Yuki Yuna is a Hero Review

Easily the hidden gem of the busy season of Fall 2014, Yuki Yuna is a Hero had little buzz behind it, but still managed to capture my attention from beginning to end. Even taking the all too familiar direction of the Magical Girl genre, the question becomes of what it provides to stand out from the crowd.

fpyukiyuna14Story
Taking place in a small town, the story follows the members of the Hero Club. A club created by Fu Inubozaki that focuses on helping anyone in need. Upon the years beginning, she recruits her sister Itsuki and two friends Yuki Yuna and Mimori Togo. Together, the four enjoy doing many activities to aid in their community and build a sense of duty for helping those in need.

Despite their normal life, things turn a bit for the worst as one day they are all swept up into an alternate dimension where they face beings known as Vertex. Turns out Fu is part of an organization that protects the town’s god Shinju. On occasion, groups of students are chosen by this organization to defend Shinju from the invading Vertex and entrusted with devices to call upon great powers to do so.

fpyukiyuna3With that synopsis in mind, one would probably discard this show as “yet another magical girl.” Except that would be a bit of a mistake. While it borrows many elements from the Magical Girl 101 book, it also manages to take it in an interesting direction. It has girls being the only ones able to protect the world, magical transformations, and even stages of power. Beyond that is a dark, but also balanced lighthearted story that creates a very enjoyable and satisfying journey.

This is thanks for the most part to a theme of sacrifice at the guts of the formula. A balance of friendships, bonds, and weight to decisions that is introduced to the show half way through that challenges the characters and the ongoing battle for survival. As they begin to investigate the inner workings of this, their boundaries, the risks, and the truth behind the world they fight in, it leads to a pleasant pay off that viewers can appreciate.

fpyukiyuna19That’s not to say the entire show is without faults. The early segments of the show focuses on easing the viewer into the characters which are quite shallow at first glance. Though most of them remain without any backstory and are never fleshed out, the struggles they encounter end up shaping them enough in the end. Even if at times certain characters manage to act rather out-of-place and illogical, it never ruins the overall enjoyment of the show.

Animation
The ongoing theme of flowers blossoming and wilting is present throughout the show’s visuals, and this is portrayed often with beautiful floods of pedals that look both artistic and lovely. While I’m not too familiar with Studio Gokumi’s work, they did a fantastic job with this series. The colors are vibrant, the action is solid, and the animation was impressive.

fpyukiyuna16While at times, far off shots of characters were done in CG, it never seemed jarring or off-putting. Instead, it was smartly used and worked well to get the job done. Alternatively, all enemies were done in CG, which did seem rather disappointing. Even still, it didn’t take too much from the experience as they don’t end up being too much of the focus.

Audio
While most of the musical pieces within the show don’t stand out much but to enhance the moment to moment with ambience, it must be noted that the combat sequence feature some really great scores. A mixture of great vocals, a traditional style, and a fast paced beat create a fitting and enjoyable tune for the situation.

The voice work was well done, portraying emotion and believable panic in dire points; joy and innocence in subtle moments. That said, I do have fpyukiyuna10a minor gripe in moments of “powering up” when the characters began screaming in energy. At times it just sounded off and distracting. Though that’s not to say they didn’t feel genuine.

Verdict
As alluded to in the introduction, Yuki Yuna is a Hero is definitely a hidden gem among the big titles in Fall 2014.  While it doesn’t attempt to shatter all the molds it is pigeonholed into thanks to the Magical Girl label, it does manage to push enough to make it stand out from the crowd thanks to its particular elements that it puts into play midway through the series.

Though it suffers from some shallow character developments and an ending that is rather anti-climactic, it still remains a show that is both enjoyable and quite an emotional ride.  Leading it to be quite a solid recommendation for both Magical Girl fans and those that need a bit more to convince themselves to watch a Magical Girl show.  This coming from someone in the later boat.

Good

REVIEW VERDICT:
Good

Goods:

  • A great take on the magical girl
  • Colorful and solid combat
  • Emotional points
  • Great world design

Bads:

  • A few unanswered questions
  • Some logic breaking points
  • Some slow and boring early moments
Share on Google+Share on LinkedInShare on RedditShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook

Co-Founder of OtakuSpirit.com and Co-Host of the OtakuSpirit Animecast. A huge fan of anime since the early 1990s, consuming over 800 shows. While he's late to the collecting scene, he's found a lot of joy in filling his DVD/Blu-ray collection as well as collecting figures. Once a week, he posts unboxing and feature videos on anime goods to YouTube.