Takuya Arima is a young student whose father, a historian who has conducted various researches, disappeared recently. During a summer vacation Takuya receives a peculiar package from his missing father, along with a letter containing information about the existence of various parallel worlds. At first Takuya doesn't take it seriously, but soon he realizes that he possesses a device that allows him to travel to alternate dimensions. Is his father alive, after all? If so, where is he?
Watching YU-NO is like researching a piece of anime history disguised as a piece of entertainment media. It's something that really would have been far more impactful had it aired 20 years ago than it is today, but nevertheless it's interesting to watch for educational purposes perhaps more so than the story itself.
In essence, YU-NO is based on a classic visual novel from all the way back in 1996. At the time of its release, there wasn't really anything else like it on the market. Visual novels back then were still relatively unambitious and it wasn't really a medium attempting any grand storylines until YU-NO
came along. I guess you can say that YU-NO was for the visual novel medium what something like Evangelion was to anime for its time. Something that paved the way for so many other works in the decades thereafter. But in the same way that Evangelion is not normally considered anything revolutionary for people that watch it for the first time today, the same problem can be seen here as watching the anime adaptation of YU-NO 23 years after its original VN release will make it a lot more difficult seeing what the big deal is supposed to be.
It is however quite clear that a lot of famous anime have taken ideas and inspiration from YU-NO originally. Steins;Gate might be the most obvious parallel there seeing as its time leap machine is clearly based on YU-NO's reflection device, and its world line and attractor field concepts are pretty much directly taken from it as well. You can kind of think of YU-NO as the grandfather of all sci-fi and time travel-oriented visual novel stories, which has surely also spilled over into other mediums in Japan over the years considering that the game has always been amongst the top rated VNs in the country because of its legacy.
That said, the actual anime itself isn't really that special by today's standards. It goes through the various routes one at a time in a way which is not particularly unusual for VN adaptations but it comes with the regular problem of whichever heroine who's route it's not currently on seemingly disappearing from the story all of a sudden which feels quite unnatural. The characters themselves are also fairly bland, and you're often left with the feeling that a bunch of content has probably been cut out from the original since the pacing can be quite jumpy. As a result it can sometimes get confusing and it's a bit difficult to really settle down with it. Eventually things does start to make more sense about what is going on in the grander scheme of things but it takes quite a long time to get there, and once it gets to the final arc things will have changed so much it feels like you're watching a completely different anime than you did at the beginning. A better anime admittedly, but nevertheless the continuity of it all feels a bit strange as a result. On the other hand, the plot reveals towards the end are quite shocking in a lot of ways, and I mean that in a positive sense. It somehow managed to tie all the loose plot threads together in a much more complex manner of fashion than one would anticipate.
Overall though it's a bit difficult knowing whether to recommend YU-NO or not because the main reasons for watching it are not really related to the anime itself but rather just because of the source material's legacy and impact on the industry in the past two decades. It's something more worth watching to satisfy your curiosity and to learn something in the process rather than for what entertainment value it possesses by itself.
But as a side note I can in that case also mention that the 1080p remake of the visual novel is being officially released on PC in Japan and on multiple platforms in English on October 1st 2019. In other words, literally the same day as this anime ended. I'm pretty sure that's not a coincidence so we can definitely assume the main purpose of this adaptation was to boost sales and interests of the VN's remake, and I think I might as well just go ahead and oblige to that because if you haven't seen YU-NO yet and you've been thinking of whether you should do it or not... your best bet is most likely to just go ahead and pick up the just released VN remake instead. I'm probably going to do the same one of these days.
Throughout my years of anime watching, there’s something I’ve learned about game adaptations. That is, most of them fail to live up to hype and become a poor man’s version of its original game. This applies to games including the visual novel genre especially with remakes from decades ago. Watching Kono Yo no Hate de Koi wo Utau Shoujo confirms my suspicions and reminds myself to always lower expectations when coming into an anime adaptation based off of a video game.
With 26 episodes, you’d think the anime itself hits the sweet spot for its pacing. From what I’ve heard, the original game consists over 50
hours of gameplay with the main story covering at least 30 hours. When the anime adaptation got announced, I recall hearing plans about the series will “cover all the characters and routes from the original game”. Other comments they made includes making the character Mio “more tsundere” and that anime would “outdo the game’s dirty jokes”. Coming into this show as an anime viewer, these were on my low priority list. I didn’t choose to dive into this show looking for a tsundere character or dirty jokes. That’s what Hensuki is for.
