YU-NO: A girl who chants love at the bound of this world.
Episode 7

by Christopher Farris,

How would you rate episode 7 of
YU-NO: A girl who chants love at the bound of this world. ?

It's time for YU-NO to kick off a new story arc, which apparently means it's time to bombard the audience with exposition and plot points that will be picked up in much more detail later on. Seriously, this episode is like the comedy credo of the movie 'Airplane!' but applied to mystery writing: don't worry if that last joke clue didn't interest you, because there are ten more coming up right behind it. The result is an episode that certainly acts like it's interesting, but with so many threads and no sense of where they go yet, it's more likely that it will be more interesting to rewatch once all this has actually coalesced down the line.

Perhaps it's unfair to be that hard on YU-NO as it's just coming out of the gate again into a new arc. Aside from being saddled with some serious info-dumping, this episode also seems to have been tasked with saving the staff some time and money. Takuya being booted back to the beginning of his adventure means he stumbles into repeats of scenes from earlier episodes, albeit with context and dialogue tweaks. If you're already trying to watch this show in an ‘interactive’ capacity, seeking to solve the mysteries at the same time Takuya does, then this find-six-differences gimmick might be a fun diversion. But even after new events start kicking in, it's hard not to notice that this exposition-filled episode has more talking heads than usual even for this show.

So as for evaluating the actual plot as a progression of events that happen, I find myself somewhat at a loss. In practice, it's a simplistic procession of Takuya waking up to find out that a few things are different from the last time he was here, then walking over to Ryuzoji's house with his friends to chat ominously for a while. After being teased as a somewhat vague threat so far (on account of that whole ‘pointing a gun at Takuya in the first episode’ thing), it looks like Ryuzoji will be more involved in the story for this arc. It's implied that he's undergone a shift in behavior that even the ‘regular’ people in the story notice, though Mitsuki's nebulous connections to Takuya and her getting the same kinds of headaches that signify time-travel suggest that she may be more involved in all this sci-fi business than she's letting on. Kaori's continued connections to Ryuzoji in this timeline are floated as well, and Mio insists on tagging along with Takuya and Yuki. All these people just hanging around in this inaugural episode feels like playing a guessing game of which characters will actually be important yet.

It makes me wonder if the sheer number of mysterious details are meant to be red herrings to prevent viewers from guessing where all this is going. The trip to Ryuzoji's house alone has enigmatic encounters with his supposedly-senile mother, references to mysterious time-traveling storehouses, and poring over a weird tapestry for clues. This episode also places more emphasis on the mysterious ‘curse’ of the mountain construction site, with the tapestry seeming to depict that shrine/cave thing from the area. There's also stories of Takuya seemingly getting time-travel headaches when he was a little kid, so I won't be too surprised if he ends up closing that loop and going back to his own childhood for some reason later in the series.

That comes out of the elaboration on the intertwining pasts of Ryuzoji and Takuya's parents, including the revelation of his real mom, apparently named both Keita and Keiko, who certainly looks like she's related to that titular naked elf girl who popped up in the first episode and hasn't been seen since. All this information feels like the most reliable building-blocks we're given amongst all the chaff of otherwise context-free setup clues in this episode. And it barely has time to land before Ryuzoji turns mysteriously evil and demands Takuya hand back the time machine again, because this kid can't seem to learn to be more on-guard around the guy that's already tried to shoot him once. It's a true sign of how much the storytelling is unraveling when that tense encounter resolves itself with Ryuzoji shouting out some keywords and then everything going back to normal so Takuya and his friends can leave. ‘Niarb’ and ‘The Factor’ are exactly the kind of portentous nonsense terms I know to expect from a story like this, but not in a good way.

This episode is pretty annoying on several levels, as a poorly-presented mess of concepts that mean nothing so far, even though we've spent six episodes with this story already. There are a few cursory references to Takuya integrating knowledge from his previous run-through into his present actions, but for every sharp observation about the connection between Ryuzoji and Kaori, we're stopping on ten momentary detours to set up things like why Takuya's teacher disappeared and left her clothes behind. There are right ways to pace out puzzles, but this is too much all at once, with no flair or ambition to its presentation. It's less like watching an episode of this show and more like reading a forum post on it with all the spoiler tags turned on.

Rating:

YU-NO: A girl who chants love at the bound of this world. is currently streaming on Crunchyroll and Funimation.


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