Three years ago, I watched S1 on a whim. I loved it. It and Your Lie in April were the two 2014 shows I gave 9/10. In the end I narrowly chose YuYuYu S1 as my 2014 anime of the year, despite the controversial final episode. I was okay with S1's ending because YuYuYu wanted to forge a hopeful path rather than one of desolation.
The prequel, Washio Sumi, aired earlier in Japanese theatres. Though it never approached S1's greatness, it still mixed the slice-of-life and magical girl elements well. I gave it a solid 7/10 a few months back.
The reason why Washio Sumi went to
theatres and not YuYuYu S2, unlike what Madoka Magica did with Rebellion, is simple. YuYuYu S2 is inferior and is completely void of the magic that made S1 so good.
S1 explored each of the characters and still had time for plenty of magical girl action. There were episodes that focused on each club member, allowing the viewer to care for them. So what happened in S2? It decided to not be a magical girl show. In the first five episodes, there is only about 1 minute total of magical girl action. The "new" girl, Sonoko, added absolutely nothing to S2 and was only there just to sell more drama CDs based on the star power of Kana Hanazawa. Itsuki and Fuu became background characters. Karin had one moment alone with Yuuna but that was it.
By episode 5, there is a complete reversal which makes the previous episodes irrelevant, as the show throws away the main plot point. In the final episode, we're given a deus ex machina ending that makes you wonder why this hadn't already happened. How come none of the other girls up to this point had the courage to do this? What makes Yuuna so special? I felt absolutely no emotion as Yuuna delivered her final hero punch.
While YuYuYu S2 wasn't the worst 2017 anime I've seen, it is by far the most disappointing. I don't know of any other show that completely threw its second season like this. What a damn shame, because I had it pegged as an anime of the year contender.
When the Yuuki Yuuna franchise first appeared, it was criticised for its similarities to Madoka Magica, despite itself not being the first magical girl show to turn dark. It was seen as more an attempt to capitalise on Madoka’s success than an original story, which in retrospect I think is really unfortunate. I myself wasn’t particularly blown away by the original series because, whilst it looked and sounded great and had some incredibly cute characters, it definitely felt like I’d seen it all before in some form or another.
I never really expected this show to get a sequel and it would have never been
my first choice, but I’m really happy it did. Whilst this is a fairly short chapter, being only 6 episodes in length, it quickly engrossed me in its rich story world, likeable characters and emotional themes.
There isn’t so much focus on the vertex battles in this chapter, although what we do get is very tasty. The challenges faced by our characters are much more internal than in the main series, particularly for Yuuki Yuuna herself, who quickly becomes the focus as a result of certain actions she took very early on. I believe this is where the chapter really shines as it puts our heroine into a difficult position that can’t be overcome simply through the power of friendship, believing in yourself or really any trope of the sort. It carries with it an emotional weight that I never got from the main series and really felt very genuine.
Everyone has needed help and support at some point in their lives, whether physically, emotionally or financially, but nothing in this world is really free. Some burdens can be too much to ask of anyone, even when you have friends or loved ones who would do almost anything for your sake. So you go on, pretending things are fine, finding some way to cope while you fight that battle and carry that weight like a hero, or so you think. But you can’t hide it forever - you knew you couldn’t, and people soon start wondering what’s up and why you won’t tell them. Maybe they think you don’t trust them, which increases your frustration and depression and only makes it harder. You know that the truth will only cause more pain, but what can you do?
I was surprised to see this topic brought up in a show like Yuuki Yuuna, but it made me respect the franchise as a whole much more and I think has made me realise how much it has matured and developed its own identity separate from Madoka or any other magical girl anime. As it turns out, being a hero involves a lot more than transforming and using magic spells to fry the big bad. Sometimes it's about selflessness and having the willingness to sacrifice everything in the name of helping others. That’s not particularly original in itself, except that it challenges that status quo by asking: is that even right? Is a system like sacrifices young, promising heros in the name of preserving life and freedom for everyone else really worth sustaining?
Aside from whatever you might take away from the story, the visuals in this series are as vibrant as ever and look absolutely stunning, especially during the climax. The soundtrack also features some of the most beautiful and emotional music I’ve heard in an anime. I’m still not sure I completely understood the ending, but it was such a sight to behold that I’m not sure it even matters. The final episode was a surreal, audiovisual experience of the like I haven’t seen since Madoka: Rebellion.
DISCLAIMER: A kinda spoilery review that kind of touches on the entire anime series, but of course focuses on YuYuYu season 2. Also yes, I call this anime series weird names, it’s fun.
Yuuki Yuuna is a Filthy Casual, and so am I.
I keep telling myself that I hate shows that are predictable, and resort to using friendship powers as a way out and having characters repeating the same cheesy lines over and over again. Yuuki Yuuna is a Filthy Casual has plenty of that, yet for some reason, this series manages to find a way deep inside my heart. However, this season of YuYuYu showed
me that actually, I’m not a hypocrite: Yuuki Yuuna is a Filthy Casual somehow uses these normally unsavory tropes… well.
