Yuki Yuna is a Hero: Great Mankai Chapter – Ep. 8

Note: I am watching Yuki Yuna is a Hero: Great Mankai Chapter blind. Please refrain from posting spoilers in the comments.

There’s a small chance I may be mistaken here but based on the contents of this episode and the video thumbnails on HIDIVE, I believe this episode is the last one adapting Nogi Wakaba is a Hero. I won’t lie, I really wish this arc was longer. The very premise of this arc alone is really interesting and it’s clear that a lot of its potential got skimmed over. Four episodes just doesn’t do it justice. I rarely get around to checking the source material of the shows I cover on the blog but I kind of want to read a fan translation of the Wakaba light novels, if only to see if the source material was better developed and better paced. But enough of that, let’s talk about the episode on hand.

The first half of this episode depicts the final battle between the first gen Heroes and the Vertex. The stakes are quite high here as Wakaba and Yuna are the only two Heroes left to fight and the gods take advantage of that number by sending a whole slew of Vertex to fight them. Both Heroes use their power ups to even the odds though this comes at the risk of its timer and self-injury mechanic. Before even getting to this fight, you more or less know the end result here. Yuna dies, leaving Wakaba as the last survivor of her team. While in mourning, Wakaba is forced to fight alone and while we don’t get to see it, it’s implied that she managed to reign victorious over the Vertex. She kind of has to considering there’s a lot of plot that happens 300 years later.

This battle comes across to me as an amalgamation of the final battles in previous arcs. Wakaba’s involvement in the fight is very similar to Sonoko’s in the final battle of The Washio Sumi Chapter. Like Sonoko, Wakaba is one of the last two Heroes left standing. Before the fight begins, she has one last moment with her friend (in this case, Yuna). Wakaba is ultimately the last Hero remaining, albeit to a more severe extent than it was for Sonoko, and we’re left to our imagination how her final stand went. Meanwhile, Yuna’s involvement in the fight is very similar to her present day counterpart’s in the final battle of Season 1. She seemingly loses the ability to walk, albeit in a bloodier fashion, but there’s a fireball for her to punch so she regains her power-up through sheer will. Between these moments and the one with Mebuki mimicking Gin and Karin in Episode 4, part of me does find this season’s use of callbacks a little cheap. It’s the most obvious thing to do to connect to the original cast and it also reminds me of a cast that I’m much more attached to. Still, I do find these references fitting. In the case of this battle, you really start to see how similar Wakaba is with her descendent and Yuna is with her present day counterpart. They may be different people, very different in Wakaba’s case, but it’s clear as day that they share that same drive, to keep fighting no matter what.

Since the first half is mostly action, there sadly isn’t much interaction between Wakaba and Yuna. You do get one moment before the fight begins. Yuna admits that she would’ve liked to have made a stronger effort to know Wakaba and proceeds to re-introduce herself, much like how a student would to their class at the beginning of the school year. While I would have liked to have seen these characters interact more in general, this bit of dialogue does help make Yuna’s death and Wakaba’s grief more poignant as you know that they don’t get the chance to deepen their bond with each other. I would’ve liked to have Wakaba chime in right after Yuna, she only does after Yuna dies which I find awkward. However, I like that Yuna doesn’t expect Wakaba to follow her example because she knows it’s not really her thing, showing that she knows Wakaba more than she thinks. Another bit of dialogue to note is Yuna saying her spirit will live on so long as someone remembers her. It’d probably work more if it was brought up earlier in the arc but this adds some weight to Wakaba’s survival as she becomes the last person who knows and remembers Yuna (as well as the other members in their team).

As mentioned earlier, we don’t get to see Wakaba’s final bout with the Vertex. In fact, the episode cuts back to the present, with the Hero Club reaching the end of the Hero Annals (remember this framing device?). To be honest, I would’ve liked to have seen Wakaba’s life after the final fight. Her living the rest of her life with the baggage of being the last surviving Hero of her team and the only surviving witness to what they’ve experienced ought to be interesting. While I’m at it, it’s a shame that Wakaba is established as a distant ancestor to Sonoko. I think it’d be better if she was Sonoko’s grandmother or great-grandmother instead. You could have an elderly Wakaba reminisce about her friends and encourage Sonoko to not to be as guarded as she was, thereby encouraging Sonoko to be the outgoing person we see in the present. It’d be a great way to tie these two characters together and make their differences more meaningful.

