The Infinite Zenith

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Tag Archives: Karin Miyoshi

Unspoken Intentions- Yūki Yūna is a Hero: Hero Chapter Episode Four Impressions and Review

“Friends show their love in times of trouble, not in happiness.” —Euripides

While Yūna tries her best to participate in the New Years’ festivities with her friends and make the most of her time with the Hero Club, her friends begin noticing that Yūna is not her usual self. Karin tries to talk to her about things, but with the effects of her curse still fresh in her mind, Yūna declines. Mimori later breaks into Yūna’s room and recovers a journal that Yūna had been using to document her experiences. In this journal, she explains that after their fight during the Vertex, Yūna’s body sustained damage beyond the Taisha’s ability to heal, and she lapsed into a coma. Her spirit ended up where Mimori was held, and while she returned to rejoin the others, her body’s been decaying since. Furthermore, the Taisha confirm that Yūna’s curse will spread and affect the others should she attempt to communicate with her friends about it. When Mimori, Fū, Itsuki and Karin learn of this, they are shocked; Sonoko had begun investigating independently and apologises for not sharing her findings, but stops Mimori from intervening, since Yūna had already been affected. The next morning, Mimori visits Yūna and assures her that this time, she’ll look after her. It’s quite evident that the stakes have been increased, especially since Yūna’s life expectancy has dropped to the span of a few months. With this being said, the ending of Hero Chapter is a foregone conclusion even in light of the current revelations, given the thematic elements that Yūki Yūna is a Hero have previously presented, and what remains intriguing about Hero Chapter largely lies with the journey that Mimori and the others must take to reach an ending free from the suffering Heroes have contended with thus far.

The fourth episode’s execution comes across as being surprisingly strong; it was only a matter of time before Yūna’s friends learned of the truth, and here, the effects of this news on both Yūna and her friends are shown with a surprising realism. Until now, audiences have been placed in Mimori and the others’ perspectives – they’ve seen Yūna doing her best to maintain normalcy and participate as best as she can with the Hero Club, while being left in the dark. Internally, Yūna is trying her utmost to reassure her friends and deal with her condition, fighting off despair and holding onto the hope that she will recover. This act of putting on a mask and dealing with her situation unassisted has placed a severe strain on Yūna’s mental health, and brings to mind the sort of predicament not unlike that which folks face in reality when diagnosed with or facing a terminal condition. The psychological aspects of an illness is not to be taken lightly, as it can dramatically affect the choices individuals might make pertaining to treatment and support they might elect to take. Collecting this information and using it to predict how patients might respond during and following treatments for an illness is an area of interest in medicine, although this particular area of research faces its own limitations, especially with regard to data collection and integrity. In Yūna’s case, her friends have (forcibly) entered the equation, and are now faced with a Herculean task to try and work out what is necessary to save her.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • After the events of the previous episode, nothing initially seems amiss; the Hero Club’s members visit a shrine during New Year’s Day to pray for good luck, and everyone seems to be in high spirits. It typifies Hero Chapter‘s propensity to juxtapose moments of normalcy with those of sorrow, and the fourth episode is no different in its execution. Anime typically show characters as making shrine visits during the New Year, but on this side of the world, it is customary to sleep in following a night’s worth of partying.

  • Both Fū and Itsuki seemingly get hammered after drinking non-alcoholic sweet sake; Fū becomes more melodramatic, lamenting her age, while Itsuki seems to be more irreverent. It’s a rather fun moment that demonstrates the placebo effect, but even in times of joy, hints of Yūna’s gradual withdrawal from her surroundings begin materialising. Here, Yūna is slow to drink her sake, and when Sonoko asks, Yūna remarks that it’s a bit too hot at the moment. While the response is prima facie an innocent one, the actual reasons are a bit more grim.

  • An accident of sorts, worthy of Anne Happy‘s Happiness Class, occurs when the girls try to take a group photo: inference suggests that the girls’ familiars want in on the group photo and their sudden appearance proves to be too much.

  • As of late, Karin’s been showing a great deal more closeness than she had previously to the other members of the Hero Club; she conveys this to Fū, who is rather surprised at the sudden expression of such. Mimori’s been seen with a 4K video recorder. The 4K standard has really taken off this year, and is slowly displacing 1080p as the resolution of choice as the technology to drive these display technologies becomes increasingly affordable. Ostensibly to keep a record of the Hero Club’s activities, Mimori’s actual motivations for recording everything is to closely keep an eye on her best friend’s well-being.

  • Yūna manages to find a lost kitten on one of the Hero Club’s routine activities, and while the kitten avoids her (where normally, Yūna is shown to be a bit more fortunate in such matters), the Hero Club’s operation is a success by all definitions.

  • As the day draws to a close, Karin seeks out Yūna with the aim of talking to her. By this point in time, all of her friends have noticed that something is off; while Yūna does her best to live in the moment, the doubt and concerns she alone is bearing gradually is getting the better of her, causing her to space out. Here, Karin passes Yūna what appears to be a silver fish, which I know better as “白飯魚” (jyutping “baak6 faan6 jyu4”) and enjoy most in its fried incarnation. While a simple act, it captures the closeness between Karin and Yūna.

  • Colour and lighting is utilised to a great extent in visual media to capture a particular mood, and in the West, the warm glow of a sunset, with its yellows, oranges and reds, are meant to signify an ending of sorts. It can be interpreted as the close of a journey and a time to relax, but also doubles as an indicator that light is leaving, displaced by darkness, which humans have long come to associate with the unknown. It is therefore fitting that Karin’s last chance to talk to Yūna about what’s on her mind comes during sunset.

  • It would appear that Yūna’s desire to keep her friends’ happiness stems from what she internally knows about her condition, and this particular desire overrules even her own adherence and respect for the Hero Club’s tenants. It stands to reason that, Yūna will only break the tenants for her friends’ sake, illustrating the extent that she cares for them. We recall that it was Yūna who made the most open efforts to befriend Karin when she joined the group, and she gets along with most everyone: for Yūna, unity and friendship are the things that she treasures the most strongly.

  • Yūna declines to tell Karin of her Mantle of responsibility, and rejected, Karin runs off, feeling burned. Here, Yūna sees the mark of shame projected onto Karin and fears that Karin will be exposed to whatever curse she’s suffering from. Overcome with weakness, Yūna collapses, apologising for being forced to keep Karin in the dark. By this point, concern for Yūna’s well-being materialises into a tangible fear that something terrible has happened to her, and Mimori decides to take a more direct approach in figuring out what’s going on.

  • If memory serves, I began watching Yūki Yūna is a Hero back during the summer of 2016, and I don’t seem to recall that Mimori was left-handed. She manages to confirm independently that Yūna’s reactions to her fortune are much more subdued than before, conjecturing that Yūna would normally be ecstatic to receive a “good luck” projection for the New Year. Mimori and Sonoko are shown to have dramatically different ways of working things out when confronted with an unknown – Sonoko prefers going to the top brass and inquiring for answers directly, while Mimori investigates independently and uses her reasoning to reach a conclusion.

  • After stealthily entering Yūna’s bedroom under the cover of darkness, Mimori does a bit of deductive work worthy of Sean Connery’s James Bond and John Clark; she notices that amongst Yūna’s encyclopaedia collection, the twelfth volume is deliberately protruding from the bookshelf and surmises that there might be something special about this volume. She finds another volume hidden away here, titled “Hero Journal”. It speaks to the gravity of the situation that despite Mimori’s movements, she is rendered as a rigid body object rather than a skeletal mesh with elastic properties: the sort of fanservice so prevalent in Yūki Yūna is a Hero and which made a minor return in Washio Sumi Chapter is largely absent in Hero Chapter.

  • While it’s likely that everyone will face retribution for having read Yūna’s journal, a classified report for the Taisha, the girls nonetheless feel that their friends’ need far outweighs their own. Thus, in deciding to proceed, Mimori and the others, alongside the audience, finally learn of how Yūna was able to bring about the ending that was seen in Yūki Yūna is a Hero; while some individuals felt that this was an undeserved happy ending, Hero Chapter expands on this and shows that there was a price that was paid in order to achieve this.

  • It turns out that Yūna’s consciousness was transferred into the same space while she entered a coma following the events of the final battle. Trapped here, Yūna could do little but listen to Mimori’s impassioned pleas for her to return to them, and, reminding herself that Heroes do not give up, Yūna later encounters a crow that leads her to wake up. From here on out, it seems that the Taisha have expended considerable resources to restore the girls’ bodily functions, but for Yūna, the damage she sustained during the final fight meant she required an entirely new body. This brings to mind the Extended Universes’ Palpatine, who similarly used cloned bodies as a means of cheating death.

  • However, Palpatine quickly learned that the clones were unable to sustain his Dark Side powers and so, deteriorated rapidly, prompting him to seek out the body of a Force-sensitive individual. Back in Hero Chapter, Yūna continues documenting her experiences, recollecting her determination to live life to the fullest possible even as her health fails. She learns that she’s a misugata (御姿, jyutping “jyu6 zi1”, which corresponds with “Royal Position”), an individual favoured by the Gods, and so, when she wished to save Mimori to Bring Balance to The Force and restore balance in the world, it came at a cost.

