--- INTRODUCTION ---
I decided to watch Yuki Yuna is a Hero after thoroughly enjoying Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica, which opened my mind to what the magic girl genre could be and is one of the best series I've seen. In a nutshell, Yuki Yuna spectacularly failed at almost everything that I loved about Madoka Magica, but it had nothing to do with superficial similarities between the two shows, and everything to do with... well, a whole list of things right below:
--- THE BAD ---
(story, world building, characters, battles)
(1) The story is the worst part. It has numerous plot holes towards the climax of the show
when things are supposed to be revealed. There is also one notable example of a plot twist based on a completely illogical and uncharacteristic decision of one of the characters, which the authors attempted to frame in some kind of emotional reasoning but it really didn't work. It was a new experience for me: trying to watch events unfold that are based on a decision so absurd that it completely threw me out of the narrative. Other than that, the show just tries too hard to create drama and doesn't shy away from throwing all logic out of the window. Most notably the ending was a disaster. It has been pulled out of a hat with no explanation of what exactly happened, why, and how.
(2) There is very little world building, and the universe presented just simply doesn't make any coherent, believable sense. There is no depth to the sides of Good and Evil. The enemies just want to destroy the human world for no good reason and the forces of Good are also very ambiguous and manage to make even less sense than the enemies do. Saying that this universe didn't make an impact on me like some other fictional worlds did would be an understatement -- it would imply that the show at least ATTEMPTED to create some kind of interesting fictional world. But it didn't, rather it used the sci-fi / fantasy setting as a throw-away environment for forced drama which is the focus of the show.
(3) The show focuses heavily on the characters in a slice-of-life fashion, but the trouble is, the characters are very one-dimensional. Their biggest weakness is that the way they are portrayed often times completely ignores what humans are actually like and just shows one quality of their character in isolation over and over. For example, our main character is an overly optimistic "you're likely to succeed if you try", "everything is going to be great because we're the Hero Club and we have each other" type of character. She doesn't have another side where she behaves more human and shows fear, or anger at the tsundere's blatant rudeness, or can't cope with what's going on because she's just a little girl for crying out loud.
Some characters are better than others in execution, but even the better characters are still nothing special. They are unmemorable at best, and at worst they don't make sense and are hard to believe.
(4) The battles are very simplistic and boring. Characters just scream "Hero Punch!", "Girl Power!", or things even worse, like the Five Tenets of the Hero Club one by one while slaying things left and right. This was supposed to make these scenes emotionally charged, but it didn't work and just annoyed me. Moreover, the viewers have no idea how to tell power difference between heroes and enemies, and seeing our characters arbitrary winning or losing based on what the plot demands is predictable and not engaging.
The fairies did absolutely nothing, had no personalities, were neither cute nor anything else, and are the most bland and unnecessary dare I call them characters I've ever seen. The fact that one becomes a magic girl and a servant to a mysterious tree deity by activating an iPhone app says a lot about the amount of thought put into this show in general.
--- THE OKAY ---
(visuals, dub, the Hero Club, Fu)
(1) The art is fine. The fighting is not very exciting to begin with, but the visuals across the whole show look decent. Nothing you wouldn't come to expect from a 2014 show, but there's really nothing wrong with it either.
(2) The music and songs are meh, but I watched the dub and it was good. I particularly liked the performance of English voice actress of Togo.
(3) Before things went all mahou shoujo, the Hero Club the girls had in the first episode or two was cute. They were trying to help the community in whatever ways they could, and it was nice seeing them taking it seriously and trying to be little adults.
(4) I liked one of the girls, Fu. She's cool and not as plain as the rest of the cast, her motivations are easier to believe. Although that's before I stopped to consider the fact that at the age of 14 Fu has no parents or adult family members. On top, she's living alone with her younger sister acting as her caretaker and legal guardian. And apparently she's been doing that since the age of 12. But don't think too much about it.
--- THANK YOU FOR READING ---
I tried to make this review useful. If you have any feedback please feel free to message me.
**NOTE: This anime is a sequel to the LN 'Washio Sumi wa Yuusha de Aru', it's highly recommended that you do NOT read it before this, don't even look at its synopsis as it contains spoilers, it's recommended however that you read it after finishing this anime as it gives good backstory for some of the characters and works well as a tissue burner.**
Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru (Yuyuyu henceforth to avoid confusion with the character) was one of the least anticipated tiles for Fall 2014, but as a fan of both the SoL and mahou shoujo genres I figured it'd be a decent
watch but didn't have high expectations for it, the PV hinted at a mundane show about nothing in particular with some magic to mix things up.
Upon looking at the staff list however and seeing names such as Seiji "Nice Show Would Be a Shame if Something Happened to It" Kishi (Angel Beats!) and Mr. "Woah, This Character Is Still Alive? Better Fix That" a.k.a. Takahiro (Akame ga Kill!), I couldn't help but wonder "what are these monsters doing in a show about cute little girls?"
Yuyuyu's was shaping up to be a massive massacre as Studio Gokumi took the lead in the animation front, and that's exactly what happened, Yuyuyu was indeed a massacre – of my expectations.
The story starts off with a simple play of a hero trying to stop the demon king, a child's play, aimed at such, but helps set the tone for the rest of the show, in multiples ways, this is a simple story, we're not dealing with an over the top sci-fi setting that requires several episodes before you grasp what is going on and these characters are no geniuses or unique souls who appear once in a thousand years to change the world... Or are they?.. Probably not.
It takes less than 3 minutes for the characters and setting to be introduced, even as the staff credits appear over several still images it's easy to understand that the world our heroines live in is a simple one, there's some city landscape shown but it's mostly countryside, it all screams peaceful, very peacefully.
Yuuna, Tougou, Fuu, Itsuki, together they form the Hero Club, a club that focus on helping people, mainly through the form of community work. Shortly after their introductions, we get to see a bit of their daily lives, make no mistake here however, being part of the SLICE OF LIFE™ genre, this anime makes these cute little girls face real adversities as they try to find owners for kittens, update their website or think of what to do when faced with japanese middle schoolers' greatest fear after common cold – the cultural festival.
Everything stops, however, when they receive a strange message on their phones.
The members of the Hero Club have been selected to because heroes and fight Vertex – enemies of mankind that wish to destroy the world – in order protect Shinju-sama (Divine Tree), the foundation of the world.
Who, why, when or how? Questions which are sure to have an answer somewhere but are they really important? These girls have a world to save, those come later!
At this point one can't help but wonder if this will be the classical "enemy of the week", but fear not, or do.
The mahou shoujo genre is a genre that has it's tropes very well defined and it's very easy to identify them even without much experience with it, however, Yuyuyu uses these tropes for ease of storytelling but doesn't get lost in them, creating a story and characters that stand on their own.
Yuyuyu is more on the "modern" side of the genre (look at the bottom of the review for a more detailed analysis), it's not just about mindless murder of hopeless, little Vertex.
Eventhough this is a SLICE OF LIFE™ anime these girls are more than just kawaii, each with their own traits and personalities – simple ones, guessable just by looking at their hair color – they have more to them than it initially appears, as their pasts are revealed and explored, we get to know more about them, sympathize with them, maybe even relate to them. It ever ends up going overboard about how sad and unfortunate these girls are though, it's life, we have all experienced sudden changes at one point or another, for one reason or another, but that hasn't stopped us from living.
However simple Yuyuyu might look like on the surface, it does have depth, while most of the cast might look care free enough for little girls tasked with saving the world, underneath all the fun and entertainment this show provides, there's always that lingering feeling of uncertainty, "who exactly are the Vertex? Why are they after us?" But the series never spells it out or feels the need to ask it every episode, which can be both a good and bad thing, it's easy to forget these girls are tasked with saving the world, even the characters themselves are aware of this though, which does serve as a reminder without being intrusive.
""Things are gonna be fun", huh? We're supposed to be heroes saving the world. How silly."
Just as much as this show is self-aware it also has an incredible attention to detail and amazing foreshadowing skills, little things like when the group is facing the first Vertex and Yuuna tries to calm Tougou down, while she's the one shaking; it's so subtle however, that it can go by unnoticed as all that we see is her fist, an easy way to make the audience aware of the fact Yuuna is also scared would be to simply expose Yuuna's thoughts and how nervous she is but the show doesn't feel the need to hold your hand.
This makes rewatching this series an amazing experience, picking up on little things the characters say or do which spell out the outcome of future episodes and events.
At it's core Yuyuyu is a very well-realized show, it focus on the big picture – saving the world – but doesn't ignore the implications, exploring them and quietly builds up to the finale without you even noticing it's happening.
The whole atmosphere the show builds has a much greater purpose, tense moments that lack tension are not because the show itself can't create it well, it doesn't need them all the time, it knows how to set a mood but doesn't need the mood to be heavy 24/7, it doesn't take every opportunity it gets to try to create something, it knows exactly when to strike. Perhaps Takahiro realized it wasn't the best of ideas to kill off a character every episode, it numbs the audience, after a while you just expect it and you start to care less and less.
Hints are left behind with every corner the show turns but it doesn't come back to pick them up again, as said above, incredible self-awareness and attention to detail, enjoyment when rewatching the show is easily doubled, a feat accomplished by very few series.
"Though there is no other thing that can fascinate humans more than the truth
There is nothing that is more cruel to humans than the truth."
"No matter what... No matter how tough it gets... Live on."
If there's one thing Yuyuyu nails however, it's certainly its message, what implies being a hero, the regrets of becoming one, the hopelessness of not being able to change the past or the future but still trying desperately to do so when faced with picking between loneliness and suffering or no future at all.
"Being a Hero isn't about making sense or bending to the cruelty of the world. It isn't about being a sacrifice for others or defeating villains. Being a Hero isn't even about saving people.
Being a Hero is about facing everything that is terrible and wrong and refusing to accept it. So when that Hero strides forth against impossible odds other can look towards them as a shining beacon of hope, stand up, and follow in their footsteps."
Which would you pick?
Would you still manage to become a hero even if it meant sacrificing yourself?
Even if it meant having a future filled with nothingess?
Or would you rather have no future at all? Would you leave your friends behind to suffer? Would you take them with you in a selfless act of desperation? Or would you fight alone and take all the burden yourself?
The sacrifice of few to save the rest is explored a lot in anime but what if there's nothing to save? What if you can't save anyone no matter how much you sacrifice? Would you just give up? Or grab onto the little hope and strength you have left? Could you keep going knowing, no matter what you did, the future wouldn't change?
Yuyuyu doesn't directly ask many questions and it answers even less but it doesn't need to do so, everything is made obvious through the characters, their actions and their situation, "show" is prioritized over "tell" but it doesn't forget to keep the plot coherent, this can also be seen as a flaw as viewers who don't pay much attention might get lost and feel like things happen for no reason, in the end it's also up to how each one of us interprets it.
-insert "truly the evangelion of the madoka of our generation" joke here-
Even regarding character backstories Yuyuyu is a rather unique series, they are introduced later than sooner, which usually isn't the case, at least in this sort of series, the first few episodes are usually used to build the characters and then move with the plot, Yuyuyu leaves characterization for when it's necessary and... it works.
Instead of focusing on everyone at the start and overloading the audience with exposition Yuyuyu lets the viewer relax and progresses the plot in a well paced manner as it introduces plot twists and character backstories to maximize the various emotions it invokes.
The calm before the storm vibe is very much present most of the time, even after the fighting ends, which is when Yuyuyu holds your hand and tells you it'll be daijoubu like the well dressed man in front of a black van giving out candies, you are wary of him at first but then you take the candy and realize he's not a bad guy at all.
"Our fight is over. We won't lose anymore."
It's certainly an anime that takes it's time and perhaps could take even longer was more time allocated – and being a show that scales really well with how much times passes, it'd only get better – but it's certainly not a waste of time, it does end up being a hard series to evaluate if you go over it on a episode by episode basis as the start is rather slow and uneventful, but it's all by design.
Perhaps the main problem with Yuyuyu is that it sets the bar too high towards the end, so high the show itself can't see it and when it tries to jump over it obviously fails.
But it's really up to the viewer to decide wether it fails or not, Yuyuyu leaves enough hints behind that you can use them to justify just about anything, it's more a question of wether you want to believe or not, like said above, it can be considered a flaw as people who don't catch every little detail might be left behind, and it's asking a lot to catch 'em all.
After their lastest work, Escha & Logy no Atelier, learning that Studio Gokumi would be animating this series certainly did not inspire much confidence, so it's with great suprise and joy to see how well Yuyuyu turned out in the visuals department.
The character designs fit well enough, they are the sort of normal designs that you'd expect from a slice of life series, plain, cute, smile-inducing, with the kawaii and moe meters in the red zone.
The magical costumes the girls use are simple yet stylish, they feel fresh, modern, it avoids the classical fluffy cocktail dresses for most of the girls and replaces them with clothes that resemble actual armor, even if on the light side – these girls actually look like heroes.
When in most other cases less clothes equals more protection, Yuyuyu certainly makes these girls look good as they attempt to save the world with their fists and giant swords and sniper rifles and more swords.
Yuyuyu does feature a very good color pallete, especially in the barrier world (Forest) where most of the fighting takes place, the whole place resembles the roots of a tree, with each main root having it's own color and as it branches off it expands on that color, and while the watercolor style works really well it can be a mixed bag when examined up close, sometimes making the characters feel out of place.
While the animation in the slice of life moments isn't anything out of this world it certainly does the job well enough, mistakes aren't that obvious and the quality is consistent throughout. When it comes to battles, animation quality does peak but perhaps not really enough to really set it apart, nevertheless, a solid direction goes a long ways and can make or break the scene no matter the animation quality, in Yuyuyu's case it definitely benefits from really good direction, you won't feel it lacks animation or that it has a below average choreography, can't complain much about the latter though, these are little girls, not martial artists, but overall it'll still feel fast paced and intense which is really what is important.
There's also a good amount of character CGI used yet it doesn't feel awkward or out of place, mostly because it's used during jumps when characters have their backs turned, it'll be harder to spot than to avoid. The Vertex are mostly CGI too, they do benefit from the fact that they are mostly immobile or just very slow which doesn't make them stick out as much either.
