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The Spring 2023 Anime Preview Guide
Yuri Is My Job!

How would you rate episode 1 of
Yuri Is My Job! ?
Community score: 3.8

How would you rate episode 2 of
Yuri Is My Job! ?
Community score: 3.9

What is this?


Hime is a high school girl who deeply cares about her image as a sweet, helpful princess but on the inside only cares about herself. Against her will, Hime gets manipulated into working as a waitress at a place that's part café, part theater, where all the waitresses pretend to be students at a fictional German all-girls boarding school. Hime finds herself falling for another waitress at the café, who in front of the customers gives Hime love and devotion like she's never known. There's just one problem: Behind the scenes, Hime's crush hates her guts.

Yuri Is My Job! is based on Miman's Yuri Is My Job! (Watashi no Yuri wa Oshigoto Desu!) manga and streams on Crunchyroll on Thursdays.

How was the first episode?

James Beckett

Man, I really wanted to love this one. Alas, after watching its premiere, I was left puzzlingly cold. There are so many ingredients at play here that sound great to me on paper: it's got an unrepentant little gremlin for a main character, a showbiz-focused workplace comedy premise about girls who essentially perform homoerotic improv theater for their café's patrons, and there's an interestingly combative dynamic between the supremely narcissistic Hime and her new coworker, Mitsuki. I feel like I should be all over this show.

Yet, here I am, trying to decide if I want to bump my 2.5 star rating up to a 3 based on the how much potential I think the show has versus how uninterested I ended up being in this first episode. There are some problems I know for sure that aren't likely to be smoothed over by future episodes: the art, for one, simply isn't doing it for me. The characters feel flat and somewhat lifeless in many of their scenes, and the direction of the episode is oddly stilted and plain for a show that is constantly trying to ham it up when the girls put on their shōjo performance for the Liebe Café.

Then there's the girls themselves, and this is where I could easily imagine my feelings for Yuri Is My Job! warming up as the season progresses. The problem is that I just don't find these girls to be very likeable. Actually, maybe I ought to reword that, because I'd actually be really bored with a show where every single character was meant to be sugary and sweet and compliant and all that—rather, I didn't find myself liking the experience of watching the girls interact with each other and do their theater shtick together. I didn't hate the experience, by any means, but I kept waiting for the moment where Yuri Is My Job! would get me to crack a smile, or laugh, or even furrow my brow in slightly piqued interest. That moment never came.

Maybe it's because there's not enough contrast between the girls' on-stage and real-life personas? The yuri romance tropes that the actresses all have to lean into would probably be more amusing if the anime's cast didn't feel quite so perfectly plucked from Quirky Anime Comedy Central Casting. Or maybe I'm just having a hard time getting invested in the central dynamic that Hime and Mitsuki share, though I'd have a hard time pinning down the reason why that is, exactly.

We critics can and will expend a great amount of energy and words in order to describe just why a show is either successful or a failure, but there are also always those shows that just don't click with you for reasons no more complicated than mismatched wavelengths. For that reason, I'm thinking I'll be generous and give this a slightly positive score overall, because I can totally see why Yuri Is My Job! would be a very fun anime to follow. I'm just not feeling it, myself, you know?

Richard Eisenbeis

What I enjoyed most about Yuri Is My Job! is the setting. Rather than a simple restaurant, Café Liebe is an endlessly running improvised stage show where the guests are both characters (patrons of the fictional Liebe Girls Academy's student-run café) and the audience to the ongoing romantic drama going on between the girls working at the café. The closest equivalent would be a live daily soap opera. Characters change and grow, relationships start and end, new girls arrive, and others leave, but the story continues uninterrupted.

This is a brilliant idea for a business. It basically runs off of FOMO. You have to come every day or risk not seeing a particularly spicy scene between your favorite couple or missing out on the introduction of the new girl. But, if you think about it logically, no one can come every day, so the story needs to go at a snail's pace, with many similar encounters happening over a week or more so everyone has a chance to visit and stay invested. I suspect that's the root of the reason that Mitsuki dislikes Hime so much. On her first day at the café, Hime stumbles in and makes sweeping changes to the plot. There's no previous discussion or planning—no time to set up the characters or their relationship. The big sisterly confession happens off-screen with no foreshadowing—and Mitsuki is forced to try and pick up the pieces in a way that makes sense.

Or, to put it another way, Mitsuki is a professional actor. She is invested in the world and the story they are creating. And to have Hime—a temporary employee who won't even be a part of the story in a few weeks' time—waltz in and derail months of work and buildup just because she wants to be the center of attention and be the primary love interest of your character? Oh yeah, I'd be super pissed off too.

And as for Hime, while she lives her life acting as the cute, innocent protagonist, the problem is that hers is a solo act. She never has to worry about anything other than how her character is perceived. Worse still, her character is static. It doesn't grow or change—nor does it play off others well. It is simply the center of attention at all times, responding to situations in pre-scripted ways. She doesn't understand that the café workers aren't just reacting. They're building a story together, and putting herself at the center right from the start is a good way to make the rest of the cast hate her. I look forward to seeing the day she figures out how much of an ass she was in this episode—it should be quite a revelation.

Nicholas Dupree

Just from the start, Yuri Is My Job! has a great conceit. While the landscape of Yuri/Girls' Love manga has changed since the years of Maria Watches Over Us and Strawberry Panic!, that aesthetic is still deeply ingrained in both the subgenre's history and its place in popular consciousness. While these days there's room for more grounded and relatable WLW stories, there's also a lot of affection for the vaulted halls and melodramatics of Class S tales of secluded Catholic schools absolutely lousy with lesbians. So the idea of characters playing out a constructed soap opera in front of their customers while subtly instigating a workplace dramedy between the lines of kayfabe is a pretty brilliant way to bridge those worlds.

The key to whether or not that works for you will hinge on our star, Hime. As a purposefully duplicitous character who hides a far more cynical personality behind a façade of eternal sweetness, she's the perfect protagonist for this setup. Especially since, as we see through this episode, her manufactured cuteness isn't quite the perfect fit for the cafe's audience, nor is she quite as slick as she thinks herself to be. There are also a few subtle hints that her façade is more defensive than mercenary and that she fears rejection more than she desires affection. It works for me and makes the whole thing a lot more interesting for potential conflict, but it also means our leading lady is kind of an asshole who is constantly saying one thing but thinking another.

Though that two-faced element sort of holds for everyone in the cast. Gyaru-delinquent double-threat Sumika comes off as brash and intimidating, but through the episode, we see she's the most collected and considerate of the cafe's staff. Manager Mai strong-arms Hime into joining the staff over an injury that I am 99% sure she's faking, considering she can use that bandaged-up hand just fine whenever Hime isn't looking. Then there's Mitsuki, who plays the loving and supportive senpai in front of customers but is the one person who immediately sees through Hime's mask and can't stand her for it. There's a sense that everyone here is more complicated than the version of themselves they present, either at work or in private.

It's too early to tell exactly where this theme of façades will go, but it's consistent enough that I feel safe calling it intentional. If you need someone guileless and innocent to root for, this might not be your bag, but for my part, it's an excellent setup for a story all about putting on a performative persona. As somebody who enjoys both the histrionics of the yuri stories this show homages and the more realistic portrayals of queerness of today, I'm just excited to see how Yuri Is My Job! might meld the two.

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