Super hero, super TV star, savior of the universe!
Yuna is an energetic, happy-go-lucky young girl who enjoys hanging out with her many friends and watching the adventures of her favorite TV action hero, Polylina. But somewhere far off in space, the Galactic Council knows the truth. Yuna is really a champion, the one called upon whenever evil threatens to destroy the universe. And this happens more often than you’d think, what with the villainous Fraulein D roaming the stars in her spaceship, plotting new schemes to take down both Yuna and the Council. With the help of some stylish battle armor, a seemingly endless arsenal, and a few hundred of her best friends, Yuna has established herself as a hero time and time again, becoming a celebrity in her own right.
In other words, there’s a lot of fighting, and everyone yells.
It took me a while to figure out just what it was I was reviewing. The DVD packaging and menus call it Yuna. The opening credits of the first two episodes bear the title Galaxy Fraulein Yuna, and the next three episodes are titled Galaxy Fraulein Yuna Returns. Amazon tells me this is “Volume 1,” although it starts off in the middle of the story. After many hours of diligent research, I discovered that this is an original animation video based on a video game. That’s how the series can nominally begin here, even though the characters have already been introduced and a lot of story has already taken place.
Have you ever started watching a movie at its halfway point, and tried to stick with it even though you don’t know what the heck was going on? That’s the feeling here. The first episode begins with Yuna returning from space, just after her first adventure. A brief narration informs us of what has just happened, and then we’re off. This is standard superhero adventure stuff, so it’s not that confusing. The problem is a lack of context. For example, when a crisis occurs, all of Yuna’s friends from outer space arrive. We, the viewers, are never informed ahead of time that she has all these friends, yet we’re somehow expected to know instantly who they all are with just a mention of their names.
So for fans of the game, who are already familiar with the reams of background information about these characters, it’s a lot of fun, right? Sadly, the series has another fatal flaw. This would be the yelling. Apparently, the director told the voice actors, “scream every line at the top of your lungs, no matter what the scene is about.” And that’s just what they do. I can understand the creators wanting to make the show energetic and exciting in order to draw in younger viewers, but all this yelling is overkill. Imagine an 11-year-old girl putting her mouth right up to your ear and screaming into it nonstop for 30 minutes. Now imagine 20 girls doing that all at once, and you’ll get some idea of the Yuna experience.
For everything Yuna gets wrong, there are some things the series does right. First among these is the quality of the animation, which is gorgeous to look at. There’s a lot of action here, and all the characters’ movements are smooth and fluid, if exaggerated. The full screen transfer is excellent, with bright, vivid colors and solid black levels. The two 2.0 tracks, in English and the original Japanese, are also quite good, with the music, sound effects and constant yelling coming through loud and clear. The only extra feature is a textless opening, hidden as an Easter egg.
There are some significant differences between the subtitles and the English dub. The subtitles include a number of jokes where the characters break the fourth wall, either by talking directly to the viewer or lamenting their lack of screen time. In the English dub, these jokes are lost, and instead we get…lesbianism. For some reason, the dub adds a running joke where Yuna keeps assuming other female characters are in love with her, and she’s confused about her own feelings. I have nothing against anime lesbians, but these bits seem out of place in what is otherwise a kid-friendly, girl power superhero cartoon.
That’s not to say all of the humor fails. Yuna has a friend named Shiori who does everything…very…slowly. It’s to the creators’ credit that this running gag works as well as it does. Despite the character’s lethargy, the show brightens up when she is on screen. And when the time comes for Shiori to don her own battle armor and take on the villain? That’s easily the high point of the disc. Maybe it’s just because she was the only character not yelling, but I found myself wishing the series was Galaxy Fraulein Shiori instead.
Yuna is a series on the verge of greatness, but some annoyingly bad voice acting and a few other nitpicks keep it from being all it could be.