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Visual Novel / YU-NO

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"What if there were multiple paths in which the past could form the present? What could be called history in that case... would it be the records of mankind's transitional phases? No. As that would it naight but a record of the events that ocurred at some point in time. That's not history. You must realize that the passage of time exists not as an irreversible, but reversible concept. But wouldn't that imply that it's possible to recreate history...? That's not quite right. History is an irreversible concept."
Arima Koudai's letter

YU-NO, short for Kono Yo no Hate de Koi wo Utau Shoujo YU-NO (A Girl Who Chants Love at the Bound of this World, YU-NO), is one of the early classic visual novels. Originally released in 1996 by ELF Corporation for the PC-98 with a port for the Sega Saturn, it remains a highly rated work and has strong elements of an Adventure Game of the Point-and-Click type. YU-NO was a pioneering visual novel, becoming a Trope Codifier for various tropes commonly used in visual novels and anime. The game is seen as the breakthrough project from writer Hiroyuki Kanno, and he would later explore similar concepts in his following stories after he jumped ship from ELF and started his own independent development company, Abel, in late 1997.

The story begins with the disappearance of the protagonist Takuya's father, known to the world as an eccentric and controversial historian. Though he is presumed dead, Takuya soon receives a package from the supposedly deceased man containing an odd set of items the purpose of which Takuya does not recognize. After wandering about a little investigating, he winds up at the local landmark Triangle Mountain, which is a large rock of unknown origin that has scholars confused.

While at Triangle Mountain, Takuya first runs across a beautiful naked woman who after kissing him suddenly drops dead and vanishes completely. Confused, Takuya is then suddenly confronted by a former friend and colleague of his father named Ryuuzouji. With him is Takuya’s young stepmother, Ayumi, who appears to have no idea what is going on. After Ryuuzouji pulls a gun on Takuya and demands the odd package he received from his father, things take a turn for the bizarre as suddenly space seems to warp and Takuya is suddenly alone at Triangle Mountain.

Takuya arrives back home and makes a startling discovery: The device his father sent him is some sort of dimensional hopping device that allows a form of pseudo-time travel via alternate dimensions. After approximately 50 hours, Takuya will be looped back to Triangle Mountain without his memories and be forced to explore yet another alternate world. On the bright side, your inventory of items is retained from previous loops, which is pretty much necessary since there are multiple items you need in one route that you can only acquire in another.

A four episode OVA series aired from October 23, 1998 to September 24, 1999.

A remake developed by 5pb. was announced in 2014, and was released in Japan in 2017, with North American and European versions being released October 4th, 2019. It is based on the Saturn version, though with the 18+ content removed. A Retraux Gaiden Game, 8-Bit YU-NO's Great Adventure, was released at the same time and given for free to those who pre-ordered the remake on Nintendo Switch, and retells the story of the True route through a 2D platformer / Shoot 'Em Up hybrid, out of all things.

A 26 episode anime series aired from April 2, 2019 to October 1, 2019, with an OVA airing on December 26, 2019.

The following tropes below appear in the first half of YU-NO. After this section of the story is complete, the story undergoes a shift into the True route, which is very spoilery and thus the details and tropes for that half are listed in a different folder below. As a side note, 8-Bit YU-NO's Great Adventure's premise also spoils the True Route, so tropes relating to this game have been put in a different folder as well: Open at your own risk.

YU-NO provides examples of:

    open/close all folders 

    Main Routes 

  • Accidental Pervert: Takuya accidentally walks in on Kanna in the shower. However, the point of the scene is that she doesn’t actually care.
  • Aloof Ally: Eriko is perfectly trustworthy and has compatible goals with Takuya, but she doesn’t involve herself with him or tell him much of anything. Much later (in the true route in the game, and in episodes 12 and 13 of the anime) she is revealed to be an interdimensional researcher in pursuit of the entity that is posing as Ryuuzouji.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: The remake adds a very useful and optional hint feature, showing where you need to go to advance in the timeline (Showing multiple, color-coded locations if the route branches off), as well as showing which items you can get and use when needed. You can also turn on the option to reveal the answer of a specific puzzle in Mio's Route (See That One Puzzle in the YMMV page), if you don't feel like solving it by yourself.
  • Apocalyptic Log: After becoming trapped beneath Triangle Mountain until she grew too weak to escape after figuring out how, Professor Imagawa simply set about recording her last days. Her last entry states that instead of waiting to starve to death she’s going to impale herself on a spike that’s sticking out of the wall as a more ‘dignified’ way to die.
  • Amulet of Dependency: Kanna will die without her amulet. When it’s lost, you get her bad ending unless you’ve gone through the Kaori branch and acquired the Hypersense Stone from the lab.
  • Attempted Rape: Houjou when under mind control tries to rape Kanna. Much as Takuya hates Houjou, he knows that the man isn’t the kind of person who could normally do that.
  • Bat Deduction: Parodied in Kanna’s route when seeing through Eriko’s flimsy disguise again. ‘attractive woman with cigarettes’ and goes through about a dozen steps before Eriko finally yells at him for making an absurd chain of deductions. See Overly Long Gag for the full chain.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Mio, Kanna and Ayumi’s endings since he gets whisked back into to the beginning. They get actual endings once you’ve completed the whole story though.
  • Blatant Lies: If you keep clicking on certain background characters Takuya will hit them and claim they had a mosquito on their face or something, at which point they will thank him while noting he chipped a tooth or caused a compound fracture.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: The official translation of the remake is very unpolished, with sentences coming of as nonsensical (Characters tend to say "Okay" instead of "Yes" or "Yeah", leading to very strange conversations), most mentions of yens being converted to American dollars for some reason, and the very awkward removal of Japanese honorifics for standardized, English ones. Yuuki saying Ms. Mio might be perfectly in-character, but Mitsuki saying Ms. Mio? Not as much.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Takuya will yell at you if you insist on certain actions. He’ll also note that it would be rather mean to make you also press the answer button on the phone after picking it up.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Takuya appears to be doing so poorly simply because he doesn’t care enough about school.
  • Cassandra Truth: Ayumi won’t believe a thing Takuya says without proof.
  • Character Tic: Takuya’s first reaction to finding things is often to smell them. And no, you don’t really get any useful information out of doing so.
  • Chick Magnet: Takuya. Mio and Mitsuki are after him from the start, Ayumi is in love with him and trying to hide it, about a day’s worth of interaction wins over Kanna. Mio also alludes to how he had a lot of fangirls when he was taking classes seriously and in the kendo club.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: To Kanna’s mild confusion, Takuya isn’t as sex crazed as he acts.
  • Comedic Underwear Exposure: The story begins with a conversation about Eriko’s panties.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: Ryuuzouji has been dead for a month. The fake made up the curse to explain Ryuuzouji’s attempts to get assistance before finally dismembering him and hiding his limbs and head.
  • Disappeared Dad: The search for him in fact makes up the majority of Takuya’s motives.
  • Distant Finale: The endings that are unlocked after completing the True Route all take place after a timeskip of several years.
  • The Ditz: Ayumi is not unintelligent, but she’s a bit of an airhead.
  • Downer Ending: Mitsuki dies in her ending. Actually, she apparently dies in all of them. We don’t see what happens in Ayumi or Kanna’s routes, but she’s pierced by lightning in Mio’s route and shot in her own at which point Eriko says that she was destined to die at this time no matter what.
  • Driven to Suicide: Ayumi in her bad end after ignoring Takuya’s pleas about the true nature of Toyotomi.
  • Dying as Yourself: Apart from bad endings, Mitsuki breaks out of the mind control before dying.
  • Fourth-Date Marriage: Kanna was just a classmate until suddenly they were basically engaged after two days. At least Takuya had known Ayumi for some time!
