“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” –Marcus Garvey
When we left off last, Dewbond of Shallow Dives in Anime and I had concluded YU-NO: A Girl Who Chants Love at the Bound of this World‘s first half. Kanna’s arc closed up with Takuya securing all of the stones required to complete the Reflector Device, and in this moment, Takuya sets off in search of Mount Sankaku’s secrets. Upon activating the Reflector Device in a special chamber within Mount Sankaku, Takuya awakens in an alien world. Without any clue of what to do next, Takuya decides to channel his inner Les Stroud and attempts survival. He has the right idea: there’s fish to catch and enough wood to get a fire going. However, what happens next is out of this world: Takuya encounters a monster that looks like it came straight from an RPG, and with it, a mute blonde girl. After driving this monster off, Takuya spends a better part of the day trying to learn her name: Sayless. From here on out, YU-NO takes its viewers and players alike in a completely different direction; just a few posts ago, we’d been looking at the mysteries surrounding GeoTech, Mio’s dogged pursuit of the history behind Mount Sankaku and Takuya’s everyday life at school. Now, we’re dropped into what appears to be the forerunner of today’s isekai, a genre that has gained nearly runaway popularity in the past few years. Admittedly, when I reached this point in YU-NO, I was blown away at how sudden the changes were, but as Takuya begins to spend more time with Sayless and Illia, viewers are eased into what was a sudden transition. This time around, however, I enter the discussion with one significant advantage: Dewbond. In the second half of YU-NO, and our collaboration, we will be exploring Dela Grante and the adventures Takuya finds himself in.
Anime is no stranger to plot twists, or big “wtf” moments. Elfen Lied, Berserk, Code Geass, Higurashi, The End of Evangelion. There are plenty of shows that like to throw a curveball at their viewers and see where the pieces land. YU-NO however doesn’t just throw a curveball, it breaks the glass window into a million different pieces. I am not lying when I say that YU-NO‘s second half is one of the biggest, if not THE biggest paradigm shift in anime or visual novel history. It completely upends the story, changing everything, and forever altering how we Takuya and company now, and before.
What is shocking though, even more so than what happens, is just how well it works. Takuya and his adventures in Dela Grante should not work, it should have completely fallen apart, yet in the Visual Novel, everything just clicks so well. We spend a good 20 hours in this last part of the story, and the time spent is well told. It isn’t some insane hail mary, it’s a well crafted change, and when you look back at the previous 5 arcs. Man do they fucking drop hints left and right.
Now that all being said, this is also the part in the story that, makes the most changes, and the anime’s adaptational choices run the gambit in terms of quality. I’ll bring up the two biggest, one good, and one bad, as we get to them, but Zen, what was your gut reaction to Takuya’s new story?
For me, the initial shock wore off shortly after Takuya meets Sayless and sat her down in an effort to learn her name. Here he was, in an alien world and nary a hint of his old world, and Takuya’s old traits shine through. He’s still kind to those around him, and remains quick to strike up conversation with a beautiful lady. Once this was established, it became clear that even a paradigm shift won’t alter how Takuya acts, and this creates a reassuring sense; Takuya may be in an alien world, but he retains his calm, methodical disposition. This is something I particularly liked about the first half: it firmly establishes that Takuya is well-suited for handling the unexpected, and so, while the second half can come across as jarring, as the first episode drew to a close, the surprise very quickly gave way to curiosity.
The lead up to Dela Grante was simultaneously expected and unexpected in the anime – YU-NO had made it clear that Takuya did not live in an ordinary world, and as such, notions of different timelines, parallel universes and the presence of a mysterious stone, coupled with an unusual artifact hidden under Mount Sankaku, and even Kōzō’s ability to hypnotise people, all serve to foreshadow that Takuya’s world is far deeper than the first five arcs suggest. However, to so suddenly discard the more traditional set of routes for a more linear story set in a new space was surprising, and as YU-NO continued, it became apparent that during the Dela Grante arc, there could have been many places where the plot could have become incoherent or disorganised, and yet, the YU-NO successfully (and elegantly keeps things together). This is, of course, an anime-only perspective, so I think it is worth delving into the visual novel side of things.
