YU-NO: A girl who chants love at the bound of this world.
by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 13 of
YU-NO: A girl who chants love at the bound of this world. ?
It's astounding what some half-decent pacing can do for a story. The Eriko arc of YU-NO wraps in just two episodes, where we get more detailed revelations, game-changers, and straight-up stuff happening than in the past two multi-episode arcs combined. This part of YU-NO shifts away from slow-burn sci-fi visual novel into full-blown time-travel action-adventure, with highly entertaining results.
Even the environment the story takes place in seems aware that some major climax is afoot. A literal storm is brewing outside as Takuya remarks that things seem especially different in this new timeline. The action picks up almost immediately with Takuya's boss fight against the mind-controlled Mitsuki, complete with time-traveling his way out of getting captured by Ryuzoji the first time he fails. (Despite being desperate to find the Reflector Device he knows Takuya possesses, apparently Ryuzoji didn't bother to pat our hero down when he captured him). It's an opening filled with excitement that pulls us back into the story.
Soon Eriko is whisking Takuya back to Ryuzoji's house to tamper with the body of his recently deceased mother, and to break down a wall filled with disembodied bones. This prompts Eriko to explain that the unseen ‘curse’ monster roaming around was actually Ryuzoji's consciousness in the body of someone named ‘Abel’, with some dimension-hopping time criminal taking over Ryuzoji's body. Around this point, I momentarily flashed back to the big revelations of the previous arc being such comparative stunners as ‘Yuki has a crush on Mio’ and ‘the lightning strikes on Mount Sankaku are not natural’. Those reveals were hardly excitement central, especially compared to finding out that Eriko the Timecop is chasing down extra-dimensional criminals.
When confronted with an extended flashback (or flash-forward?) like the one detailing Eriko's past (or future?) in a show like YU-NO, I might normally brace myself for more tedious info-dumping. But in this case, the informational detour delivers brand-new information that adds a completely new dimension to the story we've seen so far. The previous arcs all unfortunately proved how much of a slog it was to watch Takuya time-travel around various points in a weekend, so blowing the scope of this fourth-dimensional threat to a much grander scale is a welcome escalation. On top of that, it gives us backstory and motivation on Eriko's character to a degree the previous focal girls only wish they'd gotten, all tying back into the world and mechanics of the story.
Granted, it doesn't give the whole game away either, ensuring there will still be plenty of mysteries to unravel as the show goes on. We still aren't fully sure what the monsterized body of Eriko's boyfriend Abel is doing, or why he's apparently big on removing people's torsos. And we also aren't clear on why Time-Pirate-Ryuzoji wants the Reflector Device. But the point is that there are enough dots laid out for us to connect, and we got them in an entertaining way that didn't take up a whole month of episodes. Couldn't YU-NO have been this entertaining from the beginning?
I'm not blown away by everything this episode does, and even at its best, it remains an engaging yet goofy pulp sci-fi adventure. Poor Mitsuki goes and gets herself killed again, with Eriko remarking that her dying to save Takuya and make him feel bad is just her destiny, which is obviously a real raw deal. He makes some remarks about averting that fate, which makes me hopeful for Mitsuki. More frustratingly, much of the information that Takuya used to get through this run is seemingly taken from him, as Eriko neuralizes him ‘for his safety’. Given that we still know all this stuff, I have to question the reasoning behind this mechanic (to say nothing of my curiosity on how it factored into the original game). On the other hand, there's something to be appreciated about Takuya just walking up to Kanna and going “Okay it's your turn now, what's your story?”
I don't expect YU-NO to keep up this kind of intensity as it heads for what seems to be another teenage angst arc, but that isn't going to stop me from praising this short reprieve, proving that the story works best when it leans into its silliness. It's much easier for me to forgive idiotic character writing or unsatisfactory conclusions when I also get to see Eriko don Timecop power armor to fight Ryuzoji's extra-dimensional Stand powers. Moving forward, I'll have to at least partially rate YU-NO based on how many Timecops it features per episode.
YU-NO: A girl who chants love at the bound of this world. is currently streaming on Crunchyroll and Funimation.
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