The Infinite Zenith

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In Which We Enter Dela Grante in YU-NO: A Girl Who Chants Love at the Bound of this World, Part II – A Collaborative Discussion with Dewbond

“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?

In Which The Merits of YU-NO: A Girl Who Chants Love at the Bound of this World’s Visual Novel Are Introduced- Part I of A Collaborative Discussion with Dewbond

“History is a set of lies agreed upon.” –Napoleon Bonaparte

It’s actually quite surprising that I finished YU-NO: A Girl Who Chants Love at the Bound of this World‘s anime adaptation only a few weeks ago – owing to how chaotic things have been, it’s felt like a year instead. Curiously enough, YU-NO‘s anime adaptation did, in fact, wrap up a year earlier: I’d been alerted to the series’ presence thanks to the tightly-knit community that I’m a part of, and had been curious to pick YU-NO up. With a bit of encouragement after my last collaborative post with Dewbond of Shallow Dives in Anime, I pushed my way into the series and came out the other side wondering, why on earth had I not watched this last year? YU-NO is, after all, an elegantly designed amalgamation of science-fiction, mystery and fantasy. The series delves into science, history and romance and has something for everyone. YU-NO was so influential that it’s easy to see its impact on visual novels that came after it, and even now, the sheer boldness of the work is impressive. However, my month-long journey to reach the ending turns out to be only the beginning: the anime, after all, is condensing out about fifty hours’ worth of narrative into ten hours. Inevitably, that means some elements in the story are lost should one take the all-anime route. Fortunately, Dewbond is on station to lend an extra set of eyes: we link up for our latest collaboration that will see what precisely happens in the visual novel, how those events differ or augment the anime adaptation, and in the end, what folks stand to gain by stepping into the visual novel, which received a shiny new remaster in 2017 the same way 2004’s Halo 2 received a beautiful remaster in the form of Halo 2 Anniversary in 2014, bringing new visuals to the table while retaining gameplay and mechanics that have stood well against the test of time.


The first order of business is to welcome Dewbond back for this collaboration, which I believe is our third of the year! Before continuing, it’s time for a bit of a shameless plug; I’ve decided to spin up a new category in the sidebar so these are easier to find, and I will remark to readers that I am open for collaborative projects of this nature. They’re immensely fun and informative, as well as allow folks to see new perspectives that have certainly helped me to appreciate anime in new and different ways. YU-NO is a particularly vast series, and while I got my feet wet with the anime adaptation, the visual novel itself is said to be, like CLANNAD, where the real party lies. I’ve heard it’s a deep and detailed experience, so with Dewbond here, we can explore the most noteworthy facets of the visual novel to our heart’s content this time around!


Thanks for having me back here again Zen. If readers have visited my blog, they’ll know that I’ve carried a torch for YU-NO for a long time. I believe it to be a masterpiece, a part of Visual Novel history that has touched ever subsequent work ever since. We don’t have Steins;Gate, Higurashi, or even Fate/Stay Night if YU-NO didn’t set the stage first. The visual novel pioneered many of the things we take for granted now, such as multiple endings and different routes.

The anime adaptation, which came out last year, is on reflection, a good adaptation, but upon reading the VN, which I did almost the moment the anime was done, I found that some things were done better, and some things were done worse. I am sure we will discuss these things as we go through the entire story, and there is plenty to get through. Where shall we start?


It makes sense to start at the beginning: I’m positive that there’s a story behind how you came to know of YU-NO. To start things off, I’d actually been interested in checking the series out since a fellow member of our community posted more ecchi-driven aspects of YU-NO when the anime was airing last year, and I subsequently wanted to see the context behind those moments. However, my tendency to procrastinate meant that I didn’t get around to it until you encouraged me to pick it up. Your enthusiasm was a major motivator, and I’m now superbly glad to have finished the adaptation. It’s clear that YU-NO is a game-changer of sorts for the visual novel medium, but before we continue, I’m curious to know of how you came across YU-NO; how did you get your foot in the door for this work?


It’s not really that interesting. I was looking at the anime for that season and for some reason that poster pulled me in. It was honestly just a random chance, but I’ll tell you, I am so glad it happened. Once I started that show, it never let me go, and honestly it still hasn’t. I devoured the VN over a couple weeks, and made the anime something I watched moment it came out.

You often don’t get an anime series that pulls you in as much as that, but YU-NO was one of them, and it happened totally by chance.


Chance is how we often find some of our favourite series: we go in without any knowledge ahead of time, and then are pleasantly surprised at how things progress. YU-NO is, quite bluntly, full of surprises, and coming in, aside from Kodai’s foreword on what constitues time and history, I had little idea of what was going to unfold in the series. Every revelation, every discovery became a surprise, and this continued building up as the series went on. With this being said, YU-NO does start out a bit more slowly, and I found that for someone new to the work, this is to YU-NO‘s advantage. Things open out with Ayumi’s arc, and you’ve previously remarked that Ayumi was your favourite of the stories: I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!


Ayumi’s arc is absolutely my favorite. When I was watching the anime, the moment the series hooked me in for real, was the revelation of her suicide. It just completely threw me back in my chair and made me go “Oh I am IN!” Further still, when I read it in the VN, I was hopelessly pulled into her story and the relationship with Takuya.

Ayumi is of course, the step-mom, and we should preface this by saying that YU-NO doesn’t shy away from sexy, taboo, or sexy taboo stories. Takuya Arima, our nominal lead comes from an era where Visual Novels were mostly seen as eroge, and despite the great science fiction story, YU-NO is also an eroge. That means where is sex and plenty of it.

Ayumi’s story is frankly, the strongest front to back of all the routes. The sexual tension between the two leads, the clear attraction Takuya has to Ayumi, and vice versa is clear from all the quiet moments they share. Ayumi herself comes off as a young woman who was suddenly and cruelly robbed of her future, of the intimacy and marital bliss she clearly craved. Coupled with being made out to be the scapegoat for the public’s disapproval with GeoTechnics, it pushes her to the edges of despair. Which only makes it easy for Totoyomi, the sleezeball that he is, to make his move.

A move again, I found extremely effective in the anime, which shows far more than the VN actually does. There is a clear indication that the two had sex, where it is just implied in the VN. That is one of the few things I will say the anime did better. On the other hand though, Ayumi and Takuya surrendering to their passions is actually shown in the VN, and intimacy displayed between them is damn effective, even when they fade to black.

I could gush about this forever, but what did you think Zen?


It sounds like I missed out on the raw emotional piece between Takuya and Ayumi, then: YU-NO‘s visual novel goes in a direction that likely would’ve shown how Takuya is able to sense what’s going on around him and act in the best manner to help someone out. It just so happens that bedding someone is the solution that works here, and there is a level of trust that the act implies. Since the anime only shows Takuya and Ayumi talking out their problems, a part of the original YU-NO story becomes lost in the process; showing that Takuya and Ayumi do go physical means showing a central piece of his character earlier on, easing the visual novel’s players into how he does things.

