The Infinite Zenith

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Promise- Yūki Yūna is a Hero: Washio Sumi Chapter Part Three Review and Reflection

“Finally, the truth. Lying with her face pressed into the wooden floor of the dōjō where she had once thought she was learning the secrets of victory, Sumi understood at last that she was not supposed to survive.” ― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

A Vertex appears during the middle of Gin’s funeral procession, forcing Sumi and Sonoko to engage it. While they are successful in stopping it, Gin’s death weighs heavily on their minds, and longing to see Sonoko smile again, Sumi requests some time off from their instructor. She and Sonoko visit a summer festival together, vindicating their friendship with one another as well as with Gin, and later, are given upgrades intended to improve their combat effectiveness against the Vertex. In addition to familiars that negate their damage, Sonoko and Sumi are given access to the Mankai system, which bolsters their firepower. When three Vertex appear, Sonoko and Sumi activate their Mankai, destroying two of the three on short order but also learning of its consequences – Sonoko loses sight in her right eye, while Sumi is immobilised, unable to walk. Overwhelming numbers force the pair to use the Mankai a second time. Sonoko pushes the last of the Vertex out, she exits the barrier and sees a vast hellscape where the Vertex are regenerating. She learns that her heartbeat has stopped, and when she finds a Sumi without her memories, she comes to understand that Death will not visit them. In a desperate bid to defeat the Vertex and protect Sumi, Sonoko repeatedly engages her Mankai. When Sumi comes to, she reassumes her original name, Mimori Tōgō, moves into a new home and befriends her neighbour, Yūna Yūki. We have therefore come a full circle, returning to the events at the start of Yūki Yūna is a Hero, and with this, comes the close of Washio Sumi Chapter. Here, we learn the predecessor to the world that Yūna’s Hero Club knew, the tribulations that deprived Sonoko of her body functions, as well as how familiars and the Mankai system came into being.

Serving as the intermediate between the Washio Sumi Chapter‘s earlier instalments and Yūki Yūna is a Hero, Promise deals with Sonoko and Sumi as they struggle to come to terms with Gin’s death. During these difficult times, Sumi does her utmost to support Sonoko and also continue being an effective Hero, actions that lead her to become closer to Sonoko, as well. This forms the basis for the promise, that the two will continue protecting one another as well as their world against the Vertex, and even against their upgraded systems, the Vertex continue to be terrifyingly effective, forcing Sonoko and Sumi to make increasingly punishing sacrifices to drive them back. This is the battle that costs her totally: while still alive, she is completely immobilised as a result of her using the Mankai twenty times to defeat the Vertex on her own. Sacrifice to this level illustrates the sort of devotion she has to both her friends and duty – although she is healed by the closing of Yūki Yūna is a Hero, the fact that she was ready to give up her own wellness for her friends is indicative of her resolve as a Hero. In Washio Sumi Chapter, Gin and Sonoko come across as being the embodiment of what being a Hero entails; Gin makes the ultimate sacrifice and Sonoko demonstrates a preparedness to lose everything for the sake of what they hold dear to them. Their actions ultimately contribute to Sumi’s actions in the events of Yūki Yūna is a Hero, providing more insight as to why Mimori tries to turn against the Taisha when she learns the truth of the Shinju and Vertex, feeling it an unjust system that has brought them misery and suffering.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • As Spirit and Friends before it, the discussion for Promise will be adjourned by thirty screenshots, a finely-wrought balance between having enough content for the discussion and being concise enough so I’m not sitting here well into the evening writing this post, which, after some Google-fu, I can definitely say will have the internet’s first screenshots of Washio Sumi Chapter‘s third act. Whereas the preceeding posts opened with cheerful images, the opening of Promise is very sombre as Gin’s passing leaves a melancholy in Sonoko and Sumi, as well as their classmates. Reflecting this, the weather is grey and overcast to further convey the subdued atmosphere in Washio Sumi Chapter‘s final act’s opening moments.

