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Yūki Yūna is a Hero: The Great Mankai Chapter- Whole-Series Review and Reflection

“Being at ease with not knowing is crucial for answers to come to you.” –Eckhart Tolle

On their assignment to retrieve the Shinjuu sapling, Mebuki’s team comes under attack from the Stardust, but they’re saved by Yūna and her team. During Christmas, Sonoko shows Yūna and the others an old diary titled the “Hero Annals”, which provide a record of the earliest Heroes’ exploits: Wakaba Nogi, Yūna Takashima, Tamako Doi, Anzu Iyojima and Chikage Kori were the first group selected to defend from the Vertex’s arrival in 2018. Their team came under pressure from both the Vertex attacks and public opinion, and when Tamako and Anzu perish in combat, leading Yūna to go ballistic, Chikage begins losing her composure. She ends up attacking classmates, and during one operation, even turns her weapons on Wakaba, before being forcibly de-powered. However, Wakaba reveals that regardless of what happens, her intention had always been to look after everyone, Chikage included. In the end, Chikage is killed protecting Wakaba, but all mention of her is expunged from the official records. After Yūna Takeshima dies trying to fight off the Vertex, the records come to a close. Yūna herself becomes uneasy about the Taisha’s plans to sacrifice her to appease the gods, and the Sentinels are next assigned with the task of keeping the Vertex busy until the Shinkon Ceremony can be completed. Karin becomes distraught that she can do nothing for Yūna and comes to clash with Mebuki, but the pair end up encouraging one another and reconciling. On the day of the Shinkon Ceremony, the Sentinels provide fire support for a massive cannon intended to keep the Vertex at bay, and while all appears lost when members of the Taishas begin disappearing from the world, Mebuki manages to convince Aya to survive and live on. The cannon fires, and in conjunction with a concerted attack from the Heroes, Mimori manages to break through the barrier and reach Yūna, who ends up taking on the Shinjuu’s powers and wields them to strike down the Gods once and for all. In the aftermath, Sonoko explains that a part of the Heroes’ duties is also to help society recover. Although Sonoko envisions overthrowing the Taisha and managing the recovery efforts themselves, Itsuki convinces her there are other ways, and Sonoko ends up becoming a omikoshi to lead the Taisha. Four years later, Fū’s become a researcher, and Itsuki pursues a career in singing. Yūna and Minori begin venturing into Japan’s other islands in search of survivors while coordinating with Karin and Mebuki’s team. They affirm that so long as they have one another, anything is possible. In this way, The Great Mankai Chapter draws to a close, bringing Yūki Yūna is a Hero to an end and addressing questions that’ve been with me for the past four years.

Acting as an interquel of sorts for Hero Chapter, The Great Mankai Chapter strove to do something that had previously been absent in Yūki Yūna is a Hero‘s previous instalments. These earlier acts were so focused on Yūna and her team that much of the world in Yūki Yūna is a Hero remain largely unexplored, creating a disconnect between the heroes, and the system they were motivated to fight under in order to protect what was dear to them. However, here in The Great Mankai Chapter, viewers are given a bit more exposition. It is shown that the Hero Club’s efforts during the Shinkon Ceremony were supported by the Sentinels, and that Karin had regained her resolve by speaking with Mebuki. Similarly, through The Great Mankai Chapter‘s portrayal of Wakaba and Chikage’s experiences as the first Heroes, The Great Mankai Chapter shows what events lead up to the world that Yūna and her friends were fighting for. Three hundred years earlier, the Vertex’s arrival had brought humanity to the brink of destruction, and even contemporary measures like cruise missiles proved ineffectual. It was only through the formation of the Taisha, and their deal with a faction of the Gods sympathetic to humanity, where humanity was able to fight back, but even amidst the hope of survival, people’s doubts lingered, and the Taisha were forced into adopting increasingly desperate measures in an attempt to stave off total annihilation, in time becoming a corrupt and unyielding organisation whose only concern was achieving their goals, without a concern for those who served under them. However, with the miracle that Yūna had brought forth, and much of the Taisha discarding their physical bodies to join the gods, Sonoko spots an opportunity to change things, promising that she’ll do her best to ensure that humanity can continue to survive and coexist with the Taisha, at least until society is restored. Overall, The Great Mankai Chapter was meant to establish that the Taisha’s corruption and disregard for the girls’ well-being was not always thus; centuries of struggle created a system of complacency, and as such, no change would occur. However, where the opportunity now presents itself, Sonoko now spots a chance to at least improve the system so the Taisha can better serve society, rather than itself. There are parallels within reality, of once-noble systems succumbing to disorder and laziness, as well as of systems that can undergo reform against all odds: The Great Mankai Chapter thus aims to show that when the cogs in a machine are determined, and have awareness of what had occurred previously, this knowledge can be used to impart positive change.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • 2017’s Hero Chapter would’ve been the last time I wrote about Yūki Yūna is a Hero in full (excluding the Yūki Yūna is a Hero: Churutto! spin-off). Seeing Karin again reminds me of her love for strange supplements, and back during Hero Chapter‘s run, times were quite tough. At the time, the startup I was with had been entering discussions with a local supplements company to see if our software was something they’d be able to use to help users self-report on a given supplement’s efficacy. The founder ended up bringing one of the developers along to the pitch meeting, but this proved to be a mistake, since said developer flatly said one of the functions was something we didn’t have the capability to implement (where in fact, I would’ve been able to build and test said feature within a week). In the end, the deal fell through because of this developer’s attitude, who was summarily dismissed for incompetence.

  • I was glad to see the last of this developer; his tendencies meant meetings would often go nowhere as he lectured the remainder of us, and I remember watching Hero Chapter on my laptop rather than listening to his ramblings during said meetings. Getting rid of this individual was a win, and I remember that the day after, I enjoyed having the office to myself while watching the snow fall outside. The founder had assured me that 2018 would see us look up, and told me to enjoy my well-deserved winter break, during which I drove out to the mountains on a snowy day and visited my founder for a New Year’s Eve party before enjoying a 打邊爐 on the coldest day of 2017. However, despite this optimism we had entering the new year, the damage that developer had done left us in a very rough spot – we never did quite recover from this lost sale, and the company folded not more than a year later. Fast forwards four years, and the world’s become a very different place. My old start up is now a mere memory, but the skills and experiences I gained from these beginnings have accompanied me to the present.

  • When I began watching The Great Mankai Chapter, I had no idea what to expect, but as the episodes continued, it became clear that this series was about Mebuki’s contributions to ensuring Yūna and her team could finish their final assignment, as well as explore what led Yūna to give consent to participate in the Shinkon ceremony. With The Great Mankai Chapter in the books, many critical questions were answered. I’d long been wondering what the precise nature of Yūki Yūna is a Hero‘s universe was, and had been hopeful that Hero Chapter would provide these answers. The original Yūki Yūna is a Hero was entertaining and provided an interesting alternative to the messages shown in Madoka Magica, but unlike Madoka Magica, which firmly established how Witches and Magical Girls work, Yūki Yūna is a Hero was considerably more vague.

  • The biggest questions I had concerned the nature of the world in Yūki Yūna is a Hero: by having Sonoko and the others read the Hero Annals and learning of the first heroes, viewers are able to finally able to see how things came to be, giving me the answers I’d been seeking four years earlier. As it turns out, the Vertex appeared back in 2018 and defeated all conventional weaponry. The first Hero team consisted of Wakaba Nogi, Yūna Takashima, Tamako Doi, Anzu Iyojima and Chikage Kori; like the Heroes that came after them, the team’s members had varying backgrounds, and while Wakaba was dead serious and completely devoted to her duties, Yūna was much more spirited, friendly and approachable. Like Yūna Yūki, Yūna Takashima believed that effort was the key to success and defined herself by always picking herself up after every tumble.

  • However, at the opposite end of the spectrum was Chikage, who came from a very difficult background and saw an idol in Yūna. In the aftermath of the battle that claims Tamako and Anzu’s life, Chikage becomes enraged by netizens badmouthing her team and grows increasingly resentful of Wakaba. Her deteriorating stability was a combination of her own psyche coming under stress and her use of her ace-in-the-hole. Things eventually build to a point where she cuts down several classmates and injures them with her primary armaments before Wakaba steps in, and subsequently, Chikage is suspended from duty pending an assessment.

  • The battle that killed Tamako and Anzu also leaves Yūna injured, and here, Wakaba oversees Yūna as she undergoes physical therapy. Nothing seems to get Yūna down, and for Chikage, this is something that she’s come to deeply admire about Yūna. However, a lifetime of trouble means she’s unable to articulate herself to Yūna, and having now seen her story, the events of Churutto! make much more sense: my feelings of pathos for Chikage only deepens after seeing the spin-off portray the other Heroes sharing their udon with her. Since Chikage isn’t in the right state of mind, she sees Wakaba with Yūna and becomes convinced that Wakaba will take Yūna from her.

  • This culminates in Chikage attacking Wakaba during an operation against the Vertex using her ace-in-the-hole: Chikage is able to summon seven spirits that take her form that can continuously regenerate and press the offensive. The Heroes’ powers in Yūki Yūna is a Hero are similar to those of Madoka Magica in that they seem dependent on the individual’s personality traits, although there are key differences: the Incubators’ magic allows Magical Girls to acquire weapons and powers based on the sort of wish they had, whereas in Yūki Yūna is a Hero, the Taisha assign individuals with certain traits to become Heroes fulfilling a certain role.

  • Before Chikage can seriously harm Wakaba, the Taisha depower her, prompting Wakaba to change her priorities from survival to keeping Chikage alive. It turns out that despite her manner, Wakaba did indeed care about every Hero on her team, even if she did not express it. Shocked by this revelation, Chikage ends up saving Wakaba’s life by pushing her out of the day of an oncoming Stardust, and in the process, is grievously wounded. Chikage succumbs to her wounds, but not before reconciling with Wakaba, who is devastated by Chikage’s death.

  • The Taisha subsequently determine it will be necessary to expunge all mention of Chikage from the official records. Back during Hero Chapter‘s first episode, one reader had become curious to know what meaning an unmarked tombstone had. At the time, I speculated it might’ve been related to Mimori, who had been taken to act as a sacrifice, but with The Great Mankai Chapter, this tombstone presumably belongs to Chikage. I would have liked to convey this to said reader, but after another member of the blogging community, from a certain Lily Garden, had a falling out with me for reasons unknown, said reader followed suit in unfollowing this blog and blocking me.

  • This particular incident is disappointing to me, since the anime community I’m a part of is generally accommodating and welcoming, and I’d shared many meaningful conversations with both individuals earlier without trouble. I have no qualms about reconnecting with these individuals if they feel up to it. Back in The Great Mankai Chapter, after Chikage’s death, the remaining heroes visit her place and find her room totally destroyed; all of her possessions are shredded, and there are large chunks of drywall torn out of the walls. The imagery offers an insight into how Chikage was feeling, and seeing her room always made me feel uneasy.

  • The only item that survived was a handmade diploma that Wakaba had awarded to Chikage after they’d made it past training together. This shows how despite slowly losing her sanity as a consequence of both her ace-in-the-hole and from the social media comments casually disparaging the deaths of her allies, Chikage continued to remember who her friends were even in her darkest moments. It goes without saying that the Taisha’s designs for the first Hero system was a failure: although conferring Heroes with enough power to fight off the Vertex, it also came at an incredible cost, and even these powers were not enough to keep Heroes from falling in combat.

