Note: I’m watching Yuki Yuna is a Hero blind. Please do not post spoilers in the comments.
At long last, Yuki Yuna is a Hero moves forward in time with the second part of its second season, The Hero Chapter. Of the two parts, this was the one I was most interested in. The Washio Sumi Chapter ended up being great (not that I doubted that though) but by nature of being a prequel, it was a given what direction it was going. This on the other hand is more of a mystery. Where can the story go? I detest Season 1’s ending and I’m all for improving on it but the ending did feel very conclusive. Everyone regains what they lost and the Hero Club returns to business as a usual. It’ was all clearly designed to be that way in case one season was going to be it for the series. The most obvious route to take for a sequel would simply be having the characters fight more Vertex and suffer from their powers again. Looking back, Season 1 was open-ended about that possibility (though the character sure weren’t hung up about it during the finale). But to be frank, that sounds repetitive. YuYuYu deserves more than that. The sequel needs a wilder, more surprising hook to it.
One episode in and it’s definitely safe to say such a hook exists in The Hero Chapter.
Before addressing the elephant in the room, let’s start from the beginning. The first episode reintroduces us to the some familiar faces. Yuna, (Haruka Terui), Fuu, (Yumi Uchiyama), Itsuki (Tomoyo Kurosawa), and Karin (Juri Nagatsuma). They’re all back, continuing their work as members of the Hero Club. It’s nice seeing them again. As much as I grew to like the trio in WaSuYu, I was really missing the original team. Another character reintroduced is Sonoko (Kana Hanazawa) who, in between “Chapters”, has transferred to Sanshu Middle School and joined the Hero Club. Some flashback scenes are provided to expand on this development.
That Sonoko joins the Hero Club is the one Hero Chapter spoiler I knew of though I’d argue that her joining was more a matter of when, not if. With her fully recovered, there’s little incentive to not have her join the Hero Club and the principal cast by extension. Even Sonoko herself makes light of that, admitting that she’s joining because she might as well. I’ll admit I was taken aback that Sonoko is simply back to her energetic and eccentric self from WaSuYu. Part of me expected her to stay a bit serious and needing some time to adjust back to a normal life after…you know. Then again, Sonoko rebounding so quickly is the most Sonoko thing she can do so I’m cool with it.
Right from the get go, I’m really liking Sonoko’s chemistry with each other. Her and Yuna seem to have hit it off really well which makes sense as they’re both very lively. Not going to lie, seeing them as buddies puts a huge smile on my face. The only thing that disappoints me is that Sonoko’s nickname for Yuna is “YuYu” when it should be “YuYuYu” (darn it, you might as well get cheeky). Some other fun moments is Karin trying to show respect to her “predecessor” while also getting thrown off at how quirky Sonoko is and Sonoko tutoring Fuu because, remember, she is one of the smartest characters in the series (somehow).
Now, let’s talk about the elephant in the room.
You may have noticed that I have not mentioned a certain someone and there’s a good reason for that. I had two thoughts during the first couple of scenes. The first is glee over having Sonoko back and part of the Hero Club. The second is increasing alarm and concern that Togo (Suzuko Mimori) is nowhere to be found. I don’t mean that she’s absent from school and staying home sick. None of her friends remember her and none of the club photos include her. It’s as though Togo has been wiped from existence. The gang eventually remembers her again but they’re now stumped as to why and how they forgot someone so important as well as where she is now.
The third act provides a couple of hints as to what the hell is going on. In a flashback scene, we learn that as Sonoko joins the Hero Club and reunite with Togo, Togo has been secretly masquerading as a vigilante named National Defense Mask. As a fun callback, she’s donning her old soldier costume from WaSuYu as part of her cover (though I’d like to know she got that back…and how it still fits). Fuu recognizes her (Fuu recognizes that bust anywhere) and takes her to the club room to explain herself. Togo then confesses that she’s been struggling with guilt over the fact that she tried to end the world and has been coming up with ways to make amends. While her friends offer their support in helping her cope, it’s clear that Togo ultimately took things to the extreme. The ending reveals that she is now trapped in another dimension and judging by the pose she’s in and her Hero form being set ablaze, she’s clearly being used for something important.
There’s a twisted irony to what’s going on right now. Togo’s motivation at the end of Season 1 was her fear that she’ll ultimately forget all her friends. It happened with Sonoko and she couldn’t bear to have it happen again, especially with Yuna. And yet it appears that in the end, it’s Togo’s friends who end up forgetting her, possibly of Togo’s own volition no less.
That Togo feels guilty over what she did in Season 1 has a lot of potential. Looking back, YuYuYu really did sweep the extremity of her actions under the rug. She almost doomed the world but who cares! It all worked out in the end and everything is back to normal (the more I write about the Season 1 ending, the more I dislike it). Honestly, it makes more sense that Togo feels guilty. If there’s anything the past season and a half has shown, it’s that Togo worries a lot and struggles to let go of that. Her fear of uselessness to Sonoko and Gin. Her despair over the neverending Hero work and the potential loss of her memories. This feeling of guilt over what she’s done is no different.
I really like that Yuna and Sonoko are the ones who remember Togo first. They are, after all, Togo’s best friends. Even better are all the hints and callbacks that get thrown at them. Yuna glances at a girl in a wheelchair and recalls some of the treats Togo used to bake. The thing that finally makes her remember is her recollection of Togo reading the script of the club’s skit to her at the hospital. Sonoko remembers her dear Wasshi when she visits Gin’s grave and remembers that she was in a team of three. I take that as a callback to WaSuYu‘s fifth episode; when Sonoko told Aki-sensei that her team is still a trio despite Gin’s death. You also have a scene where Sonoko comforts a teary Yuna over her sudden recollection of Togo. Just…why? Why, YuYuYu? Why must you do this to me?
This last thought is a bit random but I find it really nice to see Itsuki drawing a Tarot card again. That was such a neat little bit of foreshadowing and it was a shame to see it dissipate as Season 1 went on (to be fair, things went down as that season went on). In this episode, Itsuki draws the Wheel of Fortune upright during Togo and Sonoko’s reunion. The latter pair assume the card is referring to their fateful reunion and celebrate though Itsuki is quick to point out that the card can also mean an unavoidable situation. No doubt, the card was hinting at something further down the line.
It appears the objective in The Hero Chapter is finding out what happened to Togo and saving her. Who knows, maybe there’s more in store and I just don’t know it though I’d be shocked if that’s the case as there’s only six episodes (now five) to work with. But while the gang knows what they need to do, how they’re going to do it is a whole other manner. No doubt, they’ll need their powers back so are they going ask the Taisha back for their magical phones? Are we back to using Fairies again or is there actually going to be a new version of the Hero System? And if there are Fairies, is the gang really going to risk Mankai again? What if the Taisha is behind everything that’s happening to Togo? And if not them, who is the real mastermind? Questions aside, the mystery surrounding Togo is a damn good hook. It’s surprising, it immediately elicits your emotional investment in the story and characters, and it justifies the decision to make a sequel to YuYuYu.
Thanks for reading!
Watch Yuki Yuna is a Hero: The Hero Chapter on Amazon