Anime

The Women of YU-NO Part II

Introduction to The Women of YU-NO Part II: A Character Driven Masterpiece

Our collaboration post about the women of YU-NO: A Girl who Chants Love at the Bound of this World continues! Last time, me (Dewbond) and Crow were hard at work discussing the first three heroines, Ayumi, Kaori and Mio. Each of the girls have their own story that talks about different ideas, but all of them lead to a bigger picture that is the story of YU-NO. We also dished out the main lead Takuya Arima and his personality as one of the forefathers of the visual novel lead. It’s been a great conversation, and especially fun after a year away from the series.

However we have only covered one half of the first half. So now we’ll be discussing the remaining three heroines! The mysterious Eriko Takeda, the devoted and doomed Mitsuki Ichijo, and the demure and aloof Kanna Hatano. Each of them takes the story in new directions, some that are quite surprising. 

The Women of YU-NO Part II

First Impression of Mitsuki in The Women of YU-NO Part II

Crow, let’s not waste any time and get to the next girl. As Mitsuki and Eriko share the same route, it only fits to talk about them, but let’s keep the focus on Mitsuki for now. What do you think of the sultry adult teacher and secretary?

Dewbond, it’s nice to be back for Part II! As a housekeeping note, I’m in bold, Dewbond is in standard type, and there will be spoilers! Some of them are pretty big. So please be aware!

When I first watched YU-NO’s first episode, I thought I’d skipped a season or something. Takuya talked to Mitsuki as if they’d had a prior and serious relationship. At first, it felt a little disorentating. Here she was, an obviously devoted teacher, bright and energetic, and very attractive, talking to Takuya, a student, as an ex-lover. There’s a huge story there, and we didn’t get to see it! Did anyone else know? Were there repercussions? Why’d they break it off?

The Women of YU-NO Part II: Mitsuki and Takuya were close.

From the moment we meet Mitsuki, it was clear she and Takuya had been close. Capture from the Funimation stream.

At first, that really bugged me, because I wanted to know. Then I realized: This was a great way to establish that we’re entering a world in motion. Takuya and Mitsuki didn’t just show up for the first episode. They had a history that helped shape who they are. Right away, based on how they interacted, we knew that they were both mature individuals. Even though they were no longer an item, they treated each other affectionately. That’s not something immature folks do. Also, they still looked out for each other. Takuya seemed genuinely concerned that she’d get in trouble if their secret got out.

That was my first impression of her. Would you like to talk about your initial impressions before we get into the tragic part?

The Women of YU-NO Part II: Mitsuki and Takuya’s History

I like your point about a world in motion, and with Mitsuki you see that alot. There is history there, and we as viewers are only stepping in after a story had already been told. My first view of Mitsuki was that she was clearly someone who knew she was playing with fire. Her initial relationship with Takyua came out of grief and anger over the supposed death of Takuya’ father. He needed an outlet for his feelings and Mitsuki, whether out of boredom or genuine affection, gave Takuya what he needed. Something that Mio, the only one who caught on to what was happening, wasn’t able to do.

So they sleep together, both the anime and VN admit that, and what is the most interesting is how the characters move on from that. From what we knew, it seemed to be a flash in the pan, a mutual relationship that ended mutually. When we see Mitsuki and Takuya before the route let us know that there seems to be no hard feelings and almost a nostalgic warmth from their ‘one wild summer.’ It was a part of their life that they both moved on from. Or so we think.

I see Mitsuki as someone, like Auymi, who is incredibly lonely. She needs to have someone by her side, someone to depend on, and someone to love her. That is why after her and Takuya break up, she switches her feelings to Ryuuzouji and seemingly falls in love with him. However it is clear she still wants Takuya, and the VN gives them plenty of moments, both intimate and not, to drive the point home. She is at heart, a weak person, someone who doesn’t seem able to stand on her own two feet without someone by her side.

Mitsuki’s Role in the Narrative

Which only makes her destiny all the more sad. Crow, what did you think about Mitsuki’s role in the story, not just in her own arc, but in the first half?

Interesting points about her need for love. She acted up-beat and happy, but there did seem to be a real longing there. I’d go so far as to say that her emotional state made her more susceptible to Ryuuzouji’s hypnotic powers. Maybe I should explain that a bit.

The Women of YU-NO Part II: Mitsuki liked Takuya, but her loneliness opened her to Ryuuzouji's manipulation.