The OP and ED are rather weak. The OP song isn't that catchy or exciting and takes some getting used to and the animation is nothing worth looking over more than once, the ED shares the same fate, unless you're some creeper who enjoys watching little girls from the bushes as they walk with the sunset in the background you'll probably find yourself skipping over this one too... Is what I'd say had I not watched the show to the end, you'll slowly learn to appreciate them and in retrospect they uphold to the standard set by the series, simply glorious in retrospect.
The OST and overall sound effects in Yuyuyu, unlike the OP and ED, are amazing from the start, it's the cherry on top of the cake for the series.
Being a mahou shoujo anime the obligatory transformations scenes before battles are very much present, these are coupled with an amazing track choice that just screams hype, one can't help but feel excited for what's to come next, even if it's not always good, and it keeps going when the battle themes kick in, one stronger than the other it makes the fights feel exciting, a couple tracks even feature chants from worlds unknown to us, making the battles feel alive – it all culminates together for what is pure audio porn, not even complimenting the battle sequences as much as taking them to a whole nother level.
Slice of life scenes have fairly standard tracks, they don't get in the way and fill in empty space when the little monsters settle down and overall just help move the scenes along not making them feel boring.
Some of the themes that appear during the battles are also present outside of those and it's amazing how it just works.
Yuyuyu does feature insert songs, which are easily the high point of the whole category – for reasons you'll have to find out yourself.
Shall something not be perfect with the sound it'd certainly be the seiyuus, not as much as they are bad but as they could be better, criticism being more focused on Yuuna's than anyone else – eventhough some of them don't speak at all but that's another matter entirely – Yuuna, while not the leader of the Hero Club, is certainly the main character of the series, if the title wasn't hint enough surely the fact that she has pink hair is a dead giveaway, Yuuna is the character that will push the show forward when it comes to an halt, someone feeling down or angry? There's Yuuna to cheer them up, someone having an identity crisis? There's Yuuna to tell them who they are, someone about to kill themselves? There's Yuuna to tell them to do it.
What's that? Haremettes' problems in my mahou shoujos? It's more likely than you think.
Being a rather new seyuu Terui Haruka's perfomance is excusable and actually fairly decent, her voice fits Yuuna well and she has her moments, however, unlike most of the other cast members those moments come once per episode and, being the MC, Yuuna requires more than that, while those moments are properly timed to fit with the climax of the episodes "side scenes" could certainly be greatly improve was Yuuna not as unphasable, but perhaps that comes a bit with the character, emphasis on the perhaps.
Being a SLICE OF LIFE™, SCHOOL™, HEALING™, CGDCT™ anime enjoying these will help, however, as one would expect at this point, these aren't the main plot points of the show, they probably aren't the reason you are getting into the series either.
Watching these little creatures in their natural habitat is the best way for bonds to be made, to further empathize with these girls and try to get attached to them, enjoying these will only help but being indifferent to them doesn't hurt the enjoyment the show provides.
Obviously, if SoL/CGDCT/moe/"GUYS, I'M NOT DELUSIONAL, THEY ARE HOLDING HANDS AND BLUSHING, YURI!!"/overall kawaiiness overload murdered your parents then you might want to steer clear. The cute facade the shows puts up has more to it than what it looks, but it's still a facade that you can take at face value and enjoy for what it is.
Big part of the enjoyment factor in Yuyuyu certainly comes from noticing the subtle hints the shows leaves and realizing how they affect and dictate future events, something that was made easier when the show was airing as it left a lot of time to discuss and analyze them (I left some in this review for those who watched the series). Might be harder for people who will watch it now but it's not something required to enjoy this series.
Overall, a solid 8.5/10 show – 9/10 on rewatch – and definitely the surprise of the year, even with a somewhat ambiguous ending, highly recommended.
Christmas was saved.
Puella Yuusha no Evangelion; Bokurano Beats!? Nandattebayo?
A story about love, hate, and charisma... and fate, life, death, hope, heartbreaks, lies, deception, delusion, madness, tricks and... a cow that eats other cows... behind a beautiful hero who disappeared in the Seto Inland Sea.
Yuyuyu might not be the yuusha we need, it certainly isn't the yuusha we deserve given how underwatched it is in the West but I think it's the yuusha we want, and the yuusha we see off with a smile as it walks into the horizon of uncertainty as this franchise can probably muster the force for more anime entries given how successful it has been thus far.
Now let us hope for a movie adaptation of the prequel light novel.
Anime, very much like every other medium, is easily influenced by what's trending, every once in a while it's to no surprise that there'll be an anime that will end up setting new standards in it's genre or even in the whole industry, because of how popular and successful it was, even if said anime doesn't invent those ideas it's what made them popular and obviously it'll become a point of reference even if it wasn't the first one. Puella Magi Madoka Magica (PMMM) is one of such titles, it wasn't an unique-never-seen-before-anime, the themes in PMMM had been explored before, multiple times, but it became so popular that it set standards, more for the viewer than for the creators and as such, titles released after it will have to face the fact that they'll be compared to it, wether they wanted to or not.
As such, mahou shoujo anime that wishes to use the common tropes – present in the genre for over 30 years – be it to lure and trick the audience or just use them for ease of storytelling while trying to spicy things up a bit by not feeling like an anime aimed at little girls will perhaps forever suffer of the "Madoka rip-off" syndrome.
While drawing parallels between the two works is easy enough thanks to the common tropes they use, both explore different themes and take different paths, and both are masterful in how they do it, at their cores they are completely different.
I did not know what to expect when I began watching Yuuki Yuuna is a Hero. The previews teased that it was going to be another slice-of-life series, but looks were deceptive. While it has some SOL elements, at its core it's a magical girl show, and a pretty serious one, too. Here’s my final review of the entire series, as of 12/26/2014. If you just want an overall recommendation without any other details, feel free to skip to the tl;dr section at the very bottom.
The Plot In a Nutshell:
Middle school girls in a "Hero Club" perform small everyday acts of heroism in the normal
world, but also become heroic magical girls protecting the planet from strange creatures called vertexes.
Yuuki Yuuna is an original series created by Takahiro (Akame ga Kill!), and it blends elements from three different anime genres. First are its magical girl ancestors, and this one comes from the lineage of adult magical girl shows like Lyrical Nanoha and Madoka Magica. Fans of those series will recognize the influences of both, although Yuuki Yuuna still tells its own story in its own way. Second is slice-of-life, and except for the dark clouds that are almost always lingering under the surface, some of the mellowest scenes wouldn’t feel out of place in a Kyoto Animation series. Third is character drama, and here the series actually shows some surprising Key Visual Arts influence (Kanon/Clannad), along with other influences from Angel Beats and the Persona series (Yuuki Yuuna’s director, Seiji Kishi, also directed both Angel Beats and Persona 4 The Animation, so this shouldn't be a surprise). All three genres are done well enough individually that it could have focused on any one of them and been a decent show, but the blend of all three really elevates it above the sum of its parts.
Moe’s Scale of Female Cuteness:
While this isn’t a true moe series, all the girls in the Hero Club can be awfully cute. Most of their club activities are ordinary community service work, like fostering kittens and performing puppet shows for kids. They also hang out together sometimes outside of school, eating udon, singing karaoke, and doing other fun things together. The catch is that none of this SOL stuff is there just to be cute and funny – while some of it may seem frivolous at first glance, the writers are deliberately giving you time get to know the girls and their personalities and motivations by showing you how they behave and act around each other. All the girls have their own personal demons they’re wrestling with, and most of them did not have happy childhoods. Tensions occasionally flare between them, and even in the most seemingly cheerful moments there are lingering undercurrents of anxiety and doubt about the job they have to do and the risk to their lives and well-being, which all makes these scenes even more effective. One of Yuuki Yuuna's greatest strengths is that there's a genuine chemistry between all the main girls in the cast - while they have their occasional disagreements, you never doubt for a second how much they all care about each other, especially the two sisters (Fuu and Itsuki) and the two best friends (Yuuna and Togo).
Most of the slice-of-life stuff takes place in the first half of the show, and while some (especially non-SOL fans) may find these parts a bit slow, it’s still worth paying attention to it because a lot of it is setting the table for the second half of the series. Along with letting you get to know the characters better, there’s also quite a bit of foreshadowing too; I noticed a lot of hints the second time I watched the series that were easy to miss the first time.
As pleasant as the girls try to make everyone's daily lives, when the alarms sound on their phones, it’s time for them to become magical girls and protect the world from the vertex threat. There are several vertex battles throughout the series, varying in length and scope, but some of them can be pretty tense affairs, especially when multiple vertexes (vertices?) appear at once. The girls are skilled combatants with a variety of strong weapons, but they’re not immune to injury and the vertexes are tough opponents who are smart enough to coordinate their attacks and adjust their strategies during battle. It usually takes a total team effort for the Heroes to have any success against them, which leads to some entertaining and occasionally nailbiting fights.
Art and Sound:
The animation is a bit inconsistent - it can be great in some scenes and merely passable in others - but the overall quality is solidly good. The fight scenes take place in a surreal, colorful alternate world, and showcase most of Yuki Yuna’s best animation work. These scenes appear inspired by the artwork of Shigenori Soejima (Persona 3/Persona 4), as well as the twisty, hyper-organic landscapes of Roger Dean’s paintings, and I’m excited to see how they’ll look in Blu-Ray someday. They also use a fair bit of CG though, so be warned if that’s not your thing. The real world scenes, while still generally cheerful and colorful, have occasional touches such as the unnaturally bent and ruined suspension bridge appearing in several background scenes that subtly remind us this world isn’t quite the carefree place it appears on the surface.
The opening and closing songs (like most) will be hit-or-miss depending on your musical tastes. Personally I liked the opening immediately, but the ending needed time to grow on me. The OST itself, however, is outstanding. Most of the tracks fit their scenes perfectly, and the battle music especially stands out as some of the very best in the show, full of soaring choirs and pulse-pounding orchestration. Even the quieter tracks have a few gems, though, such as a very nice flamenco-styled classical guitar piece that appears a couple of times. There’s also not a lot of repetition either. Only a few tracks are used more than once or twice, and they’re all songs (like the main transformation theme) that you’ll enjoy hearing multiple times anyway.
If I rated Yuuki Yuuna on nothing but my personal enjoyment, it would get a 10. I’ve already watched the whole series twice, I know I’ll watch it again in the future, and if Pony Canyon ever gives us a North American release, I'll buy it. To give it a fair review, though, I can’t entirely overlook the uneven pacing in the first half of the series, the occasional inconsistency in animation quality, and a few (not many) awkward transitions between scenes. That said, Yuuki Yuuna is still a gem, even if it’s one that’s not completely polished. The characters are easy to like and they all have wonderful chemistry with each other, the OST is outstanding, the themes of the story (which I wish I could actually talk about here without spoiling everything) are timely and appropriate, and despite a few rough patches, the story threads eventually come together in a very satisfying way. It’s a spirited show that’s a little rough around the edges, but like its characters it has a lot of heart and tries its best. And much of the time, its best is really, really good.
First half: 8/10. Second half: 9.5/10. Overall: 9/10.
Tl;dr! Should I Watch Yuuki Yuuna or Not?:
Yes, if magical girl mixed with some drama and slice-of-life sounds appealing to you. The first half isn’t quite as good as the second half, but if you're able to stick with it, your patience will be rewarded. Just be warned that this isn’t a relaxing series at all. If you’re expecting Aria with a dash of Cardcaptor Sakura, you'll be disappointed. It’s more like Lyrical Nanoha with a dash of Angel Beats.
The brilliant minds behind Angel Beats and Akame ga Kill joined forces in an attempt to capitalize on their respective "talents" and made what some people call "one of the most underrated masterpieces of the season" without an ounce of irony. This series is pretty much everything wrong with modern anime, and there are plenty of reasons as to why. It's just so up its own ass pretending to be not a grimdark show in a vain attempt to fake out the audience for so long that it ends up boring, and when it actually gets to the grimdark it was leading up to, it
does in the most hilariously incompetent way possible. Many of its other problems include the asinine pacing, lack of character interaction and development, and complete lack of subtlety, which all seem to go under the radar because apparently everyone is too busy crying over ham-fisted drama.
That being said, there are some positives about this show- Mainly the visuals. Despite some heavy usage of CG in some parts, it really doesn't look that bad at all in motion, and the colors do not make your eyes bleed like NGNL does. Character designs are pretty neat and I do appreciate how they don't look like something out of Precure. Not that Precure designs are necessarily bad, but the designs here make thematic sense and at least don't look generic by its genre standards- Instead they look like something out of Sword Art Online, not that it's a bad thing either. The music is pretty decent- There are two to three tracks that were actually memorable and were reminiscent of something out of Madoka and whatever Akiko Shikata makes, but the overuse of those tracks made them a bit stale.
Speaking of Madoka, there's a lot of people who compare this show to Madoka and even call it a rip-off. But honestly, it's hard to blame them- Shady magical girl contract with a supernatural being? Check. Enemies that appear in a strange world that do not actually offer actual character interaction due to lack of any dialogue whatsoever? Check. Main title character being over optimistic and the most underdeveloped character out of the main cast? Check. Mentor-like character that later goes nuts after reading the fine lines in the said shady contract? Check. The questionable magical girl system existing to prevent the end of the world? Check. This show's really got everything. But because this show shares so many similarities with Madoka, it also shares the flaws- And those flaws become more evident with poor direction and pacing.
Apparently when Takahiro was writing for this show, he thought he'd change it up from Akame ga Kill's pointless gorefest and decided to turn it into a pointless borefest. This wise decision turned the first half of this show incredibly painful to sit through. The main problem is the lack of characters- The villains and even the fairies are absolutely silent. Therefore, there is no character interaction whatsoever with the opposing side aside from fighting and more fighting. This wasn't a problem in Madoka due to the existence of Kyubey, who delivered some form of drama whenever necessary for conflicting character interaction, but that role is severely lacking here. Taishas do little more than send out phone messages whenever they aren't busy catering to the crippled, and the supernatural being that gives magical power is a poorly drawn magical tree always obscured in fog. This narrows down all character interaction whatsoever to the five main characters, and everyone else might as well be a cardboard in the background. This effectively turns the series into a Slice-of-Life type of show, which is actually in the description for this series. But then the problem comes from attempting to mix this element with grimdark setting, which was basically the gimmick with Akame ga Kill. But even then, mixing the two isn't the problem- It's the execution. There needs to be some form of consistent flow in the tone, and this series handles it very poorly by going from one scene to the other with incredibly sudden transition. Having a tea party? Suddenly phone call and everyone's warped to fight the giant floating monster thing. Then lots of yelling and chanting in the background, and suddenly they're in space. And when they're not doing that, they're busy being very angsty about something else introduced later in the series.