  • When asked to speak at a press conference, Wakaba deviates from her original statement and openly declares Chikage to have been a proper Hero. Wakaba’s boldness prompts the Taisha to at least give Chikage a proper burial where she’d previously been denied one, although her existence would continued to be denied. In fact, were it not for Wakaba recording these events in a private journal, it is likely that Chikage’s memory would’ve been lost to time.  In this way, the Hero Annals become a critical resource for Wakaba’s ancestors centuries later: Sonoko’s willingness to share their contents is what sets off the events in Hero Chapter‘s second half.

  • Even though the original team down to two Heroes, the Vertex are relentless in their assault. For two Heroes, the onslaught becomes too much; Yūna does her best to stop them, but the sheer numbers overwhelm her. Reading through the source documentation, Vertex are an amalgamation of Stardust, the small white blobs that can combine to form larger entities, but individually, can still consume humans quite readily. Because of their origins, Stardust are immune to all existing weapons; I imagine that the Heroes’ weapons are blessed by the earthly Gods and therefore possess the power to damage them, but beyond this, everything from cruise missiles to DU kinetic penetrators are useless.

  • The choice of weapon against a foe like the Stardust and Vertex would probably be Funnel-like weapons; these remote weapons hail from the Gundam universe and mount their own weapons, allowing a mobile suit to engage multiple targets simultaneously. Against swarms, they’d be the most viable weapon to deploy. However, I imagine that the Taisha are limited in what the Shinjuu can provide, limiting Heroes to highly powerful, but ultimately, single-target solutions. Swarms eventually do overwhelm Yūna, and she’s rendered immobile after a fierce attack. Even this is not enough to stop her: Yūna has plenty of spirit and manages to activate a hitherto unknown power, the Mankai, to briefly get back into the fight. With the Mankai, she takes out a Vertex in the process, but succumbs to her injuries shortly after.

  • The Taisha would subsequently adopt the Mankai system over the ace-in-the-hole approach: the latter drew power from past spirits and corrupted the users, while the former derives its power from the user’s own native energy to channel the Gods’ powers. The cost of the Mankai system was that extended use cost users their bodily functions. While the Taisha would incrementally improve the Hero System in an attempt to keep Heroes for alive longer, their learnings are steeped with the blood of previously fallen Heroes, leading some people in-universe to decry the Taisha as incompetent and even evil (which had tragic consequences for Chikage). This choice is a deliberate narrative element, meant to show that even the most well-meaning organisation can fall to complacency over time.

  • As to why such an organsation could allow humanity to survive for three centuries before Yūna Yūki’s team managed to affect more significant changes, the answer is simple enough: every Hero that the Taisha have selected fought for humanity with their best, and coupled with incremental changes the Taisha made to the Hero system, became increasingly effective over time, even if they did ultimately perish in combat. Back in the present, the revelation of Wakaba Nogi’s thoughts have a sobering effect on Yūna Yūki and the others, impacting their thoughts.

  • Besides Wakaba’s journal, Sonoko also finds a common garden hoe stored away. Although it’s been in the Nogi family’s possession for generations, for all intents and purposes, it’s just a regular gardening implement.. Hero Chapter had shown that Yūna had become increasingly isolated from her friends after receiving a cursed scar on her body: without anyone to talk to, Hero Chapter suggested that Yūna was going through a path where she began to believe that her sacrifice would be the only way to save the world, but The Great Mankai Chapter provides further clarification on how Yūna came to reach her decision.

  • In a dream, Yūna Yūki (left) meets Yūna Takeshima (right): the pair resemble one another greatly, right down to their preferred hair style and facial features. In fact, the only way to tell them apart is through their hair ribbons and hair clips. While Yūna Takeshima offers to replace Yūna Yūki for the Shinkon ceremony, the latter declines because she feels duty-bound to end everything. When Yūna Yūki ultimately decides to go through with things, the Sentinels are called upon to provide defense for the ceremony, although Mebuki grows suspicious that the Taisha refuse to explain why her memories of their previous duties were modified.

  • In Hero Chapter, Karin had been distressed by the fact that she and Yūna had been growing more distant, but by the time the Shinkon ceremony begins, Karin had recovered her old spirits. As it turns out, even Karin had grown frustrated with the Taisha, enough to consider beating the answers out of them. When she runs into Mebuki, Mebuki challenges Karin’s resolve, and the pair spar with nothing held back. The bout worries the other Sentinels, but in the end, a reinvigorated Karin thanks Mebuki for reminding her of what matters. She thus enters the ceremony, alongside the other members in the Hero Club, with the intent of stopping things through any measures necessary.

  • Although Mebuki has no idea what the primary objective of the Shinkon ceremony is, she nonetheless commands the Sentinels to do their utmost to ensure a successful operation. If memory serves, the Shinkon Ceremony was to marry Yūna to the Shinjuu, and this would in turn allow humanity to transcend their physical existence and become one with the Gods themselves. One of the challenges about Yūki Yūna is a Hero was the fact that there’s a lot going on at any given time, and viewers are kept in the dark to the same extent as Mebuki and her Sentinels. From a narrative perspective, this is meant to maintain tension, but the end result is that one cannot really anticipate what’s upcoming, and once something has unfolded, it can take a few moments to definitively make sense of what occurred.

  • During the Shinkon ceremony, the Sentinels and their superweapon come under heavy attack when the Stardusts attack en masse. The other priests and priestesses, deciding to ascend to the heavens rather than retain a mortal body, begin disappearing, and without the prayers to support the weapon, it begins to roll back, threatening their original mission. Fortunately, Mebuki is on station and manages Aya that the world is worth fighting for. Mebuki might not be a Hero, but her desire to live and make her own mark on the world translates into an unwavering determination to do what’s right. She’s the opposite of Chikage in this sense, and while she has a large competitive streak that she’s since learnt to manage, she otherwise holds the traits that Heroes hold, leading those around her and doing her utmost to keep everyone alive.

  • Thanks to fire support from the Sentinels and their own powers, the Hero Club manage to break through and reach the Shinjuu. Here, Mimori receives assistance from the spirits of previously fallen Heroes and punch through the barrier. Ultimately, Yūna gains access to the Shinjuu’s native power and uses it to destroy the celestial Gods’ instruments of terror. The immense effort causes the Shinjuu’s death, and in the aftermath, humanity is left to its own devices. When I finished watching Hero Chapter, I found it difficult to comprehend what had happened until I did a bit of additional reading to clarify the events. Once this clarification was in hand, the ending to Hero Chapter made more sense, and it was this knowledge that ultimately made The Great Mankai Chapter easier to follow.

  • Because The Great Mankai Chapter indicates that the Hero Club had support from Mebuki’s Sentinels and finally built out the Yūki Yūna is a Hero world out to a satisfactory fashion, Hero Chapter suddenly becomes much stronger: I originally assigned Hero Chapter a B+ grade, but the additional information from The Great Mankai Chapter means that Hero Chapter can be bumped to an A-; the messages are a little clearer now, and further to this, some closure is gained in that, after Yūna and the others succeed, their futures are also shown. While it’s a bit of an open ending, it is an uplifting one that shows a world where Yūna, Mimori, Fū, Itsuki, Karin and Sonoko are able to find happiness.

  • The Great Mankai Chapter is technically an extension of Hero Chapter, and in my books, inherits the updated score I’ve given to Hero Chapter. Speaking freely, The Great Mankai Chapter wasn’t a series I was expecting, and while I was admittedly a little lost early on, once I caught onto things, it became clear as to what The Great Mankai Chapter was aiming to accomplish. As Dewbond of Shallow Dives in Anime is fond of saying, it’s the series that we might not have found necessary, but now that we’ve got it, it becomes an indispensable part of things: in the case of The Great Mankai Chapter, questions I’ve had for the past four years are now addressed in a way that I find satisfactory.

  • While Hero Chapter had briefly shown instructor Aki taking pause after spotting Mimori and Sonoko paying their respects to the fallen, The Great Mankai Chapter continues with the scene – all three grieve for those who had given up their lives in the fight against the heavenly Gods. Initially portrayed as a strict instructor, Aki is actually very concerned for her students and ends up deciding to stay behind to look after those who chose to live on. She loses her right eye as a result of the ascendancy, and here, I’ll note that with the four years that have passed between now and when Hero Chapter aired, the notion of people becoming wheat during the Shinkon ceremony brought to mind the effects that occurred when Thanos utilised the Infinity Gauntlet during the events of Infinity War to bring balance to the universe.

  • The resulting peace still creates a bit of a divide in humanity’s remnants, and the Hero Club discusses what to do about the Taisha. Karin blushes furiously after learning that the hoe in Sonoko’s possession was in fact, an ordinary hoe, contrasting her beliefs that it was a legendary artefact rivalling Glamdring or Narsil in stature. While Sonoko is all for forcibly disbanding the Taisha, the hoe also symbolised how a Hero’s duty extended to beyond combat, and after the other members of the Hero Club hear her thoughts, they persuade Sonoko to work with the Taisha in order to help humanity recover. Sonoko ends up suggesting this to instructor Aki herself.

  • Four years later, Yūna and Mimori begin exploring Honshu to see what remains. Amidst the ruined cities, it’s hard to believe that three hundred years have elapsed in-universe; according to Alan Weisman’s The World Without Us, most wooden houses would have collapsed within five decades, while larger structures like concrete skyscrapers or bridges, would last about two centuries. It would only take a century for urban areas to be completely overgrown with vegetation. The portrayal in Yūki Yūna is a Hero is not entirely accurate to what the science states is the case, but for the purposes of fiction, this portrayal is satisfactory. While Mimori and Yūna scout ahead, Karin stays behind on a boat to guide them, and they exchange spirited banter during their excursions.

  • I still vividly recall how last year, I misread the moonrise charts and arrived an hour too early at that exact spot under similarly cold conditions. Seeing this particular moonrise had been something I’d wanted to do since last year, and since I’m moving in the new year, this likely represents the last time I’ll be able to watch something like this from that spot. A lot is going to be changing in the new year, and it’s going to be quite exciting ahead. For now, though, it’s still 2021, and that means I’m going to tend to the remaining posts I have left for this month: I’ve got a talk on Yakunara Mug Cup Mo‘s second season lined up for tomorrow, and after Christmas, I’ll focus on getting talk on PuraOre! and Halo Infinite‘s open areas written out. Because of production delays to 86 EIGHTY-SIX, I’ll write about that in the new year, once everything’s finished.

  • The Great Mankai Chapter still leaves viewers with an open ending, with Mimori and Yūna remarking that as long as they have one another, they’ll be able to make anything work out. This had previously allowed Yūki Yūna is a Hero to continue on with the story, but here in The Great Mankai Chapter, there is a sort of finality in how things are presented so that it feels unlikely that we’ll be returning. Because of everything that Mimori and Yūna have been through, viewers do have the confidence in the fact that the pair are prepared to handle whatever’s ahead, making this a suitable stopping point. It’s worth noting that, at this point in time, all of that focus on Mimori’s amble bust and shapely posterior, as the first season was wont to doing, is all but gone. This was to Hero Chapter and The Great Mankai Chapter‘s benefit: as the continuations show, there are other ways of lightening a moment.

