Yuki Yuna is a Hero – Ep. 12 (Season Finale)

Note: I’m watching Yuki Yuna is a Hero blind. Please do not post spoilers in the comments.

I’m trying to imagine the timeline where this finale is truly the last episode of Yuki Yuna is a Hero. I mean that in two ways. First is that I really enjoy the first season overall (key word being overall) and if I saw this in 2014, I’d want to see this show renewed for another season. The second is that this ending is such a mixed bag that I’d hate for this to truly be it for this series. That last sentence may come as a surprise, seeing as how positive I’ve been about the show in these episode reviews. But I always strive to be honest about whatever I’m reviewing on this blog and that is how I feel about this finale (at least as I write this review).

At first, the finale starts off fine. Yuna and Togo duke it out, verbally and physically. As it turns out, Togo is perfectly okay with her and everyone else dying should her plan work and the world ends. It’s a little surprising; I was hoping she wouldn’t go that far given her feelings towards her friends, certainly Yuna at least. Still, I suppose that’s the best explanation behind her actions as of late. Even though I side with Yuna here, I do admit that Togo makes the stronger argument. Togo fears forgetting her friends again or vice versa. Yuna responds by saying she won’t forget but the promise does feel a bit empty given what has happened between Togo and Sonoko. Togo has experience backing her case, Yuna sadly doesn’t. That said, Yuna does punch Togo in the face (what a sight to behold) and by anime logic, that’s an instant win.

Not wanting to be one upped by that scene, the Vertex rally for one final assault on the Shinju, forming a stinking star no less. All the Heroes pitch in to stop it (KARIN, TAKE A DAMN BREAK. YOU DESERVE IT). Yuna particularly goes all out, skipping her normal Hero form and transforming straight into Mankai as well as delivering the final blow. It’s not exactly the most inventive action scene, the girls are just pushing a giant ball technically, but it does feel intense due to the scope and the music. The aftermath is also pretty chilling with the girls lying on the floor, barely able to move. Fuu wonders if they’re finally done with the Hero business (these girls seriously need to stop asking that) and Togo realizes that Yuna is completely unresponsive. Cut to the eyecatch and I’m at the edge of my seat wondering what happens next.

And this is where I start to feel disappointed…

Following the big fight, most of the girls start to recover from Sange, Togo can walk, Itsuki can speak, the list goes on. Even Sonoko is shown to be regaining what she lost years ago. The only uncertainty is Yuna who is left in vegetative state because of how much she stressed her powers during the fight. For a while, it seems hopeless though eventually, Yuna wakes up and reunites with her friends. The episode gives some hints as to how everyone recovers. After the Vertex sun is destroyed, the Shinju appears to be taking in the energy left by it. Flower petals fall upon the girls’ bodies as they lay on the ground and all their fairies disappear, not to be seen again. I’m guessing this is all saying the girls are truly done being Heroes and thanks to a new excess in energy, the Shinju decides to restore what the girls lost as a reward. Yuna perhaps took longer because of how much power she exhausted though Togo prefers to believe it was her own will that allowed her to wake up.

I’m of two minds with this development. The first and more positive comment is that yes, seeing everyone regain what they lost does come across as emotional. Togo waking up and suddenly realizing she can move her legs again. Itsuki surprising Fuu by greeting her. I can’t deny I was surprised and a little moved to see these all happen. That’s especially the case with Yuna. Seeing her in such as state is a depressing sight and Togo blaming herself and losing hope as the days go by makes it even worse (also, props to Suzuko Mimori. Great performance by her here). There is something satisfying then as Yuna finally hears Togo calling out her and responds back.

Conversely however, there’s something cheap and devaluing about everyone getting better. It undermines a lot of what the characters has been through. Sonoko revealing what happens as a Hero keeps fighting. Fuu having a breakdown about how she and her team has been deceived and manipulated. Karin accepting the consequences and risking her body to protect her friends anyway. Togo trying to end the world and then dealing with the fact that her best friend is more or less dead. Those scenes hit hard when they happen and you’d think they’d mean something long term. But they really don’t now, not when everyone is perfectly fine in the end. This was the show’s one element that brought a sense of permanence and weight to the story (especially since the characters can’t actually die). To remove that entirely in the end and make it not matter as much as it should’ve is frustrating.

Honestly, I was expecting YuYuYu to reveal some sort of catch to all the happiness at the end. Like, after the credits, the Vertex return in full swing and it’s revealed the Shinju restored the girls’ bodies because it’s been pleased with their performance in battle and wants to keep them around for longer. Or maybe Yuna’s friends find out she somehow bargained with the Shinju for her friends’ recovery and paid the price in some way. That was what I thought happened when the show reveals her catatonic state. The show does hint at something along these lines when, during the club’s skit for the Culture Festival, Yuna nearly passes out. Ultimately, everyone writes it off as fatigue but it wouldn’t surprise me if that’s used as a hook for Season 2.

That’s the one upside I see with this episode, even if retroactively. I’m disappointed but the truth is that this finale isn’t really the finale anymore. We have a second season of this show and after holding off on a decision for many weeks, I’ve decided that I will watch and review it. Maybe it’ll address my big issue with Season 1’s ending. Maybe it’ll serve as a stronger conclusion for the story as a whole. There’s only one way to find out. Besides that, I just want to see more of Yuki Yuna is a Hero. Despite the ending, Season 1 has been a really fun ride, fun enough that I want to see what happens next for our Heroes (and what happened before they became Heroes).

See you all in Season 2.