How is that possible? When viewing Yuuki Yuuna is a Filthy Casual season 1 by itself, it feels like nothing more than a poorly conceived, mediocre shounen series under the guise of mahou shoujo. There was plenty to be mad at: use of lewd fanservice in the transformation scenes instead of embracing the cute side of it, very poor and yelly action scenes that had characters chant their moves (HERO PUNCH!!), and one of those endings that had you like HUH? What a half assed way to go! It wasn’t really until the prequel series, Washio Sumi is a Fuckin Elitist, came out when I, and many others, started to grasp the good qualities that this series had, as well as explanations as to why Yuuki Yuuna is a Filthy Casual seemed so… casual. The truth was… we didn’t know shit. YuYuYu didn’t tell us shit. The YuYuYu franchise has an extremely ominous and mysterious lore behind it, so mysterious and unknown to the general audience that hardcore YuYuYu fans would view the events of the anime completely differently from the rest of us. Upon getting to know the lore and context behind the events of the YuYuYu season 1, we now know that the apparently overly hopeful and cheesy events of YuYuYu were actually hiding copious amounts of despair and tragedy within them, despair that we didn’t even suspect was there in the first place.
Washio Sumi is a Fuckin Elitist highlighted this despair perfectly, and Yuuki Yuuna is a Filthy Casual season 2 built off of it tremendously well. All of this was a result of something that I always thought YuYuYu pulled off well ever since episode 1 of season 1: character interactions!
No, YuYuYu characters aren’t really interesting. They are quite simple actually. However, they are all 100% believable: Yes, even the legendary hero who destroyed her own bodily functions 20 times in order to save the world is believable (and she’s also a riot to watch, KAGAWA LIFE!) Despite the impossible situations that these girls somehow manage to get through, they all act like normal girls their age. They like to make goofy jokes, they have understandable misunderstandings and are a bit selfish without knowing about it, they are just normal people, hero or otherwise. And while it seems a bit cheesy to say so, the fact that they are able to go through such hardships IS DUE TO THEIR FRIENDSHIP. Believe it or not, having good friends DOES help in getting through hardships, even in real life! However, it is through the flaws in their relationship where these characters shine: episode 5 is the true example of that. Even though these girls definitely care about each other, they still end up destroying each other’s feelings, just like real friends do. And it all seems… real somehow.
Yuuki Yuuna, the titular filthy casual of the series, is probably the most normal main character ever made. Loud, energetic, and obnoxious as fuck, her tendency to spout friendship speeches and chant her moves out loud makes her the epitome of annoying shounen protagonist. YuYuYu season 2 changes this however, adding layers of selfishness and misguided self righteousness into the mix, making her a genuinely flawed and internally conflicted character. She isn’t perfect by any means, as her usual skill of reading the mood and acting accordingly fails multiple times and she unintentionally hurts her friend’s feelings over and over again. Of course, there was nothing she can do about it, and that’s because unlike other shounen protagonists, Yuuki Yuuna can’t do everything. Here is where YuYuYu utilizes the "chanting the same line over and over again" trope pretty well. Season 1 had Yuuki Yuuna chanting the hero tenants as a way of powering up, in typical shounen fashion. In this season, Yuuki Yuuna chanting the hero tenants was actually enforcing her self righteous ideals as a hero, which is what caused her to hurt her friends in the first place: it is through her mentality that benefited her in the first season that ended up causing a lot of the conflict in the second season. I thought that twist behind Yuuki Yuuna's ideals was pretty well done on YuYuYu's part.
Yuuki Yuuna is a Filthy Casual always suffered a bit in the art department, something that wasn’t improved on much in this season. The character designs are fine, some of the background art is pretty neat or creative, but it’s the incredibly obvious switch to CG during action scenes that just make my blood boil. Of course, YuYuYu was never really about the action, it was always about the slice of life moments and the drama, but since almost all of the drama climaxes and resolutions involve action in some sort of way, the distracting CG plays a role in devaluing what YuYuYu was already infamous for being bad at.
However, most of that is made up for the, in my opinion, absolutely beautiful soundtrack. The melancholic, yet somehow epic soundtrack with soothing vocals. Does the name “NieR” sound familiar? This type of OST suits YuYuYu so well, as it perfectly matches the general vibe of the show: extremely melancholic and sad, on a scale of epic and godlike proportions. It is the soundtrack above anything else that hypes the viewer up for the ultimate climaxes in the story.
And what a climax it was: Yuuki Yuuna is a Filthy Casual season 2’s 5th episode set up the girls in quite literally the most impossible of impossible situations to get out of. It was set up in a way where the only two options were to save the world or save a friend. In typical YuYuYu fashion, both were saved in the end through the power of friendship, HOWEVER, it’s always the thought that counts. While the rest of the hero club were trying to save Yuuna, the fate of the world was simply in the back of their minds, which clearly showed that these girls prioritize their friend over the world no matter what. They even state to us directly that a world reliant on human sacrifice wasn’t worth saving. This decision to save their friend at the cost of the world, even if the world is saved anyways, shows us a lot about this group of friends, and thus I wasn’t as disappointed at the ending of this season as I was with season 1. And of course, in typical YuYuYu fashion again, we still don’t know the whole picture yet, and thus another sequel is likely going to happen. The opening of YuYuYu season 2 even shows us a little snippet of the characters of NoWaYu, aka Nogi Wakaba is an Anime Reviewer, which is a story about the first ever heroes. This will probably get an anime adaptation, which will expose another secret of the world of YuYuYu, which will then get expanded on further in another season of YuYuYu.