Mitsuki felt a lot of affection for Takuya, but her loneliness left her open to Ryuuzouji’s manipulation. Capture from the Funimation stream.

Ryuuzouji said he wanted to get his hands on the Reflector. He ran into trouble getting it from Takuya, so he used his hypnotic powers to convince Mitsuki to do it for him. That became a real problem when Takuya went under Mount Sankaku to look for Mio. He came across Mitsuki who said she’d come in to help. But when she pulled a gun on Takuya and demanded he hand over the Reflector, it became clear she wasn’t acting under her own volition. 

Her affection for Takuya helped her fight it, so Takuya was able to get away and find Mio. As the two of them tried to escape, though, they came upon the device at the center of the mountain. Mitsuki found them and again held them at gunpoint, but this time, her affection for Takuya deadlocked her will. She ended up turning the gun on himself. From that point on, no matter how many times he used the Reflector, he could not save her. 

The Reflector Has Limits in The Women of YU-NO Part II

That realization played a huge dramatic role. It established that even within the temporal and probabilistic world that Takuya’s father had discovered, the concept of Fate acted like a trump card. Fate determined that Mitsuki had to die, and nothing Takuya could do could prevent it. That meant going forward, we knew that Takuya had a vulnerability.

Fate can be a bitch, and we see that with Mitsuki, not only in her arc, but in the others. No matter what Takuya can do, she is going to die. That I think, as you say, gives Takuya a vulnerability. He has this great power, he can do all of these things, but there are some things that he can’t do. It’s a humbling experience for a man who can leap through time, and helps ground the plot. Especially in the anime where Takuya abuses the reflector device far more often.

In regards to Ryuuzouji, something that YU-NO does well is that it sprinkles the gradual reveals and secrets of the world throughout each of the arcs. Each route tackles a certain element, which helps bring it all together when we enter the center half. Ayumi and Kaori’s routes deal with mysterious research and jewels. Mio’s delves into the secrets of Mount Sankaku, and Mitsuki’s is about Ryuuzouji and his role as the villain. It also brings us into Eriko’s sphere of influence, which I think is our next topic of discussion. Crow, just keeping things in the first half, what did you think of Eriko and her role in the story, most notable in Mitsuki’s route.

First Impression of Eriko in The Women of YU-NO Part II

Let’s start out with the first time we met Eriko. It was in the first episode, and the scene stuck firmly in my mind. Takuya chilled on the school roof. He’d just awakened from a nap, which seemed to be his favorite part of the school day, when Eriko walked up to him. Thing was, he was lying down, and she just stood above him. He even commented on the clear view he had of her panties.

The Women of YU-NO Part II: Eriko had lots of confident.

Eriko had a lot of confidence. Capture from the Funimation stream.

Now, you might reasonably think that such a view of an astoundingly beautiful woman like Eriko would itself be enough to make the scene memorable. And, you’d be right. But the reason the scene stuck with me was how she reacted to his comments. She was completely cool with them. Even more, she could easily have stepped back, or sat down on a nearby bench. But she didn’t. It was her, “Yes, I’m hot, but we have stuff to talk about” attitude that made an impression on me. So right from the start, we knew Eriko could not be described as a typical teacher.

After several more hints that Eriko knew more than she let on, in episode 12, she dropped a narrative bomb on Takuya. She wanted help investigating Ryuuzouji, but she wanted first to know how much Takuya knew. He said he knew a few things. When she smiled and “You’ve done this cycle before, right? You would pick up some things” (18:08). It was at this point that Takuya (and us in the audience!) found out that Eriko knew about time/dimensional travel. That was a really cool moment.

An equally cool moment happened while Takuyo and Eriko investigated Ryuuzouji’s estate and found Ryuuzouji’s mother had been murdered. They heard a car speed off, and Eriko, displaying physical abilities more commonly associated with superheroes, bounded across the lawns and over the perimeter fence just in time to see Mitsuki crash into a telephone pole. She had been trying and failing to drive Ryuuzouji’s car.

Eriko, Cool Under Pressure in The Women of YU-NO Part II

The next cool moment happened when Eriko and Takuya took the unconscious Mitsuki back to the school infirmary. After administering first aid, Eriko left Mitsuki in Takuya’s care so Eriko could go back and dispose of Ryuuzouji’s mother’s body. Problem was, Mitsuki was still under Ryuuzouji’s hypnosis (called the Niarb, which is kind of funny because the Urban Dictionary says it’s “brain” spelled backwards and means an idiot). Takuya got careless and let himself get distracted so Mitsuki could attack him, first with a fire extinguisher, then with a box cutter. Eriko heard the commotion and used some impressive close-quarters combat skills to put Mitsuki on the floor.

