YU-NO: A girl who chants love at the bound of this world.
Episode 9

by Christopher Farris,

How would you rate episode 9 of
YU-NO: A girl who chants love at the bound of this world. ?

After the dry exposition of episode 7 and the clunky attempts at romance of episode 8, what about YU-NO isn't working out this week? It's that dang pacing again, as the series pains itself to start lumbering toward an arc climax, only to still feel delayed in its payoff. Episode 9 pads itself out with mild and obvious twists, repeating many beats from the previous weeks.

The biggest point of suspense revolves around the cliffhanger from last week. Someone put up fliers revealing the corruption of Mio's mayor father, with the resulting scandal sealing her fate for studying abroad and driving a wedge (well, an even bigger one) between her and Takuya, since she assumes he did it. There's supposed to be a major mystery surrounding who really hung up the fliers and why, but within the first few minutes it became obvious that Yuki was the culprit. Even if his attempts to springboard off the situation into Mio's good graces didn't make you suspicious, the show makes it increasingly clearer each time he shows up, zooming in on some newly sinister expression he makes while he pulls his hood down and skulks around the halls.

Even if guessing the culprit wasn't supposed to be a challenge, I was at least interested in how the show would handle an antagonistic turn by the previously meek Yuki. Unfortunately, it blows that opportunity when Yuki spontaneously confesses to his crime, seemingly citing a blind fit of jealousy that Takuya seems oddly accepting of. Part of me wonders if this ‘evil Yuki’ state won't manifest in a more serious way down the line, as ridiculous as that may sound on its face. If there's anything I learned from the twists of the previous Ayumi-focused arc, it's that YU-NO is better when it swings into absurdity, simply by virtue of making the story more interesting.

Everything else about this episode was as meandering and dull as the show has ever been. It's rather leisurely-paced for how quickly our cast is supposedly hurtling toward a new key turn. Takuya and Mitsuki take their time running down some red herring ideas about the flyer-culprit, and I briefly thought I might be able to give Takuya credit for some intellectual growth, but that wasn't to be. Given his innocuous reaction to Kaori's offers of investigation assistance, he hasn't properly learned not to trust her either. The episode also tries to get away with some hilariously clunky exposition in a conveniently-timed newscast that Eriko flips on. The TV just happens to be sitting in the shot, despite never being seen in this infirmary until now.

As is often the case, I'm still just invested enough in YU-NO to want to see where this goes; it's certainly not all bad. The show drip-feeds us some bigger clues as to how its timey-wimey narrative works, with Ayumi hinting to Takuya that the ways he helps people in the timelines he leaves behind might have a ripple effect that betters their situation across dimensions. Even beyond the metaphysical explanations, it's nice to see Takuya remembering that he should encourage his stepmom to take care of herself, though she doesn't appear to be anywhere near the suicidal tragedy of her other timeline. There's some other broad expansions of story elements, like revealing that Mitsuki's recurring headaches might not be due to time-travel, but instead as a result of Ryuzoji using his hypnotism powers to mess with her somehow. I've also got to reiterate how intrigued I am by the relationship history that Mistuki and Takuya share. There's some chemistry there that the show has conveyed shockingly well. And on a production level, this episode also looks good enough for me to compliment. For as much as I bag on Yuki, some of his character animation is nice enough.

But all this focus on incidental positive elements only speaks to how unimpressed I was by the main body of the episode. YU-NO's storytelling seems trapped by its old-school visual-novel approach, where more setup and downtime between big developments is meant to equate to more suspense. But snippets of interesting world-building and uninteresting character drama aren't enough to fill out this week's runtime. When YU-NO wastes too much time on unsatisfying material, it can go from merely boring to actively frustrating to watch.

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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