Note: I’m watching Yuki Yuna is a Hero blind. Please do not post spoilers in the comments.
After watching and blogging about Episode 9 of Yuki Yuna is a Hero, it dawned on me that Togo wasn’t present during the big intervention for Fuu. I almost took it for granted because that fight is so emotionally charged that whatever is in the foreground is going to occupy much of my thoughts about the show. Once I realized Togo’s absence, I assumed that was a deliberate move that would soon be addressed.
Well, I got my answer in Episode 10..and then some…
The episode is largely a sequence of flashbacks. They begin with Togo waking up in the hospital with partial amnesia, continues with the formation of the Hero Club, and ends with Togo’s investigation of the Hero System. Not that Togo’s bond with everyone was kept a secret but these scenes do really convey how they, especially Yuna, mean to her. She starts off lonely, gradually gains more friends, and she risked her own life to verify Sonoko’s claims for the others’ sake.
Watching the Hero Club’s early days is pretty bittersweet. I know Fuu’s friendship with Yuna and Togo is genuine and she didn’t want to get the club to get chosen but it’s hard to shrug off how deliberate her recruiting the two actually was. Since this is pre-Sange, you get to hear Itsuki speak. That’s another creative way to hear her voice again as well as another way to make me miss it even more.
With more of Togo’s investigation, comes more footage of her trying to kill herself. Thankfully, you only see two of them. Any more than that, it’d get excessive which and that hasn’t been YuYuYu‘s M.O. I can’t help but find the manners in which Togo tries to die symbolic. The very first time she tries to kill herself, she performs what looks like seppuku, right down to her choice of clothes and her stabbing herself in the belly with a knife. The second attempt shown has her overdosing with pills (how the fairies prevent that from killing her is beyond me). Togo starts off with an actual tradition from Japanese culture but as time goes on, she kills herself in less “formal” ways. It lines up with her decreasing affinity towards the Hero work, the Taisha, and the Shinju.
In Episode 10, YuYuYu finally reveals what the deal is with Togo…and here is where I have to confess to something. I first heard of YuYuYu in 2017 when Season 2 was announced. Thus, I know what Season 2 is called. So when I got to Episode 8 of Season 1 and Sonoko said the name “Wasshi” and Togo gets the impression that she knows her, I realized something that I probably shouldn’t have or at least not as easily as I did. Mimori Togo had previously gone by the name of “Sumi Washio”. That’s the only spoiler that I know of and while it’s hard to avoid knowing the name of something, I still wish I didn’t know what Season 2 is called. I didn’t bring this up in the Episode 8 review in case someone reading it doesn’t actually know so I played a little dumb there.
That said, I can still acknowledge the execution of the twist. Earlier in the episode, you see someone in the hospital change the sign on Togo’s room. The first sign states the name “Sumi Washio”. That can give the impression that they’re simply changing the signs because of the changing of patients until you realize that “Wasshi” and “Washio” sound awfully similar to each other (I’m guessing that was Sonoko’s nickname for Togo?). Eventually, Togo reveals that she went by the surname Washio during the two years she currently can’t remember, thereby linking her to the “Sumi Washio” name. It feels a bit more nonchalant than I expected though I think the tone taken here may been intentional. After meeting Sonoko for the first time (in possibly two years?), Togo had, deep down, knew the truth about herself all along. If she was shocked, it must’ve happened off screen.
Also, the fact that Mimori Togo and Sumi Washio are apparently one and the same was all I knew. I genuinely was still speculating like crazy in my Episode 8 review what Sonoko’s hints say about Togo. As it turns out, I mostly got things right. Togo has served as a Hero for longer than her post-amnesia self realized, alongside Sonoko even. She’s previously gone through Sange and that’s why she can’t walk or remember the past two years of her life (I’m surprised it wasn’t all of her memories). Something that does surprise me is the fact that Sumi Washio is actually just a name Togo went by during those two years. I was under the impression Sumi Washio would be her real name and the Taisha renamed her Mimori Togo so they can better manipulate her. As it turns out, Togo was adopted into the Washio family and reverted to the original name after losing her memories. That still allows the Taisha to manipulate her but I don’t know, I think my idea would’ve been darker.
The funny thing about Togo’s name is that it’s not the big “WTF” twist that this episode has up its sleeve. You see, Sonoko reveals one more thing to Togo — the island of Shikoku is actually all that’s left of the world, kept safe by the barrier the Shinju has created. Surrounding it is a hellish realm heavily populated by the Vertex. Togo walks to the other side of the barrier to see for herself and is horrified that Sonoko is once again telling the truth. The best part about all this is that when I think about it, this twist was actually telegraphed throughout the show. The very first shot of the OP is actually the remnant of the world surrounding the Vertex’s domain. Multiple times you are shown how there’s a plateau circling Japan.
I think the reason why this twist feels more hidden is because the show doesn’t make a huge stink about it like it has with its other hints. The first shot in the OP bears no significance until now. The characters don’t directly acknowledge the plateau and therefore, you don’t acknowledge it unless you pay extreme close attention to the details. There’s also the fact that you wouldn’t necessarily think about the show only taking place in Japan. I did wonder if there exists Heroes in other countries or if everyone in the world worships the Shinju but that just seemed to be part of the show’s conceit. That’s the case with a lot of stories. For example, is it odd that My Hero Academia is just set in Japan despite Heroes being a job worldwide? Yes but it’s a manga/anime. That’s just part of its conceit. The fact that YuYuYu is actually making a plot point out of something you take for granted is honestly surprising to me, not to mention very clever.
While the horde of Vertex horrifies Togo, what truly distresses her is finding out that the twelve the Hero Club fought is getting reconstructed. This means the cycle of Heroes vs. Vertex will truly never end and the Heroes will have to keep fighting until they literally can’t anymore. The interesting thing is that Togo says she wouldn’t mind this if she was the only sacrifice. Her whole life, she dreamed of serving her country and the Shinju and the truth is that she pretty much got what she wished. But because Yuna and everyone else is involved, she decides to do the unthinkable. She damages the barrier and lets the Vertex swarm in to destroy the Shinju.
Truth be told, I’m a little confused as to how exactly Togo’s plan will work. The destruction of the Shinju would free everyone from the Hero system, maybe even restore their bodies, but wouldn’t doing so doom the world? Wouldn’t dooming the world also means no one is alive to enjoy any sort of benefit from the Shinju’s destruction? The only way I can see this plan working out completely would be if it turns out that the Vertex are actually the good guys but that sounds weird to me. There’s also the other Heroes to consider. I’m curious how they’ll react to finding out what Togo has learned but them being okay with her insane plan feels like a stretch to me.
The ending also does remind me an awful lot of Madoka. From how the Hero system works to the fact that Heroes and Vertex must cyclically fight forever, it’s all very akin to the true nature of Madoka‘s magical girls and Witches. Togo’s action here is downright Homura even. Darn it, they even have black hair and pull their stunts in the tenth episode. Does that make Yuna a Madoka then? They did say Yuna has the highest magical aptitude…
I will say that this scene is the perfect set up for a final battle (assuming this is the final battle for Season 1). In the last review, I expressed curiosity on how YuYuYu didn’t truly being the magical girl suffering until very late into its story. To me, that’s a huge creative gamble but perhaps this ending is showing the benefit. This final stretch of episodes would not feel as crazy or wild if the show showed its true colors early on.
One last thing: how dare YuYuYu throw that ED at me. Same sequence but the usual version of “Aurora Days” has been replaced with a piano version sung solely by Togo. When the episode ended, I was trying to wrap my head around everything that happened and what might happen next. To have this ED play didn’t help me in the slightest.
Thanks for reading!