Note: I’m watching Yuki Yuna is a Hero blind. Please do not post spoilers in the comments.
Time for Yuki Yuna is a Hero Season 2 Part 1 Movie 1 Episode 1!
Some clarification is in order. The second season of Yuki Yuna is a Hero is actually split into two parts: a prequel called The Washio Sumi Chapter and a sequel called the Hero Chapter. Further adding to my initial confusion is the fact that The Washio Sumi Chapter is technically a six episode re-edit of a film trilogy that screened in theaters a few months prior. I considered labeling this next set of reviews under “Season 2” but I think it makes more sense to go by each sub-series’ names and episode count. And as for the two versions of The Washio Sumi Chapter, I’m going by the TV edit. That’s what aired as part of Season 2 and it’s officially available via streaming in the U.S. whereas the movies aren’t. Hopefully, I’m not missing out by picking one version over the other.
As the title suggests, this prequel centers around Sumi Washio (Suzuko Mimori) and anyone who has seen Season 1 will know that this is actually Mimori Togo going by a different name after getting adopted by the prestigious Washio family (and if you saw Season 1 and somehow missed that…oops). At this point in time, Washio is a sixth grader beginning her career as a Hero. She’s joined by two other Heroes. The first is Sonoko Nogi (Kana Hanazawa), who obviously looks very different from her Season 1/post-Sange appearance (she’s also donning the bow she inevitably gives to Washio). The second is a new face by the name of Gin Minowa (Yumiri Hanamori).
Once again, you have Heroes fighting the Vertex though some details are notably and surprisingly different here in The Washio Sumi Chapter. Unlike the Sanshu Middle School Hero Club, Washio and her team are aware of their jobs ahead of time and even begin their story anticipating their first battle and with some training under their belt. Furthermore, the exact nature of their powers seem a bit different. The girls have to cite an incantation before activating their powers. While transforming, they don a body suit of some kind before fully materializing their Hero forms (is it just me or has the fan service in these sequences been increased?). Washio’s Hero form notably looks much different from Togo’s, right down to her weapon being a bow an arrow and not any of the guns Togo uses. The most telling sign however is the lack of fairies. Maybe I blinked but I didn’t see anyone call out a fairy during their fight. Very interesting that last detail is.
The same can be said about the Vertex. Remember that broken bridge in Season 1? Not only is it intact in The Washio Sumi Chapter, it also apparently acts as some sort of tunnel designed to confine any Vertex through one narrow path to the Shinju. The Heroes also don’t have go through the cleansing ritual to expose and destroy its soul as a phenomenon called the Flower Cleansing Ceremony appears to do that work for them.
I really get the impression that Washio’s team is weaker than Yuna’s. Perhaps that’s due to how they’re fighting. Gin seems to be the only one who can fight super offensively. Sonoko is more defensive as her lance can transform into a shield. Like her future self, Washio provides ranged support though it appears her stronger attacks have to charge up before they can be unleashed. There’s also a stronger emphasis on teamwork. Not that Yuna’s team didn’t work together to get the job done but there were plenty of moments where each character was able to fight solo for a period of time. At least as far as this premiere is concerned, Washio’s team absolutely had to work together in order to win (and to their credit, they did a darn good job at that). It wouldn’t surprise me if that is what I’m supposed to take away from the fight scene. Sonoko did mention in Season 1 that her and the others were only able to keep the Vertex at bay whereas Yuna’s team technically did wipe out an entire set of them (even if temporarily).
The aftermath of the fight is where the show gets more into the characterization. Washio appears to be pretty similar to her future self in how seriously she takes serving the Shinju and protecting her country. She seems much more serious however as, after the fight, she laments how she was only able to win with the help of her allies. This isn’t to say she doesn’t value them, she does, but that also serves as a source of conflict for her. She’s not sure how to befriend Sonoko and Gin. One scene has her researching on her computer how to best make friends. Even after getting the two hang out with her, she struggles a bit as she begins the event with a very formal address regarding the occasion. It’s all really interesting when you consider who this girl ultimately is by Season 1’s time. Togo had a pretty serious and reserved personality to herself as well but she wasn’t this socially awkward or insecure.
More surprising is Sonoko’s character. I had a feeling she’d be a different person here, assuming that it’s her Hero career that made her the tranquil yet demoralized soul that she is in Season 1. That said, I really wasn’t expecting her to be this ditzy and cheery. The direction gets a little overboard in accentuating that, providing some colorful graphical effects exclusive to Sonoko’s mannerisms as well as the goofiest transformation sequence I’ve seen in YuYuYu so far (seriously, why the dancing cat? Why the chicken?). At the same time, I am finding this girl to be very entertaining. She’s the perfect contrast to Washio’s personality, so much so that it’s immediately no wonder that she becomes close with her. I especially like the part where she comes up with the Wasshi nickname. Even before settling on Wasshi specifically, Sonoko impulsively tries a nickname on Washio, showing how she wants to be her friend.
Of course, the biggest mystery in the cast is Gin. You know, before I started this season and looked up the key visual for the archive page, I actually thought this girl reminded me an awful lot of Karin. And honestly, I still can’t get over that as I watch this. I mean, fiery attitude? Brown hair? Red color scheme? Dual weapons? Offensive fighting styles? The fact that they were both trained in advance to be Heroes? It’s too coincidental to me. I’m not suggesting Gin and Karin are one and the same, that’d be ridiculous, but I do wonder if there is a connection. Maybe they are related but were separated at a young age. I never mentioned this before but I always thought Karin living on her own was a bit weird. Could that be the reason why? I wonder…
However my belated crackpot theory fares, there’s one mystery surrounding Gin that the show has to answer. The fact that she isn’t present by Season 1’s time paints a very ominous future for her character. Maybe she also ends up severely debilitated like Sonoko but I actually think it’s entirely possible that she dies by the end of this season. With a clearly different Hero system, who’s to say the Heroes can’t die like in Season 1? Of course, it’s not just Gin’s fate we need to keep in mind. You also have to keep in mind what happens to the other two main characters. Washio will lose her memories of her time as Washio. Sonoko will sacrifice so much of her own body in the coming days. We know what happens to those two, it’s how and why that’s a mystery.
OP: “Egao no Kimi e” by Sumi Washio (Suzuko Mimori)
Thanks for reading!
Watch Yuki Yuna is a Hero: The Washio Sumi Chapter on Amazon