Overall, The Great Mankai Chapter‘s most significant contribution to Yūki Yūna is a Hero is the fact that it fills in many of the lingering questions I had surrounding Hero Chapter and the nature of the world in Yūki Yūna is a Hero. The world once existed as what we are familiar with, but the heavenly gods, in their desire to annihilate humanity, created the Vertex and sent them to exterminate the world, swallowing up most of the known world and cutting off the island of Shikoku from the rest of the world. The earthly gods responded and gave humanity the Heroes, young women who would fight on behalf of humanity. To manage them, the Taisha was created. While the Heroes and Taisha both did their best, society’s faith in both waned, leading the Heroes to suffer as the Taisha implemented more drastic measures to defeat the seemingly-unbeatable Vertex. Over the years, a sort of status quo was reached, but by Yūna’s time, accumulated knowledge and particularly strong bonds of companionship would prove instrumental in breaking this status quo. The signifiance of Wakaba and Chikage’s story, beyond highlighting the doubt that Heroes faced from humanity, in addition to the threats the Vertex posed, was that it answers how the world reached its current state, and in doing so, it gives proper weight to the cause that Yūna and her friends were fighting for: the world is real beyond any doubt, and while most of humanity has indeed perished, there remains enough people around such that it is a worthwhile endeavour to defend who’s left, as well as set the stage for rebuilding. While The Great Mankai Chapter initially appeared extraneous to me (Hero Chapter had indicated that Yūna’s fight was over), after going through the series and seeing the Sentinels, as well as the first Heroes, gave context to what had happened in Hero Chapter, making this the series which satisfactorily answered the queries that remained on my mind when Hero Chapter finished four years earlier. Taken together, The Great Mankai Chapter becomes a very valuable resource for folks who are looking for answers that Hero Chapter had raised. Owing to where Yūki Yūna is a Hero concludes, I do not feel that a continuation would be appropriate: Yūna and her friends have far exceeded expectations in their duties, and it would be quite unfair to introduce new troubles into their world. However, because three centuries of history exists between the Vertex’s arrival and Yūna’s actions, the potential for spin-off stories is staggering: while I’m not confident that I would be game to write about every spin-off series that may appear in the future, I can say that Yūki Yūna is a Hero‘s greatest strength is how every effort is made to show the characters in gentle, humourous contexts so as to remind viewers that, no matter how bad things get, the joys of an ordinary daily life are worth fighting for.

Yūki Yūna is a Hero: The Great Mankai Chapter- Review and Impressions After Three

“The journey is never ending. There’s always gonna be growth, improvement, adversity; you just gotta take it all in and do what’s right, continue to grow, continue to live in the moment.” –Antonio Brown

After stopping the world from being consumed by shadow and flame, Yūna and her friends resume their lives with the Hero Club and participate in helping out around town with things ranging from playing in a band, to substituting for another team in an airsoft competition. While it appears as though peace has finally been attained, Mimori and Sonoko speak on how they’d forgotten about Gin despite their promise. Later, the Taisha reach out to Mimori with another request, leaving her shocked that there remains something to do: it turns out that a special task force, called the Sentinels, are in trouble: two years earlier, Mebuki Kusunoki and Yumiko Miroku were recruited for training, but ultimately, Karin was selected to be a Hero. The other candidates ended up being assigned to the Sentinels, whose assignment is to explore the world outside the barrier and participate in restoring the universe to its former state. During their first assignment, the task force comes under attack from the Stardust, and although they repel this, several Sentinels are overwhelmed and quit their posts, leaving the group short-handed. Mebuki ends up befriending a miko, Aya Kokudo, in the process, but is dismayed to learn that Aya is to be offered as a human sacrifice to appease the Shinju. Adding insult to injury, the sapling they’d planted to restore the world must now be retrieved, as the Shinju appears to be dying, leading Mebuki to conclude that the Sentinels were expendable. Here at the third season of Yūki Yūna is a Hero, three episodes show that an new storyline is being adapted into the animated form, dealing with the aftermath of Yūna’s deeds at the end of Hero Chapter: The Great Mankai Chapter indicates that although the threat to their world has abated for now, this world a shadow of its old form, and there is a desire to bring back what was, even if it means sacrificing the lives of youth to achieve this end.

Despite this being denoted as a Yūki Yūna is a Hero series, The Great Mankai Chapter‘s first three episodes have spent a considerably amount of time on Mebuki and the Sentinels so far, as they set about trying to lay down the groundwork for rebuilding their world. The shift in focus suggests that Yūna and her team will likely become a part of helping the Sentinels accomplish their assignment without any further casualties, and perhaps help Mebuki to understand that Hero or not, people can still make a difference regardless of their station. This has been something that was very prevalent in The Great Mankai Chapter; Mebuki is very stubborn and single-minded in her approach to things, and while she is a dedicated leader devoted to whatever task she’s assigned, she also holds both herself, and those around her, to almost unreasonable standards. These traits could be why she was never selected for a Hero, and much as how it took Karin some time to adjust to life with Yūna and the Hero Club, I imagine that a major part of The Great Mankai Chapter will deal with getting Mebuki to understand that teamwork is essential in any endeavour, especially one as complex and daunting as forging into unknown territories and attempting to revive the gods’ power so they can return their world to its original glory. At least, this is the direction that appears likely given what we’ve seen of The Great Mankai Chapter thus far: one of the aspects about Yūki Yūna is a Hero that I’ve always enjoyed is how the series pulls no punches and can always find ways to surprise viewers. While The Great Mankai Chapter is, strictly speaking, not a necessary continuation, I’m always game for more Yūki Yūna is a Hero because it could roll back the curtain on the the mysteries enveloping the world that Yūna and the others live in.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The last time I wrote about Yūki Yūna is a Hero was for the spin-of, Churutto, an endearing and lighthearted jaunt about the desire to craft the perfect bowl of Hero Udon, but the last time anything to do with Yūki Yūna is a Hero proper would’ve been early 2018, when I finished writing about Hero Chapter. While answering some questions I had about Yūna’s situation and resolving the problems the Heroes had been afflicted with, the series also left much unexplored, especially with respect to world-building.

  • Generally speaking, Yūki Yūna is a Hero‘s strong suit lies with its characters and their experiences, but where the series falls short is exposition and development of the world Yūna and her friends live in. What I do know of their world is derived from supplementary materials, which are similar what was seen in the J.R.R. Tolkien legendarium: after the world was created, there was a clash between two factions of deities, and the Shinju, the gods sympathetic to humanity, banded together and gave humans the means to resist the Vertex. It turns out that the Vertex were created by the faction hostile to humanity. At the end of Hero Chapter, the remaining gods granted Yūna the power destroy the flames threatening the human world and perished.

  • From this, it sounds like the world’s in an even worse state than it had been before, since the gods hostile to humanity still exist. However, out of the gates, The Great Mankai Chapter opens with the heroes partying it up and living life to the fullest; nothing seems amiss, and the Hero Club is back to doing what they do best. The events of The Great Mankai Chapter are set after the events of Hero Chapter, and while Fū’s presence threw more than a few viewers off, one can suppose that the events of The Great Mankai Chapter take place perhaps only a few weeks after Hero Chapter. Here, she tucks into a plate so vast, Karin remarks that it’s unbefitting of her.

  • The easy-go-lucky events of The Great Mankai Chapter are intended to re-establish the sort of things that the Hero Club would typically do. Here, the Hero Club participates in an airsoft match against another team after the original team they were slated to play was unable to make it. Although they are initially out-played, the moment that Yūna is “downed”, Mimori goes ballistic and single-handedly causes enough destruction to allow the Hero Club to scrape a win, all the while creating a few good laughs.

  • While on a camping trip together, Karin is shocked to see that Sonoko brought a self-erecting tent, while the others had brought traditional tents so they could experience camping properly. Of everyone, Karin seems to get the most blank white eyes in response to the antics the Hero Club pull; while she’s an all-serious Hero utterly devoted to her duty, and was initially reluctant to work as a team with the others, the events of the first season and Hero Chapter changed things. Karin might not enjoy the various misadventures as much as the others, but she’s happy to be present all the same.

  • The sum of the events in the first episode led some fans to create faux posters suggesting that Yūki Yūna is a Hero is K-On!Sabagebu! and Yuru Camp△ rolled into one. This was fairly amusing, and Here, Sonoko and Yūna become unexpectedly excited when Karin brings out meat to grill for their camping dinner. By this point in time, Sonoko has become an integral part of the Hero Club – she gets on very well with the others and matches Yūna’s vibes quite closely at times.

  • While the others prepare to turn in, Fū can be seen with her face in a mathematics textbook; while she’s very much fond of club activities, she’s also doing her best to prepare for the future. Hero Chapter indicated that Fū had intended Itsuki to succeed her as the club president to help her build confidence, although since graduation has yet to come, Fū is still running the Hero Club.

  • Signifying their friendship, the Hero Club takes a group photo together by sunset. It turns out that they also have a website of sorts, where they upload the club activities’ photographs and recollections. Yūki Yūna is a Hero has enough going for it so that the series could be carried by the Hero Club going around town and doing various good deeds for the community, but that wouldn’t be in the series’ spirit: the sharp contrast between the characters’ everyday lives and the horrors they face in combat exist to create a sense of how perilous their world’s situation is.

  • While Yūna is in fine spirits now, Mimori finds herself a little disheartened: as a part of the costs incurred for using the Mankai System, she’d lost her memories of Gin Minowa, the previous Hero she’d fought alongside. I’d been quite fond of Gin, since she was confident and capable. I am a little surprised that there is very little being said about The Great Mankai Chapter: for Yūki Yūna is a Hero and Hero Chapter, the series was discussed with great fervour amongst the anime community, and like Madoka Magica, was also the subject of quite a bit of speculation.

  • These days, it appears that interest in Yūki Yūna is a Hero is lessened, although I suppose I could count this a blessing that giants like Random Curiosity are not covering this series. Of late, it feels like their quality has declined (most evidently, with their coverage of The Aquatope on White Sand, which now consists of little more than lambasting Tetsuji Suwa). If that is what readers are getting, then it is better that The Great Mankai Chapter isn’t being subject to the same treatment: here, Mimori outright asks the Taisha why they’ve come to pull her back into service despite the sacrifices they’d made earlier, implying that the events of Hero Chapter had already occurred for her here.

  • The second episode introduces Mebuki Kusunoki, a Hero candidate who was fiercely devoted to the role: her father had stated that the biggest goal in life is to make something of oneself, and to never be complicit in being used as a stepping stone for others. To this end, Mebuki is cold, distant and sure of her own ability to a fault: she is unable to recognise that there could be anyone more worthy of the Hero position than herself, and during training sessions, shows her fellow candidates absolutely no mercy.

  • Here, Mebuki speaks to another trainee, Yumiko Miroku, who comes from a family that fell from grace. In spite of this, she acts in a haughty manner and attempts to maintain the façade befitting of an ojou-sama. After being handily defeated in a training exercise, Yumiko declares herself Mebuki’s rival, but also ends up hanging out with her more. For Mebuki, the only other person in their group of note is Karin: while Mebuki appears to have better performance overall, she lacks the sort of compassion that Karin exhibits.

