Our heroes.

The most surprising show of the season ends with more surprises. We thought it was slice-of-life, it turned out to be magical girl combat, and then it got dark. The question is: how did it fare in the end, and how does it measure up?

The Comparison

Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru makes me think of a lot of things, but one of the biggest is a quote from the Lord of the Rings movies, which I think most of you will recognize:

Frodo: I can’t do this, Sam.
Sam: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.
Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?
Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo… and it’s worth fighting for.

Yuuki Yuuna is, at its core, a classic-style story. It almost turned into a classical tragedy, but it says what it is on the cover, and it remains that all the way through: a story of heroes. And in those great stories Sam was talking about, the heroes don’t have an easy time. Full of darkness and danger, they were, and through the fires of hell they went, which makes their victory all the sweeter. That’s what Yuuki Yuuna gave us.

Another story it makes me think of is Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica, because it too is a magical-girls-everything-turns-dark story. And it is heir to the Madoka tradition, in the same way Madoka took inspiration from the stories that came before it. More interesting perhaps is to compare it to the other series that always makes people scream Madoka: WIXOSS.

The Edge

Full disclosure: I haven’t seen the second season of WIXOSS, nor the Madoka movies, so all Madoka comments will be drawn from the TV series. I’ll get to the Madoka movies eventually (so no spoilers please), but as for WIXOSS, the first season bored me half to tears, so I didn’t bother with the second. It took Yuuki Yuuna to make me realize why. It’s not, as some people may think, because I’ve seen it before; there’s nothing new under the sun, even if we don’t always know the influences. The reason is because it had no edge.

Author and former ad executive Ken Segall—whose book, Insanely Simple, I highly recommend—recently wrote a blog post about this year’s holiday Apple ad. Compare this year’s “The Song” to last year’s “Misunderstood”. The difference between the two of them, Segall argues (and I agree), is that Misunderstood had an edge. You spend the first part of the ad going “Get off the damn phone and spend time with your family!” … only for the eventual message to use that to tell its story all the better. That edge enhances the uplifting nature of the spot, and makes it effective.

This is instructive because marketing is storytelling for business. Back in the land of storytelling for pleasure, what WIXOSS lacked, and what Madoka and Yuuki Yuuna had, is an edge. It was nakedly clear from the first episode that WIXOSS was all about piling the pain on its cast of kawaii characters, so I dissociated with them immediately. And without that emotional connection, the emotional gut punches slid right off. We humans don’t often choose to open ourselves up to pain and loss when there’s no chance of a happy ending. It’s as I said on a recent discussion about why I reject the use of rampant fanservice in my own work: if there’s not a point to it, and if it doesn’t serve the story, then it’s just porn. That holds true for tragedy too. (Read the whole commet thread for the whole picture.) In this case it would be tragedy porn instead of sexual porn, but that’s porn nonetheless. And that’s fine, but porn isn’t the most emotionally rich of experiences. It’s about as superficial as you can get.

The Hope

The key difference is that chance. Hope. What Madoka had from the very beginning was ambiguity about not only the outcome, but the course the series would take. And that’s extremely important. Uncertainty of outcome is always there, if rarely realized, but uncertainty about how the story will progress is more valuable in these kinds of stories, because it gets us to the end while keeping us emotionally involved. If we’re not emotionally involved, it doesn’t matter what happens. It will slide right off.

Where WIXOSS lost it was in making it nakedly clear that the entire series would be full of tragedy for its heroines. That’s a trap Yuuki Yuuna wa Yusha de Aru avoided, because it wasn’t clear until late in the series that it was going dark. We always suspected, but wasn’t until episode eight that it really sunk in, and hope held out that the darkness wouldn’t come until the tragedy of Itsuki’s lost voice in episode nine. By then, they had laid the emotional groundwork, and we were in, baby. They kept us coming back with slice-of-life bits long enough to lay the groundwork, and then we were in for the run, bound to see how the story would play out.

The Choice

One thing I especially love about Yuuki Yuuna is that the characters all do what they do of their own volition. This is something all three series did, but while WIXOSS seemed to use it primarily for more tragedy porn, Madoka and Yuuki Yunna harnessed it to amp up the pain in order to make the payoff all the greater. Granted, Madoka still wins the award for the despair-to-payoff desparity, because it dipped lower and ascended higher … only to smack us back down into the (not quite as bad) mud with the epilogue.

But Yuuki Yuuna was more of a hero story, not going for quite that degree of emotional catharsis, and what it got was still effective. The characters went through hell, so when they won, it was great … and I was immediately worried. “Are they going to heal? Is she going to wake up? Are they going to be all right?” Like I said—by that point, we were in. This one was more character-driven than Madoka, and though it will draw the critics less for its differences, it’s no less good … or if so, not by much.

(Note: I don’t mean to bash WIXOSS too much, especially since I haven’t seen the second season. I’m attempting to suss out why it’s more polarizing than the other two, and I think this is the reason. Even if it’s not as objectively “good” as the others—as if such a thing can be objective—I enjoy plenty of “bad” stuff, so don’t take it as a slight against a show you love. I’m just trying to dissect the phenomanon, for myself as much as anyone.)

