Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru is a Studio Gokumi anime from late 2014. Yes, the same studio that brought us the fun A-Channel & that piece of garbage, Crime Edge. So, I don’t know what to expect from this. But it’s the end of hero month and let’s hope we can end it like we began it, on a high note. Because, so far, the only good series we’ve looked at this month has been Boku no Hero Academia.
We open with our titular heroine, Yuuki Yuuna working with members of her middle school’s Hero Club to put on a puppet show. Basically, these four girls get together to help out in other clubs, finding homes for kittens and other public services. Things change when, one day, everything freezes during class and the four find themselves in an altered landscape. It turns out the hero club has a hidden purpose, to defend the barrier created by the Shinju that preserves their world. They become magical girls, fighting whenever they’re called but they quickly learn that there’s a secret behind their powers and it may be too much for them.
My biggest issue with the series, narratively, is that the final climactic turn may be a bit too easy. Basically, the big “antagonist” is too easily dissuaded from what she’s doing. It kind of makes sense in context but it might work a bit better if it took a little more effort. The ending may also be a bit too predictable once things get going. Though I’d be lying if I said I disliked it.
That being said, there are a lot of good things about the series. The events leading up to the big climactic clash are very well handled. There are some strong emotional scenes. Two of which definitely may have elicited some tears from me. The series does a good job of subverting some aspects of magical girl shows while embracing others, including the optimistic outlook. Holding on to hope is a big theme in this series and it works really well. Honestly, I appreciate that it can incorporate some elements that are dark for a magical girl series while still keeping things generally optimistic. There are too many works out there that treat dark content as something you have to go all the way with or just can’t have at all. It’s nice seeing something with a more nuanced take on it. I also appreciate the way the world building is handled. We don’t get a bunch of boring exposition, instead they show us throughout the series what the world they’re living in is like and what the more unusual elements like Shinju, Taisha and Vertexes actually are. Foreshadowing is pretty well handled as well.
The cast is mainly composed of five characters. Yuuna, Tougou, Karin, Fuu & Itsuki. On the surface, they’re a pretty archetypal magical girl group. However, every single character goes beyond the typical tropes that they start with. Whether it’s accomplished through their reactions to tragedy, their interactions with one another or their way of pursuing their own dreams. Which makes the cast quite compelling. The character interactions are quite strong as well.
I also do like the way shifting loyalties are handled. There is solid reasoning behind them that makes sense while also revealing information about the characters in question. The only real issue I have is that the vertexes are kind of nothing villains. We know what they’re trying to do and we know the basic reason why but that’s about all they have. To be fair to the series, they do provide an in universe explanation for why that is.
There are a lot of positive aspects to the art. The vertexes have interesting designs. The heroines are well designed and their magical girl forms are nicely detailed. The supernatural world where they do their fighting looks pretty interesting. The fights themselves are quite well done. They involve actual weapons too. Fuu has a buster sword. Karin uses a pair of katana. Tougou has guns. Which leads to some interesting action sequences.
They got some strong actresses for this series. Terui Haruka, Mimori Suzuko, Nagatsuma Juri, Kurosawa Tomoyo & Uchiyama Yumi are all really good in this. The emotions they convey just come across as so genuine and the way they converse with one another has a good level of verisimilitude to it. The music by Okabe Keiichi & Hoashi Keigo is really good as well.
There’s a general undercurrent among most of the girls. The sisters being the obvious exception. It’s clear that they care about each other but it’s equally clear that it’s familial. The most prominent les-yay is between Yuuna and Tougou. They come across as being deep into their first feelings of romantic love. Once Yuuna figures it out they’ll probably start dating.
Areas of Improvement:
I’ll try to go into these without giving too much away.
- I’d make that final conversation that leads up to the climactic turn a little more substantial.
- Extrapolate on the effects change at the end a bit more.
- Have some anger directed at Fuu. Basically, Fuu knows that they could be called on to act as heroes, but doesn’t tell the others. That’s not much of a spoiler since it’s a part of the first episode. But what bothers me a little bit is that everyone else is immediately okay with it. I’d like to see them take some time to get over the feelings of betrayal over that. I think it would make for some interesting character moments.
Ultimately, Yuuki Yuuna was Yuusha has a lot of good elements. It has a lot to recommend its story and its characters. It has great art, great acting and solid music. It could also be improved with more time to flesh things out properly but, for what it is, it’s a great series. In the end, I’ll give it an 8/10. And I do recommend it for those of you who like magical girl series that do things a bit differently.