  • During one exercise, Karin demonstrates that she’s still kind to her fellow trainees, and after besting one during a bout, offers to help her get back up. In the end, this is the gap between Mebuki and Karin: while Karin is very focused on her duties, she cares for those around her and indicates that when the moment comes down to it, she would likely choose to save a team member over completing the mission. Conversely, Mebuki initially appears to be the person who might sacrifice her team to complete the mission, even if she’s the only person standing.

  • Unsurprisingly, when Karin is chosen to be the next Hero, Mebuki goes ballistic and makes a bit of a scene during the announcement, leading her to be dragged away, showing that she lacks the tact to lose gracefully. In the aftermath, Karin resolves to do what she can to fulfil her duties, leading her to join the Hero Club, and the remainder of the candidates are reassigned as “Sentinels”. These Sentinels are completely unrelated to the autonomous Forerunner constructs of Halo, the warrior caste of DOOM‘s Argent D’Nur or the squid-like robots in The Matrix: instead, the Sentinels (防人, Hepburn sakamori) are individuals who are tasked with exploring the world outside the barrier.

  • Outside of the barrier, Sentinels are responsible for exploration and data collection: while the Heroes had eliminated the Vertex, the assignment remains a dangerous one, and the Taisha gather everyone at what is equivalent to Utazu’s Play Park Gold Tower, an observation tower that was built in 1988 that has a height of 158 metres. It is part of a play-park that features arcades and bowling for children. In The Great Mankai Chapter, Play Park Gold Tower is used as the Sentinel’s base of operations and act as a nexus point to the barrier.

  • Even with the risks of their assignments, The Great Mankai Chapter still finds time to portray Yumiko with an expression of shock after learning that Mebuki had forgotten about her in the time that’d passed. For better or worse, this happens to me more often than I’d like – I occasionally run into people I were classmates with or mentored as a TA, and while they immediately recall who I am, unfortunately, I wasn’t able to extend them that same courtesy. The moment causes Yumiko to lose all composure, creating a bit of humour among a group of characters that has, insofar, not given viewers much to smile about.

  • It turns out that the Sentinels are to perform something called the Kunizukuri (国譲り), named after the mythological event in Japanese pre-history in which the lands of Japan were passed from the Earthly Gods to the Heavenly Gods, and eventually, the Imperial House. In the original version of the story, the Heavenly Gods desired to take control of Ashihara-no-Nakatsukuni (Japan) after deciding the land to have grown corrupted, and sent their sons to investigate. These missions were met with failure, until Ōkuninushi finally allowed two messengers to take control of the land. After Ōkuninushi retreats, the messengers smash all resistance on Earth and return to the heavens to report that their mission is completed.

  • Like the original myth, the Kunizukuri in The Great Mankai Chapter is portrayed as a forceful transfer of power: the Sentinels are equipped with a combat suit that protects against the flames that linger outside the barrier, and the Sentinels themselves are armed. Sentinels with reduced combat ability are equipped with large shields to defend the ships and other Sentinels. Sentinels with modest combat abilities take on a long-range rifle that can double as a melee weapon, while the highest-ranking Sentinels lead the others and sport a distinct visor with wings on the side to denote their rank.

  • While the world outside the barrier is quiet, it is populated by the Stardust, the most basic form of the Vertex. These blob-like entities do not possess any cognitive functions, but they can combine to form more deadly Vertex: the Stardust can be thought of as the Flood’s infection form. Both are individually weak and use their numbers to overwhelm foes, but can combine. By the events of The Great Mankai Chapter, the Stardust do not combine on the first of the Sentinel’s expeditions, but speaking to the incredible power that Heroes possess, the Sentinels are only able to escape their first encounter.

  • Here, two other Sentinels can be seen alongside Yumiko (far right): to the left is Shizuku Yamabushi, who has a troubled background and developed two personalities as a coping mechanism (like Gundam 00‘s Hallelujah, she becomes violent and unpredictable when a fight begins, but otherwise, is quiet and reserved), and in the centre is Suzume Kagajō, a low-ranking Sentinel who fears combat and would rather be anywhere but the mission. The ferocity of combat reduces her to a squeaky puddle, and here, she’s reacting to having survived the group’s first fight.

  • By the third episode, the Mebuki’s group is established: from Mebuki (lower left) in a clockwise direction, we’ve got Aya, Yamabushi, Suzume, and Yumiko. While differing greatly in combat ability and disposition, this group begins to unify as a result of their duties together. I believe that The Great Mankai Chapter would be an adaptation of Kusunoki Mebuki is a Hero: this was a light novel that was released in 2017 and formed the basis for the claims that The Great Mankai Chapter is an interquel, since the story is set between the events of Yūki Yūna is a Hero and Hero Chapter.

  • Assuming the animated adaptation is largely faithful to the original, then, what Mebuki and her team will experience here in The Great Mankai Chapter will likely lead everyone to a path where they fight alongside Yūna’s group at some point. Mebuki’s team knows of Yūna and the Hero Club: suspicious of things, Suzume ended up tailing the group on one of their outings to see what was going on, had her cover blown and ended up being invited over to tea. Since Mimori still has her wheelchair here, the events here are plainly set during Yūki Yūna is a Hero‘s first season.

  • Because moments like these occurred with a nontrivial frequency, it is a little difficult to take the combat in Kusunoki Mebuki is a Hero seriously: subsequent excursions outside of the barrier and the encounters with the Stardust leaves Suzume in tears. Granted, the Stardust are an intimidating-looking foe whose teeth appear to be quite lethal, and moreover, they have the advantage in numbers. Against such foes, cluster munitions would be effective, but lore states that the Vertex are largely unaffected by human weapons. When they first appeared, the JMSDF were soundly defeated, with 127 mm rounds and even cruise missiles failing to turn the tide.

  • The second encounter ends up being a disaster for the team; they’d been sent out to plant a seedling for the Shinju, and this time around, are accompanied by miko Aya, whose role is to carry out the rituals needed to set in motion the world’s restoration. While the ritual appears to have gone well enough, the Sentinels come under attack, and in the aftermath, although there are no casualties thanks to Mebuki’s leadership, Sentinels begin quitting en masse after feeling that the task is overwhelming.

  • However, there was one positive to come out of this second excursion past the barrier – the remaining members on Mebuki’s team come to bond with one another more closely, and while Mebuki recuperates, the others end up creating a sort of charm that reminds her of how close everyone’s become. Difficult moments often bring people together, and it felt like at this point in The Great Mankai Chapter, Mebuki’s finally gotten her team together.

  • In particular, Aya ends up being the first to really break the ice and befriend Mebuki – when they’ve got some time off, Aya decides to hang out with her, and it is here that viewers get a glimpse of the sort of person that Mebuki really is, when the moment has no immediate obligations or duties to fulfill – it turns out that she’s actually quite like Mimori in personality, and never does anything halfway, whether it be the work or recreation.

  • Like Mimori, Mebuki has a particular fondness for all things Japan; when Aya asks where Mebuki would like to go first, they end up hitting a hobby shop. Mebuki is a big fan of Japanese castles and also enjoys building military models. After this stop, the pair head of a home hardware shop. Because The Great Mankai Chapter presented Mebuki as a bit of a hardass, seeing this side of her is important to remind viewers that like Karin and the other members of the Hero Club, at the end of the day, Heroes and Hero candidates are human.

  • Unfortunately for Mebuki and viewers, because of Aya’s duties as a miko, she’s later offered up as a human sacrifice with the hopes of slowing the flames while the Taisha and Sentinels retrieve the sapling they’d planted for the Shinju – the Shinju appears to be dying, and the Taisha are desperate to try any measures in order to stave off destruction. This mission angers Mebuki, who realises that contrary to her goals of becoming more than a mere footnote in history, the Taisha regard her team as expendable.

  • Rather than refuse the mission, this only serves to reinforce Mebuki’s determination to prove that she and her team are more than capable of fulfilling their assignment. Over the two episodes that Mebuki and her team have been shown, I’ve gained a better sense of who she is as an individual, and together with the task the Sentinels have in front of them, The Great Mankai Chapter is finally hitting its stride as Mebuki leads the remainder of her forces on their next assignment.

  • Thus, having passed through the first three episodes of The Great Mankai Chapter, I am rather looking forwards to seeing where this show is headed next. I imagine that with the next little while, we can expect Mebuki and her team to be at the forefront of things for the next few episodes, and then Yūna’s Hero Club will likely return to help the Kusunoki team out in their hour of need (hence the Taisha‘s imploring Mimori and the others to return to active service for one more assignment). It’s exciting times ahead that bring back memories of what had made the original Yūki Yūna is a Hero so compelling to watch.

When Hero Chapter concluded, it left numerous questions in its wake: granted, Yūna and her friends had successfully saved their world from destruction, but how the world came to reach its current state was never explored, and the nature of their world similarly remained a mystery. The Great Mankai Chapter appears to be following in its predecessor’s footsteps: there’s a new problem to sort out, and similarly to Hero Chapter, leaves many details unexplained. At present, viewers are shown that Sentinels are a group of prospective Heroes who didn’t make the cut, but still possessed enough attributes to be useful. The Taisha are attempting to begin taking back the universe from the ravages of war, but as this is a dangerous task, they have no qualms about sacrificing young women to achieve their aims. In general, Yūki Yūna is a Hero has traditionally found ways of making its primary themes clear, but on the flipside, never bothered with exposition to the extent where their world became convincing. The end result of this is that while the characters in Yūki Yūna is a Hero are always compelling, their world continues to operate on terms that viewers are not privy to: perspective is never shown from the Taisha’s perspective, and without any illustration on why they pick the course of actions that they do, the Taisha become very difficult to sympathise with. The end result of this is that viewers can immediately rally behind the main characters of a given series and root for their survival, or success, but at the end of the day, every victory is muddied by the fact that something unknown could always return and diminish the Heroes’ accomplishments. As it stands, I am interested to see if The Great Mankai Chapter addresses any of the questions left by Hero Chapter, and further to this, it appears that the possibility of Yūna’s team working with Mebuki and the Sentinels could be quite real: having long felt that Yūna’s team operated in isolation, it’ll be nice to see them fighting alongside others for a shared goal, as well.

Yūki Yūna is a Hero Churutto!: Whole-Series Review and Reflection

“When we appreciate how much we have, we feel the urge to pare down, get back to basics, and learn what is essential for our happiness. We long to realize what’s really important.” –Sarah Ban Breathnach

When Heroes from across several generations are summoned to attend Sanshū Middle School, Fū realises that the Hero Club lacks an udon dish. Heroes of different eras attempt at working out what makes the ideal udon, but despite their initial efforts, are unable to create a single dish that captures the Heroes’ essence. Undeterred, the Heroes decide to keep trying and enjoy the process. This is Yūki Yūna is a Hero: Churutto!, a spin-off series of shorts based off the 4-koma, Yūki Yūna is a Hero: Bouquet of Brilliance. In contrast with the serious nature of the original Yūki Yūna is a Hero, Yūki Yūna is a Hero: Churutto! (Churutto! from here on out for brevity) is a cheerful and light-hearted set of side adventures that are only tangentially related to the original story, giving familiar characters a chance to bounce off one another in a zero-stakes setting where the only objective is to devise and cook up a winning bowl of udon: the chibi art style emphasises that nothing of note will happen within these episodes, and in the end, Churutto! simply indicates that the journey matters more than the destination; as the Heroes from different eras come together to try and cook up a worthy dish, they get to know one another better, have a blast and realise that even if they’ve yet to succeed in their goals, the process is memorable and enjoyable.

