Welcome to the world of YU-NO, a discombobulating place where most of the rules are made up and some of this shit makes no sense. But get its primary rule right and you’ll find it’s nothing but flowers from here on out. Primary rule being: that time does exist, but the concept of the universe, as you know it, is a flimsy object so easily twisted and forgotten in YU-NO’s filthy hands.
See, the first mistake you could make with regards to this show is that it’s a series about time travel. Which – excuse you, you pleb, you stupid little normie – is totally not what this show is about. Nah, see, the thing YU-NO’s really about is parallel universes. In the world of YU-NO, the universe you currently inhabit is but one in a multitude. It’s just one of the many possibilities you could take in your lifetime, is what it’d like to say, but alas, witness how the whole thing crumbles in the face of only the perviest MC on the face of this planet.
Well okay, to call him the absolute perviest MC on this side of the anime spectrum would be stretching the truth a little. Because see, while Takuya Arima-kun is a bit of a hentai freak, he is at least a classy hentai freak who only makes the saxophone-backed jokes when the time calls for it. And with this guy, smexy joke time is all the time. Pair this up with his undeniable charisma and it’ll be easy to see how one could so easily misinterpret this as a harem.
Which it is, okay, let’s not get all pretentious about it – but like our pervy MC, YU-NO’s harem is a harem with class. And variety! There’s the hot mom who’s not really our MC’s mom, the voluptuous sensei, the sorta-villainous reporter chick who only really cares about the scoop she can get out of people, the ice-cold classmate with a mysterious past, the tsundere knowitall who thinks she’s being so sneaky by hiding her obvious feelings for MC, and the hapless lackey who follows our MC around like a lovesick puppy. So, to the point: it’s sort of a harem. But it’s a harem set in the midst of parallel worlds and devices that allow you to leap back in alternate histories to fix things… so that means it’s gotta be different somehow, no?
Short answer: not really. But you do have to give this points for creativity in execution. Strip away that nonsense about this being your run-of-the-harem tale, and you still get some weird sci-fi adventure that should satisfy the most Steins;Gate-starved otaku to some extent. High-brow sci-fi story this is not. Say what you want about this, but YU-NO is still an endearing little romp through universes that picks up some of the tropes you know about the genre and points out all of their little absurdities for all of the worlds to hear. Isekai RKO outta nowhere notwithstanding, YU-NO is, at its heart, something that’s at least somewhat sincere about its funnies.
It doesn’t hurt either that the characters, even if they’re tired and tried tropes of other cartoon people we’ve seen elsewhere, are all on the same page and so in the groove with each other. What this means is, the banter is swift and to the point, and you know that’s a thing that’s important in exposition-heavy material like this one. What this also means, unfortunately, is that you’re probably not going to remember any one of them a few months from now. I know I’m not. Which is something I could say about this show as a whole, now that I think about it.
That, in sum, is maybe why I had such a soft spot for this the whole time this was on. But mate, if you asked me to explain things to you or even give you some hints to help you piece the plot together… I wouldn’t even know what to tell you.
[This review was made for the Anime Lottery Game: Spring 2019 event. I know, I still can’t believe I stuck around with this thing for so long either.]