「わしおすみ」 (Washio Sumi)
If you haven’t seen the original series, watch that first. Then watch this.
Before anything else: If you haven’t seen the original Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru, go watch that now. Do not read further, do not pass go, do not collect three magical girls. This prequel assumes a level of understanding which you’re not liable to have if you haven’t seen the original, so go watch that. I don’t think this is intended to be an entry point into the series. Go, get it done!
Now, for those who have seen the first season, the question remains: should they have eased us into the story more? We meet the characters and almost immediately they’re fighting. Is it the right choice to lean so much on our (presumed) previous knowledge of/experience with the series to skip any of the pesky details like character or world building? Because I have to admit that even though I enjoyed the first series more than many, the sudden lurch into action was off-putting. On the other hand, with only six episodes, should we have expected anything else? Well, maybe not, but that doesn’t mean it’s right. Part of the magic of the original was the juxtaposition of the happy slice-of-life sections with the surreal Vertex battles, and with only a glimpse of the former before battle commenced, this felt stunted.
They did get around to the happy-go-lucky stuff after the battle, but I don’t understand why that didn’t come first. (The specifics of the “victory celebration” could have been changed.) Probably it’s the old misunderstanding, that action keeps butts in the seat and character work supports that. But that’s backwards. Character should always come first, because action without meaning is easily forgotten. Character provides that meaning, and invests us in the character’s success to boot—thereby providing stakes. Knowing the characters makes everything better, so that should always come before any serious action.
So this episode leans a lot on prior series knowledge, for better or ill. How are the characters? Not bad, though they haven’t had time to show anything beyond their tropes so far. Washio Sumi (Mimori Suzuko) is responsible, awkward and shy; Nogi Sonoko (Hanazawa Kana) is weird, whimsical, and overly-friendly; and Minowa Gin (Hanamori Yumiri) is forgetful, hot-headed, and determined. All perfectly serviceable, but it was only in the latter part that they got to interact enough for their characters to come alive—albeit with some spots of dialogue that could use work. You didn’t realize you were using a nickname, Nogi-san? Jeez.
What I did really like was how they ended up besting the Vertex. Their initial assaults were no good, though they did provide two moments of character, those being Sonoko remembering that her spear turns into a shield and Gin drinking the suffocating bubble, the latter of which I really super liked actually. Sonoko’s plan to tank the Vertex’s beam while Sumi chipped away (and eventually take down the bubbles) so they could get Gin close enough to deal the critical strikes was a solid plan, they executed it well, and it hinted at competence that could be vital for this series to ramp up quickly, because we all know where this is going.
We all know where this is going. The crew at Studio Gokumi has their work cut out for them if they want to start crushing hearts with only five more episodes. May Shinju-sama help us all.
- Whatever else has changed, the character designs are still killer.
- I think the Studio Gokumi crew may think we remember the lore of this world more than we do. The details of Shinju-sama and all that are long lost to me. What I remember are all the character beats, and that amazing shocker of a first episode. I can’t remember if this Long-Bridge was there last time, I don’t recall the Ceremony of Chinka, and I have no idea why the floating gods/animals aren’t there. More explanation might have been smart.
- This should go without saying, but if you’ve seen the Washio Sumi no Shou movies, please don’t spoil anything for those of us who have not. Mark and use spoiler tags when necessary.
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OP: 「エガオノキミへ」 (Egao no Kimi e) by Mimori Suzuko