  • Before I continue further into the post, I explain the origin of the page quote, adapted from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, following Harry’s discovery that he must allow Voldemort to kill him in order to break the latter’s immortality. I had a bit of difficult deciding on a page quote and even considered something a bit more light-hearted from Rick and Morty, but in the end, watching this movie and considering Mimori’s actions later on in Yūki Yūna is a Hero result in my picking a passage from Deathly Hallows. Similar to how the Taisha conceal much from the Heroes, Harry learns the truth on his own, as Dumbledore had kept things from him ostensibly with his interests in mind.

  • While Harry ultimately accepts his destiny, Mimori took things a little harder. For the present, however, we will return to Washio Sumi Chapter; Sumi and Sonoko managed to recover Gin’s body following the second act’s events, and her funeral is a large procession, with friends and family, as well as what I can only guess to be folks working under the Taisha, paying their respects.

  • When Sumi has a bit of difficulty in laying down her flower for Gin, their instructor appears and gently guides her hand. After Sonoko and Sumi lay down their flowers, Gin’s brother breaks the silence, shouting out at the injustice of why a system asking its agents to lay down their lives could not protect them from death. His parents take him aside and allow him to collect himself, but the words pierce the hearts of all observers, likely mirroring what Sonoko and Sumi themselves are feeling at the moment.

  • The Vertex are relentless; mid-proceedings, time stops, and Sumi is goaded past endurance. Screaming at very nearly the top of her lungs, she transforms and begins engaging the Vertex with an unprecedented ferocity. It’s surprisingly chilling to behold, and one of the biggest strengths about Promise is watching all of the raw emotions come out – I’ve always marvelled at the talents voice actors possess, to be able to simulate emotions with the same depth as though they were genuine, and even though I know it is exceptional acting, the emotions can evoke a response from me nonetheless.

  • The only other individual I know of in a fictional context to shoot multiple arrows at once is Legolas, who downed an entire oliphaunt on his own during the events of Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. In this brief fight against the Vertex, Sumi and Sonoko demonstrate that even in their grief, they nonetheless understand one another well enough to be effective as a team, although here, they are likely driven by a desire for revenge rather than a calculated modicum of efficiency arising from training.

  • I cannot begin to imagine what Sumi and Sonoko’s situation must feel like in the aftermath of Gin’s funeral. Death is a topic often explored in fiction: Harry Potter deals with the concept of death in great detail, suggesting that it is a natural part of living, to be accepted rather than feared. Voldemort’s fear of death leads him to violate the laws of magic set into J.K. Rowling’s universe, precipitating his downfall. In Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien describes death as the “Gift of Men”, a blessing to move on into nothingness after life in a physical realm, and that temptation to resist it leads to suffering, as evidenced in the nine Nazgûl. Mary Shelly, author of Frankenstein, also suggests that immortality is a curse in her short story A Mortal Immortal, where the protagonist suffers declining physical and mental health in spite of his immortality.

  • The short of it is that life is finite, but our actions have value that can resonate long after we’re gone. Making the most of it is what counts, and Gin certainly did her best to make a difference during her time in Washio Sumi Chapter. Sensing that Sonoko is down, Sumi decides to spend some down time with her; Gin’s death would have been for naught had they succumbed to grief and neglected both their duties and living, so Sumi’s choice to help Sonoko has the twofold effect of keeping them busy while simultaneously honouring Gin’s sacrifice. For a few moments in Promise, hints of the more lighthearted aspects of Washio Sumi Chapter‘s earlier two acts return when Sonoko asks Sumi to spin around while wearing a Yukata.

  • Sonoko is certainly enjoying the summer festival to her fullest, ordering grilled squid while savouring candied applies and chocolate bananas. She later partakes in a shooting game and succeeds with guidance from Sumi. I’ve never been good at midway games, since they’re generally dependent on luck, but I am quite fond of carnival food despite its legendary reputation for being unhealthy: I attended this year’s Calgary Stampede last Sunday under the blazing summer sun and began my food challenge after getting my ass kicked by the midway games. The Tropical Bobster (a lobster poutine garnished with mango salsa and fresh coriander) ended up being quite enjoyable: the tangy flavours of the mango-salsa complement the savoury gravy and cheese curds, giving the lobster meat a fantastic flavour. Besides the lobster poutine, I also enjoyed a chocolate-dipped cheesecake, and tried out the fried chicken foot, which advertisers would only caption “We Dare You”, but being of Cantonese descent and therefore, quite familiar with the dim sum 鳯爪 (lit. “Phoenix Claw”), I had no trouble eating it – the trick is to know how to spit the bones out.

