YU-NO: A girl who chants love at the bound of this world.
by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 12 of
YU-NO: A girl who chants love at the bound of this world. ?
After spending six weeks dumping on it, it looks like I owe the Mio arc of YU-NO at least a slight apology. This new story arc, which pairs Takuya up with the infinitely more interesting Eriko, pretty much hits the ground running, but it's only able to do that because much of the information powering it was set up in that preceding storyline. Granted, it probably didn't need a month and change to prepare us, but at least all that setup is finally being utilized in an interesting way. So congratulations, Mio arc, you weren't completely pointless after all!
All joking aside, this refreshing episode demonstrates how engaging YU-NO can be once it stops dragging its feet. First off, there are some amusing in-universe mechanics to the new arc; Takuya, having done this so many times, starts fast-forwarding through dialogue and information he's already heard, like hitting the ‘skip’ button on the text in a visual novel. After a couple of time-wasting teases (including reused animation), it's good to see that the show doesn't intend to take us through all this minutiae a third time. But even the new information is dispensed with surprising speed. Takuya just comes out and informs Mitsuki of Ryuzoji using his Niarb on her, and not long after, Eriko reveals she knows about Takuya's time-travel and may be celebrating a Groundhog Day of her own.
I'll admit I've got a bias toward Eriko and her arc, at least insofar as I always find her more interesting than the preceding Mio. But she immediately justifies that interest in this episode, as we cut straight to solving ‘The Mystery of Why Her Clothes Were on That Bed’. Granted, it's not much of a conundrum; it turns out she was sleeping on the floor the way Ryuzoji does and muttering mysterious clues to herself, but the point is that they haven't been dragging reveals out too long so far. We're just one episode in, but there's already more going on than most of the show has delivered yet.
Already giving Eriko direct ties to the primary supernatural parts of the plot is also a big plus. Eriko already knowing about Takuya's time-travel keeps it a relevant aspect of the show even as he doesn't actually use it much this episode. We get some action by the end of this episode, as Eriko throws on her best Ghost Sweeper Mikami cosplay and does some sick ninja moves to get into Ryuzoji's backyard. This feels like the sort of stuff an anime adaptation of a visual novel can play to its advantage, showing the exciting parts of the show in a fun way rather than replicating all the dialogue and exposition.
Granted, outside of the Eriko stuff, this is still an episode of YU-NO. There's still some weird repetition in how this looping story is told, such as seemingly getting just a few new parts of Kaori and Ryuzoji's conversation each time we witness it. And poor Mitsuki still doesn't seem to be getting her due. She finds out about the Niarb from Takuya but can't defend herself from it, resulting in an immediately creepy scene where an abusive Ryuzoji magically gaslights her. Then she drives out of nowhere and gets in a car wreck at the end of the episode. Even the parts with Eriko aren't safe from this show's low points, as she gets crammed into a locker with Takuya to spy on Ryuzoji and Mitsuki. The would-be intense psychic abuse scene keeps getting deflated with asides about Takuya's boner and Eriko's boobs. I have no idea how much of this was an equivalent sidebar titillation in the ero-game source material, but given how much of this episode prioritizes its entertainment qualities better, it might have been preferable to excise these kinds of distractions.
Because the rest of this episode works better, those negative points are mere annoying distractions rather than extra frustrations in an already boring story. It's just a question of how much setup you can tolerate before getting to these satisfying payoffs, and another question of how directly the less time-sensitive visual novel format can translate to animation without wearing out its welcome. Granted, it's also possible that this episode only seems better in contrast to the weeks of slogging that came before. It may be a sunk-cost fallacy affecting YU-NO that lets me embrace this episode's strengths. But for all the pretentious portents a show like this rides on, the story hasn't been deep, and this lighter episode was mostly a fun time. I'm just glad this new storyline is making good use of the baton it was handed.
YU-NO: A girl who chants love at the bound of this world. is currently streaming on Crunchyroll and Funimation.
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