The anime absolutely held my attention by the time the stresses from Ayumi’s work began taking its toll on her: it really emphasised what she and Takuya were up against when it came to Mount Sankaku and the GeoTech project surrounding the Psychite. However, even before Ayumi’s first shown committing suicide, I was intrigued with Takuya’s use of the Reflector Device to save Ayumi from the shady men accosting her in the warehouse. While Takuya is physically outmatched by the two hooligans, he begins exploring the Reflector Device’s powers here to try and affect a different outcome. This segues nicely into his use of the device in his efforts to save Ayumi – seeing the different ways she commits suicide ended up being simultaneously heart-breaking, but Takuya’s attendant efforts in trying to save her were also encouraging. It feels like the latter is the anime’s way of expressing the extent to which Takuya cares about Ayumi, and in the absence of getting it on, I found that it looks to have succeeded in this regard.

The other aspect about Ayumi’s arc I enjoyed was the initial grounding of Mount Sankaku and its mysteries in a more corporate, scientific basis. The unusual rock formations and a corporation’s interest in it really sets up the feeling that Mount Sankaku is more than it appears, and to have Ayumi so closely related to the project means that Takuya’s entanglement becomes far more plausible than if he were only tangentially connected. On its own, Ayumi’s arc serves as a solid opener, setting the stage for the series. However, in YU-NO‘s anime, time constraints meant that Kaori was present to a much larger extent during Ayumi’s arc. I found her to be a bit mysterious, but once her working relationship with Toyotomi was revealed, I rather enjoyed how Takuya was able to turn the tables and use that knowledge to save Ayumi. The visual novel has its own arc for Kaori: where does it diverge from the anime, and what are folks missing from the visual novel here?


I’ll note that Takuya’s repeated attempts to save Ayumi, ending with a different way of death each time is anime only, but it is also really effective. The scene of her with the bag on her head, her nails broken was fucking unsettling. The anime I think did better in delivering the raw shock value of Ayumi’s bad ending, but really missed out by removing much of the underlying sexual tension.

The anime version of the Kaori arc and the VN arc are different. Mostly in the sense that Kaori’s arc is stapled onto Ayumi’s in an attempt (that it didn’t need) to give the arc more weight. In the visual novel, it is wholly its own story, and more linked to Kanna’s overall plot than Ayumi’s. I’ll get into that later. You would be remiss to even see Kaori as a character if you didn’t read the VN.

In terms of the Visual Novel though, Kaori’s arc, while the weakest in my opinion (thought not my least favorite), is still compelling. Even among the series many mysterious women, Kaori is the most mysterious of them all. Is she a newscaster? A corporate spy? A two-timing bitch? Or a girl with a heart of gold? Even after all I’ve read and watched, I can’t really nail down who exactly Kaori is, and that makes her so intriguing. Her role in Ayumi’s good ending removes much of her sinister ways, and a lot of what you see in the anime is actually the ending of her own route.


So the visual novel has a more Yosuga no Sora quality to it! That alone is a compelling justification to look into things, although I fully appreciate that the visual novel’s main draw is that it has so much more space to flesh things out. Kaori looks like one of those examples where the constraints in the anime might’ve been a disadvantage. In the anime, I found Kaori to be a secondary character: the adaptation presented her as someone secondary to things, and nowhere was this more apparent than when Takuya dismisses her advances in the hotel room; his mind was clearly on the intel that she had, which was key to saving Ayumi.

I appreciate that YU-NO‘s anime adaptation was trying to condense everything down so it’d fit neatly into twenty-six episodes – the story did flow reasonably well from what I recall, although Kaori definitely did come across as a rogue element. On some occasions, she was an ally, knocking Toyotomi out as he tried to escape, while in others, she was an unknown actor conspiring with Toyotomi to sell out GeoTech’s (and Ayumi’s) secrets. I think that as far as a supporting character goes within the context of the anime, Kaori was someone who could be said to represent the stochastic nature of the different timelines; depending on which universe Takuya is in, the same people can be friends or enemies, which forces Takuya to be careful about how he goes about his next move. Beyond this, it looks like a journey into the visual novel would definitely be a necessity to flesh out her role in YU-NO. I am guessing, however, that in the visual novel, Takuya also has a chance to get physical with Kaori.


They do get physical in the VN, twice I believe. One in Ayumi’s bad ending (he seeks her comfort after Ayumi rejects him) and once in her own route. She is absolutely one of the lesser characters in terms of importance, but her role is enjoyable, and like I said, she is a woman of mystery in a series full of them.

It is what I like about the multiple story routes of YU-NO, each of them are connected, but they are all also wholly unique, and deal with different ideas, feelings and struggles. Ayumi’s is different from Kaori’s, who is different from Kanna’s, who is different from Mio and Mitsuki. But before we talk about any else, I think it is important we take a minute to discuss our lead of the series. Takuya. What is your take on him Zen, especially in this first half?


Takuya’s biggest strength in the first half of YU-NO is his tenacity, which firmly establishes his character as someone who very much knows what his goals are. Takuya’s use of the Reflector Device speaks volumes to the lengths to which he will go to set things right, and how strong his conviction once he sets his mind to something. For newcomers who are uncertain of what will unfold in YU-NO, then, this serves to create confidence in Takuya – while he might be experimenting and trying to work out some sort of global optima in some timelines, the knowledge gained, even in failure, leaves him better prepared to handle what’s coming. It’s reassuring to have a character take charge of things and do what they can, even when the nature of his situation is unknown; the Reflector Device is a literal game-changer for Takuya and his characterisation. In any other series, I would count him as impulsive, but being assured a safety net of sorts allows Takuya to explore more freely.

The other facet of Takuya’s character I particularly enjoyed is how lecherous he is: throughout the anime, he makes no effort to conceal his interest in women, especially the thought of pursuing a physical relationship with them. Given what you’ve said about the visual novel, Dewbond, I believe that Takuya’s animated incarnation acts this way for two reasons; firstly, it is to remind viewers of the fact that Takuya does in fact bed many of the female characters, and second, to create light-hearted humour in a series brimming with mystery. While Takuya begins pursing the truth behind Mount Senkaku, this world begins unravelling around him as conspiracies make themselves known to the viewers. Having humour punctuate these otherwise serious moments really helped me to take a step back and re-examine recent events. However, this is for the anime: how does Takuya differ in the visual novels?


Takuya’s perverted nature is played on more in the anime than the visual novel. I think this is because since the anime pulled out all of the sex scenes, they had to compensate some way. They are still present, but the fact that Takuya does end up sleeping with almost every girl helps balances it out.

And that I think is something very important to his character. In both the VN and the Anime, it is clear that Takuya is not a virgin, and that does wonders to ground his character. Instead of a teenager desperate to stick it in something, Takuya is calm, mature, and playful. He doesn’t have anything to prove (in that regard), and is able let the plot carry him where it needs to go. Watching both versions, I saw Takuya as a man who felt at peace with himself, even when he is thrown through the grinder of the parallel worlds. I always thought he was in control of his emotions, as much as he could be, and his quippy nature and laid back attitude really help set him apart from other harem leads.