  • The girls’ instructor receives documents from the Taisha pertaining to their proposed upgrades on a MacBook Pro, learning that the improvements will hypothetically allow the Heroes to scale up their combat efficiency indefinitely, albeit at a cost. Foreshadowing of the upgrade’s limitations and implications begin surfacing here: power comes with a price tag, and unlike NVIDIA, who have improved GPU performance with each successive generation of chip architectures while simultaneously lowering power requirements, the Taisha‘s costs for power, in the words of the instructor, are limited by the strength of a Hero’s heart.

  • In a ceremony, Sumi and Sonoko are given updates to their phones’ operating systems, in turn granting them far more power than they had access to previously. I’ve opted not to show the ceremony: while some folks might be hoping that I would have captured the frame where Sumi’s assets are given a closeup, I contend that this would cross too many lines. Consequently, I have not done anything of that sort for this act, which is decidedly more serious in nature. This stands in comparison with my first Yūki Yūna is a Hero post, where I already had a large number of Mimori moments, which for reference, merely counts as toeing the line.

  • Upon returning to class, Sonoko and Sumi address their classmates, who’ve made a banner to celebrate and honour all that they’ve done as Heroes to keep their world safe. Although strictly against the rules, Sonoko and Sumi accept this gesture, happy that they’d made an appreciable impact together with Gin and promising to continue doing so. Their conversation suggests the Taisha are quite powerful and influential within their world, but beyond this, offers little insight as to what their precise roles and nature are.

  • Sumi might have a strong pride for all things Japan, even going so far as to claim that the presence of pumpkins for Halloween are because Japan made it so, but if one does a bit of looking around, it turns out that Halloween the way North Americans know it is not particularly popular in Japan, especially trick-or-treating, which would be seen as a bother to one’s neighbours. The custom of donning costumes and attending parties, on the other hand, has become more popular: since Halloween parties began taking off in 2001, they’ve gained momentum.

  • Admittedly, it does feel a little strange to be talking about Halloween in July when the day itself is still some four-and-a-half-months away. This year’s Hallow’s Eve will be noteworthy because the tenth and final volume of The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan will be releasing in English. I’ve been looking forwards to the conclusion of this heartwarming and simple series: it is perhaps a stroke of luck that interest in my AO is limited, which should allow me to visit the bookstore on a weekend and purchase it without worrying too much about them running out of stock. Then again, the folks in my area seem to deviate greatly from myself with respect to tastes: I’ve yet to encounter any Girls und Panzer fans, for instance.

  • While Gin might have enjoyed this type of gelato, Sumi finds it less appealing. Sumi and Sonoko’s familiars are visible here: they can be a bit unruly, but during combat, they negate any damage to the Heroes. It’s the last time in Washio Sumi Chapter that the two visit this particular ice cream shoppe: with the final act’s middle sections calm and relaxed, the audiences’ expectations of a major combat sequence will shortly be fulfilled, and anticipation builds to see what difference the upgrades will make for Sonoko and Sumi.

  • Prior to entering the act’s final fight, Sonoko gives Sumi a ribbon. It still surprises me to know that Sonoko is voiced by Kana Hanazawa (The Garden of Words‘ Yukari Yukino and Charlotte Dunois of Infinite Stratos, to name a few), and while we are on the topic of Yukari, Your Name‘s home release date rapidly draws closer. I’m not sure how quickly I will be able to get the post out owing to variables far beyond my ability to control, but I am certain I will enjoy writing about this film. For the present, however, we return to Washio Sumi Chapter, where the final fight of this act begins.