Series such as Churutto!, Azur Lane: Slow Ahead! and the Strike Witches/World Witches Take Off! are more than spin-offs of their original series: they allow a series to simply let the characters relax and partake in calming, adorable everyday adventures far removed from the usual horrors and danger associated with their respective series. For better or worse, magical girl or military-moé have the unusual propensity for drawing in viewers with a deep-seated, persistent belief that every detail exists to be picked apart or criticised, from individual actions to technical aspect behind a world and its mechanics. Such discussions can appear excessively serious, so when spin-off series appear and place characters into gentle, humourous circumstances, the producers and creators typically mean to demonstrate that even though their regular series have a discernible goal and nontrivial amounts of danger, the same characters are very much human: when given the chance to kick back, away from their typical duties, magical girls and military-moé characters all have distinct personalities, along with their unique likes and dislikes. They have triumphs, and they make mistakes, the same as people in reality do. Shorts like Churutto! thus serve to show that at the end of the day, the characters are at the heart of every story; whether it be taking the fight to the Vertex, or fighting over which style of udon is the best, Churutto! stands alongside Slow Ahead! and Take Off! in demonstrating how, even without Siren or Neuroi, amusement can still be had. Consequently, when characterisation alone is already of a solid quality, placing them in a well-developed world with an appreciable threat creates a scenario where it becomes easy to root for the characters and follow their efforts towards success.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Churutto! is clearly for folks who’ve seen the whole of Yūki Yūna is a Hero and all of its spin-off series: being a novice myself, I’m unfamiliar with the other works, and as such, this particular series introduces a bunch of new characters I’ve never seen before. However, while I imagine seeing everyone would be a treat for people who are familiar with everyone, Churutto! itself is highly accessible. Episodes are only about a minute and a half long, following the super-sized Hero Club’s effort to make a new signature dish for themselves.

  • Seeing three Yūnas side-by-side, acting in unison brings joy to Mimori, Chikage and Renge, each of whom are infatuated with their respective Yūna. A quick glance at the calendar indicates that it’s been a shade more than three-and-a-half years since I last wrote about Yūki Yūna is a Hero: in 2017, Washio Sumi is a Hero and Hero Chapter aired, extending the amount of animated materials to a series that had come to its own despite being thought of as being similar to Madoka Magica. These comparisons were drawn because both series featured magical girls fighting against very abstract foes and making great sacrifices to protect their world, only to learn that those running the world had played them for chumps.

  • I myself picked up Yūki Yūna is a Hero at the behest of one of my readers, who’d been certain I would find the series enjoyable. This reader was not wrong: when I finished, I felt that Yūki Yūna is a Hero had been a more optimistic series. However, people do seem to insist that Yūki Yūna is a Hero is supposed to be a deconstruction (similar to Madoka Magicai), and unfortunately, from a semantics standpoint, this isn’t correct: deconstruction is the act of studying a work by assessing its components and their meaning, and in doing so, one can find meanings that even the authors might not have intended (similar to emergent properties in complex systems). However, the popular (and incorrect) definition argues that a work is a deconstruction if it subverts expectations and conventions for a given genre by being realistic.

  • Unsurprisingly, Tango-Victor-Tango is behind this definition: misinterpretation of Jacques Derrida’s precepts resulted in this concept being taken to mean going contrary to expectations. Derrida had suggested that deconstruction involves creative, lateral thinking. Tango-Victor-Tango’s users, ever intent on imposing their own standards on literary theory, took Derrida’s terms to mean “how would fiction play out if the rules of real life were in play?”, and argued that real life makes everything in fiction darker and more cynical. By their terms, if a work causes the characters to encounter any sort of adversity or setbacks, it’d qualify as a deconstruction.

  • This is, of course, untrue. There already exists a concept that describe works of this nature: “realism”, the practise of representing situations, individuals and outcomes in a manner consistent with the reader/viewer’s truth (i.e. the probability of a good or bad outcome can be described by a normal distribution). In other words, characters can’t unexpectedly suffer devastating misfortune with a low probability of occurring in their context any more than they should be saved by deus ex machina at the last possible second. Moreover, realism and cynicism are not necessary or sufficient conditions for one another – a work isn’t more realistic simply because there is more misfortune or cynicism in it, and a realistic work needn’t be cynical or dark in nature.

  • Consequently, with these definitions in the clear, neither Yūki Yūna is a Hero nor Madoka Magica are deconstructions: they don’t analyse or break down the magical girl genre, but instead, present them in a different fashion where consequences of certain decisions are more consistent with what one might see if real people were presented with extraordinary circumstances. Viewers can naturally deconstruct these works and figure out elements of significance to them, but the works are not deconstructions in and of themselves. Of course, trying to correct a decades-long misconception at Tango-Victor-Tango is to invite a permanent ban from their rather touchy moderation team, and fights like these aren’t worth fighting.

  • When I look back to the last time I wrote about Yūki Yūna is a Hero, we’d just entered 2018, and I finished writing about the last episode in Hero Chapter. Although that initially left me with more questions than answers, the extensive lore in Yūki Yūna is a Hero meant after a little bit of reading, I was able to understand what’d happened a little better. Hero Chapter aired late in 2017, a time when I’d been with my first iOS developer position for a year. It’s always a little shocking to see how quickly time flies by, and back then, I recall being a complete novice with things like UIKit and Autolayout. If memory serves, Hero Chapter‘s finale had aired in early 2018, when Yuru Camp△ first aired.

  • Besides Yuru Camp△, the first bit of 2018 had been quite uneventful, but at around this time of year back then, I received word that there’d been a request for me to go and help bring a Xamarin mobile app to completion. Originally a two month project, the assignment saw me flying out to both Denver and Winnipeg to help out – while it was a very tough assignment, it was also quite instructive in retrospect, and I ended up pulling through by treating myself to a decent meal each and every evening. It suddenly strikes me that I would very much like to go back to some of these restaurants at some point in the future: for me, Winnipeg is only a stone’s throw away, and I remember enjoying two particularly wonderful dinners after long days at the office.

  • While I did have the foresight to make a note of which restaurants I ate at during my business trip, I regret to say that both The Beachcomber and Mon Amis Brasserie in Winnipeg are closed now. This is unfortunate, because both places served excellent food, and Mon Amis Brasserie was particularly special because it was located on the Esplanade Riel Footbridge: the evening I went there, I enjoyed a delicious braised-pork belly burger to the sight of the Red River. Reminiscing about the places I’d been to before makes me long to travel again – I’d probably start by enjoying dinner out at a local restaurant first and then gradually set my sights on grander destinations.

  • While my plans include returning to my favourite poutine place in the mountains, eating a hearty dinner downtown during the cold of the season just before Christmas, trying a local katsu joint whose food look very tasty, and giving ahi tuna a go at some point, it suddenly strikes me I’ve got no plans to go to a udon place. One of my friends has been itching to check out all-you-can-eat sushi places around town, too, and if memory serves, I’ve had udon to “fill up the corners” after an evening of sushi. I suppose that if my Churotto!-induced hankering for udon persists by then, I’ll definitely order some.

  • Whereas I merely enjoy udon, in Churutto!, it quickly becomes serious business as the Heroes attempt to both work on the ideal udon for their club. From researching ingredients to creating the perfect bowl to serve it in, even if the girls’ efforts aren’t particularly fruitful, it was fun to watch everyone doing their utmost to contribute something to the project even if they weren’t particularly skillful at cooking.

  • Sentinel team ends up deciding that they can at least Yakunara utsuwa mo and end up creating their own ceramic bowl, but in a manner reminiscent of Himeno and Mika, make something which, while creative, is totally impractical and ill-suited for comfortably eating noodles. Their final product is a sculpture that brings to mind the likes of the Vertex.

  • Hoping to get at some divine inspiration, the Miko Heroes figure they might speak with the Shinjū directly. Itsuki subsequently shows up to do some fortune telling, but her tarot reading indicates death is on their horizon. This is completely unrelated to the udon, of course, but is a clever callback to when Itsuki’s lethal cooking very nearly kills Karin and Yūna.

  • Hero Chikage had known nothing but loneliness all her life, but after meeting her team and their udon, her world completely turned around thanks to a bit of kindness and a simple bowl of Udon. This story would suggest that even simple gestures can convey a great deal. Here, Chikage is given a bowl of udon in its purest form: udon topped with Welsh onion, egg, dashimirin and soy sauce.

  • Churutto! even parodies Aesop’s The Honest Woodcutter: when the Yūnas go missing, a search for them turn up a bronze, silver and gold Yūna. However, Chikage, Mimori and Renge have eyes for none but their own Yūnas, and Yūna Yūki’s natural disposition to befriend everything that moves means that the Aesop is completely lost.

  • Sonoko, Mimori and Sumi end up being the judges for the udon contest, with Karin emceeing. It was rather enjoyable to see the characters’ old traits come out in a different context. The judges are presented with a creation set to act as the next big thing for the Hero Club, at least until a mysterious challenger shows up and presents a massive bowl of udon loaded with meat, soft-boiled eggs and other ingredients. Although there’s so much additional stuff that the udon are completely covered, Sonoko finds both immensely delicious.

  • The outcome of Churutto! does seem to be that when it comes to udon, the sheer variety that is possible means that the Hero Club would be hard-pressed to find a single version that best represents them. This is similar to trying to determine what the best poutine or pizza is (e.g. the basic poutine is simply hot gravy and squeaky cheese curds on thick-cut fries, while cheese and tomato sauce on flatbread is the simplest possible pizza) – in their base forms, both are delicious, but are versatile enough so that a plethora of toppings could be applied to add flair to the dishes. This is why the Hero Club struggles to choose a single udon for their club.

  • A part of the fun, then, is exploration – as long as the basic udon is nailed with dashi, mirin and soy sauce, the toppings would create variety and yield a delicious udon, whether it be pork, beef, chicken, tempura or any combination thereof. In the end, the Hero Club is unable to settle on just one udon and ends up sitting down to a back-to-the-basics udon while working out their next attempt. This brings Churutto! to a close, and with season three on the horizon, I am going to be watching it. At the present, I have no plans to do episodic posts for this season: Hero Chapter was special in that there had been six episodes, and these aired during the latter half of the autumn 2017 season.

  • The chibi art style in Churutto!, with large heads, short limbs and little hands mean that the characters resemble infants – together with their mannerisms, Churutto! ended up being unexpectedly fun to watch (no different than K-On! or GochiUsa). After watching the first episode back in April, I ended up saving all twelve episodes until the season ended, then watched everything all at once. Since episodes only run for an average of ninety seconds, I finished the entire series in the time it takes to watch an ordinary episode to psyche myself up for the third season.

  • With Churutto! and this post in the books, I’ve got no more posts planned out for the month of July. August is very nearly upon us, and I have a very special post planned out. This post is going to be about as long as my talk for Tenki no Ko, and because I also wish to knock out my talk for Yuru Camp△ 2‘s live-action drama and go over my experiences of DOOM Eternal now that I’ve cleared the Mars Core mission, there’s quite a bit of blogging to get done during the Civic Holiday long weekend. To ensure these posts are give proper attention, it means that I’ll be seeing readers come August!