You can approach Dela Grante from any route, as the ways are all open for you. There is a bit of explanation when you read Kodai’s journal, but there is little in actual preparation.
The main change comes in Takuya’s reaction. There isn’t much lip-service in the anime towards Takuya realizing he’s probably never going back. In the Visual Novel, after Illia dies, (and the visual novel really drives home how her dying really robs him of his only source of information) Takuya has moments of frustration, anger and rage, and he lashes out at Sayless, the only person who can talk to, but who can’t respond back, because of it. I really dug this, because it makes Takuya just a little bit more human. I love that he is always calm and collected, but the weight of what happens should have affected him.
His relationship with Sayless though, takes up much of the first ‘half’ of this final route. She is one of the three heroines of this part of the story, and, like all three, holds a massive bunch of significance. What are your thoughts on Sayless?
I rather liked Sayless: pretty like a postcard and wearing a warm smile when Takuya meets here, there is a certain charm about her character in that, despite being unable to speak, her intentions and feelings are conveyed all the same. Considering how important our voices are in communication, this was no mean feat. At least in the anime, however, I get the sense that meeting the knight Illia helped Takuya considerably. Had Takuya met Sayless on her own, things might have ended up very differently: while Sayless cannot speak, Illia can, and I imagine that in the off-screen moments, Takuya learnt more about Dela Grante from her. Everything changes with Illia’s death: in the anime, Takuya decides to push forwards and reach the Imperial Capital, but is forced to turn back upon realising just how vast the desert is. He finds Sayless has followed him, and now, with a source of support gone, it was hardly surprising that Takuya and Sayless turn to one another for support and comfort after Takuya ascertains that crossing the desert is a Herculean task.
The anime may have very well skipped over Takuya struggling to accept his new world, and its portrayal struck me as showing Takuya and Sayless turning to one another as he adjusts to life here, and her finding new strength after Illia’s death. I would have like to see Takuya’s more difficult moments in the anime, since being pushed into a new world would be taxing for anyone. However, in their best moments, Sayless and Takuya do have an interesting chemistry; this blossoms into love and the birth of Yu-no, which shows Takuya at his best. However, Sayless’ story is one that ends in tragedy, and I was surprised that she ended up committing suicide rather than return to the Imperial City. In retrospect, this felt unnecessary, and I’m sure that Takuya would’ve felt the guilt and melancholy from this.
And here we get to one of the biggest changes, and frankly the only universal thing I think the anime did better: Sayless’s death. In the anime it is shown as this tragic and heartbreaking thing, when Sayless takes a knife and kills her self. In the visual novel, when she’s just pinned down by the guards, she just bites her tongue off and instantly dies.
It is just so anti-climatic and strange, and it was the only time in my experience with the visual novel that I felt the anime did it better. I blame coming from the anime in some regards, as I expected there to be close to a 1 to 1 adaptation, but this is one of the biggest, and frankly better changes that are made.
Sayless herself, in my views, feel like the most ‘plot device’ of the series heroines. She’s nice, and gentle, and her eventual winning over of Takuya is sweet, but it is clear that she’s just here to be Yu-no’s baby mama. In fact, and we’ll discuss this later, If I could Monday-morning quarterback the series (but I never would) I would probably just merge Sayless and Yu-no together. But we’ll get to that point later.
As for Yu-no itself, let’s talk a bit about her before the trek into the desert. What do you think of the titular girl so far Zen?
You’re absolutely right about Yu-no being a splitting image of Sayless, Dewbond: after she begins learning to speak and walk, it became very clear that Yu-no is Sayless in miniature, bearing the same warmth and kindness that Sayless had. I believe that with Yu-no, Takuya has a chance to really appreciate what it means to be a father, and be there for Yu-no where Kodai couldn’t be there for him. Whenever Yu-no asks him if he loves her, the answer never changes, and during the time they spend together, it genuinely does feel like that Takuya’s found peace, raising a family and sharing idyllic days together in solitude, away from the troubles of the world. This makes Sayless’ death all the more tragic, and I was holding my breath, waiting to see how Yu-no would handle things.
