Getting to this last episode of Yuki Yuna is a Hero: The Hero Chapter feels weird. Part of that is par for the course with finishing an anime I enjoy. This miniseries has simply been fantastic, easily my favorite “chapter” in the YuYuYu franchise. I can’t help but feel sad to be done with it, especially after it has occupied so heavily in my mind these past six weeks. At the same time, it feels weird to get to this episode because I spent the better part of this year thinking that if I got to Season 2, this would be it and as many fans now know, that’s recently no longer the case. It’s an asterisk I had to attach to this episode as watching it, I couldn’t help but think this was one hell of a way for YuYuYu to go.
I only have one bone to pick with this episode and that’s how dense it is. That’s admittedly an issue with The Hero Chapter in general. For a half-hour, six episode miniseries, this has been a surprisingly ambitious story that expands on the mythos in numerous, unpredictable ways. Part of me actually loves The Hero Chapter because of that as it’s all really intriguing stuff and the last thing I wanted is for the series to just repeat Season 1. Even so, I can’t deny that it’s chock full of details and the finale is no different.
Either I missed it or Amazon’s subtitles screwed up but there is no explicit confirmation as to who exactly the Hero Club is fighting this time around. Well, apart from being a giant eye in the sky that shoots lasers I mean. To be fair, it’s really safe to assume that the enemy is the amalgamation of the Gods that have been trying to wipe out humanity for the past couple of centuries. The most telling hint is that it uses some of the Vertex’s weaponry and really, who else could it be? The giant eye does make for an intimidating image, certainly more so than the pseudo-sun we got in Season 1, though what really sells it is how much of a disadvantage the Heroes are at. Seriously, the Taisha expects them to fend off that? Even if they were using the Season 1 version of their powers, I don’t think they could’ve won.
A neat attention to detail is how the normal populace is marked with the Curse of the Gods while the Taisha aren’t as they are praying to the Shinju during Yuna’s Shinkon ceremony. I don’t know if it’s an intentional allusion but I found myself thinking of the Rapture as those believing firmly in the Shinju are seemingly rewarded to ascend. There’s something strange and funny that becoming a so-called “Person of God” simply means becoming a strand of wheat. Maybe I’m missing what makes that so divine but I don’t know, I expected something more, shall we say, intricate. Maybe this is to show how foolish the Taisha are. All their devotion and talk of ascending to a greater status and that’s the reward they get? I would pity them for that if wasn’t for the fact this feels rather deserving of them.
As Karin, Sonoko, and Itsuki hold the fort, Fuu and Togo head off to find Yuna. Fuu eventually stays behind to clear a path for Togo, leaving the job solely to the latter. I do love it’s Togo who comes to the rescue. It of course has to be her given her close bond with Yuna as well as the fact Yuna has helped her or stopped her many times in the past. Now is the time for Togo to return the favor.
The Shinkon makes for a really surreal moment. It’s implied that Yuna and Togo are inside the Shinju (oh my) but all that you really see is a vast, black void filled with the voices of the human population. It kind of speaks to the otherworldliness Shinju as well as its distant bond with humanity. Meanwhile, you have all these white snakes wrapped around Yuna (oh my), some of them gradually eating away at her spirit. That stands out to me as a bit random though the color white usually represents purity so the imagery of the snakes clinging onto Yuna, a purified maiden, and accepting her sacrifice sort of adds up. It’s still a bit weird.
A clever detail within the Shinkon ceremony is how Yuna’s corporeal form and her spirit react differently to Togo’s arrival. Corporeal Yuna insists that she has to go through with the ceremony and save everyone but spirit Yuna is shown reaching out to Togo for help, thereby showing how Yuna truly feels internally. Eventually, corporeal Yuna comes around and externally admits her fear of dying and desire to be saved from her fate. The whole scene just perfectly resolves Yuna’s arc. Yuna is an incredibly selfless person but this season has made it clear that she can be that way to a fault, trying to handle her problems on her own. To see her finally be honest with herself, be a little selfish for a change, and seek the help she deserves but previously denied makes for a really satisfying and emotional scene. Yuna’s arc has been so good this season. I really liked her back in Season 1 but I’m so glad that she’s a more dynamic character this time around. This has easily been my favorite part of Season 2.
