Yuki Yuna Key Art - 20141016Magical Girl shows tend to be a dime a dozen. Especially in recent years, though, we’ve seen somewhat of a resurgence in the genre, with titles like Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Sailor Moon Crystal, and DokiDoki! Precure. Yuki Yuna wa Yusha de Aru¬† (Yuki Yuna Is A Hero)¬†aims to be yet another title to endear itself to viewers in the ever-crowding lineup. With an interesting take on the old formula and a cast of genuinely likeable characters, it’s possible that the series could achieve this very goal.

Yuki Yuna wa Yusha de Aru revolves around four girls who make up the Sanshu Middle School Hero Club. Yuna, Mimori, Fu, and Itsuki spend their free time volunteering, taking requests from the needy, and generally helping those who are in need. No task is too great, whether it’s putting on a puppet show about friendship for kindergarteners, or finding homes for needy kittens in the neighborhood.

Their club’s name takes on a totally new meaning one day, when everything just seems to stand still. With a flash of light, the girls are sent to a mysterious realm, between our world and that of the malevolent Vertex race. To do so, they must enlist the power of fairies and magic cell phone apps to become magical warriors of justice.

You read that right, magic cell phone apps. Because the key to Earth’s salvation is free and ad-supported on the Google Play store.

Silly cell phone idea aside, the show itself is solid. At this early point, episodes are delivered in a “monster of the week” format, with a clean divide between character development and magical battles.

Togo: Fixing websites, like a boss

Togo: Fixing websites, like a boss

The first half of each episode focuses on the girls’ actions in the real world, and focuses on dealing with everyday problems. These sections are generally light-hearted in nature, and see the main characters dealing cracking jokes, working on club activities, and generally just being normal middle school student.

The second half, as one would expect, is where things get real. It’s these sections that see the heroines warped to the land between worlds, to deal with the big baddies of the week. The girls transform into their magical forms, and engage in intense combat, as they try to destroy the Vertices and protect humanity for yet another day.

Generally, the format works well. The team seems to have a strong understanding of how much time they’re given, and use it to build the two sections into one strong final product. The daytime scenes are paced well, and include enough humor and charm to really let the viewer endear himself to the characters. THe character interactions are wonderfully handled, as players exhibit a strong chemistry with one another. The jokes, while often predictable, are delivered with a fantastic sense of timing, leading to a generally natural feeling in the show itself. there’s a sense of spontaneity to the gags, that really helps the show as a whole.

That... can't be good.

That… can’t be good.

When the gloves come off and battle begins, the series seems to push all of the right buttons. Fights are choreographed well, with a fantastic back and forth between the girls and the monsters, that really shows off the fact that these are amateurs, thrown into a desperate situation. They’ll screw things up and run for cover. They’ll freeze in fear, and find themselves at a loss for what to do. At the same time, though, it never feels as if one side is overpowered, and the inevitable finales are always incredibly satisfying. During the battles, the characters (especially Fu) yell out cheesy one liners like “Take my attack that’s full of girl power!” that are just so goofy, but still incredibly fun nonetheless.

Yuki Yuna wa Yusha de Aru‘s character designs are well done, with the major players being instantly recognizable among the sea of grey school uniforms. Their battle forms, which revolve around different types of flowers, are eye catching, with nice touches that really bring out the nature of the character’s signature blossom. Monsters are deceptively fearsome, with a simple overall aesthetic that hides sinister details. The show’s backgrounds are handled well, with colorful settings that really stand out to the viewer. The “between worlds” backgrounds are particularly gorgeous, with a lot of surrealist imagery and use of an almost water-colored style to give the realm an otherworldly feel.

If there were one complaint, it would be that main character Yuki bears a striking similarity to Madoka Kaname, from Puella Magi Madoka Magica. This is but a minor tweak, though, among a generally strong presentation.

At this early stage, Yuki Yuna wa Yusha de Aru shows a lot of promise. The characters are endearing, and the plot generally handles itself well. While there are a few plot eccentricities (like the magic phone app), these quirks are easily overlooked in the greater scheme of things. If the series can continue along its current trajectory, then there’s a strong chance of it finishing on a truly satisfying note.