The Tone

The central conceit of Yuuki Yuuna is done well, and that makes the show work. But there are many other things that are done well besides. The art is beautiful and surreal; the first half is genuinely funny, and occasionally touching; the pacing is fast in the good way, not wasting a full season to dispose of twelve Vertex, as the usual tropes demand; the foreshadowing is just right, in that “Ohhhh, now that makes sense” way that’s clear in retrospect, but left us rightly unaware through the initial watch; and the transformation of Tougo into the final villain (of sorts) was a superb twist. I say superb because, with everything we knew about her, everything she learned, and everything she has already endured, her turn to despair was understandable, but you don’t expect it. Most heroes don’t go omnicidal, even in the defense of their friends.

(On the foreshadowing, go back and watch the OP. It was telling us what was going to happen the whole time. And I don’t just mean the mook-vertex from the final battle—watch how each girls’ flowers are shown … and then wilt. Clever bastards.)

But what may have been my favorite part of Yuuki Yuuna was the tone. That was one of the points that was centrally different in all three of these series. I’ve already criticized WIXOSS for going too dark too quick, whereas I would characterize Madoka as being an exercise in slow, building despair from which there was no escape … which made Godoka’s rejection of that reality all the more effective.

Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru, on the other hand, felt like the constant striving of hope in the face of mounting despair. That might not seem like a huge difference, but the key is in the struggle, and the seeming likelihood of that struggle paying off. Only Tougo gave into despair (and Fuu-sempai, though only for a while), but she did it with shaking arms and tears in her eyes. She never accepted despair like Sayaka did, she never let it grind her down—even in her outright refusal of the Shinju-sama’s construct, she was still fighting back. And like Fuu-sempai, the reason Tougo despaired was not for herself. It was for her friends.

As for the other Yuusha-bu members, all the way through it still felt like they could still win. It was a determined struggle in the face of despair, rather than futile struggle despite despair, as Homura repeatedly endured in her time loops and confrontations against Walpurgis Night. There was a sense of optimism, even in the darkest of days.

The Message

This could have been a tragedy in the classical sense, if the whole thing went to hell at the end. Was it better that it wasn’t? Happy endings don’t tend to stick with us as much as the bittersweet, but I think the ending is defensible at least, and jived well with the message of the series at more. That message: friendship. Okay, so it’s not exactly a unique one, but in this case it was more of “Friendship, plus fuck the gods.”

Though honestly, I’m still processing the finale, trying to decide if I liked it. They recovered from their impossible injuries because the gods basically fired them—they showed what could go wrong if the Shinju-sama kept abusing and worshiping their warriors like this, so they axed the system and moved onto something else. (Or maybe they felt bad, but we don’t know, so either guess is valid.) That’s about what you have to do to get through to a bunch of gods, so it makes sense to me. Is it an ass pull, though?

Well, no more so than Madoka’s Godoka incident. So it was, and they tripped into it instead of planning it out, but it’s at least a reasonable reaction to what they did and what happened. Maybe it doesn’t get full marks—that would have required them bringing about their own happy ending, as Madoka did—but it gets a passing grade. I’ll have to think on it some more, though.

Final Impression – The Question

The final episode ended with a screen that said, in the bottom right corner: “Yuuki Yuuna’s Chapter.” So does that mean we’re getting more? While I enjoyed this series, I can’t imagine there’s more story to tell, not unless they genre shift to Itsuki’s singing career or do another huge shift. I enjoyed what we got, and I wouldn’t have that ruined by an unnecessary, ill-advised sequel. Studio Gokumi has long been a studio that I respected, for doing extremely good slice-of-life adaptations … you know, what KyoAni used to do … but now they showed they have original series chops as well. Their stock is on the rise for me, and it was already fairly high.

Either way, I enjoyed this series. I wish I had blogged it, but the same misconception that probably kept many from watching it—is this just a slice-of-life show, or a monster-of-the-week magical girl series?—fooled me until it was too late. Ah well. Either way, I suggest it to anyone who likes a little slice-of-life, and wants to see their heroes earn their happy ending. These girls did.

I wrote a book! My first novel, Wage Slave Rebellion, is available now! (More info) My personal site has also moved. Last four posts: Mind meld, Interview with Little Red Reviewer, Sneak Peek: Wage Slave Rebellion prologue, and Action Politics—a FREE short story.


  1. Overall, I enjoyed the series, but as is being widely discussed in the Animesuki forum thread about it, a lot of talk about the last episode and the way it feels like an asspull/deus ex machina “win” for the protagonists to some, along with flurries of questions, speculations, arguments, etc.

      1. That’s not the problem, though. It’s not that there is a god backing humans and thus DEM’s are justified. It’s that the god backing the humans is doing things that are pointless and feel as if the writers are forcing drama for the sake of drama rather than letting natural drama unfold from natural decisions.

    1. That’s why I’m still mulling over the ending. It’s tone was right, and it fit into the message they were trying to convey, but the main characters didn’t bring about the happy ending themselves so much as luck into it after getting fired. If Tougo had been intending to show the Shinju-sama the folly of their actions, it would have worked better in that way, but that wouldn’t have fit her character.

      It may have been better if it wen’t full tragedy, to be honest. Not sure. Still thinking on it.

  2. I’m also trying to process the ending, considering that the gods helped them Yuna and her friends recover (along with willpower!), which I’m glad they were able to get back to their lives, but then at the same time I’m still trying to finalize what I feel from the ending whether it could actually go further based on their injuries and godly crisis. But in overall, it has definitely excelled in telling a story about heroes and really focused on the important points of being a hero when they’re backed against the odds. I feel there should be more said about this show but you’ve summed up a lot of the important points of this show; it was an enjoyable show for me that held up strong and showed what it was made of.