  • Haruka Terui’s delivery of Yūna’s lines have a melancholy, matter-of-fact tone; as she describes her concerns for others, handling of her condition day-by-day, and that she’s happiest when with the others. Her illness has a profound impact on her physical health: she’s unable to maintain an appetite  and throws up after drinking the sake, experiences nausea and chest pain, and finds herself becoming increasingly lethargic. Because my work involves medical software, a part of what I do is read about accounts from those with terminal illnesses, cancer and the like: the scenes in the fourth episode dealing with Yūna’s recollections really had an impact on me because they were presented very similarly to what a cancer patient might deal with.

  • Between despair and hope, such illnesses have a profound mental health impact on those affected, and it must be terrifying to know that one has no support. With this in mind, I cannot begin to imagine what goes through the minds of these individuals: Yūna feels that what she can do is to write everything into her journal, and again, I am reminded of journalling as a suggestion for these individuals, allowing them to fully express themselves and keep a record of how they’re feeling. Mental health advocates suggest keeping a journal, and I maintain this blog partially for similar reasons.

  • Mimori, Sonoko, Karin, Fū and Itsuki learn about what’s befallen Yūna in a more inelegant manner, and their initial reactions are of shock, anguish and disgust; emotions run high, and Mimori prepares to take Yūna’s place once again, stopping only when Sonoko reminds her that this burden was Yūna’s alone to bear, and that nothing Mimori could do would change that.

  • The look on Fū’s face brings to mind her reaction during Yūki Yūna is a Hero after she learned that Itsuki’s inability to speak would be permanent. While she is the leader of the Hero Club who does her best to look after its members, Fū is quick to anger when she feels that information has been withheld, and it seems that, barring Sonoko’s explanation for Yūna’s decisions, would have likely attempted to engage the Taisha on her own again. It becomes quite apparent that Sonoko’s presence is helping the girls keep their cool and not act rashly during the heat of the moment.

  • Hit hardest by the journal’s contents is Karin, who feels remorse for having run off after Yūna declined to speak with her. Mimori narrates that there seems to be nothing they could do for the present, and discussions elsewhere have turned to wondering why the writers would put the characters, especially Yūna, though such tribulations. It’s not often that speculation on where a series will go hits a brick wall, especially considering how creative the anime community can be, but it seems like Hero Chapter has done just this: simply put, discussion has ground to a halt, and moved in a direction suggesting the authors themselves must be displeased with humanity as a species.

  • The fourth episode draws to a close with Mimori promising to protect Yūna as she had done for her earlier. Following the credits, it appears as though the Shinju has seen better days, as well. This brings my talk to an end for the present, and I remark that next week, I will be attending the Flames vs. Canadiens game; as of late, the Flames’ record has been less than stellar, so I’m wondering if we’ll be able to put on a good performance for this upcoming home game. As a result, my talk for Hero Chapter‘s fifth episode will be written and published into the weekend as opposed to late Friday.

If we accept that the journey is a great deal more meaningful than the destination, then Hero Chapter has certainly found a way of drawing in the audiences and compelling them to follow the journey that Yūna and the others have faced thus far. The suffering and woes falling upon Yūna, seemingly excessive, follows accordingly from the consequences of Yūki Yūna is a Hero; the ending of the first season presented the girls as having been given a Mulligan, getting off seemingly scot-free after their actions during the final battle. As it turns out, this action was not without consequence, and in exchange for granting normalcy back into everyone else’s lives, Yūna is left to dealt with the Mantle of responsibility and bear the burden of a curse. It is here that Karin reveals that she’s genuinely appreciative of Yūna’s friendship, while Mimori begins to feel as though she is responsible for Yūna’s predicament; Sonoko reminds her this is not the case. Similarly, Fū begins to doubt the Taisha once again, reminiscent of the events of Yūki Yūna is a Hero. There is not a clear way forward for the Heroes, but hope is not extinguished yet: with everyone now aware of the quandary Yūna is in, they can at least begin to support her. While Yūna’s Mantle of responsibility and its attendant curse might not be a condition for which there can be a treatment, that she has her friends in her corner nonetheless provides a significant boost in mental well-being. In the real world, this support can mean the difference between maintaining the will to live and losing it, so it will be interesting to see what sort of difference Yūna’s friends can make for her, as well as what the group’s next course of action will be.

My Heart Hurts When I Think Of You- Yūki Yūna is a Hero: Hero Chapter Episode Three Impressions and Review

“It was space aliens, man!” –Norman “Super Spesh” Caldwell, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

With Christmas approaching, Yūna spends time with her fellow Hero Club members, watching as Fū as she studies for her exams. However, she remains troubled by her being made to bear the Mantle, and considers telling her friends, recalling the Hero Club’s fourth tenant. However, she finds herself unable to do so when she experiences a vision of the Hero Club’s members bearing the same markings as she did. Later, she tries to tell Fū, but when the phenomenon manifests again, Yūna falters. When returning home with Itsuki, Fū is hit by a vehicle and hospitalised. Yūna surmises that there’s a mechanism in play that prevents her from talking to anyone about her Mantle. Hearing Itsuki’s conversation about being with Fū and the others’ support leads Yūna to run away from home to keep her friends from worrying about her. In this week’s episode, Yūna’s response to bearing the Mantle forms the primary focus, with emphasis on how she tends to deal with her issues when on her own. Circumstances outside of her control, however, forces Yūna into a difficult position, and it is quickly shown that whatever forces are driving the world are not to be trifled with.

While normally a fierce proponent of the Hero Club’s tenants, which includes that each member should not bear burdens alone and support one another through communication, Yūna’s been backed into a corner. On one hand, she wants to tell her friends about this mark; despite difficulties in summoning the courage to do so, she tries to do so with the goal of both upholding her beliefs, as well as out of fairness to her friends. However, when misfortune befalls Fū, Yūna realises that upholding the Hero tenants might cause harm to her friends. As one of Yūna’s defining traits is an imperturbable desire to protect her friends, Yūna’s decision to run off follows from her beliefs. While easily appearing uncalculated, made off emotions on the spur of the moment to be certain, Yūna’s decision also reflects on her unwavering devotion to those she cares about. She’s backed into a difficult corner now, and consequently, is distressed, hence her choices. I remark here that this isn’t an unreasonable way of thinking. For example, I operate similarly, preferring to shoulder problems alone because I do not wish for my burdens to become someone else’s problems. However, what is relevant to the long game isn’t whether or not Yūna’s decision was a mature one, but rather, how she might mature as a response to her friends’ wishes or as the situation changes. People can and will mature over time: on my end, I will confide my problems in others if letting others know allow said problem to be solved more effectively.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • We’re now a week into December, and this means that Christmas lights are beginning to pop up everywhere. Things are beginning to feel a bit festive, although the weather’s been rather warmer than usual. While driving home from work, I was listening to a radio programme about the weather, and they were interviewing an agriculture specialist, who mentioned that for soil moisture, the spring is a bit more important. However, the impact of warmer winters can be felt, and I’m not so keen on insects surviving a mild winter.

  • Karin mounts the star onto the top of their Christmas tree in the Hero Club’s clubroom – the star at the top is meant to symbolise the star that the Three Wise Men saw over the location of Jesus’ birth. Angels and færie ornaments can stand in for the star. A family tradition of mine is that the star is mounted after all of the other ornaments and lights have been affixed to the tree, and ever since we bought an ornament with LED lights inside, unlit tree toppers look rather dull.

  • Even as the Christmas season nears, Fū remains deep in her studies as she works towards getting into a high school of her choice to make up for lost time. The last time I was this focussed on academics so close to Christmas was during my third undergraduate year: in the years following, I did not have any major finals of note during the fall term, spending most of my time on papers and projects instead. Sonoko quickly looks through Fū’s practise materials and finds that she’s scored perfect.

  • One of the things that took me some getting used to was that in Japan, circles (marujirushi) are used to denote correct answers, and check marks indicate incorrect answers. Thus, when I got my first-ever Japanese quiz back during my introductory Japanese course, I wondered why I missed every question except one: when I was learning written Chinese, circles are for incorrect answers.

  • After Mimori attempts to commit suicide out of guilt for interrupting Fū’s studies because of the Interstellar incident, she attempts to commit seppuku with a box opener, but her friends promptly stop her. Mimori’s return is a subtle one, and while it’s great to have her back, her presence isn’t particularly visible, especially now that Sonoko is an active member of the Hero Club. It suddenly strikes me that Ema Yasuhara of Shirobako greatly resembles Mimori.

  • In the weeks upcoming, Fū plans to attend Itsuki’s performance. Voiced by Tomoyo Kurosawa of Hibiki! Euphonium‘s Kumiko Oumae fame, Itsuki’s singing voice is remarkably cathartic, and she has since become more confident since the first season with her singing prowess. In Yūki Yūna is a Hero, Itsuki sounds nothing like Kumiko, who speaks with a more earnest and hesitant voice reminiscent of Akari Shinohara’s voice, attesting to Kurosawa’s skill. With this in mind, Kurosawa hasn’t appeared in very many anime.