The first few episodes followed the aforementioned formula incredibly precisely, while occasionally increasing the number of enemies to mix it up a little although it didn't really hinder the protagonists in the slightest. After managing to kill twelve of these things, the protagonists conclude that their battles are over because the Taishas said so, which is an obvious fake-out halfway into the series. It's also odd that the protagonists didn't suspect anything strange about Taishas informing them that there were supposedly arbitrary number of these things, which would mean that the Taishas somehow did not manage to defeat any of them at all despite having a detailed sealing process to defeat one. That aside, this formulaic plot progression didn't really serve to develop any of the characters at all. Sure, there was some character interaction between the main cast, but character interaction doesn't necessarily lead to character development. These particular interactions were just wacky hijinx and comedy, so it did absolutely nothing.
After halfway into the series, our good director Seiji decides that he needs to start including actual plot, and the grimdark elements start being introduced. Whenever the girls use their magical powers, they occasionally enter this super mode known as Mankai. The show never explains whether these girls enter the state willingly or whether it's done automatically- And even the official website claims that it's half and half. Basically, it's whenever the plot fucking wants it to happen. Why? Because this is the aforementioned grimdark plot element. Whenever the girls enter this state, they lose a certain bodily function and gain a fairy in the process. The series attempts to fake the audience out by claiming it's temporary, and then it spends several episodes that arrive at a not-so shocking conclusion that it's permanent. Yuna loses her taste, Mimori loses hearing on one ear, Fuu goes blind in one eye, and Itsuki loses her voice. What does this all lead to? Forced drama. Apparently Itsuki entered a singing audition, which everyone knew nothing about, and suddenly the whole thing gets dumped at the audience's face in the most convenient way possible when Fuu is trying to deal with the whole permanent body function sacrifice thing. If that wasn't enough, Itsuki goes on a long speech in the recording about how she loves her friends so Fuu can go on a full guilt trip for getting her to tag along on the Hero Club before actually singing for the audition because the judges were too busy looking for their non-existent script, as with every other character in the show. A proper, subtle way to handle this scene would've been to establish the singing audition thing before this happened, and then flash back to it briefly after the realization hit home, instead of just being embarrassingly blatant about it. But I guess subtlety is lost art.
Meanwhile, Tougou decides to be dangerous and attempts to test her theory by playing sudoku with a blade, and comes to a horrifying realization that fairies are "forcibly" keeping them alive. Apparently it's supposed to be terrifying that these tiny things keep the girls alive while they're on a dangerous duty that they're not being forced to do. Obviously there are huge consequences for not doing magical girl things since it has been established in the first episode that Shinju-sama is protecting the world and these aliens who are for some reason named after zodiac signs are trying to destroy it, but the job itself is still technically optional. They're not being forced to do it at gunpoint or whatever, so the supposed horror factor they were going for is completely invalid. Furthermore, Tougou apparently attempted to play sudoku multiple times because once wasn't enough and goes on about all these different methods she tried to kill herself for almost no reason other than sounding edgy. But then I realized this was Takahiro's specialty- Hammering the exact same point and over and over to arouse some form of emotion. These two brilliant men's talents really do shine in this series.
Afterwards, Tougou gets warped into the cripple gold medalist's room, who was their predecessor and now has over twenty disabilities and the equal amount of fairies. Then the audience is informed during their second meeting about the shocking truth that everything outside Shinju's territory is red vomit with white aliens swarming about. It's been known that Shinju was protecting humanity from getting fucked up by something since the first episode, so what's the shock here? Why does it matter that the villains are aliens or gods who decided humanity sucked? Whatever it was, it drives Tougou insane and makes her come to an ingenious conclusion. Apparently the best way to protect her friends and stop their sacrifices altogether was to blow a hole in the barrier, get the tree killed, and then get everyone sacrificed as a result of her decision. Maybe her ability to form proper reason was taken during one of her Mankai sessions. Would've been better if she actually consulted with her friends first-hand, but clearly that sounded too uninteresting and sensible for the writers. Most of the conflicts in this series also seem self-made, so it's also incredibly difficult to actually relate to any of these characters especially when they make stupid decisions such as Fuu attempting to kill the Taishas after the aforementioned forced drama sequence.
When the evil tofus attack, suddenly Yuuna is incapable of transforming because of her distressed emotional state despite Fuu being completely capable of doing so during her rage. Then Karin suddenly wakes up from being unconscious and activates Mankai multiple times in a span of few seconds coupled with too much yelling in an attempt to win the "most crippled" award in the show. After that, Yuuna manages to punch some sense into Tougou, destroys the Final Boss Vertex, then decides to become Jesus by taking everyone's disabilities onto herself by becoming a vegetable. Then suddenly the audience is supposed to accept that the enemies just stopped attacking because either they are really gone for good or they just got bored trying to kill a tree.
It later turns out that every fairy represented a physical function the girls lost, so when the fairies disappear, they regain everything they lost and stop being heroes. This may be because Shinju figured that keeping emotionally unstable girls who almost got it killed as its guardians was a terrible idea. Yuuna stays a vegetable for a while because Takahiro figured he could cram in some more sad scenes near the end, but then she gets better through the power of friendship. As stupid as that sounded, the ending isn't the issue- Even if the ending resulted in everyone becoming a vegetable, this would've been still a very poorly written series.
The happy ending can at least be explained with how since all threatening Vertices are supposedly gone, assuming the sun-shaped Vertex was the last of its kind for a while, Shinju doesn't need to exert as much energy to keep the barrier up since there's nothing much left to keep out, so it just gave everything it took back. It would explain how nobody is giving a shit about that part of the barrier Tougou blew up earlier.
The point is, if there is no actual threat left and the Taishas aren't being lying dicks about it this time and Mr. Tree is actually a benevolent god that everyone claims it is, then there really should be no point for it to keep what it took unless it's a dick too, which is probably what most people were guessing. And it's not like it was ever established that it couldn't give back what it took, so all the more reason for it to do what it did. And to the show's credit, it did briefly mention through one SoL segment that it was "alright to eat the offerings if they were there for a while" so maybe either it was foreshadowing or maybe I'm giving the show way too much credit. I'm actually surprised Takahiro managed to learn how to make use of mundane segments instead of cramming them in for the sake of just having them as a contrast to his edgy grimdark parts.
There's a lot of hate for the ending of the show, but most of that hate seems to be misdirected since it mostly involves "It had a happy ending, so it sucked." While it's not that having some plot elements that lead to a depressing ending is inherently bad- It's that when it does happen, it needs to be well-paced and give the audience enough time to feel actually attached to the characters in question. But with the lack of actual villains to provide any form of conflicting character interaction, there's next to no character development, and everything just ends up being a snooze-fest because these characters are just hard to care for outside of them looking cute. Unfortunately, this particular writing style has become quite popular with modern anime (Attack on Titans, AgK, or even Kotoura-san, etc), and for some reason, everyone seems to eat it up. Here's a possibility: People are just so used to badly written happy endings that they'd rather have badly written sad endings, while deluding themselves that sad endings are apparently inherently better than happy endings because they think they are more mature. Something about teaching a moral lesson about heroes not always winning or some shit, I don't know. In that case, the preference is determined not by the actual quality of the writing, but just by the inherent difference of definition. It's like preferring black shit over brown shit. "They're both shit, but at least it's not brown." While this is no longer applicable for this show since it had a happy ending, it doesn't change the fact that it was the direction the series was leading people towards, and it's obviously the main reason behind people eating it up.
All in all, this show is just yet another attempt at the ever-popular modern formula which involves characters going through depression in one way or the other, whether or not the characters were likeable or the depression relatable and the plot behind it well-written. It was practically tailored to the type of people who ate up the likes of AgK and Attack on Titans, and it did just that right before the end. I guess at least their reactions were entertaining.
Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru is part of a multimedia project of LN, VN, videogame, manga and anime. And despite of it, the anime is completely able to stand on its own.
The story is one of the strongest points, but for you to understand this you need to watch the series from the right point of view. As a Slice of Life the story is about the characters, sure world building is important, but ultimately the story focuses on the 5 main protagonists, it makes you care about them, their lives and it gives a proper conclusion to them.
The art is pretty good for
a studio with low budget like this one, at the start the CGI is noticeable, but after a while you learn to appreciate the backgrounds, the town and all the locations, you can see they put a lot of job on this.
The OST is a solid 10/10, with the composer of NieR is to be expected. From the Slice of Life to the action music every scene has a perfect ambience that lets you get immersed in the story. I doubt it's possible to find flaws about it.
The characters are the main motivation to watch the series and also get into the franchise if you're interested in the side material. You learn to appreciate them and you get really attached to them because everything is portrayed and developed around them, the support between the sisters, the romance between Yuuna and Tougou and the character development of the originally lonely tsundere girl is explained at the right pace and given the proper screen time. The fact that this anime (and the whole project) had 2 years of planning is noticeable.
The anime is really enjoyable by itself, but as someone who started watching it since the first week, I can say it's extremely recommendable to get into all the other material that is also part of this multimedia project, it contains multiple interesting information that makes you see the characters in a whole different light, and as I said the characters are the more important part of this franchise. The best way to do this is:
Watch the first 3 episodes of the anime, read the manga, watch episode 4, read the VN, watch episodes 5, 6, 7 then read the first 7 chapters of the LN, watch episode 8, read chapter 8 of the LN, watch episode 9, 10, 11, read chapter 9 of the LN and then watch the final episode.
The videogame is unrelated to the rest and it comes out until February anyway.
Overall the series delivers everything you want, good characters, writing, romance, action, interactions and it teaches you exactly what the title says: Yuuki Yuuna is a Hero. It teaches what is a Hero and how to be Hero, to you and the characters.
As a side note, even though I said the characters are the most important part it doesn't mean that the world is not interesting, on the contrary, the issue is that the anime doesn't give a lot of focus to it, only the necessary, that's why the speculation is also one of the best parts of this franchise, and this can be proved because it has been less than 2 days since the anime ended and there's already a lot of theories regarding the ending, and all of them are equally likely since this series is famous for leaving foreshadowing and references in all its media. I recommend you to watch it and join those theorists until those points are properly explained, and I know they will be properly explained because this series hasn't ended yet, it's only the beginning.
Can you hold it in your heart to believe in yourself to be a hero? Can you do that while knowing that while you carry out your promise to protect the world, you have to watch as you feel like you're failing that same promise to your friends? Are you truly capable of being a hero knowing what sacrifices have to be made and what you can lose along the way? Do you have the willpower to be the spark that lights the candle of hope surround by a shroud of despair?
Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru (YuYuYu for short) is an anime that
asks five girls of the Sanshu Middle School Hero Club these questions. Can they handle it? Well...I can't spoil things so you'll have to go find that out yourself...If you read the discussions first before watching the episodes..I will go to your house and cave your shins in! No seriously though..YuYuYu is a pretty good show.
Take a slice of life anime with Magic girls add a lot of cute moments and well thought out characters and you get YuYuYu. The show leaves the impression of one of those really cute and action-y shows...basically giving the appeal of something out of Kyoto Animation (like K-ON! or Chuunibyou).
Suddenly, the show takes a turn into a Madoka Magicka atmosphere...The story progresses into a more depressing and seemingly sinister series at the blink of an eye and you begin to worry about the future of these girls. Things worsen, your feels are tested, and more and more monsters are destroyed, but at the end of the day (series) all that was needed was the will to believe in yourself and your friends.
Story (9/10): As mentioned, the story seems very light-hearted and cute, but as it progresses...things get real...and quick. While seemingly slow at the beginning, the entire storyline is well thought out and very very detailed. What was impressive was how well the storyline was able to conceal its gloomy and dark parts of it with cute and warming parts. It's ending, however...left a more cliched ending to it....along with its slow start...keeping it from it's 10/10 mark.
Character(10/10): To me, characters are the most important part of the story. It's what really matters in a scene no matter how you look at it. YuYuYu does it right. Not only does it give a background of each character, it also does a good job at showing how they connect to the other characters (through either relation (Fu and Itsuki) or the Hero Club). What I really liked was the mystery that surrounds Togo's two year gap.
Art: (9/10): Despite having the rather "generic" anime style, YuYuYu's amount of color and detail in the animation was well done. From the designs of the characters to even the designs of the monsters and the Taisha world (mainly the heavy amount of color here).
Sound: (9/10): I can't say much about the sound throughout the series. However, the song choice for the opening and closing was well done. Opening remained calm and collected, but at the same time...still a catchy tune. The ending was a completely different story. The use of certain voice actors during the ending really added to some of the "depressing" feel that came from the series itself. An example of this is the endings where only the seiyu of Itsuki sung the song during the episodes that were more focused around Itsuki's character.
Enjoyment: (9/10): It's been a while since I felt anticipation for an anime show. This show's ability to keep me on my toes and always dying for the next episode is something worth noting. During the light-hearted side of the story, I enjoyed the rather comical side of the series itself...what made the show...well...slice of life. The action sequences and the battles were well done. During the darker side of the series, I felt a lot of anxiety as I began to fear the worst would happen in the series. The last time I experienced this was during my time watching Tokyo Ravens (Fall 2013 -> Winter 2014).
Overall: 9/10. To sum up this series, I would say this is a must watch for fans of shows like Madoka Magicka. This series was well done and I cannot express how much I enjoyed the series overall. Fair warning though...this series will test you feels.
Yuuki Yuna is the hero for wasting your time: (p.s not even a Madoka clone!)
Happy time killer Slice Of Life bore, when the main the promo for the show were the battles, 85% of the show was filler. How on Earth will we care?
