This was disappointing for me.
Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru Episode 12 Review
Yuki Yuna is a Hero Episode 12 Review
Uhhh… Well first of all, HAPPY HOLIDAYS, EVERYONE! I know I haven’t been posting much at all, and I apologize for that. I’ve been busy with various things and the Hunter X Hunter review is taking absolutely forever. But that’s in the distant future and for now¬†we¬†really need to¬†talk about the final episode of Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru. If you want to look at the typical caption bullshit then feel free. If you want to read my actual opinions then¬†I highly recommend clicking the button right below and skipping to the review¬†portion. Let’s get started. There’s a lot to talk about.
WARNING: RANDOM BULLSHIT AHEAD UNLESS YOU SKIP TO THE REVIEW SECTION.
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Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru Episode 12 Impressions
Before I start getting into this final episode¬†I would like to discuss how I felt during all the episodes prior to this finale and what the show does well. In the first few episodes, as I noted in my Fall 2014 First Impressions post, I was actually surprised to see the mix of some NGE and Madoka elements. It drove me to follow it week to week. The few slice of life episodes¬†managed to build the relationship between the characters well and ended up being entertaining episodes in their own right. It set a decent platform for all the pain and suffering that many of us knew were ahead. After they lost their body parts and realized the “truth” of the Hero System, the show started to realize the potential that I was hoping for. Everything up until the finale was definitely not bad. I sure as hell saw Itsuki losing her voice coming, but the execution of the despair among many other smaller things like Tougou trying to commit suicide were all fairly well done. When Tougou saw the outside world I felt what she felt. Hopelessness because of the inevitability of their loss and complete surprise at the truth. Little by little, they will lose their body and eventually their minds. Tougou makes the emotional, but definitely still understandable, decision to keep what she had even in death rather than lose it all. At that point, the grim tone was set well. The path was set to either one filled with despair or a bittersweet ending in which¬†sacrifice seemed unavoidable. Who would have thought that the anime would bait us with all the despair only to switch it all around at the very end?
Now, here’s the thing. I don’t actually care about how logical their recovery is as much as I care about this bait and switch when it comes to thematic importance. One could fairly easily find reasons to support their recovery. We already know that the Hero System is still being researched and improvements are still being made. One could then say that now that they’ve fought enough Taisha found a better way to utilize the system and gave their offerings back. Back in episode 7, Fuu¬†even said at 10:25, “It’s okay to eat offerings after they’re there for a while, right?” Even though it was partially for comedy, it’s not as if any of the other characters denied what she said. Therefore, one could say that them getting back their body parts after a while makes sense. (Not to mention the petals that fell on them and so on.) The same goes for the recovering of the wall and¬†the Hero Club being relieved from duty. They fulfilled their roles and new heroes will probably take their place. The recovery of the wall can easily be addressed. I mean, Shinju-sama¬†made the wall to begin with so it’s not unreasonable for him/her¬†to be able to repair it after the battle. Taisha’s message that¬†“The enemy attacks will be ceased indefinitely” probably means that new heroes will take over after they fulfilled their duties and gave enough research so that the system can be improved upon. “Indefinitely” may be “indefinitely” only for those who fulfilled their duties because now they’ll just live their normal daily lives. That, or because they eliminated such a huge amount of Vertexes that it’ll take many years before they can attack again. You see, you can make a decent amount sense of it all. But again,¬†I don’t view this to be that important in the grand scheme of things¬†as long as the show isn’t being completely illogical with those resolutions.
I mainly watched this show for its more serious themes about inevitability, sacrifice of oneself for others, grasping on to hope even at times when it seems that none of it exist, the duty of Heroes, how the club helping people out is a¬†microcosm of their roles as heroes defeating Vertexes, the burden of heroes, and so on. The show was building up to a conclusion that would show¬†the significance of sacrifice, the necessity of it for great things to happen, the true burden heroes must bear to do heroic deeds, and the dilemma of whether it’s worth it to sacrifice oneself for the betterment of the world or if it’s only those close to them that matter. The show reflected these themes in many ways. The loss of Itsuki’s voice that subsequently crushed her dreams in order for them to live another day, Tougou finding out she lost memories of her old friends that she undoubtedly found precious and not wanting to lose that again, Yuuna finding that it is her responsibility to be the source of light so that they can carry on even with the despairing situation in front of her and knowing that the fighting will never end, Fuu blaming herself for involving all her friends and now having to bear all the burden with her, Karin’s fight in the previous episode that lit the fire in Yuuna again showing that sometimes even those who are strong need a helping hand, and… Man, there are so many things that the show touches upon that I could go on like this for quite some time. The show delivers plenty of themes fairly well for the most part which is why I am disappointed that it would throw a lot of that away in the very last episode. However, this is the key thing. The more I think about this ending, the more I am conflicted about it which is why I split this review into two different perspectives and I highly suggest that you read both before commenting.
