Hello folks, and welcome back to Wrong Every Time. Today I figured we’d check in on the continuing adventures of Yuki Yuna and her hero club, and satisfy my intense curiosity regarding what exactly we’ll be doing with the rest of the season. You see, the normal procession with magical girls is generally one antagonist an episode, all leading up to an eventual showdown with the big boss somewhere near the end of the production. However, Yuki Yuna has casually flouted this assumed structure, piling the entirety of its remaining antagonists into its fifth episode, and having our heroes claim their grand victory before we’d even reached the season’s halfway point.
This is all quite exciting stuff to me, as you might guess. There’s nothing wrong with reliable narrative templates; sturdy scaffolding can allow artists to hone in on smaller details of presentation, characterization, or whatever else a story prioritizes. However, it is through breaking with convention that you often find new intersections of structure and dramatic impact, while unmooring your audience such that they experience your twists with the intensity of true surprise, no more certain of their destination than your characters. Let’s see what the horizon holds in a fresh episode of Yuki Yuna!
We return with an establishing shot of their town, which similarly returns us to the muted color palette signifying peace and normalcy in this world. A hard tonal reset, emphasizing that the threat is behind us
Yuna explains that after their battle, they all went to receive medical check-ins. Another reassertion of normalcy, and also a reflection of this show’s unusual intermingling of its magical and mundane realities. Supernatural battles appear to simply be a fact of life in this universe, with government agencies governing the recruitment of new heroes, and school lessons dedicated to the destruction which precipitated the current Divine Tree system
“In Anticipation of Tomorrow”
Fuu reveals she’s losing vision in her left eye due to fatigue from all the battles, but characteristically waves it aside as no big deal. So these battles are already exacting lasting physical sacrifices, though apparently rest will eventually restore her sight
And Itsuki can’t speak. Her sacrifice ties directly into her story of personal growth; she has sacrificed the marker of confidence that she so recently gained
It’s interesting that both of the sisters sustained injuries, but not Yuna herself. Is she more naturally attuned to these systems, or did the sisters just push themselves further than anyone else?
The gang celebrates with a bunch of convenience store snacks. Always a little heartbreaking how small the rewards for their efforts prove to be
Togo is the only one who notices Yuna is troubled in some way. Perhaps she’s simply concealing her diagnosis to not worry the others
Fuu distributes new phones, and they realize they can’t use their old hero app or summon their fairies anymore. Already getting into interesting new narrative territory in this post-magical girl moment, as our heroes realize they will no longer be able to appreciate the nicer aspects of being formal heroes
And of course, Karin seems particularly troubled. Her whole identity was wrapped up in her dedication to the hero cause, so what does she do now? She’s like a discharged soldier who’d likely love nothing more than to sign up for another tour of duty
“I’ll be staying longer for more tests,” says Togo. Now that they’re no longer heroes, there’s a distance between them, and they’re all concealing secrets
Togo confronts Yuna about something being wrong with her body
Yuna reveals she can’t taste anything. So it seems like all of them have had one sense affected by their battle
“It’s like only being half alive.” Clearly there was some fine print regarding what they’d be sacrificing for this cause
For Togo, it seems to be her hearing, revealed through her testing with some earbuds
We learn that they pray to the Divine Tree every day before class. All of these supernatural elements are assumed parts of their world, and I very much appreciate what a light touch the show uses in revealing their integration – no cumbersome exposition, just incidental details revealing how different this world is from our own
Fu has upgraded to a badass new eyepatch. All of them are doing their best to look strong so as not to worry the others
Karin doesn’t show up for club activities. Presumably she’s suffering from even worse side effects than the others
Lovely melted faces as our club members veg out, doing their best to weather the summer heat
“I can’t taste Togo’s snacks now. I’d like to be able to do that again soon…” A literal articulation of the ways these injuries are quietly drawing the group members apart
But Yuna remains the glue holding them together, visiting Togo in the hospital and learning about how she’s lost hearing in her left ear. With no clear enemy to fight, Yuna’s role as the group’s emotional center becomes all the more important; it’s easy to maintain focus and solidarity with a clear threat in front of you, but this holding pattern of deteriorating physical abilities requires a different kind of strength
And we see as she leaves that Togo is actually plotting out the progression of their symptoms
“Do you know anything about any sort of after-effects of blooming?” So it seems their bodies couldn’t really handle those upgraded forms
“Maybe the Taisha didn’t know about this either.” Considering the way their overseers exploited Fu and Itsuki’s situation in order to strongarm them into becoming heroes, I imagine the Taisha knew perfectly well the risks of this process
“The fighting’s over. Now what is there to do?” Karin’s taking to this new phase of her life about as well as you’d expect
And of course, learning she’s the only one who emerged unharmed does little to assuage her feelings of regret
“One moment you think it’s spring, but then the leaves start falling before you know it.” Togo seems to have already accepted that they are creatures in decline, their bodies having already been sacrificed for the sake of Japan’s future. Togo, military nut that she is, is of course perfectly fine with this. A cruel play on this production’s use of flower imagery – our heroines have now bloomed, and there is nothing left for a flower that has bloomed but to wither and fall
Togo lends Yuna a book on HTML. Do people even use HTML for web development anymore?
Oh god, Yuna can’t even type, she’s hunting-and-pecking her way through “Header”
Repeated cuts to their club room fan convey a sensation of time passing without anything really changing; the only motion in this room is passive, repeated
Yuna goes in search of Karin, and finds her still practicing her forms at the beach. A very understandable regimen for Karin, as she clings to the practice and mastery of the tools that have always defined her pride and strength. When you don’t really have a productive course of action in front of you, it can be comforting to cling to any repetitive course of action, so long as it is something you understand and that is within your control
“If you come by today, we’ll let you completely off the hook.” Yuna refuses to let Karin abandon the community she found, even though the ostensible motivation for that community is now behind them
“What’s Fu thinking? The whole point of the club was to fight the vertexes together. If there aren’t any vertexes anymore, then there’s no reason to keep the club together!” Though truly, it seems closer to the opposite – now that the vertexes are gone our heroes are no longer receiving any institutional support, and thus must rely on each other all the more. They’re essentially now a group of abandoned war veterans
Yuna rightfully counters that fighting has nothing to do with it; the club is the community they forged, not its immediate goal
Karin’s denials swiftly verge into a confession of uncertainty, as she admits “I thought you guys were done with me.” Oh, Karin!
“If you must insist, then I’ll come to the hero club.” There’s the Karin we know and love
Yuna comes back with both Karin and fresh snacks, even though she herself can’t taste them. A selfless dedication to maintaining the cheer and unity of this club
And at last, Togo is discharged. Lovely moment of Yuna saying “this is where I belong” as she takes the handles of Togo’s wheelchair
While Karin receives notice of her formal transfer to their school, Fu receives a message stating there has been no link found between blooming and their injuries, but that they “expect the symptoms to be temporary.” So basically treated the same as any soldier abandoned by their government
And the episode ends on the intensely ominous “we have plenty of time!”
Well now we’re in some interesting territory, aren’t we? Having spent the first half of the series fighting an opponent with clear powers and intentions, our hero club members now find themselves adrift, lacking in direction and afflicted by symptoms their overseers cannot explain. It’s an intriguing turn that’s already prompting compelling personal shifts across the cast, as each of them attempt to either hide their misgivings or reassert cheer and normalcy by force of enthusiasm. Who are you once your grand purpose is behind you, and what do you do when the government you swore yourself to proves indifferent to your suffering? I’m eager to see how things develop in this ambiguous new era of Yuki Yuna!