“Didn’t I tell you to be careful?” (6:30) Eriko demanded.

Eriko had serious combat capability

Well, Eriko did try to warn Takuya! I’m impressed she can fight so well in high heels… Capture from the Funimation stream.

Eriko really serves as the assistant to Takuya, stringing him along the story and providing background to the events going on. She is very much like Kakashi from Naruto, or Urahara from Bleach. She’s the mysterious mentor, who is more powerful than they see and knows far more than she lets on. Your mention that she is aware of Takuya going through cycles is a great example of that. While she isn’t as glued in as he is, she at least knows that this isn’t his first go around. In that case it is very much like a recent spoiler from the last season of ReZero and it works well.

But as you said, Eriko is known for her shamelessness. While Mio is the classic Tsundere, and Kaori is refined but sultry, Eriko has next to no qualms about how Takuya views her. She knows she’s a bombshell (the visual novel literally has a scene where her crotch is in your face) and doesn’t mind his jeers and jests because she knows she could drop him in a hat. In that way, Eriko really serves as Takuya’s equal, able to take in what he dishes out, and then some. The Visual Novel follows up on this, more so in the original eroge version with them having a few intimate scenes. While it is not on the level of the other girls, there is a clear attraction between both of them, and it may have gone the distance if not for Eriko’s baggage.

Eriko is on a Mission

She’s a woman on a mission, and she has something special she wants to avenge. The anime actually delves into that far more than in either VN, giving some background on who her lover was, and his connection to Ryuuzoji. Most of that is just implied back in the novel. What is really cool upon reflection is how YU-NO slowly makes connections between Eriko and Ryuuzoji. They both sleep on the floor, and the series makes a connection, but doesn’t throw it in your face. It’s honestly something that would slip your mind, but when it comes back into focus you go. “Oh yeah, that was weird!”

Let me ask you this Crow, what were your thoughts regarding Eriko, and Ryuuzoji’s revelations and place in the story?

In a sense, Ryuuzoji and Eriko are the story’s alpha and omega. Ryuuzoji lusted for power or maybe just chaos. I couldn’t tell which, and maybe that was the point. Ryuuzoji seemed able to exist at the interstitial points between various space-times. It almost seemed like he was a native of that place. In episode 13, Eriko told Takuya about Abel and his excursion into interstitial space to find the root cause of all things. That excursion was where Abel met the Class A Dimensional Criminal who turned out to be the being who had taken over first Abel’s body, then Ryuuzoji’s. I’m not sure if we ever found out for sure what Ryuuzoji wanted (did we?). But his actions started the events that brought both the Class A Dimensional Criminal and Eriko to Earth.

The Women of YU-NO Part II: The Class A Dimensional Criminal was seriously deranged

The Class A Dimensional Criminal came as quite a shock to Abel. Eriko, too. Capture from the Funimation stream.

Eriko, on the other hand, helped put an end to Ryuuzoji’s rampage. The way it happened was almost funny, too. Ayumi had become the God Empress of Dela Grante, and using her knowledge of Ryuuzoji, she and her people fashioned a trap to kill him. During the ritual to renew Dela Grante’s protections, Eriko and Takuya stood to the side, chatting. Actually, they were actively flirting. So much so that they had no idea what was going on around them — including Ryuuzoji escaping the trap! 

Effective Use of Humor and Character in The Women of YU-NO Part II

It wasn’t just the humor of that moment — it showed how close the two had become. So much so that when Abel’s soul showed up to help slow the Class A Dimensional Criminal, Eriko had to rely on Takuya to help. The spirits flowing in through the gaps Ryuuzoji created had beaten up pretty badly. So much that she couldn’t hold her pistol steady. Takuya stood in front of her so she could steady her aim. 

Truth be told, if I had to pick someone for Takuya to end up with, it would be Eriko. As you said, she’s the perfect partner for him. 

Considering all that Takuya goes through prior to his reunion with Eriko, and the amount of stuff he dumps on her lap. The fact that they act so chummy, that they have the same jokes shows the depth of their relationship as you said. It’s a true friendship, with layers of attraction, but a level of trust that is impressive. While it doesn’t have the chemistry that some anime friendships have, it does feel real, and it stands out amidst the other couples in the series.