But on my first viewing, I do admit the show itself carries a degree of mystery with is premise. The first episode actually managed to grab my attention despite the over usage of time travel tropes in the anime industry. Takuya comes into the show with a personality that blends the line between confident and cocky. When the staff mentioned about dirty jokes, they weren’t kidding about inserting them into dialogues and various conversations. Whenever Takuya interacts with the opposite sex, it seems he can’t hold back on making at least one perverted joke. This applies to characters such as Mio, Mitsuki, Kaori, Eriko, and to a lesser extent, Kanna. As the main character, he gets involved into a variety of mysteries that sparks some potential. From the first episode, he receives a package of mysterious objects and also encounters a mysterious blonde girl. After receiving a kiss, she disappears. From here, Takuya is thrown into a wave of conspiracies and his life changes forever. The mysterious object he receives plays an integral part of the plot that does extend well beyond the realm of time travel. It would also appear that the device has connections to his father’s legacy. Looking back now, I had to remind myself that this isn’t developer Mages’ only work dealing with time travel. The popular Steins;Gate franchise also used such ideas that made a thrilling sensation. For YU-NO, it’s not a show I want to compare to but both anime does contain time travel and parallel worlds. In fact, the first main story arc deals with Takuya using his device to time travel and making changes to the past to influence the present. Sound similar? However, the first anime arc did generate a thrilling sensation as we watch Takuya’s every move. Even with his personality, you have to admit Takuya has a lot of guts and isn’t afraid of taking risks. Remember, he is traveling through parallel worlds to fix mistakes and trying to unravel the mysteries of his father’s legacy. It’s the type of responsibility he bears on his shoulders that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
When watching YU-NO, I had to also remind myself that anything can happen in this show. Takuya is a daring protagonist who resolves to take risks that puts his own life into jeopardy if it means learning the truth. From his actions in the first half of the series, I did appreciate a protagonist who can keep me at the edge of my seat. Unfortunately, it’s the many character interactions he has with others that puts me off. From the half-baked sex jokes and lubricious dialogues, it’s actually had to take the guy seriously. This is especially true during Mio’s route/arc where I lost count the number of “dirty jokes” that were made. However, I don’t want to judge Takuya too much as the main lead. The show has its own female character roster too.
With each route focusing on a different plot (although connecting the overall core story), this anime had to at least make some of its female characters intriguing. I have to regret to say that outside of Eriko, there’s really no character that I declare as likable. For instance, both Ayumi and Kaori are adults who gets involved into complicated affairs. These two characters are added into the main arc for seemingly inspiring more drama for the sake of drama. On the other hand, mysterious characters such as Kanna makes little impact for the show altogether. I can’t recall one moment in this show where I can look back and say “oh, that was clever!” And of course, who can forget about Mio? The wealthy tsundere is a main target for Takuya’s butt jokes that makes a fool out of her character. The only female character I can tolerate is Eriko who has a more mature personality and actual brain with her school nurse outfit. Nonetheless, the first half of the anime will make or break the show if decide to accept these characters and Takuya’s role as the protagonist.
Then, the second half happened. We’re in 2019, an age where isekai is a popular trend and every season has a few of them. Guess what? Kono Yo no Hate de Koi wo Utau Shoujo isn’t going to let this chance slip away either.
Honestly, watching the second half of Kono Yo no Hate de Koi wo Utau Shoujo felt like watching a different show altogether. It almost feels like entering the Twilight Zone where logic is tossed out the window. With a brand new world and RPG-like setting, we follow Takuya’s adventures in this fantasy setting. Oh and remember the girl that kissed Takuya from the first episode? She’s back and takes on a more important role. Now, we are also introduced to other characters such as Amanda, Illia, and others who takes on the adventure trope. I probably had to pitch myself and asked if this was real. Make no mistake, I was actually quite thrown off by the certain change of the plot direction. The first half of the show contained mysteries that while not being well written did carry a thrilling sensation. But now, we got an otherworldly isekai adventure that isn’t any unique to what we’ve seen in recent years of the genre. To me, that’s a fair statement to make since from episode 19 and forward, this appears to me as what most isekai in modern era are. Using the fantasy setting, we have guilds, weapons, magic, and all the old tricks from the book. The only plausible part of the second half I commend is the more emotional content. With radical changes of the setting and story, it sometimes makes an impact and capitalize on its new plot. That being said, you should probably hold back and determine for yourself if it’s worth getting that far into this anime.
Studio feel obviously had an intention to make this show appealing to a modern audience. Compared to the game graphics of the late 1990s, the anime has a more modern standard unlike its old school generation. Of course, the franchise is known for its sexual content and the anime does contain some controversial content. It does omit what’s needed to be shown on television but the series still contains moments of sexual assault and some nudity. Fan service is not too explicit but definitely appear often thanks to Takuya and the tone of the plot. The character designs ranges from school girls to more mature adults with character expressions matching in tone with their various personalities. Finally, I will say that Mages does deserve some credit for making the anime production flow consistently. The anime adaptation was announced nearly 2 years ago and planning this was not an easy task. They obviously wanted to have the animation quality look polished in the end and that’s what we do get.
