Thursday, January 28, 2016

Yuki Yuna Is a Hero Review


Yuki Yuna is a Hero is a cute anime if you're into the magical girl thing.  It has an interesting plot with twists and turns you wouldn't see coming.  It's one of the more original magical girl plots.  The world seems more fleshed-out than you usually get in a short anime like this one.  However, it does have its flaws.


We start out with our little gang of magical girls.  This anime definitely gets a little tropey.  You can count on just about every trope for a main character showing up in the first few episodes.  Fu is the responsible but firey older one, Yuna is the innocent and charitable one, Karin is the arrogant and brash one who later changes her ways, Mimori is the smart but shy one, Ituski is the younger adorable one.  Though tropey, the characters synergize well.  They are introduced in a way that it's easy to remember their names.

The story opens with the girls being part of the Hero Club at their middle school.  The club is basically a volunteering club.  They have their own room.  Seriously, each club gets its own room?  Suddenly they are transported into an odd forest and attacked by a weird monster that looks oddly like a phallus.  Then it is revealed: they have been chosen by a magical tree to be Heroes.

The magical tree is called the Shinju, and it is the source of all the blessings of humanity on the planet.  More of the Shinju's backstory is revealed later in the series.  The Shinju is protected and worshiped by a group called the Taisha, who also have a say is who is chosen to be a Hero.  The Heroes protect the Shinju from monsters that want to destroy it, thereby destroying the world, called Vertexes (they say Vertexes in the anime, but wouldn't the plural be Vertices?).


The show doesn't do a good job of really explaining what the Vertexes are and exactly why they keep attacking.  It tells you a little bit, but they don't explain it all that well.  They also don't explain very well exactly what the Shinju is, or the role of the Taisha.


What the anime lacks in exposition, it makes up for it in stunning visuals.  Seriously, this anime is gorgeous.  At first it looks like your run of the mill animation, but then once they get into the spirit forest it's like they're in a watercolor painting on steroids.  The flower imagery is also beautiful and it becomes apparent that each girl has a color and flower association.  This is incorporated into the henshins.  The henshin sequences are just as beautiful as the rest, and the costumes are very pretty.  Every Vertex looks unique and not something you see in other anime.  The way the ribbons are incorporated into Mimori's movement while transformed is something very unique that I haven't seen before.  The girls also get super henshin forms that augment their original weapons.


The weapons in this anime is unique.  Not a single girl has a magical stick that performs their attacks for them.  They have swords and some sort of weird wire chakram.  The battles are really cool.  One cool thing that this anime explores is that fighting has actual consequences.  Girls become crippled doing this work.  It's very reminiscent of Madoka Magica in that way.  There is a dark secret hidden in the Hero system.  It leads to some very dark suicide shit, and this show gets super fucked up.  Not quite to the Madoka level of fucked up, but it gets close.  Another parallel is that the main character is pretty innocent and has pink hair, while the other girls is her best friend with long black hair and wants nothing more than to protect her, even at the expense of everyone else.  See a similarity?


However, it does have its lighthearted moments.  Sometimes this anime seems more like a slice of life than a magical girl show.  It gives some depth to the everyday lives of the girls, but the fighting aspect sometimes falls to the wayside and backstory is never explained fully.  There is one episode dedicated solely to helping Itsuki pass her singing test.  Not a single fight in it.  While I see later why it was necessary to put emphases on her love of singing and how important to her her voice is, they could have done this is a less time-consuming fashion.  Also, I'd like to say the tarot desk Itsuki uses is the same as my old one.

Though the show has a very interesting integration of modern technology in it, I have to wonder if it makes a lot of sense.  Everything is done within an app.  When they want to summon their familiar, they must use an app.  I think it would be a pain in the butt to have to do everything from within an app, that would get tedious.  Also, the girls communicate in battle using their phone.  What if one of them dropped or lost their phone? Or the screen broke?  It would make more sense for the girls to use some sort of headset for communication.


A couple other things bothered me, like the fanservice.  I know, we gotta lure a male audience somehow.  And it's really only one girl they do this with.  It zooms in on her jiggling boobies every time she transforms, and the ribbons tie around her body like some sort of fucked up bukkake.  It zooms in on her ass a lot.  I roll my eyes every time I see her asscrack showing under her skintight outfit.

I'm also wondering why they just randomly switched school uniforms halfway through and then switched back during the last couple episodes?  That was weird, but their first uniforms were cute.  The second ones were pretty plain.  One thing I love about anime with schoolgirls in it is how unique the school uniform designs can be.

I also hated that the girls kept repeating the tenets of the club over and over and over.  In battle.  In the hallways.  In the club room.  My god, shut up.  We know.  Once is enough.

The music in the show was fine. Just fine.  Neither song appealed to me much.  The opening animation was interesting, as it shows the characters doing everyday things and battling, and it also emphasizes the flower imagery prevalent in the series.  The songs just aren't that good.  The opening sounds more like an ending theme - slow and cutesy.  I felt like it should have been more upbeat.  The ending isn't anything special and the entire time they're just walking on a beach.

Overall I really enjoyed this anime.  I wish it had been longer so the story could have been expanded upon and fully explained.  It had its niggles but it holds up really well against the other magical girl anime out there and I definitely recommend it, for the visuals if nothing else.  If you like Magica Madoka, Sailor Moon, or Cardcaptor Sakura, you will like this too.