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Score: 6.70/10

Kono Yo no Hate de Koi wo Utau Shoujo YU-NO

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

Alt Title : Yuno

JP Title : この世の果てで恋を唄う少女YU-NO

Year : 2019

Genre : Drama, Sci-Fi

Season : Spring 2019

Status : Complete

Rating : PG-13 - Teens 13 or older

Episodes : 26/26

Duration : 23 min. per ep.

Studios : feel.

Synopsis

Takuya Arima is a young student whose father, a historian who has conducted various researches, disappeared recently. During a summer vacation Takuya receives a peculiar package from his missing father, along with a letter containing information about the existence of various parallel worlds. At first Takuya doesn't take it seriously, but soon he realizes that he possesses a device that allows him to travel to alternate dimensions. Is his father alive, after all? If so, where is he?

I’m having a bit of a hard time getting a firm grasp on this episode. In part that’s because it commits one of my personal cardinal sins of storytelling by introducing far too many named characters right off the bat, but it’s really more an issue of simultaneously feeling like I’ve seen/read this story at least a hundred times before and recognizing that this is desperately trying to do something different with the parallel worlds formula. That makes it a mix of both the interesting and the tired – elements such as the obviously evil man, the too-cute mom figure, and the mysterious naked girl are as grizzled as the evil guy’s beard, but Yuki, protagonist Takuya’s best friend, seems like he’s got more going on than the usual supporting character, and Mio, one of the many potential love interests, thus far doesn’t fall into any of the usual tropes, or at least not excessively. That does seem to indicate that there’s some potential here. Likewise some good details are present in the artwork that remind us that the story is based on a game that originally came out in 1996 – from Takuya’s house phone to the neat stack of coins on top of the payphone Yuki uses, it’s a nice subtle way to let us know when the story takes place.

That is largely overwhelmed, however, by the more glaring issues with the episode. For one, Takuya’s kind of obnoxious in a blandly flirty way; his little trick of leaping out at new student Kanna and stripping is pretty gross, as is his propositioning his homeroom teacher, no matter how much she seems to be in on the joke. While I appreciate that there are attempts being made to show that Takuya’s not just a twit, but rather a person with both awkward and serious components to his personality, the tendency to lean in to the supposedly funnier pieces undermines much of that. The same can be said of the “mysterious” aspects of the story, which feel rushed as plainly evil Dr. Ryuzoji asks about artefacts that Takuya’s recently deceased father may have left him and lightening strikes occur on the tidal island where stands a stone with strange inscriptions that Mio and Yuki are currently investigating. In the episode’s defense, this may be needed to get the story going; visual novels have more leeway with world building than anime does in terms of time granted.

The most interesting aspect of the episode for me is the line Takuya reads in a book sent to him by his father: Time is reversible, history is not. That could have a lot of implications for the story and the idea of parallel worlds going forward, as it seems to say that you can go back in time all you want, but you’ll never be able to change actual historical events. While the idea that history is resistant to change is a fairly common one in time travel stories, I haven’t seen it as often in parallel world tales, and that could be where this series manages to make its mark. It may be worth giving this a second episode just to see if it tones down some of its less appealing aspects and gets into this idea. You can also free Kono Yo no Hate de Koi wo Utau Shoujo YU-NO anime watch online and free anime download.

Watching YU-NO is like researching a piece of anime history disguised as a piece of entertainment media. It's something that really would have been far more impactful had it aired 20 years ago than it is today, but nevertheless it's interesting to watch for educational purposes perhaps more so than the story itself. In essence, YU-NO is based on a classic visual novel from all the way back in 1996. At the time of its release, there wasn't really anything else like it on the market. Visual novels back then were still relatively unambitious and it wasn't really a medium attempting any grand storylines until YU-NO came along. I guess you can say that YU-NO was for the visual novel medium what something like Evangelion was to anime for its time. Something that paved the way for so many other works in the decades thereafter. But in the same way that Evangelion is not normally considered anything revolutionary for people that watch it for the first time today, the same problem can be seen here as watching the anime adaptation of YU-NO 23 years after its original VN release will make it a lot more difficult seeing what the big deal is supposed to be. It is however quite clear that a lot of famous anime have taken ideas and inspiration from YU-NO originally. Steins;Gate might be the most obvious parallel there seeing as its time leap machine is clearly based on YU-NO's reflection device, and its world line and attractor field concepts are pretty much directly taken from it as well. You can kind of think of YU-NO as the grandfather of all sci-fi and time travel-oriented visual novel stories, which has surely also spilled over into other mediums in Japan over the years considering that the game has always been amongst the top rated VNs in the country because of its legacy. That said, the actual anime itself isn't really that special by today's standards. It goes through the various routes one at a time in a way which is not particularly unusual for VN adaptations but it comes with the regular problem of whichever heroine who's route it's not currently on seemingly disappearing from the story all of a sudden which feels quite unnatural. The characters themselves are also fairly bland, and you're often left with the feeling that a bunch of content has probably been cut out from the original since the pacing can be quite jumpy. As a result it can sometimes get confusing and it's a bit difficult to really settle down with it. Eventually things does start to make more sense about what is going on in the grander scheme of things but it takes quite a long time to get there, and once it gets to the final arc things will have changed so much it feels like you're watching a completely different anime than you did at the beginning. A better anime admittedly, but nevertheless the continuity of it all feels a bit strange as a result. On the other hand, the plot reveals towards the end are quite shocking in a lot of ways, and I mean that in a positive sense. It somehow managed to tie all the loose plot threads together in a much more complex manner of fashion than one would anticipate. Overall though it's a bit difficult knowing whether to recommend YU-NO or not because the main reasons for watching it are not really related to the anime itself but rather just because of the source material's legacy and impact on the industry in the past two decades. It's something more worth watching to satisfy your curiosity and to learn something in the process rather than for what entertainment value it possesses by itself. But as a side note I can in that case also mention that the 1080p remake of the visual novel is being officially released on PC in Japan and on multiple platforms in English on October 1st 2019. In other words, literally the same day as this anime ended. I'm pretty sure that's not a coincidence so we can definitely assume the main purpose of this adaptation was to boost sales and interests of the VN's remake, and I think I might as well just go ahead and oblige to that because if you haven't seen YU-NO yet and you've been thinking of whether you should do it or not... your best bet is most likely to just go ahead and pick up the just released VN remake instead. I'm probably going to do the same one of these days.

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