In this prequel I will be reviewing the first (second season depending on how you call seasons) in the Yuuki Yuuna franchise. If you are a fan of magical girls and drama then this could be worth a look as this series has got all the stuff to cater for such fans. Be warned though there are some dark moments particularly at the end which can be a tad depressive.

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Episodes: 12 Original airing dates: 17th October 2014 – 26th December 2021
Studio: Studio Gokumi Genre: Dark magical girl, drama, comedy
Prequel: Yuuki Yuuna is a Hero: The Washio Sumi Chapter
Sequels: Yuuki Yuuna is a Hero: The Hero Chapter, Yuuki Yuuna is a Hero: Mankai Chapter
Recommended audience: Fans of the magical girl genre and those who like slice-of-life and yuri action​

Background/synopsis:

Yuuki Yuuna is a Hero also known as Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru is a dark(ish) magical girl series with a bit of drama and slice-of-life thrown in. Yuuki Yuuna is a Hero was the first season in the franchise to be released although it should be noted that the second season Yuuki Yuuna: The Washio Sumi Chapter is actually a prequel to this series. If you want to read the reviews to the other seasons, please check the links below:

Chronological order of franchise:

Season 2: Yuuki Yuuna is a Hero: The Washio Sumi Chapter
Season 1: Yuuki Yuuna is a Hero
Season 3: Yuuki Yuuna is a Hero: The Hero Chapter
Season 4: Yuuki Yuuna is a Hero: The Mankai Chapter


The show tells the story of four girls who form the hero’s club in their school. In this club the girls engage in a number of activities that help their local community from entertaining kids to saving lost kittens. This happy and normal life is however turned upside down when the world they are in suddenly stops and the girls are thrust into a surreal battle field when they are made to fight monsters called vertexes with new found powers!

Story/characters

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As hinted in the synopsis, the opening episode creates a striking contrast from its more mundane beginnings to the epic supernatural battle we see at the end. This shift in tone is also reflected in its art direction as the largely standard opening scenes are completely opposed to the surreal flowery like battleground the girls find themselves in. This change in direction both in story and animation certainly make this an episode to remember. Beyond the sudden twist this season opener throws a lot at the viewer and characters and will have you asking numerous questions about what just happened and what to expect next. It is a strong started that can easily get you hooked.

The following episodes take a more measured approach in pacing as we delve more into how the girls manage their new reality. Bit by bit we learn more about these vertexes and what is required from our magical girls to save the world. Naturally it is hard for the girls to accept these revelations and it not long before various girls have their own doubts and misgivings about the new powers thrust upon them.

These issues and the way they resolved is effectively done and we get significant growth not just in the individual characters themselves but the chemistry between the girls. In these episodes it becomes clear that the relationships between Yuuna Yuuki/Mimori Tougou and the Inubouzaki sisters are particularly strong. For people who are fans of drama or even yuri there is much to be had here about these two key relationships. More important though is that these relationships will have greater relevance later in the anime’s plotline.

Nestled in these plot and character developments is a lot of light hearted slice-of-life content. In that regard we get a lot of classic scenes that we often associate with slice-of-life anime. If you are not into that then the early episodes may seem draggy. This slice-of-life action coupled with the magical girl fights being resolved in a fairly quick fashion means that the first half of Yuuki Yuuna carries a light-hearted tone which could be easily described as a standard magical girl series.

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It is in the second half when Yuuki Yuuna shifts gears and the tone of the series becomes darker. A major revelation is made in regards to the true nature of the magical girl’s power. It is this new found power and the consequences it entails that causes a great deal suffering for our girls. How they cope with these problems form a key source of drama. This drama is elevated further by the strain it causes for the key relationships described earlier. This drama and sense of hopelessness only grow stronger in the subsequent episodes when more truths about the origins of the magical girl hero is laid bare to the audience.