Why is this a madoka clone? It's not. First impressions suggest an interesting thing with the fight royale magicka, but it was binned 8.5/10 times and it had to be a Slice Of Life monotony! And, most of the time, the girls are just screwing about as “Heroes” by being girl scouts, but its even stupider considering that they
don't even do there job often since their still mocking around! Where often left with unnecessary, unmoving and uncharitable amounts of comedic scenes like this sardine-adreniline girl who takes jokes about how much she drugs pills, and it has potential like using the Slice Of Life aspect to get some female bonding which results in “character development” in contrary to madoka at least we had a continuing plot avoiding such filler.
At this point, how can we care? The plot progressed upon a snail pace (even for a 12 episode series) and no one even develops, what a waste of potential! Consequently, how are the “magical” aspects of the show? Well, the girls ganged screwed with like 5 boss mosters, and oh my! Shonen power up – sheeeeeeum! Instant Bankai! The bosses die, no one dies, and am I not surprised? The show even fails to make “decent” tension and considering the biggest flaw, what an ascension! Wait, there are side effects from using Bankai Mankai? Everyone started caring about their side effects right at the end and they made it look like nothing happened to them and Mankai becomes hacks power up.
Characters are archetypes. Why am I super surprised? We have the shy one, the energetic one, the vanilla one, the leader one and of course we need more than one vanilla one! This makes everyone two dimensional therefore no even two people give two flap jacks for this decent writing.
I doubt will have sequels or prequels for this, and let this show burn at the pits of Antarctica and fade into space remembered as a semi-ish madoka clone? Why not!
Unfortunately, this is not an Epic floppy train wreck. (compare it to somthing like Aldnoah Zero or Brynhildr and this is gold in comparison)
Yuuki Yuuna is a Horribly Boring Character. She's relatively one-dimensional, oblivious, airheaded, naive and childish in her ideals, which isn't inherently boring, but the world she lives in RESPECTS that allowing her simple and repetitive nature to prevail against any and all problems to the point where you begin to wonder if there's any point in growing up at all.
I, like many others, stumbled upon the show "Yuuki Yuuna is a Hero" after hearing it compared to the illustrious Madoka Magica and were drawn to it by people saying that it was "better than Madoka". As a massive fan of Madoka Magica, I was
initially very excited: someone made a better version of one of my favorite shows of all time? I had even heard people saying that Madoka had been their favorite show until they watched Yuuki Yuuna, and since I realized that was pretty much where I was at I could not have been more thrilled to first learn of this show's existence. I pulled it up immediately, and went into it with high hopes and an open mind. I didn't expect the sort of poignant universal message that Madoka had given, but what I did expect was a damn good deconstruction of the magical girl genre. Compelling characters, enthralling twists, gut-wrenching moments of tragedy, and a genuinely enthralling story.
What I found, however, was nothing.
Nothing, Christopher? But that doesn't make sense. You watched 12 episodes of SOMETHING, right? There can't possibly have been NOTHING in those twelve episodes, right?
Technically, you're right. I did sit in front of a screen for a regrettable four and half hours of my life, and there were words and drawings on that screen, but if I had to really summarize Yuuki Yuuka I would redirect you once more to that word above: nothing.
You see, Yuuki Yuuna is kind of like a Frankenstein's monster that failed to come to life. It's stitched together from bits and pieces of other things but there's nothing about it that's really its own. There's no voice, no soul. It doesn't use those pieces to create something new, or stand on its own two feet, or say something for itself: essentially, Yuuki Yuuna just IS those pieces, tossed into a bucket together and just sort of sitting there touching each other. And since Yuuki Yuuna is essentially just pieces of other things that are loosely connected, I have no qualms in using the MAL rating system to talk about those pieces.
One could make the argument that the characters in Yuuki Yuuna aren't "bad characters". In a sense, you'd be right: they aren't horribly-written people and for the most part they have some semblance of continuity and we can understand where their actions are coming from (though this is not always the case, *ahem* Touga). The problem is, that's essentially ALL that they are: "not-bad characters". There's nothing in them. They're just archetypes grabbed from other places that are given mediocre scripts intended to invoke empathy in the audience. That's really all that's expected from them: they're not created to even BE human, their SOLE PURPOSE is to be "not bad" enough to the point where the audience cares about them. Not because they have any original ideas in them, not because they carry a piece of the creator, but because they're there, they're cute, and they're not "badly" written. There's the older blonde sister who's spunky and cares deeply about her friends, especially her younger sister. There's the younger blonde sister who's shy and cares deeply about her friends, especially her older sister. There's the tsundere girl. There's Yuuki Yuuna herself, who is pretty much the blockheaded hero-of-justice character in a world where the hero of justice never has to actually face the repercussions or naivety of her ideals. There's her best friend Touga who's really just a mess of a character and is used more as a poorly-motivated plot device than a person, but we won't focus on her.
The problem with all these characters, however, is that while they are adequately-written versions of the roles they are meant to fulfill there is an emptiness to them that cannot really be put into the words. No one who wrote these characters cares about them at all. They aren't trying to express anything with them. They're masks, and they're treated as if they were people, and that hollow shallowness prevented me from giving a single shit about what happened to them. When you create characters with the express purpose of making the audience sympathize with them so that you can give them "feelz" later on by making them suffer, you haven't really created characters at all. You've just grabbed pieces of people and stuck them together so that they look like a person. It may be cute, but it has no soul.
Here's the part where it was obvious that whoever was writing this was trying really hard to not be accused of plagiarism. While the literal elements of the story may be put together in a new, the structure by which it is built around is nothing that hasn't been seen a thousand times before, and the pieces themselves are unoriginal. Once again, the story feels mostly like pieces stacked together. Rather than have something constant and tight, it pretty much relies on the audience expecting twists and then delivering them often enough to maintain a level of interest. No section of the story can stand on its own as engaging: it RELIES on constant change, because the story possesses no substance of its own to fall back on. In a standstill the audience's eyes begin to adjust to the dull nature of the story, so the story has to be constantly adding new levels. It doesn't really feel like these levels stack cohesively though; it's more like we're just jumping from one platform to the next, and since the platforms are getting crazier the story must be advancing. None of these platforms are compelling in and of themselves though: they're mostly interesting because of the anticipation for the NEXT platform, which creates a bit of a cycle. All these platforms are as hollow as the rest of the show, being in and of themselves bland rehashes of been-done ideas, and the lack of any sort of central voice of the story means that the show fails to connect them in any meaningful way, so what we're left with is almost a pyramid scheme that eventually burns out because it can't create a bigger platform. Temporarily engaging perhaps, but inevitably all the more disappointing.
ART & SOUND
Q: "this looks like every other show coming out nowadays, what should we do?"
A: "we'll make the magic realm look like a unicorn shat on it, and people will think it's stylistic and original."
Q: "But didn't No Game No Life, Madoka, Shinsekai Yori and Penguindrum already do something like that...? Except with far more creativity, heart, and personal flair?"
A: "Shhhh!! These are anime fans, they have the memory of a goldfish. Don't worry about it."
The sound is pretty standard, I don't really have any complaints but once again it doesn't do anything to set the show apart from anything else. It kinda sounds like Fate/Zero's OST with more sugary J-pop crap mixed in.
All in all, not much to say.
I had to literally drag myself through the last three episodes of this show. My expectations adjusted pretty consistently throughout. By the episode 5 I wasn't expecting too much, by episode 7 the show became a chore, and by episode 10 I wanted to drop it despite being so close to done, with the only reason I managed to finish it being that I enjoyed taking screenshots of moments that were either downright horrible or were pretty much excerpts from other shows, and because at that point I was actually HOPING it would end with a bullshit "FIST OF BRAVERY!!" moment because at least that would be hilariously awful. I wont say whether or not I got my wish though, cuz spoilers I guess. This wasn't funny-bad, it was bland, empty and soul-sucking.
If you're looking for a magical girl deconstruction, see Madoka or Princess Tutu. If you're looking for compelling cute girls doing cute things, see K-On. If you're looking for members of a high-school club having to take on serious issues like death and existentialism, see Angel Beats (it at least has ideas of its own and some passion from the creator). If you're looking for a hero of justice show watch Fate/Staynight, and if you're just looking for a show to watch for the love of god watch pretty much anything else. There is nothing here you can't find in other shows done better. Yuuki Yuuna is nothing: its emotionally-vacant (despite how emotional its characters get) its dry, it's hollow, and its inevitably meaningless. There's no heart from the creators in this piece, there's no passion for storytelling or love for the characters behind it. Yuuki Yuuna is a shameless reaction piece attempting to stitch together the successful elements of other shows in order to appeal to an audience, and as someone with a legitimate passion for writing and storytelling I find this show to be a little angering. Many shows are burdened with flaws, but poor pacing and plot contrivances and annoying characters don't bother me nearly as much as something that refuses to even try to be its own thing.
I'll say it one more time then.
Yuuki Yuuna is nothing.
Unless you want to watch four and a half hours of nothing, I advise you leave this shiny ambition-less rag buried in obscurity.
When it comes to helping others, some do it for the joy it brings to others while some do so to bring happiness to oneself. It doesn't matter the reason; just being there for someone in his or her time of need makes all the difference in the world. It also doesn't matter the scope, either. Whether it's working at a soup kitchen, babysitting the neighbor's kid, or saving an animal from a burning building, it's not the grandness of the act, but the act itself that means everything. And more often than not, these people are bestowed
with the title of "hero." Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru is a dark horse capitalizing on this idea, with more to the phrase than at first perceived.
YuYuYu (what I'll be calling it from here on out) follows the girls of the "Hero Club:" Yuuki, Togo, Fuu, and Itsuki. They believe in their five tenets, looking to spread happiness wherever they go.
On the outset, YuYuYu appears to be just another slice-of-life anime with no redeeming qualities. But past the first half of the first episode, it becomes much, much more. What this anime excels at is establishing and maintaining its vibe from beginning to end. The world is happy-go-lucky, essentially carefree during the more relaxed bits. Simultaneously, though, the show exerts an ominous feeling. That something is off, something is wrong, but one can't quite place his or her finger on what it is. It's not a shocking twist or some roundabout answer, either. The show slowly builds upon itself, reaching a crescendo, allowing for all of the built up emotion and uneasy feeling to spill over. The result is a consistent ride of trepidation that never lets up.
In order to create such apprehension, YuYuYu attempts to go about its story-telling and world-building in a less-than-direct manner. The rules are set early on, with the girls learning about the true nature of what they are doing through observation, association, and even simply visual confirmation. This allows the anime to explore both the slice-of-life happiness and dark drama more compactly, because the information gained is never entirely presented on a silver-platter. It's always just out of reach, with enough given to move the story along. The truth is morbid and well done, with the actions of the characters involved being believable given the situation. It's not absolutely perfect, but the show more or less covers its bases, providing a fulfilling set of events that culminate in the narrative presented.
The biggest controversy involved comes with the ending. Thematically speaking, the anime's overall premise is that, as long as one's friends are there, anything is possible. It's an almost literal "the power of friendship" message. The dichotomy that is created during the anime gives the characters a lot of room to connect and support one another. Birthday parties, beach outings, and regular club activities help to provide examples for just how friendly they are. Even during the hidden side, the story presents many opportunities for Yuuna and the gang to show just how good of friends they've become. So, the question is, does the ending uphold the ideals that the anime set? To an extent, yes, it does. The purpose of the anime is not so much about where all the girls end up, just where Yuuna does. After all, it's her story. The whole season, she proclaims and demonstrates the type of person she is and who she wants to be. And in the end, her friends do so, too; by supporting her and being there when she needed it most. It's a touching story that may not have ended the way everyone wanted, but it follows through with the pretext it set.
As a final note, one of the more prominent yet discarded topics within the anime is the religious aspect, or the "Shinju-sama." The girls fight to protect this god, going to extreme lengths to do so. And as the overall message details, it is not the god who saves them, it is ultimately each other. It's a snide remark about the ideas of religion and what it really means to devote one's self to faith. In YuYuYu's circumstance, it argues that religion can be seen as nothing more than self-destructive violence. It isn't the gods above who save the day; it is the people on the ground who heed the call to the challenges in front of them. And blindly believing in something without justifiable, logical reasoning merely leads to death and despair. It's a risky statement that the show is willing to take, and it does so in full stride.
YuYuYu is quite the beautiful looking anime.
The art style adopted is quite varied, both outside and within the "forestized" areas. The real world feels alive, with various locations besides just the club room visited. Lighting effects and other smaller details for the environments can be found, making the pieces themselves feel more alive. As for the "other" world, it's an explosion of colors and effects that dazzle about in a wide range of patterns. During these segments, the Vertexes, and at certain moments the girls themselves are done in 3D, but it never feels out of place.
The character designs for Yuuna and the rest are simple in reality and, perhaps obviously, more intricate when it comes to their transformations. Even their final forms are given much detail, combining a mix of 2D and 3D that, once again, is pleasant to look at. Togo's design that includes a wheelchair deserves a special shout-out.
As for the actual animation, it is stellar, to say the least. Action packed sequences, well-choreographed battles, and good character movements during the slice-of-life segments are the norm. The show never lets up, providing fluent and comprehensible skirmishes that showcase how strong this side of the anime truly is.
The cast of YuYuYu is vibrant, being characterized by not only their own developments, but by how they relate to one another.
Before talking about any of them, what the show does well is in the character interactions themselves. And not just that they are right, but that they are done better than many other anime. The characters feel like friends. Their jokes and conversations make sense, they play off of one another, and they are not afraid to tease each other when warranted. It simply feels natural.
As the youngest member, Itsuki is the quiet and kind little girl. She is the sister to Fuu, with the weird hobby of reading tarot cards. Her power, like her singing voice, is able to touch all those around her. More than anything, she wants to convince others that she doesn't need the help of the people around her at all times.
Fuu is the leader. Loud and outgoing, her massive broadsword further defines her as a girl unafraid to be as "unique" as possible. While she may be the first to console a friend, she harbors heavy guilt, with massive built up frustration. As the captain, she works hard to protect the entire club, but especially Itsuki, from the troubles that are brought upon them.
