Yu-No (2019): Anime Review

Funimation's header art for the series, focusing on the first half.

There are some anime with a strong first half, and then which utterly shits the bed in the second half of the show. Yu-No, an anime series based off of an Eroge (and which had an earlier hentai adaptation back in the ’90s) is one of those shows.

Yu-No follows Yuuno, a horndog high school student in a coastal Japanese town that is home to a weird mountain made out of a weird rock that contains weird ruins that a local corporation is trying to exploit. Due to the critical mass of weirdness contained therein, there have been a variety of lightning strikes affecting the construction crews, all out of a clear blue sky.

Yuuno’s father had been investigating the ruins, but had disappeared after a mysterious accident and is believed to be dead, leaving Yuuno with his stepmother – who was also his dad’s assistant and is close enough in age to Yuuno to put him in the same awkward situation with her that Bill and Ted were with Missy in those two films.

While going through his presumed dead dad’s files, Yuuno discovers a mysterious stone artifact with a variety of strange beads stuck in it, with spots for several more, along with a note from Yuuno’s father basically saying that if he gets all the beads he’d find out the truth of what happened to his dad.

After another strange incident happens following a lighting strike, Yuuno discovers that he can (sort of) travel backward in time to a point that he has “bookmarked” in the timeline. I say “sort of” because it’s less time travel, and more shifting to alternative timelines. This sets up the mystery of the first half of the series, with Yuuno using this device to solve various mysteries in town and discover the truth of what happened to his dad.

That part works. It’s an engaging story with interesting characters who you get invested in. Yuuno’s horndog attitude is established early on as being a defense mechanism – it’s something he brings up when things get too real, and later on when he has difficulty explaining why he knows things he doesn’t (due to his timeline shifting). It mixes drama (with a side of tragedy) with comedy in almost equal measure.

Then he gets all the beads, activates the device, and we get into the second half of the show, which is an Isekai, and it sucks. We shift into this magical world at a point where let’s just say, there is some dramatic tension and the implication of a ticking clock. However, the series then proceeds to just slow the pacing down and lose all narrative momentum – and with it all the goodwill that the show had earned in its first half.

I wanted to like Yu-No, and for 12-ish episodes, I did. And then the back half just lost me completely, and the only thing keeping me watching it was, well, because I wanted to do this review. You don’t have that reason, so give this show a miss.

Currently, Yu-No is available for streaming through Funimation and Crunchyroll, with the dub available on both sites, if you decide you do want to watch it.

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