That said though, this is a VN from the early 90s. Takuya isn’t going to win any awards for most in depth character. But YU-NO is able to make him extremely compelling and likeable when the risk of turning into a sleazebag was very possible. Again I credit the story for having him have had sex before everything started. Which I think is a good segue into our next route, and another of my favorites. Zen, what do you think of the Mitsuki/Eriko route?


I enjoyed the Mitsuki and Eriko routes immensely, because they really established what Takuya was squaring off against. For starters, since Mitsuki and Takuya had already slept together, it indicates that the two have a strong bond and trust one another; to see Mitsuki unexpectedly participate in actions that work against Takuya indicated that something was off. It was here that it became apparent: Takuya is entangled in something of an unimaginable scale, facing off against a foe of immense power. Early on, I dismissed Kōzō Ryūzoji’s actions: he did draw a pistol on Takuya, but I reasoned that it must’ve been one of many timelines, so whether or not that was indeed what the “real” Kōzō would do could still be explored. By the time Kōzō puts Mitsuki under hypnosis and has her attempt to relieve Takuya of the Reflector Device, YU-NO indicated to viewers that there are far greater forces at work in the world.

This is where Eriko’s story comes in: once her backstory is revealed, and her position as an inter-dimensional law enforcement officer is shown, the pieces begin falling into place. Kōzō was actually an immortal, inter-dimensional being of sorts, and after causing the death of Eriko’s lover, she’d vowed to bring this being to justice, whatever it took. Looks are definitely deceiving, and Takuya’s seemingly eccentric teacher suddenly becomes a key player in the situation that Takuya is now involved with. The gap between Eriko forcing herself into a small locker and exciting Takuya while trying to remain hidden from Mitsuki, and Eriko explaining her story is immense – I was surprised at first, but given the unusual research GeoTech had been doing, and the powers conferred by the Reflector Device, in retrospect, it was not unreasonable for YU-NO to step in this direction. The anime arcs definitely succeed in raising the stakes: Dewbond, I’m going to turn things over to you for the parallels and differences between the anime, and the visual novel.


The Mitsuki route is probably my second favorite of the VN routes. Unlike Ayumi’s personal struggles, or Kaori’s mysteriousness nature, Mitsuki’s is more about the greater plot itself. We learn a little bit about Ryuzoji, and realize that he isn’t of this world, or this reality, and we see that Mitsuki is a woman doomed to her fate. No matter what happens, no matter what Takuya does, the woman is fated to die. The VN makes this a bit more powerful, mostly because since the Anime moves at such a faster pace, it can make Mitsuki look like a loony tunes villain sometimes. In the VN, after you spend at least 6-8 hours per route, you almost forget that Mitsuki is doomed to her fate.

I’d also say that Mitsuki’s relationship with Takuya is one of the series best, and the fact that they were lovers before, like I said previously, really helps ground Takuya. Mitsuki clearly is trying to put on a brave front, but deep down she’s torn apart that she’s lost Takuya, and clearly deeply in love with him. The VN has them making love in the forest, and the tender moment afterwards shows that there is still a high degree of affection between them. This only makes Mitsuki’s fall into insanity even more tragic, something we see further in Mio’s route.

As for Eriko, she remains the one girl, both in the VN and Anime who actually doesn’t sleep with Takuya, though the VN does expand on their locker room moment with more than a little petting. Eriko herself really takes the role of mentor to Takuya, shepherding him along, and trying to keep him on the right path. One of the biggest changes from the VN is that her history with her lover is vastly expanded. None of that stuff about the future is shown at all, just implied heavily. I thought it was an ok addition, and it did help me understand Eriko as I moved into the VN, but honestly the story doesn’t really need it.

Still, Eriko is one of the series better characters. Tough and resourceful, but also playful and just a little bit adorkable. She and Takuya have a good master/mentor relationship, and she is probably one of the only girls who can go toe to toe with Takuya’s quips and perverted nature. Sexy as all hell too, and the VN lets her strut herself, with plenty of panty shots, every chance it gets. I just wish she didn’t have to share a route with Mitsuki.


With your remarks on Eriko, I’m beginning to be swayed to check out the visual novel myself! I agree that the extended length seen in the visual novel works in Mitsuki’s favour: giving her a bit more exposition would’ve augmented the emotional impact of her ultimate fate, especially with the knowledge of having seen just how close she and Takuya were. On the topic of Mio, I’ve alluded to seeing fanservice screenshots of her as being one of the main reasons why I started YU-NO to begin with. Her arc, I found, was a bit of a precursor to Mitsuki’s in the anime, introducing the tapestry that illustrate Mount Sankaku as housing an ancient weapon of sorts, hinting at Kōzō’s mysterious background with his ability to hypnotise others, and also showing what sort of relationship Takuya had with Mitsuki, given the latter’s strong reaction to Takuya growing closer to Mio. However, I recall that you found Mio’s relationship with Takuya to be weaker, and would be curious to learn more about this.


Mio is my least favorite of the heroines for sure. While she has some of the best chemistry with Takuya in terms of friendly banter and quips, it is only really that: friendship. While Mio has a clear interest in Takuya, him not being the virgin sort of changes their relationship. Takuya really doesn’t pine after her, and instead seems almost completely at peace with just being friends. Sure, the VN doesn’t go that way, but I always felt that Takuya decides to bed Mio almost out of pity, as if giving her what SHE wants, instead of what he wants.

Takuya just comes off as a guy with nothing to really prove anymore, and because he’s had sex, he doesn’t view Mio as the object of affection he does with the other characters, even when he isn’t a virgin. It makes Mio come off as immature and like a kid. You can see that contrasted with how Yuki behaves, ratting out Mio and getting all clingy to her. That would have been Takuya had he not gotten laid.

I have a bit more to say on Mio herself, but I want your take on her relationship to Takuya. What did you think?


As far as characterisation goes within the anime, Mio fills the role of the classic tsundere, which creates the most familiar back-and-forth between herself and Takuya. It’s clear that beneath her constant chastising him for his slights, Mio does care about him, but is too proud (or perhaps embarrassed) to admit it. In this way, Mio’s relationship with Takuya is the closes to the classic “high school students trying to work out their feelings” approach numerous anime take, although as you’ve mentioned, YU-NO has Takuya coming in with experience and therefore, unruffled by the comings and goings of a relationship.

From a story perspective, then, this means that her pursuit of Takuya feels the most clumsy and forced: Mio’s evidently trying a little too hard, and YU-NO does a fine job of expressing this to the viewers. With this being said, this is quite understandable, and outside of her feelings for Takuya, Mio otherwise comes across as a rather interesting character, whose love for history and family background both serve to drive the story forwards. Mio’s devotion to learning the truth shows viewers how she is when she has a goal in mind; I think that her pursuit of Mount Sankaku and its secrets was probably the better side of her character.