This drama naturally reaches a crescendo in the season finale where the girls are confronted with their final opponent and it is here where I felt the series stumbled somewhat. The biggest issue I saw was the ending was simply rushed. If more time was devoted to exposition and explanations the impact of these climatic scenes would have carried more weight. In addition to the rushed nature of the ending the other problem I saw was the direction of the ending itself. Now what constituents a good ending is always going to be subjective but the issue I had is while the ending is not an asspull (there is foreshadowing to the events that occurred) it did seem very convenient. Neverland convenient if you get my drift… Despite my misgivings though you may like it I just think the ending is a point that will prove decisive among anime fans.

Animation/music

The animation in Yuuki Yuuna remains solid throughout the show and this high standard is maintained with only minor declines in animation here and there. The fight scenes in the battleground are always enjoyable to watch and the transformations cute. Speaking of cute all the main cast are moe so if you are into that thing this will be another plus point. In terms of music, I felt indifferent to it and the accompanying opening animation. This was doubly so for the ending theme animation. The opening song is 1: "Hoshi to Hana" by Sanshuu Chuugaku. The series has seven (yes seven) ending songs. One is the opening whilst another four are various mixes of "Aurora Days". The final two endings are mixes of “Inori no Uta”.

Summary

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If you are a fan of magical girls/drama or slice-of-life then it is likely you will dig Yuuki Yuuna. For much of this shows running it is largely a light-hearted character driven show that deals with many everyday events. The ante does go up in the second half of the show where a major revelation is discovered that turns the girl’s life’s upside down. This turmoil naturally brings its drama and angst but what is most notable here is the strain it puts on the key relationships of Yuuna and Mimori plus the Inubouzaki relationship. This is perhaps the strongest part of the show and will be enjoyed by all. Drama lovers will particularly like this segment.

The ending will prove to be a more decisive point so it is hard to judge how you will like it. This could go either way but on the plus side there is closure and there are no loose ends so you need not concern yourself over those kinds of problems. The issue mainly stems in the direction of the ending which to me was rather questionable. If you like magical girls series that is filled with good relationship drama you are likely to have positive feelings for Yuuki Yuuna that will likely stick regardless of how you perceive the ending. Moreover, with the prequels and subsequent seasons adding fuller explanations to what happened at this shows final moments you can always pursue those seasons if you are keen on getting more complete answers.

Story 6.5 – Yuuki Yuuna starts with a bang with an opener that has it all. Things do slow down in the subsequent episodes as the focus largely shifts on the characters. The series does kick on from the midpoint as we are faced a major twist. It is here where Yuuki Yuuna reaches its high point in plot development and things do look promising but this high is stifled with an ending that I found somewhat unsatisfactory.

Characters 8 – Strongest part of the series. While there is not a great deal of depth to be had all the girls are likeable. They all have their quirks and weaknesses and although they are not the complicated characters you’ll ever see they all have a nuance behind them. The biggest plus point though is the relationship these girls form with each other. These relationships are not only good but they do an effective job in elevating the plot in the latter parts of the series.

Animation 7.5 – Solid and consistent throughout. The battle scenes are original and often enjoyable to watch although at times can be a touch static. There are also some CGI scenes included in the fights but these are mixed well with the 2D animation so it never feels out of place. The musical score is weaker and were not memorable for me. The animation for the opening and ending was very average.

Overall 7 – A recommendation for people who are fans of the magical girl genre. You are also likely to enjoy this if you enjoy drama, slice-of-life or a fan of yuri series. Yuuki Yuuna is often labelled as dark magical series and whilst there are some dark elements it is not as big as other shows of this genre. It is dark-lite. In that regard if you are sensitive to dark series then do not worry about that because the depressive moments never last long and this series always manages a way to remain upbeat. The biggest disclaimer in that regard is there is a scene were a girl attempts suicide so if you are really averse to watching such things then either skip the scene or drop Yuuki Yuuna.
 
Monsta666

Monsta666

Staff Writer
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