After Yu-no says that Sayless’ spirit lives on in her, I breathed a little easier: symbolically, I took that to mean that memories of Sayless would never be lost, but the visuals also suggest that Sayless’ soul may have remained with Yu-no, as well. Because of this, Sayless is never forgotten, and I believe that for Takuya, doubtlessly grieving after Sayless’ death, is also able to find the strength to continue his quest to reach the Imperial Capital: he has Yu-no with him, and Yu-no is worth fighting to save. The journey to reach the Imperial Capital with Yu-no gives the anime a chance to further flesh out the father-daughter dynamics between the two. The anime’s short length generally means that moments the visual novel can explore in greater detail are truncated, but it is through things like Takuya and Yu-no’s journey across the desert that indicate that, despite the shorter length, the anime could still do a satisfactory job of things. That inevitably leads to the question, Dewbond: are the anime-only folks missing anything during the desert voyage Takuya and Yu-no undertake?
They miss a chance for Takuya to get down and dirty with Sala! The girl from the oasis has a bit of extended role in the anime when you see her later, but in the visual novel, the scene at the oasis and Yu-no’s subsequent kidnapping is all you get. I mean the anime does give you plenty of shots at her frankly fantastic ass, so there is that.
In regards to Sala though, she remains the one character, in both iterations who is the most out of place. YU-NO is a erotic visual novel, so Takuya is plowing fields left and right, but meeting Sala and then bedding her feels extremely out of left field, and honestly, like it was shoved in there cause there hadn’t been a sex scene in hours. Is it bad? No, but when everything else in the story is very tightly told, Sala feels like a outlier. Like an “oh shit, we haven’t seen any boning in a while, get someone in there!”
As for Yu-no herself. I agree that she is very much a mini version of Sayless, and her relationship and bond with her father is a great part of the story. Takuya fits right into to being a father, and accepts his place in the world, a quiet one with Sayless and Yu-no quite well. It is a good place to send his character, seeing that beneath the confidence, swagger and horny nature, Takuya is a good man who values his family and those he cares about. The trek through the desert is just as grueling as you would expect, and the still images make it feel like they are going no where. Just enough time is spent on it, before we get to then next big part of the story, which brings us my favorite character, and the biggest changes from the visual novel to the anime.
Let’s talk about Amanda, and the prison.
Since Takuya is incarcerated before Amanda, I’ll take advantage of the time to go through his initial experiences. It was a little shocking to see him adapt so quickly (as he deals with the prison bully, Joe), and even more surprising to see that even on Dela Grante, the counterparts to Masakatsu Yūki and Toyotomi were present in Kurtz and Deo! I can’t help but feel that the presence of seemingly familiar faces, in conjunction with the Psychite mine here, may have helped Takuya to regroup, take stock and figure out his next move.Similarly, the fact that the lightning towers here at the prison are identical to the one he found at Mount Sankaku. While life at the prison is difficult, no different than that of a work camp, even in spite of Bask’s enjoyment of torturing the inmates for fun, I never was under the impression that Takuya was under any imminent danger here. As long as he did his assignment and kept a low profile, it would buy him the time he needed to work out an escape plan. Moreover, with familiar implements all around, I was convinced that Takuya had a chance to escape, and he just needed an opportunity to do so. I was, admittedly, curious to know what the Psychite was being used for, and found myself a little confused about its properties when it became clear this particular mine was to obtain and refine the mineral for a coffin of sorts for the Dela Grante priest.
The opportunity to mount an escape materialises when Amanda is brought in; her conversations with Takuya helps to build trust, and with Amanda, we have someone who both knows the world, and whose objectives are aligned with Takuya’s. As the resistance’s leader, Amanda is well-placed to act as a partner for Takuya when it comes to escaping the prison. With her presence and leadership, Amanda reveals that she has a few contacts inside the prison, including Deo and Kurtz. All of this comes together to create a thrilling escape, setting Takuya one step closer to his objective at the Imperial Capital. The anime had Kun-kun, a Nogard that Yu-no had rescued and cared for earlier, show up out of the blue to rescue Takuya and Amanda from certain death during the escape, and for me, this indicates that Takuya, initially reluctant to raise a Nogard, comes to appreciate the sort of person Yu-no grew up to be. Through the anime, Amanda comes across as being immensely resilient, even losing an eye to Bask as a result of her refusing to talk. She definitely feels like a leader: composed and filled with conviction in her objectives. As memory serves, Amanda is much more uncertain in the visual novel, and this alters how we view her as the resistance’s leader. Would you mind elaborating, Dewbond?