Introduced slightly later, Karin is standoffish yet approachable, serious yet playful. Her personality shines through in the armaments she wields: two samurai swords, both sharp and elegant. A "tsundere" through and through. For her, proving herself not only as a warrior but as a member is first and foremost on her mind. She doesn't want to bring the team down, because she feels she is the most worthy of the title they have been given.
Actually handicapped, Togo is very intelligent and serenely beautiful. She almost always hides her emotions, reflecting the long-range sniping she employs. Even though she is forced to be seated, Togo keeps a watchful eye on the rest of the cast. She works as a website designer, and Yuuna is her best friend. And that's the truth; she would do anything imaginable to save her.
Arguably the most interesting character, and perhaps rightly so, is Yuuki Yuuna herself. Extremely friendly and way too optimistic, she only wants to help everyone and anyone around her. Doing as much as she can with the two hands given to her, her bare-fist fighting style highlights this. She never gives up and she never gives in. The love she has for all her friends is huge, and she exhibits this time and again.
Beyond making the characters interact naturally, not only do the characters feel diverse, but they experience development that ties in with the anime's themes and overall goal. Itsuki goes from dependent little girl to independent young woman, gaining the confidence she's been lacking (and wanting) all along. Fuu starts off as the stalwart leader but devolves into an emotional wreck due to her inability to handle the suffering that her fellow friends all go through. Karin begins hating the group and not understanding who they are, but ends up defending them ardently and unconditionally. And Togo has her trust completely broken and shaken, despite her believing in both the club and the "Shinju-sama."
There is just one girl who doesn't waver or change along the way: Yuuna. Why is this? For her, there is no development because there doesn't need to be. She is constantly pushing ahead, never yielding. She is the example, the goal, what the other four girls aspire to be. She exudes confidence, stability, friendliness, and trust, all attributes that the members have always wanted. Because while the story may revolve around all of them, it is ultimately about why Yuuki Yuuna is who she claims to be.
The OP is good. It starts off mysterious, with the differing vocals, violins, and acoustic guitar. It picks up near the halfway point, becoming more powerful and catchy, with the drums and choir-like singing. The ending vocal bit sends it off on a high-note, lending further to the anime's always-uneasy vibe.
The ED is also quite good. It's soft, giving a calming sensation that is sometimes needed throughout the season. There are numerous versions of it, depending on the episode in question, but it's a simple song, with simple drums and singing that once again still feels as if something is just not quite right.
The soundtrack is, in one word, amazing. Quiet pieces, quick tracks, dramatic arrangements, it has it all at all the right places. The best piece usually occurs when the action is reaching a climax, with the vocalist following along to a repeated three-count. The whole OST is great to listen to both within the anime and outside of it, making it a contender for the top spot of the season.
Voice-acting sees many well done performances by the entire cast. Emotional scenes, screaming, and varying inflections are performed by all at one point or another. Special shout-out to Yumi Uchiyama for her role as Fuu, Juri Nagatsuma for her role as Karin, and Haruka Terui for her role as Yuna.
Being completely honest, I actually was not a fan of the ending. Without spoiling anything, what I wanted most was for it to go in the completely opposite direction that it went.
But the rest of the package is there: comedy, drama, tragedy, anxiety, expectation, and both large and small scale battle sequences, to name just a few. It's a combination that is balanced well during the limited amount of time they had, making the experience a good one.
Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru began quite strange but ended very strong. Its smart story, diverse characters, and incredible animation really do prove that Yuuki Yuuna is a hero.
Story: Great, perfect mood, nice world-building, complete theme, religious undertones
Animation: Great, beautiful art, nice character designs, 2D/3D mix well, fantastic actual animation
Characters: Great, Yuuna, Togo, Karin, Fuu, and Itsuki are characterized, developed, and connected
Sound: Great, good OP, good ED, amazing soundtrack, good VA work
Enjoyment: Good, has it all except the ending I was hoping for
In an age where a single idea can be copied, transmuted, inverted, and manipulated in millions of possible ways, the phrase "That's just a rip-off of ______" has become increasingly more common. For example, I've heard many arguments that Nagi no Asukara is just a rip-off of From the New World, and while there certainly are similarities between the two, it's quiet a stretch to say that a romance drama is just a rip-off of a dystopian horror series. However, there are times where the degree to which something is copied is so severe that
"rip-off" really is the only way to describe it. So, when a title gets to that point, is there still enough enjoyment to be gleamed from this newer series to justify its existence?
I supposed it'd be best to address the elephant in the room first: this is a magical girl series with an incredibly blatant attempt to cash in on the "little girls suffering" idea that Madoka Magica had popularized back in 2011 and is continuously called upon again and again within the anime industry because it continues to print money. While in the past I may have suggested that Selector Infected WIXOSS was also riding the Madoka Suffering Train, at least it also had a plethora of new ideas to bring to the table. Yūki Yūna is an absolutely shameless clone of Madoka, from the suffering girls to the horrifying world backdrop.
There's also the matter of someone getting the bright idea to insert multiple episodes of slice of life-style comedy that served more to pad out the run time than to get us acquainted with the characters, and by the time we had our third slice of life episode in a row, the pacing had slowed to such an unbelievable crawl that I had considered dropping the series and not even doing this review. Additionally, the tonal shift between cutesy fun and heavy action leaning towards horror creates an incredibly unstable and schizophrenic tone for the series overall. With Madoka, the tamer and more relaxed episodes were confined to the first few episodes, but once the rug was pulled out from under us, the pacing grew more and more intense until it threatened to swallow up everything by the end of the series. With Yūki Yūna, the pacing shifts far too much in the first two thirds of the series for us to get a grasp of the true stakes.
However, despite all that, the payoff that occurs when we hit the final third of the series was really solid; predictable, but solid. It also does take a very slight variance away from Madoka, mostly to avoid plagiarism, and ends up gaining its own level of disturbing horror in terms of the "little girls suffering" motif. There is also a very definite exploding point that happens, and once it does, the series really does pick up the pace from there and sprints towards the conclusion. It's just unfortunate that this doesn't happen until the show is almost 70% finished, and at least 40% of that is an annoying slice of life borefest. For that, I'm sure that we can once again thank our head of series composition, Makoto Uezu (Akame ga Kill!, School Days). There were also quite a few gag-worthy moments in the script that were so unbearably cutesy and friendship-loving that I almost wanted to take a break after each episode and switch to Black Lagoon for a few minutes. As for the ending, I won't spoil it, but it certainly didn't deserve the ending that it received, and you can take that for either good or bad.
The characters aren't really anything new either, yet it's still pretty satisfying to watch their world start to crumble around them. Yūki is our standard heart of gold "I can do no wrong as long as I believe in the power of friendship" lead character, aka Madoka Kaname without the indecision, and I was actually surprised by how little screen time she got compared to the others. Mimori is Yūki's best friend who is bound to a wheelchair due to an accident that cost her part of her memory, and her friendship with Yūki ends up being a rather interesting point of development for her. Fū is the slightly older, mentor character of the group who has to deal with the fact that she got everyone involved in this situation in the first place, while Itsuki is Fū's little sister who honestly just seems to be there to further Fū's development. Finally, we have Karin, who could not be more like Kyoko Sakura if she tried; an outsider who is initially put off by how well the group functions together but gradually grows to like them. On a more general note, aside from Fū and Mimori, it was rather disappointing to see that everyone else's character development was done in a rather direct and low effort way, whereas Fū and Mimori are the only ones that really seem to experience any true sense of psychological terror.
The animation was produced by Studio Gokumi (Kiniro Mosaic), and let's not beat about the bush on this one: the animation for this series was incredibly mediocre. While the idea of making the girls cute did get executed well, it was executed almost too well, and some of the girls' expression were so full of sunshine and rainbows that it make me rather uneasy. I do have to praise them for the other emotions that filled the character's faces though, as you really can feel the absolute terror pouring out of them during the final third of this series, especially with Fū. Aside from that, most of the animation was pretty bad. The Vertexes were rendered in almost eye-bleeding 3D, the fights scenes weren't that spectacular and the girls were often replaced with 3D models for said fight scenes, and while the set designs in the parallel world were very ominous and intricate, the backgrounds in the real world felt incredibly generic. On a quick side note, I really would like to know why the wheelchair chick got so much of the gratuitous fan service. It seemed horrifically out of place and started giving me Katawa Shoujo flashbacks.
There is currently no dub for this series yet, and I wouldn't imagine one coming out in the near future.
The soundtrack was composed by the group MONACA, and the soundtrack as a whole ends up being one part Yuki Kajiura imitation and one part generic slice of life background music. However, it's in those imitation Kajiura tracks that we find some really solid and meaty chunks that drove home the intensity of some of the more exhilarating scenes. The opening theme "Hoshi to Hana" was performed by the main voice cast and plays us in with a rather subdued pop track, while both ending themes "Aurora Days" and "Inori no Uta" were also performed by them and end each episode with a soft ballad.
Overall, in regards to a recommendation on Yūki Yūna is a Hero, I'm left asking myself a single question to determine my decision: is there something that this anime brings to the table other than what Madoka Magica has already done and done better? To be honest: no, it really doesn't. Any enjoyment that can be gleamed from this show can just as easily be achieved by rewatching a much better magical girl deconstruction.
It's my first review on MAL, and I decided to give it to one of this unpopular anime..
This is the first anime that makes me scream, "OH GOD, PEOPLE SHOULD WATCH THIS!"
I've rewatched this series for 4times now, so I decided to give it a review.
I'll avoid any spoiler as I write.
Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru, or Yuuki Yuuna is a Hero. (YuYuYu for short)
In post-apocalyptic age where humans are in near of extinction, humans still live each other peacefully.
The story focused on a group of middle-school girls in a club called Hero Club.
A Club that has a purpose to help other people
They're living their happy ordinary live until one day they suddenly dragged in different world(?), no I'll say it's a different environment.
Being the chosen girls by their God, Shinju-sama, they have a duty to fight enemies called Vertex to protect their ordinary life, their world from destruction.
Despite being a magical girl anime, YuYuYu uses term 'Hero' for it which I find that unique.
It may be started with light-hearted and happy story, but when you walk further.. everything is changed...
Even with only 12 episodes, this anime never felt rushed, or I can say it's well-paced.
The only thing that I'm disappointed is the ending, but that doesn't change how well written this story is.
The art is one of the best aspects of this anime, I can say it's one of the best in Fall 2014.
Opening scene is very well made, it has a deep meaning that you'll never find out until you watch further episodes.
The animation and art is improved in every episode, it's carefully made that I find no 'derp-face' when I watched it.
The background is awesome, it's very artistic with water-paint color.
Character design is also great, their transformation outfit is one of my favorite, what can I say, it gives 'ready to fight' feeling from it.
What I like is the action scene, it's soooo good, so pumping and so colorful, they even cast flowers in every hit. It matched very well with the background.
The only flaw is the CGI in 2 first episodes, but after that it's done very well.
The sound in this anime is outstanding.
The OST match very well with every scene in the anime, no flaw, beautiful.
It'll give you cheering and relaxing feeling in everyday life, and it'll pump you up in action scene.
The voice acting is also great, they fit the character fully.
They show the character emotion perfectly, especially on character breakdown, impressive work.
You know, I'm collecting all YuYuYu music, both OST and character song, just how awesome they're.
YuYuYu only has 5 main and 1 supporting characters, which I find it very pleasant since we can focused on the main girls.
Every character has a different and unique personality, and they're likable.
Unlike other magical girl anime, YuYuYu treats their characters equally. No one is stronger than the other, this is important.
I like an anime that has a good character development, and this anime has it.
The character is the most important aspect in this anime. The development is done carefully in every episode.
Each protagonist got a huge development, everyone.
I can guarantee that you'll emotionally attached with one of the main while the story progressing.
I truly enjoy watching this anime, if not, why I bother to rewatched it for 4times?
I'm fired up.
I'm emotionally driven with this anime, and I love it.
Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru is one of other anime that makes me attached to it, and it deserve a spot in my favorite list.
I'll recommend you to watch this anime, you'll not regret it.
I'm sorry if I'm not that good at writing, it's hard to choose some right words.
Thanks for reading my review. ^^
Yuuki Yuuna is a Filthy Casual is but another magical girl anime, a genre that has a huge soft spot right here in my kokoro. I'm a man, a manly man at that. BELIEVE ME!
But the cute transformations, pet sidekicks, and flashy dresses always get to me, ya know? I'm sure you understand. I'm not a weaboo, I promise...
Yuuki Yuuna is a Filthy Casual is an adorable magical girls anime. And I'm not even kidding! Well, I'm only half kidding...
This show uses a lot of moe slice of life! Being the moefag and slice of life fan that I am,
Yuuki Yuuna is a Filthy Casual was really fun to watch! The girl's are just adorable, and their daily interactions are heartwrenchingly cute. They are all about that friendship power, and they really make up a cute and empowering cast of girls (who are really heavy on that girl power. This show is a feminist's dream.)
But of course, you can't be a Madoka clone without having some sort of twist. YuYuYu has such a twist, which is why it's always considered a Madoka clone, but here is actually where they also differ!
Madoka = Dark as fuck.
YuYuYu = Sad as fuck.
YuYuYu is an incredibly heart wrenching show, combining seemingly unstoppable drama with brilliant voice acting to create a crap ton of source material to cite your tears with. This show joins the small group of shows that actually made me genuinely shed a tear or two, which is really impressive.
- An abnormally good story for a slice of life 12 episode show.
- Great artwork, both background and character design wise.
- A 10/10 tier OST.
- Brilliant voice acting, like damn...
- Great exploration of its themes.
- Not-so-great resolving of its themes...
- Pretty generic cast of characters/
- Dat ending though.
- Awkward transition/pacing issues.
- Inconsistent animation quality.
Why did I give such a fundamentally flawed and plot hole filled story a 9? TO SPITE MY FRIENDS!!
That, and because despite the many flaws in the story, Yuuki Yuuna is a Filthy Casual still delivered what it promised, and that is feels. YuYuYu really knows how to smack your face with a giant dildo made of feels. But that's not what it only does! It also warms your heart with moe slice of life shenanigans! Incredibly large amounts of slice of life comedy and melodrama? Yuuki Yuuna really is a Filthy Casual.
