Our look at the visual novel of YU-NO: A Girl who Chants Love at the Bound of this World continues! We’ve looked at the first two routes, and now we turn to the third! I’ve got plenty to say, some good, and some not so good. So after the cut let’s take a dive into the third major route of the story: The Mio Route!
The strange thing about YU-NO, especially in the visual novel is that nonlinear aspect of the first half makes the story a little strange. While each of the routes are connected in that they deal with the same overall story, each route has the responsibility to deal with a certain piece of the overall picture. Ayumi’s route deals with the fallout of the lightning strikes and research at Triangle Mountain, and Mitsuki’s Route deals with the so called ‘curse’ and the mysteries surrounding Eriko. Mio’s route meanwhile is saddled with the job of explaining the secrets of Triangle Mountain, and the source of the lightning strikes.
Now I use that word ‘saddled’ for a reason. While Mio’s arc is overall a good one and has some great moments, it does feel like it was the route that was forced to do most of the heavy lifting in explaining the world. While Ayumi and to some degree Mitsuki’s route both had to do the same, there was still plenty of room to explore their relationship to Takuya and the underlying tensions between each of them. While Mio’s route has some of this, it feels more placed on the back-burner in comparison and the focus, especially in the later half is directed with revealing the true nature and scope of just what Triangle mountain really is. This of course is an important task, because a lot of what is explained in this route sets up for the big paradigm shift in the back half of the story. It’s just a shame that it comes at the cost of some of the character development for Mio and Takuya.
What is there though is done well enough. I won’t lie, out of all the female leads, Mio was the one I cared for the least, and that really hasn’t changed. Being the ‘classmate’ character (and without the mysteriousness of Kanna) Mio feels a bit out of place in a story that involves mostly adult females. She is very much a teenager and VERY MUCH a tsundere, and her relationship to Takuya both in this route and others leans very much into that well done trope. It is clear right from the onset that she has feelings, deep feelings for Takuya, but refuses to act on them in some part due to pride and teenage insecurity, only made worse by her witnessing of Takuya’s affair with Mitsuki. Takuya meanwhile seems oddly ambivalent to Mio throughout the entire route, and while he does care for her, it is not the forbidden taboo’d love he has with Ayumi, or the raw sexual desire shared with Mitsuki, or even Kaori. It feels at times that Takuya himself is kind of above the childish romance, that him no longer being a virgin means he has little patience for the bullshit of trying to get with her, or that he events wants to. In some ways I admire it, but I also wish that Takuya was just a bit more into Mio to help the scenes land a bit better.
What really works though is Mio’s character as a whole. I loved her interest in history and clear passion for wanting to unlock the mysteries and secrets of Triangle Mountain. The route does great work in letting you know that Mio has a true desire for this type of work and won’t let her age or inexperience try and stop her from doing so. While she is a tsundere through and through, I was glad that YU-NO made sure to give her more personality than just that. Her love of history makes her bounce off Takuya quite well in all of the non-romantic scenes, showing a good sense of comradeship and playful banter that I’ve always enjoyed. These two might not be the strongest relationship in the series, but they make an excellent team, and Mio takes no shit from Takuya, which helps sets her apart from some of the other girls.
In comparison to the Anime, the Mio Route is one where I do think anime does improve more than it takes away. The reveal that it was Yuuki behind the slanderous article about Mio’s father is treated far more better in the anime, with Takuya angrily lashing out and punching Yuuki for his actions, while in the Visual Novel, he kind of just shrugs and goes ‘I get it, you like her, guys will be guys.” Additionally, the confrontation with Mitsuki down in the bowels of Triangle Mountain is resolved far better in the anime, with her deciding to kill herself to spare Takuya and Mio, while in the visual novel she sort of just gets zapped by lightning and dies. Are these massive problems? Not really, but I do think that in this regard the anime’s depiction is actually an improvement over the VN.
The Mio route of YU-NO: A Girl who Chants Love at the Bound of this World was my least favorite of the story arcs in the anime, and my least anticipated going in. After experiencing it through the VN, my opinions haven’t really changed much. It does Mio’s character a bit better, endearing her interests more to the viewer, but was still never really able to grab me as much as Ayumi’s or Mitsuki’s did. Perhaps it is just my personal interests, but I calls it like I sees it. Still what is there in captivating and interesting and the mystery of Triangle Mountain is a vital piece to understanding the entire puzzle of YU-NO’s story.
Oh yeah, this is also the route that requires the most jumping around the timelines if you want to get every single story piece as there are variations of who you take down into the caves. Even with a guide I spent probably 35 to 40 minutes trying to fucking figure it out. So annoying.
Join me next week as I take a look at the next route in the series: The Kaori Route!