  3. Uh, do we really want spoilers for the ending on the front page? It’s a series that works best if you don’t know what’s coming…

    So, I personally quite enjoyed the series. Wasn’t without problems, (took a while to get going, most of the cast doesn’t do much), but was had some great action, likable characters, a decent plot, and an extremely high yuri quotient. And it’s the most engaging series I’ve watched for quite a while

  4. At one point in the final episode, I thought Yuuna took on everyone’s sacrifice, which is why she was in that state. I won’t say I hated the ending as I am a person who always welcomes happy endings, even if they are typical and predictable.

    @stilts, I was expecting a post, but not such a big one! Thank you!

    1. Indeed, that was what I thought as well. There are several hints that allude to this:

      1) The spirits of the rest of the girls dematerializing into flower petals as they lose their powers, with the exception of Yuuna who do not have any petals on her, hinting that she still has her powers.

      2) The fact that she suddenly felt faint could imply that time halted for her and only her as she went to fight the Vertexes, returning drained and thus feeling faint.

      What I think happened is that Yuuna made a deal with the Shinju and took on all the Hero Club’s responsibilities all on herself. The ending would not be an asspull if this was the case.

      1. Vertex don’t attack for 298 year.
        They started attacking 2yrs ago.
        Then Shinju-sama started making weak points so Heros can defend the invading ‘enemies’.

        Episode 7 “Shinju-sama is the source of our blessing too, so if it uses all of its energy for defense, we wouldn’t be able to live.”

        Shinju-sama briefly glow when leo/sun soul died in ep 12. Tougo mention in ep 5 that “its always a strange death.”

        There were theories that this was the whole point of developing the Hero system. Shinju is weakening and need energy. Now he got enough energy from Vertexs and enemy force is quite weaken that the so called ‘asspull’ happened. Or The Shinjuu and the stardust are caught in a loop where each evolves a new counter to the other, Stardust can’t get through the barrier>Form Vertexs>Hero defend Show Spoiler ▼

        >and now Shinju-sama gain the upper hand by absorbing the energy from death souls.

        There is a ton of Yuuna theories too, considering a number of strange things with her in the last episode, its natural.

        Even us in /a/, well mostly those who have read Washio LN feel something is amiss with the ending end up in speculation/theory crafting mode. For a such well made multi-media project with 2 yr of planning, I doubt they would use asspull for the end, heck I don’t even feel this was an asspull (too much hints that something happened), also I doubt this is the end of this franchise.

        Also the word “sacrifice” and Offering is different. Offering can be returned.

      2. @ lytterbug & noir

        Here’s the thing though—if they don’t put it in the story they tell us, it doesn’t count. I learned this well over the course of writing my first book, where, on earlier drafts, I would know exactly what was supposed to happen … but if I didn’t put it on the page, readers were confused.

        I think of it like JK Rowling coming out and saying Dumbledore was gay. Uh, sorry, but no. Maybe he was, but unless it’s in the text somewhere, it doesn’t count. It doesn’t have to be explicitly stated—the author can certainly clarify things if he or she wishes—but if it’s never stated at all, it doesn’t count.

        So when we have to do a bunch of theorizing to figure out what went on, something was done wrong, even if that mistake is that the hints were there, and they were too subtle. That’s less common than making them too overt, but it happens as well.

      3. But silts this is a multi media project so not just watching the anime would give someone a full knowledge of their world. And I dont like it when people use the word asspull without fully understanding that world.

        Besides dismissing the theories all that I’ve point out are directly written and shown already. The spoilers part are facts though. And there are still more unresolve points left.

        However I understand what you meant, without confirmation speculations are speculations, but I don’t understand why you are pointing that out though I made sure to separate in-universe facts and theories.

        All in all I just don’t want this to be over with just this much, I feel that a lot of people who got attached to the characters would agree with me. At least sequel ln got accidentally announced
        (I hope this was the case and not actually cancelled)

      4. But I can’t deny people who expect to get the whole story in one medium, rather than having to dip into others. It’s more understandable to ask people to go multi-media when you’re talking about different stories, as opposed to adaptations (“You’ve got to read the manga to really get it!” “Well, they probably should have just put that in the anime”, would be my usual answer there), but people don’t usually do it.

        It’s like saying you need the supplementary material to really understand it. Maybe that’s true, but I still think they should have put it in the main body of work.

        Probably. There are almost always exceptions, of course.

      5. I’m at loss what the supplemental materials had to do with the ending. The supplements contain explanation for various thing, yes, but I don’t see anything that important to interpret the ending.

        Was they too subtle. Perhaps, still I don’t see a atory that has inambiguity and makes its readers interpret things. The ‘dumbledore is gay’ analogy does not work because other than there is no indication, there is also nothing whatsoever in the story that are supposed to make the readers think about Dumbledore’s orientation. Meanwhile, I’m inclined to think that this ‘illogical’ thing with the ending that people keep pointing are supposed to make us question and think what actually happened. Most people apparently just prefer to interpret as the writers being stupid.

        Perhaps that what’s the writers did wrong. Causing people to interpret the whole thing as simply the writers being stupid instead of whatever else they may intend.

  5. “I can’t imagine there’s more story to tell, not unless they genre shift to Itsuki’s singing career or do another huge shift. ”

    Well i think the danger is still here.