  • Karin’s fond of unusual supplements and attempts pushing some on Itsuki, who grows a bit nervous when the others ask her to remain in good health. I believe that close to this time last year, I developed a cold and unintentionally took out the entire office when I got sick: the colder weather affects the respiratory system and weakens the immune system. In addition, winter weather drives people into closer proximity to one another, allowing pathogens to propagate more rapidly. Health supplements can have a positive impact on health, but their intake must be regulated, as they can have contraindicative effects.

  • Mid-proceedings, Yūna spaces out, and this does not go unnoticed: befitting of the Club president, Fū is remarkably perceptive and asks Yūna what’s wrong. Sonoko and Mimori, their efforts concentrated on Itsuki moments earlier, begin focussing their efforts on Yūna. While done primarily for comedy, these moments serve to remind audiences that Yūna is feeling at unease ever since the black curse mark appeared on her body. While I’ve seen it referred to as “duty” or counted as a “curse”, I’m going to call it a Mantle after Halo‘s Mantle of Responsibility.

  • The story of how Halo‘s Mantle came to be will be left as an exercise for another time; back in Hero Chapter, Yūna finds herself compelled to share with the others the fact that she’s been marked with the Mantle, and despite her hesitation, her commitment to the Hero Club’s tenants means she begins to try and articulate her concerns. However, Yūna begins having difficulty coherently explaining her situation, and she ultimately botches things, presenting a riddle of sorts with neither head or tail.

  • Later during the evening, Yūna watches a conversation unfolding with her friends surrounding Christmas, with Mimori complaining about its foreign nature. A nationalist through and through, Mimori embodies all things Japanese, and being from Canada, I’m quite unaccustomed to nationalism as seen elsewhere in the world – for me, nationalism in Canada is a respect for multiculturalism. While her friends are engaged in talk, Yūna feels that it’s quite unnecessary and unfair for her to trouble them with her concerns.

  • While Yūna’s concern for those around her is admirable, she also stands to trouble them a great deal by withholding her situation. Whether or not one should be open about their troubles is largely a situation-dependent decision; my own experience suggest that the best choice is determined by the the severity of the situation and the costs of inaction against action. In other words, if I feel that I can have a situation under control, I will not likely mention it to others and solve it myself: it is my responsibility to take care of that situation. However, if my situation may negatively impact others if I attempt to handle it myself, then I will share my concerns so that a solution may be worked out for the benefit of the group.

  • Yūna’s friends each reveal that minor misfortune has befallen them: Mimori’s power went out, Karin’s noticed that the heater’s gone cold, Itsuki accidentally left her keys at home, leaving her and Fū locked out, and Sonoko burned herself on the kettle. Yūna begins wondering if her act of trying to let the others know might have influenced this turn of events, her mind flashing back to a vision of the others bearing the same markings that she’s got. On the topic of misfortune, I’ve picked up Anne Happy! and have made my way through nine episodes since Monday.

  • Later, Yūna tries to let Fū know what’s really on her mind, but stumbles again when she sees Fū with the same symbol. Fū’s intuition is off here, and while she’s likely spot on that Mimori will likely become a green-eyed monster if Yūna should ever enter a relationship with anyone, she’s unable to spot that Yūna’s not being entirely truthful. The presentation of imagery suggests that an external force, possibly the shinju, is acting on her, rather than entirely on internal reservations on Yūna’s part.

  • While discussing their plans for the upcoming week, during which Fū’s anticipation for Itsuki’s performance is quite tangible, a rogue vehicle appears and injures Fū. It’s a sudden turn of events that was earlier foreshadowed by the mishaps everyone experienced after Yūna attempted to tell them, and since she came closer to telling Fū than anyone else, it seems that Fū’s punishment was more severe. That the Shinju can be this precise in dealing out judgement further reinforces the idea that Yūki Yūna might be set in a simulated reality or another dimension.

  • This motivates the page quote, sourced from one of the most hilarious lines in all of Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus from my favourite character. Space aliens and simulated reality could likely provide a satisfactory account of why Yūna’s world is the way it is. Of course, as I am counted as somewhat of a heretic amongst folks who are more familiar with Yūki Yūna, I doubt this particular brand of speculation will gain too much momentum. When Yūna learns of Fū’s accident, she is devastated, and her theory is seemingly confirmed: more so than conflicts within her own beliefs, Yūna feels that she’s now got no one to share her problems with.

  • Despite her injuries, Fū seems to be in fine spirits and is concerned with missing important events during this time of year more than anything. Upon leaving the hospital, Karin and Mimori share an emotionally charged conversation; Mimori has gone postal before when faced with extreme situations before, and I wouldn’t put it past writers to have her go ballistic if her friends are injured.

  • The interactions between Fū and Itsuki greatly mirror those of Nina and Nono from Urara Meirocho; the sisters share a conversation where Itsuki promises to look after Fū, and later, Karin, Mimori and Sonoko make to visit Fū decked out in Christmas hats to bring a little bit of the festive cheer to Fū. Yūna is absent and missed; she had overhears Fū and Itsuki’s conversation earlier and became overcome with emotion. Sonoko later finds an indicator that Yūna was there.

  • While Yūna struggles to deal with her internal conflicts, a representative of the Taisha appears at her residence. The sudden turn of events have left some viewers unable to pass judgement with the same decisiveness as they did previously, and I remark that, had Yūna really been the kind of character that some folks have counted her as, then the entire series would have been more appropriately called Yūki Yūna is an Asshole. This clearly isn’t the case, so another solution will need to be worked out, and in the meantime, I’m curious to see just how close or off the mark speculation is going to be.

  • If there’s one aspect in Yūki Yūna is a Hero that I’m sure all audience members can agree on, it’s likely that the facial expressions in this series take things to an entirely new level of existence. While running out in the cold, Yūna trips, falls into the snow and finally is overtaken with emotion. Her sobs are heart-wrenchingly painful to hear, mirroring the extent of the conflict within her. While conversations largely suggest that Yūna’s between a rock and a hard place now, I think that there’s one more option to explore before all hope fades: that Taisha representative who’s come to call at the Yūki residence.

  • Unexpected in many ways, the third episode ups the ante, and I’m rather curious to see how the narrative will proceed now. This brings my third episode post to an end, and since DICE’s idea of a challenge this week is to get a hundred vehicle kills for a super-rare tank skin, I think I’m going to sit this one out. Instead, I’ll be aiming to get my Christmas shopping done this weekend, and then look forwards to a Christmas break that’s one part festive and one part quiet (provided that my Hero Chapter posts haven’t been so sacrilegious that people will write me hate mail).

We’ve crossed the halfway point for Hero Chapter at this point, and the condensed timeframe means that Hero Chapter has dispensed largely with the cathartic slice-of-life elements in favour of moments fraught with emotions. This particular aspect seems to work against Hero Chapter, since some progression is made to occur much more rapidly, giving audiences less time to take in what’s occurring. In other words, folks will feel that things are becoming a bit more forceful than natural. With this being said, it is apparent that Hero Chapter‘s focus will be on the characters’ journeys, especially that of Yūna’s, rather than any world-building related elements. This is not unexpected, given the series’ focus on character building in its stead, and given this is Hero Chapter‘s direction, my expectations as we advance beyond the halfway point for Hero Chapter is that whatever tribulations await Yūna and the others, the destination that is reached should be consistent with the path they’ve tread on so far. This is to say, if Yūna and the others are doomed to suffer, then this path must be evident in the upcoming episodes and should not come out of the blue, and similarly, if Yūna and her friends are to be graced with a happy ending, then they must have earned it to some capacity through their actions, rather than exploiting any loopholes in their teenyverse (alternatively, microverse or miniverse).

Important Memories- Yūki Yūna is a Hero: Hero Chapter Episode Two Impressions and Review

“If a black hole is an oyster, then the singularity is the pearl inside. The gravity is so strong, it’s always hidden in darkness beyond the horizon. That’s why we call it a black hole.” —Romilly, Interstellar

It turns out that even the Taisha‘s recollections of Mimori have been removed; Sonoko relays this to the other Hero Club members and also provides them with their smartphones. Having spoken with the Taisha themselves, Sonoko has deduced that Mimori might be beyond the barrier, and is encouraged to begin looking for Mimori out here. While Fū expresses concern with the Hero System, Sonoko explains that the new system makes use of a fully-charged mankai reserve that depletes during combat if the Heroes sustain damage. Engaging the mankai system will fully deplete reserves and also render the Hero vulnerable to attack, but in exchange, Heroes no longer lose body functions when the mankai system is used. Heartened that the Taisha have been a bit more forward about the Hero System’s operating limits, Yūna decides to join Sonoko. The entire Hero Club subsequently activate their Hero Systems and enter the barrier, where they find a black hole-like entity as the source of Mimori’s signal. Sonoko engages her mankai and carries her teammates to this portal – Yūna soldiers forward into the portal and the extremities cause her body and spirit to separate. Past the event horizon, Yūna finds Mimori here, along with her memories and learns that Mimori intended to become a sacrifice to atone for putting a hole in the barrier, endangering their world. Against risk of damage to her mind and body, Yūna retrieves Mimori. She reawakens to the sight of her friends, and Sonoko informs her that the Taisha have since managed to stablise the situation, removing the need for a sacrifice. Yūna later learns that she’s inherited the curse mark from Mimori.