Yes, when it comes to Mio’s other half, her love of history and wanting to uncover the mystery of Mount Sankaku, that is where her character really stands out. Mio is absolutely the most driven of the original 5 heroines. and is the one who has the most independence and life outside of Takuya’s world. She has dreams and aspirations, so much so that in the anime, she decides to leave and go seek them out, with or without Takuya.

That is really what makes Mio stand out, but I do think her arc is the weakest of the five, at least in terms of character. Her teenage love works, but feels out of place when Takuya has nothing to prove. That being said though, I would not want to change it, because I think it’s addition really helps Takuya stand out from other visual novel leads, and Mio just looks cute as a button.

The mystery itself is probably the biggest hint of the twists yet to come, and the reveal of the lightning tower, the girl at the lake, and the hints of something bigger is what makes YU-NO be more than just a usual eroge Visual novel. Knowing the entire story, it is actually really cool to see how each of the five routes deals with a different aspect of it. They all aren’t chasing the same normal thread. Mio deals with the tower, Ayumi and Kaori with the stone, Mitsuki and Erikio with Ryuzoji, and then Kanna with the people. When looking back, it make the massive paradigm shift a bit more easier to see, as the series is slowly building up to it.

We have one more route in the first half though Zen, and I think we saved the most interesting one for last. What did you think about Kanna?


Kanna always came across as an enigma wrapped inside a mystery, so I was immensely glad to reach her arc. Until now, all we knew of Kanna was that she had knowledge of Mount Sankaku, that she opposed GeoTech and she suffered from an illness of a mysterious nature. This acted as a bit of a hook, and I knew I had to be patient to finish everything else first. Once we do reach Kanna, Takuya’s kindness takes over, and sensing that she’s lonely, he does his best to befriend her. In this way, Kanna slowly begins to open up somewhat, and this is most evident when she agrees to go on a beach outing with Takuya, Mio and Masakatsu. That single episode is perhaps the most mundane of any, but it shows one more bit of normalcy in a world that had been anything but normal.

While Takuya attempts to make Kanna feel more welcome, he begins unearthing the final elements to the enigmas surrounding Mount Sankaku. Kanna’s arc thus sets the table for what’s to come, and the intrigues from learning of her story really compelled me to watch. It was in Kanna’s arc where I became so enthralled by YU-NO that I began watching the episodes in pairs: Kanna’s mysterious lack of aging, the unscrupulous fellow following Kanna around and her dealings with Kodai before he died, all contributed to this great desire to press on forwards and see what was going on. The anime did a fantastic job here of setting the stage for what’s to come, as it became increasingly apparent that between the Psychite, Reflector Device and Kanna’s unusual longevity, coupled with Takuya’s remarks that Kanna felt like family, all hinted that something massive was going to happen. The anime held me spellbound here; so Dewbond, I’d like to hear what you felt about how the visual novel handled things.


Well the episode with the beach and much of Kanna’s backstory with Kodai is again, anime only and expanding on things that are just touched about in the novel. Frankly I found the beach episode to be quite boring and detracted away from the mysterious nature of Kanna’s story.

I mean, when Kanna first goes into that man’s room, and you realize that she’s basically a teenage prostitute, it threw me back in my chair. I just had to know more, I had to know where it went. What we see is a story about a girl who is desperate, DESPERATE for a connection and uses her body to fulfill that need. The VN really goes into this, and shows that Kanna is at heart, a woman who needs the physical intimacy that a lover can bring, but also someone who understands her. Takuya very much does that, and putting aside the connection they do have (which we will get into later I’m sure) it is clear in the VN that they are kindred spirits in a way.

Going on what you said about setting the stage for the later half. Again, the entire quest of Takuya getting the new Pyschite stone is anime only. In the VN he actually takes the stone from Kaori’s route and uses it for Kanna, culminating in their love scene and Kanna tells him about the clock in Kodai’s room. The destination is the same, but the push to get Takuya there is quite different. I mean, in terms of the anime it does wrap everything together in a nice little bow, but the way it does it in the VN really helps lay out how the multiple routes work.

Either way, Kanna’s story is again, something that pushes buttons and takes some chances. What did you think about her behavior regarding sex and the idea that she was whoring herself out?


My initial impressions of the mysterious man was of revulsion, and even in the anime adaptation, it was straightforward to put two and two together. Given what I saw, I thought Kanna was doing what it took to survive – here was someone who had been seeking a purpose in the world after her mother had died, but was trapped in a difficult spot. That Kanna resorts to prostitution to support herself, given her situation, paints her as a character we could be sympathetic to. Behind her cautionary words from the earlier arcs, then, lies someone who knows more of the truth, and shares a very unique connection to YU-NO‘s second half.

The main qualm I had with Kanna’s arc in the anime was the relationship she had with Kodai and Keiko. We only ever got to see them briefly, and the most I understood was that Kodai was supporting Kanna financially. Beyond this, not much is explored, so I am left a little in the dark here. What the anime did show does not impede the viewer as we enter YU-NO‘s second half, but it did feel a little incomplete to me, especially as Takuya finally collects all six of the gems needed to kick off the second half. Before we get there, I would very much like to know how the visual novel differs from the anime here – specifically, whether or not players are treated to a more satisfactory bit of exploration behind Kanna’s relationship with Kodai and Keiko.


Much of it is actually left vague, we get the idea that Kodai is supporting Kanna financially, but that’s about it. All the scenes with a young Takuya and Keiko are anime only, and from what I remember are only really hinted at. Much of the Visual novel focus on Kanna herself, and the effects the Pyschite has on her, and showing that Takuya is a man of honor, despite the clear attraction the two have to each other. I personally liked that, because the anime at that point felt it was dragging things out a bit near the end of this first half. In the VN, Kaori and Kanna’s routes are the same for about 45% until they spilt off into two separate stories. Perhaps that was because they ran out of time, but it works well here.

With that, we have reached the end of the first half of YU-NO. Now before we even touch the second half, which changes everything, what is your overall thoughts on these 5 stories? How would you rank them, and who is your best girl?


Dewbond, allow me to express how glad I am you’ve given me the option to choose the best story separately from the best girl. As far as the best story for me, I’m going with Mio’s: this was the point where it really became apparent that the mysteries contained within Mount Sankaku were of an unimaginable scale, and where Takuya really began to appreciate that what Kodai had found in his studies. At the same time, the mysterious constructs within Mount Sankaku and Mitsuki’s drive to seize the Reflector Device start to be explored. Altogether, the sense of intrigue set in motion by the story beginning to kick into high gear, acted as the magic moment for me. I’m always fond of the point where a story gains enough momentum to really capture my interest, and it was in Mio’s arc (within the anime) that I found this magic moment. As for favourite girl, that one is a bit trickier. When it comes down to it, Mitsuki comes across as being my favourite of the girls, because she’s very honest about how she feels about Takuya, and even after the two are no longer together, the two are still on amicable terms. This is something I respect greatly. Before we can wrap this up, Dewbond, you should also share your favourite of the arcs, as well as who your favourite girl is!


