Note: I’m watching Yuki Yuna is a Hero blind. Please do not post spoilers in the comments.
This is going to sound silly in hindsight but I honestly was expecting Yuki Yuna is a Hero to take a bit of a breather in this episode. That’s the general pattern this show has utilized — slice of life antics, magical girl action/drama, rinse and repeat. Last episode certainly did step two so I figured we’d cycle back to step one.
And there is plenty of levity in this episode. Everyone’s gearing up for Christmas (best I don’t think about how that fits with the Taisha). Togo tries to kill herself for inadvertently preventing Fuu from studying for her final exams. Itsuki is participating a community event and is lavishly supported by her friends, somewhat to her chagrin. Togo and Sonoko gives everyone their “alpha waves” (my God, they’re multiplying). Gyuki is eating Yuna’s stuff. It’s all a fun episode, right?
Yuki Yuna is a Hero reminds me not to hope.
Prevailing throughout this episode is the possible ramifications of Yuna’s decision to break Togo free from her spiritual prison. The opening scene teases the grandest of the two as we see petals of the Shinju fall ominously down in the hellish space surrounding it. It’s undoubtedly an ominous sight though what exactly does it entail? Perhaps that without a sacrifice quenching the hellfire, the Shinju is losing its ability to keep the world intact. It could also be that Yuna’s action has breached the covenant between the Shinju and humanity, resulting in the former slowly removing the protection it’s bestowed onto the latter as punishment. That is, unless Yuna plays the role of the sacrifice meant for Togo. Right now, none of the characters know of this so we’ll have for later to find out what exactly is happening.
In the meantime, there’s a more apparent and more personal consequence for us to worry about. Yuna continues to keep the mark on her chest a secret from everyone and contemplates whether or not it should stay that way. When she does decide to tell them to the truth however, she envisions the mark materializing on their bodies, stopping her from going any further. The following day, Yuna learns of various misfortunes befalling her friends. They’re mostly very minor such as Fuu and Itsuki losing their apartment keys and Sonoko burning her hand because of a hot kettle. Fuu later demonstrates the extremity of these misfortunes when, after Yuna attempts to talk to her one-to-one, her mark materializes further and she gets hit by a car on the way home. Were it not for her fairy, she’d be dead. Yuna quickly realizes what’s happening: in trying to tell her friends about her secret, they get cursed in return.
Some questions arise over the exact rules of this. Why are Yuna’s friends getting cursed? My best guess is that in wanting to tell them the truth, Yuna is subconsciously allowing her friends to pay whatever price she owes in her stead. It would explain why Fuu almost dies in a car crash. Curiously, Fuu doesn’t seem to be affected by any back luck as she recovers in the hospital which has me thinking that the misfortune is a one time occurrence until Yuna tries talking to her again, thereby renewing he curse. Most importantly, it appears that Yuna is unaffected by all this bad luck. Yuna ponders if it’s because she’s the current sacrifice and would need to be kept alive. But kept alive for what? There are numerous moments where the mark seems to cause physical pain so maybe Yuna is alive just so that she can give up her life force as the sacrifice (in which case: what the hell, YuYuYu?).
I think what stands out to me most about this episode is that it’s centered around Yuna. Looking back at Season 1, there really wasn’t an episode like this. Yuna certainly bookends the story and plays a major part throughout all of it but there isn’t an episode where I can safely that the episode was squarely about her, much like how Episode 3 is about Karin or Episode 9 is about Fuu. And mind you, that was never a detriment to Yuna’s character. The thing about Yuna is that she’s the linchpin of the Hero Club, the one who is consistently there for each of her friends and every hardship the club faces. She doesn’t really have an arc, the closest she has to one is whens she feels down about her friendship with Togo in Episode 11, but she also didn’t need one. She worked very well in the role she’s given.
Still, to see a Yuna-centric episode is nice and YuYuYu certainly doesn’t drop the ball either. The show has crafted such a devilishly perfect dilemma for its titular character. Yuna has consistently been there to help her friends in whatever problems they’re dealing with and here, she has a problem of her own that desperately could use the others’ help. But she can’t do that. Literally, she can’t. To even start bringing up the subject would be to endanger her friends. Yuna is the type of person who rarely gives up but the situation she’s currently in looks so hopeless, that she can’t help but feel that she should give up. Last episode, Yuna tried to be a hero and saved Togo. Here, she learns that heroism is bringing more harm than good, severely conflicting with what she believes in.
The climax of the episode does a superb job having Yuna go through the motions. She grimly decides to keep things to herself and tries to enjoy school the best she can. On the way to the hospital Fuu’s staying in, she smiles to herself but her eyes convey a completely different emotion, the one she’s most likely feeling deep down. When she arrives at the hospital, she stops herself from seeing Fuu and overhears the latter’s conversation with Itsuki. Yuna seems to realize that the two sisters were almost separated from each other forever because of her. If she wants them and the rest of the club to be safe, she can’t be near them.
Goodness, that ending. Yuna runs away without seeing any her friends and falls into the snow and concrete. While lying there, she finally gives into the despair and cries over her situation. The music doesn’t help at all. It sounds like a Christmas carol, I even looked up a fan-translation of the lyrics to be sure of that, but hearing it honestly makes the scene more depressing because of the contrast it creates. Part of me was a bit frustrated when the episode cut right then if only because it’s such a cruel move to but that frustration also means the ending works. I wouldn’t want this episode to conclude in any other way.
Some details provide a glimpse as to what’s in store. One of the Taisha agents (seriously, is that Aki-sensei?) tries to contact Yuna at her house. That can only mean that the Taisha have some idea of what’s going on. It’s entirely possible they know what’s going on with the Shinju. Meanwhile, Sonoko gradually catches on that Yuna is hiding something. Pretty surprising that Sonoko is the one who figures this out and not Togo. Sonoko is a smart girl and I’m all far seeing her and Yuna bond some more but you’d think it would be Togo to figure things out given her friendship with Yuna. Maybe YuYuYu is setting up for Togo to feel bad that she didn’t notice what Yuna is dealing with, a reversal to what happened between in Season 1’s eleventh episode. Then again, Togo isn’t too far behind Sonoko as she immediately notices that Yuna not paying Fuu a visit is not something Yuna would willingly do.
When the whole gang finally learns the truth, I doubt they’ll be mad be at Yuna. Maybe some shock here and a scolding there but knowing them (and considering the extremities some of them have tried to pull), they’ll quickly assure Yuna things will be alright and help her. I expect this to happen though I also expect it not be the resolution of Yuna’s arc. The one Yuna needs to seek forgiveness from is herself.
Thanks for reading!
Watch Yuki Yuna is a Hero: The Hero Chapter on Amazon