What really confounds me is how Togo breaks Yuna free. After the Shinju prevents them from reuniting, Togo receives aid from the spirits of all the past heroes (as well as the Hero Club’s but I don’t know how that works). A number of questions arises. How do these spirits show up? Who’s the blue crow that joins them? I guess it’s another hero since it transforms into one…but who is that hero and why should I care about who she is? My only guess is that all these characters are cameo appearances from the spin-offs materials. If that’s the case, that’s a neat nod for the diehard fans…but I can’t help but feel a little annoyed that I may have had to do some homework here.
At least the scene works on an emotional level. Having Gin be the first spirit to appear is an incredibly nice touch. It’s hard to deny that seeing all those fallen Heroes gather around is stunning and a huge contrast from all those graves seen at the memorial. The prose is great too. All of Yuna’s friends plead with the Shinju to put trust in them and humanity by extension, expressing their desire to decide their fates for their own. Having all the past Heroes rally alongside them is therefore representative of their resolve. The Shinju entrusted countless generations of Heroes to protect him and the world. It really shouldn’t be any different now.
What strikes to me most is that Yuna is ultimately the one who receives the Shinju’s power to counter the wrath of the gods. Obviously, much of that kind of just has to do with Yuna being the protagonist of the series. You simply need to have her be the one who delivers the final blow (literally). Even so, there’s something about that feels so incredibly triumphant. After going through so much this season and finally learning her lesson, Yuna gains the power she needs to correct her mistakes. She deserves this. She’s earned it. It also adds some meaning to Yuna’s status as a Misugata. With Shinju giving her his powers and directly putting his trust in her, Yuna essentially lives up to her status as someone who has been favored by the Gods.
I can’t but find it a little funny that Yuna gets an upgraded Mankai as I randomly wondered to myself if another level of that power would appear when I covered Season 1. Joking aside, I absolutely love Yuna’s new Mankai design. The giant arms were great but I think I prefer the smaller albeit still large gauntlet Yuna now dons. The added colors of green and gold mix really well with the pink and white scheme Yuna originally has and conveys the power gifted to her by the Shinju. By far, the best detail though is how Yuna’s gauntlet and the orbs on her gauntlet have the same colors as her friends’ Hero form, conveying that Yuna’s strength isn’t just from the Shinju but also her friend.
The final fight between Yuna and the wrath of the Gods is downright gorgeous. YuYuYu has always done well in those departments, especially with its soundtrack but my goodness, did the staff really outdone themselves here. So many shots just pop at you. The extreme wide shot of Yuna flying up towards the gods is this gorgeous mix of red, purple, yellow, and grey. The close ups of Yuna are meanwhile colored in monochrome. The list just goes on. And the music. What a terrific symphonic score we get to hear. If nothing else, this scene is a feast for the senses.
The final scene that follows is…interesting. All the Gods, including the Shinju, are gone. The world is no longer trapped in hellfire and humanity is left to their own devices. The Taisha are no more (allow me to play the world’s smallest violin to that) with only a few survivors such as Aki-sensei (I’m glad she’s still alive; she doesn’t deserve to die). Fuu graduates and defers the role of club president to Itsuki. Yuna is free from her curse and resumes her life with everyone else. For the most part, this feels like a happy ending. And yet, there’s something about it that doesn’t entirely come across that way. The background music is this rather melancholic ballad and there’s no denying that some details such as the state of the world are incredibly open-ended. It’s as though the ending is telling us that yes, things are looking optimistic right now but there’s no denying that the future is entirely unknown right now.
It’s kind of fitting right now given what’s going with the YuYuYu franchise.
When I decided to watch Yuki Yuna is a Hero as bonus coverage back in March, I only committed to one season. When I finished Season 1, I decided to continue into Season 2 and for a while, I was under the impression that would be it for me and the franchise. But this past August, some news hit: Yuki Yuna is a Hero has been renewed for a third season, titled The Great Full Blossom Arc (which doesn’t sound ominous at all). With Season 2 completed, the door is now open for me to continue covering this series.
I’ll admit: now that I have finished Season 2, I’m not sure how I feel about there being a Season 3. The Hero Chapter’s ending feels so definitive to me and while it is a bit open-ended, there are some things to consider. Mainly, who are our heroes going to fight and how are they even going to fight at all? Just saying, the sources for both of those are dead at the moment. I don’t know, where can the story really go from here? At the same time, part of me finds this upcoming season exciting. Like with our heroes, who knows what lies ahead in the next chapter. There’s only one way to find out.
It’s a new beginning, both for the franchise as well as for its fans, myself now included.