「華やかな日々」 (Hanayaka na Hibi)
Now this is the Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru that I remembered, and was waiting for. Not that Washio Sumi no Shou was bad, I’ve already discussed it at length, but the elements that the prequel was missing are back here in Yuusha no Shou. Not that it’s perfect either, but the first episode is on much more solid ground.
First, and biggest, is a deft mixture of jokey, happy-go-lucky slice-of-life scenes with something more dire. In the original season’s dual premiere, it was full slice-of-life until the curtain fell down, and it was suddenly (and shockingly) serious business. Here, with that payload long sense spent, they lean on another tool: eerie, unsettling dread. This is an example of that old maxim “show, don’t tell”—only not really. In this case, the first half of the episode is just “don’t tell”. Show other things. Let us wonder. Let us worry. Let us say to the screen the question on everyone’s minds: “Where is she?” It’s devastatingly effective, and it’s a return to form.
It is somewhat odd that it’s Tougou Mimori (Mimori Suzuko) who went missing. It’s not a mistake, but it is odd, since all signs prior to this season pointed to the titular Yuuki Yuuna (Terui Haruka) as the one who would be the “quest” this time, because of their historical roles. Think of it: in the original and in the prequel, Wasshi’s/Tougou’s role was as the one who feels pain, sadness, and despair, whereas first Gin and Sonoko, and later Yuuna are the heroic stoics who take the burden upon themselves. Tougou is the tortured soul, because she sees those around her being hurt and she cannot take it—and here, the script is flipped. Now it’s Yuuna who is crying, feeling as if she gave up on her friend, who she (horrifyingly) forgot, while Tougou is shouldering the pain for everybody.
It’s not a mistake, though. It’s just not what I expected, and not what the trajectory from the original season (and the prequel) would suggest. The latter half of the episode gave the reasoning, though: Tougou feels guilty for blasting a hole in the wall, and I have a feeling that is what will have led to her current predicament. (Or maybe something divine and ruinously unfair, which would be a return to form for YuYuYu as well—and will work better when, unlike the sequel, we don’t know how this particular divine cruelty will play out.) It also has the bonus of making it less predictable, and Mimori/Wasshi is the connective tissue that binds both Team Sonoko and Team Fuu together, so there are advantages to the setup. Like I said, not a mistake. Just a path I didn’t expect them to take. And it was executed mostly well.
As far as mistakes go, there was only one: not making it clear that the flashback was still going on when they found out that Tougou was masquerading as National Defense Mask. They needed some kind of visual clue to show that it was still flashback time, because the flashback went on for so long I started wondering “Did they throw a helluva curveball and resolve the episode one drama already?”. Or maybe they should have ducked back to the characters all expressing horror at having forgot Tougou, to reiterate that it was still flashback time, because wondering whether it was still the flashback or not yanked me out of the mood—though that would have clashed with the jokey tone they were playing with there, which I’d call a tonal clash if that wasn’t (A) an old YuYuYu trick, and (B) funny as hell. I will give you a pass if you make me laugh that much! The Rule of Funny (trope!) exists for a reason.
Either who, that’s the only mistake I can claim, because the rest was solid. The slice-of-life start was great, the beloved original characters are back, Nogi Sonoko (Hanazawa Kana) fits into the group dynamic like a glove (she’s an excellent character like that), and the emotions of confusion and despair friggin’ land, yo. For my money, seeing Sonoko have a few scenes of happiness again was what really got my tear ducts working. And Sancho is back! The emotional beats landed when they needed too, and that’s 80%+ of the battle.
This is what I was waiting for, and I’m glad it’s a solid intro. We’ve only got five more episodes (all signs still point to the full six episode run, thankfully), so we’ve got to make them count. This episode leaned a lot on previous seasons—as is only right and proper, especially after they did us the solid of putting out a recap special—but it also did a lot with the time it had. I’m stoked for the rest of this sequel.
- Sonoko and Yuuna really are alike. Tougou is bedeviled with silly, spectacular friends.
- I like Sonoko for many reasons, not the least that she’s voice by Hanazawa Kana in genki-mode, and because Sonoko gives everyone nicknames. I do that too! Just ask Takkun, Enzonon, Cherr, Zephy, Pa-kun, Pan-chan, Zai-chan, or Chocho.
- She still wears her ribbon, hah! You were never fooling anyone (except for Yuuna), Mimori-chan. …come back 🙁
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OP: 「ハナコトバ」 (Hanakotoba) by Terui Haruka, Mimori Suzuko, Uchida Yumi, Kurosawa Tomoyo, Nagatsuma Juri, Hanazawa Kana