My favorite girl and arc are the same: Ayumi. For a story, it is remarkable solid, with great characters and a tender story of two people seeking comfort after a great loss. In terms of characters, Ayumi has a lot going for her, she is a woman out of her depths, robbed away of a life she was promised and maybe even dreamed of. When she and Takuya finally give into the feelings it is a feeling of catharsis not only for them, but for the reader as well. It’s just a damn good arc and character through and through.

If I had to pick someone else though. It would be Kanna for best arc, and probably Mitsuki for best girl, for all the reasons you said.


I think that YU-NO‘s first half has been off to a very solid start: part science fiction thriller, part philosophical mystery, it’s been a captivating ride thus far. We’ve now presented perspectives from two dramatically different backgrounds and entries into YU-NO, and I imagine that with our combined thoughts, Dewbond and I have covered quite a bit of turf, setting the stage for YU-NO‘s second half. The anime and visual novel both have a surprise for the viewer, and it is a dramatic one. Given the size of this talk, one could only imagine how massive our post would be had we chosen to go for broke and do one massive talk. Instead, we’ve opted to break it down into two parts to make sure it’s more manageable for you, the reader. I love massively long posts as much as the next reader, but it makes sense to take a brief break. We’ll take a short intermission here while I catch my breath. I will be continuing with my regular programming, as Strike Witches: Road to Berlin airs tomorrow, and once that settles, we’ll gear up to continue onto YU-NO‘s second half. Until then, folks can check out the other YU-NO posts between the two of us; Dewbond has a very impressive collection of thoughts and perspectives exceeding what we’ve got here, and all of them are worth reading. I’ve elected to share only the posts leading up to the end of the first half of YU-NO, and then I’ll share the remainder once we’ve finished covering off the whole of YU-NO!

Dewbond’s YU-NO Posts

Infinite Zenith’s YU-NO Post

YU-NO: A Girl Who Chants Love at the Bound of this World- Whole-series Review and Reflection

“If I tell you what happens, it won’t happen.” – Doctor Strange, The Avengers: Endgame

Takuya Arima is a student living in the town of Sakamichi, home of the unnatural rock formation known locally as Mount Sankaku. When his father, the historian Kodai Arima, passes away, Takuya receives his late father’s research materials and the otherworldly Reflector Device, which allows him to travel across different dimensions. The principal of Takua’s high school, Kōzō Ryūzōji, seeks to relieve Takuya of the Reflector Device, but Takuya manages to escape. Armed with the Reflector Device, Takuya deals with the scandal surrounding GeoTech, a company that his step-mother, Ayumi, is working at, explores the bowels of Mount Sankaku with Mio Shimazu and after conversing with his former lover, Mitsuki Ichijō, Takuya deduces that the original Kōzō had actually been killed, with an imposter taking his place. This imposter is an immortal being bent on wrecking destruction for its own benefit. His instructor, Eriko Takeda, is actually a member of the interdimensional law enforcement, intent on bringing Kōzō to justice. As Takuya pieces things together, he is sent back to his original timeline, and eventually befriends Kanna Hatano, an enigmatic girl whose with an unknown past, and whose health is dependent on the mysterious Psychite, a stone with strange properties. Takuya’s actions over the different timelines allow him to retrieve Psychite crystals, and he enters a portal for Dela Grante, where he meets a mute girl named Sayless, as well as the knight Illia. Unable to cross a vast desert, Takuya instead falls in love with Sayless and fathers their child, Yu-no. However, when knights from the Imperial Capital appear, Sayless commits suicide and Yu-no is captured. Takuya is imprisoned, where he learns that he is to mine for Psychite in a ritual of sorts. When Takuya meets resistance leader Amanda, the two work with several other resistance prisoners to escape. Takuya and Amanda reach the Imperial Capital and link up with the resistance, preparing to mount an assault on the castle. During the assault, Takuya encounters the Devine Emperor face-to-face and learns that it’s Ayumi: she’d been transported here along with Kōzō and had been attempting to save the world from annihilation. As it turns out, every four centuries, Dela Grante’s orbit crosses that of Earth’s, and the world’s computer AI requires a physical body to avert catastrophe: Yu-no must be sacrificed to this end. However, even with the resistance’s help, Kōzō appears and disrupts the proceedings. While Eriko is able to kill Kōzō, the process fails, and Dela Grante collides with an Earth eight thousand years earlier. Takuya returns to his time and saves Kanna, before reuniting with Yu-no. The two then depart together into non-being.

YU-NO: A Girl Who Chants Love at the Bound of this World (Kono Yo no Hate de Koi o Utau Shōjo YU-NO, YU-NO for brevity) is the 2019 adaptation of the 1996 visual novel of the same name, and during its twenty-six episode run, covers a great deal of territory. The original visual novel had been a big-budget production with the aim of crafting an adventure unlike anything seen before: it was a collaboration between writer Hiroyuki Kanno and musician Ryu Umemoto. The resulting story was written to incorporate mechanics available given the hardware at the time, with the Reflector Device coming to make use of save-states and branching that allows Takuya to revisit a time and collect the necessary gems needed to drive the Dela Grante arc. Usage of save states and parallel worlds, in conjunction with Takuya’s experiences, indicate that YU-NO is a story about causality, specifically, the balance that exists between free will and determinism. Whether or not reality is governed by one or the other had been the subject of no small discussion – YU-NO suggests that the universe is likely somewhere in the middle (limited free will), which is a bold way of thinking. Through the use of the Reflector Device, Takuya is able to influence an event differently and check the outcomes. However, doing so does appear to create instability, causing him to be sent back to an initial state, and similarly, there are some events that seem fixed: for instance, Mitsuki ends up dying in every possible alternative irrespective of Takuya’s efforts to save her. For Takuya, free will exists to some capacity, but other events are deterministic, consigned to occur. As such, YU-NO indicates to its viewers that, while some outcomes are fixed, one can nonetheless influence events using their free will to create a more positive outcome than if they had not acted at all: in this model of limited free will, an outcome might be preordained, but individuals still have the power to impact the extent or severity of a given outcome if they have the will to do what is necessary (as an example, the Calgary Flames might be fated to lose to the Dallas Stars in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but how badly they lose is up to them, and there might exist a timeline where the Flames lost in seven games, rather than five).