  • The Gadfly: Takuya likes to pick on Mio just to see her get mad.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Yuuki spills Mio’s confidential family information to the school and pretends Takuya did it out of jealousy.
  • Guide Dang It!: Good luck figuring out how to get 100% completion without one.
  • He Knows Too Much: In Mitsuki’s route, Ryuuzouji’s mother is killed for knowing he was replaced.
  • Hopeless Suitor: Yuuki has no chance at Mio. So he tries to make one.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Ayumi puts an absurd amount of trust in Toyotomi of all people despite his obvious sliminess.
  • Hypnotic Eyes: People with Nairb syndrome can be hypnotized by looking into Ryuuzouji’s eyes.
  • Immortal Immaturity: Kanna looked the same fifty years ago as she does now, but just acts like a rather withdrawn teenager.
  • Immortality: It’s mentioned offhandedly that the potential inherent in the Reflector and new approach to history could even lead to this. Takuya’s mother was immortal for some reason and Kanna might be as well.
  • Interrupted Suicide: In Ayumi’s good ending, Takuya stops her from slitting her wrists. You can’t reach this ending until after you’ve seen her do it successfully.
  • Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: Unlike most visual novels at the time, routes in YU-NO are less centered on romance, and more on uncovering the various mysteries surrounding the town of Sakaimichi. Ayumi's route mostly deals with Geo Technics' suspicious work on the coastline; Mio's route explores the origins of Sword Cape / Triangle Mountain, as well as the unexplained lighting strikes on the beach; Eriko and Mistuki share a route, focused on Ryuuzouji, his involvement with Koudai and Imagawa, and his hidden motivations; and Kanna and Kaori, while sharing most of their route, have different endings revealing information about the Celestials and the Hypersense stone respectively.
  • Karma Houdini: Toyotomi’s plans to sell out the company he works for in order to get a better job fail, but he still gets to take Ayumi’s position. Subverted in the OVA. Takuya kills Toyotomi in the 4th episode.
  • Lemony Narrator: Takuya has some interesting things to say if you keep checking things out or try doing weird stuff.
  • Lovable Sex Maniac: Takuya is known as the Walking Libido.
  • Love Triangle:
    • Yuuki likes Mio, who likes Takuya. Takuya’s response depends on the route.
    • Ayumi route: The end of Ayumi’s route has Takuya attempt to cut one short by proposing to Ayumi.
      • On the other hand, during the Kaori branch of the Kanna route the above triangle is subverted in favor of Ayumi knowing that her husband still loves Takuya’s mother and is determined to undo her death in some manner. The implication is that Ayumi was just a friend and a tool.
    • Also, Mitsuki still likes Takuya and Mio gets jealous of her and feels like they’re competing.
  • The Matchmaker: Eriko likes pushing Takuya towards Mio. Takuya pushes Yuuki towards Mio, but Takuya doesn’t seem to really care and doesn’t expect it to go well.
  • Mind-Control Eyes: Mitsuki, as revealed in Mio’s route, though she probably had them the other times she turned out to be a pawn as well.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: Takuya's initial objective is to investigate his father's mysterious disappearance, and find if he's still alive somewhere across dimensions. However, this leads him to unveil bigger and bigger mysteries, and by the end of the True route, he has to prevent two universes, including his own, from being anihilated.
  • Multiple Endings: There are four main heroines, each of which has several endings, both good and bad apart from Mitsuki, who only gets bad endings as well as a true route and epilogues. In order to get the good endings, you generally need to have seen the bad endings first and to go rather out of your way.
  • Must Not Die a Virgin: After lengthy Belligerent Sexual Tension all throughout the route, when Mio appears to have given up on escaping from beneath Triangle Mountain she propositions Takuya. Takuya lets her know he hates death thoughts like that but they go ahead anyway.
  • New Game Plus: After achieving 100% completion you gain the ability to start with all your items, which is a mercy to players who want to see the extended heroine endings.
  • Oblivious Guilt Slinging: In Mio’s route, it’s clear that Yuuki is the one who told everyone about the corruption of Mio’s father right from the start and when you see the two speaking along with Mio apparently oblivious you can see his composure go out the window when she says that thanks to this incident she’ll be moving away and thanks him for his support. But it’s actually a subversion. This is the conversation where she figured out for sure that Yuuki was really the one who had done it and presumably just didn’t want to hurt him by pointing it out directly.
  • 100% Completion: It’ll take you awhile to get it, though. Once you do, you unlock the music room and a special scene at the school.
  • Overly Long Gag: Takuya’s Bat Deduction in Kanna’s route. Eriko even yells at him for it.