The shortened timeframe of Hero Chapter corresponds with a much quicker pacing, and in the second episode, the cheerful atmosphere seen in the first episode is largely replaced with a grim determination when Yūna and the others resolve to bring Mimori back. Here, the Hero System is explored to a slightly greater extent, illustrating the vulnerabilities and limitations more fully, suggesting that the Taisha have learned after two iterations. The newer system removes invulnerability and is probably the most fair: Heroes die if they fight too aggressively, but engaging the mankai no longer comes at a terrible cost. With the episode’s focus on recovering Mimori, it would seem that Mimori’s old habit of reaching a decision has not changed, and similarly, Yūna is as headstrong as she’s always been. That she succeeds in bringing Mimori back this early in the game suggests that, in conjunction with Yūna being marked for sacrifice, suggests that Hero Chapter is heading in a direction where Yūna will find herself requiring help from her friends, or else see the Hero Club take on a new opponent. Of course, folks with a more substantial background in Yūki Yūna is a Hero will likely have more to add to discussion and correspondingly, a better guess of what’s to happen, but I’m approaching this one from a naïve position. As such, what I will be looking to see, as Hero Chapter continues, is how well the anime stands on its own from a thematic perspective.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • That the girls manage to retain some memories of Mimori despite the higher powers modifying them indicate that memory modification is not fully effective even with their god-like capabilities. In Harry Potter, the memory charm shares similar limitations – although quite effective for the most part, Voldemort has defeated a memory charm through use of the Cruciatus curse. Like all of my upcoming talks on Hero Chapter, this post will feature the standard of twenty images.

  • Before we proceed any further with my talk on Hero Chapter, I note that I’m not fully caught up with or familiar with all of the supplementary materials out there on Yūki Yūna is a Hero, and as such, I will be basing most of my discussions from purely the perspective of someone who’s only seen the anime. Discussions of Hero Chapter have seen folks begin trying to piece together what the additional materials have stated, and it seems to be a tricky exercise from what I’ve seen so far: even people who have this additional intel don’t seem to have a particular leg up on figuring out what’s what.

  • Because I’m hearing what appear to be inconsistencies in the supplementary documentation, going in blind isn’t always a bad thing, and I’m free to draw cleaner conclusions based purely on what I’ve seen in the anime. During the transformation process, Sonoko explains the rules underlying the new mankai system are. Compared to the previous iterations, the one seen in Hero Chapter is more similar to that of a balanced system: Heroes can activate their mankai at will provided they are at full charge, while sustaining damage will deplete their charge. Engaging mankai completely drains their power and leaves them vulnerable to attack.

  • Hero Chapter does not detail whether or not energy is regenerated in between battles, but Sonoko notes that this is not possible while the girls are in their Hero modes. Sonoko’s new transformation is seen, and it’s rendered with more detail than those of the other girls’. Of all the transformations, I still maintain that Mimori’s is the most entertaining to watch: all of the others are clean and to the point, with each Hero applying her unique personality to the transformation process.

  • Karin’s resemblance to Gin is quite pronounced now that I’ve seen Washio Sumi Chapter, a consequence of her inheriting Gin’s terminal and role. At the start of Yūki Yūna is a Hero, I was not particularly fond of her character – she reminded me of Puella Magi Madoka Magica‘s Kyōko Sakura in manner, but like Kyōko, I warmed up to Karin over time. It’s quite nice of the anime to provide a single frame with all the heroes, otherwise, I’d likely be forced to use more screenshots (and expend more time in captioning these) to showcase all of the heroes.

  • When I saw Urara Meirocho‘s Nono and Nina, I was respectively reminded of Itsuki and Fū. The current description of how the Hero System works provides a set of rules and restrictions that make sense from a balance perspective: Heroes must choose between offensive firepower and defense, as picking the former would almost certainly result in death if one were careless, as mankai would leave the Hero subsequently exposed to enemy attack.

  • The second episode of Hero Chapter thus marks the first time in the sequel where the Heroes have transformed and gain access to their familiars, which act as their guardians. Different familiars have different personality traits, but all of them are present to prevent any harm from coming to the Heroes. Here, Fū shares a moment with her familiar, who makes it clear that she’s been missed.

  • The Heroes head towards their destination, a wall at the edge of their world, under fantastically blue skies. The weather today was similarly pleasant, and on this first day of December, I stepped out into the cool afternoon to grab a poutine: this variation had Italian sausage, double-smoked bacon, mushrooms and sautéed onions. Mushrooms and onions add a different taste and texture that stand out: they’re excellent as poutine toppings, and it took a bit of eating through the toppings to reach the fries, cheese and gravy below. Hearty and tasty, it was a fine accompaniment to this week’s Hero Chapter episode. It’s proven to be a warm December so far (I say with only a sample size of one day so far).

  • The fact that the world in Yūki Yūna is a Hero consists of a seemingly normal world protected by a barrier, existing inside a veritable Hell, leads me to cast doubt on the “realness” of their world. In The Matrix, I’ve always wondered how the world works, given that characters only refer to geographical locations as “the City” or “the mountains”, implying that there is only one city or one area with mountains. Citizens remain quite unaware of this fact and go about their everyday lives normally in The Matrix, and it is reasoned that the Machines keep their world in this equilibrium to keep the population under control. The limited world space and a clearly defined edge is one possible indicator that Yūna’s universe is a simulated reality.

  • There is a counterargument against whether or not the world as we know it is a simulation: a civilisation would need to be exceptionally advanced in order to simulate a reality. Civilisations would then either have destroyed themselves or have been destroyed before they reach this stage. If they managed to advance to the point where whole-reality simulation is possible, their computational capability would far outstrip anything else that we can fathom, and presumably, they would not direct the resources towards seeing how a simulated civilisation might develop in favour of other pursits. Back in Hero Chapter, Karin compliments Sonoko on her fighting prowess; she’s lost none of her edge and is quite formidable against the Vertex. In this second episode, the Vertex appear as the smaller infection form-like units see towards the end of Yūki Yūna is a Hero and Washio Sumi Chapter.

  • While the Vertex present a degree of challenge for the Heroes, Sonoko decides to activate her mankai, providing the Heroes with a vessel of sorts that lets them sail towards the “black hole” where Mimori’s signal is emanating from. With this new system, I imagine that team work would very quickly become a necessity for Heroes; some Heroes would immediately engage and rapidly decimate enemy ranks, while other Heroes would provide covering fire for both them and any Heroes they wish to reserve as an ace-in-the-hole. Whether or not we will see this sort of teamwork dynamic in Hero Chapter remains unknown for the present.

  • The Heroes’ description of the object where Mimori’s signal is coming from is that of a black hole, and as they close the distance, it is possible to see the resemblance between this structure and Interstellar‘s Gargantua. While Hero Chapter did not have theoretical physicist Kip Thorne on board to provide guidance on what black holes might look like from closer up, physical cosmology is definitely not the focus of things in Hero Chapter and as such, would be counted as being outside the scope of discussion. With this in mind, the “black hole” in Hero Chapter is “similar enough” to Gargantua so that one cannot reasonably say that it is an incorrect depiction.

  • After Sonoko brings Yūna close enough to the portal while her friends fend off attacking Vertex, Yūna hops off and falls into the “event horizon”, where tidal forces place a severe strain on her shields, causing them to deplete. Before they completely run out, Yūna manages to cross the event horizon and enters the space where Mimori was seen in the previous episode. She finds herself under assault from an unknown entity (or entities), and shortly after, her spirit separates from her body.

  • In this state, Yūna manages to intercept Mimori’s memories, learning about how Mimori’s status allowed her to fulfil the role of both Hero and a shrine maiden who could be sacrificed to save their world. Mimori walks into the decision without consulting with her friends, and it turns out that she made the request to the Shinju directly to remove her friends’ memories of her so that they wouldn’t attempt to save her from her fate.

  • Given that Yūna and the others do remember, it seems that even the Shinju has limitations, rather similar to how the Matrix itself was limited by the fact that it was a system built on rules and as such, in the knowledge that the world was not real, rebels could perform superhuman feats. Presumably, Yūna and the others are aware to some extent that their world is a fabrication, allowing them to override some of the rules the Shinji have defined within their world.

  • Hero Chapter has so far left me with more questions than answer, and with its run limited to six episodes, there’s not a whole lot of real estate with which to properly explore what the Shinju and Taisha are about. I’m at a crossroads with respect to Hero Chapter: on one hand, the character dynamics have largely been Yūki Yūna is a Hero‘s main strength, but on the other, world-building would serve to improve audience understanding on what it is Yūna and the others are fighting for, making it easier to empathise with and root for them.

  • On sheer willpower alone, Yūna fights off excruciating pain and manages to pull Mimori from the mirror she’s held in. In doing so, she frees Mimori from her fate and inadvertently takes on this responsibility for herself, visually represented with the dead-looking black crystals fading from Mimori as Yūna’s body is covered in a glowing red light. The mirror-like object shatters and the portal disintegrates, allowing the others to recover both Yūna and Mimori. Presumably, this means that viewers will be able to see Mimori’s transformation sequences once again in all of their glory.