  • A quick count shows that a little more than a third of this post’s images deal with the final fight: here, Sonoko and Sumi transform for the first time since their upgrades were installed, gaining access to new combat skins and weapons. Sumi now utilises a long-range beam rifle, allowing her to reliably hit distant targets without fear of projectile drop, while Sonoko is given an upgraded spear. A red flower flashes into being during their transformation to signify that Gin is still with them in spirit, and emboldened with their new equipments, as well as fire in their hearts, Sonoko and Sumi set out to take on the Vertices.

  • The soundtrack to the different acts in Washio Sumi Chapter were released on July 5, consolidating all of the incidental pieces heard here. Similar to Yūki Yūna is a Hero‘s soundtrack, there is a mystic, ethereal sense to the music. With its arrangement of orchestral and choral elements, Keiichi Okabe’s take on the music is at once similar to and different than Yuki Kajiura’s stylistic approaches to the Madoka Magica soundtrack, capturing the abstracted nature of the Vertex. There are unique ending songs for each of the movies, as well – folks have remarked that the ending song to Spirit is particularly moving.

  • The NT-D Mankai system functions similarly to the revenge and super gauges of Street Fighter IV: usage of magical power and absorbing damage will cause the gauge to fill up, after which the Hero can either consciously activate their Mankai or else allow it to engage automatically. When activated, the Mankai confers powers directly from the Shinju: Sonoko and Sumi engage theirs for the first time after being confronted with three Vertices, unaware of the system’s implications.

  • Both Sonoko and Sumi are amazed at their familiar’s functions; they are able to directly absorb attacks seemingly without consequence, but audiences are shown instances of a gauge filling on their uniforms. In her Mankai state, Sumi gains access to eight heavy beam cannons suitable for heavy bombardment in all directions. She engages and destroys one of the Vertices with ease engaging it.

  • Sonoko’s Mankai state confers powerful new melee weapons that function similarly to the 00 Qan[T]’s Sword Bits, being able to remotely slash and pierce enemies. She confidently activates her system here and eliminates one of the Vertices on her own, bringing the total down to one. However, with two Vertices down, Sonoko notices Sumi falling after her powers are spent, and she too falls.

  • It turns out that the Mankai system’s cost, the Sange, is a sacrifice in exchange for directly wielding what amounts to the power of the Gods. Sonoko loses vision in her right eye, and Sumi’s rendered incapable of walking. Their uniforms promptly respond to the changes: a sensor provides visual input for Sonoko, while Sumi’s uniform develops ribbons that help her walk around while on the battlefield. Taken aback at this, both girls are surprised when additional Vertex units, not unlike Halo‘s infection forms, begin punching through the barrier.

  • Overwhelmed by their numbers, Sumi and Sonoko are forced to activate their Mankai systems a second time in order to defeat the incoming threats. A harrowing battle, Washio Sumi Chapter‘s final fight is also a thrill to watch from an audio-visual perspective, with particle effects and intricate lighting techniques giving the combat a supernatural, fantastical appearance that is quite distinct from the fights seen in Madoka Magica to help reinforce the idea that Yūki Yūna is a Hero is not merely a Madoka Magica derivative.

  • In fact, I would argue that Yūki Yūna is a Hero and Madoka Magica complement one another: fans of one will enjoy one another. This is not an Xbox vs. Playstation or AMD vs NVIDIA type deal – there are merits to both anime series and their universes that make them worth watching, as both offer unique, differing perspectives on what heroics and sacrifices entail. Here, Sonoko destroys numerous of the “infection form” Vertices before annihilating the larger one. When her Mankai disengages, she finds that her heart has stopped.

  • This moment shows the new additions to Sonoko and Sumi’s uniforms. Closer inspection finds that the watery reflection in Sonoko’s right eye has faded, leaving a dull iris. Yūki Yūna is a Hero and other anime render blindness by way of changing the characters’ eye colouration, usually using simpler, dull colours to indicate thus. This technique is also seen in Rogue One: Chirrut Îmwe, being a blind monk, has faded eyes, although his connection to the force makes him a formidable warrior despite his limitation. Shortly after destroying the last of the Vertices, Sonoko exits the barrier and learns that the world outside is a veritable Armageddon, with new Vertices being constructed for a renewed assault on the Shinju.