Well, the first thing is that all those extra rebels you see in Prison? The lookalikes and greater resistance. None of that exists in the visual. It’s Amanda and only Amanda.
That is the second, and biggest change in from the visual novel and frankly one I’m not fond of. I’ve spoke about in a post about Amanda and Takuya’s relationship last year, and I still believe it. Amanda is tough as nails, no question, but the visual novel also portrays her as someone completely out of her depth. The last fighter in a war that ended long ago. There is literally no chance for Amanda to win until Takuya comes along, and even that, he’s more focused on saving Yu-no.
I love Amanda, I love her character and I love her relationship to Takuya. Their romantic moment, instead of happening later in the city, actually happens right after they escape and have to eat Kun-Kun, (yes they FUCKING EAT Kun-kun). The news that Illia, her sister is dead is the last wall on her defenses breaking, and Amanda just falls apart. Takuya is there, and comforts her as best he can. After that, Amanda just becomes all about Takuya and wishes, after the ‘war’ to have a life with him.
Now that might come off as tacky to some, I get that, but I really liked it. Again, Amanda is a woman fighting a war that is pretty much over, and being the only one does wonders to sell the desperation and hopelessness of the situation. She clings to Takuya as the one piece of love she has left, and despite that she is still able to be her own person. When they are stuck in the desert and have to resort to eating Kun-kun (yes that ACTUALLY FUCKING HAPPENS), it is Amanda who has to get Takuya on board, giving him some hard lessons on both their world and their culture.
I’ll talk a bit more about her later, but what did you think of this part of the story Zen? We can see that the prison uses the same electric towers that was hidden in Mount Sankaku, which just raises more questions.
It sounds like Amanda’s visual novel incarnation was truly isolated until Takuya shows up, and this diverges from the themes that resulted in the anime conveys. Similarly, I do feel bad for Kun-kun, as well: the fact that the fauna in Dela Grante have sentience is a bit of foreshadowing, but to take a leaf out of Les Stroud’s playbook, in a survival situation, all creatures are fair game. Finally, on the topic of the electric weapons that both the prison and Mount Sankaku possess, it was here where the pieces began falling into place. Whoever had left the towers on Earth, very likely would’ve been the same beings who built the towers at the prison. The vast disconnect between the technological sophistication seen in Dela Grante’s people, and what appears to be possible, hinted a situation seen in H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, where the Eloi have, in their centuries of decadence, lost all ability to understand and maintain the machinery that sustain their lifestyles.
Notions of a civilisation forgetting how to use the technology is a familiar theme in science fiction: the Ratakans had originally constructed Force-powered super-weapons that could devastate entire worlds, but after their defeat, lost knowledge of their once-great works. The science fiction side of YU-NO is a fascinating one, and Dela Grante is a world that allows the imagination to really wander. In the anime, the focus is on Takuya exploiting his knowledge of the lightning tower to facilitate an escape, but I imagine that in the visual novel, as one is wont to do so while reading a book, the mind’s eye can paint a vivid world that beckons to speculation. It sounds like both the anime and visual novel lay down the groundwork for the biggest surprise in YU-NO, as well: once Amanda and Takuya arrive in the Imperial Capital, they set about their task of destroying the Divine Emperor, and I found that this was perhaps the most impressive revelation in any work I’ve seen in a while.
The reveal of the Divine Emperor actually being Ayumi, the original Ayumi that as at Mount Sankaku in the very first episode was a great reveal. The Emperor herself is not even touched upon in the visual novel, there are no scenes with her, so she’s just mentioned. At this point in the story you’ve probably forgotten completely about that Ayumi, and so when she comes back, it brings everything full circle.