My initial perspective
Almost every single major theme that I just described have their significance severely downplayed due to one thing. The lack of consequences. Consequence is the absolute key aspect that holds most of the significance of the themes together. Why should I even care about their previous struggles, their losses to continue living, their despair at not getting any better, bearing the burden of heroes, and so on, if at the end literally everything is perfectly fine? Everyone gets completely better. It’s like what they went through didn’t actually happen. Tougou even regains her ability to walk, and the girl who had twenty-seven or something ridiculous number of transformations is now perfectly a-okay. It’s¬†too clean. I don’t mean that people have to die, but there simply has to be more serious consequences for what they’ve been through because of¬†how grim¬†a lot of things building up until this finale has been. How does everything being perfectly fine at the end of this reflect the seriousness of the themes it’s touched upon and the past few episodes leading up to this finale? It doesn’t. If this show didn’t emphasize¬†the more negative and tough-to-get-through kind of themes that it did, I wouldn’t mind this ending, but the fact is that it did emphasize those themes. It emphasized them quite a lot in fact especially towards the end. If you look at the previous few episodes again, you’ll once again see how bleak everything was. Now compare that to this final episode. The consequences of going Mankai, for example, that was so heavily stressed in previous episodes turned out to hold absolutely no consequences in this episode.¬†It’s like watching a happy slice of life anime and at the last episode someone randomly dies and everything takes a drastic, dramatic turn. While this ending isn’t as extreme as that example, it should still serve to give you an idea of what I mean. You can’t take it to the opposite extreme so suddenly and expect me to be okay with it.
This ending made all those themes I mentioned hold little significance in the end, and as such I view Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru to be something with missed potential. Whereas I could have felt sadness or at least a little bit of emotion at the end of their arduous journey, I instead feel¬†completely underwhelmed by the severe lack of consequences. To build things up all the way until the penultimate episode by continuously emphasizing the seriousness of the situation¬†while at the end suddenly switching it all around and making a purely happy ending just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It feels like I was misled. It feels like all the themes presented to me in the rest of the anime were not utilized to allow me to appreciate the work but were rather instances of cheap shock and despair for the sake of despair so that I would be compelled to watch the anime until the end. To put it uncouthly, it feel¬†like I got trolled.¬†Again, you may not view it this way which is perfectly fine. Personally, I find¬†this ending to be such a stark contrast to what everything was building up to that I have to wonder if some fan was putting a gun to the writer’s head to force¬†him to write a happy ending for everyone. What a twist indeed. A twist that devalued so much of the significance of the themes is truly quite exceptional.
Am I saying that a happy ending like this shouldn’t be done period? Not exactly.¬†What few minutes we get at the end of them reminiscing what happened amounted to them talking about willpower. While willpower is definitely a part of the themes, they skipped over so much of their despair and their sacrifice that I wondered if any of that actually happened or if everything was just a dream. I mean, after sacrificing their body parts and suffering they manage to somehow¬†move on so quickly? Aren’t they supposed to look back to their struggles and think about how they surpassed the difficulties they faced together? The pacing of this episode is simply far too fast to give some remedy to the problem of downplaying the significance of the themes. At least I would have been able to partially forgive it if Tougou looked back on¬†her actions and/or Itsuki talking about her dream or something along those lines. At least then we would see¬†how they have¬†developed from their previous struggles as heroes. Instead, we get a play at the end reflecting far too little of what they’ve been through and how far they’ve come. There is so much more to what they’ve been through than this ending suggests. There’s far more depth in their struggles than this ending suggests. Tougou reading out the play to Yuuna and them getting back their bodily functions are nice, but it’s not enough. In the end, what the characters went through didn’t feel…¬†real. This ending simply feels like an inadequate conclusion to the seriousness of the past half of the anime¬†that it originally¬†placed so much emphasis on.
The conflicting perspective
At first¬†I had a short paragraph about this conflicting perspective, but as I thought¬†more about it I realized that it was far more conflicting than I initially thought. Basically, with this perspective you can argue that everyone recovering¬†wouldn’t have been possible if they didn’t originally struggle and go through all those hardships. It is because they pushed through all the despair and suffering that they got their reward of a happy ending.¬†All those themes I mentioned were necessary for this happy ending to have impact because without despair the characters won’t appreciate happiness as much, so this ending still reflects the importance of those themes. Moreover, one could say that Yuuna’s unrelenting willpower to be a hero is something the show emphasizes above all others. It was pushed at the very beginning when she originally took up the role of being a hero all the way until the end as she settled the rage of Fuu a few episodes ago and Tougou’s in this one. Perhaps, it’s significant enough that one could say it trumps all others which makes this happy ending more reasonable than it may first appear. If you look at all the harsh ordeals they went through to be obstacles that are torn down by Yuuna’s sense of justice and her will to do what she believes to be right, then maybe this ending is not so unreasonable. The trials they went through could serve as stepping stones for realizing their duties as heroes. Initially, they were doubtful about their roles as heroes. Tougou and Fuu thought they were betrayed by Taisha and strayed from the path of being heroes.¬†Yuuna eventually dispelled those feelings and reminded them of their proper roles as heroes. As those who save others. With such doubts cleared, they realize their full potential and the Hero System used by future heroes are improved as a result of their efforts leading to a happy ending.