While Churutto! is a welcome addition to the Yūki Yūna is a Hero series, news of a third Yūki Yūna is a Hero season comes as a bit of a surprise – Yūki Yūna is a Hero: Hero Chapter had ended on a very decisive note, and I had noted the series had made extensive use of imagery to indicate that Yūna and her friends have served their duties to the Shinjū in full. The Taisha were gone, along with the Vertex, and it appeared that the Hero Club were finally able to pursue their futures whole-heartedly, with Itsuki taking up the Hero Club’s presidency as Fū graduates and becomes a secondary student. Hero Chapter left no doubt in anyone’s mind that things were concluded in a satisfactory manner (even if it had left a few lingering questions), and as such, that there is going to be a third season at all means that one cannot reasonably enter with any expectations. The key artwork for this third season, titled Dai Mankai no Shō (Great Full Blossom Chapter) indicates that familiar faces are returning, and while it looks like a stretch, one cannot help but wonder if Churutto!‘s introduction of no fewer than twenty-seven characters, twenty-two of which are from different time frames, would mean that Great Full Blossom Chapter will see the Hero Club’s universe faced with some unprecedented threat on the scale of Thanos or similar, forcing the Shinjū to recall everyone for an Infinity War-style get-together in an attempt to deal with the aforementioned threat. Such a story could prove quite exciting, although given Yūki Yūna is a Hero‘s past track record with world-building and pacing, such optimism is cautious at best. At this point in time, I do have plans to watch Great Full Blossom Chapter, and I am hoping that lessons from the earlier seasons are applied to make this one a solid adventure, as well.

​Only You Can Make Me Happy- Yūki Yūna is a Hero: Hero Chapter Finale Review and Reflections

“We reached for the moon,
We conquered the stars
We cried for the tears of yesterday,
Still strong to the end
‘Til we’ll meet again,
Remember the glory of the brave”

Judgement DayDragonForce

​Karin, Itsuki and Sonoko begin engaging the new enemy, sustaining heavy damage during the combat, while Fū and Mimori push their way towards the Shinju to save Yūna. At the heart of the Shinju, Mimori finds a partially-assimilated Yūna and pleads with her to be truthful about her feelings. Setting aside her deep-seated beliefs about what being a Hero means, Yūna lets Mimori know of how she really feels about all things, confessing that she wants to live and spend her days with friends. When Yūna voices a willingness to accept help from Mimori, the forces inside the Shinju project a force field that separates Mimori from Yūna. However, in the darkest hour, the spirits of long-deceased Heroes appear and lend Mimori the strength to punch through the barrier. Moved by Mimori’s plight and understanding the human desire to move forward independently of Celestial intervention and assistance, the Shinju transfers its powers over to Yūna, who wields it in a titanic effort to extinguish the flames consuming their world. Spent, the Shinju fades away, and humanity is left to make its place in the universe without any of the Gods’ protection. Liberated from their duties to the Shinju, Yūna and her friends are free to live their lives out normally: Fū is admitted to her high school of choice, and Itsuki is made president of the Hero Club, with Yūna, Mimori, Karin and Sonoko going back to enjoying their everyday lives as members of the Hero Club, serving their world as they’d always done. This marks the end of the short-lived but intensely-written Hero Chapter, which concluded with a bang: Hero Chapter was the candle that lasted half as long but burned twice as brightly, bringing a decisive end to the Yūki Yūna universe as Yūna and her friends can finally have ordinary lives without the ever-present threat of celestial powers snuffing them out of existence.

For all of the tribulations and suffering that Yūna and her friends go through during the course of Hero Chapter, the end solution ended up being one that was out in the open: while the Shinju has been assumed to be a benevolent, if unreasonable entity, it turns out that all that was needed to alter the Shinju‘s perspective, to break out of the ceaseless cycle of sacrifice and death was an impassioned statement vouching for the strength of humanity. Mimori and the spirits of Heroes long gone place their faith in Yūna and in doing so, demonstrate that humanity is quite capable of standing for and defending itself. In doing so, Hero Chapter then suggests that dramatic examples are necessary to overcome systems built on tradition and conservative principles. This is certainly the case in innovation, where disruption caused by new technologies and methods forces disciplines to re-evaluate their relevance in a system that is rapidly evolving. The sum of the Heroes’ actions, from the earliest of Heroes right up to Yūna and her friends show the Shinju that its presence and the costs of its help are not what humanity needs: it is with considerable effort that the Shinju is persuaded, and in the aftermath, Yūna manages to yet again achieve her goals of both being with her friends, as well as looking out for the world around her. While the ending comes across as being the consequence of deus ex machina, the reasoning behind it is not without merit: it’s the ending that Yūna and her friends deserve. During the course of the finale, it was also welcoming to see Yūna openly admit that she is willing to depend on others; under duress in her situation, Yūna finally manages to express this to Mimori, showing that yet again, a dramatic scenario will force individuals to be honest with themselves.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • In this discussion, I’ve got thirty images as opposed to the standard twenty seen previously for the Hero Chapter posts owing to the fact that there’s a bit of territory to cover, and we open with the remark that it’s been two weeks since episode five aired. A bit of a brief refresher, then, is in order: Yūna consented to the Shinkon ceremony earlier while her friends square off against a massive enemy unlike anything they’d seen previously and as the finale starts, members of the Taisha begin dissolving into sand, becoming One with the Force as Yūna’s Shinkon continues.

  • Elsewhere, Karin and the others have transformed into their Hero forms. Karin immediately engages her Mankai system, declaring that she’ll take a leaf from DragonForce’s album and go on an once-in-a-lifetime inhumane rampage. However, she’s immediately overwhelmed with fire from the unknown enemy, sustaining massive wounds to her body: her shields have failed, and Karin wonders if it’s action from the unknown enemy, as well.

  • Karin’s remarks that she’s still got her Mankai in reserve answers a long-standing question about how the upgraded system works: it turns out that the system is non-regenerating. Here, Fū agrees to leave Itsuki responsible for supporting Karin, and subsequently, Fū departs with Mimori with the goal of reaching Yūna. While Itsuki has always been presented as a shy, more fragile character, when the chips are down, she’s also capable of holding her own against opponents as anyone else in the Hero Club: this moment illustrates that Fū’s got more faith in Itsuki now.

  • Besides Sonoko, Mimori’s Mankai system confers access to a large vessel that is immensely useful for traversing great distances. Since Sonoko expended her Mankai earlier, it’s now up to Mimori to provide transportation for her and Fū.

  • Despite her best efforts, Karin is overwhelmed against the firepower brought to bear against her. By this point in Hero Chapter, I’ve come to accept that short of looking through the supplementary materials, I’m likely not going to gain any insight into just what kind of world that Yūna and the others live in: the sum of the events in Hero Chapter summarily invalidates the idea that the girls’ world is a simulated reality or a world contained in another world as per Rick and Morty‘s teenyverse.

  • Sonoko arrives to help Karin out before the latter is skewered by incoming fire. On the whole, Sonoko’s presence in Hero Chapter was a welcome one: her personality is a cross between that of Yūna’s and Mimori’s, and with her previous experiences, she’s instrumental in helping the others overcome the challenges that have been sent their way ever since Yūna became cursed.

  • When the fighting intensifies, even Sonoko cannot provide any long-term assistance for Karin, but Itsuki arrives to further help the two out. This is the second major combat sequence of Hero Chapter, and it would appear that the modifications to the Mankai and Hero System were done with the narrative in mind: sustained combat would have caused Mimori and the others to expend their energy at a rate not conducive towards their survival, and the limited use systems imply that the Taisha were preparing for eventual calamity.

  • When an opening appears, allowing the infection form-like Vertex to enter the fray, Mimori makes use of the firepower conferred by her Mankai mode to punch a hole towards Yūna’s position at the heart of the Shinju. The combat sequences of Hero Chapter are fewer than in Washio Sumi Chapter, but fortunately, their infrequency has not translated to a reduction in quality: Yūki Yūna is a Hero‘s combat sequences have always been remarkably colourful.

  • One aspect of Hero Chapter that has similarly remained consistent in quality with its predecessors in both Washio Sumi Chapter and Yūki Yūna is a Hero‘s first season is the music: it’s quite distinct in tone compared to Yuki Kajiura’s compositions for Puella Magi Madoka Magica despite simultaneously feeling similar, and one of the aspects of the soundtrack that caught my eye was the unusual naming convention in some of the songs, which make use of symbols. The music is very enjoyable, and Hero Chapter‘s soundtrack is set for release quite some time from now – May 30, 2018 is when it becomes available.

  • With the infection form-type threatening their mission, Mimori and Fū prepare to abandon ship, hopping overboard and closing the remaining distance on foot. Prior to discarding the vessel, Mimori overloads its power supply with the goal of taking out as many Vertex as possible in the process – she salutes her craft for its service in its final moments.

  • With the final path to Yūna blocked by vast walls, Fū engages her Mankai; her broadsword takes on gargantuan dimensions, and she uses it to create a hole in the wall, allowing Mimori to go on ahead. The final battle of Hero Chapter brings to mind elements seen in Gundam 00 Awakening of the Trailblazer, with each of the Gundams working towards clearing a path for Setsuna and the 00 Qan[T] to reach the ELS core. Awakening of the Trailblazer has been out for six years now, and back during 2011, made the list as the best anime movie of 2011 at Random Curiosity. This year, the coveted title of best anime movie of 2017 belongs to Makoto Shinkai’s Kimi no na wa.

  • I voted for Kimi no na wa, along with Kono Sekai no Katasumi ni. Both films had their merits, and while the latter didn’t make it, I personally felt it to be more deserving of the title on account of the film’s messages about resolve and making the most of things, even if the visuals in the former are several orders of magnitude more impressive. Back in Hero Chapter, Mimori’s made it to the heart of the Shinju where Yūna is. I’ll take a short moment to note that compared to the likes of Yūki Yūna is a Hero‘s first season and even Washio Sumi Chapter, the unnecessary camera focus on Mimori’s body were reduced.

  • However frivolous (not to mention somewhat inappropriate) those moments were, they served one purpose – reminding viewers that Yūki Yūna is a Hero was not meant to be as serious or severe as Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Thus, the total absence of gratuitous mammary and posterior focus on Mimori reinforced the notion that Hero Chapter was all business. Here, Mimori’s finally managed to convince Yūna to be open with her feelings, and tears begin flowing freely as Yūna admits she’s gone in over her head.

  • Yūna and Mimori reach for one another, but before the two can take a hold of one another, a force field materialises, separating them. Having committed to the Shinkon earlier, the procedure is set to continue regardless of how Yūna feels, and Mimori’s body begins crystallising. She crumbles to the ground, defeated. However, when it seems all hope is lost, the Force Ghost of Gin Minowa appears, lending her strength to Mimori.

  • Back outside, Sonoko, Itsuki and Karin notice the unusual phenomenon occurring inside the Shinju. Here, I will take a moment to explain the choice of page quote for Hero Chapter‘s finale: it’s sourced from the song “Judgement Day” from DragonForce’s latest album, “Reaching into Infinity”, which released back in May of 2017. “Judgement Day” is typical of DragonForce’s repertoire, featuring fast rhythms and speaks to notions of courage against overwhelming odds. In the song, the heroes are faced with a challenge that truly tests them,  but they nonetheless carry on in true DragonForce fashion, beating their goals and remembering the achievements of those before them.