Of course, before that, we meet up with Eriko once more, and also see Yu-no herself, now fully grown and under the control of the Emperor. Eriko though, takes sometime to sit down and explain the entire history of Dela Granto, where in the anime it is explained to Amanda and her cohorts.
Now the story of Dela Granto is actually quite compelling, an advanced civilization on Earth that escape a great calamity, but thanks to that technology, they always find themselves drifting closer and closer to the Earth. That is why they need the ‘priestess’ not for some holy ritual, but to sync with the computer mainframe and re-adjust the course of the floating continent. All of this information though has been lost to time, and instead the world has fallen backwards, and people view Grantia, the scientist who developed this technology, as some sort of god.
It’s a lot of shit thrown at you, but god damn, does YU-NO make it work. It shows again, just how well the story was at switching girls from this elusive mystery, to this high concept science fiction romp. It honestly shouldn’t work, it should be feel stilted and forced in, but when you watch it, or read it in the visual novel, everything clicks into place.
Zen, what did you think of the revelations of Ayumi and the history of Dela Grante, along with Yu-no’s fate to become the next priestess?
Seeing Ayumi as the Divine Emperor immediately put my heart at ease. Takuya and Amanda were deep behind enemy lines, on an incredibly difficult mission, and suddenly, all of the tension drains away, replaced by a sense of catharsis. By taking viewers on a bit of exposition that brings all of the pieces in YU-NO together, Ayumi and the AI help to answer all of the questions that viewers (and Takuya) likely had lingering. With this, every mystery in YU-NO comes together to a common, logical origin: the lightning towers and semi-sentient fauna in Dela Grante were originally human creations, as was the refining of Psychite to power their technology. The supernatural gives way to science: justifying the existence of priestesses and the ceremony every four centuries as a consequence of a society that lost its own technological might was not only plausible, but it makes sense.
On first glance, YU-NO‘s setup is so wild that nothing looks like it would synergise, but looking back, I feel that the core story elements were written well ahead of time, and then bits and pieces were given to players of the visual novel to drive the mystery. This is a common enough way of writing out fiction so that the overarching story can come together at some point, while leaving readers with tantalising clues as to what’s upcoming. The Harry Potter series is a solid example of this, and from what we’ve seen in YU-NO, it is fair to say that the writers similarly did an excellent job. I absolutely enjoyed Ayumi sitting Takuya down and explaining everything, and the AI enlightening Amanda’s resistance fighters to the same. Besides leaving us with a complete picture, it also gave the anime a chance to put Ayumi back in the spotlight.
The idea of an advanced precursor civilisation was a similarly interesting one, bringing to mind the Silurian hypothesis, which supposes that it is conceivable for an industrial civilisation to have existed on Earth before our time; owing to geological time-scales, plate tectonics and ice ages would effectively bury all traces, and so, even a space-faring civilisation would eventually be undetectable. The concept is intriguing, and I similarly think of the Halo: Cryptum series, which suggests that modern humanity were the successors of a much more advanced, space-faring civilisation. YU-NO opens up the potential to discuss the possibility of civilisations on Earth pre-dating humanity, and these final episodes were definitely as thought-provoking as they were enjoyable.
Once all of this comes out into the open, Takuya whole-heartedly supports Ayumi and agrees to allow the ceremony to proceed. In the anime, we saw Eriko show up to fight off whatever Kōzō Ryuzōji’s become in a bid to save both worlds. Dewbond, how did things differ from the events within the visual novel here?
Well the climax of the visual novel actually takes place in the basement with the machine, not with a crowd full of people. Those souls aren’t present, and there is no real battle. Amanda still gets thrown into the past, Ayumi still dies, and Eriko is still able to defeat Ryuzoji. However, Eriko’s big struggle, and the apparition of her dead lover doesn’t exist. She just shows up to save the day and wastes Ryuzoji and then tells Takuya that he has to let Yu-no do what she has to do.
It is a good climax overall, and the anime follows the main points, but I do admit liking the secluded nature of the visual novel more. It gives things a more epic feeling, and doesn’t feel as out of place like the anime does. Why would they just do this really important event in the middle of the public?