While this may address, or partially address, my complaint about the lack of thematic importance, there are still problems with this perspective. For example,¬†Tougou’s turning¬†against everyone is far too quickly resolved. Just a few words on Yuuna’s part to convince her everything is going to be just fine makes for a not very good conflict. Also, this perspective still has the aforementioned problems of not highlighting the tough times the characters faced previously nearly enough. The resolution and them moving on towards a better tomorrow is far too quick considering all they’ve been through. It’s as if all the hardship they went through were insignificant ordeals at the end of the day even though at the time they were problems that had¬†huge impact on their lives. One also has to wonder if the themes related to Yuuna’s willpower and her pulling everyone through really does trump all the other themes surrounding despair when they were so heavily emphasized. To me, it felt like the major themes at the end were the negative themes rather than the positive which makes the sudden transition to a happy ending seem uncalled for.¬†Still, regarding the lack of consequences, there is one thing this perspective can say that alleviates some of that. While at the end everyone gets 100% better, it’s not as if there were¬†no consequences before reaching the end. For example, while they were fighting this final boss, there was the consequence of them all dying if they didn’t fight against it. Just because at the end nothing bad happened to them doesn’t necessarily mean that consequences didn’t exist in the past. It’s because of the decisions that they made that they managed to get away without any severe consequences that actually affected their lives in negative ways. In that way, you could say that there were actually enough serious consequences in that they existed only as possibilities at the time they were presented rather than things that actually affected¬†the characters by the end. How reasonable it is for them to come out even better at the end after what they’ve been through is up to you, but at least it makes me feel a little bit better about this ending.
Honestly, a part of me likes this happy ending because, well, it’s a happy ending and I’m not a damn sadist. (Okay, maybe slightly. I do like the tastiness of despair… Wait, does that make me a masochist? W-whatever.) A part of me is content knowing¬†that it’s not a bittersweet or tragic ending. A purely positive ending is honestly kind of rare for shows that are riddled with suffering. If this is how you feel about this finale, so be it. I am not one of those people that want to make you feel bad¬†for not viewing something the same way I do. Personally, I am leaning more towards my initial perspective. It still feels too much like a bait and switch that leaves me wondering where all the seriousness¬†went. The significance of Yuuna’s heroism isn’t great enough in my eyes to eclipse the combined themes I mentioned earlier surrounding despair, hopelessness, and the like. Anyways, there are a lot more to discuss but I’ll leave it here so I can finish this and go to sleep because I’ve been thinking about this anime the entire damn day. (It’ll also give you all the opportunity to contribute to the discussion.) This year’s disappointments have been taking quite the toll on me. So before I get unnecessarily bitter, I’ll just say a few last things.¬†Overall, I enjoyed watching Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru. It had some interesting ideas, the slice of life moments were enjoyable, and the execution of the themes before the ending were not poorly done. The fight scenes and the overall anime¬†are surprisingly well animated and the soundtracks are absolutely fantastic. I had hopes that this would pull off a satisfying¬†ending seeing as how it progressed fairly well up until the finale, but I’m afraid it just did not do it for me. I said that the ending of this anime will make or break it last week. I now think that was too strong of a statement. While this ending didn’t necessarily break this entire show, I feel that the overall show would have far more impact if the actions of the characters had actual consequences, and not those possibilities I mentioned previously. And no, consequences don’t necessarily have to be people¬†dying. In fact, that’d be bad in its own way. I don’t want to make it sound like this whole anime is terrible because it’s not. It just didn’t live up to my expectations. Would I watch a slice of life anime with random Hero Club shenanigans? Absolutely. I need the best girl Tougou-san huge double D action. Do I like this anime? Overall, yes. Would I recommend it to others? Only if you’re trying to pad out your viewing experiences without hoping for too much. Critically, this ending leaves a lot to be desired which is a shame considering the rest of the anime surpassed my expectations. Perhaps because of that, my expectations were too high for this finale. I definitely won’t deny that possibility. Whatever the case, I’ll most likely forever look upon¬†this finale as missed potential.
I hope you have a great holiday. You can look forward to my preview for next season in the next week or so. My long review of Hunter X Hunter (2011) and my Top 10 for this year are both still in the making. Eventually, probably in no shorter than a month, at least one of them will¬†be done. Again, sorry for the lack of content. I’ll see you in the next review!