    Takuya: When you think of cigarettes, you think of smoke… when you think of smoke, you think of something drifting about… when you think of something drifting about, you think of a jellyfish… When you think of a jellyfish, you think of the ocean… when you think of the ocean, you think of blue… when you think of blue, you think of the sky… when you think of the sky, you think of clouds… when you think of clouds, you think of white… when you think of white, you think of a white coat… when you think of a white coat, you think of a school doctor… when you think of a school doctor,
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Eriko’s getup when she’s out searching. Apparently, the extremely revealing clothing she’s wearing is meant to help her blend in, much to Takuya’s disbelief.
  • Parental Incest: Ayumi and Takuya, though they’re not actually related and haven’t known each other for that long.
  • Posthumous Character:
    • Arima Koudai’s status is pretty questionable throughout the story, though he’s considered dead in universe and alive by Takuya. After the true route you can say he’s really not dead or alive since he’s moved himself outside of the dimensional axis in some manner in order to observe creation. He makes no direct appearances.
    • Professor Imagawa, the third researcher, also died beneath Triangle Mountain some months prior.
  • Purple Is the New Black: Takuya says that Kanna’s clearly blue hair is black.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Ayumi has been trying really hard with mixed success not to treat Takuya like this.
  • Sarcastic Confession: During Kanna’s route and unintentionally. ”Well, then you might as well say she’s a several hundred year old witch from another dimension!” Eriko then confirms the statement. Technically untrue though.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: Ryuzoji's hypnotic power is Brain backward.
  • During the early parts of the Mitsuki route it’s implied that Takuya is going out of his way not to interpret Mio’s tsundere behavior correctly. Mio’s route has him really going out of his way not to think about it too much.
  • Ayumi wasn’t really as dense about Takuya’s feelings as she acted.
  • Sex Equals Love: Despite being The Tease, Takuya will generally refuse to have much to do with a woman that he is not in love with. If in an emotionally vulnerable state such as after the ‘death’ of his father or after Ayumi is ruined it’s a different story, though.
  • Shameless Fanservice Girl: Kanna is completely unconcerned with being seen naked.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Eriko goes from unkempt and scraggly with a very generous figure to quite stunning when she puts on a dress and moves her hair out of her eyes.
  • Speak Ill of the Dead: Even before deciding his father is still alive, Takuya is still quite prone to badmouthing his old man.
  • Stripperiffic: Kaori doesn’t wear a bra and leaves her shirt unbuttoned to the extent that underboobs shows. You’d think people would comment more on a famous reporter dressing like that.
  • Student/Teacher Romance: Mitsuki and Takuya had a fling about a month before the story started. Their dialogue tends to be pretty laden with innuendo.
  • Taking the Bullet: Mitsuki takes a bullet for Takuya.
  • Temporal Paradox: Discussed and dismissed. When you go back in time, you don’t go to your own past. You go to one exactly like it.
  • The Tease: Takuya, but only towards Mio and Eriko. He doesn’t know Kanna well enough, Ayumi wouldn’t take it well and he and Mitsuki already had a previous relationship. Push come to shove, he’s not nearly as bold as he pretends.
  • Third-Person Person: Ayumi on occasion. She does it so Takuya won’t look at her as a woman so much.
    • When Ayumi isn’t around, Yu-No takes up the torch on this one. When Ayumi does reappear, she’s no longer attempting to distance herself and drops the third person speech until her final moments.
  • Trope Codifier: Of various tropes commonly used in Visual Novels and Anime. For example, the multiple route mystery structure in visual novels. YU-NO was the first VN in the medium to tell a compelling mystery through multiple routes and events, with saving and loading being exploited as an in-universe power rather than a simple gameplay mechanic. This inspired many later modern visual novels down the line, such as Steins;Gate or the Zero Escape series.
  • Tsundere: Mio. Lampshaded quite early on. In her route, Takuya largely acts as a tsundere to her as well.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Eriko, especially since there's no actual route for her.
  • Visual Novel: YU-NO was a trope codifier of visual novels. It inspired countless visual novels and their popular Anime adaptations, ranging from Higurashi: When They Cry, CLANNAD and Fate/stay night to Steins;Gate, Zero Escape and Danganronpa.
  • When She Smiles: Takuya loves seeing Mio and Kanna smile or laugh.
  • Wild Card: Kaori works for Ryuuzouji and just seems to be in it for the money, but she’s also willing to make deals with Takuya that you can’t progress through the game without accepting as well as consoling him, both euphemistically and otherwise, after the confrontation with Toyotomi goes wrong. In Kanna’s route she blatantly sets you Takuya up to take the fall for her when stealing from Geotechnics.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Certain events are destined to happen and while others can be averted, if you used time travel to do it then you’ve just created another parallel world because you can’t really change the past.

