Yuki Yuna is a Hero

Yuki Yuna is a Hero

IMG_1138.PNGYuna Yuki is, as this trope usually goes, an ordinary middle school student. She gets up in the morning, gets ready for school, goes to classes, participates in club activities, and has fun with her friends. But there is one extraordinary thing about Yuna – she belongs to the “Brave Hero Club.” What does the Brave Hero Club do, you ask? They work within the community and help out in local events and re-home kittens. But that’s not all. Who are the mysterious beings called ‘Vertex’ and how can Yuna and the Hero Club defend the world against them?

I love a good magical girl show, but there are some big names that newcomers have to compete with, especially in recent years with Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Sailor Moon Crystal, and DokiDoki! Precure. However, Yuki Yuna is a Hero is looking to become another title to stand up and be counted within this ever-increasing genre. It has a refreshingly modern take on a traditional formula and a cast of interesting characters. I have to say, this is one particular title that I look forward to watching every week.

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Yuki Yuna is a Hero is based around five girls who together make up the Sanshu Middle School Hero Club. Yuna, Mimori, Fu, Itsuki and later, Karin, spend their school club time volunteering locally and helping those who need it. No task is too great for them, and helping those in need is their permanent mantra.

However, the club’s name is about to take on a totally new meaning. Ever so suddenly, the girls are sent to a mysterious realm, one set between our world and that of the malevolent monster race – the Vertex. In order to defeat them, the girls have to call on the powers hidden within their magic mobile phone apps to transform into heroes and defeat the bad guys (this is the only bit that I thought might have been a little weak…).

Apart from transforming via their mobile telephones, this one has been pretty solid so far. It started out with a traditional ‘monster of the week’ format, but has since come into its own with its in-depth character development – of the girls in a typical school setting as they get on with their daily lives as well as delivering some serious high-octane intense magical battles. Magical girls should mean massive weaponry, coloured sparkles and gravity-defying jumps – and Yuna and her friends are bringing the viewer all this and more. These fights are choreographed well, with a fantastic back-and-forth between the girls and the monsters that really shows off the fact that these girls are newbies, thrown into a desperate situation. They’ll screw things up and run for cover. They’ll freeze in fear, and usually find themselves at a loss for what to do.

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It’s a clear format that has served this show well so far. Behind each episode is a strong understanding of how much time there is and what needs to be addressed within that time. The ‘slice of life’ school sections are well-paced and charming and make the characters appear very endearing. Character interactions are handled really well and they help build a strong chemistry between the five girls. It is somehow reminiscent of Madoka Magica, but this isn’t really a criticism. Neither is the striking similarities between these characters and the ones in Madoka’s universe (Yuna looks a lot like Madoka, Fu bears an uncanny resemblance to Mami, and isn’t there something distinctly Homura-ish about Mimori?).

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Here we have the Hero Club with their mahou shoujo motto: it’s a pretty good one.

My favourite character is definitely Mimori. With her design choice, it’s really great to see this anime take the effort to design a character that isn’t perfect physically. When it comes to her transformation, her body wasn’t automatically ‘fixed’, either. She still remains unable to walk (which surprised me, to be honest – I was expecting a cure-all situation), but her transformation, like all the other girls, is perfectly tailored to her personality and strengths. The way everything is handled really impresses me.

The character designs overall are great, with each magical girl clearly defined and recognisable from the get-go in both their school uniforms in real life and as ass-kicking magical girls in another dimension. Each of their magical costumes is based around a different type of flowers, which is reflected within their attacks, and things are intricate and beautiful with unique touches. The monsters, or Vertex, are deceptively fearsome with their simple aesthetic, which works to make them even more sinister. The backgrounds in this particular dimension are really stunning, with a lot of surrealist imagery and use of an almost water-coloured style to give the realm an otherworldly feel.

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We’re about halfway through the plot now, and there’s still things that have gone unanswered from the beginning. I noticed this right from the beginning, and this is part of the reason why I keep tuning in straight away for every episode. There are a lot of questions involving certain characters’ past and curiosities surrounding the Taisha that I am looking forward to discovering. I think it’s great when animes keep to certain themes but never completely divulge all the information. It makes me start developing my own theories and takes my engagement to a deeper level. It shows some real thought has gone into the plot and it sets itself apart from the rest.

Yuki Yuna is a Hero shows a lot of promise at this a stage. The characters are interesting, and the plot generally handles itself well. There are a few plot eccentricities (like the magic phone application), but these quirks are easily overlooked in the greater scheme of things. If the series can continue along its current trajectory, there’s a strong chance of it finishing on a truly satisfying note.