Owing to the incorporation of quantum mechanics, free will versus determinism, the definition of history, and society’s interaction with science and technology, in conjunction with the multiple, layered dynamics that Takuya has with each of Ayumi, Kaori, Mitsuki, Mio, Kanna, Sayless, Amanda and Yu-no, YU-NO ends up being an immensely busy work: in its anime form, things can quickly become overwhelming as the viewer must keep up with the overarching narrative, character dynamics and world-building. The visual novel addressed this particular challenge by starting the players off with Ayumi’s arc, which establishes Takuya’s world and character. The anime adaptation does the same – this establishment is critical, as it defines the sort of person Takuya is. By showing that Takuya is kindhearted, determined and honest, as well as lecherous (for good humour), viewers are assured that Takuya will always attempt to do what is right. Further to this, given that Takuya is no greenhorn when it comes to relationships, unnecessary drama is averted, allowing YU-NO to purely focus on the plot: Takuya is clear about how he feels and never dawdles, eliminating the need to create drama for drama’s sake. This allows the series to focus on world-building and foreshadowing. As such, even amidst the scandals surrounding GeoTech and Ayumi, the Shimazu municipal government and Mio, Mitsuki’s mysterious relationship with Kōzō and rumours surrounding Kanna, Takuya’s actions are always measured (assisted by the Reflector Device, which gives him an advantage in decision-making). Consequently, no matter what YU-NO throws at viewers, nothing comes as a total surprise. This sets the stage for Takuya’s journey to Dela Grante – while such a pivot late in the game would devolve most stories into chaos, YU-NO‘s world-building and character development is such that viewers are not thrown off by the turn of events. The end result is an immensely enjoyable journey that takes YU-NO‘s viewers through a host of genres and settings, demonstrating the importance writing solid characters. By keeping Takuya’s character limited to what he needs to do, YU-NO is able to spend time on its world building, and by the time Takuya hits terra firma on Dela Grante, viewers are not completely blind-sided by what’s happening. The surprises and twists of YU-NO are unexpectedly pleasant, plausible within the realm of what the series has established to be possible.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • YU-NO is one of those series that would require an episodic discussion in order to fully cover all of its aspects, and one would likely have no shortage of content if they were to open a dedicated blog about the visual novel. However, such a project represents something that far exceeds my ability to handle, and so, for YU-NO, I’ve opted to kick things off with a standard-sized post about the anime. YU-NO opens with Takuya dealing with the aftermath of his father’s passing, and out of the gates, Takuya seems unaffected by things. He notes that he and Kodai never shared a particularly close relationship: Kodai had once been a cosmological astronomer of sorts, but the discovery of Mount Sankaku and its mysterious properties led him to pursue history, instead.

  • Ayumi’s story provides viewers with a strong exposition to what YU-NO‘s universe is about: in the town of Sakamichi on the coast of Japan, there’s a mysterious geological formation that is quite unlike anything else in the area, and a company called Geotech is continuing research into the area and the Pyschite mineral, to the residents’ opposition. Ayumi is thus under a great deal of pressure to keep the project going, while at the same time, assuage the residents’ concerns. In several timelines, the stress causes her to commit suicide: Takuya comes to make use of the Reflector Device Kodai had given him to set things right, culminating in a clever plot to turn the tables on Kaori and Hideo.

  • Kōzō is the principal of Takuya’s school. He’d been associates with Kodai and had known him for some time, but encountered an interdimensional being that would kill him and take his identity. The imposter Kōzō retains the original’s memories, and attempts to seize the Reflector Device from Takuya. However, as Kōzō, the being also is able to play a more social game, acting as the original Kōzō would. This creates a sense of unease around his character, as viewers are never too sure what his true intentions are early on, and further complicating things, Kōzō possesses a form of hypnosis that has a similar impact to the Imperius Curse.

  • The artwork and animation of YU-NO‘s 2019 adaptation, while simple compared to some other works out there, are nonetheless of a solid quality. Details like the bulky base phones and CRT screens reinforce the idea that YU-NO is set in the 90s, a time before ubiquitous smart phones. In this slower time, conversations are more personal and heartfelt, and YU-NO conveys this in a highly convincing manner. Production was handled by Feel, a studio with an illustrious portfolio: Yosuga no Sora, Locodol, and Oregairu Kan are among some of their works that I’ve seen.

  • While it might be disappointing to some, my earliest exposure to YU-NO actually comes from seeing this moment Mio on social media during its airing. In Mio’s arc, Takuya helps Mio deal with a scandal surrounding her father, the mayor of Sakamichi. Mio is set to transfer out of their high school and study abroad, but before then, she decides to explore the interior of Mount Sankaku. Her disappearance prompts Takuya and his best friend, Masakatsu Yuki, to look for her. In the tunnels of Mount Sankaku, Masakatsu dies, and Takuya resets, deciding to take Mitsuki with him instead. Under the influence of Kōzō, Mitsuki holds him hostage, but Takuya escapes and locates Mio, promising they’ll escape together.

  • The Imperius Curse hypnosis magic that Kōzō wields makes him a formidable foe, and while both Takuya and the viewers might initially believe that alternate timelines simply meant that he’s more unhinged and unreasonable in one, commonalities that all of the timelines share hint that regardless of which space Takuya is in, some things are held constant. Takuya is not aware of this in Mio’s arc, and after saving Mio, he resolves to save Mitsuki, as well. Mio had long been jealous of Mitsuki for having a physical relationship with Takuya, driving one of the conflicts of her arc.

  • Whenever Takuya completes one timeline and sets it on a stable course, he is sent back to moments before he succumbs to a powerful headache besides Mount Sankaku. Notions of infinite universes bring to mind the likes of Rick and Morty, where the concept is utilised to create a unique sense of humour. However, its surrealist humour and zany adventures have been overshadowed by a small subset of its viewers, who view Rick’s attitudes on the universe as appropriate. In Rick and Morty, Rick’s intellect and experience instills in him a sense of nihilism, cynicism, and narcissism as a means of coping with what he’s seen, but some viewers take Rick’s design as vindicating their own poor character.

  • YU-NO, on the other hand, casts Takuya as a caring and kind individual, whose experiences simply make him more resolved to do right by those around him. He may be lecherous, but this is all done to lighten a moment up. The end result is a different kind of humour, and a different perspective of how parallel universes and time travel may impact an individual. By this point in time, Takuya is not surprised that Eriko is not who she seems: she’s been in pursuit of Kōzō for quite some time and explains his background to Takuya after Mitsuki, under Kōzō’s influence, relieves Takuya of his Reflector Device.

  • In every timeline, Mitsuki ends up dying, but not before expressing her love for Takuya. The visual novel environment is a suitable place for exploring themes of causality, which deals in how cause and effect drives observable events in the world. This ends up being the main theme I got from YU-NO: that a balance exists between fate and free will, and specifically, that some things are preordained, but how severe an outcome is, as well as what it costs to reach it, can be influenced. The best analogy I can think of is a chemical reaction: the precise motions molecules take to interact with one another are stochastic and there can be an infinite number of paths they take, but the end result (the production of a product) will always be the same provided that the concentrations and conditions are held constant.