    True Route 

After successfully gathering all the orbs he needs, Takuya is suddenly whisked to another world filled with a beautiful but strange forest, where he runs across a woman who either cannot or will not speak, though she understands what he says. Though he simply wishes to go home, the local knight is dying and presses him to take up watching over the land until he manages to return home, after which she dies, leaving Takuya and the silent girl alone.

After a brief period of angst and desperation, Takuya eventually settles into his new life. He and the quiet girl, Sayless, quickly fall in love and begin living together. Unfortunately, according to the late knight, Illia, Sayless is a priestess from the Imperial Capital whose duty it is to be the vessel of God in four years’ time in order to save the land from an imminent catastrophe. Surely things cannot continue so peacefully forever?

  • Always Save the Girl: Takuya is determined to rescue Yu-No despite the world apparently depending on her sacrifice.
  • Androcles' Lion: Takuya takes in a nogard, raises it and protects it at the quarry. In return, when it is fully grown it rescues him from the collapsing quarry.
  • Aren't You Going to Ravish Me?: Takuya captures a woman who instantly accuses him of being a pervert and rapist. Considering she’s naked and he ties her up she kind of has a point, but then she seems kind of annoyed when he declares he has no intention of doing anything like that to her. In fact, she seems to want him to do it.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Only Earth is saved. Dela Grante crashed into Earth eight thousand years ago and no real trace of it remains apart from a single electrocution tower.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Takuya will yell at you if you insist on certain actions.
  • Chick Magnet: Takuya still. Sayless falls in love at first sight, Sala instantly wants to bone him, his daughter seems to have the hots for him and he wins over rebel leader Amanda in short order as well. Clearly, his powers are not to be underestimated.
  • Crossing the Desert: Takuya tries this twice. The first time he fails: Sayless tries to stop him, he spills all his water due to an earthquake, and he eventually decides to stay with her. On the second time, years later, he is accompanied by Yu-no, and they run out of supplies but manage to find an oasis.
  • Cute Mute: Sayless. On the other hand, he can read her mind occasionally and she speaks right before dying.
  • Daddy's Girl: Yu-No. Sayless never seems to feel left out or anything, but her daughter does indeed develop an attraction for her father. She also felt like she was competing with her mother.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: The man called Ryuuzouji is not actually Ryuuzouji. He’s an imposter.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Takuya is quite unhappy with the morals he has to live with in the true route.
  • Determinator: Takuya, but it doesn’t always work out to his advantage. He’s so incredibly stubborn that he manages to really screw himself over a few times.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Her: Amanda is rather unceremoniously disposed of near the end. In a mild subversion, she was actually Kanna’s mother and lived through it.
  • Fantastic Racism: Even relatively good people like Amanda treat nogards as animals despite being aware that they’re intelligent.
  • For the Evulz: The fake Ryuuzouji has no clearly defined motives. He just seems to be enjoying himself.
  • Fourth-Date Marriage: Takuya knows Sayless for all of a week before they’re basically married.
  • Gainax Ending: The true route whisks Takuya off to an alternate world where he starts living with some mute girl and goes on an adventure. The ending itself has Takuya and Yu-No as apparently the original Adam and Eve.
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: The being that is puppeteering Ryuuzouji, most likely. It doesn’t remember its origins or its name or anything, only that it’s alive.
