Note: I’m watching Yuki Yuna is a Hero blind. Please do not post spoilers in the comments.
Considering how radical Togo’s plan is, I was very curious what will happen as the others catch wind of it. This episode checks the boxes but I can’t help but wish more was done. Like, everyone all agrees that Togo’s plan is insane and Yuna even reasons that if the world ends, then none of them can really be together. At the same time though, no one really goes back and forth about any of this. Everyone just tells Togo to stop and Togo just expresses her reluctance to fight back and begs her friends to understand where she’s coming from. Perhaps Togo doesn’t have a riposte to the biggest hole in her plan. She clearly is acting by impulse and desperation. Even so, it would’ve been more compelling to see her coming up various excuses, adding to her delusional and stressed state.
I also wish Yuki Yuna is a Hero focused a little more on the others’ reaction to the fact that their home is actually all that’s left of the world. Togo lures Yuna and Karin to see the truth for themselves, that I really like, but all you get is some shocked faces and a couple of gasps. Meanwhile, it’s implied that Fuu and Itsuki find out off screen and that’s even more disappointing. At least show Fuu’s initial reaction, that had to be something considering her track record.
Where this episode fares better is with the character development and interpersonal drama. For starters, Fuu gets back on her feet. I was afraid she’d be moping until the finale and for a while, it seemed to be the case. Itsuki even struggles to rally her. A neat little detail to the scene is that Itsuki tries to use her words which obviously don’t come out and I see that as saying even if she could speak, she still couldn’t reach out to Fuu. Eventually, Fuu comes back around. Seeing Itsuki fight alone and remembering why her sister chose to be a Hero makes her realize she can’t give up and do nothing. Old, fun Fuu is back and that makes me happy.
Yuna, meanwhile, is having an less than stellar time. Learning about what Togo was up to and realizing she didn’t catch onto any of it, Yuna starts to believe that she’s failed as a friend. Her low spirits even prevents her from transforming into a Hero, rendering her powerless for much of the episode. It’s only after some encouragement from
her second girlfriend Karin does Yuna find her resolve again.
Speaking of Karin….
Even though it seems that Karin has taken all the news pretty well, more so than I had anticipated, it’s not to say that she hasn’t grown disillusioned about serving the Taisha. She does draw her blade against Togo in the organization’s name but the hesitation and reluctance is evident in her body language and voice. And when Togo tells her she’s been used by the Taisha like a tool, Karin is forced to agree. She’s trained to be a Hero for most of her life and did their bidding. She is a tool for the Taisha. Fortunately, that realization does little to deject Karin. She soon realizes that she has another and much better reason to keep fighting: her friends.
I know that rooting for a character and worrying for them at same time during the action goes without saying but that dichotomy feels very pronounced during Karin’s big fight scene. On one hand, this girl finally gets her moment to shine. In fact, after so many episodes where Karin kind of gets the short end of the stick, YuYuYu goes in the extreme opposite where she takes on five major Vertex alone and uses Mankai four times. Her Mankai is pretty cool, very akin to Yuna’s with the giant arms, and even when the power up deactivates, Karin still pulls some sick attacks on the enemies. The timing also couldn’t be any better as it happens right after Karin reaches her decision to now fight for the Hero Club. She even demonstrates her increased affinity by saying all five of the club’s tenets, something that she thought was silly earlier in the series. But at the same time, you know what the consequences will be and sure enough, Karin experiences Sange the same times as she uses Mankai. She loses control of her right limbs and becomes blind and deaf as a result. Her Hero form does create new gear to compensate (Goodness, I’m realizing now how much Togo’s Hero form foreshadowed) but that’s a moot point given its time/stamina limit. For much of the series, Karin had nothing to lose. Now, she’s loses more than anyone else besides Togo.
Not to sound cruel but the big emotional scene at the end between Yuna and Karin would probably be more moving if Karin actually dies. Perhaps that’s the disadvantage with the lore establishing that the Heroes can’t die. You’re robbing the magical girl suffering of the most permanent thing you can do said magical girls. But while Karin will live, there is still something unfortunate about her losses. The fact that she’s now blind and deaf means Karin is no longer able to see and hear the friends she’s now come to cherish (how “dare” the show have her look at her birthday party photo as foreshadowing). The sudden and literal disconnect is evident as Yuna and Karin converse. Karin can’t tell if it’s Yuna she’s talking to and Yuna can’t respond since she won’t hear.
