Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru | Better than Expected

Understanding the series should be simple enough. There are two worlds – one in the human world that takes place at Sanshu Middle School and another world where strange entities known as Vertex has taken refuge. The first episode quickly introduces the main cast that composes a club known as the ‘Hero Club’. As the name suggests, it’s made of members who wants to help the helpless; kind of like trying to be heroes. The club also does other activities ranging from arts, craft, music, and literature.

Making up the club are Yuna, Fu and her younger sister Itsuki, and Mimori. While their personalities aren’t alike, they connect well as a unit and often enjoy their time in the human world. The show quickly turns the pages towards another side when we see the girls getting transported to another world. As gimmicky as it sounds, it may take some people by surprise especially for those who are unfamiliar with the premise or staff. The catch here is that the girls gets to be heroes for real in this other world by combating against the mysterious Vertex.

An interesting concept to note about the show is how the characters’ personalities change or perhaps show their true selves once their circumstances are different. Mimori becomes a prominent an example of this especially after she realizes the true visage of Shinju, the very essence that the Vertex is trying to destroy. Faced with the possibility of losing what she values, Mimori suffers mental breakdowns throughout the show. Another part is the show’s focus on dealing with loss.

The first half of the series shows the girls fighting and actually succeeding on most parts in their battle against the Vertex. Unknown to them, there’s a sacrifice to be made. The moral of the show suggests that nothing comes without a price and for becoming a hero, there’s also something in exchange to be paid. It brings about a sense of despair that is a solid mixture with the fantasy premise. The show chooses to make this bold choice rather than relying solely on slice of life to craft cleverness. Indeed, this show has its clever moments whether it’s the dark revelations or the character performances.

The characters are a main part of the show as there is only a handful. Each of them stands out in some way although titular character Yuuki is the one that takes most of the spotlight. This is actual primal considering the way each characters’ roles are played throughout the series. They become magical girls, go to this other world, and fight with the future of the universe on the line. What bigger stakes are there? Each character must accept their destiny to overcome a tragic fate. At the same time, the girls’ struggle internally with the truth after realizing that their lives will never go back to the same way before. It’s when you realize that if it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t.

The battles against the Vertex is surprisingly not the reason why the girls suffer from despair. In most parts, the girls does fairly well against them but it’s not until they realize what they are fighting for that they break down. Some folks might see this as a ripoff of Madoka or another cheesy gimmick to deconstruct the magical girl trope. However, it’s also important to realize that the show retains its wit and focus. It also has a good momentum and ability to build up events while dropping foreshadowing throughout the story. For anyone who can appreciate a darker side of a magical girl series, then this is something to take notice of. 

I don’t mean it literally but rather how the show can create a sense of annoyance as our new character Karin has an ego unlike no other. The series also has a strange direction as the characters seems to be fighting this enemy because it’s just the right thing to do. There’s a lack of a true villain or purpose that makes the series hard to predict. Thankfully, the series does know what it can do with its characters by presenting their desire (through flashbacks) and not steer away from what it has set up. The latter half of the series also has a much better focus without losing balance of the main story. 

Judging on artwork and character design, the show is probably is a mixed bag. Let’s face it, the characters look childish. They look like kids with cardboard box designs complete with the magical girl decorations. Although the series has decent production quality, there’s an auto-pilot like expression on the characters’ faces most of the time. That is until the second half, you’ll see how everything changes. Still, the show does deserve some credit for its elaborate design when it ventures into the supernatural realm.

Soundtrack is surprisingly noticeable throughout the course of the show. The majority of it relies on parts when the series focuses on its battles. Later on in the show, we also get the more emotional aspect where we see characters expresses their desires and fears. The series creates a sense of tragedy that seems to be un-resolvable with its quiet atmosphere and OST. The OP and ED songs also does well with its well-crafted choreography.