You guys thought I was done with YU-NO?
Well so did I, but it turns out that I have more to say. With the anime having just ended, and the visual novel remake coming out (on the same day hurr hurr) I figured I would play the VN and report back with a full review of the game. However just one route alone has taken me about 10 hours to do, and there are several more to go. Also, I just want to talk more about YU-NO which was a great anime and a important part of the Visual Novel genre. So I’ve decided that I’m start my shallow dive into the game earlier, talking about each of the routes and how they hold up compared to the anime adaption.
So join me after the cut as I take a look at the Ayumi route of the visual novel YU-NO: A Girl Who Chants Loves at the Bound of this World
During the anime, it was the Ayumi arc that completely pulled me into the story. It had me at the edge of my seat, and several of the moments, specifically the suicide spree that had me literally hyped for the next episode. When it was all said and done I was totally on board with YU-NO as a story, and I couldn’t wait to see what was next. Now with the visual novel and the full route, unburdened by (most) story cuts available. I have been able to play the Ayumi story arc in it’s entirety and see what it is like in it’s original form. So what did I think?
I still really liked, a lot, though the anime did do one or two things better.
As much as the anime did condense and cut several scenes of dialogue (as all anime based on visual novels do), the anime did bring a sense of urgency to the situation that the VN does not. This is mostly seen with the reflector device that Takuya uses to jump between the different timelines. The anime portrays the device as a handy tool that Takuya uses time and again to try and redo certain events, and it is most notable with Ayumi as he tries (and fails) to prevent her suicide from happening several times. It has a heavy presence in the plot, and feels like a real part of the story, referenced several times throughout the Ayumi route and beyond.
The visual novel meanwhile presents the reflector device merely as a game tool to let players jump between the timelines and see all possible outcomes. There is a bit of a disconnect between the reflector device and the story itself which is more focused on the relationships between Takuya and the other characters, and not the overall idea of moving between different points of time. It is not a deal-breaker by any means, and you ABSOLUTELY have to use the reflector device and jewel saves to complete the story (and get 100%), but it was surprising at how much I didn’t even think about it throughout the first route, considering it was such a major part of the anime.
In regards to the story itself however, I must say that visual novel is (mostly) the superior product, especially in terms of the relationship between Takuya and Ayumi. With about ten hours spent in the route, (only skipping dialogue when I had to replay certain parts) I found myself much more attached and invested in the two characters. Simply put, the sexual tension is MUCH more pronounced in the VN than compared to the anime. With only a few years separating them, it is clear that Ayumi and Takuya, now living alone without his father, and her husband, are struggling not to give into their hidden feelings. It is particularly true for Ayumi, where it is clear that she feels she is stuck being a “mother” instead of a “woman,” and is in despair at becoming a widow so early in life. She feels she has no chance for love again and the pressure and stresses from her job have left her open to be manipulated by Totoyomi, which can end extremely badly if proper measures aren’t taken.
Furthermore, the visual novel does excellent work in displaying these feelings. While it is only text, the dialogue and pictures provided are effective in showing that sexual tension and desire between Takuya and Ayumi. The scene where they cuddle up on the couch, giving Ayumi a chance to lower her defenses is touching, and the inner monologue by Takuya gives more light to his struggles and feelings. The scenes after the climax of the route, where Ayumi and Takuya finally confront the fact that they are in love felt extremely real, especially with Ayumi’s pestering of him to just say that he loves her and that “you won’t know what I think until you say it.” That’s something I think many people may have gone through in their lives (just not, you know, with their step-mom). And while the sex scenes themselves have been pulled out of this release, the after-sex scenes are still present and they do a wonderful job of letting you understand the emotions, bliss and freedom that Ayumi feels once again. After ten hours spent with these characters, I was genuinely happy that both Takuya and Ayumi were able to find each other, and that Ayumi has another chance at a happy full life, one where she is loved and has someone who clearly adores her.
If there is one thing I missed from the anime, it was in the bad ends, where Takuya comes home and see the ruffled bed sheets and empty wrappers that indicate that things had gone another way. Furthermore the scenes where Takuya attempts to stop Ayumi from killing herself, and fails are anime only, which was a damn shame. While the outcome is still present in the visual novel, not much time is given to showing what exactly happened, which is something that anime did exceptionally well, and kept me on the edge of my seat for every single minute.. Yet where the VN falters at that part, it absolutely steps it up other places and does it well.
The Ayumi Route in the visual novel of YU-NO: A Girl who Chants Love at the Bound of this World is absolutely stellar, expanding on all the scenes you wished that anime had done more with, while never truly scaling back on the scenes that were kept. While the animes does improve some areas in the short term. The Visual novel absolutely is the superior version when viewing the arc long term. The sexual tension, the chemistry between the two leads, as well as the foreshadowing of other routes sprinkled in really helps build up the mystery of YU-NO and everything that is going to come next. I thought the Ayumi route was the strongest the anime ever was, and if this is the quality I’m going to get from the other routes, then I think I’m in for a real treat. If you couldn’t get enough of Ayumi and Takuya in the anime, make sure to give the visual novel a try.
Right, join me later this month as I dive into the next route, the Mitsuki/Eriko route!