Producer: Studio Gokumi
Director: Seiji Kishi, Daisei Fukuoka
Writer: Makoto Uezu, Takahiro (Hero Arc only)
Starring: Haruka Terui, Suzuko Mimori, Yumi Uchiyama, Tomoyo Kurosawa, Juri Nagatsumi, Kana Hanazawa, Yumiri Hanamori
Distributor: Amazon Prime Video
Genre: Magical Girl/Action
Washio Sumi and her friends—Sonoko and Gin—are tasked with the holy duty of protecting their world from the Vertex, invaders who seek to wipe out humanity. While they manage to repel the invasion, it comes at great cost, leading to Washio losing her memory and being given a new life under the name Mimori Toga. The series picks up sometime after the events of Season 1 (see here for our review), with a summary episode in-between, integrating characters from the prequel into the plot.
****Light spoilers ahead for Season 2, heavy spoilers for Season 1.****
Spiritual Content: Yuki Yuna is a Hero‘s whole concept revolves around a world where multiple “gods” decided to destroy humanity, while one chose to save humanity. As a result, the world exists in a tiny bubble the heroines must protect from otherworldly beings sent by the malevolent gods. The girls themselves are also held in a reverent position, due to the service they provide humanity. Itsuki is shown to read Tarot cards, and the show tends to suggest they are actually capable of predicting the future
Language/Crude Humor: Infrequent use of minor cuss words like “h*ck,” “d*rn,” and “j**z.” A couple instances of “oh my G*d.”
Sexual Content: The show has several scenes with Barbie doll-level nudity, particularly during transformation and bathing scenes. There are also several instances of suggestive angles, including close-ups of the girls’ backsides and breasts.
Violence: If you’ve seen Season 1, then you can expect the same type of cartoon violence, with the girls engaging the otherworldly Vertex using a variety of weapons. Bloody scenes are not common, but they are present, with episode four being particularly noteworthy due to the girls being severely injured. There is also one scene where a character appears to lose her arm.
Drug/Alcohol Use: No concerning material.
Other Negative Themes: No concerning material.
Positive Content: The show tends to focus on themes of friendship and self-sacrifice. Saying too much would delve into spoiler territory, but there are several instances within this season where a character will sacrifice herself in one form or another for the sake of her friends. There is also a plot-point involving one of the girls withholding details about her condition from the rest of the group, which causes her to suffer alone. This acts as a cautionary tale, because the rest of the heroines are able to devise a plan once they become aware of the situation.
Yuki Yuna Season 2 is composed of two arcs: the first half serves as a prequel, following the Washio Sumi chapter (which started as a light novel and was then adapted into three movies, which were then, in turn, adapted into these six episodes) while the second half serves as a proper sequel and is referred to as the “Hero” chapter. The two halves are connected by a one episode recap of the first season, shown from Washio/Togo’s perspective.
While I enjoyed seeing the prequel events—especially because I haven’t had the chance to read much of the light novel or watch the movies—I do have to wonder if it was really necessary to make yet another adaptation. It may have been better to create a full-length season sequel. My biggest complaint is I felt Season 2 (specifically, the Hero chapter) suffered from the same thing the first season did: poor pacing. While I would have liked to see a longer build-up of the relationship between the three girls in the Washio chapter before Gin’s untimely death, I understand this is an adaptation of an adaptation, and the source material was a single book. Extending that much material into six episodes was probably enough work, already. On top of that, from what little I’ve read of the light novel, it appears to be written in the format of a government report, which would probably explain the quick succession of events. All-in-all, I’m willing to be more lenient on the Washio chapter for this reason. It provided some insight into Togo’s life before she lost her memory and became Togo, and it gave a glimpse into the Hero system prior to the events of Season 1. Nothing was particularly shocking because we already knew what was going to happen, so in that sense it probably didn’t make a lot of sense to drag it out. The Washio arc also flows seamlessly into the Season 1 recap, making it feel like a natural part of the season’s progression.
Now, for the Hero arc. We are immediately plunged into mystery. All of the original characters return, including the now-restored Sonoko. All of them, except for Togo. As the episode continues, the other characters show no signs of remembering Togo. This particular plot-point was handled well, because as the viewer I sat there wanting to know what happened to her, while at the same time assuming it had something to do with her actions at the end of Season 1. It seemed too convenient she would get all of her memories and functions back while facing no punishment for her behavior. Ultimately, this is confirmed. However, I take issue with how quickly this particular piece of the plot resolved. Within the same episode, Togo’s absence is noticed by one character, who eventually makes the other characters aware. By the end of the second episode, Togo is back in the picture. This goes back to what I said earlier about how it may have been better to skip the Washio arc and dedicate a full season to the sequel instead, because it really demolishes the tension that started to build up when Togo was absent and no one noticed. Add that the girls were basically going against Shinju-sama to rescue Togo and it just feels like it was too easy.
However, rescuing Togo is what leads into the true meat of the sequel. Without giving away details, Yuna experiences some severe consequences for Togo’s rescue, and we watch her slowly decline over the next several episodes. These are by far the highlight of the season, because enough time is given for Yuna to deteriorate without things becoming stale. Unfortunately, the payoff is not worth it. The second-to-last episode ends with something referred to as the “god from above” invading the real world. This comes with no foreshadowing, right after we’re told Shinju-sama is dying and needs a bride/sacrifice in order to keep living, another event with no build-up. It turns out, unsurprisingly, the Taisha had some other motives behind the “marriage” to Shinju-sama and that they only need the heroes to hold off the new foe until the ritual is complete. Of course, the girls manage to take things in a different direction and save the day, but the story they wanted to tell simply did not fit into the six episodes allotted for it. Togo’s rescue should have at least taken an episode or two more than it was given. Yuna’s deterioration was done fairly well and could have been extended by another episode, although these events could have been improved by inserting some foreshadowing into Shinju-sama’s impending demise and the rise of the final enemy. I don’t have any particular qualms about the final fight taking only one episode, because drawn-out fights are overdone. Even at ten episodes, the story would have been given a little more room to breathe. Unfortunately, the writers were given what they were, and it resulted in a second season which was okay but could have been much better.
Story complaints aside, both halves of the second season continued to do what their predecessor did well. The artwork is lovely, with the setting retaining its otherworldly and haunting beauty. Everything looked crisp and clean, and will probably look even better once it’s touched up for home media release. The show’s music also did a superb job lending to the atmosphere, especially during the battle scenes. It never drowned out what was happening and always felt appropriate to the situation.
My final assessment is that the existence of this second season is still better than no second season at all. While I feel there were a lot of missed opportunities, at least a concrete ending was written for Yuna and her friends, with reasonable explanations given for some of the events of Season 1 (such as why the girls regained all of their lost functions). The construction and establishment of the Hero system also makes a lot more sense after watching both the Washio and Hero chapters, when it becomes clear the system itself is constructed by the Taisha. Knowing the side effects are the results of them tweaking the system makes a lot more sense than the idea that Shinju-sama is randomly changing his mind about what the cost of using these powers should be. If you enjoyed Yuki Yuna Season 1, then you should definitely give the Season 2 a look. Who knows, you may not even care about the things I take issue with, or you may see it from a completely different perspective. If you have already watched it and do have a different perspective, please share; I would love to discuss.
The Bottom Line
"Yuki Yuna is a Hero" may never make the list of "quintessential magical girl anime," but it's still worth watching if you are a fan of the genre. If you're here for this portion of the series, then chances are you've already watched Season 1, and therefore you should know what to expect. The characters are fun, the action is exciting, the artwork is beautiful, but the storytelling is hampered by the restricted number of episodes and the choice of pacing within that restriction.