After 26 consecutive weeks of Kono Yo no Hate de Koi wo Utau Shoujo, I admit that the show made a bold attempt to showcasing the science fiction genre. Using the concept of sci-fi with time travel, isekai, and parallel worlds is no easy accomplishment. Mind you, this is a remake of the original series and I imagine the director wanted us to experience something refreshing. However, the show failed to capitalize on its creative ideas and instead gave us a mediocre story and lackluster cast. No thanks.
I'm an admittedly biased reviewer of this story considering I've read the original YU-NO visual novel from 1996. However, I don't believe this disqualifies me from giving an accurate review of the anime.
YU-NO is unique in that as the 'grandfather of the modern visual novel', its story is much of a prototype of some of the most popular time-travel/sci-fi stories today. It has influenced numerous highly regarded works such as Steins;Gate, Island, and even Clannad. This review, however, is about how I personally feel about the story of YU-NO being told in this anime adaption and why.
This story starts out as a slow burner,
which does pay off later when the development somewhat is on point. The positive parts of the story are the many shots of foreshadowing - dropping hints on things that could become very important pieces of the puzzle as we progress further into the story. Through the first arc, we see hints and glimpses towards what the protagonist is getting himself into and what he'll be trying to achieve. We are given parts and fragments throughout the beginning few arcs that seemingly are unrelated but ultimately tie together later on. The first arc I feel was a great way of introducing the characters, the setting, and a general idea of the mysteries. Through discovering the suffering and pain Takuya's stemother Ayumi has been through, Takuya is able to not only help her resist the urge to succumb from the pain, but grow closer to her and by doing so, stumble upon information regarding GeoTechnics, their research, his father's life, what his father's goal may have been, and above all, how and why his father has given him a device that he can use to travel in the past to different worldlines.
The story itself isn't one for the faint-hearted. It's dark, brutally realistic, and deals with mature concepts and themes in a respectful manner that most other anime tend to completely avoid. The foreshadowing pays dividends, as many of the things that have seemed confusing in previous episodes now make sense in context with information that is later revealed.
If I had to describe the story with one word, it would be "complex". The two "halves" of the story are very isolated from one another, yet at the end combine back together into one to make a complete package.
Unfortunately the script-writing really falls flat with the atmosphere and tone. Scenes that were truly haunting and bone chilling, filling you with a sense of dread in the visual novel, have lost much of their impact and it really shows because many of the big plot reveals are "so what, why should we care?" moments, and it sucks because the story is so much better than how it was adapted. Furthermore, some of the changes to the plot resulted in some very glaring plot-holes that didn't exist in the original story, and were never actually addressed leaving you wondering what the script-writers were thinking.
What frustrated me the most is how senselessly some of the scenes were adapted. It's almost as if they completely changed the tone, trying to add comedy when really they overdid it and it came off as stupid and tone-deaf. The comedy when done well was fine, they just inserted it too much into some of the more serious scenes, which wasn't a problem in the visual novel because it was more "dry humor" than "idiotic humor".
Ultimately, for YU-NO to be properly adapted, it would have required most likely a) a different studio and b) more episodes in order to truly flesh out the plot and give impact to the many thrilling scenes that were in the visual novel.
In the end, the changing of the plot to fit anime format wasn't done terribly, and this is one of the better adapted visual novel stories I've seen. It simply falls flat in areas that, if had been done with much thought and expertise, could have really elevated the plot to the level that it was in the visual novel. The script-writing dropped the ball, honestly. It's a shame because a 10/10 story and plot was reduced to at best a 6/10.
If there's one pretty positive part of YU-NO, in my opinion it would be the diverse character cast. Unlike most anime with a high school protagonist and a cast of all high schoolers, YU-NO actually surrounds the protagonist with more adult characters than high school-aged characters. Because the characters surrounding Takuya are professionals with real-world life experience, this gives more credibility to scenarios where Takuya finds himself in danger or encounters obstacles a high schooler usually wouldn't.
Takuya himself is quite possibly the furthest thing from a self-insert protagonist that you could encounter in anime. His personality is defined: nonchalant, almost in a way that makes him seem like a huge jerk, as he's constantly making wisecracks to the dismay of others. It might seem as though he doesn't care about the people in his life with his flippant remarks and the way he's constantly having people do things for him (mainly Yuuki), but his carefree attitude in a way is almost an advantage for him because when he gets serious, people almost immediately notice it and take him seriously. Also, by acting like a complete buffoon, he's also able to play off some more inquisitive questions as a joke without others suspecting that he's trying to search for answers.