However Zen, before we talk about the series final moments. There is something we need to talk about. We’ve skated around the issue since we started, and while it isn’t as implied in the anime, it nothing but implied and done in the visual novel. Let’s talk about the incest. Specifically, the fact that Kanna, who is a beddable and romanceable heroine is Takuya and Amanda’s daughter.
And the fact that in the visual novel, Takuya and Yu-no have sex. You remember that tender scene right before the ritual, when they are in Yu-no’s room? Well they go straight down to bone town.
Because of how blasé, but indirect, YU-NO has been regarding sex, I think that the visual novel would’ve been able to really capture the emotional piece behind whenever Takuya takes the heroines and beds them – rather than the act itself, it is the intimacy, the desire to be closer to someone in a world that has been very aggressive at driving people apart, that motivates what Takuya does. Unlike, say, School Days’ Makoto Itō, who lived in an ordinary world with ordinary folks, Takuya lives in an extraordinary world where loss and grief seem to be the norm rather than an uncommon occurrence. He is dealing with heroines who suffer from melancholy, longing, loneliness, and in doing his best to help them out, it so happens that getting physical with them is one of the later parts of him trying to create a genuine emotional connection that the female characters lack.
Curiously enough, Yosuga no Sora also explored this idea behind incest: to be sure, I’m not endorsing it, but I am going to say that both Yosuga no Sora and YU-NO suggest that individuals who have lost a great deal in their lives, who are desperately missing human connections with others, will turn to uncommon means of finding this connection. In the realm of fiction, then, I see incest as the most powerful way of showing just how melancholy the characters are: it’s a very powerful metaphor that absolutely succeeds in telling us viewers the true extent of what the characters are feeling, and I do wish that more folks would stop to consider this before dismissing a work as disgusting. As it is in YU-NO, especially in the case of Kanna and Yu-no herself, that Takuya has the option of making love to both suggests to me that both Kanna and Yu-no were exceptionally lonely, to the point where I could physically feel it in my own heart when I think about it. That’s impressive, and this is probably where the anime is weaker: to the best of my knowledge, the anime did not cover this quite to the same extent, and one could go through the entire adaptation thinking that Takuya only ever makes love to Mitsuki, Sayless and Amanda.
I don’t know if YU-NO is the same as Yosuga no Sora in terms of loss. YU-NO always came off to me, both as the anime and visual novel, as a story built around sex. It was one of the first VNs, back when eroges were expected from the medium. However YU-NO has the benefit of actually telling a really really damn good story, and making sex work.
In terms of the incest, look, I’ve been around the anime block for two decades now. I’ve seen a lot of stuff, hell we talked about Yosuga no Sora, one of the most infamous incest series in the entire art form. I wouldn’t toss a series out the door because of it, as long as the story they are telling is interesting and compelling. Sora was that, and YU-NO is that as well. The sex works almost all the time in this series, and while it can get a bit icky at times, it is part of what this story is. Having watched both, I do believe that the visual novel is the better work BECAUSE they put in the sex scenes, and even they were pulled back for the re-make. You gotta go to the OG version to see the real goods.
Anyway, the revelation that Kanna and Takuya are even father and daughter is confirmed in everything but words, and Yu-no’s own sex scene, after she is literally begging her father to do it, was the only one that felt kind of ‘ehhhh’ in my eyes. But again, the series does take the time to explain that this is a different civilization, with different rules, and people who grow up at a much faster rate. At this point, I was so bloody invested in the story and characters, along with years of desensitized to anime in general, that I was like “that checks out.”
That just leaves us the final conclusion. Zen, what do you think of how this story ends?
The finale was certainly fun, with Takuya and the Resistance fighting off the dimensional monsters Kōzō Ryuzōji had spawned. From what you’ve said, I got the sense that whereas the visual novel really aimed to focus on Takuya, the anime chose to present things as being larger in scale. In the latter, it certainly worked well enough for the story, and the final fight saw Eriko complete her assignment of stopping Kōzō, giving her story closure. However, the delays caused mean that Yu-no is not able to right Dela Grante’s course, and the world collides with Earth in a titanic impact event. Insofar, I’ve been rather open-minded about YU-NO‘s portrayal of science, but on the topic of impact events, I am a bit more familiar. I will nitpick here and comment that an object of that size would likely have peeled back the Earth’s crust and rendered the entire surface uninhabitable for millions of years; even though the impact was supposed to have happened eight thousand years earlier, at that magnitude, it is unlikely the world could’ve recovered that quickly. This, however, can be forgiven: as it turns out, the impact event is how Dela Grante’s constructs ended up on Earth, and why Psychite is found close to Mount Sankaku.