    Beyond the wall there is still the hellish earth, and millions of Vertex Seeds, and possible new Vetexes.

    Shinju and the protective wall is strong now, but i think one day the vertexes find the vay to attack it again.

    Thanks to the battle datas the heroes able to heal now but it think the fight is not over yet.

    I think one day the Heroes strenght is need again. And of course they need the vertex problem once and for all… in one day…

    So i think they can continue the story.

  6. I was wondering why this seemed later than usual for series ending post and it turns out Stilts was preparing a gargantuan post. And… spending time with friends and family on Christmas I suppose, but who really cares about that? 😛

    The final episode ended with a screen that said, in the bottom right corner: “Yuuki Yuuna’s Chapter.” So does that mean we’re getting more?

    While no one can really give a definitive answer at this point, the first thing I thought of when I saw that was Takahiro’s prequel LN Washio Sumi wa Yuusha de Aru. We could get one eventually though, there’s always hope.

    All in all, I’d say Yuuki Yuna wa Yuusha de Aru was one of the better fall shows. I was very prepared to curse Takahiro to a slow and painful demise had the series go for the downer ending, so I can say I was mostly satisfied with the ending. It’s a little hard to take the asspull-ishness of them just recovering simply because Shinju-sama felt like it. I can give it a pass though because when Togou was crying beside a soulless Yuna I was pretty much like, “Throw her a f***ing bone man, she doesn’t deserve this…” (Maybe she did a little… I don’t care though.) It was cliche, it was cheesy, if everything before it wasn’t done well I probably would’ve trashed it. Yet, still I was smiling through the whole thing.

    Good job Takahiro, at least you didn’t ruin this Christmas for me this year. Still can’t forgive you for Chelsea though.

    Oh, and that Lord of the Rings quote. Still gold after all these years. Sam’s still reigns as the greatest heterosexual partner for life. *salutes*

    1. I actually wrote part of this post last week when I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. But yeah, had to stitch it all together in between holiday stuff and a friend’s wedding. Plus I had a lot to say 😀

      Fixed the formatting for you.

      1. Haha thanks. I was basically on semi-auto pilot there. Only real explanation I can give for using blockquote instead of i. I mean, it still does italics so why not use it right? -_-; http://replygif.net/i/586.gif

        There comes a point in time when people realize that it’s time to just turn it in for the day. I figured that was a pretty good one for me, lol.

  7. Ok Now, There goes another Penta-Girls show or the Group of Five, (Not Just magical Girls) Personally, I pick this for this year. Let’s see now:

    2010 – Sora no Woto (Non Magical)
    2011 – Madoka Magica
    2012 – Black Rock Shooter
    2013 – Vividred Operation

    and To me the ending is kinda generic alright, but at least it has some meaning…and

    Thank Godoka…? No…Personally I Thank to this LOL!

  8. you just discuss this anime at the last episode,
    surely you all just underated this anime.
    actually if you watch this series properly,
    you will found this anime is touching (at least worth to watch)
    and also this series much worth to discuss for every week better than World Trigger.

    I think this anime deserved to get “Exceeded Expectations” for 2014

    1. I’m confused. I explicitly said the series was touching. Did I not watch it properly?

      And RC isn’t a monolith. Each blogger decides what they want to blog, and Samu wanted to do World Trigger. Had things worked differently I probably would have blogged this (I said that as well), it just didn’t work out like that.

  9. There’s something that went unnoticed by most people who watched the show. At the end of the battle, all are down on the floor exhausted, petals of flowers representing each falls upon them, in theory this is the moment in which the offerings to them Shinju return. However, do not fall petals on Yuuna and, later on, the Yuuna has a sudden dizziness during the presentation of the play, it is believed that, as time freezes into battle Yuuna has yet lutadom as hero, and returned tired of the battle, so fainted there

    Sorry if I wrote something wrong, my english is very bad

    1. That’s definitely potentially true, but as I said above, if they don’t show what they mean (or hint more firmly than that), it almost doesn’t count … not unless they do do a sequel that goes into Yuuna’s fight alone.

      Good catch on the pedals, btw.

      1. I read de Washio Sumi LN today and there a hint who fortify this theory in chapter one. “At any time, there’ll be a girl who will get to meet god for the first time and become purified.”

        We think Yuuna due this in the time she are comatose. Only ideas, after read the LN and rewatch the show I’m more convinced that is the true end

  10. I know you guys would hate me but I really do feel that this series should have end in DESPAIR & REALITY in the end.
    Real heroes do sacrifice themselves. And to add to that, their deeds aren’t know in the present peaceful world.

  11. “Yuyuyu is the new type of SoL which is designed for audience to realize how precious the daily life of characters is”

    All I could say to those word is I’ve learnt my lesson and would appreciate SOL animes more.

    And this is a multi-media project, I was having a blast reading ‘Washio Sumi wa Yuusha de Aru’ as the same time as anime (It come out chapter by chapters).
    So for those who want to read it
    Show Spoiler ▼

    You can get it there, and thanks anon from /a/ who translate it.

    I don’t really have a problem with the ending though I wish it was split and extended into 2 episodes, ending with Tougo screaming Yuna name would have been perfect for torturing us another week. Also I doubt people who read the LN would called this ending ‘asspull’, it look extremely simple to me. It did leave a ton of question and speculations though, one of those being why did that soul explode when Yuuna touch it…

  12. This show was building up sooooooo much potential and then the final episode just squanders it all.

    There better be a sequel because otherwise they really did just pull way too much out of their asses to justify the sudden u-turn the entire story took.

