YU-NO: A girl who chants love at the bound of this world.
by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 14 of
YU-NO: A girl who chants love at the bound of this world. ?
So right off the bat, aside from a token appearance by Eriko in her everyday look, this episode of YU-NO contains no Timecops. We're right back to business-as-usual for the series, balancing slow-burn dating-sim shenanigans with slower-burn mystery-unraveling. However, things do seem more briskly-paced going into this new story arc. The storytelling, at least in this introductory episode, seems tighter and more confident. It lacks the thrill-ride energy that reinvigorated the series for me over the past couple episodes, but I was still decently interested through most of it.
This story arc focuses on Kanna Hatano, who ticks off all the archetypical boxes for a mysterious blue-haired anime waif. (She's got bouts of strange illness and knows far more than she lets on!) As with the preceding Eriko, it's nice to have a focal girl whose personal mysteries tie into the ones Takuya is pursuing in the main plot. Rather than business or family politics, Kanna is directly linked to the multiplying timeline weirdness following Takuya, as well as knowledgeable about his father's role in it. More importantly, we learn all this within this single episode. That's the main testament to the storytelling so far; it's more focused on the information it needs to communicate, so it feels like there are fewer false starts and detours than the previous major arcs.
This is also due to a necessary change in approach for Takuya, which may not sit as well with anyone who enjoyed the more leisurely pacing of YU-NO before. I praised Takuya's cut-to-the-chase strategy at the end of the last episode, just hitting up Kanna to prompt her to unlock the next part of the story. But as the episode's first chunk goes along with him pressing that strategy, that old issue of this anime adaptation feeling a bit too game-like started to surface. For most of the conversations he tries to initiate, Takuya does come off like a visual-novel player mashing every choice possible to prompt the right conversation options. It creates a dissonance in the story I hadn't considered before, as I questioned whether the in-universe Takuya had any real interest in Kanna, or if he was just wildly spamming buttons in a dating sim because he knew she was the next quest to unlock.
As is often the case at this stage, YU-NO comes off more chained to its eroge storytelling than necessary. There's a whole segment of Takuya undressing Kanna and wiping her sweat down that just serves to let him see her pendant, which he's already taken note of in previous run-throughs. There's also already allusions to a love-triangle with previous love-interest Mio, as well as setting up a swimsuit detour at a beach next episode. Kanna herself also isn't that interesting in terms of personality. She exemplifies the soft-spoken archetype whose mechanical involvement in the story is more interesting than her own identity. Other parts of this episode demonstrate a renewed interest in the type of storytelling efficiency the previous Eriko mini-arc displayed, so it's tense in those moments when the series seems to be falling into bad habits.
But the rest of the episode does put a better foot forward. Kanna herself is still mostly a plot device dragooned to Takuya out of obligation, but what's unfolding around her is interesting enough to keep us engaged. That creepy old guy, Hojo, who we've glimpsed in previous arcs, appears again to flaunt the specter of a possible sexual relationship with Kanna. But the circumstances are danced around just enough that I found myself intrigued by the mystery. The eventually-revealed connection between Kanna and Takuya's dad offers some extra intrigue for this arc, while still feeling focused because it's all based around this one character. On top of that, this second half of the episode about Takuya spending the night at Kanna's house offers a couple of lively directorial choices, like a synchronized door-slam cut or a cinematic flashback to a conversation with Takuya's father.
However, the passing moments of interest I experienced in that damnable Mio arc taught me to give YU-NO's storytelling a wide berth. There's still plenty of odd places this storyline could go awry; Kanna's character is a big question mark whose success will depend on the story actually doing something interesting with her. And the show's treatment of its material continues to straddle the odd line of a slavish adaptation even as it feels more confident in its storytelling. But for coming back to a more ‘standard’ YU-NO plotline with fewer Timecops, I'll say this was a solid effort.
YU-NO: A girl who chants love at the bound of this world. is currently streaming on Crunchyroll and Funimation.
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