And so, I’m down to one episode of Yuki Yuna is a Hero (Season 1. Let me worry about Season 2 another day). Thanks to Karin, Yuna finds the resolve to confront Togo and she is pretty much the last one left to fight. Fuu and Itsuki put up a good fight and they may join back in during the finale. I hope Karin is out entirely because the poor girl seriously deserves the break. For the most part, I expect the final fight to largely be between Yuna and Togo. Yuna is the only one who can knock some sense into Togo (figuratively and literally), not to mention the one Togo wishes to fight the least. On paper, this is the perfect fight for the finale.
I look forward to it but to be honest, I’m struggling to picture how the show will end. I want to expect that Yuna will win and Togo will give up on her plan but considering how wild YuYuYu has gotten in the past few episodes, I feel I should consider the possibility of Togo’s plan actually going through or something even crazier than that. The uncertainty perhaps feels more pronounced because Season 2 exists. Was the Season 1 finale pretty conclusive or was it such a massive cliffhanger that Season 2 had to happen? I suppose I’ll find out soon enough.
Thanks for reading!
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4 thoughts on “Yuki Yuna is a Hero – Ep. 11”
Best Girl finally gets her Crowning Moment of Awesome…. And some of the best voice work in the series. Which is saying something, because it’s generally high quality all through the series.
I disagree with you on whether or not they should have killed off Karin though. All too often, I feel that’s nothing more than a cheap shot – an easy way to hit the audience in the feels. As a trope, it’s way overused. (Even setting aside what we’ve all seen too often – the impermanence of death in superhero/majou shoujo fiction.)
Not killing her was *much* subtler… And it’s all been foreshadowed.
What Karin is experiencing is a fate worse than death… Trapped in the darkness in a body that won’t respond to her commands. As we’ve seen with Sonoko and Washio/Togo, that doesn’t mean the Taisha is done with her. And if she can’t fight, even with augmentations (such as Togo’s walking ribbons), she’ll live on in that darkness in a gilded cage.
That’s what’s fueling Togo’s rage – the Hero System is a *scam* visited upon innocent girls by the Taisha as instruments of the Shinju-sama. The victory they won was illusory. Everything she’s lost was for nothing. The pain and injuries of her friends bought no peace. It was all a lie. The suffering never ends. The war never ends.
She’s determined to break that cycle. Without regard to the cost.
(Which is why I didn’t comment last week… It all ties into this week.)
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Not that I expected the voice acting to be bad but some of the performances has taken me by surprise. Been really enjoying Suzuko Mimori as Togo and Yumi Uchiyama as Fuu in particular. Kana Hanazawa has also been great as Sonoko for the few times the character has appeared; I’m assuming she voices her more in Season 2 (of which I still haven’t made a decision on).
Fair enough about Karin. I just think death is the most permanent you can do for your magical girl suffering and I don’t think it would’ve been a cheap shot if the show pulled it off here.Still, and I think I made it clear in the review (if not, I’ll fix that), it was a punch in the gut seeing Karin like that. It’s an interesting writing challenge for sure – how do you make your magical girl show dark when your magical girls can’t die?
I think I more or less said something like that about Togo’s character so agreed.
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The episode that cemented Karin as my favorite character in the series. It’s one type of heroism to fight nobly for a just cause when you can still dream of victory and coming home in one piece afterward. It’s quite another type of heroism knowing the cold-blooded truth of your situation and choosing to fight anyway for the sake of your friends and comrades regardless of what it’s going to do to you. That’s some next-level courage that she shows in that scene. No matter how many times I’ve seen it I still can’t watch it without getting misty. Also backed by my favorite track in the OST, “11 Stars/5 Flowers,” AKA “Hero’s Will.”
Regarding the voice acting, I’ll always remember this series for introducing me to Tomoyo Kurosawa, who’s since become one of my favorite VAs. Granted she doesn’t get to stand out quite as much here because of Itsuki losing her voice halfway in, but I read an interview where she talked about how Itsuki was the first time she ever played an introverted character (this was still very early in her career), and I have to believe that was valuable experience for her big breakout role as Kumiko in Euphonium the following year.
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“11 Stars/5 Flowers” is definitely one of my favorite tracks in the show. The whole OST has been fantastic.
Yeah, you can tell Itsuki is played by someone fairly new to voice acting at the time but it worked pretty well for me. I think it adds to the shyness of the character and you do start to miss the performance after Itsuki loses the ability to speak. Only seen an episode of Euphonium but I’m a little curious to see Kurosawa’s performance in that now.