    One minute the girls sacrifices are irreversible and will eventually turn them into bedridden cripples like the previous hero… except when it doesn’t and all of a sudden they’re completely fine. If all it takes to give the girls back everything they’ve lost is decommissioning them and breaking down their fairies then why the hell did they leave Tougo a cripple? Hell I could understand the one girl making the ultimate sacrifice and staying bedridden to continue fighting but if they had the power to restore Tougo’s legs and just didn’t… they’re assholes.

    And what the hell has the previous hero girl been sacrificing and suffering all this time for when she’s never put to use? She specifically tells Tougo that she’s the emergency backup. That she has 20 fairies and is there for when everything else fails or one of the current heros snaps and needs to be put down. Well one of the heros snaps and the vertex were within seconds of destroying the world and… I guess she was taking a nap? Maybe had to pee?

    There’s obviously something extra going on with Yuna at the end. I’ve seen theories that the dizzy spell she had at the end was the result of a deal she struck with the god where she and she alone gets whisked away to fight on behalf of all her friends and then returned to the same exact spot. It wouldn’t solve everything, hell it would probably add more questions/problems, but it would at least solve the “oh, the vertex aren’t going to attack for a while” twist the girls are fed at the end.

  13. “Note: I don’t mean to bash WIXOSS too much, especially since I haven’t seen the second episode.” -First Sentence Third Paragraph in the CHOICE section.
    I really hope that as a typo and you meant you haven’t seen the second season, because good god if you only watched the first episode of the first season then you clearly aren’t warranted to bash it so much. Because you know the whole “I’ve only seen 1 out of the 24 episodes makes me informed enough on what’s going on” doesn’t really work.I was going to say a bunch more stuff but honestly I’ll just leave it at that.

    1. Sorry, it was a typo. I mentioned earlier in the post that I watched the first season, but not the second. That’s also why I only spoke to the reason WIXOSS didn’t work for me from the beginning, and said nothing about the ending—not only because I don’t know how it ends, but because it wasn’t relevant to my point. I was only comparing the first halves of the three series, and the endings for Madoka and Yuyuyu.

  14. I was going to say that it indeed felt like an “ass pull” of an ending, but after reading the comments I have decided to reconsider it. Seems there is still a lot of speculations to what actually happened here. Like the possibility of Yuna still continuing her hero duty and enduring all of the suffering alone (I do think that is the most likely scenario). However, we might not get the answers for who knows how long, if ever, so it probably still feels like an ass pull. But then again, considering how from the very beginning of this anime it had us speculating all throughout the entire series, I feel I must applaud the anime for remaining consistent even till the end 🙂

    (It’s too bad I feel this way but I feel like unless there is a second season to this anime, I will likely forget about it over a year or so)

  15. Unfortunately, I simply don’t grasp why this show received the praise it has received. The twist at the start wasn’t exactly surprising. I was spoiled by the written preview which alluded to a fight against the Vertices. I wasn’t really shocked by any of the other twists as well. This show took so many elements from Madoka and grafted them onto itself, that if you were to strip away the tone and message the stories play out the exact same way-

    Yuuki is Madoka, the hero who doesn’t lose hope who makes the ultimate sacrifice in the end
    Tougo is Homura, the veteran magical girl who fights for her friend
    Fuu is Sayaka, the character who strongly believes she’s doing the right thing until she realizes he position is hopeless and becomes unraveled

    Hitsugi is Kamijo, the character that triggers Fuu’s unraveling
    Karin is Kyouko, the overconfident loner that grows attached to the main group.

    Sanju-Sama and the Taisha are Kyuube, the deceptive universe masters that sarifice magical girls for the greater good for whatever they’re protecting.

    Sure there’s nothing new under the sun and there’s some differences here and their, but at its core I feel YuYuYu is very lacking in originality. I didn’t really care much for the darkness and despair. Right from the get go the despair wreaks of tragedy porn. Why does Fuu withhold a very important piece of information from her friends that they could possibly be fighting this battle? It makes no sense to have your comrades completely unprepared like that, and the writers feasted on the drama they created from this inaction.

    Now fast forward to the ending, where all the bodily functions the girls lost as sacrifices to Sanju-Sama are suddenly returned to them. That’s not an asspull. It’s an outright Deus Ex Machina that renders all of the despair caused by Sanju-Sama’s system completely pointless. Regardless of Sanju-sama’s connections to Japanese deities, if the sacrifices can all be simply returned to the girls, why create a system that takes it away from them in the first place? Why can’t you immediately return bodily functions lost to going Mankai immediately after its usage? Why do you have to deceive the people you’re siding with to protect them this way? Being a hero requires sacrifice. Surely those called upon to protect humanity would understand.

    It’s all tragedy porn, as I see it. The ending ruined any hope of my interest in this show.

    Now I’m not saying anyone who reads this should be ashamed of liking this show. If you like it, you like it and there’s nothing wrong with that (Though deep down I really feel people should be ashamed of praising this show while simultaneously shunning Sora no Method, which I strongly believe has superior writing).

    All of this is just one guy’s opinion.

    1. The twist at the start was only really a twist if you had not looked into the series beyond the SoL surface appearance of promo material.