  • Kanna’s arc follows, and for me, this was an enjoyable story, finally bringing all of the characters together. Knowing that Kanna is of importance now, Takuya attempts to befriend her, and learns that her stoic façade aside, she’s actually been longing for friendship. She opens up to Takuya, Mio, and Masakatsu, spending more time with their club activities. In the quieter moments, YU-NO presents a lighter atmosphere that offset the lingering questions viewers have while watching: a part of YU-NO‘s appeal is that the series keeps viewers guessing, but the cast of characters are also compelling because of their everyday interactions.

  • Even in a science fiction mystery thriller, YU-NO makes room for the classic beach episode, which consists of an ordinary day far from the remainder of YU-NO, showing Kanna what an ordinary life as a high school student and friendship would be like. It strikes me that I’ve not looked at the cast for YU-NO yet. There are some familiar names: Kanna is voiced by Maaya Uchida (GochiUsa’s Sharo Kirima, Domestic na Kanojo‘s Rui Tachibana and Hiroe Hannen from Slow Start), Rie Kugimiya plays Mio (Toradora!’s Taiga Aisaka and Nena Trinity of Gundam 00).

  • In Kanna’s storyline, she’s tailed by a mysterious man and ends up revealing that owing to her unusual physiology, she’s actually fifty and has been working as a fille de joie to make ends meet. Until she reunites with Takuya, she had nowhere to go: Kodai and Takuya’s biological mother had taken her in for a while, and she’d been alone ever since. The unknown man eventually spreads rumours about her, forcing Kanna to transfer, and when Eriko notices an unusual pattern in Kanna’s transfers, Takuya sets off to investigate.

  • In a bit of foreshadowing, Takuya remarks that Kanna feels familiar, like family. Her arc culminates in a confrontation with the man following her, and after Takuya defeats him, Eriko appears to deal with Kōzō, who had been controlling the man. However, during the fight, the necklace Kanna has is damaged, and her life force begins draining from her. It turns out that Kanna’s physical health is tied to Psychite, and having created a save point after the necklace was damaged, Takuya has no other option but to retrieve more Pyschite.

  • Takuya’s promise to Kanna sets in motion the events to the remainder of YU-NO: having now acquired all of the gems to the Reflector Device, Takuya has now the means of transporting himself to the mysterious land known as Dela Grante: reading Kodai’s texts and exploring Mount Sankaku with Mio helps Takuya to learn of its lore. The presence of another world leaves Takuya confident that Kodai is still alive in some way, and so, when the worst comes to pass, Takuya instinctively knows that this alternate world is probably his best bet for saving Kanna. He rushes off and asks Kanna to wait for him while he retrieves crystallised Psychite to save her.

  • When Takuya materialises on Dela Grante, he encounters a beautiful mute girl named Sayless. It takes him the better part of a day to learn her name, and when Sayless brings him over to her place to rest, Takuya also meets the knight Illia. Takuya intends to cross the desert a short ways from the wooded area he’d landed at, but soon realises that the desert is so vast, crossing it does not seem like a possibility.

  • Instead, Takuya spends most of his days training, learning swordsmanship from Illia and getting closer with Sayless. YU-NO taking Takuya to Dela Grante was a complete surprise and in fact, acts as the inspiration for the isekai anime that are so common in contemporary stories. However, while an unexpected twist, YU-NO‘s direction is neither unwelcome nor jarring: the series has long established that parallel timelines and worlds are possible, and Takuya’s biological mother may have have origins in such a world. Unlike contemporary isekai, many of which give only a limited idea of what an individual was like prior to their entry to another world, YU-NO establishes Takuya’s personality in the real world.

  • As such, Takuya’s personality remains a constant, and Dela Grante never feels like an alien world as a consequence. Many contemporary isekai choose to slowly establish the characters’ old lives in a more incremental manner, creating suspense and anticipation in a different manner. In YU-NO, after Illia dies following a battle, Takuya and Sayless turn to one another for company, and thus, Yu-no is born. In the days following, life seems idyllic for Takuya; despite his surprise at how quickly Yu-no is growing, he cherishes the time he spends with both Yu-no and Sayless.

  • YU-NO has its own ~After Story~ piece that similarly portrays a tragedy, that the protagonist must rise above. From what I’ve read, the segments of the story set on Dela Grante is supposed to be an epilogue of sorts, portraying the experience that Takuya has in retrieving the Psychite for Kanna. However, an epilogue is used to act as a comment following the denouement of a story, and from a narrative perspective, since we’ve not hit YU-NO‘s climax, it is inappropriate to count the Dela Grante sections as an epilogue.

  • After Imperial Knights arrive at the cottage and attempt to take custody of Sayless, she commits suicide. Sayless’ spirit endures in Yu-no, and the two decide to travel across the desert subsequently in search of the Imperial Capital. The blistering sun is very nearly too much to bear, but right as Takuya and Yu-no are on the cusp of dehydration, they find an oasis in the vast desert. Deserts figure greatly in works of science fiction: their vast, unending expanse creates a mystique and desolation that acts as a visual metaphor surrounding the characters’ states. While effective in this function, I personally hate desert environments because of their monotony, and in games, desert maps are my least favourite settings to explore.

  • YU-NO‘s 2019 adaptation features music from Ryu Kawamura, Keishi Yonao and Evan Call: the soundtrack features a wide range of music, from standard daily life pieces to tracks with a video game-like sound. However, the best incidental pieces in YU-NO are from Call, who had previously worked on Violet Evergarden‘s soundtrack. These pieces make use of string and choral elements to create a sound conveying scale and grandeur; Call’s compositions attest to the sense of mystery in YU-NO surrounding Dela Grante. Early in YU-NO, these tracks foreshadow something much bigger is in the works, and it is with Takuya’s arrival in Dela Grante that the scope of the myths and legends really becomes apparent. In this way, the soundtrack itself greatly augments the anime adaptation’s ability to create anticipation amidst the viewers.

  • For the crime of “defiling the priestess”, Takuya is sent to a work camp where he is made to mine Psychite. In the process, he runs into two fellow prisoners, Kurtz and Deo, who resemble Masakatsu and Hideo respectively. While mining, Takuya begins exploring a means of escape and learns that the area is guarded by an electrical tower of the same sort underneath Mount Sankaku. When a red-haired women is brought to the camp, Takuya learns of a resistance group who intend to overthrow the Devine Emperor, which Kurtz and Deo are a part of. A plan is devised, and Takuya manages to retrieve a sword from Bazuku, the labour camp’s warden.

  • In a thrilling escape plan, Kurtz and Deo incite the prisoners to riot, creating space to destroy one of the lightning towers, while Amanda and Takuya destroy the other after a confrontation with Bazuku. They are ultimately rescued by Kun-Kun, a humanoid lizard that Yu-no had insisted Takuya take in some time earlier. Amanda and Takuya reach the Imperial City and link up with the resistance, where they begin planning an assault on the Devine Emperor. Amanda’s conviction is strong, but through it all, she’s also incredibly lonely. Takuya’s presence and words helps her to lift her spirits, and the two share an intimate night together on the eve of the operation. Amanda greatly resembles Kanna’s mother, and it suddenly hits me that if this were the case, then Takuya would be Kanna’s father, which would explain why Kanna felt like family to Takuya.

