Our look at the visual novel of YU-NO: A Girl who Chants Love at the Bound of this World continues! We only have two more routes left before we reach the epilogue, and I can see the conclusion coming! We’ve discussed the stories of Ayumi, Mitsuki and Mio, now join me after the cut as we discussed the penultimate route of the first half of the series: The Kaori Route!
The visual novel of YU-NO, if anything, can be summed up in a single word: Ambitious. It is a VERY ambitious piece of work made during a time before visual novels had really established themselves. It should be stated that when YU-NO first came out, it was on floppy disks.
Let me say that again. YU-NO first came out when people were still using FLOPPY. DISKS.
So the fact that this piece of work is frankly THIS good, and has THIS much content in it, is nothing short of a miracle. However with the Kaori route we have now reached the point where the ambition of the creators most likely collided with the realities of the time. Simply put, the Kaori route seems to be the place where the writers and creators decided to slack off in. Now that is not saying the content is bad, but that this is the place in YU-NO, where it is clear short cuts were taken and compromises made in order to bring the story across the finish line.
While the Mio Route remains my least favorite story out of the first five routes, it is the Kaori route that is the overall weakest of them all and the irony is not because of the character like it was with Mio, but with the story of the route itself, which is where we get to the issue of “compromise.” The majority of Kaori’s route is almost the exact same as Kanna’s route, with both stories share multiple scenes and story beats until the final hour and half where they end up diverging. There is little of any real original content in Kaori’s route until the end, and what there is has probably the least amount of impact on the overall story of YU-NO. What’s worse is that there is little, if any emotional beats like with Ayumi and Kanna’s to offset that fact.
Furthermore, this is also the route that has the most changes when comparing it to this years anime adaption. Having seen both versions of Kaori and Ayumi’s route now, they clearly took the back half of Kaori’s story and stapled it onto Ayumi’s for the anime, linking the investigations into Geo-Technics and the hyper sense stone, to Ayumi’s struggles and hardships in her own route, therefore removing all of the underlying sexual tension and relationship dynamics that form the core of Ayumi’s storyline. That overall is shame, because again, the Ayumi route is so far the best part of YU-NO, but it also goes to show just how little important Kaori has on the overall story, that the anime can just take her arc and slap it to the end of another one, and not have anyone really notice (until now).
However, what Kaori’s route does have going for it, is it’s character. Like I said before, my hang-ups with Mio’s route is not in the story content itself, that is actually quite interesting and gripping, but with her character and relationship to Takuya. As I said last week, I felt that Takuya and Mio didn’t really have any romantic chemistry (their normal banter meanwhile was great), and the romance at times felt forced, and more like Takuya indulging a girl who had yet to reach the sexual maturity he had. Kaori’s route is the exact opposite: the story is weak, but the character is top notch. Kaori Asakura is a woman of mystery, and her role both in her own route, and the others is one full of deception, half truths and secrets. She’s a popular newscaster, but is that all she does? Is she a journalist trying to undercover the truth? Is she a corporate spy only interested in money, or a woman who understand true love, and wants to help those who need it. Even when the story forced Kaori down a certain path, as this route does with her attempts to steal the hyper-sense stone, you get that she’s not doing anything out of evil intent. She’s just a woman trying to make her way in the world, and she wears many different hats to get that job done.
Furthermore Kaori’s relationship with Takuya is respectably solid, with both characters having a clear sexual interest in each other. I really liked how Kaori is clearly amused by Takuya and how different their relationship is compared to Eriko’s and Ayumi who are also older women. Kaori clearly doesn’t have any long term interest in Takuya, only seeing him as a tool to be used and then forgotten, but there is a level of enjoyment both she and him get out of each other, and Kaori’s beauty doesn’t go unnoticed by Takuya who gives into her indulges just like he did in the Ayumi route. So while the relationship is absolutely the least important of all the girls, I am glad that YU-NO has one like this in its story. The story has so far covered the gambit of different types of romantic relationships for our main lead. Ayumi is the taboo lust, Mitsuki is the illicit affair, Mio is the teenage love, and now Kaori as “purely business.”
The Kaori route of YU-NO: A Girl who Chants Love at the Bound of this World is, in terms of objectivity, the weakest out of all the routes. Kaori probably shouldn’t have had her own route, and instead that honor should have gone to Eriko who is vastly more important to the plot. Yet what we have doesn’t do any harm and I enjoyed most of it far more than I did with Mio. Kaori is a fun character who brings sass and spiciness to the female cast, despite being the most cut of corners.
There is one final route left before the epilogue, so join me next week as I dive into last story of the first half of YU-NO: The Kanna Route!