Like a number of people, it initially bothered me that they were given their "offerings" back simply because they decided to put up a last stand.
But the more I think about it, the more I'm satisfied with even the explanation that such a major victory was the appropriate time for them to get their offerings back. And I also do really like the theory that what got them released is Yuuki herself gaining a level in divinity. Seriously, the issue just doesn't bug me as it did (a bit) while I was watching.
It'll be interesting to see if there's a sequel and if so, if it gives an explanation or further hints as to what happened. I just hope that if they do so, it's a satisfying explanation.
I still don't consider it a strong ending, but in a way it actually feels fitting as I've generally thought of the Yuuki Yuuna's subtle, low key nature (relative to what's going on) as the key thing that differentiates it from Madoka.
BTW, Unlimited Blade Works did have a very strong season finale and at this point the plot has deviated quite a bit from the 2006 version. Or at least, I think it has - it's starting to become clear to me that I don't remember all that much of the 2006 version.
Just thought you might want to know.
(I did actually flip through a bit of the 2006 version just to see if it would jog my memory... and man, it has not aged well animation wise.)
Yuuki Yuuna is still one of my five favorite anime shows of the year. While the ending wasn't quite what I had hoped, it was also a lot better than it could have been, and I'm largely content with it. On the whole, Yuuki Yuuna was a very pleasant surprise for me, probably the nicest surprise of the year (I expected to really like Love Live! Season 2, of course).
I might do up a list of my Top 10 Anime shows of 2014 over the next few days. I doubt I'll write up a long blog for it, but I'll probably write a paragraph or so on each of the 10 if I settle on 10.
I'm debating whether to advise you to let your own thoughts on Yuuki Yuuna settle before reading the fan theories or to dive right in. Because some of the possibilities raised make me like the ending a lot more - Argent Solbright's speculation in particular comes to mind, but I feel that Konakaga's also makes the show feel a bit less deus ex machina as well.
Prior to reading those theories I have to admit I was underwhelmed by the ending but still would have considered it my favourite show this year just because it had such a long run of strong episodes.
I've also stalled some Fall 2014 shows, with my fanfic writing being a big part of the reason why.
Yuuki Yuuna, Sora no Method, WIXOSS, Shirabako, SAO II, and Psycho-Pass Season 2 are the Fall 2014 shows I'm caught up on and/or finished. Just on the basis of the first five of those six (PP S2 was a bit of a disappointment) it's been a very good-to-excellent Fall 2014 season, I think.
I might go back and marathon Amagi Brilliant Park, Trinity Seven, Fate/Stay Night 2014, etc... later on after Christmas.
There's a lot of other info I can share sometime when the two of us have more time, I ran across a ton of interesting things on fan sites while researching how to get Red Alert 1 and C&C 1 to run on 64 bit Windows (solution: use a fan patch, there's a couple excellent ones available that also add support for higher resolutions) for a nostalgia themed segment I want to do at my Christmas break LAN party. For now I'll just mention that I think Carville's scenes in Red Alert Retaliation provide a interesting bridge between RA1 and RA2 tone wise: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBGLtn15h9Q
Yeah, finally getting around to replying since I've been super busy this week, between exams, Christmas prep, and late night studying screwing with my internal clock.
I liked Yuki Yuuna 11 a lot (Karin...), though at the moment that, Fate and Sora no Method are the only shows I've found time to get up to date on.
Being the type that tends to read rather than watch news, I actually don't know what Denis McDonough looks or sounds like. I more or less just keep imaging General Carville from Red Alert 2* but I'm guessing that's way off.
(*While I recall you were a C&C fan back in the day, you might not be aware that Carville also appears in Red Alert: Retaliation, the 1998 Playstation version of the Counterstrike and Aftermath expansions, which unlike its PC counterparts actually had briefing cutscenes. And while I'm at it, if you ever wondered if Red Alert 2 was handled by a different development team than C&C1, Red Alert, and Tiberium Sun, it was. When EA bought Westwood in 1998, it also bought the studio that made Retaliation, turned them into a satellite studio for Westwood and had them work on Red Alert 2.)