The opening narration re-establishes Yuna getting cursed for freeing Togo from the gods as well as her decision to keep it a secret. In the midst of all the archived footage, we’re once again treated to some new footage showing the blue bird. I’m only bringing this up because this season is clearly gearing towards answering the one loose end from The Hero Chapter. And if it doesn’t, I’m grabbing my pitchfork. Seriously, who is this bird?
After the OP, the episode shows the Hero Club holding a late Christmas and New Year’s party at Sonoko’s house to make up for Fu’s hospitalization. I believe this is right before Episode 4 of the The Hero Chapter as that episode had Yuna’s diary date the girls’ visit to the shrine to January 7th while this episode dates the Christmas/New Year’s party to January 5th. And yes, I did go out of my way to check.
Amusingly, the gang begins their hangout with a Hero-themed board game created by Sonoko, complete with miniature replicas of everyone in their Hero form. I would question how much free time and/or money Sonoko had to make this a reality but then again this is Sonoko we’re talking about. She loves to make no sense when she wants to. What I will harp on however is some of spaces she wrote on the board. Bringing up Itsuki’s singing career is a funny roast but bringing up Fu’s traffic accident? I think that’s way too soon.
After the game, Sonoko shows her friends “The Hero Annals”, a book that details the lives of the first generation of Heroes — Wakaba Nogi (Ayaka Ohashi), Chikage Koori (Aina Suzuki), Yuna Takashima (Haruka Terui), Tamako Doi (Kaede Hondo), and Anzu Iyojima (Reina Kondou). As it turns out, the present day stuff is a framing device for an adaptation for the Nogi Wakaba is a Hero (NoWaYu) light novels. That we’re getting this series adapted is about the only spoiler I found out about this season while my episode reviews were put on hold. Had I not been spoiled however, I don’t think I’d be too surprised. With this season adapting Kusunoki Mebuki is a Hero, it seemed like a strong possibility that we’d also see NoWaYu adapted, more so after the KuMeYu stuff ended in Episode 4. It also seemed like YuYuYu was going to eventually address these characters. There’s art depicting them in The Hero Chapter OP, only for the actual arc to not elaborate on it any further. About time these characters make a real appearance.
The introduction of these characters is far from perfect however. We start off with an opening narration detailing the Vertex’s first attack on humanity, the birth of the Shinju, Taisha’s rise in power, and the creation of the first team of Heroes. The episode then immediately fast forwards to a battle scene. Tamako and Anzu have died and Yuna (not that one) goes berserk and tries to avenge them, resulting in her getting severely injured. As Yuna (somehow) gets treated at a hospital, the show treats us with a flashback depicting her first time meeting her fellow Heroes. I don’t really understand why these events are in this order. Why introduce these characters, then jump super far in time, just to jump back again (in a flashback within a story within a story no less)? It would make more sense to present everything chronologically.
To be honest, I wouldn’t mind if the remainder of this episode was just an expanded depiction of the opening narration. Seeing Vertex wreaking havoc in the real world and people scramble for their lives makes for an unnerving sight as we’ve never really seen that before. It’s a shame then that it’s only shown in a short montage. The show establishes that the Heroes awakened to their powers during this crisis. We see that happen in a flashback with Wakaba but I would’ve loved it if we saw it with all the Heroes. Have an episode where the girls start their day as normal only for this otherworldly threat arrive, killing countless lives. The girls are suddenly chosen to receive powers to fight back and protect what’s left of humanity, changing their lives forever. That would’ve been amazing.
Definitely the most questionable decision is showing Tamako and Anzu’s deaths so quickly. You have two best friends who were both chosen as Heroes and they ultimately die together. An arc that tragic should strike a chord in the viewer but because we’ve yet to truly care about these two and this is the second scene they’re in, their deaths ultimately lack any weight. Showing their deaths before we get to get know also gives the impression that if the show is going to throw these characters away like that, why should we care about them? It’d be like if Gin’s death happened in the first episode of The Washio Sumi Chapter, not even at the end but in the middle of it. It wouldn’t hit as hard.