But we are getting ahead of ourselves, because before we jump into the back half of the series, there is one more girl we need to discuss. The girl who is probably the most important of the original five. It’s time to talk about Kanna Hatano. Now Crow, I don’t know what you thought, but when the anime pulled back the curtain and revealed that Kanna was a prostitute, she had a scene where she’s literally walking into that guy’s room, it was shocking. Like with Ayumi’s first suicide, it was the second time YU-NO threw me back into my seat, and then had me on the edge of it. It is another great example of how this series doesn’t pull its punches. Crow, what did you think of Kanna?

First Impression of Kanna in The Women of YU-NO Part II

Sorry for getting ahead of ourselves. But that scene with Takuya and Eriko was just so darn great!

But Kanna. The show portrayed her as generally emotionless. I couldn’t tell if she felt deathly ill, if she just didn’t care, or if she suffered from a mental illness like autism. Except for migraines, she looked healthy. In fact, she was a lovely young woman. She even seemed to have advanced knowledge of Mount Sankaku — even exceeding Mio’s knowledge, and she had studied everything about the topic!

The Women of YU-NO Part II: Kanna was a mysterious character

From the time we meet Kanno, we don’t know what’s going on with her. But I really wanted to find out! Capture from the Funimation stream.

That shot of her walking into the hotel with a john didn’t shock me. The reason was simple: My mind rejected the idea. I could not accept that’s what she was doing. Did the guy take advantage of a naive young woman?

The scene with Takuya in her apartment blew that idea out of the water. She not only admitted that’s what she had done. She offered her body to Takuya. That’s when I felt shocked! I agree with you. In terms of impact, it rivaled Ayumi’s first suicide. 

Now, I’m glad Takuya didn’t take her up on her offer. And for that reason, I have to ask: In the game, is it canonical that Takuya is, in fact, her father? 

Kanna’s Relationship to Takuya in The Women of YU-NO Part II

It is never verbally confirmed in the visual novel, but all the evidence overwhelmingly points in that direction. Kanna is the daughter of Takuya and Amanda which of course brings up some interesting conversations, especially since YU-NO doesn’t stop there. And look, I don’t want to get into the whole relationship between anime and incest. It’s there, it is part of the artform (though not all of it) and you can choose to engage in that content or not. Personally, having read and watched both versions of this series, the VN absolutely leans more into that corner than the anime does, being able to keep in the eroge scenes. Unsettling to some? Yeah, I’ll concede that point, but I honestly couldn’t care because the story is so good.

All of the girls in the first half have a role to play, and for Kanna it is to be the mysterious character who drifts in and out of the other stories, dropping hints, giving clues or just standing there and letting viewers ask questions. Why is she there? Why is she so quiet and why is she whoring herself out to men? Also, why the hell is that blue gem so damn important to her? She’s the enigma, the guiding muse that helps push Takuya, sometimes intentionally, sometimes not, to get where he needs to go. But thankfully YU-NO doesn’t forget to give Kanna her own story and plot line.

Kanna's necklace was important to her

Why was Kanna’s necklace so important to her? Capture from the Funimation stream.

Which I think is a story about loneliness. After the death of her mother, Kanna had nothing, and having grown up in a world where physical and emotional intimacy are seemingly vital, she tried to fill the void the only way she could. She is very much like Takuya who, after the death of his father, threw himself into the arms of Mitsuki in order to help with the pain. They are peas in a pod, people who express their feelings through physical actions and not just words. Kanna is a woman who wants to be loved and cherished, but also doesn’t have the career of Ayumi, the dreams of Mio, or the duty of Eriko to help fill in the gaps.

The Women of YU-NO Part II: Kanna’s VN and Anime Routes

I should also state that the way Kanna’s arc ends is a bit different than how the visual novel does. In the VN, Takuya actually uses the gem secured from Kaori’s route to save Kanna, where in the anime that comes at the end of the entire plot. It was a weird change, but I think they wanted to help bridge the two halves of the series in a stronger way than the visual novel does.

What do you think, Crow? Did anything I say resonate with your view of Kanna?

Your insight into loneliness being her driving motivation is spot on. So are your observations about her role as a mysterious character. Along those lines, there were a couple of things that stuck out about her. I noticed the first thing when I watched the series for the first time, but it became a lot more clear when I rewatched episode 16 and episode 17 to prepare for this post. She had taken enormous emotional damage throughout her life. Losing her mother started the chain, and if that had been “all” she needed to deal with, she might have been able to manage.

