Note: I am watching Yuki Yuna is a Hero: Great Mankai Chapter blind. Please refrain from posting spoilers in the comments.
It’s been…a “minute” since I last blogged about Yuki Yuna is a Hero. Sorry about that. Time for another post or else I have to consider restarting again…
I put Great Mankai Chapter on hold at a pretty crazy place. If you recall, Episode 6 ended with Chikage giving Togo a run for her money as the character most obsessed with Yuna and plotting to kill Wakaba in the Jukai. It’s a really clever plot too. The only ones who’d ever know of the murder would be Chikage and Wakaba so the former could easily lie about the latter’s fate. Considering that Wakaba is the main character, her name is literally in the title of this arc’s source material, it was safe to assume that she survive the fight. That said, the fight is surprisingly close as Chikage proves to be a formidable foe, thanks to her ability to create clones of herself.
As an aside, especially since I haven’t mentioned it before, I really like how the Heroes’ powers work in this arc. They don’t technically have faeries this time around but they do have a familiar of some kind. I don’t know if it’s technically called Mankai but the Heroes do have a transformation of some kind. Unlike what we’ve seen in the present, these are on a blatant three minute timer and despite its increase in power, it appears to be prone to self-injury. It’s as though the Heroes are literally killing themselves in order to get stronger, with only the timer as a potential inhibitor. It’s a really unique take on an established part of the lore, something that I think YuYuYu tends to be good at. I also find it interesting how each version of the Hero system we’ve seen before has some massive flaw to it. Despite all its revisions throughout the centuries, it’s never been perfected. Hero Chapter‘s iteration was probably the least intrusive but it was admittedly the most limited variant too.
What ultimately saves Wakaba from becoming the victim of a yandere is the Shinju deeming Chikage unfit to be a hero, going as far as to strip her of her powers. I’ve always wondered if that was always a possibility. Seeing as how the Shinju is what grants the Heroes their powers, surely they take them away. It’s used poignantly here but I’ll admit that I do wonder why this kind of occurrence has never happened before in the show. I mean, you’d think the Shinju would strip Fu of her powers when she set off to murder the Taisha or when Togo almost helped the Vertex win. I’m just saying, that tree god had a couple of opportunities to pull this stint.
To my surprise, Yuna actually sits out of this fight entirely. She doesn’t find out about what happened until after the fact. I guess she didn’t have her powers on hand so she’s cooped up in her hospital bed this entire time. Involving Yuna would’ve been nice but having just Wakaba and Chikage does make the resolution between them more intimate. Despite the attempted murder, Wakaba still considers Chikage her comrade and her friend, protecting the now depowered girl from the Vertex and promising to face any punishment the latter would give her. Thinking twice of her leader, Chikage instinctively protects Wakaba from an enemy hit, saving Wakaba but at cost of her life. I really like how Chikage phrases her feelings towards Wakaba during her dying moments. She actually admits that she still hates Wakaba for she made her feel but at the same time, she acknowledges that she did look up to her latter and if that’s the case, then maybe they were friends after all. It’s more poignant and bittersweet than an entire reconciliation. It also makes Wakaba’s subsequent grief more complicated. Not only is she is saddened to see her friend go but she’s also left wondering what she could’ve done better and with the fact the she ultimately doesn’t have that chance.
After the fight, we finally learn why The Hero Chapter OP doesn’t depict her alongside the rest of her team. Because she lost her powers, the Taisha disowns Chikage as a Hero. Her death is reported more discreetly than Tamako’s and Anzu’s and her name isn’t include the Taisha’s memorial. I like that Wakaba and the others take issue with that, with the former even making a commotion about it during her next public announcement. Considering Chikage’s action at the very end, it’s unfair for her to be unacknowledged. However, it does seem like the Taisha ultimately stuck with their decision, making Wakaba’s effort bleakly moot.
While paying their respects as the memorial, Wakaba and Yuna decide to visit Chikage’s home. They are joined by Wakaba’s friend and an ally of the team, Hinata Uesato (Kouno Marika) (and yes, this is the first time I’m referring to the purple-haired girl by her name). Having lost support from the Taisha, Chikage’s family has split apart and their house is now completely abandoned. I’m not sure how exactly the girls got inside the building but it does really interesting when the group sees Chikage’s room, which she completely wrecked during her breakdown at the end of the last episode. Wakaba, Yuna, and Hinata are all struck with a visual example of how they didn’t completely know Chikage as they would’ve liked. A particular moment of bittersweetness comes when the group finds a diploma they made for Chikage, congratulating her on complete her junior high school studies. I checked last episode and this item was in the background and left unscathed from Chikage’s breakdown. Learning about its backstory now is really odd; I think it’d be more organic if we saw it earlier in this arc. Still, the fact that this item was left alone perfectly sums up Chikage’s relationship with the team. It’s complicated but at the end of day, she did see everyone as her friends.
It’s interesting seeing Wakaba and Yuna deal with Chikage’s death. In contrast to Tamako and Anzu’s deaths, Wakaba bursts into tears when Chikage passes away. That can be attributed to her awareness that her stern leader act led to this moment as well as the fact that the two are alone and Chikage is still clinging to dear life. All these factors compel Wakaba to drop her guard this one time. Wakaba maintains her composure after Chikage’s death but throughout the rest of the episode, you can see cracks in it from time to time. At the end of the day, she becomes exhausted from bottling up her feelings and it’s only after Hinata’s urging does she finally let it all out. If there’s one thing Chikage has accomplished, even if posthumously, it’s getting Wakaba to open up and be more honest with how she actually feels. Yuna meanwhile isn’t terribly cheerful but like Wakaba, she also doesn’t break her composure until the end of the day. It reminds me of how Yuna Yuki acts in The Hero Chapter, keeping her own feelings to herself because she doesn’t want to trouble her friends.
A question I have now is how all this will affect the friendship between Wakaba and Yuna. Those two have always gotten along but I can see Wakaba now being more upfront and honest towards Yuna. I imagine she’ll also be more protective of Yuna since the two of them are the last remaining Heroes and Yuna is her only remaining friend besides Hinata. But what does this entail? I don’t expect Wakaba to make a heroic sacrifice because, spoiler alert, the Nogi family tree kind of has to continue on. Still, if something does happen to Yuna, I can see Wakaba trying to do something to save her. That may also explain how we have two uncanny Yunas in the canon. I may very well find out soon as it seems like the Wakaba arc is already in its final stretch, with the Taisha warning the surviving Heroes of an all-out assault by the Vertex.
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