  • This same spirit is present in Hero Chapter‘s finale, and its lyrics seem to capture in full the journey that Hero Chapter has portrayed. Overall, “Reaching into Infinity” has been counted as one of DragonForce’s best albums right behind their previous album “Maximum Overload”, and I greatly enjoy their music as a whole. With the spirits of countless Heroes before her time present, the barrier decomposes, allowing Mimori to finally reach Yūna.

  • Mimori and Yūna share a tearful embrace as the two are properly reunited for the first time in Hero Chapter, and while Yūna cries for the world that she feels is lost, a new phenomenon takes place – a warm golden light envelops her and Yūna. No words are necessary here: the sensations alone conveys to the girls the Shinju‘s thoughts, and it is evidently moved by the girls’ conviction in the strength of humanity.

  • In its final act, the Shinju transfers its native power into Yūna, who is transformed into a new Hero: while it’s not totally clear that this has happened, Yūna’s complete heterochromia suggests that her body is housing two entities, that of her native spirit and that of the Shinju‘s. Six orbs are also present: one for each of the active Heroes. The reason why this is possible for Yūna is owing to her lineage; she’s got a unique connection to the Gods themselves and so, is able to accommodate for this unique setup where it would have been impossible with other Heroes.

  • In this Hero form, Yūna brings to mind the 00 Qan[T], which was similarly featured only briefly in Awakening of the Trailblazer and capable of prodigious power. Setsuna did not use the 00 Qan[T]’s combat capabilities to the fullest extent during the final engagement with the ELS, and managed to negotiate with them instead to bring about an end to hostilities. On the other hand, Yūna makes use of her newfound powers to defeat the massive Independence Day-type entity. Support from her friends lights the orbs following her, and Yūna is able to project a powerful shield capable of repelling the heavy laser fire in the shape of five flowers, reminiscent of both the flower in Gundam 00 and the psycofield seen in Gundam Unicorn‘s finale when Banagher and Riddhe are stopping the Gryps II Colony laser from incinerating the Snail.

  • Serving a symbolic role in Yūki Yūna is a Hero, flowers are ubiquitous throughout the series, with the soundtrack and vocal songs referencing flowers. The girls’ Hero modes also predominantly feature flower imagery. I’m not a floral designer or botanist by trade – I can only imagine what an expert might have to say about what story and ideas the flowers of Yūki Yūna is a Hero can tell viewers. With this being said, flowers generally are associated with a beauty and a hidden resilience despite their seeming fragility. After a hailstorm pounds them into the ground, I’ve seen flowers recover and continue to bloom as though the hailstorm never happened.

  • That flowers are so prominent in Yūki Yūna is a Hero is meant to remind audiences that the Heroes are like flowers: beneath their delicate-looking appearances lies remarkable endurance and resolve. With the last of the Shinju‘s power and encouragement from her friends, Yūna reaches the core of the enemy and smashes it into oblivion with her fists. The subsequent destruction also quenches the flames burning at the world and destroys the other deities, as well: the effort completely expends the Shinju‘s life force and it fades from existence.

  • When I first finished watching the finale, I was at a loss for words and thought to myself that The Last Jedi made more sense. Now that I’ve had a chance to rewatch the episode and look through everything again, coupled with drawing some conclusions based on the more subtle details and my previous experiences with fiction in general, I think that I’ve reached a fairer conclusion that has at the minimum, allowed me to write out this post.

  • The Heroes reawaken to find themselves in the real world, similarly to how Mimori and Sonoko had previously lain in grass plains with Gin beside the Great Bridge after slaying a Vertex during the events of Washio Sumi Chapter. Yūna immediately bursts into tears, as Mimori once did, and her friends similarly grow concerned, fearing she’s injured in some way. But as it turns out, Yūna is still torn up about all of the things that have happened as of late, especially her treatment of Karin. Realising that the old Yūna is back, Fū, Itsuki, Mimori, Karin and Sonoko smile.

  • The observant viewer will note that all of the Heroes’ phones have suffered crack screens. The design of the home button and device shape overall, coupled with the fact that Yūki Yūna is a Hero‘s first season was released in 2014 autumn (so, shortly after the Giant Walkthrough Brain‘s presentation at Beakerhead 2014) means that the smartphones the girls have is an iPhone 5. The iPhone 5s would have been more current, but was also the first phone to feature TouchID, which would not have the square icon on the home button as seen here, possibly indicating that for their power, the Taisha are also a bit more frugal with their finances. While the iPhone 5 was one of the most durable iPhones of its time, the destruction of the Heroes’ phones symbolise the idea that their services are no longer required.

  • The blue crow that originally guided Yūna out of the void flies off, suggesting that it returned to help Yūna out one more time before moving on. The vivid blue skies seen towards Hero Chapter‘s end are another indicator that normalcy has returned for Yūna and her friends. Back when Washio Sumi Chapter ended, I remarked that the skies seemed a bit faded, which were indicative of the sort of events that would unfold during Yūki Yūna is a Hero.

  • Their goal accomplished, Mimori and Sonoko stop by to pay their respects at Gin’s grave. The site of the memorial and the nearby bridge are based off of the Marine Dome Amphitheatre in Seto Ohashi Memorial Park, located adjacent to the Great Seto Bridge that links Kagawa to Okayama with its 13.1 kilometre-long span. The town that Yūna and her friends live in, then, is Sakaide in the Kagawa prefecture, and at long last, Sonoko’s remarks about “Kagawa Life” finally make sense: she wants to enjoy the sights and sounds of home to the fullest extent possible.

  • Owing to the emotional intensity surrounding Washio Sumi Chapter and Hero Chapter, I did not give much thought into the location of various landmarks, but with the finale here, the time was ripe to change that. The real Marine Dome naturally does not have any of the tombstones seen in Hero Chapter, and here, Aki is seen mourning Gin from the shadows, showing that she also cared for Gin despite her roles within the Taisha. Unlike other members of the Taisha, she does not become One with the Force.

  • As normalcy settles back into Yūki Yūna is a Hero, the Hero Club returns to doing what it does best, serving the community. Without the gods, humanity is thus responsible for its own fate, and I remark that while our empathy for others, coupled with our ego regarding our place in the universe, might mean that we tend to view anything threatening our species as evil, the truth is that the universe is quite indifferent to what happens to us: a gamma-ray burst could neutralise our species tomorrow and any surviving life on the planet would simply re-colonise it.

  • The Hero Club’s tenants have also been updated to include the clause “無理せず自分も幸せであること” (romaji “muri sezu jibun mo shiawase de aru koto“), which I approximate as “Be happy without asking of yourself the impossible”. It indicates that Yūna has learned that happiness shouldn’t be faked for her friends’ sake, and that happiness isn’t attained by pushing oneself too hard. Fū manages to make it into her preferred high school, and swaggers about, while Itsuki is made president of the Hero Club. The girls finally begin stepping into the future, and the use of visual humour in this scene serves to remind audiences that happiness in an ordinary life is finally attained.

  • Overall, my verdict for Hero Chapter is a B grade, corresponding with a numerical value of 7.5 of 10. I was disappointed that world-building would be left to supplementary materials, and that execution was quite rushed: the series would have benefitted from a full twelve episodes or movie. With this being said, the ending does follow from what’s happened now that I’ve had a chance to sleep on things, and ultimately, this the ending that Yūna and her friends deserve, even if it might not be one that the audiences need. Thus, my talks on Hero Chapter draw to a close, and the only remaining talk I have for anime from the previous season is for Wake Up, Girls! New Chapter!. Moving into the future, Yuru Camp△ and Slow Start are on my radar of shows to write about, along with Violet Evergarden.

The end results of Hero Chapter appear to suggest that all the events within the Yūki Yūna is a Hero universe could have been averted had common sense prevailed; while the most practical solution the Shinju could have taken would be to observe and listen more carefully to understand what human desires might entail, this particular action would also have deprived audiences of the anime and its associated works. Overall, Hero Chapter‘s turbulent execution slowly smooths out once the solution is reached, and the journey there was a modestly enjoyable one despite inconsistencies in pacing within the narrative. This is a consequence of Hero Chapter‘s short length, and admittedly, working out the thematic elements during Hero Chapter‘s run was a non-trivial task. In the end, Hero Chapter strives to show the strength of the human spirit and our ceaseless drive for self-determination. My final verdict is that I would not recommend Hero Chapter to newcomers unfamiliar with Yūki Yūna is a Hero on the virtue that there is a considerable amount of a priori knowledge one must have on the series to fully appreciate the events and actions within the anime. Conversely, folks who have some background on Yūki Yūna is a Hero will find this a modestly satisfying conclusion to the events following season one; while perhaps falling back on derivative storytelling techniques, the final result is decisive and one that the characters have earned. Retaining the aural and visual fidelity of its predecessors, Hero Chapter is of a high quality, and while I’m certain that discussions about the minutiae surrounding Hero Chapter will continue for quite some time, I’m more than happy to conclude my own discussion in spite of the numerous shortcomings in Hero Chapter, especially with respect to world-building and pacing. Having said this, Hero Chapter nonetheless offers a more concrete bit of closure for the magical girls who’ve suffered more than their share’s worth for the sake of their world, which makes it worthwhile in my books.

Incorruptible Heart- Yūki Yūna is a Hero: Hero Chapter Episode Five Impressions and Review

“‘Mankind.’ That word should have new meaning for all of us today. We can’t be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in our common interests…we are fighting for our right to live. To exist. And should we win the day, the Fourth of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day the world declared in one voice: ‘We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We’re going to live on! We’re going to survive!'” —President Thomas Whitmore, Independence Day

Yūna learns that the Shinju is on the verge of death, which would bring about the demise of all humanity. With her own time coming to an end, Yūna agrees to a complex procedure known as the Shinkon, where she will become married to the Shinju, which would be sufficient to save humanity. When she tries to emphasise doing this to Fū and the others, they vehemently disagree, feeling that there must be another way. Under pressure from her friends and fearing the effects of her curse will impact them, Yūna runs off. Her friends begin searching for her, but encounter their old instructor, a member of the Taisha. She explains the necessity of Yūna’s actions and assign them one final task: to keep a massive enemy at bay while the Shinkon ceremony proceeds. The next episode will be aired during the first Friday of 2018 as the winter holidays are upon us, and the fifth episode in Hero Chapter drives Mimori and the others closer to the edge of their own destruction as Yūna agrees to lay down her own life ostensibly for their world. The rising action has escalated in an unpredictable manner during Hero Chapter, and given the situation this world is in, it goes without saying that designing a logical progression to address this situation would require masterful writing. How things get resolved in Hero Chapter, if at all, remains quite unknown, and it is not outside the realm of possibility where deus ex machina will be applied, or a completely melancholy ending will result.