  • Good All Along: The God Emperor is Ayumi.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Kun Kun dies to get Takuya and Amanda to the capital.
  • Human Sacrifice: Though not necessarily fatal, the priestesses are treated as such.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Humans in Dela Grante eat nogards, which are known to be intelligent.
  • I'm Cold... So Cold...: God Empress Ayumi after being stabbed.
  • Immortality Begins at Twenty: In appearance, that is. It actually only takes them a few years to reach that age in appearance at which point they stay like that for a few decades. This also means that most likely Kanna is not actually immortal. In fact, by fridge logic, she may not even have that much longer to live.
  • Is It Something You Eat?: In the epilogue Yu-No has no idea what friends are despite being physically around fifteen or so. Takuya has been worrying that she might be too isolated from human society.
  • Lemony Narrator: Takuya has some interesting things to say if you keep checking things out or try doing weird stuff.
  • Nakige: It is arguably a Trope Maker. It contains tragic plot elements anticipating those later used by Nakige titles.
  • Older Than They Look: Residents of Dela Grante look the same age for decades. It’s thus more or less impossible to say how old anyone is if they look like an adult.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: The fake Ryuuzouji is hoping to wipe out both Earth and Dela Grante. Wiping worlds out of existence because it just seems to be what he likes to do.
  • Parental Incest: Takuya has sex with Yu-No at her request near the end. Unlike all the other sex scenes, this one gets a discretion shot before any penetration occurs. A bit of thought about the story will also reveal to the reader that Amanda is Kanna’s mother, making Kanna another example in hindsight.
  • Punny Name: Sayless, the mute.
  • Save Both Worlds: Half successful. It’s noted that due to the cyclic nature of the universe Dela Grante may be successfully saved one day, but it wasn’t this time.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: Nogard is dragon backward, but they’re basically large lizards that eventually metamorphose into winged humanoids rather than actual dragons.
  • Surprise Incest: It’s never stated outright but Amanda being flung fifty years into the past and having a daughter is a pretty clear indication that she had a daughter, Kanna, and that the father was most likely Takuya. The two of them never learn that, apparently, but the reader will figure it out.
  • Younger Than They Look: Yu-No by the end is only about four or five but with a physical age of around twenty and the mental age of perhaps a teenager.

    8-bit YU-NO's Great Adventure 
  • Auto-Scrolling Level: Every stage auto-scrolls, shmup style, until the boss. However, it's Downplayed thanks to the ADMS, which allows you to go back anywhere, anytime, as long as you have at least one jewel.
  • Call-Back: A whole lot.
    • Every permanent power-up is an item from the original visual novel:
      • The Iron Sword increases your attack.
      • The Rope prevents Yu-No from dying if she falls into a pit.
      • The Reflector Device shows warp dimensions on the ADMS.
      • The Hypersense Stone revives YU-NO once if she dies, referencing Kanna's ending and Yu-No's Celestial blood.
      • The Black and White medals show you where some important items are.
    • The boss from stage 1 is a giant gorilla, as a call-back to the giant, gorilla-like monster at the Border in the begining of the True Route. The boss from stage 2 is the Vile Chief, and Stage 4 and 5's is none other than Ryuuzouji himself.
    • If Kun-Kun is hit, she will turn into a chicken leg, replenishing YU-NO's healthbar: This likely references Takuya and Amanda having to eat Kun-Kun after they escape from the Desert Prison.
  • Retraux: The game looks like it came straight-out of the NES. You can even turn on sprite flickering!
  • Shoot 'Em Up: When YU-NO rides Kun-Kun, she's able to fly in any direction and attack with her long-range sword attack, effectively mimicking this.