhile Chinatsu is very nice and only occasionally scary. Ayano is also terribly nice, although she really needs to get over her tsundere denial reactions about Kyoko.
The pairings are of some interest. The crushes are still there, but their chances of happening are looking ever more distant. Relationships like Kyoko-Yui, Ayano-Chitose and of course Sakurako-Himawari look far more permanent, in many ways resembling marriages more than friendships. Kyoko practically lives at Yui's house and will invite herself to dinner and sleep alongside her. (And also make Yui do Kyoko's homework.) Ayano-Chitose is particularly interesting from this point of view, since Chitose is so supportive of Ayano's crush on Kyoko that imagining the two of them has become her source of dirty fantasies, yet Ayano and Chitose are all but inseparable and they'd make a lovely couple.
I also still like everyone's sisters. It adds something for our heroines to have family, be they younger (e.g. the cute business around sending Mari and Kaede out on errands in ep.9) or older (Akari's sweet and terrifying sister, Akane). Akane couldn't be more friendly, good-natured or harmless, but her not-so-hidden incestuous fixation... yow. See ep.2.
That said, though, there's more to this show than possible romantic pairings. An episode might throw together any combination of characters, to show us reactions we'd never seen before or throw more light on their friendships. Everyone's nice and they almost all like each other. Even Himawari and her intellectually challenged ball-and-chain, aka. Sakurako, seem to have settled down somewhat and have together become almost domesticated, albeit still bickering.
It's also worth noting that the show's capable of telling a more dramatically meaningful story where characters are acting on their motivations and trying to change themselves. Ep.9 achieves that, I think, with Chizuru's attempts to become a friendlier person.
The show's won me over. I don't think I gave it enough credit when I wrote about it before. It's still basically laid-back schoolgirl antics that aren't going anywhere, but its cast are capable of doing things you hadn't expected even after forty episodes with them (especially Kyoko) and it's capable of doing gags like Sakurako being so annoying that she inspires Himawari to impossible athletic feats in order to kick her in the face. It has the stylistic experimentation at the start of ep.8 (silent movie, home made anime and a Sakurako's point-of-view shot). If they make another season, I'll definitely watch it.