  • When Mimori comes to, it’s to the faces of her best friends. Relieved she’s alright, Sonoko explains to Mimori that the breach has been contained, and given the seeming ease in which this particular problem was resolved, the fact that it’s still early in the season means that there will certainly be a new disruption that follows. Perusing other discussions, I’ve heard Yūna is special the same way Reina Kousaka of Hibike! Euphonium is special: more specifically, Yūna is supposed to be this universe’s version of the Avatar, but instead of being able to bend all four elements, these individuals (dubbed “Yūna”) possess the a bit of the god’s powers. What this entails might be seen later in Hero Chapter.

  • With the Hero Club reunited in full since Hero Chapter began, Mimori is immensely grateful that everyone managed to remember her, and Fū remarks that each member of the club should share with one another any thoughts or concerns that they might have. Yūna’s mind immediately returns to letting the good times roll, but as the episode draws to a close, Yūna finds that she’s picked up the same curse mark that Mimori had. Some folks are quick to brand Yūna as a hypocrite for supposedly not informing the others of her situation despite having said for the group to share their troubles, but this is evidently a misinterpretation: Yūna only discovers it after she gets home and it was Fū who makes this statement, not Yūna.

  • I’m going to hazard a guess and say that this isn’t like the blackened toenail I’ve developed as a consequence of hiking a little too enthusiastically. This brings my talk to a close, and while those same folks making all of their assertions might tell me to git gud (apparently, this phrase all the rage these days and has nothing to do with GIT version control) by reading more, I remark that that’s not happening this weekend. DICE has given players a diabolical challenge for Battlefield 1 players: “get 300 shotgun kills before December 3 ends”. This unlocks the coup coup machete. At the time of writing, I’ve gotten 128 of the required 300, and foresee spending the rest of the weekend trying to get the remaining 172. This means all plans to play The Division and wrapping up Wolfenstein II‘s Übercommander missions will have to be shelved for now.

If Hero Chapter is structured similarly to Washio Sumi Chapter, then the remaining structure of Hero Chapter is reasonably straightforward: the upcoming episode would likely be a bit more lighthearted in nature to begin with, and things would gradually become more serious in the episodes leading up to the finale. This is the nature of the beast in Yūki Yūna is a Hero, and while it is likely that world-building is likely to be eschewed in favour of the abrupt swings between gentle everyday life and heart-wrenching moments amidst the chaos and madness of battle. With this being said, Yūki Yūna is a Hero tends to bring characters to the brink before invoking some form of deus ex machina to drive a happy ending: it’s still early to be considering whether or not this route will be taken. In the meantime, it looks like I will have to delve into the supplementary materials to learn more about the world in Yūki Yūna is a Hero if I do intend to do a more serious, less irreverent discussion. My lack of knowledge with the actual mechanics in their universe aside, this isn’t likely stopping me from speculating that Yūki Yūna is a Hero is set inside a simulated reality like that of The Matrix, or better yet, the Teenyverse as seen in Rick and Morty, which, if we assume to be true, would eliminate all of the complexity surrounding whatever rituals and entities that are present in Yūki Yūna is a Hero.

Spectacular Days- Yūki Yūna is a Hero: Hero Chapter First Episode Impressions and Review

“Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. We are today’s Hero Club! I only have one question. Where is Mimori Tōgō? You know where Mimori is? You know who she is? You know where I can find Mimori? I need to talk to her about something.” —The Joker, The Dark Knight

Life begins settling into a new routine after Yūna and the others return to their daily lives in the aftermath of their triumph over the Vertex. Sonoko transfers into their middle school, and immediately takes a liking to Yūna. However, both Sonoko and Yūna begin feeling as though something is missing; whether it be the fact that Itsuki originally partitions a cake made during home economics class into sixths, Sonoko subconsciously making three portions of noodles or a particular phrase impacting Yūna, it soon becomes clear that Mimori Tōgō has been absent from proceedings, forcibly removed from their memories. They recall that Mimori had longed to atone for her actions during the final battle, considering them inexcusable in light of the situation, and had taken up the mantle of a masked crime fighter to help out. Their memories return shortly after, but Mimori’s precise fate remains unknown to the others, and the camera cuts to a girl, who may or may not be Mimori, imprisoned in another dimension. Originally anticipated last week, Hero Chapter‘s first episode brings the sequel off to a flying start. With only a half-season’s worth of space to explore the narrative and detail what happens following the events of the first season, Hero Chapter wastes no time in establishing a new status quo that has materialised: Mimori’s fate is the focus, and unless I’m very much mistaken, the first challenge the Hero Club faces will be reuniting with Mimori given this first episode’s events.

The unique juxtaposition between the light-hearted and the dramatic had been an integral part of Yūki Yūna is a Hero. Therefore, it is unsurprising that much of the episode is given to the easy-going and hilarious antics that are central to the Hero Club. Sonoko feels right at home with Yūna and the others, partaking in jokes and initially drawing much awe from this generation of Heroes. Sonoko admits that she’s longed to live a normal life after being immobilised in the wake of engaging her Mankai on twenty occasions to save Mimori and the world. However, it seems that her friendly and playful manner has endured; from her enthusiasm in joining Yūna and the others in their play, to helping them study, Sonoko has fit right in. However, her initial presence also raises the question that remains on the audiences’ minds from the first moment the Hero Club is shown: where is Mimori at? While it’s a little surprising to see Yūna and the others blissfully unaware of this in the episode’s beginning, it turns out that each of Yūna, Karin, Fū, Itsuki and Sonoko are subconsciously aware that one of their number is misssing. Manifesting in subtle manners, this sense becomes stronger, and by the episode’s end, it’s quite apparent that Mimori’s absence is significant. At this point in time, episode titles for each instalment in Hero Chapter are available, giving some insight as to what future episodes entail, and my best guess is that audiences will have a chance to see what happened from Mimori’s perspective in the upcoming episode.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • It’s been a while since I’ve done episodic reviews, with last year’s Brave Witches being the last anime I followed in this format. Being an episodic review, this one (and the other upcoming five) has twenty screenshots, and I remark that this is probably one of the first Hero Chapter talks out there, coming ahead even of Random Curiosity. I’ve chosen not to do episodic reviews for Washio Sumi Chapter, since I covered all three movies previously, and as such, I had a bit of open time in this month’s first half. I ended up capitalising on that time to play through Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, and looking back at my journey, it was well worth the price of admissions – aside from just being a good game in general, the start of December is looking quite busy.

  • It’s amusing that Sonoko and Yūna get along with one another so well, and par the course for an episode out of Yūki Yūna is a Hero, the opening moments are filled to the brim with amusing facial expressions, comedy and antics worthy of Pure Pwnage. It seems quite a world away from the suffering that Heroes experience from fighting in a system whose mechanics are not fully explained to them, and the first episode opens with the girls performing a play for kindergarten students, as they’ve done previously.

  • Fū was once an excellent student, but the stresses caused her grades to plummet. Sonoko is helping her study and prepare for the transition into high school; they’re seen working on matrix operations with complex numbers (described by the expression a+bi, for real numbers a and b, plus the imaginary i being the solution of the expression x² = -1). Despite nailing that course when I was an undergraduate student, I’ve not done linear algebra or matrix operations for quite some time, much less linear algebra on matrices with imaginary values, and so, I’m thankful that Hero Chapter only mentions these in passing.

  • In the opening episode to Hero Chapter, Karin and Fū tie for the category of most “funny faces made”; Karin is reacting to the fact that Sonoko practises ventriloquism with a stuffed animal here. While seemingly out of place, it’s worth remembering that everyone in Hero Chapter is of middle school age. Even adults have stuffed animals that they’re fond of, and while the biochemical mechanism isn’t well-characterised, some studies suggest that it’s a form of essentialism, where objects can have additional attributes, such as memories and emotions, associated with them. Similarly, the tactile feedback stuffed animals give evoke memories and feelings of care and nurture; our fondness for stuffed animals is shared by other mammals, as well.

  • After a baseball game, Karin and Yūna return home, sharing their enjoyment of the day’s events and complimenting one another on their performance. Yūna’s life philosophy is that “You’re likely to succeed if you try”, and it’s the fifth tenant of the Hero Club. The Hero Club’s tenants are similar to my karate club’s dōjō kun, where we have five tenants as well. We recite them in Japanese before the start of class and once more in Cantonese at the end of class. When Yūna spots a girl in a wheelchair, she pauses, evidently remembering Mimori.

  • Even only a handful of minutes into the episode, Mimori’s absence is noticeable, and it is quite striking that even Yūna does not seem to be overly concerned that Mimori isn’t around, especially considering their promise to never forget one another. Here, Itsuki brings cake from her home economics class to share with the others.

  • It’s been quite some time since I baked things for a home economics class, this would have been in middle school, where I made a banana bread in my first practical class, and we eventually reached cookies and cheesecake. I’ve never really been too unskillful with basic baking, since it’s a simple matter of properly mixing the right quantities of ingredients together and then sticking the results in the oven for a period of time. Of course, one can’t subsist on cake and pastries alone, so in subsequent years, I took cooking classes so as to better prepare meats and vegetables.