Overall, I found the ending to be satisfactory for the anime, and overall, a suitable close to what was an incredible ride: Takuya is able to save Kanna, and then departs into an entirely new plane of existence with Yu-no. Admittedly, this piece was a little confusing, and the question of Kodai’s ultimate fate remains unknown from an anime-only perspective, but these were the two lingering questions I had exiting YU-NO. I did feel that Takuya and Yu-no’s entry into the unknown was a proper way to send the characters off; after such experiences, it does feel anticlimactic to have Takuya return to his old life. Becuase you’ve got both visual novel and anime under your belt, Dewbond, I’d like you to compare and contrast the endings: what are the anime-only folks missing, and what did we get with the anime was a pleasant surprise?
The ending is more or less the same, though the scene where Kanna is cured is lifted and changed a bit from her own route in the visual novel. In terms of the anime, I did like that, as it confirms that Amanda got out ok, and it sort of wraps up the first half of the story. I also really liked all the small scenes with each of the other heroines, whether it is Ayumi looking fondly at Kodai’s work, Mio deciding to leave town, Mitsuki moving out of the house, or Kaori on the news. It was a cute way to bring all those stories to a close.
Now I would be remiss to not meniton the ‘true’ endings for the Ayumi, Kanna and Mio routes, all of which are unlockable once you finish the VN. They are short scenes, but they show you what happens if Takuya hadn’t be thrown back in time. He gets together with each of the girls, and they start a new life together. Whether it is being Mio’s assistant as she goes through Uni. Living in Kanna in her apartment, or studying to be a researcher while building a new life with Ayumi. Each of them are sweet, and sexy as Takuya seems to be angling for sex in each of them. Of course Ayumi is my favorite, but I am glad the three ‘main’ girls of the first half get happy endings.
In terms of the actual ending. I thought it was rather fitting. It ends where it begins, with Takuya finding a naked woman on the ground. This time however, we know who Yu-no is, and Takuya decides to follow her wherever she goes, which back to the very moment of creation, a single tree. Together they’ll traverse the bounds of the world together, which yes, is a little high concept, but as the credits rolled and the final shot of the two by the great tree. I couldn’t help but feel emotionally touched and satisfied.
We are almost at the end here Zen, but I think we can’t wrap things up without talking about the music, in both versions. What did you think of the opening themes, and if you have had the chance, the VN’s OST?
It took me a little while to listen to the visual novel’s soundtracks, and thanks to the wonders of YouTube, I was able to take a gander at both the original 1996 version, as well as the music from the 2017 remake. The original soundtrack has a very heavy synthesiser component to it, giving it a very electronic feel that brings to mind the music of games from an older era. It has a very retro aesthetic, reminding me a little of the Pokemon GameBoy and Sim City 2000 soundtracks. Conversely, the 2017 remake brings to mind the sort of background music I’ve heard in things like Kanon and CLANNAD’s visual novels – given that YU-NO inspired numerous visual novels later on, the style in the original 1996 soundtrack likely inspired Jun Maeda, and by the time of the remake, the soundtrack was done in such a way to pay homage to this. The remake modernises the sound, while simultaneously retaining the electronic synthesisers that characterised the originals, which was a pleasant touch.