The overlooking theme of this entire show is the meaning of sacrifice. In order to gain the power to protect something, you must give up something as well. Upon learning about the truth, people usually prefer insurance over an uncertain future.
I would talk about the bullshit ending, but honestly, I wasn't THAT triggered by it. (Yeah, that really makes my opinion credible, amirite?)
Yuuki Yuuna is a Filthy Casual managed to make the stakes seem incredibly high. The drama seemed so unfair and unavoidable, any school girl under those circumstances would completely break down, and that's what they did. Like if you cry everytime.
I love the character designs. They aren't special or anything, but they are still good! The designs for their transformed forms are also really cool! Also, them transformation animations! SO CUTE!!
The background art also has it's moments as well! For one thing, the world of the vertexes is pretty cool! The action scenes were fairly well done, although it can get lazy sometimes.
This would generally make the art an 8 or 7, but what topped the cake off is the fact that the cow fairy looked like President Aria from the Aria series. Stamp. Of. Approval.
I didn't expect this series to have a kickass soundtrack, but guess what? Its soundtrack kicked my ass.
Whether it be through a hype generating soundtrack during the battle scenes with the vectors, the absolutely heart breaking music during the dramatic scenes, or the upbeat and catchy tunes of your everyday moe slice of life, YuYuYu always manages to masterfully support its scenes and moods with its soundtrack.
Also, voice acting. This series has some REALLY good voice acting, especially during a select few scenes. I was told about this before I even started watching, but it still managed to impress me thoroughly.
Other than the fact that Yuuki Yuuna is self aware of her low IQ, the characters in this series aren't very unique. They do have a decent amount of character, and go through a decent amount of development, they just don't really stand out by themselves. Fuu and Itsuki are your really stereotypical Onee chan and Imouto duo. Yuuki Yuuna is that overly optimistic protagonist who believes in Nakama power. Karin is a tsundere. Togo is the calm one. (She's basically the Mami of the group.) They just absolutely love quoting their Hero Club's tenants, resulting in some pretty cliche WILLPOWER BEATS ALL moments. Despite the fact that they aren't a special cast of characters, they are still respectable and you do care for them.
I love moe slice of life! I love extreme amounts of melodrama! I like magical girls! Combine them all? Of course I'm gonna love it!
YuYuYu is a show that can really hold it's own as a great and engaging show. While it does have it's fair share of issues, and is the definition of modern anime, it's still an enjoyable watch nonetheless. After all, Yuuki Yuuna is a Filthy Casual.
Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru was another member of the new-age magical girl genre--a collective of teen girls with your basic set of personalities (smart one, shy one, large breasted one, etc.) receive superhuman powers and moe outfits to fight some villain, the new age aspect being that there is some horrible catch to it.
Unfortunately, since Madoka Magica, it has become a nightmare to build hype for any new shows falling into these guidelines. Understandably, it is very hard to compete with a show that got not only its twelve episodes, but its drama CDs and several movies. Yuuki Yuuna just seems something of
a wannabe Madoka.
The story has faults in that the pacing is incredibly uneven; toward the middle of the anime, there are several filler episodes that are hardly worth watching, as it seems like Yuuki Yuuna tried to drop from the magical girl genre to the slice of life genre. I have little problem with slice of life, but I do have a problem with being ripped out of an action-ridden battle to hear about how helpful each girl is to the community.
The slow realization of the catch to the magical powers is a good cherry on top of the cake, as that is the moment where one gets the most out of the characters. It's almost satisfying to see each of the girls suffer a touch after having one too many episodes of ease.
Additionally, the realization of demise brings emotion out of the characters that you just don't see early on.
Yuuki Yuuna herself acts as a weak link in the cast. While this girl is the supposed main character, she hardly gets as much screen time as a main character should--nor just she get enough character development. Next to her friend Togo, who only gets more and more dynamic with each episode, Yuuna remains a flat, peppy girl who solves all of her problems with willpower and a strong belief in friendship.
That belief acts as a major cop-out during the series as well, solving every single one of the girls' problems in a very developed tragedy.
It may sound cruel, but I am almost disappointed these characters didn't suffer more--or rather, I am disappointed their suffering was disgustingly impermanent.
Yuuna, as a character, did not deserve to have all of her problems fixed by her one-note personality. She watches as her friends lose hearing, sight and the ability to speak everyone pities her because she can no longer taste snacks. Yuuna takes none of the blunt force of repercussions until the final moment, and even then, the satisfaction of watching something happen to her is pulled away in an instant with the 'friendship conquers all' cliche.
Other than the despicable treatment of the main character, the art and sound were not incredibly notable. The design for the areas where most of the action takes place are interesting, and the choice of watercolor and pastel is a unique juxtaposition coupled with the battle that is taking place in the foreground.
Let a quick warning be given, there is a bit of shameless fanservice involving Togo, the disabled girl in the wheel chair; ask yourselves, is it /really/ necessary to sexualize the girl in the wheel chair of all people?
Yuuki Yuuna did, however, do a good job of wrapping up the plot in a way that satisfied the anime's needs. The climax pulled through despite some difficulty managing the show's pacing. Someone less critical than me might enjoy the show more even--just don't look for Yuuki Yuuna to be anything other than the one-note courageous hero the title promises her to be.
A show that might be overlooked for its frontal advertisement. Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha (Yuuki Yuuna is a Hero) isn’t your typical ‘cute girls doing cute things’ type of show. Well, it is for some parts or at least the first 10 or so minutes of the pilot episode. Then, we realize the show is a lot more after a strange message on a cell phone that transports the girls into a world of the unknown. If ‘magical girl’ is something you’re familiar with and find enjoyable, then this show may be a treat.
To trace back a bit, the show is an original work
animated by Studio Gokumi. Director Seiji Kishi is in charge of this project while Takahiro (author of Akame ga Kill) does the series planning. What this brings to mind is a strange collective of individuals to craft the series’ story. By all means, this show does sound like what the title suggests but the promotion suggests otherwise. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the girls’ lives in this series are about to change forever though.
Understanding the series should be simple enough. There are two worlds – one in the human world that takes place at Sanshu Middle School and another world where strange entities known as Vertex has taken refuge. The first episode quickly introduces the main cast that composes a club known as the ‘Hero Club’. As the name suggests, it’s made of members who wants to help the helpless; kind of like trying to be heroes. The club also does other activities ranging from arts, craft, music, and literature. Making up the club are Yuna, Fu and her younger sister Itsuki, and Mimori. While their personalities aren’t alike, they connect well as a unit and often enjoy their time in the human world. The show quickly turns the pages towards another side when we see the girls getting transported to another world. As gimmicky as it sounds (complete with the cell phone trope), it may take some people by surprise especially for those who are unfamiliar with the premise or staff. The catch here is that the girls gets to be heroes for real in this other world by combating against the mysterious Vertex.
An interesting concept to note about the show is how the characters’ personalities change or perhaps show their true selves once their circumstances are different. Mimori becomes a prominent an example of this especially after she realizes the true visage of Shinju, the very essence that the Vertex is trying to destroy. Faced with the possibility of losing what she values, Mimori suffers mental breakdowns throughout the show. Another part is the show’s focus on dealing with loss. The first half of the series shows the girls fighting and actually succeeding on most parts in their battle against the Vertex. Unknown to them, there’s a sacrifice (no, not their lives) to be made. The moral of the show suggests that nothing comes without a price and for becoming a hero, there’s also something in exchange to be paid. It brings about a sense of despair that is a solid mixture with the fantasy premise. The show chooses to make this bold choice rather than relying solely on slice of life to craft cleverness. Indeed, this show has its clever moments whether it’s the dark revelations or the character performances.
The characters are a main part of the show as there is only a handful. Each of them stands out in some way although titular character Yuuki is the one that takes most of the spotlight. This is actual primal considering the way each characters’ roles are played throughout the series. They become magical girls, go to this other world, and fight with the future of the universe on the line. What bigger stakes are there? Each character must accept their destiny to overcome a tragic fate. At the same time, the girls’ struggle internally with the truth after realizing that their lives will never go back to the same way before. It’s when you realize that if it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t. The battles against the Vertex is surprisingly not the reason why the girls suffer from despair. In most parts, the girls does fairly well against them but it’s not until they realize what they are fighting for that they break down. Some folks might see this as a ripoff of Madoka or another cheesy gimmick to deconstruct the magical girl trope. However, it’s also important to realize that the show retains its wit and focus. It also has a good momentum and ability to build up events while dropping foreshadowing throughout the story. For anyone who can appreciate a darker side of a magical girl series, then this is something to take notice of.
Despite some of the appealing concepts of the show, the characters does suffer from a bit of stereotypes. In terms of characters, they are still middle school girls so it’s hard for older audience to take seriously at what they say. And because of their age, the girls’ emotional suffering can seem a bit forced with some repetitiveness. The story itself also has some balancing issues where we get a beach episode and introduction of another character (transfer student) to break apart the fantastic four. I don’t mean it literally but rather how the show can create a sense of annoyance as our new character Karin has an ego unlike no other. The series also has a strange direction as the characters seems to be fighting this enemy because it’s just the right thing to do. There’s a lack of a true villain or purpose that makes the series hard to predict. Thankfully, the series does know what it can do with its characters by presenting their desire (through flashbacks) and not steer away from what it has set up. The latter half of the series also has a much better focus without losing balance of the main story.
Judging on artwork and character design, the show is probably is a mixed bag. Let’s face it, the characters look childish. They look like kids with cardboard box designs complete with the magical girl decorations. Although the series has decent production quality, there’s an auto-pilot like expression on the characters’ faces most of the time. That is until the second half, you’ll see how everything changes. Still, the show does deserve some credit for its elaborate design when it ventures into the supernatural realm. The Vertex are designed to look indiscriminately malevolent while their world also has a great degree of otherworldly elements. The magical girls’ designs may look generic but does go through evolution including their weapons and battle gear. And speaking of battles, the show has great choreography and non-stop action when the pace picks up.
Soundtrack is surprisingly noticeable throughout the course of the show. The majority of it relies on parts when the series focuses on its battles. Later on in the show, we also get the more emotional aspect where we see characters expresses their desires and fears. I give praise to the actresses with their performances. It’s their ability to convey the suffering of the characters that make them almost seem realistic despite the fantasy gimmicks. To take this further, the series creates a sense of tragedy that seems to be unresolvable with its quiet atmosphere and OST. The OP and ED songs also does well with its well-crafted choreography.
So what’s the best way to describe this show? Perhaps unorthodox would be a word to use considering the stark contrast of its first and second half with the story. Some people may see this as a Madoka clone when considerations are taken for the usage of tragedy, magical girls, and war against mystery forces. Technical wise, the show does justice in the end with its conventional direction. In retrospect, this show is refreshing for its ability to craft satirical story about heroes. As a kid, I’m sure everyone had his or her own dream but you may wonder the moment when that is shattered. Step into the shoes of these girls and you’ll realize the experience.
Every time I see an anime cover with a cute magical girl/s, I always get the feeling that it's going to be similar to Madoka Magica. I tried the show out just to confirm my curiosity and what do you know, it is similar to Madoka but do not think the show is a Madoka rip-off because it's not.
(There will be SPOILERS in my review)
[Story]: (8.8/10) (SPOILERS)
The story takes place in the era of the gods, Year 300. Yuuna Yukki lives an ordinary life as a second year middle school but she's also a member of the "Hero Club", where club activities involve dealing
with a mysterious being called "Vertex".
This is now the second Madoka-esque anime that I have seen (First being Selector Infected WIXOSS) and I wasn't even searching for this anime. I just found it on Netflix, I saw the cover and I decided to try the first episode just to see if it was similar to Madoka. My curiosity confirmed, I decided to watch the whole show since it was only 12 episodes. After watching through 12 episodes, I really wanted more. The show turned out to be way better than I expected.
It didn't take that long to show the viewers what to expect about this show. Halfway through the first episode, it immediately got straight to the point. They're magical girls fighting for the organization called "Taisha" and must defeat "Vertexes" to keep the world safe. Unfortunately, the organization "Taisha" wasn't explained that well. Who exactly is "Taisha"? What was their backstory and how did they know about the "Vertex"? All we know is they're just an organization choosing middle school girls (what was the reason for not picking boys again?) with high marks to fight for them and protect the world. Anything more about them is left to the viewers interpretation.
In the second half of the show, the girls find out that there are consequences for being a Magical Girl or what the show calls it "Hero". To be more specific, if they keep using their "Mankai" powers (special powers), they will permanently lose a body part and it will never heal again. The show used this to their advantage, showing the characters struggling and how they dealt with it. If you have watched Madoka before then the dark plot twist shouldn't be a surprise to you. It wasn't a surprise for me but it was still a great plot twist.
There was one effective dramatic moment that occurred in Episode 9 where Fu broke down after she found out that her sister auditioned for a singing program. She made it through the audition but because of the consequences of using Mankai, she lost her voice and will never achieve her dream of being a singer. I did not sign up for the feels. I never expected that dramatic scene. To be honest, the episode broke me down and I almost cried, no lie. I mean, you can feel (I did) what Fu was going through when she heard that file. On top of that, there was a background song playing while the scene was playing and it made that scene even more sad.
Lastly, I want to talk about the ending. I wouldn't call it great nor would I say that the ending was downright terrible. The problem with the ending is it threw out everything the show was trying to build in the first 11 episodes. I was expecting the characters to stay that way because........the show claims that it was a permanent damage. Did Shinju-sama heal their permanently damaged bodies after they defeated the "Vertex" or was it because of "friendship"? Either way, it looked like the show did a complete 180 and went for a happy ending with no explanation whatsoever. To be honest, I wasn't really disappointed with the happy ending but I would have preferred the bad ending since the tone of the second half was pretty dark.
I didn't really like the character design when I first saw it. The biggest problem that I had with the character design was their face. I didn't really like how they look like they were blushing all the time. I got used to it after 2 episodes so it doesn't really matter anymore. The visuals and the animation looks great and I first thought this was a P.A Works anime. Turns out, it was some animation studio under the radar and is not well known.