In short, despite the expected seemingly cop out ending of this season, the way Washio Sumi is a Fuckin Elitist paved way for this season of Yuuki Yuuna is a Filthy Casual, as well as how there is another prequel that has the potential to flesh out the lore of this world even more to be used in another sequel, combined with how the ending of this season had the main characters make an important decision that defines them as characters, I am extremely excited to see where this series can go in the future. But wherever it goes, expect a happy ending! After all, Yuuki Yuuna is a Filthy Casual.
This review does not contain spoilers but it will cover all the stories that is Washio Sumi arc, Yuuki Yuna Hero arc and sequel.
Many have compared it to Madoka, but I think this is more a Bokurano and Neon Genesis Evangelion combination(was lucky to decide to see the original Evangelion prior to YuYu). Basically we have chosen girls to become magical girls instead of persons piloting the mechas. The enemies are the Vertex (lets call them The Vertex, could be Vertices also, not a native English speaker). The Vertex are similar to the Angels in Evangelion.
The characters and interactions are complex up to
a point, however not as complex as Evangelion's characters. in YuYu everything revolves around friendship , dreams for the future, family, but mostly friendship. I guess in our real world we would be lucky to have at least a friend like Washio, Yuna, Fu...
The friendship depicted is strong they almost never argue or have qualms with eachother, that's a bit off and takes from the complexity of the characters. The best explored theme is the Hero theme and this is done nicely and this show in total has made me review what means to be a Hero. Take Superman for example, he is a hero, but why because he fights bad guys, always winning and protecting everyone. Yuna and the others are different, sacrifice, friendship is required to be a Hero and a motive of course like your life, family, etc. Of course here comes the best part - Shinju-sama, the God, the system, the ones that manage the system.
The system is never quite fully explained. What exactly is Shinju-sama, what are The Vertex, what is the world they live in, not fully explained yet the brilliance is there. It's a system, and the author decides to break the 4th wall with the system, it's you the viewer who decides if it's evil or not. By the end of the show you will have not an answer from the author but your own opinion. The Shinju-sama system is brilliant however, and you can see it at work in real life in corrupt states or developed nations alike. Of course if your political system provides all, you will fight for it ti protect what you have, if your system is corrupt but manipulates so yo see it as the provider of wealth (communism for example) you will be forced/manipulated to fight against it. If by any chance you rebel, the system will change enough so that you feel a change but you still are oppressed though you have no idea. Shinju-sama is the single best character of the series! The Vertex, not quite fully explained, but again you can choose what they are and what they represent.
The ending of the series is great and fitting, but requires previous knowledge of the YuYu novels and you need to watch it at least 2 times, once preferably after reading what you've seen as it's hard to understand...but so is Madoka and Evangelion.
What could have been done better is the interaction between our Heros and the system, takes a long time for them to figure what the relationship with it is. But of course, it's a society based on God, can you challenge and question God? Well, a certain character does in a monologue, and he's 5 years old, our heroes should do too!
Apart from this, Shinju-sama is inspired from Shinto beliefs, there are Shinto shrines everywhere in the show. There is something regarding the maiden sacrifice that bugs me though, I have not found any evidence of this happening in Japan apart from "building pillars" - human sacrifices to make certain buildings last. I've seen this very concept in Shikabane Hime, so I'm still investigating the roots of this idea.
The art is great, especially during the fight scenes, CGI and animation is blended nicely. The rest of the show in the normal world slice of life, animation is ok, some details are very nice to look at also. There are certain fan service moments, but not all the transformation scenes include such scenes for example, some episodes skip the transformation scenes altogether.
Sound is my biggest complain for this series, YuYu S1 suffers from it a lot, S2 and Washio have corrected this however. Most annoying are the seyuus, they seem to not have experience with the battle scenes, their cries really overpower the beautiful music in the background, something that does not happen with Kana Hanazawa's character. Also crying in this show is very abundant to the point it gets annoying in the loud pitch that they use.
All in all, it's a great show to watch, it's not for younger audiences because of the general theme , some blood, some drama, but it's a good show to reset your views on what means to be a Hero, what's worth fighting for (total opposite to the Nihilism present in Madoka or depression present in Evengelion).
As long as your world provides everything, you might just fight for it although the leaders have no good intentions for you. YuYu manages to raise a moral dilemma without even being labeled as psychological. Definitely an anime that is underrated, but is a must watch if you generally like Evangelion type stories and some themes that make you think about stuff that surrounds us.