Full Series Review: Yuki Yuna is a Hero
When I first set on watching this 2014 magical girl show, I wasn't sure what I was getting into. Was it going to be a bleak subversion of the magical girl genre like Puella Magi Madoka Magica? Or was it just another moe anime combining a slice of life with the characters being magical girls after school?
Plot: Warning: Spoilers Below!
The truth is, it's both. It starts out with the main characters, who call themselves The Hero Club, getting told to become magical girls and awaken their powers and fight monsters by a magical smartphone app.
When they all succeed in defeating the monster, it is revealed that there are 12 such monsters total. They don't know where or when each one will strike. The organization in charge of the app, the Taisha, is mysterious, but has revealed some information about them to the girls. Joined by aloof, superiority complex tsundere character Karin, the girls of Hero Club work hard inside and outside of their duties as magical girls.
And then, a bunch of monsters attack at once. Unleashing new powers and becoming stronger, they manage, as a team, to defeat all of them. All twelve gone. But wait, this is only the 5th episode out of 12! What's going on here?
Then, they return to school life and each of them, except for Karin, has a disability of some sort. Fu, the leader, loses use of one eye. Itsuki, her little sister, loses her voice. Yuna, the "red oni" titular character, loses her sense of taste. Togo, the wheelchair-bound, smart "blue oni" character, loses hearing in one ear. The doctors say nothing is physically wrong with them and that they should regain these abilities shortly.
Turns out, it's not that simple. Yuna and Togo are transported magically to a place where a former Hero (their term for the magical girls) reveals the uncomfortable truths behind being a Hero, as well as some dark secrets about Togo herself.
The truth hits Fu the hardest, who feels extremely guilty when she realizes Itsuki's dream before losing her voice was to become an idol singer, and now, she can't sing and will never achieve that dream, something Fu blames herself for since she started Hero Club and got Itsuki involved in it. Much like Fullmetal Alchemist, the remainder of the series is when the main characters struggle to get back what was taken from them by supernatural forces, and to confront the devastating truth behind their world.
This series is great, in both its light-hearted first half and its darker second half. I like that it takes longer for the evil side of the girls' reality to show itself than it does in Madoka. It gives us more interest in the characters' lives so that when bad things happen to them later, there is more emotional significance attached to what happens, it doesn't just throw faceless, gory victims at us without giving us a reason to care about their struggle. This is what to me separates Yuki Yuna is a Hero from some mindlessly dark and bloody anime series. There is also an overwhelmingly beautiful artistic flair in this series and some amazing music as well. Check out this 12-episode-long stunner and you won't be disappointed.