YU-NO: A girl who chants love at the bound of this world.
by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 10 of
YU-NO: A girl who chants love at the bound of this world. ?
I've regularly criticized the slow pacing and awkward predictability of YU-NO, but at least those things have been consistent. All the build-up we've weathered so far takes us into the underground ruins so things can finally start happening (and un-happening, what with the time-travel). So instead, my biggest criticism of this episode is that it spends its whole first half on a dry run for Takuya and Yuki's subterranean voyage that ends up not mattering in the wake of choices that Takuya makes afterward.
Ultimately that might be for the best, since this initial showing of Takuya Arima and the Temple of Doom is the lesser of the two plots even before it gets Groundhog-Day'd away. For whatever reason, YU-NO lends the exploration of ruins at the heart of most of the story's mysteries fairly little atmosphere, punched up only by Yuki telling lame ghost stories and Takuya solving a rote keyhole puzzle. He brings back the joke about seeing these kinds of things in video games later in the episode, in case you were worried that particular gag wouldn't get overused. But it's frustratingly devoid of any intrigue or suspense, at least until Yuki suddenly displays a burst of somewhat genuine raw emotion, and then runs off to get himself impaled.
Now that's the kind of ridiculous escalation I tune into YU-NO for! I'd honestly enjoy the series more if it could consistently play up how stupidly death-prone everyone in Takuya's orbit can be on account of him having the remote control from Click. (Does anyone remember Click? With Adam Sandler? Anybody?) So of course to spite my desire for cheap thrills, instead of bringing Yuki back in to inevitably get killed repeatedly in another ridiculous montage like his stepmom went through, Takuya just opts to bar Yuki from coming back into the ruins entirely. So much for the little guy's quest for resolution with Mio, to say nothing of all the time we just watched the duo spend on that pointless attempt.
Indeed, taking Mitsuki with him into the ancient backstory cave turns out to be the best decision Takuya could have made, for himself, Yuki, and the audience. Okay, watching him fast-forward through all the cave puzzles and get into saucy fanservice pratfalls with Mitsuki is still kind of lame, but it's actually in service of some strong payoff partway through this episode. This time it's Mitsuki pulling a gun on Takuya and demanding he hand over the Reflector Device! After all my criticism of YU-NO's predictability, I'm all too eager to give it credit for a plot twist I didn't see coming, and I have to admit that its success hinged on the breezy chemistry the two have shared as the one brighter spot of this mostly murky arc.
There is a caveat to this big shock, of course. It seems Mitsuki is actually being compelled by Ryuzoji using his ‘Niarb’ power to attack Takuya for the device rather than playing any kind of con herself. But it's still such a sudden escalation (that doesn't immediately get erased like Yuki's grisly fate earlier) that I'm willing to give it the benefit of the doubt, despite my usual distaste for mind-control as a cop-out. Mitsuki's now a significantly interesting wrench in this story instead of a mere intriguing aside, and she would have sealed Takuya's fate if he hadn't discovered another one of this cave's hilariously weak floors.
This unfortunately drops him down to Mio and the less interesting part of this story arc again. The narrative is still determined to sell these two as the main couple in this timeline, so in between repetitions of world-building on those magic glowing rocks and the ancient Takanoamahara people, we have to endure what passes for sexual tension between them, which includes Mio having to take off her wet clothes and plead for Takuya to kiss her because she's just so sure she's going to die in this cave. I'm sure there are people in the audience who are here for this romance, but it just gives me more of a headache than one of Ryuzoji's mind-control trips. I at least appreciated the revelation that Mio pegged Yuki as the culprit behind the fliers almost as quickly as the audience did.
This arc continues to be a frustrating low for YU-NO after the previous one at least gave us an idea of the (however momentary) highs it could hit when it just cut loose. The middle portion with Takuya and Mitsuki is just enough of a roller-coaster to get me interested in the potential of where this storyline could go. But the first half with Yuki is so disposable that the show itself immediately retcons it, while the segment we leave on between Takuya and Mio sees the characters as stuck in neutral as they've ever been, except now they're also stuck in a cave. But hey, at least we got a new location.
YU-NO: A girl who chants love at the bound of this world. is currently streaming on Crunchyroll and Funimation.
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