Yuki Yuna is a Hero Season 2
by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 13 of
Yuki Yuna is A Hero Season 2 ?
Boy, would I love to hear the director's commentary on this episode! Knowing more about the intended meaning of some of this imagery would be both enlightening and fascinating, as some scenes achieve an almost End of Evangelion level of visual and symbolic abstraction. Barring that, this is one of those cases where you have to just say “to hell with logic” and go with the flow to appreciate the effect – and I don't say that lightly, since this kind of abstraction is not normally my thing. This finale deliver an awesome spectacle of a different type than the franchise has done before, worthy of standing amongst its most shining moments.
On the precipice of salvation or disaster, the pivotal moment comes down to Yuna admitting that she is afraid and she doesn't want to sacrifice herself, even if it seems like the only option. If that's considered selfish then it's the kind of selfish sentiment that everyone should be entitled to without recrimination. Isn't a crucial part of living admitting that you're not ready to die? In answer to Yuna's call, the spirits of all the Heroes, past and present, assembled to help Mimori reach the fading Yuna. What exactly happens after that is harder to parse, but my interpretation is that Shinjyu-sama responded to their will by taking a new path to protection rather than renewing itself to continue protecting humanity in the form of some kind of spirit-wheat. It expended all of its remaining power to channel a super-mega-Mankai through Yuna and vanquish the Sky God(s)' flames. The danger of this plan lies in leaving humanity unprotected once Shinjyu-sama's life fades out, but presumably the will and commitment shown by the girls convinced it to take that chance.
As heartfelt as all these emotions in play are, this wouldn't have worked half as well without a stellar production effort to back it up. The climactic scenes feature some conceptually brilliant visuals and dazzling use of both regular and CG animation, including some black-and-white imagery that recalls the climax of Gunbuster and one of the most potent and moving uses of a musical score this past year. The OST for this series will be worth buying just for the haunting, graceful melody of that insert song, but the whole episode shines brightly in that regard. Most of the girls also get one final shot to show off their Mankai forms, and even though the musical accompaniment to that is entirely different this time around, it doesn't disappoint.
Most importantly, this finale is a lot less likely to leave a sour taste in the mouths of some fans than the finale of season one, where Mimori was widely regarded to have gotten off too easy for what she did. This was a much more sound and definitive ending that closed off most loose ends, fulfilled all the dramatic commitments that it had been building up over the past few episodes, and still gave the girls the happy ending they deserved without resorting to some kind of reset. It delivers on the action and emotional fronts, reaffirms the bonds between the girls (especially Yuna and Mimori), slips in great little moments like Mimori saluting as her Mankai ship flies off on a suicide mission, and even sneaks in a final bit of humor with Karin's alarmed reaction as Itsuki being named Fu's replacement as club head when she graduates. Closing out with all of the girls standing under a congratulatory message to Fu on her graduation is quite fitting, as it symbolically marks the girls continuing on to the next stage of their lives – hopefully without the stress of their middle school years as Heroes.
Basically, this is the ending that this anime deserved, and I can't think of anything that I would change. It puts such an ideal cap on things that, had this episode aired before Christmas, this series would have been elevated into my top two for last season and my top five for the year.
Yuki Yuna is a Hero season 2 is currently streaming on Amazon's Anime Strike.
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