Genre(s): Magical Girl, School, Fantasy, Drama, Psychological
Age-Appropriateness: 13+ (Violence, dramatic themes)
TheAwersome Rating: 8.1 / 10 (Take it slowly, this show is dangerous)
Premise: In her everyday life, Yuna Yuki is a hero. As proof, she is in her middle school’s Hero Club, where she does her best to help others and bring a smile to everyone’s face. But Yuna, always up to any task, is about to become an even bigger hero. Mysterious destructive forces called Vertexes begin threatening the world she loves, and the Hero Club is called upon by a strange phone app to save it. Along with her best friend Mimori Togo, as well as sisters Fu and Itsuki Inubouzaki, they must transform into magical girls to battle the Vertexes. In between studying and putting on shows for kids, Yuna and the Hero Club must fight for the very existence of their world and face the harsh truths behind their own powers, all the while discovering what it truly means to be a hero.
TheAwersome’s Thoughts: You might be noticing that Magical Girl anime post 2011 seem to have changed tone a bit. Honestly, I’m here for it. I’m all for it. Yuki Yuna definitely is a Madoka-inspired show but takes a slightly different approach. While there’s still a lot of similarities (weird psychedelic world where they fight bizarre surrealist creatures, spoilery things, some other spoiliery aspects) Yuki Yuna had a more gradual pace that allowed the impacting beats to really get me. I had some serious blanket-wrapped crying on this one. Unfortunately, it tried to keep riding that wave a bit too hard, and the last few episodes weren’t as gripping as there wasn’t as much of an emotional dynamic. Still, I really enjoyed how much we got to know the characters and get attached to them. It took a few episodes, but it grew on me nice and good.
TLDR: A slightly warm Cherry Pepsi to Madoka’s crisp, icy Vanilla Coke.
There are two additional installments that were originally movies which got split into six episode arcs and are considered the “Second Season.” The Washio Sumi Chapter is a prequel, and the Hero Chapter takes place after the events of this first season. Both will be reviewed later. A third season is confirmed for October 2021.
You have to pay attention in the first few episodes to clue into the setting/year, as there isn’t the best exposition, unfortunately. Also, I’ll be darned if Magia Record didn’t draw some inspiration from this in designing some of their Witch’s Labyrinths and the entire character of Fu, both in character and design, has a lot of similarities with Momoko.
Something this series does well is channel a very strong religious vibe, almost a blend of Buddhism and Shintoism with some interesting commentary on that front. This vibe is strongly helped by the music of Keichi Okabe and the team MONACA, who you’ll recognize as the composer and performers for the NieR series. The fact that I was in the middle of my run of NieR: Automata when I started watching this was honestly kind of spooky considering it’s practically the only anime that they’ve done music for.
You’ll likely enjoy this if you enjoyed:
-The psychedelic visuals, music, and heavy nature of Madoka / Magia Record