Thanks for reading!

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7 thoughts on “Yuki Yuna is a Hero – Ep. 12 (Season Finale)

  1. The ending did frustrate a lot of people in 2014. Not me, I was fine with it, and I haven’t heard nearly as much complaining about it either since season 2 dropped. The funny thing with this series is that while everyone was always comparing it to Madoka, I always saw a lot of influence from outside the magical girl genre, especially from the Persona franchise and Jun Maeda’s stuff. And since this is by the same director who did both Angel Beats and the Persona 4 anime, I’m not sure why not many other people seem to have made that connection – even if we were still in 2014 with no knowledge of the sequel, Yuki Yuna’s ending to me would fit neatly into the same category as the endings of Clannad After Story and Kanon. Now we do have season 2, though, and we know that there’s actually more going on here than meets the eye. But that’s where I have to stop for now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m pretty familiar with Persona (P4 is my favorite game ever) and Jun Maeda’s works and I knew ahead of time that Seiji Kishi is the director but hmmm, not sure I see the connections. Maybe it’ll be more apparent to me during Season 2.

      Don’t know about “Clannad or Kanon” either (and I remember having a nitpick or two about how After Story ends) but me personally, this finale fits in the same category as the Season 1 finale of “Legend of Korra”. Both finales had a terrific build up provided by the preceding episodes only to lose miss the mark at the very, very end.

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      1. It’s the “karmic reset” thing that Key is famous for. So ***MASSIVE KANON/CLANNAD SPOILER ALERTS!!!!*** Clannad offers Tomoya the alternate timeline where Nagisa and Ushio survive and they all get to live happily ever after. Kanon has Ayu’s final wish, which is powerful enough to make everyone fully recover from their various illnesses and injuries, even the ones that were supposedly terminal. The implication in Yuki Yuna (or at least what the characters are speculating in the immediate aftermath, before season 2) is that the Shinju was impressed with the courage the girls displayed in fighting off the last threat, and that’s why it chose to return their offerings. Those three endings are all essentially variations on the idea that good karma ultimately gets rewarded. ***END SPOILERS***

        The other similarity with Maeda’s stuff, more structurally, is that Maeda is a firm believer that lots of comedy makes the tragic scenes hit even harder. Kanon, Clannad, even Angel Beats are basically comedies 90% of the time, but it’s the other 10% when they’re stabbing you right through the kokoro that everyone always remembers, and Yuki Yuna is written similarly.

        As for Persona, these are things that stood out to me (and these are all based solely on what I observed of season 1):
        * The emphasis on teamwork and social links within the Hero Club (especially as compared to Madoka where it was almost always “every magical girl for herself”), and the nature of the hero club itself as people who go out of their way to help others, just like Persona’s protagonists. I even made up a mock screenshot back when I think episode 2 first aired. Yuna and Itsuki were smiling at each other after a battle and I put a fake textbox under it that said “The Hero Club Social Link has reached Level 3.” So this was a comparison I was making from very early on.
        * While their functions are different, the fairies are somewhat similar to the Persona avatars in that they’re modeled after various historical/mythical figures, oni, and youkai and exist to aid the heroes in combat.
        * The abstract/stylized nature of the vertex designs has always reminded me somewhat of Shigenori Soejima’s designs for some of the monsters and Persona avatars in the games.
        * Just the nature of the battles themselves – time freezes (just like during Persona 3’s “Dark Hour”) and the heroes have to shift to an alternate space to fight where they can make full use of their powers.
        * In Persona 3 specifically there are 13 major bosses, the first 12 corresponding to the first 12 major arcana of the tarot before the final boss. Yuki Yuna has its 12 vertex bosses, but modeled on the zodiac instead of the tarot.
        Granted most of those tropes aren’t exclusive to Persona either, but there were just a few too many things both franchises have in common for me to ignore it (there are also a couple of other things I’m not bringing up now because those would be spoilers).

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh okay. I actually see what you mean now. Especially the karmic reset idea. Persona 4 also had a karmic moment as well. That said, I’m not sure if it makes me personally like the finale. To each their own I guess.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. The first half of the finale was… outstanding. Yuuki stayed true to herself, willing to sacrifice everything for her friends, and in the process the world.

    The “and they lived happily ever after” ending bothered me a little. Not so much for the rest of the cast, but for Yuuki. Returning her to life after her extreme sacrifice seemed to be a bit much even if the Shinju-sama could easily restore the other girls, even Nonoko. But yeah, I have to stop there too. It’s pretty much impossible to go further without potentially running into things from the sequel chapter of S2 or from the extended lore (from the LN’s).

    Wing mentions Madoka… and that’s a comparison I addressed in a review (of S1)/anticipation (for S2) post back in 2016…. https://apprenticemages.com/2016/12/22/yuki-yuna-a-heros-tale-looking-back-looking-forward/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Based on your comment and Wing’s as well as some 2014 reddit posts I searched up, I’m feeling way less awkward about my thoughts on the finale. Writing the post, I figured I’d be in the minority here lol.

      I briefly made a comparison to Madoka in the Episode 10 review. Parts of the lore and the structure really comes across to me as similar or deliberately different. Me personally, I didn’t find the comparisons a detractor. If anything, I was more impressed I was still digging the show in spite of the comparisons.

      I read your review and I kind of agree about how they differ in terms of themes even though I’d argue YuYuYu S1 botches theirs with the finale. We’ll see about S2 which, as I write this comment, is very, very soon.

      Liked by 1 person

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