  • In the tunnels underneath the castle, Takuya encounters Yu-no and duels her, barely escaping. He makes his way into the castle interior and encounters Kōzō, but inadvertently frees him from captivity. Eriko appears to handle things, leaving Takuya to continue on. Inside the castle, Takuya runs into Yu-no again: after Yu-no plunges her sword into the Psychite-lined casket, her memories of Takuya return, and the two share a tearful reunion. At this point in the anime, each episode was so compelling that it was tricky to watch them one at a time, and I found myself watching them in pairs.

  • Even in a series where surprises are expected, nothing prepared me for the revelation that Ayumi was the Devine Emperor. She reveals to him everything that’s happened: at some point, both she and Kōzō had arrived in Dela Grante from Phsychite creating a portal, and learns that Dela Grante had been constructed by prehistoric humanity in a bid to save themselves from a catastrophic impact event. However, Dela Grante’s orbit meant that every four centuries, it would be on a collision course with Earth. The Ritual, then, is to give the controlling computer, housing Grantia’s consciousness, a physical body that could operate Dela Grante’s navigation system.

  • As time wore on, Dela Grante’s inhabitants fell into decline and forgot how to operate their own technology. Ayumi’s explanation and the Resistance’s simultaneous discovery of the truth would’ve been a shocking one. However, once the initial surprise wears off, everything in YU-NO falls into place. Takuya’s mother was from Dela Grante, and Kodai had been studying this civilisation extensively. These dialogues, at least for me, answer all of the questions I had about Dela Grante: altogether, YU-NO‘s storyline can be said to share similarities with FuturamaRick and MortyHalo and Portal. The scale of YU-NO‘s story is such that in the aftermath of its release, demand for character and lore-rich visual novels would inspire future creators, including Jun Maeda, who created KanonAirCLANNAD and Angel Beats.

  • Ayumi stops Amanda and the others from being executed: now the truth is in the open, Amanda realises they’d actually been fighting for a lie. To contemporary folks, the sunk cost fallacy and social media means that many would rather die fighting for a false cause than admit they were wrong, but in YU-NO, more sensible minds prevail. Amanda stands down from her original goal of destroying the Devine Emperor and instead, focuses her energies on helping the Devine Emperor to save Dela Grante and Earth. This smaller theme in YU-NO was touching, showing how with the right information, people can be persuaded to change their stances, and YU-NO also means to suggest that some systems exist for the betterment of the group, even if it is not immediately apparent.

  • Such lessons do seem like they are forgotten (or rejected) in the present, based on current events and reactions to them on social media: were Amanda and the resistance to adopt the same blind devotion to their case as extremists do in reality, Dela Grante would be destroyed outright, and YU-NO would fail in its endeavour to tell a compelling story. This is fortunately not the case, and the former Resistance members actively help out on the day of the event. The transfer is a lengthy one, requiring half an hour to complete, and during this time, Kōzō reappears, wrecking havoc. In the fighting, Amanda is pulled into a dimensional portal and disappears.

  • While the Resistance continues fighting the specters that Kōzō has brought in, Eriko appears, and aided by Abel’s spirit, manages to kill Kōzō once and for all. Abel had once been Eriko’s lover and fellow researcher who died after encountering Kōzō during his exploration of the multi-verse, and since then, Eriko joined an interdimensional task force with the aim of bringing Kōzō to justice. With her job done, Eriko departs, but owing to the interference Kōzō had caused, Dela Grante is on an inevitable collision course with Earth. Yu-no ultimately propels Del Grante back eight thousand years, and the impact event results in the floating continent’s destruction.

  • In the present, Takuya returns and true to his word, delivers a Psychite jewel to Kanna, which will allow her to keep living. The events of the finale show that Kanna is indeed Takuya’s daughter, and his promised fulfilled, Takuya prepares to be sent back to Mount Sankaku a few days earlier. This time, armed with the full knowledge of what’s happened, he meets Yu-no again and resolves to remain with her unto eternity, bringing YU-NO to an end and in the process, also sets a new record for the shortest time it’d taken me to finish a twenty-six episode series: under a month.

  • I am well aware that, despite the size of this post, I’ve only really just scratched the surface for YU-NO. Overall, as an anime series, YU-NO earns an A grade (4.0 of 4.0, or 9.0 of 10): while starting slowly, YU-NO is very engaging and successful in bringing together elements from a wide ranges of genres together, as well as condensing out the visual novel’s storyline out into a format that newcomers (like myself) can follow. With this post in the books, I will be returning in the future to host a collaborative talk with Dewbond, whose knowledge and enthusiasm of YU-NO is, together with Ecchi Hunter’s constant Mio screenshots, what got me into this party to begin with. Entering the final third of September, I will be looking to wrap up the shows I’d followed for the summer, and once I get a handle of how two simultaneous episodic reviews will work, I will start said collaborative project, which will aim to cover some things that I did not get to in this post.

I believe that YU-NO is the first full-cour anime I’ve watched since 2018’s Sakura Quest (I’m still procrastinating on Sword Art Online: Alicization at the time of writing); I went through the anime on behest of Shallow Dives in Anime’s Dewbond, who had been curious to learn of my thoughts on YU-NO. Having gone in without any prior knowledge beyond Ecchi Hunter’s posts about Mio, I had no idea of what to expect. On the other side of YU-NO, I see a series whose story would’ve been revolutionary for its time, boldly combining elements from multiple genres and successfully keeping things engaging without overwhelming the viewer. In its anime form, the intricacies of YU-NO are conveyed – it was a fantastic journey from start to finish, paced well to hold the viewer’s attention. In retrospect, I am glad to have gone through it after the whole adaptation had aired: towards the end, it become tricky to watch episodes individually, since I would become antsy with each cliff-hanger that I encountered. YU-NO is probably the fastest I’ve ever finished a twenty-six episode series, and in general, the faster I go through an anime, the more likely it is that I enjoyed it. However, this is not the end: Dewbond indicates that YU-NO invites further exploration, and the visual novel, which received a modern remaster with updated visuals in 2017, is supposed to touch on some of the elements that the anime adaptation did not. This is quite understandable – the anime was already brimming with activity, and consequently, some storylines were merged, modified or shortened for the sake of keeping the adaptation to a manageable length. There are some lingering elements that YU-NO‘s anime adaptation do not cover, so it is the case that the visual novel will be the authoritative means of gaining further insights into the remainder of Takuya’s world. For the time being, with the YU-NO anime in the books, I can say I thoroughly had fun with this series. Further to this, I find the 2019 anime adaptation to be a fantastic starting point for anyone who wishes to learn more about YU-NO before deciding whether or not the visual novel is for them.