      As far as the ending, its hard to agree that the girls regaining their bodily functions was an asspull or deus ex machina when it was telegraphed beforehand and given an (vague) explanation.

      If anyone should be ashamed it would be for saying something silly like you shouldn’t like show A because you didn’t like show B.

      1. It’s not like explaining that sange is just an offering thus it can be returned excuses what the writers tried to do…

        They tried to play sange and Sonoko for drama only for them retcon it and the best you guys can come up with is because offerings can be returned.

        Try rewatching this series… when you reach the episodes where shit supposedly hits the fan… sigh… all that fake drama.

      2. If you are going to use words like retcon at least use them according to their definition.

        It is somewhat dishonest to call it fake drama when neither the audience or the characters had any reason to believe the Taisha were telling the truth about their disabilities.

      3. You’re trying to explain this whole drama was just a misunderstanding on the girls’s part now I’m asking you if you were to rewatch this would you feel the same as you did when you first watched it? Your very own attempt to explain what happened in the finale reduces every “sad” thing that has happened to fake drama used to invoke cheap tears.

      4. If I were to rewatch the show I would not feel the same because I would know what is going on, which leads to a complete different viewing experience.

        I am not trying to explain anything, I am pointing out things you are choosing to ignore so that you can cling to your ‘fake drama’ mantra.

        Are you trying to force this fake drama thing because the show did not go the grimderp route?

      5. Yes, you are. Nowhere in this finale explained that that was exactly what happened. That is merely your very own attempt to make sense of things and the sad part here is in your attempt to make sense of the finale you’re perfectly ok with how the show manipulated your feelings. The very feelings that you felt that led you to post and sympathize this characters a few backs were just a giant misunderstanding according to you and you’re ok with that?

        hahahaha I guess if you’re ok being manipulated like that then what can we do but I’m telling you I’m not and I’m sure as hell a lot of people feel the same way.

      6. The very feelings that you felt that led you to post and sympathize with these characters a few weeks backs were all a giant misunderstanding according to you and you’re ok with that?

        -grammar fix

      7. wow so now you’re going to pretend that you don’t know that we are talking about a specific genre of drama ĥere. Do you honestly need me to spell out which genre of drama this show tried to be only to throw it all for cheap tears?

    1. I agree with your explanation.

      They offered up their body in exchange for divinity, which they lost when they rebelled against Shinju. Thus, their offerings became null and void (effectively cancelling that divinity).

      The reason I think this is because:
      1. Their body was medically fine. They only lost the use of it. Because of that, when Shinju nullified their offerings (effectively cancelling their divinity), they gradually regained the use of their limbs (and other parts).
      2. The anime borrows many themes from Asian traditions and mythology, where people make offerings at shrines and temples, instead of sacrificing livestock.
      3. The Hero system itself seems to be a modernized version of mediums/priestesses channeling powers of deities.

      4. I think they scared Shinju. *grins* Or at least made him wary of what happens when you push people too far.

      Of course, this is all just speculation. But I think the fact that many think of this as an asspull could be attributed partly to the difference between cultural backgrounds. That, and the fact that “permanent sacrifice -> power” tends to be pretty common.

  16. With that very long slice-of-life build-up, this series should be put at least into the most surprising series of the year. Who knows that this apparently-harmless series can have awesome OST, great action scene, and the most heartbreaking moment of this season, and even this year? And exactly because of that low expectation, the last few episodes hit very hard, at least for me.

    Though, well, I don’t know, all the talks about comparing this series to Madoka bother me a lot. This tumblr post describes greatly the differences between them, despite of these cherry-picked comparison I’ve heard all over the places. Besides, why not comparing this to, say, Gen-ei or Kannazuki no Miko?

    1. It’s funny you mention Gen’ei, because Zephy and I were talking this show, and he said something to the tune of “So it’s Gen’ei, but good?” I replied: “Yup. We blogged the wrong one.”

      Mostly the reason I didn’t liken it to Gen’ei was because this was GOOD, so I didn’t want people associating it with Gen’ei. Also, I forgot about that exchange until just now.

      1. In my view, for what it’s worth, Gen’ei tried the same thing as Yuuki Yuuna, and tried to set itself up as a “Post-Madoka” anime, with it’s fall into tragedy from a Slice of Life, Moe facade, and system out to screw the girls over eventually. The only difference is that YYY story telling and character development is way better than Gen’ei/Daybreak Illusion, and I think YYY is the first really good Post-Madoka Magical Girl show that tries to follow in the vein of Madoka (though it’s not a copy) rather than going into parody (Vividred, Ore Twintails) or playing the genre straight without that “descent into hell” or the “Fourteen Year old Magical Girls are child soldiers with fancy uniforms” theme (with the possible, very debatable exception of WIXOSS, but someone has to make the case for WIXOSS then).

      2. The reason why I mentioned these two is because those two are pioneers (along with other series I may have forgotten) of what now so-thought ‘Madoka-esque’ story (yes, Gen’ei anime was made after Madoka, but the source material came before that). Though of course those two series have their own problems (e.g. I still can’t fathom why mecha is used in Kannazuki no Miko), but still, I think it’s fairer to compare Yuuki Yuuna to them rather than Madoka.

  17. This became one of my favourite animes. Unexpectedly good. The final episode had me startled as I was expecting a gloomy one. But then after reading some of the interesting analysis that people have, I like it. Though really, I dont know how to handle the ending if it was otherwise the gloomy end.