All of the other characters are well-built and each have their own motives for their actions. The one drawback, however, is that the characters are mainly used as plot devices to advance the story - Takuya learns valuable pieces of information about the world and mysteries surrounding him through interacting with each character during their individual arcs, and the arcs focus on the story more than developing the characters, which causes some of them to fall flat.
And because the story moves so fast, there's barely enough time to develop much attachment at all to the wide cast, leaving you to wonder why you should even care about them at all, and making them feel disposable. The sadder character moments in the visual novel actually had impact because the characters were more fleshed-out and the plot wasn't advancing at break-neck speed. Here, however, again, the sadder moments just felt gruesome and unnecessary and had little to no impact.
Ohhhh boy, here we go. The first few episodes were very dry and barren of music, negatively impacting my experience of the story. Even when the sountrack expanded later throughout the show, it was repetitive and lacking. I expected way more from Evan Call, the composer of the Violet Evergarden OST.
The OST from the visual novel is one of my most favorite OSTs ever. They used exactly THREE TRACKS from it, and instead opted for an anime-original soundtrack for the rest. That really upset me. Even without comparing the anime OST to the VN OST, the anime OST clearly is not good enough.
Music is a valuable tool for emotional impact, and the OST in my opinion didn't cut it at all whatsoever.
The voice acting is absolutely fantastic. Specifically Kaori Nazuka, as Ayumi Arima, has portrayed incredible emotion and is acting with a lot of passiont. Nothing bad to say about the rest of the cast. Maaya Uchida is great as always and Rie Kugimiya, the tsundere queen, has returned - albeit not with many appearances, but she's back nonetheless! In the second half of the series with characters that I won't mention, the voice acting was truly incredible. Very passionately done all across the board.
The sound effects...have had some wonky moments. I'll leave it at that.
OP/EDs are all fantastic. Konomi Suzuki in particular has done an incredible job with the ED1 and OP2. The second ending is probably my favorite of the four themes!
The art itself is a 7/10. Love the detailed backgrounds and general drawings. The character model changes weren't that great because they're much more generic than they were before, removing the "gritty" feeling that they once had. The animation, however, is a 3/10. This adaptation is basically a slideshow, the animation is that non-existent. The story deserved so much better.
For a fan of the original visual novel, I can say that while this adaptation dropped the ball, it was at least an enjoyable watch. I would recommend it to people who like mysteries with a lot of plot twists, but not to anyone that wants an entirely coherent story. Although it is not a true 1:1 adaptation, changing and reordering quite a bit of scenes, the way they adapted the story - showcasing all the important information - only cut out some unnecessary scenes.
This wasn't what I was hoping for out of this adaptation, but it was average! If you want the optimal experience, I do highly recommend reading either the original PC-98 port or the remake that's been released on Steam. The story will actually blow your mind.
If you are into shows that cover alternate dimensions, time travel and pretty much traveling between dimensions then this might just be the one you've been looking for. It gives a lot vibes from Steins Gate, one of my all time favorites and it honestly kept me desiring for more until the final arc.
The final arc is notorious. It is awfully obvious that they simply just ran out of episodes as things will seem and feel very rushed story development wise. The first few episodes of the final arc will definitely blow you away by the new things it will add to the overall
plot. The execution is just so poor. It is honestly saddening. And the ending is an even bigger let down.
That aside, everything up until the last arc is simply amazing. If it weren't for the final arc I would've rated this show a lot higher on average. The characters are still quite dull though. Some great characters get randomly killed off, others get introduced and never get any screen time afterwards. Others are just there to make the MC seem like a wise person. The characters themselves barely hold any presence which doesn't make them outstanding or memorable. Plenty of them were just made extremely unintelligent especially in specific situations where many solutions were present. But we need to see a shining MC. I don't like that kind of thing in shows.
I did like the art style it was clean and neat. Not only that some of the animations were great. The twist at the final arc makes it even better animation wise. They definitely had quality and a budget.. just wish they had more episodes for a proper ending...
Sound effects were from good quality, maybe even great. Despite the dull characters the VA's did a good job delivering emotions.
Finally the story. The whole story is actually amazing. I dig time travel and alternate dimensions and this show covers those 2 topics in a very interesting way. Even with the final arc all questions got answered, even if it was in a rushed manner, the story was complete. There certainly were annoying moments and moments that I do have my doubts/concerns about but all in all it was quite enjoyable.
The final arc will be a major let down but the other arcs are so impressive that it still scores an average of 7. If the final arc was of the same quality I would rate it a 9 with only the characters being the thing weighting the overall show down.
Do note that my opinion isn't factual. You can disagree with me and you are free to do so.