The soundtrack is simply amazing. Did Yuki Kajiura do the soundtrack? No?! Sounds like she did. The OST's are amazing, the battle themes are amazing. the theme used for the transformation scenes are amazing, the insert song used in Ep. 9 was amazing..Need I say more?.......She obviously didn't orchestrate the soundtrack which was kinda disappointing. Now the OP and ED theme songs.
The OP theme song is "Hoshi to Hana" by Yuuki, Tougo, Karen, Fuu and Itsuki and the ED theme songs are "Aurora Days" by Yuuki, Tougo, Karen, Fuu and Itsuki and "Inori No Uta" by Itsuki. The OP theme song sounds awesome especially when all the 5 singers are singing together. The bass in the background is also another reason why I love the OP theme song. The song is also saved on my phone so if someone will need to get help because I can't stop listening to it. The 1st ED theme song is pretty average and I love...love the 2nd ED theme song. Just like Clannad AS' sad songs, this song also makes me tear up everytime I hear it.
I watched the show in English Dub so I'll be reviewing the English VAs. In my opinion, the sound great. Especially Fuu's voice acting at Episode 9. Her breakdown sounds convincing as hell. There was one slight issue in the voices and I found this to be an issue in both Japanese and English voices. It's Episode 11 and 12's constant shouting. It was annoying in English and It was even more annoying in Japanese.
My expectations weren't that high when I first watched the show. In other words, I wasn't expecting the show to be that great because like I said, I just wanted the check the show out to confirm my curiosity. I wasn't expecting the characters of the show to have a great character development and to be this fleshed out because it's only 12 episodes. I can't believe I have to say this but..........the show's characters are simply amazing. Do I dare to say that they're better than Madoka Magica's character? No but they're pretty close. All of the characters are fleshed out and all of the characters are mostly developed throughout the course of the show. Almost everything that they do are believable and the way Y(uuki)Y(una is a)(H)ero shows these girl's friendship and how they help each other out is almost realistic.
If you're expecting the characters to be similar to Madoka then get rid of that expectation right now. There is now way in hell in hell these characters are similar and that's a good thing. Well, Besides Fuu being similar to Mami (They're both the Senpai and they both lead the group), they're not similar. They didn't copy every element from Madoka and the show did something of their own.
As someone who only wanted to watch 2 episodes just to confirm his curiosity (I'm talking about me in case you didn't notice), I did not expect to enjoy this show as much as Madoka. By the 3rd episode, I ended up marathoning the show just like I marathoned Madoka a few months ago. Sad to see the show end, to be honest.
Despite the amount of Madoka rip-offs in today's anime industry for whatever goddamn reason, "Yuuki Yunna is a Hero" is not one of them. It borrowed most of its element from Madoka while at the same time, doing something on its own that makes it a unique show to watch and not a blatant rip-off just so they can try and garner the same amount of popularity as Madoka. If you're a big Madoka fan or you're looking for a great character-driven story then this anime is a must-watch. It is one of the most underrated anime shows that I have ever watched. Just watch out for the ending which might kill the show for you.
+Stunning Visuals and Animation
+Great Character Designs
+Outstanding Soundtrack and OST's
+Great and Believable Characters
+Characters are Fleshed Out and Mostly Developed
+Effective Dramatic Scene in Episode 9
-Ending might kill the show for some people
-Tons of annoying shouting at Ep. 11 and first half of Ep. 12
How far will you push yourself for the sake of others even when you know every step you take may hurt you? Welcome to the world of Yuki Yuna is a Hero where hope is sometimes all that’s left to stand on, but it might just be enough to get you over the line. A story following a school hero club thrust into an unexpected fight, Yuki Yuna starts slow but finishes with a bang to make for a magical girl experience that ranged from frustrating to thrilling.
This is probably the first show I’ve watched where the enjoyment I got out of it was hampered
by comparing it to another show. I heard the talk before watching about how the anime was a ‘rip-off’ of the 2011’s massive hit which shook the magical girl genre, Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica. The answer? Yes and no. Character traits and roles in the Yuki Yuna team do feel somewhat familiar.
Can it still stand on its own accord? Absolutely. There’s an interesting complication plus some reveals that kept me interested. Many also like to claim that the ‘darker’ themes of the shows fall too close together but I think the two shows take them in different directions. To say how this is achieved is quite the spoiler. Just don’t go in expecting a blanket copy of the story – I can give it that much credit.
Enough comparing, let’s actually talk about Yuki Yuna as its own work.
Yuki Yuna Is A Hero is a story that follows the title character and her classmates during their fight with the mysterious enemy known as the ‘vertex’. Naturally things aren’t as smooth sailing as they would seem at first glance. The truth behind the enemy and the girls’ purpose for fighting slowly comes to the fore. The real meat of the story is watching how the team cope with the revelations thrown in front of them. It’s a story with nothing you haven’t seen before: ‘Hope being the strongest weapon’ – but the delivery is entertaining the later it goes on.
The opening portion of the show felt formulaic and everyone seemed too accepting of the role they’ve been thrown into. While there’s some great looking battles there’s nothing that made me say ‘wow’ or feel like something I hadn’t seen before. I did like the dynamic between the team members, and although they may fall into some ‘tropey’ behaviours, I was at least made to care about them from an early point.
Here’s my biggest gripe with the show by a country mile: The middle third.
This section had the problem that the content and the pace was too drastic of a change-up compared to what came before it. The trouble was that the shift in tone was so out of nowhere that it made it difficult for me to keep taking the show seriously. If an anime wants to spell out its themes, establish the mood it’s going for but then decide to take time out in favour of clear eye-candy moments - that serve almost no purpose to advancing those said themes - then I’m left with a bad taste in my mouth. I do understand that this brief slow-down in the story helps develop the characters a little but it certainly could have been done a different way. Don’t pull me in then in just the space of a few episodes make me start asking “when does it end?” You’ve clearly done something wrong.
Thankfully the final third of the show is a thrilling conclusion and although the ending didn’t rub me right way I was definitely hooked in the lead up to it. One big problem with the said ending was that I didn’t get any sense of closure and it all made me wonder whether the plight of our characters was worthwhile. The second half still saves the show and at least made my personal plight, as viewer sitting through this, feel worth the ride. Knowing there’s challenges and burdens to carry that go beyond just fighting the Vertex is excellent. There’s actually some complexity to the tale and it’s great to see characters having to seriously question what is right and what is wrong when it comes to fighting.
It’s just such a pity that story is so ‘fractured’ into these different segments. There’s practically no flow between them.
I mentioned earlier that some characters feel a bit too familiar from another magical girl show. I don’t, for instance, have to tell you who Fuu Inubouzaki reminds you of. Even though part of me wants to go on comparing shows, I’ll stop there because Fuu is one of the stronger characters in Yuki Yuna. As the team leader her role goes beyond just giving the orders but when things go wrong she’s the one that feels the brunt of the problems. And boy does she have to carry some big ones. Watching her trying to maintain her leader’s position and cope with those is one of the more interesting aspects of the show.
Her younger sister Itsuki is part of her personal motivation but Itsuki herself felt a bit forgettable when it comes to being part of the larger picture. She gets her own moment in the spotlight but it was perhaps a little cheesy. While I also found Karin Miyoshi’s character annoying, and also very predictable in her development, she was at least important for the team’s character development as a whole.
Mimori Tougou is easily the most interesting character. Bound to a wheelchair she’s instantly at a disadvantage from the get go. She makes up for her lack of physical presence by being resourceful and level-headed – whether in or out of a fight. She’s the anchor that keeps the group grounded. Her intelligence also sees her feel confident to make some huge decisions at critical times, decisions that have the potential for massive repercussions.
Finally there’s our main character. I do love that Yuna is the catalyst for helping everyone else find themselves and overcome their problems. She carries a sense of abundant optimism that no one else in the team shares. She’s the standard ‘if you believe you can overcome anything’ character but there’s no harm in that. It goes hand in hand with the theme that the show goes for: that hope can overcome despair no matter how great it may seem. Her individual contribution to moving the show’s story forward is actually quite minimal but she’s a decent lead character because you do feel like she’s having an effect on the other members.
I also appreciated that fact that all the characters’ motivation made perfect sense. Each of their reasons to be involved and look out for one other were spelt out clearly for the viewer. The troubles that inflict each of them make for some good complication and there’s always that lingering sense of fear that someone is going to push themselves over the edge. Consequences for actions, whether said actions be seemingly right or wrong, feel huge. Reveals about the enemies and their origin did a good job of making me wondering what would happen next.
Art & Sound
Fighting is the core of this show so plenty of work has clearly gone into making the environment unique. It’s a colourful, tangled universe that’s cool to look at. The CG features heavily and it ranges from hilariously out of place to solid. I think the abstract style of the world our characters fight in helps out the CG models a lot as they don’t look horrifyingly out of place.
The string-laden OST is nice though there’s nothing that stands out. It does its job. Sounds effects in battle give plenty of impact and also goes a long way to giving the Vertex that ‘otherworldly’ feel.
While copping a flak for being a little too similar to something before it I found Yuki Yuna worth the watch. There’s nothing revolutionary to be seen, and it’s a pity that it takes so long to get to the true complication of the story, but it’s worth it. There’s wonderful chemistry between the characters, the fights are usually entertaining and the problems the team become burdened with keep things engaging. Getting through the lulls in the story is a challenge. It may require you to push yourself through episodes at times but you’re bound to take away something from the show.
"To be really great in little things, to be truly noble and heroic in the insipid details of everyday life, is a virtue so rare as to be worthy of canonization."
-Harriet Beecher Stowe
The story of Yuuki Yuuna revolves around a school club called the Hero Club which preforms tasks that help the community such as putting on puppet shows for little kids and trying to find owners for stray cats, but one day the members learn the true nature of the club: an organization that must fight creatures called vertexes in an alternate universe to protect the earth, if any of the vertexes
manage to defeat the club they will cause actual damage to the world and thus alter the lives of the girls.
While this synopsis sounds a little bit generic especially for a magical girl title it offers much more depth beyond this. For example the girls are fighting not for any greater good but rather to protect their care free daily life. Now where this anime really manages to knock it out the park is portraying this happy go lucky lifestyle the girls are trying to defend as well as the actual stresses they face through their battles in a balanced way. We get to see a lot of time dedicated to the slice of life elements as well as the psychological elements, and surprisingly the whole thing flows very well. The slice of life segments engage the viewer and show you what the girls are trying to protect rather than just telling you, and we get enough of these segments to keep us constantly hooked, we also get a fair share of the girls trying to cope with the heavy weight they have the shoulder which paves the way for tremendous character progression and development which I’ll talk about more later.
While many other magical girl anime have tried to take a deeper somewhat darker look at the genre Yuuki Yuuna is one the few that actually starts with a very strong foundation and focuses more on the characters and what they experience rather than solely the thematic aspects of the genre. Speaking of thematic aspects Yuuki Yuuna’s themes are fairly simple but executed brilliantly, the whole show is pretty much about standing up to enormous adversities, we see all the girls faces their own self as well as the reality of being placed in an extremely difficult situation another major theme is working together to overcome adversity as the girls constantly have to rely on each other for comfort and security. The anime manages to also balance its own story elements without leaving anything open or confusing. In the end all of the plot elements fit together and just about everything makes sense, everything is tied up perfectly.
The characters in Yuuki Yuuna are by far its strongest aspect as this cast has some of the best chemistry I have ever seen in a magical girl anime. The story focuses on five girls Yuuki, Fuu, Itsuki, Karin, and Togo. We get to see each girl face her own individual dilemmas as well as the burden of having to fight to save the world. No single character is weaker than the others and they all feel essential to the team. We also see all of them not only develop but also at times regress over the course of the story. Each character is an individual with their own traits, ambitions and flaws and the anime manages to make each one stand out without relying on clichés in order to characterize them. The only character that feels a little bit clichéd is Karin in the early parts of the anime who comes off as a tsundere archetype but luckily she shortly breaks away from this and becomes one of the strongest characters in the series. Not only do the characters manage to stand out individually they also fit very well together, we constantly see the characters interacting with each other and relying on each other to cope with their difficulties and all these little interactions really make these girls feel genuinely human.
Yuuki Yuuna was animated by studio Gokumi and they did a pretty solid job, the backgrounds during the fight scenes are by far the highlight of the animation as the water color aesthetic simply looks brilliant. The designs for the vertexes also look great despite them being in CGI. I have to say the use of CGI in this anime was very fitting as it never felt distracting or out of place. In terms of fluency the animation is pretty standard with the exception of the battle sequences which are filled with eye candy. While not the best the animation of Yuuki Yuuna does its job and does it well.
The soundtrack in Yuuki Yuuna is beautiful, featuring an amalgamation of tracts that fit whatever is going on perfectly, when the anime is in the middle of slice of life segment the music is calm and relaxing, when the anime is doing a battle sequence the music is powerful, when the anime is exploring the mysteries revolving the world the music is filled with ambiance, and when the anime wants to convey emotion... the music is slow and melodic. This is by far one of the best soundtracks of the year.
All around I had a lot of fun watching Yuuki Yuuna and getting to know all the characters as well as learning about the mysterious setting, Yuuki Yuuna caught me by surprise this season and gave me a colorful and emotional story rich with value. All around I'd recommend this anime to anyone who enjoys slice of life anime, psychological anime, or just magical girl anime in general as it blends all three genres effortlessly.
A very enjoyable, well-rounded show that wonderfully tells a story through emotions, color and flowers.
Imagine an anime being born from the visual appeal of No Game No Life, the moe from YuruYuri, and the plot of Madoka Magica having a threesome.
Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru is that anime.
The art is so crisp and clean, flaunting all those magnificient colors and oftentimes showing the beautiful contrast between hope and despair.
The music is really lovable. It's lively, yet ominous at the same time.
There were also these subtle references that I always find entertaining and interesting to spot. Just knowing that something is a reference to something
else is fun and gives you a sense of achievement.
Yuki Yuna is a Hero, for now on being called Yuyu, is a magical girl series that surprised me. Being a seemly dark magical girl anime released after Madoka, and with another show making that a negative thing, (Daybreak Illusion), I really didn't go into the show with much expectation. Though Yuki Yuna is a Hero is a title worthy of being a stand alone anime that shouldn't be seen as a madoka rip off.