  • At present, I would say that I’m passable at cooking: my cooking certainly hasn’t killed or injured anyone, which is a good sign, but I’m a bit slower at chopping vegetables and stripping excess fat from meat. One of my goals in the upcoming year is to cook more so I can be more proficient. Back in Hero Chapter, Itsuki gets a positive result from her friends, who enjoy her cake. Following Yūna’s reaction to a wheelchair, Itsuki suddenly wonders why she’d made six slices rather than five, and while Sonoko’s evidently superior math allows her to divide up the final slice, it’s another sign that that Mimori’s absence is troubling.

  • The Great Bridge was destroyed during the battle when Sonoko engaged her Mankai to take on an increasing number of Vertex during Washio Sumi Chapter‘s final moments in the name of protecting Mimori and everyone’s memories alive. The exertion leaves her catatonic and bed-ridden, with the miracle at the end of Yūki Yūna is a Hero fully restoring her functions. However, the bridge remains destroyed, and a war memorial has been erected at the site to remember those who died during Vertex attacks.

  • Prior to her first play with the Hero Club, Sonoko visits the memorial where Gin’s headstone is located. Her death in Washio Sumi Chapter‘s second act was a particularly difficult one that forced the Taisha to update their system. Like all revisions, the changes brought new advantages and disadvantages that drove Fū and Mimiori over the edge in season one. The sheer number of tombstones here could be a grim and somewhat macabre reminder of just how lethal the vertex are.

  • When Sonoko is absent, the Hero Club considers postponing the day’s performance, especially in light of the sense of unease that Yūna feels. However, when the instructor of the kindergarten class appears, Yūna decides to proceed with the performance, speaking of her commitment to the Hero Club and responsibilities. It’s an admirable trait, and in conjunction with her sense of integrity and perseverance, Yūna is a capable Hero who looks after both her teammates and the objective.

  • The Hero Club’s plays are highly enjoyed by both children and parents alike; their activities are diverse and varied, ranging from helping out at charity events and volunteering to entertaining others. When first introduced in Yūki Yūna is a Hero, the Hero club’s everyday activities belied its true purpose. Here, Fū plays the role of Satan, while Yuūna is the hero who stands up against evil even as her list of allies grows thin. A line in the play causes Yūna to remember what Mimori said to her earlier, and overcome with emotion, Yūna finds herself in tears, unable to continue with the play.

  • Sonoko arrives mid-play; of the Heroes present, she remembers Mimori and works out what Yūna is feeling. Yūna herself earlier had a flashback to a conversation that she shared with Mimori where Mimori made a promise to a comatose Yūna to be together forever.

  • A glance at the calendar shows that Hero Chapter‘s first episode was originally expected to release last week, but a recap episode intended to help viewers reacquaint themselves with the first season was shown instead, leading folks to wonder if Hero Chapter would only consist of five episodes. This is not the case: looking through materials show that there will be six episodes to Hero Chapter. We’re now a month away from Christmas now, and it’s been a bit of a rough week for me. I’m glad it’s the weekend, which will give me a bit of time to recover, regroup and return to work on Monday to take on the new challenges that have arisen.

  • Because this post is about Hero Chapter, I won’t go into more details pertaining to what happened except that I wholeheartedly hate folks who pretend to know more than they do, can’t actually get the job done when the moment calls for it, and have the audacity to look down on others in spite of their own shortcomings. It’s a consolation that we won’t be seeing this particular individual again. Returning to Hero Chapter, Sonoko and Yūna share the truth with the others to bring everyone into the loop.

  • The body language, facial expressions and camera placement illustrate the sort of pain and corresponding courage that Sonoko and Yūna have for sharing their knowledge with Itsuki, Fū and Karin. The truth can be difficult to express at times, but time and time again, being truthful is important, saving critical time and enabling issues to be properly addressed rather than being dismissed and allowing them to grow into unmanageable problems.

  • Sonoko’s appearance is to Mimori and Yūna’s pleasant surprise: Yūna is overjoyed to be meeting one of the most prolific Heroes of all time, while Mimori is reuniting with an old friend she’d forgotten about. After a theatricality-filled entrance and introductions, Sonoko continues to refer to Mimori as Washi, her nickname derived from her old name Sumi Washio. When the final act to Washio Sumi Chapter concluded, I said that I would stick with the convention of referring to Sumi as Mimori.

  • Through the flashback, it is suggested that shortly after the events of the first season, everyone returned to their everyday lives together, but at some point, Mimori was removed from the proceedings, and everyone’s memories were imperfectly modified. This suggests that the Taisha, whatever their capabilities might be, have limitations, and while seemingly trivial for now, it could return later this season.

  • Yūna’s naïveté is one of her more endearing qualities, and when the club brings in a certain “National Defense Mask”, they learn that Mimori is trying to step up her game and recompense for her actions during the first season’s climax. Yūna seems blissfully unaware that this individual is really Mimori. It’s interesting that shortly after this incident is discussed, the flashback draws to a close, and the scene transitions into another dimension or universe, where a young girl is subdued and held amidst flames.

  • Some folks believe that, it this is Mimori, it’s a warranted punishment for Yūna, while others have better argued that Yūna’s actions were justified and well-chosen. I wasn’t around to see discussions for Yūki Yūna is a Hero‘s first season, but it looks like some are letting their emotions get the better of their judgement already in Hero Chapter. It’s still early in the game to be passing judgement on the characters, and so, with the first episode in the books, it’s onwards to the next episode. In the meantime, I’m going to aim to finish Wolfenstein II and also get a ways into The Division, which I picked up earlier this week during the Steam Black Friday sale.

I found myself quite impressed with Washio Sumi Chapter when the movies were screened earlier this year, despite the lack of world-building with respect to why the Vertex and Heroes exist to begin with. While the first episode of Hero Chapter does not cover this, I’m nonetheless going to give this sequel the benefit of the doubt and remain optimistic that there will be some explanation of what drives their world. The fact that Mimori is imprisoned in some alternate dimension suggests that Yūna and the others might finally be able to learn more about this conflict: Yūki Yūna is a Hero has always been solid from a thematic perspective, being quite clear in what messages that Yūna and the Hero Club’s experiences are intended to convey, but in spite of their fascinating world, audiences who’ve only seen the anime tend to be shafted as far as background information is concerned. If omitted, this diminishes the strength of the themes that Yūki Yūna is a Hero is aiming to present to viewers; not knowing more about the world that the Heroes are fighting to protect takes away from the urgency of their fight. This is the importance of the world-building, to help audiences understand and develop some connection to the world that lets them appreciate what about Yūki’s world that is worth fighting for. With this being said, if Hero Chapter chooses to go in a different direction and the execution is satisfactory, I wouldn’t hold it against Hero Chapter.

Yūki Yūna is a Hero: Full Series Review and Recommendation

“Few things in the world are more powerful than a positive push. A smile. A world of optimism and hope. A ‘you can do it’ when things are tough.” —Richard M. DeVos

Yūna Yūki is a member of her middle school’s Hero Club, devoted towards lending a helping hand to all who require it. When mysterious entities known as the Vertex appear, Yūna and her friends wield the power of a Hero in order to defeat these enemies and protect the Divine Tree at their behest of the Taisha, their benefactors. However, the Hero system has a lethal trade-off, and as the Hero Club continues engaging the Vertex, they begin losing body functions as a result of awakening their powers. Faced with the prospect of fighting for the Greater Good at their own expense, Yūna and her friends’s predicament drives the narrative behind Yūki Yūna is a Hero (Japanese title: Yūki Yūna wa Yūsha de Aru): this is a magical girl series released back during 2014’s fall season and shares numerous similarities with Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Among these similarities include a terrible truth about the system the heroes are fighting to protect, the characters’ temperaments and their portrayal as being alone in their struggles, the concept of fighting enemies in an extra-dimensional space and even elements in the soundtrack. Yūki Yūna is a Hero exists in the shadow of Madoka Magica, and although the series’ merits are contentious owing to the numerous elements shared, Yūki Yūna is a Hero manages to differentiate itself from Madoka Magica with respect to its central thematic element.

In comparison with Madoka Magica‘s magical girls, Yūki Yūna is a Hero‘s heroes are chosen by the entity known only as the Taisha based on their amplitude. Yūna, Mimori, Fū, Itsuki and Karin are heroes as a consequence of a decision that they have no part in, and this difference sets Yūki Yūna is a Hero apart from Madoka Magica, where the girls take on the role and responsibilities of a magical girl because there was something they desired enough to give up their life for it. The singular problem of choice is thus stripped away from the girls in Yūki Yūna is a Hero: the anime explores how individuals might react to an undesirable truth in the knowledge that they never had a choice to begin with, and consequently, as Yūki Yūna is a Hero progresses, the actions that Fū and ultimately, Mimori undertake imply that in situations where individuals are drafted into a role without knowing the full picture will almost certainly experience considerable difficulty in accepting the reality when it becomes available. Similar points are brought up in Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Harry constantly is haunted by how much Dumbledore had kept from him, and while Dumbledore held his secrets ostensibly in the name of keeping Harry safe, this also becomes a liability when Harry sets out to destroy Voldemort’s Horcruxes. In both cases, the appropriate course of action is a compromise, to let individuals know enough of the picture to carry out their task, but not disclose all details as to impede their progress. The Taisha very nearly become undone when Mimori is overwhelmed by the truth, and given their circumstances, Mimori and Fū’s responses are plausible reactions.

