YU-NO: A girl who chants love at the bound of this world.
by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 8 of
YU-NO: A girl who chants love at the bound of this world. ?
So either YU-NO chilled out and cut down on the orbital bombardment of clues this week, or simply being exposed to so many at once in the last episode has granted me hyper-awareness of visual novel story threads. My point is that the show felt far less convoluted this time, and if my spontaneous development of superpowers is the only explanation for that, then I'll take it.
The good news is that this episode is able to focus on its clear through-lines in a way that feels like we're actually building to something in this new arc. The bad news is that the current focus remains on YU-NO's early-arc antics of relationship-building for characters who will be much more interesting once they're actually participating in time-travel adventures. Mio seems to have manifested as the designated heroine (and thus love-interest) for this storyline, so a lot of time is spent with her and Takuya checking tapestries and rocks for clues while ostensibly becoming closer. So even as the more grandiose elements of YU-NO remain on standby, in theory learning more about the relationship between these kids could carry the story.
Unfortunately, it's all as unexciting in practice as Ayumi's half-baked corporate drama was for her arc. The issue is a pretty fundamental one for a romance plotline: Takuya and Mio's relationship is utterly devoid of chemistry. Even their petty squabbling reads less like sexual tension and more like Takuya being an annoying jackass to Mio while she tolerates him for plot-motivated reasons. The story tries to make more of this, specifically dropping in the detail that Mio is mad at Takuya because she once walked in on him fooling around with Mitsuki, hence her broken heart and their current strained connection. But there's so little justification for her interest, and the supposed sexy scene is so devoid of context, that it still boils down to the show asking us to take these characters' feelings at face value. Takuya had more believable chemistry with his step-mom!
It's frustrating, because when it isn't spinning its wheels trying to be a middling romcom, this episode does alright following up on some of the concepts it shotgunned out last week. We find out what Niarb is, which only leads to the further question of why Ryuzoji can hypnotize people. And Mio's actually sharp enough to notice the connection between the ruins in the tapestry and the rock on top of Mount Sankaku, meaning they'll hopefully be excavating that sooner than I thought. It also says a lot that even though this arc is supposed to be selling me on Takuya and Mio's connection, I find myself way more intrigued by the vague hints they've dropped about whatever was happening between him and Mitsuki.
The problem is that YU-NO can't make enough of all that potential to carry the episode, so it falls back on more ‘typical’ dating-sim elements to pad out the runtime. There's an odd detour with a massage chair that hasn't amounted to anything yet. There's an interlude where Takuya goes to Mio's house to do more research, only to walk in on her changing and get chased out when her mayor father grabs his shotgun. There's a driving B-plot about Mio's father getting embroiled in some scandal and wanting to send Mio away to keep her out of it. It also affords some drama from the burgeoning Takuya/Mio romance to their mutual friend Yuki. The little guy has clearly wanted Mio to step on him for a while now, so he lingers just out of sight to get crushed overhearing Mitsuki shedding some light on the obligatory romantic dynamic.
More than anything, the mishandling of the relationship between Takuya and Mio, which should be a driving factor of this storyline, sheds an unfortunate light on the shortcomings of its protagonist. It had become easier for me to ignore Takuya's uninteresting points, since we were mostly watching him fumble around with the time machine in amusing ways, and his previous goal was saving Ayumi's life, a simple heroic act that I could buy on his part. But so far, the most serious issue the show has set up for Mio is that she might need to move away, and I simply don't buy the connection between her and Takuya being so strong that it's worth fighting for alongside all this world-ending mystery-solving. With the actual plot still barely cresting ‘decent’ and absent any engaging character development, this episode ultimately falls flat.
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