Finally. I've been delaying this for months (or maybe years.)
1. The earlier part wasn't too interesting albeit "decently solid": Characterization are very great, world building aren't complete but it covers very enough details.
2. The characters themselves: none really stand out, which is a big problem.
Yuuna standard optimistic main protag, Togo standard melancholic worrywart best friend, Fu-senpai & her imouto & Karin are also standard of their own respective archetype. That's big problem if you're expecting many people to at the least care about them. (well, I'm sure there will be people who does care enough, but what I mean here is: I can see why none reach the level PMMM girls or MSLN or <insert a mahou shoujo anime title that changed the industry> did. Not powerful enough, their background, their "special characteristic" are.)
The chemistry between the characters, though, are good enough. Very standard SOL yet very tidy, and that's all anyone can ask for. And that is very important story-wise because the friendship of these characters are the driving force, the motive for them to fight later.
3. Now, the other thing that may define whether a mahou shoujo title has enough everlasting impact or not is the suffering: how much these characters suffer and how do they act in response to that. (aka: "plot" =D)
This is where I get most salty:
WTF is that ending? I'm fine with that Mankai shit taking random parts of the girls' bodies as sacrifices because it adds thrill, but then you return their bodies back? If you add a happy final twist because you do not want to end a mahou shoujo story on a sad or bittersweet note, then don't bother inserting the horror and the sadness "that way" in the first place: it only renders "the philosophical meaning behind each characters' ordeal and suffering" useless.
Here's what I meant with "philosophical meaning" (I cannot find the right word for that, actually. Sorry. But you'll get it once you read this text bomb below) :
- Yuuna wanted to be a hero, and unlike her certain counterpart she and her series was modeled from, Yuuna is fully aware of the concept of "sacrificing oneself for the greater good" from the start of the series. Yet her mindset, is the type that continually put lies of good stuff on her head: thus when the big twist that her taste bud will never return etc etc comes, she can forever stay positive: on the outside, I mean in her mental, in her consciousness, is because of her constantly fooling herself, meanwhile in the subconscious is because she knows it's the cost of being a hero. But after watching Karin suffers and how useless she is in that condition, she finally breaks: because it's the fact that she was useless that serves as a contrary to her wish of becoming a hero. Thus she getting broke there is the most logical conclusion. But after that great ordeal in her mind, that finally she gets her renewed, stronger conviction, that she wants to be a hero. And she did: she did what a hero does, she paid what a hero has to pay for. But after that some shitty miracle from a system that is designed as a cruel system of gods and men, or maybe some shitty miracle from "the whole friendship theme" instead, renders her whole sacrifice as a hero meaningless, not to the story, but to us, as watchers. It renders her whole conviction and its finding process useless simply because the author still believes in a God. This ending pretty much shows the author's view of life, which is shit because: you can throw as much of your idealism in a story you made as much as you like, but you cannot allow that to affect the outcome of a plot.
- Togo is the type that is sensitive and blatantly shows her care towards her friends. And I'm sure that has always been her personality since the start. Thus in her first run as this "hero" stuff, she lost her memories as well as her legs, aka she forgot her old friend the crippled girl (whose name I forgot but her Seiyuu I will never forget <3.) The tragic behind that is beautiful: to forget the thing you care the most. Ain't that a good material? Well, anyway: in her second run as a hero, she finally remembers that, and that is the driving force behind her "turn to dark", and then reborn. So far so good, but here comes the shitty part: in the process of her "darkening", she is prepared to sacrifice the gods and the other people she never truly believes in, for the sake of both her and the friend she cares most keeping their friendship, for her possessiveness. But after that, since her true character is the kind one, that shitty shounen stuff of Yuuna hitting her face and then she repents comes. But I'm fine with that. But after that it should have gone tragic, in accordance of the logic of nature's law of give and take; It will only make sense that she has to suffer watching her best friend turned to that, too, because of her possessiveness. But what happens? Not only Yuuna returns, she also is spared from all the damage she should have retained due of the cost she has to pay for the things she believed in. Not only, once again, what's the point of the whole conviction, but also: where's the constant tragic that has been the main charm of her character?
- Fu-senpai has been the reliable older sister that prefers to carries everything by herself. In the outcome of her and her sister's arc, she realized that it was a mistake: that in the end she's also just a normal girl, and that just protecting her isn't the right thing. She thought just by supporting her from behind while stepping up to protect her when she thinks it's too dangerous for her is enough. What she missed was the trust, that it's not just about helping her shine, but also so that she can stand side by side with her, and to also show her sister her weak side. The outcome to her arc was very satisfying. But then she and her sister have to involve themselves in that shitty final outcome because the friendship theme has to come by and they have to join the fight and then escape the cost they should have paid for the friendship they believe in.
- Itsuki was (and still) a standard danderedere character, an imouto with no confidence of herself, especially with her voice. When she finally found it, she had to lose her voice. But she's fine with it because it's the confidence that matters. Her sister had to suffer but she did what she wanted the most: being there for her sister when it matters as her sister has done so. Once again said, her arc was good. But it's what after that that's shit.
- Karin wanted to be a hero, and being the lonely girl she was, she was shutted out: no friends, no love to other people, etc. Her whole story, as we all can predict with the whole friendship theme, is of course about her finding those friends. Up til her plain tsundere finding friend is fine though not special, but her change in character after that is what is great. it's what completes her as a hero. After the whole conviction finding stuff. she fought like a hero should be, and paid for it. Very very great. But after that she shouldn't have regained everything she had lost. And that miracle changed her mindset enough to make her say hypocritical stuff like "Sacrificing just yourself, I don't like that kind of thinking" that isn't her at all, which is pretty shit. The conviction is gone, changes in mindset is fine but it should have come with a process of getting wiser. That line... clearly doesn't show that she is getting wiser.
You know: the whole "suddenly cured" final twist is still shit but would be fine except for Karin, but suddenly Yuuna is okay like nothing serious happens is utter shit. (Maybe they should have made a system when these girls could die. I mean: I don't expect Wasshio to be the only other member of the old hero group the crippled girl was in. Good material for a season 2 or movie, but... adding a death system won't hurt that possibility either.)
Well, at least the author stayed consistent of each characters' religious belief.
OMG I forgot what else I wanted to write here, well, I'll skip the rest of the plot part for now.
- Character visual is great, and the mahou shoujo dress is top class.
- Animation... I could ask for more fluid motion in some part if I am cruel, but... it's already very very good as it, with all the effects and stuff, so I won't ask that much.
- SFX and BGM top class.
- Voicing is great.
Well, I'll probably rate this 8/10, in the end, because I enjoyed it but not to the point that I'll cherish it as something that special.