  • When she activated her Mankai a second time, Sumi’s memories were modified: she’s forgotten about Sonoko and the time they’ve spent together as friends following Gin’s death. Unable to do anything about this, and faced with the impending threat presented by new Vertices, Sonoko decides that she must destroy them regardless of the cost. It is here that she activates her Mankai on nineteen separate instances, allowing her victory but also resulting in her total immobilisation.

  • The difficult battle Sonoko faces leads to calamity in the real world (or at least, the world where there is a semblence of normalacy); the Great Bridge is destroyed, reaching its current state as it appears in Yūki Yūna is a Hero, and devastation occurs in the form of accidents. Thus, by the end of Washio Sumi Chapter, Gin is dead and Sonoko is no longer able to live a normal life, suffering a fate worse than death, leaving the Taisha to reassign Sumi to her original family. She reverts to her old name of Mimori Tōgō and moves beside Yūna. For the remainder of this post, I will refer to Sumi as Mimori once more.

  • Whereas Promise opened up grey and overcast, its conclusion is sunny and clear, if somewhat subdued in tone: Yūna’s meeting with Mimori is one characterised by a cautious hope, as audiences will likely be aware of the events that take place in Yūki Yūna is a Hero. It marks a new beginning for Mimori, whose memory loss is something of a mixed bag – on one hand, she’s lost memories of her previous friends, but she’s also spared the knowledge of their suffering, as well.

  • Yūna is voiced by Haruka Terui, who also performed as Brave Witches‘ Georgette Lemare. I’m not particularly familiar with her other roles, but I do enjoy her performance as Yūna, who presents an ever-cheerful, optimistic outlook on the world that stands in sharp contrast with Mimori’s more pessimistic beliefs. The two complement one another’s personalities quite well, and by the events of Yūki Yūna is a Hero, Mimori’s developed romantic feelings for Yūna. Mimori is voiced by Suzuko Mimori, whom I know best as YuruYuri‘s Himawari Furutani.

  • A new friendship is forged, and to quote Darth Vader in A New Hope, the circle is now completed. Washio Sumi Chapter ended up being an instructive series to watch, explaining Mimori’s backstory and adding a bit more detail into the world of Yūki Yūna is a Hero, even if it does come short on explaining the Vertex. It’s an essential for fans of Yūki Yūna is a Hero, and folks interested in this franchise could gain some insights starting with Washio Sumi Chapter. A bit of trivia about this post is that I was originally intending to write about Koe no Katachi first, but the opportunity to finish Promise came sooner. I still have plans to write about Koe no Katachi, and will hopefully get to that in the very near future. In the meantime, with Battlefield 1‘s “Prise de Tahure” update coming out soon, along with Your Name, the remainder of July appears quite busy from a blogging perspective.

While serving as a bridge, filling in the events that take place between Washio Sumi Chapter and Yūki Yūna is a Hero, Promise continues on as its predecessors had; themes of sacrifice and determination abound in Yūki Yūna is a Hero, and the consequences of the Heroes’ actions, alongside the emotional impact it places on them, are evidently a substantial component of Yūki Yūna is a Hero. The tears of sorrow, regret and helplessness seen whenever defecation hits the oscillation are heart-rending to behold, and audiences cannot help but sympathise with the situation that the Heroes find themselves in. It is plain that being a Hero is a non-trivial task, as thankless and dangerous as being a Magical Girl in Madoka Magica. However, whereas Madoka Magica clearly explains the origins of Witches, we have not seen such exposition in Yūki Yūna is a Hero as of yet; this is one of the present shortcomings in the series as a whole. Not knowing why the girls are made to fight the Vertex diminishes their experiences to some capacity, especially considering the seriousness the Vertex are regarded with. With this in mind, there remains the upcoming Hero Chapter that will act as a sequel to Yūki Yūna is a Hero; one remains moderately optimistic that audiences will be allowed to learn what precisely the Heroes are fighting for, and the nature of their enemy that makes such a fight worthwhile. Overall, despite failing to close the mystery behind the Vertices, Promise ended up being a fitting closing act to Washio Sumi Chapter, setting the stage for the events that are to come and answering the question of what prompted Mimori’s actions in the anime. Hero Chapter is set to release in the Fall season, and with the first six episodes being the movies presented in a televised format, the actual sequel itself will thus begin six weeks into the season – it might be here, under the cold, snowy skies of November, that my long-standing theory about Yūki Yūna is a Hero being set in a simulated reality meets its doom.