In a world ruled by a being named, Shinju-sama, Yuki Yuna and the Hero club help out the community. The Hero Club is chose by
the Shinju-sama to fight off 12 monsters called vertexs. And so, the Hero Club ensembles with the power of cellphones and friendship and protect their everyday life. Though as their lives go on they learn of the truth of their duties. The brutal truth that make them question the world around them, and ask the most important question of all, why are they even fighting.
Yuyu is centered around a concept that is rather overused in the media, known as the power of friendship. While I do enjoy the concept; usually I find media to handle that concept horribly, due to fact that many shows don't exploit the actual friendship in question. Yuki Yuna does the exact opposite of that. Yuyu gets that friendship is about sticking up for your friends, but that what makes them so strong is being with them. Yuyu understands character interaction. The way the characters interact feels like how my group of friends act together, we just be ourselves. The conversations the characters feel like they do strengthen the bond between the Hero Club. It's because of those silly moments in the show that the serious moments have real impact. You feel the tension and the risk of their everyday lives, and their moments of happiness fading away.
The show is very character driven, and it’s a refreshing break from the plot and world driven show that is Madoka. The characters for the most part are likable and I really don’t think any of them are badly written. While I wouldn't call any of them complex; their simplicity is really what sells them to me. Everything about them is clear cut and simple. Even with huge explosions and fighting going on, their conflicts are understandable. Though admittedly I am a bit disappointed by the lack of inner conflicts. Yes, while I could understand what a character is going through, none of the conflicts in the characters are really personal. In short, a lot of the characters are missing the big flaw. The thing that makes them a bit more relatable. With the exception of a few, I feel that the cast is really lacking a human element. Even so, they are likable enough and I do care when something happens to one of them. By the end I felt that all of them went through some kind of character arc, and that they have grown as a person at the end.
Though...except for one... Yuki Yuna herself...Yuki Yuna is admittedly a very undeveloped character. She really doesn't have a character arc no matter how much I think about it. Yuna is kind of the same person she is at the end. She's heroic and selfless from beginning to end. So she kind of just exists for the sake of the plot and Togo as a character...Though she's not a complete Mary Sue, almost but she does have those moments when she's weak. She's not a perfect little flower, almost but no. Though despite all of that, I still cared for her at the end. For awhile I couldn't think of why I would like such an undeveloped character. Though it kind of just hit me when Yuna was fighting in the last episode. She was really similar to Hikaru Shidou, a childhood hero of mine. While Hikaru is a much better character, their personalities are similar; their outgoing and positive attitude and their I will never give up frame of mind. Yes, a bit of a shallow reason even for me, but yes I don't find Yuna to be a negative factor even though she should.
So I was pretty satisfied with the character work, even if it was nothing too complex, and it did disappointed me in some aspects.
The show’s biggest weak point is no doubt is the dialogue. I don’t think any of the dialogue is too bad, but it’s just that..some of it was bordering on cheesy due to the way the characters delivered their lines. (Both Languages) I mean someone times it worked, because it fitted some of the characters. Example, whenever Yuki screams shit about the Hero Club’s rules during battle, it fits because Yuna is a huge fan of those rules and it fits her outgoing and positive personality. Though in a case where things don’t work is when Togo screams her heart out. Yes while those lines are okay and aren’t something to complain about, what I mean is that Suzuko Mimori, while a great actress I felt like the direction given was basically: “Uhhh try to sound like you’re suffering, but...keep it cool some how...”.
The ending was a bit disappointing, I was hoping the show could go out with a bang and end with a bittersweet end, but I felt like it was a cop out. Though after re-watching the show, I have to say it fitted. The writers wanted to give the girls a happy ending, and they did it in the best way possible. While I'm disappointed, I can't say that it came out of nowhere.
Yuyu is a great treat, it's story is a spin on what is now a Madoka inspired landscape. The script and the lore is interesting enough for me even though it's simple and grabs things from Madoka. Though it really is the simpler things that make the story and characters so likable. No matter no messed up a situation is, I could always understand, emotionally what is going on. Since the show sets up its characters to be endearing and relatable.
Technically, Yuyu is quite impressive and performs well. Which is unexpected from a relatively young, Studio Gokumi. The color palate is light and fluffy, which gives the show a nice light hearted tone, but because of impressive lighting effects. The show got what it wanted across.
Directed by Seiji Kishi, Yuyu is what I'd like to say is his directing skills in one show. Yuyu has his dramatic and emotional direction tactics as well as his comedic ones. Ala Angel Beats and Carnival Phantasm. The show's comedic scenes have the familiar quick editing and goofy shots. It strangely works, despite the type of comedy this show works with is different than something like Carnival Phantasm or Persona 4. Whole those shows have comedy that relies on anime tropes greatly, Yuyu uses the familiarly of the characters and certain situations to get across it's comedy. I still found it strange that his comedic direction still works well, even though I think the style is more suited to silly anime comedy.
Kishi's dramatic directing also exists, pulling off a lot of emotion through character expressions, and dramatic shots. Though to be honest, I could have used more subtly. For example, in Togo's emotional climax, the shot is positioned right at her face. Yes, while it's okay for her to cry and scream, I felt like the scene could have been more effective if they just kept a back shot and the background being quiet. The expression while didn't bother me too much, I feel like it's a tad over the top. So I feel like the scene should have let the admittedly great acting shine through by itself. Though the scenes still come off as emotional and it still hit me. It's just my wishful thinking. The lighting is also a great factor. I noticed that in the most emotional scenes Kishi uses the darkest variations on the already existing colors. Which is nice since it shows how straining and heart breaking a scene is.
On to the music aspect, the music is composed by KEIICHI OKABE, the man responsible for my favorite video game osts. I’m was honestly surprised when I saw him on the staff list. Didn’t know he did anime osts. I found this sound track of his in particular to be a rather interesting work of his..Throughout the show I always had a lingering feeling that the music was at least inspired by Okabe, as the arrangement of instruments and vocals were similar (and actually is) his style. So when I found out that he was the composer I was kinda surprised. Surprised that it wasn’t inspired, I began to see the OST in a different manner since it was composed by someone who has impressed me before.
I began to listen and compare my impressions to his past work. After listening to the OST a few times in it’s entirety. I feel that with a lot of his work, this soundtrack, was different. That’s why I like Okabe, with each soundtrack he does for a piece of work, he does something different. Even with his style being prominent, I always felt that the music he composed was fresh each time. That is the same for the score here. Since Yuki Yuna is a show very different in terms of tone compared to Nier and Drakengard 3, the soundtrack reflects this. There are a lot of calm and more simple pieces, but there are pieces with more intensity because this is an anime. Because it is an anime, the pieces can be short and not have a loop, unlike Nier and Drakengard 3, which are video games.
And really, that's the reason why Yuki Yuna's soundtrack is my favorite anime OST of all time. It's refreshing. It's style of music is refreshing from the bombastic and SUPER DRAMATIC osts from Madoka. (Still love the Madoka OST to death tho) The action pieces uses a combo of the violins and choir, but the way the drums were used made the scenes have more of an impact on me. The emotional pieces, with the exception of one are simple and contain the right amount of punch to get emotion across. You don't have to have an arsenal of violins to make a piece emotional. All it takes is one vocal and a guitar, then maybe a bit of violin. While this isn't Okabe's best work critically, it's an OST that I honestly liked because of the context I had while listening to it.
In terms of voice acting, the cast consist of mostly new people. Which is something I adore the producers deciding, since the acting also felt fresh and different than the usual Kana Hanazawa performance. (She's in the show too by the way, she does the job like always). Though the cast do have their fair moments where they mess up. While I do think the acting is solid for the most part, there are few times where I felt like some lines could have been delivered better. Sometimes I felt like it was the director's fault (the Togo scene previously mentioned), and sometimes I just felt like the actress could have put more into it. (Yuna mostly) Still, those moments when the acting falters, they are few and far between. Plus when I was watching the show without a critical eye, I was sucked in enough to not care about the acting.
In terms of the dub, which currently only has 4 episodes out at the time of this review. I like the fact the the dub also opted for newer voice actresses. They perform well, and is about the same level of the Japanese performances, for now. Though the script is mostly faithful, I do feel like the script does changes how a few characters feel. For example, Itsuki is less reserved, calling out on her sister's crap a bit more harshly. Fu is a bit more soft, with her tone of voice slightly less...Senpai like. I actually like these slight changes. Fu comes off a bit more relatable and Itsuki is quite nice as well. Though these changes don't make the two different characters. They still are the same Fu and Itsuki we know.
Overall even with the minor hiccups, Yuki Yuna performs amazingly. Certainly one of the better shows of the 2014 fall season. Yuki Yuna is a Hero was an enjoyable experience that is everything I wanted in a show. It reminded me of the times I had as a child as well as the special moments of friendship I have now. So even if it's flawed I'll always remember it as something more than a Madoka rip off.
Good emotional payoff but not worth suffering through its mind-numbingly boring plotting.
Spoilers from here on, because this is less of a review and more analysis.
- SPOILERS -
I was told this show was going to be like Madoka Magica, and they were partially right. Except Madoka was great all 12 episodes, even the first three slow ones have replay value once you understand the full context. Madoka Magica is pitched as a magical girl show with dark tones and little cute girls suffering. Yuki Yuna attempts the same except I’m the one that’s suffering because it’s so boring. The emotional payoff—while fantastic—is NOT worth it.
only so much time and energy we all have. We work, we go home, and our free time is precious. I can work through my Steam library of 300 games, I can finish reading The Hunger Games, I can catch up on Breaking Bad, or I can watch some anime. Point is, there’s a million alternatives I can do which are far more satisfying.
The premise is that these girls are chosen to defend the world. They can transform to have magical powers, and they fight off monsters. Turns out there’s a cost. Who knew? I do not recommend this show to anyone. It drags on far too much, and it’s so boring you’re left numb. I was begging for something interesting to happen. The emotional payoff is good I’ll admit, but it’s not worth it. Furthermore, the girls can go into a second more powerful transformation to defeat the increasingly stronger monsters, but they suffer permanent damage to their bodies like going deaf, mute, blind or even losing limbs.
It’s this sacrifice that carries the dark undertone of the show, and it’s a fantastic story element. I’m sick of power ups with no cost. Oh, there’s a new stronger enemy? Lemme get in my hyperbolic time chamber and train and go Super Saiyan 4. This is how you get power creep. But the fact that the girls literally sacrifice life and limb for their powers makes the battles a lot more engaging. Unfortunately, there’s very little action until the end of the series.
These sacrifices are hidden from the girls until they find out which drives the emotional payoff. For example, one girl wants to be a singer but later (after using her secondary power up) she goes mute. Everyone thought their injuries would heal, but they soon realize that it's permanent. There’s a great scene where the older sister realizes this and breaks down. Before, there was a heartbreaking moment where the sisters were eating dinner in silence after earlier episodes showed them eating, talking, and laughing. It's a subtle but excellent scene with set up and payoff. One of my favorites from the show.
The character and enemy designs are so generic and bland. Not that Madoka’s character designs were much better, but they had enough style to make them distinct. Here the characters look like anyone else. The enemies aren’t threatening looking in the least. They’re masses of bland parts thrown together. Madoka’s witches had that surreal, nightmarish quality to them.
I didn't watch this constantly comparing it to Madoka Magica. The similarities are shallow at best. I let Yuki Yuna stand on it own. I WANTED to like this, but Yuki Yuna is just...
So. Fucking. Boring.
The characters themselves aren’t actually interesting at all. They’re just as boring as they look. The reason the emotional payoff near the end is so great is because of the story’s set up and not the actual characters. The elements and the plot details are there so when they click together it’s great.
For example, in the third episode there’s a new girl. She’s the tough, “I don’t need friends” kind of character. The other girls eventually throw a birthday party for her and she realizes the value of friendship. Shit like that. Later there’s a big battle in the middle of the show where she doesn’t use her secondary power up. This was before they realized the bodily costs of the second power up. This was early in the show and good set up.
Later, during final battle she goes all out and uses her second power up over and over. She fights the monsters while yelling about protecting her friends. After it’s done, she’s left blind and deaf. This was the payoff, and was very satisfying.
The pacing of the show is awful. It drags and drags. It doesn’t help the characters are boring, but the actual events in the show are dull slice-of-life. They eat udon, they hang out at karaoke, they go to the beach—it’s all so mundane. There’s nothing else happening. It’s all very linear. There are no subplots to keep it exciting. And this is most of the show. I constantly felt numb at how boring it was. I kept asking “When is this going to get better?” A good show should never make you feel numb.
I kept track of how each episode left me feeling and 7 out of the 12 episodes I’ve watched were terrible. Fucking seven. That’s 58% of the show that’s shit.
- Would you watch a movie where half of it was boring?
- Would you read a book where half of it was a chore?
- Would you watch a TV series where it doesn’t get good until halfway through the season?
Absolutely not. Worse, you can’t skip the episodes either because through the boredom they sprinkle in details as set up for the later payoff. The boring episodes develop the characters and sets everything up for later, but this doesn't mean the development itself was good. You still have to make the actual, minute-by-minute screen time of the characters exciting. Just showing them off and setting up by itself isn't interesting.
Now here's the worst part. After any investment you had in these boring characters, guess what? It's all ripped away by the final episode. All their sacrifices, all the damage to their bodies, the entire emotional drive of the show is made worthless. The mute girl talks again, the crippled girl can walk now, any blindness is gone—the emotional payoff that you waited for is given and taken away by a happy ending that wasn't earned.
So was there anything I liked about the show? Little details here and there. I liked the crippled girl in the wheelchair. She was my favorite because it was a novelty.
They use smartphones to transform so it makes it feel modern.
I was so bored I actually enjoyed the fan service, and I almost never do.
The animation is good enough. There's some nice jokes.
There’s actually a lot of subtle foreshadowing which I really appreciate.
There were moments that showed character emotions and intentions instead of using cheap monologue.
I don’t recommend this show at all. The emotional payoff is fantastic and satisfying, but it’s not worth it. I’d say because I was so bored that the payoff probably felt better than it should have. The show has hints of good writing when they set things up, but most of the plotting is so fucking boring and mundane you’re left feeling numb and exhausted. This should’ve been a movie instead.