    I am also sad that no one here blogged this show.

    PS: I LOVE the soundtrack.

  18. The problem I have with the ending to this series is actually very simple – that it is too simple.

    The strength of the series, I feel, was in its subtlety. For the entire first half of the series, you had a careful mix of slice-of-life interspersed with ominous tonal hints – the surreality of the opening theme, the unsettling quality of the ‘forest’ landscape, the countdown-like attention paid to the mankai gauges – such that when the second half and the true central conflict hit, it was a surprise without being a surprise. And as much as I like Madoka Magica, I’ll say it was actually more subtle than that was for the 2 episodes it tried to keep up the pretense. And then the second half begins to peel back the layers in a way that felt much the same, like surprises that don’t feel surprising, helped by some truly masterful and powerful visual direction. The scene with Mimori visiting Sonoko in the hospital, with almost the entire emotional dialogue panned on Mimori and the hospital bed, before panning out near the very end to show the bed in the middle of a shrine and the floor and walls of the room literally papered with charms and hitogata – that was easily one of the most memorable scenes of the whole year. And the convergence of the music and visual direction for the scene where Mimori steps outside the barrier and views the terrible truth of the world – that was amazingly effective at conveying the sheer scope of dawning horror and disbelief that the character and, by extension, the audience should be feeling. Thus, by the end of episode 10, you had a brilliantly fine and subtle Catch-22 – where no one is really exactly wrong, but nonetheless cruel and difficult to resolve.

    …until, apparently, episode 12, where said conflict is resolved, in a way that wouldn’t have felt terribly out of place in Naruto. A punch, talk-no-jutsu, and willpower and friendship. A happy ending that didn’t feel as much earned as it was given by the hand of the author-god, which is the real problem – with Yuuna’s character as it was, it was always highly unlikely a despair ending was on the cards, but the actual resolution felt less like Alexander cleaving the Gordian Knot and more like him poking it with his finger and it just coming loose. This is especially so coming on the heels on episode 11 – Yuuna’s apparent easy ‘resolution’ of the whole situation feels almost like a complete invalidation of Karin’s last stand in episode 11. This is not the kind of feeling you want to engender with your last two episodes.

    Mind, let us be clear – it’s not that the ending ‘doesn’t make sense’. Any number of explanations are possible with which to (somewhat) justify the ending. The thing is that most of said explanations are highly unsatisfying (especially the ‘it was all a huge misunderstanding’ justification) and/or feel, for the real first time in the whole series, like a surprise that really is a surprise; charging in from out of left field with not a hint of its prior existence, not a single telltale shadow which would have left the viewer nodding while mumbling ‘so that’s what that was about’. Dissonant with the rest of the series.

    (An aside; the ‘misunderstanding’ explanation is particularly singularly unsatisfying because it totally invalidates nearly all of the characters’ actions and suffering. I saw a comparison to Higurashi somewhere; the difference with that lies in that the way the narrative there progresses at the very least implies that the early ‘misunderstanding’ loops left valid memories that would later help in the resolution, and that the Syndrome exacerbated said misunderstanding anyway. Here, if you accept that explanation, the whole series becomes an exercise in horrible miscommunication and little else.)

    Now, there are hints of something more even in the last episode – Yuuna’s sudden fainting spell, for instance, and the closing tagline. However, these aren’t enough to make up for how far in style and subtlety it seems to depart from the rest of the series, and for anyone that won’t or can’t continue to follow whatever other media in which these will be developed, the last episode will unfortunately be a less than sterling denouement to an otherwise outstanding series.

    1. Yeah, the more I think about it, the more the ending kind of annoys me. It does feel like they wrote themselves into a corner they had to deus ex their way out of. It wasn’t a bad deus ex, as far as these things go, but a deus ex machina it remains.

      The clencher for me is remembering that I was considering yuyuyu a tragedy up through episode eleven, and then … nope. Had it remained a classical tragedy until the end, it would have done something very uncommon in anime: the unexpected Bad End, mind for emotional catharsis. It would have been interesting to see if that succeeded.

      Still, not bad over all. It just didn’t fully capitalize on everything it had going on.

  19. was good for what i thought it was.. A live action bullet-hell schmup..with girls doing girl emotion type shit……

    but i was under the impression by that ending “yuki yunna chapter” that shit was about to get REAL!….but i guess its over?

    BROOKLYN otaku
  20. I wasn’t about to watch this show at all, before a friend told me that I should – since Takahiro (of whom I was a rabid fanboi until recently) was involved in the story creation. So I watched.

    Episode 1 literally screamed “I’m the reincarnation of Madoka, watch me!” – down to the character designs. The upcoming episodes made clear that it was a much simpler copy of the massive original. More slice-of-life, more little girl bonding, no interwoven story threads, less mystery, less drama. Still, regardless of the lower complexity, it was relaxing and pleasing to watch.

    Then the drama arc demanded things to turn dark, and there they went. Again, the dilemma was simpler in construction and dished out more heavy-handedly (the Fu agonizing over her imouto’s loss of voice episode had me eyerolling after 20 minutes), but still alright. I thought that YuuYuu was headed to a 7 or 8 out of 10 rating with me.

