Before I begin with this Yuki Yuna is a Hero episode review, I want to quickly address a new elephant in the room. Yes, I have seen that announcement that dropped at the beginning of this month. With regards to this series of reviews, it’s definitely something to keep in mind. Until I finish Season 2 however, that’s all I’m going to say.
Now onto the review at hand.
I know we have just one episode left in The Washio Sumi Chapter but I can see this penultimate episode ranking as my favorite one in this whole sub-series. It’s eventful and tonally versatile, beginning with Washio and Sonoko dealing with Gin’s death and ending with them hoping for a brighter future (if only…). On top of that, it’s paced tremendously well. More than any other episode, this one shows that it was originally one half of a movie.
As effective as Gin’s death may be, I think her funeral strikes more of a chord for me. Gin dying I saw coming. It’s the aftermath I was less unsure of and to the show’s credit, it pulls no punches in this respect. There’s an uncomfortable grandness to the funeral as we have the Taisha give a formal address commending Gin’s heroism while our surviving Heroes don ceremonious uniforms and lay flowers upon Gin’s body in its coffin as is apparently tradition. You really get a sense on how revered Heroes are and it honestly makes me sick given the truth about Heroes. There are also moments that are just hard to sit through. You see Gin’s family mourn and deal with people constantly telling them how brave Gin was and the compensations the Taisha will provide them. Washio and Sonoko try their best to stay composed but you can tell they’re barely managing themselves.
To my surprise, we get an action sequence after this. Right in the midst of the funeral. That’s when Washio and Sonoko find out that they have to fight once more. It’s such a cruel move on the writers’ part, I love it. And Washio’s reaction to this is perfect, letting out all the anger and grief she’s been bottling inside up until now (seriously, why isn’t Suzuko Mimori in more stuff?). As for the fight itself, our two Heroes notably fight much more aggressively this time around, often saying that is along the lines of what Gin would do. I’m of two minds with this. On one hand, I like that these two are taking inspiration from their friend and want to honor her memory. On the other, emulating Gin also means they’re risking themselves just as much as Gin did and that doesn’t bode well for the finale.
Throughout WaSuYu, it became immediately apparent how differently the Heroes operate compare to the Hero Club in Season 1. This episode brings this up again as with Gin’s death, everyone at school now knows that what our girls do is dangerous and they’re wondering once more what exactly that is. They don’t approach Washio and Sonoko the same way like they used. Unintentional though it may be, our heroines feel alienated now. They realize that the only other person they have in fighting the Vertex and coming to terms over Gin’s death is each other. It makes me wonder if the Hero Club keeping their operations less public was deliberate, something done to avoid the stuff we see Washio and Sonoko going through.
I suppose our heroes could also turn to Aki-sensei for consoling. She is the only adult fully aware of what her students need to do. I’m willing to bet Aki-sensei knows this herself as we see her help Washio follow through with the flower ceremony during Gin’s funeral as well as pick the Heroes up after they fight the Vertex. At the same time though, you get the impression that Aki-sensei is unsure how to best help them. When she drives the girls home, you hear her try to say something only to stop herself and restart. And she finds words to say, she ends up making her students cry because of one mistake: addressing them as a duo when they still see themselves as a trio. I don’t know if this will necessarily be developed further, this show is running out of time, but it is a great dilemma for this character to go through.
The third act of the episode has Washio and Sonoko attending a summer festival. It plays out like any other summer festival scene you’ve seen in anime though the normalcy feels purposeful here. After everything that’s happened recently, this is a great opportunity for the girls to be girls again. One bit worth mentioning is when Sonoko tries to win a chicken plushie at a shooting gallery (which is of course rigged) and Washio teaches her how to best aim the rifle (talk about foreshadowing). Even though she wins, Sonoko instead settles on three cat charms, one for each Hero including Gin. It’s incredibly heartwarming.
For a while, you’re led to think this episode is ending on an optimistic. Our two Heroes are finally accepting the loss of their friend and are instead sticking together and looking towards a brighter future. That is until the show cuts to Aki-sensei learning about a new Hero system that’s all too familiar to us (at least Aki-sensei doesn’t like the idea). Even if WaSuYu didn’t show that, you know with hindsight that this mostly optimistic ending is a calm before a very disastrous storm.
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Watch Yuki Yuna is a Hero: The Washio Sumi Chapter on Amazon