By removing the option of choice presented in Madoka Magica, Yūki Yūna is a Hero illustrates what happens in a system built on information hiding, but further suggests that people are strong: it’s ultimately Yūna’s belief in what she feels is right, and her ability to protect her friends, that allow her to annihilate the Vertexes and all threats to their world. In contrast with Madoka Magica, which insists that efforts and hope must give way to despair, Yūki Yūna is a Hero aims to present the opposite, showing that despair and failure is overcome when individuals with strong enough bonds and conviction strive to make a difference. There are no elements of Nihilism in Yūki Yūna is a Hero, and self-sacrifice is not painted as a preferable option. Paired with the fact that Yūna and her friends manage to make the most of things despite fighting a war they never chose to participate in, Yūki Yūna is a Hero winds up being more optimistic in nature than Madoka Magica. Some individuals regard this as a failure in Yūki Yūna is a Hero, suggesting that self-sacrifice is a heroic attribute in and of itself (by this logic, to shy away from self-sacrifice is to renege on what being a hero means, and this is completely false). However, this assumption is incomplete, failing to account for intent in a hero’s actions. It is this intent, the will to make a difference for the betterment of others, and the acceptance that some sacrifice will be required, that defines a hero. Like Harry Potter in The Deathly Hallows, who intended to die to Voldemort and spare his friends, Yūna is prepared to do what is necessary with the aim of saving her friends. This determination and resolve makes Yūna a genuine hero worthy of considering herself thus. When everything is said and done, the experience that Yūki Yūna is a Hero confers on audiences is a decidedly different one than that of Madoka Magica: it is not to say that one is intrinsically better than the other, but rather, that each magical girl anime present a different take on what life as a magical girl is like.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The last time I did a recommendation about a mahou shoujo anime was three years ago, shortly after I had finished Puella Magi Madoka Magica. I find Yūki Yūna is a Hero to be a fine anime for applying a slightly different spin on Madoka Magica to present the alternate idea that optimism and hope is viable even in worlds where the protagonists are dealt a particularly poor hand.

  • So, to continue in the tradition of recommendation posts about magical girls, this one is also formatted similarly, featuring a slightly larger collection of screenshots (thirty) and their usual complement of figure captions. One aspect of Yūki Yūna is a Hero that is distinct from Madoka Magica are the designs of the opponents and alternate dimensions where the protagonists fight. Whereas Madoka Magica relies heavily on imagery that has seen numerous fans analyse for the Witches’ backgrounds and philosophical value, the dimensions and enemies of Yūki Yūna is a Hero are more abstract in nature.

  • Fū is the de facto leader of the Hero Club, offering support and guidance to the other members as they go about their everyday activities. She fights with a broadsword in combat, and similar to Mami Tomoe, she’s reasonably well-versed with the fundamentals of the Hero System and combat, fulfilling the role of a senior the others can rally around. The Hero System that powers the girls’ equipment, along with any communications from the Taisha, are run on smart phones as apps, and while it’s a clever sign of the times, their use also means that Yūki Yūna is a Hero could become quite dated if communications technology ever moves away from smart phones.

  • If and when I’m asked, Mimori Tōgō is my favourite character: she’s most similar to Homura Akemi of Madoka Magica in appearance and manner, choosing to make her own decisions after researching any given topic to the best of her ability. This forms the basis for her nationalistic tendencies and motivation for fighting the vertices. There is one additional aspect about Mimori that leads her to claim the position of being my favourite character, and there are several screenshots in this post that should provide the justification for why this is.

  • Karin joins the Hero Club, ostensibly to keep an eye on the other Heroes and monitor their combat proficiency. With the most experience of anyone in the Hero Club, her primary weapons are a pair of katana swords; Karin fulfills a similar role to that of Kyōko Sakura and even share a similar character development path, opening up to the other characters at Yūna’s persistent attempts to befriend her and bring her close to the group.

  • Madoka Magica and Yūki Yūna is a Hero differ slightly in how they handle the depiction of their respective worlds: in the former, the world at large becomes increasingly cold and detached relative to the central cast as the girls become more entangled on the implications of being a magical girl, but in Yūki Yūna is a Hero, the girls continue to be a part of their world even as they continue fighting the vertices that are encountered. This particular aspect is probably meant to hint at the idea that becoming removed or withdrawn in the face of adversity is probably one of the reasons why the magical girls in Madoka Magica fell prior to Madoka’s sacrifice.

  • While Karin takes some time to warm up to Yūki and her friends, there are subtle signs even early on, that she’s begun to accept Yūki and the others. Here, they celebrate Karin’s birthday; visible on the table are cakes and sweets that are common to birthdays. I suddenly realise that I’ve never celebrated my birthday before with friends; all of my birthdays have been celebrated with family, and this year, I returned to Big T’s BBQ and Smokehouse to take on the ribs-and-half-chicken dinner. I enjoyed every bite of the St. Louis maple bourbon ribs, smoked half-chicken, cornbread, steamed vegetables and fries, but this is about as much food as I can realistically finish in one sitting.

  • In the downtime between taking on the Vertices (the enemy leviathans are singly known as “Vertex”), the Hero Club enjoys an outing where they partake in Karaoke. The fourth episode deals with Itsuki and her shyness preventing her from performing well on a music exam. She’s shown to have a great singing voice, and with encouragement from Fū and the others, she practises to ensure that she performs her best on exam day.

  • This practise pays off, and it turns out Itsuki’s aced her exam. With all the other characters having a counterpart from Madoka Magica, Itsuki is unique in that she does not resemble Sayaka to any capacity, being a soft-spoken girl who greatly admires her sister, enjoys reading fortunes with her Tarot cards and fights with magical vines in combat. After this exam, Itsuki sets her sights on performing for others and participates in an audition of sorts.

  • Prone position is one of the better stances for sniping, since one can absorb the recoil more easily , although Mimori’s assets may make it difficult for her to lie flat on the ground. Fielding ranged weapons in combat, Mimori wields a long range rifle, two pistols and has access to remote funnels, as well. Her transformation sequence is surprisingly fun to watch: a challenge I issue to readers is to see the minimum number of iterations that pass before one takes their eyes off the GIF.

  • The mankai form (“full bloom”) that heroes take allows them to wield an extraordinary amount of firepower in combat for short periods of time after they’ve taken sufficient damage or expended a certain amount of energy (similar to the Revenge or Super gauges in Street Fighter IV). The tradeoff for this power is that the Hero loses a bodily function permanently, since the power comes directly from the gods.

  • I wondered how well Hiroyuki Sawano’s themes from Gundam Unicorn would work with the Heroes activating their Mankai systems for the first time, and found the answer was “remarkably well”. Despite the initial similarities to the NT-D of Gundam Unicorn, the Mankai system is much more difficult to control or master, coming at an extreme cost to the user.

  • One of the more notable aspects of Yūki Yūna is a Hero is the solid presence of optimism and humour even in light of the aftermath of the girls’ battle with the last of the Vertices. As a result of using their Mankai, Yūna loses her taste, Mimori suffers from hearing loss in her left ear, Fū loses sight in her left eye, and Itsuki becomes mute. In spite of this, everyone is in high spirits for having beaten the last of their enemy and looks forward to a speedy recovery.

  • I remarked that the school rooftop in Madoka Magica represented the distance and uncertainty associated with being a magical girl in that universe, but in Yūki Yūna is a Hero, the girls hang out up here during their breaks, where they share various conversations in a much more cordial manner. Here, everyone is looking forwards to some well-earned R & R following the successful completion of their assignment.

  • Following their latest mission, the Taisha finance an all-expenses paid vacation for the Heroes. Fū and Itsuki enjoy some shaved ice on the beaches as their vacation begins in earnest, with traditional beach-going activities, such as swimming, watermelon-smashing and sand castle-building, coming out in full force. This episode marks the halfway point for the narrative in Yūki Yūna is a Hero, resembling the halfway point shift in Alien: Isolation where, after the Xenomorph is ejected into the void of space, players need only deal with hostile androids.

  • In Cancún, the turquoise waters averages 26°C – 29°C; it is warm enough to feel like bathwater and is incredibly pleasant to wade through and swim in. Beaches in the southern regions of Japan attain similar temperatures and would yield an equally comfortable experience, giving Mimori and the others no problems in relaxing. This stands in stark contrast with the 11°C or so for beaches in Vancouver; at these temperatures, swimming for long periods without a wetsuit could grow uncomfortable for the uninitiated.

  • Besides their accommodations, the Taisha have also arranged for exquisite cuisine to be prepared for Yūna and the others: crab, lobster and Kobe beef appear to be on their evening menu here. Seafood in the Prairie provinces is unsurprisingly expensive owing to the cost of transportation, and ever since experiencing fresh lobster in Boston a few years ago while travelling the Eastern Seaboard, I’ve longed to visit the Maritime Provinces to experience lobster and other seafoods.