Another detail that baffles is the revelation that humanity stopped using Heroes after the first gen team. They instead opted to sacrifice mikos as offerings to the gods for the next 300 years, up until the events of The Washio Sumi Chapter. I honestly find this extremely difficult to believe. I mean, you’re telling me there’s no other teams between the first one and present day ones? It just seems like a convenient excuse to not establish or explore any other teams in the intervening centuries. There’s no concrete explanation for why the Taisha suddenly went back to recruiting heroes. The best we get is that the mikos were simply sacrificed to “buy time”. But that then begs the question as to why the method stopped working. Actually, that can’t be the case as it technically still works considering that Togo offered herself as a sacrifice not too long ago. Also, what about all the Hero memorial or all those spirits Togo saw in The Hero Chapter finale? I suppose those all could just be mikos but it’d be a lot more meaningful if they were Heroes instead.

After reading the Hero Annals, Sonoko stumbles upon an old gardening hoe among her family’s possessions. Maybe my memory is really fuzzy from being on and off with watching this season but I can’t for the life of me remember if this hoe ever showed up before. What’s so special about it? Clearly, it must be special if the show is bothering to bring it up. Sonoko jokes to Yuna (Yuki, not Takashima) that the hoe might be a secret weapon but honestly, that could very well be the case.

Things take a surreal turn when Yuna heads to bed and meets Takashima in her dreams. While the exact nature of this scene isn’t made explicitly clear, we can safely assume this encounter is real. This is a magical girl show after all and this show has also pulled far more far-fetched things before. I say we just roll with it until the show says something else.

Having the two Yunas meet in person would be a good opportunity to explain their connection with one another. Ultimately however, the show remains vague about it. You have Yuna asking Takashima if she’s her ancestor and her doppelganger answers that she technically isn’t one but she doesn’t elaborate any further than that. Takashima later tells Yuna that her soul became a part of the Shinju after she died though that doesn’t necessarily resolve the mystery. My best guess at this point is that Yuna is a reincarnation of Takashima, perhaps one that the Shinju even willed into existence. Clearly, Takashima was deemed special by the Shinju if she became a part of it so maybe the Shinju tried to recreate her in the present time. It would also help explain why the Shinju favored Yuna and wanted to marry her at the end of The Hero Chapter. Alternatively, it could have been Takashima who created Yuna, albeit incidentally. At one point, Takashima says she didn’t have the time to decide her fate and acknowledges and praises Yuna for surviving and defying hers. Perhaps it was Takashima’s regret and her connection to the Shinju that led to Yuna’s birth. Regardless of the actual answer is, there’s clearly some sort of direct connection between Yuna and Takashima. Right before going to to sleep, Yuna begins to cry, presumably because of what she read in the Hero Annals. That could just be her feeling sad over what she read but maybe it’s her recalling certain memories, memories that both belong and don’t belong to her.

While conversing, Takashima reveals that she can actually take Yuna’s curse in her place and offers to do so to her present day counterpart. To the gods, the two Yunas are the same person and only one of them needs the curse. By letting Takashima take the curse, present-day Yuna still appeases the gods and she can return to a normal life. It’s a perfect loophole. Considering the continuity, it’s obvious that Yuna chooses to decline this offer. Even so, that decision is in-character. Despite the low point Yuna is currently in, she still can’t bring herself to involve anyone else but herself. Even when the person offering to help is literally another version of herself, Yuna would rather take on the burden alone. Another thing to consider is that Takashima has already suffered enough, even paying the ultimate price for her suffering. She deserves peace just as much as Yuki does.

At the end of the episode, we see the Taisha plotting to have Yuna marry the Shinju in a Shinkon wedding. This presumably takes place before Episode 5 of The Hero Chapter, before Aki-sensei explains the ceremony to Yuna. While making arrangements, the Taisha call upon the Sentinels once more for one final mission. So yeah, we’re back to these girls again. Not going to lie, this doesn’t instill a lot of confidence in me. I’m just not that fond of the Sentinels and I do consider their first round of episodes weaker than the Wakaba arc. But who knows, maybe this second go-around with these characters will change my mind on them.

Watch Yuki Yuna is a Hero: Great Mankai Chapter on HIDIVE

Read my Yuki Yuna is a Hero reviews

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