In this fifth episode, I take a closer look at the Taisha‘s actions and beliefs through the words of instructor Aki, primarily because the Taisha‘s actions are now evidently in contrast with my own. Through Aki’s remarks, the Taisha appear to adhere to the Japanese notion of Shikata ga nai (仕方が無い), which is a phrase corresponding with “it can’t be helped”. It succinctly captures the Japanese spirit and resilience in the face of difficulty: folks will quietly endure hardship, and externally, it is viewed as maintaining a sense of dignity and stoic toughness. Aki’s remarks are similarly thus: the Taisha have (allegedly) explored all options and are resigned to this approach, possibly because it’s the path of least resistance. This stands in stark contrast with Western beliefs of “don’t get mad, get even”. In the face of difficulty, Western culture tends to find a way to overcome difficulty: against adversity, we tend to identify the problem and work out a solution, rather than accepting it. This belief is evident in Western films, where characters will overcome seemingly insurmountable odds in order to stave off extinction or to fight for justice. Such instances include outrageous and often, creative solutions to problems that initially do not appear to be solvable; in the 1997 film Independence Day, Captain Steven Hiller (Will Smith) and David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) fly a captured alien vessel back into the mothership to destroy it at the film’s climax, after Levinson is inspired by a virus as a means of taking the aliens out during a point in the movie when the aliens appear to have been all but victorious. By Western values, the Taisha are seen as complacent weaklings who would let young women die for the Greater Good; since it’s not shown as to whether or not the Taisha have indeed exhausted all options, it is not outside the realm of possibility that the Taisha are simply picking the easiest solution towards their problem; Mimori and the others would definitely be justified in their mistrust and dislike of the Taisha if this is the case.

Screenshot and Commentary

  • The opening of episode five nearly explains the marriage that was brought up during the episode’s preview, and some specifics surrounding the mechanics. Unlike last week’s episode, episode five does not hit with any of the same emotional impact, and chooses to focus on Yūna making a decision. A recurring secondary theme in Yūki Yūna is a Hero is whether or not decisions should be made based on one’s own experiences and reasoning, or whether or not they should be made in conjunction with external feedback. In medicine, this particular element is known as consent, and typically, laws are such that consent can be given if the individual is in a capacity to make that decision such that they are aware of the consequences and risks associated with their choice.

  • Yūna’s case is actually a bit of an interesting one: while she is under emotional duress and worried about her friends, Yūna is nonetheless sound of mind. For the present, we will ignore a central part to consent: that minors usually cannot give consent without their parents’ approval. After Yūna hears of the Taisha representative’s information, she remarks that she’ll need some time to think on them.

  • From the dialogue, Yūna’s parents have given their approval to her for making whatever decision that she feels is best. With things worsening, Yūna begins to believe that the Shinkon is probably the only way for her; she wonders if it will spare her a painful death at the hands of the curse, and ultimately decides that she should run things by her friends so that they are in the know about what her intended actions are.

  • The artwork and landscapes in Yūki Yūna is a Hero have always been of a reasonably high but otherwise unremarkable standard, but here, when Yūna climbs to the top of a nearby hill and realises how beautiful her world is, she is overcome with emotion when she sees her town shortly prior to dawn. The absence of warm colours associated with sunrise give the landscape a colder, distant feeling.

  • Discussions elsewhere on Yūki Yūna is a Hero have previously emphasised that Yūna’s decisions are driven by emotion and lack any rational basis, which in turn undermines the anime’s themes. My counterargument for this is that, given Yūna’s and her friends’ ages, it is an unreasonable demand to expect that the girls approach problems as adults would, especially considering the development of the frontal lobe is still in progress at the age of fourteen.

  • By comparison, viewers are at least in their twenties or so and should have a mature frontal lobe for decision-making. Consequently, I expect discussions on this anime to at least have some semblence of logic and reasoning, as opposed to people acting on their emotions when they see what’s going down. This is the reason why I’m much more tolerant, even accepting of Yūna’s actions: her situation is doubtlessly a difficult one, and I appreciate that there’s no easy decision to be made.

  • This episode of Hero Chapter is one of those few moments where Fū openly reprimands Yūna. Her friends are trying encourage her to think her choice through, but in Yūna’s voice, audiences hear a sense of desperation that has gripped her. It’s only been recently that I’ve begun paying closer attention to visuals and aural aspects of a scene; far more than specific choices of words, the way things look and sound go a long way in conveying an idea. This is especially useful for folks like myself: while I don’t have anywhere near enough familiarity with Japanese to differentiate what a particular choice of words mean, there are some things that are universal and can be just as effective in quickly assessing a situation.

  • Clever use of spatial organisation in this scene allows viewers to visually pick up on the mood in the Hero clubroom and even foreshadows what might happen in the finale: notice the directions in which the characters are facing. Everyone is facing Yūna, who has her back to a door. It can be said that everyone is united against Yūna’s choice to sacrifice herself for the Shinkon, and Yūna herself is backed into a corner. The close placement of effects in the Hero Club room within this scene similarly gives a caustrophobic feeling, as though Yūna’s options are closing in on her, leaving no way out.

  • Yūna and Fū’s shouting match frustrates Itsuki, who wonders why things are this way. It’s a quiet lull in the Hero Club room, and when Yūna tries to speak once more, the visions of each of the Hero Club’s members bearing her Mark of Shame returns in full force. However, given that everyone’s still seemingly unharmed despite having learned of Yūna’s condition, it seems that it’s largely Yūna’s own fears driving her actions at this point. I stress that this perspective can only be taken because as the audiences, we are privy to the characters’ thoughts and do not have the same emotional burden as they would.

  • Terrified, Yūna runs off, with her friends taking up the pursuit moments too late; they’ve lost track of her signal. Karin wonders if there’s even a solution for when things have devolved to this state, but receives no answers.

  • Mimori decides to use their smartphones to lock onto Yūna’s signal, which is originating from the Yūki residence. However, when they arrive, they find Yūna’s phone here, along with her journal. Opening it, Mimori and Sonoko open it to find a new entry, in which Yūna states that she’s going to go through with the Shinkon ceremony. Sonoko’s phone rings, and it’s the Taisha summoning all of the Heroes to the seaside memorial.

  • After arriving, the girls run into Aki. Only her surname is given, and some folks have speculated that she’s the descendant of another Hero. I did not list her name during my Washio Sumi Chapter discussions, and here, I note that she’s voiced by Rina Satou, whose repertoire is extensive and includes Brave Witches‘ Gundula Rall. I recall that at this spot, folks were finding the blank tombstone to be an ominous sign, but it’s equally likely that it was either an animation mistake or what is colloquially known as a “red herring”, an element that serves to mislead or distract audiences.

  • While Sonoko and the others voice their discontent towards Aki, Yūna begins preparing for the Shinkon ceremony. The fifth episode of Hero Chapter is largely exposition-driven, and much of it is spent in conversation as plot-sensitive elements are explained to the characters and audience. As such, screenshot distribution inside this post is a little skewed. In the review for the finale, I will have a review of thirty screenshots to cover everything. It is conceivable that the finale could be longer than twenty minutes, especially given what’s occurred within this episode.

  • One of the things that I missed in the original Yūki Yūna is a Hero is that Taisha are an organisation with a physical location: I was wondering how Fū was planning on assaulting them, but it seems that they really are just the middle-men in the grand scheme of things. Fū and Mimori both seemed on the edge of doing just that this episode, but mid-conversation, the Heroes’ phones go off when a massive entity appears in their vicinity, but their phones suddenly short out. The skies begin darkening, and the very fabric of reality itself seems to be burning.

  • Unless I’m mistaken, Yūna is preparing for her Shinkon ceremony at the same spot where the previous-generation Heroes were upgraded to the new Hero System. Looking more closely, one does wonder what kind of a world would be forced to expend the lives of young women in the name of our species: we’ve not seen any sort of professional armed forces with emotionally-mature individuals ready to step into harm’s way for the people.

  • The inconsistencies and missing pieces in the world making up Yūki Yūna is a Hero leads me to wonder if the author had spent any time properly designing the world as J.K. Rowling and J.R.R. Tolkein had theirs. World-building is essential in creating a well-characterised, consistent set of rules that ensures narrative elements can occur in a plausible manner as specified by the aforementioned rules. For instance, there are rules J.R.R. Tolkien built into Middle Earth and Arda so that no Maiar could directly intervene during the War of The Ring. When no such rules exist, consistency evaporates, allowing characters to break or forcing characters to follow rules as the plot demands.

  • The reason why there are so many Independence Day references in this post is primarily because of both my thoughts on the Taisha‘s attitudes towards things, as well as for the fact that the approaching enemy resembles the City Destroyers, twenty-five kilometre wide flying saucers the Harvester aliens used to wipe out major population centres. For their formidable size and defensive shields, in Independence Day, a single well-placed missile at a City Destroyer’s while it was charging its primary weapon was sufficient to cause a chain reaction that destroyed the entire vessel, and considering their destructive power to size ratio, I’d say that the ISDs from Star Wars are easily more powerful: a small group of ISDs could reduce the entire surface of an Earth-sized planet to a molten slag with the base-delta-zero bombardment.

  • With their phones offline, and faced with an enemy unlike the Vertex seen previously, it remains to be seen as to how Mimori and the others handle their new adversary: Aki remarks that their goal is to hold it back rather than defeat it, suggesting that this enemy is of a caliber far beyond anything we’ve seen previously. If there is to be a battle next episode, it will answer whether or not the Heroes’ Mankai gauges recharge between battles.

  • This weekend, DICE has offered a super-rare skin for anyone who completes the community mission requirements of scoring two hundred pistol kills. While the skin itself looks nice, my weekend is quite busy: besides tonight’s hockey game, I’m going to check out Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi tomorrow, followed by a family Christmas dinner. My plans for this Christmas are simply to rest and relax, in the company of a good book: in light of how busy things have been, I’m most looking forwards to having quiet time to myself.

  • In last week’s post, I mentioned that this talk for the fifth episode might be delayed since I was attending tonight’s Flames game against the Montreal Canadiens, but I was given a half-day off, so I went home after submitting the last of my files to the App Store and promptly settled in to watch this episode. With due respect, the timing of this episode and the fact that an Independence Day-level assault occurs means that the wait for the finale could seem quite lengthy, but this time will disappear in the blink of an eye. This is definitely the fastest I’ve ever put out a Hero Chapter talk, and with this done, it’s time to see whether or not the Flames can extend their win streak to three.

The solution proposed in Hero Chapter is dubbed the Shinkon; once Yūna marries the Shinju, it will initiate a restart and save all of humanity. It brings to mind the workings of The Matrix, where every so often, The One must return to the Source and allow the Matrix itself to reboot in order to save humanity. Neo ultimately chose to save Trinity and put the human species at risk, but ultimately sacrified himself in a titanic battle with Agent Smith to save both Trinity and humanity. Yūna’s decision in Hero Chapter would then be akin to Neo simply choose to return to the Source, killing himself and rebooting the system to save humankind. However, there is a caveat: while I’m not familiar enough with the workings of Yūki Yūna is a Hero to say for certain, it feels that the Shinkon ceremony could go either way. Killing Yūna and the rest of the world is a very real threat, and there’s no guarantee that Yūna’s decision is necessarily the right one. Similarly, audiences would have been forced to take the Architect’s words that there were five iterations of the Matrix prior to the one that Neo inhabits. If The Matrix indeed can be used to set precedence for what is unfolding in Yūki Yūna is a Hero, then the likely outcome would have to be that Yūna herself dies in the end after her friends successfully repel an assault from the Independence Day-like vessel that’s appeared, although this time, the sacrifice would not have been in vain. Whether or not this is the case will be something that audiences will have to wait two weeks for — the finale is scheduled for the first Friday of January 2018.