  • For the readers, here is the fourth “reason” why Mimori occupies the throne as my favourite character. I assure readers that this will be the last of such images: Yūki Yūna is a Hero switches to a more serious side after the eighth episode, which deals with the girls’ reactions to the revelation that their gods are acting for the Greater Good at their expense.  This particular aspect of Yūki Yūna is a Hero became a polarising element, with at least one individual feeling “insulted” that Mimiori’s actions appear inconsistent with her establishment as someone who meticulously researches things.

  • The individual in question is demanding that the authors hand them Yūki Yūna is a Hero‘s main theme on a silver plate, claiming that elements, such as why Mimori chooses to fight against the others and why a system where recovery of lost body functions is purportedly impossible is reverted, are “unattended”. In response to this, I remark that Mimori is fourteen, an age where the frontal lobes have not fully matured yet to make the same decisions as adults. She reaches a particular conclusion through reasoning based on her experiences and while her decision may not completely be rational to viewers, applying an empathetic outlook will find that through Mimori’s eyes, her decision makes some sense.

  • Karin and Yūki engage a Vertex together once it’s shown that new enemies have arisen, more than the initial twelve the Heroes had assumed to exist. Concerning the second point about how the Gods can turn the system around, this can be boiled down to the fact that the Heroes are dealing with Gods who can perform miracles, such as healing mortals. As it stands, it is quite unreasonable to expect that a story be consistently forwards all the time,

  • Following their latest showdown against the Vertex, Mimori and Yūki meet Sonoko, a Hero whose frequent use of the Mankai deprives her of mobility. She explains that the Taisha work under the Shinju, deities that aim to preserve humanity for reasons unknown, and Mimori later learns that the “defeated” Vertices are constantly being regenerated in an endless cycle that will eventually see the Heroes reach a similar state as Sonoko.

  • After Fū learns that their disabilities are permanent, she is pushed over the edge by the knowledge that Itsuki will never be able to fulfill her dream of becoming a singer and seeks to annihilate the Taisha on her own, wrought with guilt at having brought everyone into this mess. She engages Karin here, and it takes a bit of effort from Yūki and the others to convince her that they have no regrets for joining the Hero Club.

  • Curiously enough, the tenth episode of Yūki Yūna is a Hero is functionally identical to the tenth episode of Madoka Magica in objective, telling Mimori’s story in flashback and explaining where she’s coming from in order to explain why she’s about to carry out the actions that she does. Some viewers believe that the sudden inclusion of all of these elements “forces” drama in a bid to engage the viewer’s pathos, being “cheap” and “manipulative”. However, this is not a point that can be held against Yūki Yūna is a Hero: the anime as a whole aims to show the opposite message of Madoka Magica in that being together is how individuals can overcome seemingly overwhelming adversity.

  • This is why Mimori is depicted as attempting to make the decision of ending the world on her own, and why it is Yūki and the others who convince her otherwise. Here, Karin engages no fewer than five Verticies on her own, engaging the NT-D Mankai in order to defeat them more quickly at great personal cost. By this point in time, Karin’s completely embraced the Hero Club’s five core tenants and is fighting for something precious to her. While I would have included a pantsu screenshot here, so chaotic were the angles, the more serious tenour of Yūki Yūna is a Hero‘s second half means that would be quite unnecessary.

  • Repeated use of her Mankai costs Karin her sight, hearing and right limbs, prompting Yūki to enter the fray and bring an end to the madness. Concerning the sort of madness that I’ve heard surrounding discussions of Yūki Yūna is a Hero, it appears that it’s limited to only a handful of individuals who, to use an idiom, missed the forest for the trees. Thus, while the ending comes across as unclear and ambiguous for them, I find that it’s actually reasonably clear what Yūki Yūna is a Hero is about. For that, Yūki Yūna is a Hero is hardly a “full-fledged failure”.

  • Blue-on-blue combat occurs as Fū tries to stop Mimori from realising her plans, but Mimori is willing to resort to any means of ending everyone’s suffering by bringing about the end of their world, eventually removing Fū from the combat. This leaves Yūna the only Hero left to stop her, and taking a leaf from Junko’s advice to Madoka about doing something out of the ordinary to stop a friend from making a mistake, Yūna closes the distance and decks Mimori in the face, before sorting things out through talk rather than force.

  • While I found the themes and message in Yūki Yūna is a Hero to be acceptably presented, I acknowledge that it can be a little difficult to ascertain what they are. However, there is one review out there that demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of what it means to be a hero and misses the entire point of Yūki Yūna is a Hero. The claims are as follows:

The problem here is that Yuki Yuna is a Hero wants to have its cake and eat it too; it advocates heroism, repeatedly pronouncing the tenets of the Hero Club as if they were the Buddha’s Five Precepts, but it denounces self-sacrifice. Puella Magi Madoka Magica flagrantly thumbs its nose at the law of physics that says energy cannot be created or destroyed, but it understands the deeper truth that this law of physics embodies, that nothing comes from nothing, that an effect cannot be greater than its cause, that everything in the real world has costs and benefits:  Madoka is able to save the world by self-sacrifice, and her self-sacrifice is only possible because of what Homura has already done for her. Outlandish as the story is, this reflects reality—a hero can change the world, but he cannot bring benefits into being with no cost, because nothing comes from nothing. Out of what can a hero possibly make a better world, except his sacrifices?  This principle is so fundamental that story structure demands it: we expect the conclusion of a story to arise out of what has gone before, and when it does not, we balk at it. Thus the ending of Yuki Yuna falls flat because its underlying message is wrong.  In the end, Yuki Yuna is not so much a Hero as she is a Deus ex machina, and of a particularly blatant variety. The show intends to praise heroism, but instead inadvertently makes light of it because it shies from what heroism demands.

  • By this logic, if a hero does not sacrifice themselves totally for their cause, they are not a hero. This contradicts the underlying definition of a hero and does not reflect reality: a hero is an individual who sacrifices at least some of their personal concerns or values for a cause. Yūna, aware of what her continued fighting entails, decides to accept them in exchange for her friends’ safety. This is consistent with the definition of a hero. Similarly, the claim that Madoka Magica succeeds where Yūki Yūna is a Hero fails is completely false; Madoka’s total sacrifice, though creating a better world in the short term, ultimately leaves her unable to prevent and precipitates Homura from rebuilding the universe again for her own visions of protecting Madoka in Rebellion Story, undermining Madoka’s sacrifice completely (and with it, the entire comparison).

  • Even supposing that the misconceptions that a hero necessarily must experience the consequences self-sacrifice to be of any worth holds true, the statement fails to account for intent. Yūna decides to place her own health on the line with the intent of saving Mimori, Fū, Itsuki, Karin and their world. This choice is what makes Yūna a hero, and that she later recovers from her coma is merely a bonus, suggesting that not all sacrifices need to have permanent consequences. Far from the misconception that “the underlying message is wrong”,  Yūki Yūna is a Hero comes through successfully with its message and paints a more optimistic, neither better nor worse, alternate message to that of Madoka Magica.

  • Ultimately, Yūna’s sacrifice results in a coma that she recovers from, and similarly, the other heroes recover from their injuries, as well. The rationalisations of the Taisha and Shinju are not expressed to viewers presumably because they would be beyond our comprehension. Considering their status as Gods, this is not unreasonable. There is one limitation in Yūki Yūna is a Hero that is not so easily explained, and that lies with the aftermath of Yūna’s actions; the girls now know that their world is a sham, being similar to what would happen if Neo had taken the Blue pill that Morpheus offered, with the exception that the Blue pill did not wipe one’s memories.

  • With this caveat in mind, I find that the idea of the girls’ returning to their routine and living every day to their fullest, even in light of this knowledge that the world sucks, to be an appropriate one. People find the most meaning in their lives when they learn to make the most of their situation. Yūki Yūna is a Hero imparts the message that life can be lived with an optimistic outlook, and this brings this review to a close. I note that my perspectives on Yūki Yūna is a Hero mirrors my own outlooks on life. Not everyone will share this belief, and it’s quite acceptable to explain the merits of other viewpoints in the comments provided the discussion focusses on the ideas themselves.

Yūki Yūna is a Hero will likely continue to remain in the shadows of Madoka Magica, but the anime itself represents a solid anti-thesis and complement to Madoka Magica, making it worth watching. Thus, my final verdict is that this anime earns a recommendation for fans of the magical girl genre or those who greatly enjoyed Madoka Magica. While not all of the charm from Madoka Magica carries over to Yūki Yūna is a Hero, the different take on things is sufficient to merit watching. For fans whose interest lie outside of the genre, Yūki Yūna is a Hero can be worth watching, as well: enough of the details of this world are presented so that the narrative is self-contained (leaving only a few minute holes), leaving the decision of watching down to personal preference. From a technical perspective, Yūki Yūna is a Hero remains of a generally high quality with respect to both its animation and aural aspects. I certainly enjoyed watching Yūki Yūna is a Hero and seeing where the theme would end up: I’ve never been particularly fond of the belief that “grimdark” confers additional weight or value to a story per se, and it is refreshing to see Yūki Yūna is a Hero remind audiences that making the most of one’s circumstances with an optimistic outlook results in a worthwhile existence.