10 responses to “Promise- Yūki Yūna is a Hero: Washio Sumi Chapter Part Three Review and Reflection

  1. ernietheracefan July 17, 2017 at 03:00

    “Buddy, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

    This is like Star Wars Prequel Trilogy, but more heartbreaking. For me, Mankai is simillar with Alaya-Vijmana System from Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-blooded Orphans which has the nearly same side effects..

    Speaking of which, did you know that I’m @Ernie2492 in Twitter..?

    Like

  2. Soutacap (@soutacap) July 17, 2017 at 17:39

    I would not call the girl’s job as being “thankless”, there is even a scene in this very movie that has the class thanking the duo for their job. Unlike Madoka, where the origin of the trouble is artificial, YuYuYu seems to establish that while Shinju and the Taisha are jerks, Vertex is the barbarians at the gate.

    Like

    • infinitezenith July 17, 2017 at 17:56

      A kind gesture on the classmates’ part, but a gesture, it remains, considering the risks Heroes must take and the expectation for them to fight until they are utterly expended.

      Your insights are appreciated; I’m hoping that some explanation is provided, however minimal. If the Vertex really are a foreign being with the same mystery as that of the Flood, I am okay with that even if it’s mentioned in the passing.

      Like

  3. andmeuths July 18, 2017 at 00:59

    I’d like to see it this way. Unlike Madoka, the Heroes are thanked. But most definitely not in the currency that Togo, nor Sonoko wants. Especially Sonoko. What does Sonoko want? A summer’s evening out at a joyous festival with true friends at her side, true companionship above all – something that, to Aki-sensei’s credit, her teacher successfully perceives. Not worship. Not the prompt granting of all her physical whims and desires(and that has been more or less the default state of Sonoko’s life). Not recognition as an author, respect as a hero, reverence as a demi-god.

    As Sonoko succinctly puts it, she wants the Kagawa Life, those are the wages and rewards she seeks. Those were probably the wages that motivated her to fight, in as much Togo is driven by ideology, and Gin by Family. The big tragedy of Washio Sumi is that Sonoko is paid…. in currency she has neither need nor want of, for a price that deprives her of her true heart’s desire.

    Like

    • infinitezenith July 19, 2017 at 09:05

      Ultimately, both Magical Girls of Madoka Magica and the Heroes of Yūki Yūna is a Hero both are working for a benefactor that views them as disposable assets and withholds aspects of their responsibilities from them. The difference is that the Taisha seem to be public knowledge in Yūki Yūna is a Hero. For what it’s worth, while the Taisha recompense the Heroes well for their efforts in their own manner, the sacrifices expected of the Heroes is much greater than the worth of their compensation.

      As such, it becomes quite difficult for the girls to continue fighting the Vertex with this truth in mind, discovered in the manner they do so, and I imagine this is intentional, rather similar to how J.K. Rowling lays out Harry’s decision to continue eliminating Voldemort’s Horcruxes. What makes the characters Heroes is not having enough of the truth to make an informed decision, coming to terms with their reality and then resolving to do what’s right, perhaps in spite of this reality. Heroes are not always thanked, hence my choice of words in describing their duty as “thankless”: it is a reminder that Yūna and the others are self-driven to do what they feel is right, and I’m hoping Hero Chapter will outline this.

      Like

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