    Then episode 11, where I first had inklings that the show was in trouble. Togo had been established as the smart and rational girl throughout the show how could _she_ for crying out loud completely tilt and decide that she had to destroy the entire world (!!) since she could not bear seeing Yuna hurt and crippled in a hopeless meatgrinder? Committing suicide out of fear of death is sheer stupidity in the first place, along with 52314 other good reasons against her actions – so why would she do something so retarded and selfish? I decided to wait for the final episode (maybe she has some important information we’re not aware of?), but I was beginning to worry.

    And even worse than feared, episode 12 was a complete, unmitigated disaster. Togo had no extra information, she was simply “panicked”, as the creators confirmed in a later interview. Aha. Why did Yuna succeed in swaying Togo? Nobody knows. Why did contrary to the entire exposition up to then all girls start to recover, including Yuna? Nobody knows. Did Shinjuu change her mind, or did somehow the threat (what was this threat, by the way?) disappear? Nobody knows.

    That’s the problem I have with YuuYuu: It makes _no sense_ whatsoever. If you spend multiple episodes explaining the plot, and then revert all we have learned in one episode, then I demand a proper exlpanation. Unfortunately, there was none. Not even formerly “unclear” scenes which would allow us to anchor plausible speculations at.

    What the show did is essentially the equivalent of getting McKinsey business consultants, and they come up with 6 slides “This is where you are”, then add 4 slides “This is the problem”, then 1 slide “Don’t be ridiculous”, then 1 slide “But it’s no problem after all. Good luck!”, leave the bill on the table and walk through the door happily winking at us “Contract us one more time, maybe we’ll have something to say then”.

    I can only say that as someone preferring logical story developments, I felt _insulted_ by this ending.

  21. sigh this is what I feared about Madoka constant clones popping up everywhere because “girls suffering for their powers” has become the new motif. this type of narrative is getting old now it was good the first time(Madoka) but now its becoming predictably cliché.

  22. She is the hero that Shinju-sama needs, but not the one it deserves. She will fight alone, because she can take it. Because she is not simply a guardian. She is a hero.

  23. I personally loved the happy ending because by the halfway mark, I was completely invested in the characters. It just leaves a better taste in my mouth that they all healed in the end.

  24. Mr. stiit’s it’s a shame little boy characters are such a rarity in anime now whether they’re a main character or have a supporting role. we the audience will never see another Jim Hawking, Syaoran li, or Yahiko Myojin. but the otaku don’t want that they only want little girl characters which would be fine if creators actually treated them like human beings with personalities instead of fetish fuel. look at Chihiro from Spirited away for example do you think Hayao miyazaki just one day said “I’m going have my main little girl make out with another little girl character for no reason because I just care about the male crowd and they like stuff like this” no why because miyazaki has a brain and thankfully hasn’t caught what I’m referring to as the “the otaku disease”.

  25. Just finished watching this series. Found the girls’ motivation for fighting a little too weak. I don’t think normal middle school girls would risk their lives for some vague idea of ‘saving the world’, they were just told whatever and believed everything. I think they could have spent 1 more episode for them to start fighting instead of from ep1. Oh well

    SnooSnoo (@ShinJiwon)
  26. Sorry for severe necroing, but I really have no one to ponder this together, with my closer peers yet to try this work out and all the “Madoka clone” mindset going on; Which I believe was merely an unfortunate timing, or perhaps MadoMagi actually proved to the creator/creators that the ___wa Yuusha de Aru scenarios would be acceptable to the audience. (Takahiro’s IV project seems like it was planned for a longer time than being a copycat.)

    Anyways; Is it still considered Deus ex Machina if Shinjuu-sama/Taisha pulled off the system/trade because it/they finally realized the flaw of such method?
    Of course, this is merely a theory, but what if the fact that Yuuna could not transform because of her state of emotion pointed Shinjuu-sama to the first clear flaw, namely the girls would eventually see through the facade and have the possibility to break down, rendering Shijuu-sama vulnerable? Granted, I still have not read (and may never get a chance to read) the preceding novel which details the story of Tougo back when she was Washio, so my interpretation could possibly be off.
    Should that still be considered Deus ex Machina…I guess it should, huh? The kind that has clearer mechanism?

    [Now for other thoughts.]
    Personally, the ending does seem rushed to me, for the lack of a better expression. Even makes me think someone or some people in the team chickened out of a more grim ending because the members of Yuusha-bu deserves better, which I agree.
    Man, do they know how to draw my sympathy, even more than Madoka since the secret agenda is not entirely malicious (Kyubey folks try to preserve the universe, but naaaaaah.) plus the emphasis on how to face the despair, fitting the “hero” theme. (Madoka and Homura were more the “savior” type.)

    I still want to believe that this work is not another “let’s jump on the deconstruction of magical girls profit train” after MadoMagi. I apologize in advance if this will disrespect some creators’ idea, but I really felt Gen’ei wo Kakeru Taiyou is another fitting example for shows that just tries to hop on the train with jarringly less originality or depth. Then along came WIXOSS…
    So I began watching Yuuki Yuuna with intense fear of another cheap knock-off, and I felt this work proved me wrong on that regard.

    Here’s hoping the YuuYuuYuu sequel/sequels will explore the solid setting further and actually reach a more conclusive ending.

    P.S. I recently finished WIXOSS’ second season and they actually handle a lot of things way better than the first one, though many parts still feel superficial.

    I never actually follow a blog or reviewer, but Random Curiosity always seem to be profound and fair every time I stumbled in here, keep up the good work!


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