There was no doubt in my mind that something dark was going to happen to explain Gin’s absence in the events of Yuki Yuna is a Hero Season 1. Sure enough, we finally find out in Episode 4 that this is where Gin meets her end, fighting in a violent and hard earned final stand to protect Washio and Sonoko and save the world.
Considering how much of a given Gin’s fate is, the question to ask is whether or not it still strikes a chord. That’s generally a tough task for prequels to do (though it is all the more impressive when it does). Plus, in YuYuYu‘s case, the bar for emotional content has been set high and up until now, the show’s pulled that off without killing off anyone! I think the show sticks the landing but if it did feel a bit weak, it couldn’t be helped to some extent.
I’ll admit: I’m not too big of a fan with the build-up to the big moment. For the first part of the episode, you have the girls attending a school field trip to the great outdoors and with that, some more slice of life antics. In a vacuum, this is a perfectly fine piece of content but considering this comes right after a full episode where we had slice of life antics are breakneck speed, it felt more exhausting than endearing. I honestly was growing impatient for the magical girl suffering to kick in.
It also doesn’t help that YuYuYu gets extremely blatant with what’s about to happen. You get one more scene where she spends time with family, learn how popular she is with her peers, and watch her converse with her teammates about all the fun stuff they’re going to do in the near future. About the only thing they didn’t have Gin do is have her say she has two days left until retirement. Even when someone’s death is to be expected, there does come a point where it the telegraphing can become overstated and YuYuYu really pushes its boundaries in that respect.
Once the action finally begins, things really do feel harrowing. The thing that stands out most to me is how violent it is. If you didn’t catch on how much weaker Team Washio might be compared to the Hero Club, you’ll definitely get that impression in this episode. Everyone gets severely injured here, with blood spilling out from fresh wounds and splattering onto the ground. Gin’s injuries are even more brutal as some of the enemy projectiles pierce right through her flesh and it’s implied at the end that she outright loses an arm during the fight. It quickly becomes clear that even with her powers, Gin won’t survive her injuries and her lasting so long is more out of sheer will than physical fortitude. Truthfully, I’m stunned at how bloody this fight is. It’s almost feels like the staff thought since this is the first death in YuYuYu, they have to go all out. Perhaps it borders on excessive but damn does it still work.
I only have one nitpick with the ending and it’s one line of dialogue where Sonoko tearfully talks about how Gin was going to teach her how to cook, something the two promise earlier in the episode. I’m sorry but it felt pretty corny to me; reminds me of “‘Who will I eat ice cream with'” from Kingdom Hearts and boy is it that not a good thing to be similar to. Other than that, the ending is pretty powerful stuff. You’re not privy to the end of Gin’s fight, leaving you to wonder with Washio and Sonoko what kind of stuff went down that Gin actually wins in the end. Gin’s corpse ominously stays standing, the show doesn’t get too graphic but you see just enough to know what state her body is left in. The art and Mimori Suzuko and Kana Hanazawa’s performances absolutely sell Washio and Sonoko’s reaction, gradually going from disbelief to finally grief. It’s the perfect ending to the episode.
Considering that the Hero System needs to be reworked in order for Season 1 to happen, I have a feeling that Gin’s death is the catalyst for that development. It lines up perfectly. Following Gin’s death and the trauma it inflicted on Washio and Sonoko, the Taisha decide the system. Fairies, Mankai, and Sange are created in the process. With this revision, no future Hero will suffer as brutal a fate as Gin did and no one will have to go through the corresponding trauma like Washio and Sonoko did either. As twisted as the Season 1-era system is, it does look like the better of two poisons now that we’ve seen what happens when there isn’t a Fairy to protect you. My only concern is that this would mean Sonoko is the first victim which kind of lessens the weight the Season 1-era system had. Before watching The Washio Sumi Chapter, I was under the impression there were many others before Sonoko and the latter was the latest victim. And honestly, that sounds darker and heavier.
About the only uplifting thing about this episode is actually something retroactive. I’ve noticed that the Vertex popping up in this season are the same ones we’ve seen in Season 1 (which makes complete sense given what we know about them) but I haven’t given it much thought. Here though, it immediately became apparent to me that three Vertex Gin fights are the same exact three the Hero Club fight in Season 1’s second episode. Chances are, Togo doesn’t recognize the Vertex as the ones that killed Gin (let alone Gin for that matter…) but the contrast is too hard to ignore. Whereas Washio was too powerless to help Gin, Togo resolved to gain power to save Yuna, inadvertently preventing herself from losing another friend. It makes Togo’s first fight even more special, not to mention badass (boy did she wipe the floor on those Vertex in Round 2).
And with that, we enter the final stretch of The Washio Sumi Chapter. It’s just Washio and Sonoko now. Farewell Gin. You will be missed.
Thanks for reading!
Watch Yuki Yuna is a Hero: The Washio Sumi Chapter on Amazon