But as you said, she was alone, and she the day she found to fill that void involved practically anonymous sex. With the right social attitudes, that, too, might have been acceptable. But she couldn’t bear the scorn. She couldn’t bear the increased isolation when anyone found out about her “sin” — which was simply trying to stay alive. 

What that translates into is that when Takuya offered her his hand in friendship, she had no frame of reference to accept him as anything other than either another brief physical intimacy or a source of derision. She made that point painfully clear in episode 17. She withdrew from school and prepared to move because Jerk Face Stalker Dude (Atsushi Hojo) splashed pictures of her walking into a love hotel with a stranger. Of course, the students harshly judged her, so she felt compelled to leave. Takuya, still not knowing what she’d been through, confronted her in her apartment, and she told him her story. He still tried to convince her that he was her friend, but remember — she only knew how to relate to people in two modes. She stripped and asked if, after hearing about her life, he could still hug her.

Kanna bared her soul to Takuya

Kanna bared her soul to Takuya, then asked if he could still hold her, knowing what he knew. Capture from the Funimation stream.

Takuya’s Gesture Misunderstood among The Women of YU-NO Part II

He paused, because he didn’t know how to respond. She interpreted it as yet another rejection. That moment was terribly painful to watch.

The second thing that stuck out was how she had retained the ability to feel compassion, even after all she’d been through. Again in episode 17, when Jerk Face Stalker Dude tried to beat the facts about Takuya’s dad out of her, Takuya tried to intervene. When the Niarb fired and Jerk Face threatened Takuya with a knife, she told him everything she knew, just to protect Takuya. I say that because Jerk Face seemed quite willing to beat it out of her, and she had remained quiet.

It’s interesting that you said the VN ended with Takuya giving her a stone. I think I like how the anime handled it. Takuya realized that her pendant, damaged in the struggle with Jerk Face, contained her life essence. She confirmed its composition: psychite. And she confirmed it had to be crystalized, which meant one thing: Takuya had to go to Dela Grante to get it, because in this universe, psychite could not yet be crystalized. It was a neat way to force him to travel to that dimension. 

Which again, is done differently in the VN than in the anime, as the show tries to tie Kanna’s plight with Takuya’s reasons to jump to the new world, where they are different things in the Visual Novel. I can see why they did that, because it can feel a bit out of left field in some regards, plus considering Kanna’s connection to Amanda.

Overall, I like Kanna’s character, and I find that she serves the story well and has a good, but not overly dramatic backstory. It doesn’t shy away from going where it needs to go, and I do think Kanna and Takuya have good chemistry. She helps him calm down and look at the world more closely, while Kanna gets a person who feels things, both physically and emotionally, just as much as she does. Quiet in the head, crazy in the bed I suppose?

Kanna began to have fun with her friends

Kanna, with the help of Mio, Takuya, and Yuuki, had just started to think she might be making some friends. Capture from the Funimation stream.

Closing Thoughts about The Women of YU-NO Part II

But with all of this, we have come to the end of the first half of YU-NO. It has been a rather fun ride so far, with routes and arcs that range from good to great. My personal ranking of the stories (and girls) would probably be: Ayumi, Kanna, Eriko/Mitsuki, Kaori and Mio. I think they all provide excellent entertainment and pull you into a world that, in my view, never really lets you go. As we head into the game-changing second half, where do you stand on the series so far Crow? How do you rate the stories and the girls?

Everything starts with Eriko. No disrespect to any of the other women of YU-NO, but Eriko’s strength and amazing physical agility give her an edge, at least in my world! Next, I’d put Ayumi’s story. She wanted to do the right thing so much she pushed herself too far. That’s a short-cut to gaining my sympathy! Mio’s passion for the occult impressed me. She had the strength of will to ignore convention and follow her passions. Finally, I’d put Kanna, Mitsuki, and Kaori about neck and neck. By that, I don’t mean they were throw-away or lesser characters. It’s just that the stories of Eriko, Ayumi, and Mio made a bigger impression on me.

So far, we’ve covered what I’ll affectionately call the Terrestrial Women of YU-NO. Each had their own quirks and interests. Each affected Takuya in their own way, and each had their own goals and aspirations. But they had one thing in common: They were interesting characters, and as someone who loves good characters, I felt glad to have met them.

In the next section, we’ll talk about the Dela Grante Women of YU-NO. Can they measure up to the standards of character excellents set by the Terrestrial Women? Might they even pull ahead? We’ll let you know in the next segment!

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