For the anime’s soundtrack and music, I found the vocal pieces to be strictly middle-of-the-road. It was the incidental music that truly stood out for me – jointly composed by Ryū Kawamura and Evan Call, it is a striking balance between Kawamura’s scoring of everyday moments in Takuya’s life, and Call’s orchestral pieces that really sell the scale and scope of the mystery surrounding Mount Sankaku, the Psychite and Dela Grante. In particular, I was very fond of Call’s compositions and would even argue that of all the different pieces of music throughout YU-NO, his music stands as some of the best. With a careful balance of string and vocals, Call’s compositions tease at the enigma behind the other dimensions that Takuya initially experiences, as well as the vastness of Dela Grante. Songs like Pulse of Fate, The Correction of Chaos, Every 400 Years and The Fated Stones stand as examples of where Call’s genius comes to play – in YU-NO‘s first half, they hint at what’s to come, and in the second half, they add an additional dimension to what viewers see on screen. The interplay between music and visuals in the anime adaptation was solid, and as consequently, of all the soundtracks, I enjoyed the anime adaptation’s the most.
I absolutely adore the VN soundtrack to YU-NO, and it is something I listen too on a regular basis. Tracks like ‘Memories’, ‘Sword Cape’, ‘Other World 2’ and others are just fantastic. The soundtrack is frankly stellar in my mind, giving weight to the scenes, having a great retro feel to it, and also giving off an air of mystery and dread in certain scenes.
I can’t speak much to the anime’s soundtrack, but I really enjoyed the opening themes. The second opening ‘Mother’ is a killer theme, and the first ‘Kono Yo no Hate de Koi o Utau Shoujo’ really pulls you into the world as things get started. The ending themes I didn’t really care for, and honestly I can’t remember them, but that is often the case for anime music.
Then there is ‘recalling’ which serves as the Visual Novel’s opening theme, which probably one of the best pieces of music I’ve heard in a long while. Haunting, exciting, it does everything you need to welcome you to a story that will take you on a wild and unforgettable ride. Did you manage watch to it Zen?
Indeed I did! Eri Sasaki’s ‘Recalling’ is actually a very strong song that has a beautiful composition, and it does convey the enigma and adventure in YU-NO. I think at this point, we’ve delved quite deeply into YU-NO‘s second half and covered quite a bit of ground. Readers know where we stand regarding the anime and visual novel, as well as the merits of each. Dewbond, are there any other aspects of the work, either in the anime adaptation or visual novel, that you’d like to leave with our readers?
I think we’ve covered just about everything, but I do want to leave with some final thoughts.
YU-NO: A Girl who Chants Love at the Bound of this World is, in my eyes, a masterpiece. One of the definitive visual novels, and a story that pulled me in like few do. There are only three anime that have ever done that, and YU-NO has joined that. Just sitting here and talking to you makes me want to dig into the story again, to go back down that rabbit hole. I don’t say that about many shows, but I will for this, because there is just something exceptionally special about this work. I do hope that you end up reading the Visual Novel, because you are missing out on a complete experience that has laid a foundation for so much.
It may not be Fate/Stay Night, or Steins;Gate, or CLANNAD or Higurashi. But all of those wouldn’t be here today, if YU-NO hadn’t come first. I’ve gushed about this thing for ages now, and I probably always will. But I’ll just end with this.
Your love awaits, at the bound of this world.
Indeed, there is much to be discovered at the bound of this world, and over the course of our conversation, our verdict here seems simple enough: for folks who’ve seen the anime adaptation, it would be necessary to delve into the visual novel itself and read through all of the different routes to gain a complete experience of YU-NO. This particular task is made easier by the fact that YU-NO‘s 2017 remake is available on Steam for a cool 56 CAD, and as a visual novel, the hardware requirements aren’t particularly steep. Both the visual novel and anime together explore YU-NO in different ways, bringing different elements to the forefront and allowing different parts of the story to shine in the manner best suited for them. This brings the conversation between Dewbond and myself to a close, and having done several collaborations now (I believe this is our third), I think now is a good of a time as any to indicate that, anyone who is interested in doing a collaborative discussion on any topic is always free to do so! There are a few channels of communication that are available for folks who are interested, and I’m always game to share in a discussion with folks with unique, and noteworthy thoughts on the things they experience. Before I wrap things up and resume regular programming, I would like to make a note of the other YU-NO related discussions that Dewbond has written – the visual novel can be a tad pricy, and reading through Dewbond’s thoughts will help one to ascertain whether this is a journey they’d like to embark on!
More of Dewbond’s YU-NO Posts
Missed the first collaboration between Dewbond and myself?