As the name of the source material suggests, the main character of this arc is Wakaba and as her last name suggests, she is Sonoko’s ancestor. I must say, the apple must’ve fell really far from the tree if the Nogi bloodline descends all the way to Sonoko. Sonoko certainly takes things seriously when the situation calls for it but Wakaba means business. She wants revenge on the Vortex for the deaths of her family and she’s very determined to see it through. As a result, she takes the Heroes’ mission very serious and she leads her team with high expectations. The deaths of Tamako and Anzu does distress her a bit but she doesn’t allow herself to grieve if it means staying focused on the mission. It’s definitely jarring, what with the family resemblance, but it also makes Wakaba a really interesting character. We’ve never seen a Hero have such personal animosity towards the Vertex so there’s a lot of potential with Wakaba.
By far, the biggest enigma in the cast is Yuna (not that one). The most straightforward explanation would be that she’s the ancestor of present-day Yuna. Yes, their last names are different but that can be chalked up as the result of family members marrying into other families and adopting their surname. Be that as it may, it wouldn’t explain the massive coincidence that Yuna T. shares the same first name as Yuna Y. Even the Hero Club is perplexed to see Yuna’s name written in the Annals It’s not just the name either. Save for a few differences, Yuna T. largely looks the same as her present day counterpart. She has the same attitude as her. She’s even voiced by Haruka Terui. The character is downright uncanny. Clearly, something is going on with this character.
I’m not sure how with how I feel about how Yuna T. appears in this episode. Part of me would’ve preferred to see her introduction saved for the very end. Have the episode focus on the other Heroes and then, just as the Hero Club see Yuna’s name in Annals, have Yuna T. introduce herself to her team. That way, the viewer is thrown off at the same time as the present-day characters. At the same time however, I did kind of enjoy how nonchalant this episode is about Yuna T. Not batting an eye over it until the ending does add to the character’s uncanniness.
That the first generation of Heroes includes Sonoko’s ancestor and a girl resembling Yuna is certainly peculiar. The Nogi family has been established to be a prestigious group and Yuna is the main protagonist of the series. It would make more sense to somehow have these two connected to the prequel than any other character in the main cast. Even so, I wonder if there’s something more to it than the show is letting on. There’s also a brief interaction between Sonoko and Yuna where the two glance at each other before the former unveils the Annals. That could just be the show being cheeky before it reveals Wakaba and Yuna T. but part of me doesn’t want to write it off as that just yet. Sonoko does claim she hasn’t read the Annals but I can’t help but think she might be lying or that she somehow still knew ahead of time something about Yuna and her apparent connection with her family. Also, if I recall, Sonoko was the first one to suspect Yuna of her curse. I wonder if that somehow ties in as well.
The last character to talk about is Chikage. In Yuna T’s flashback, she’s shown to be a loner though following Tamako and Anzu’s deaths, she gets emotional and calls Wakaba out for her lack of grieving. I’m guessing Chikage opened up to her team some time in between these scenes. I can see Yuna T. playing a part in that. Yuna Y. has that kind of effect on people and it seems that Yuna T. has that as well, as evidenced with her managing to strike a rapport with the serous Wakaba.
Something to note about this arc is that the Heroes are public figures, as opposed to the more clandestine operation we see in the present. This seems to play a part in Chikage’s arc when she surfs the web and finds some distasteful comments towards the Heroes and the deaths of Tamako and Anzu. I’ll admit that I find fake Twitter playing a part in the plot a bit silly but it is interesting seeing the Heroes open to criticism, constructive or not, and how that affects the Heroes themselves. Looking back at The Hero Chapter OP, Chikage is noticeably absent in the art of the first generation. Everyone else is depicted but not her. Based on the current evidence, I suspect Chikage might go down a dark path. She certainly must’ve done something egregious if the Heroes are no longer public knowledge and her existence doesn’t appear to be openly acknowledged.
One last thing: who is the purple haired girl? I noticed her in a few scenes, often by Wakaba’s side, and what puzzles me is that the show barely even acknowledges her. To think there’s a character even more throwaway than Tamako and Anzu. My best guess is that she’s a close friend of Wakaba, maybe even a potential Hero if she’s hanging around the first generation. If that’s the case, where is she when everyone starts fighting the Vertex? What happened to this girl?
Thanks for reading!
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