Yuki Yuna is a Hero: The Great Mankai Chapter ‒ Episode 11 by Global Anime

AbraxasDecember 13, 2021



I can’t imagine there’s anyone tuning into this episode of Yuki Yuna is a Hero: The Great Mankai Chapter who didn’t watch the old Season 2 finale, but if, somehow, that’s you, you’ve certainly been in for a treat the past couple weeks. This franchise knows its way around a massive magical-girl fireworks show, and they were definitely capping things off in style back then. It’s not all just explosive attacks and hot-blooded declarations of heroism either. This last stretch of story also contains expertly-crafted quieter segments like the spirits of all the past Heroes coming through to help Togo break down the barrier, or the way the soundtrack deftly heralds the momentous occasion of Yuna’s ultimate, day-saving transformation. Even after all these years and knowing the ill-advised pacing that preceded it, this is still absolutely an A+ anime finale, made even better by the robustness of the Great Mankai Chapter stories that led us back to it.

My struggle then comes in how exactly I should evaluate this as a ‘new’ episode of a ‘new’ season of this show, since it…really isn’t. Yes, there is technically some new content added in to fill up the time from the original Hero Chapter version that already filled out last week’s episode, but it’s thinner than you might expect given we’re dealing with the back half of a time-slot here. And with the Sentinels seemingly erased after last week’s entry (and still no word on if they actually survived or not) the full pivot to that fill-out content with the main Hero Club meshes with the ‘extra’ stuff in a much more homogenized way; in other words, this basically feels like a ‘Director’s Cut’ of the Season 2 final episode more than anything truly new. So again I ask: Where the heck does that leave me as a critic trying to evaluate the effort and quality of the content we’ve been given here?

One thing I can definitely do is address the quantifiably ‘new’ tidbits that have been inserted here. For instance, there’s a new intro scene that exists to indicate that Aki had doubts about subjecting Yuna and the other girls to the ceremony from the get-go. As far as all the other tonal retcons in this telling of the story go, it’s a fair one, attempting to mitigate the way Aki felt less like her own character after what we saw of her in the Washio Sumi Chapter. That’s the primary intent with a lot of the little character asides we get here: giving the Heroes just a bit more breathing room to explore and articulate their feelings in the moment while Yuna and Togo are up there doing their big finale thing. Some are nice complements to the storytelling, like Fuu echoing her righteous fury against the Taisha and the gods that was her big turning point back in the first season. Other places come off a bit more awkward, like the acknowledgment of Togo’s odd nationalistic tendencies that can’t really go anywhere because the path for this plot and these characters is already charted out.

Other than that, the ‘difference’ in what we’re watching this go-around is mostly a case of extant tone following on from the ‘new’ stuff we already watched leading up to this. Yuna being convinced to assert her own desire to live is no longer a singular resolution between her and Togo—it’s a parallel to the similar moment between Aya and Mebuki in the preceding episode. That itself can fit with how the story of the Sentinels was what originally motivated Togo’s previous attempt at her own ceremonial sacrifice. It turns the whole thing into a multi-layered reflection of heroic inspiration and self-asserting decisions that break the chain of ‘necessitated’ sacrifice that Yuki Yuna has always structured itself on being critical of. It makes this ending that much more effective, even if all the legwork from previous episodes simply lives on in our minds while we watch what is otherwise mostly a repeat.

That manifold additional context also creates at least one new problem: All the efforts of the new narrative elements to frame this final world-resetting choice by Yuna as more of a ‘rage against the Gods’ moment than it previously was still necessarily rubs up against the textual thematics espoused from the original script. That is, all the repeated stuff from this Season 2 finale still backpedals to the interpretation that Yuna and pals simply convinced the Shinju to put faith in them and give them a choice. The writing does assign at least a little more credit to the Heroes’ own power for pulling it off, clarifying here that it was the spirit of Takashima Yuna that granted Yuki her eleventh-hour power-up, rather than any benevolence of the Gods themselves. That moment, combined with the new context we have for all the previous ghost-Heroes coming to assist Togo, seems to be trying to spotlight the part of this season that told the story of the original Heroes, similar to last week’s follow-up on the Sentinels. But it’s so much more a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it bonus beat that I can’t say it lands as fully as the bits with Mebuki and gang from that previous episode.

Still, all of my extra little nitpicks just proves how much more effectively dense this double-length DLC-included version of the story turned out to be. That extra context really does push it up that much further, and if it’s not as brisk and thematically tight as the launch version, I do personally prefer the new versions of the themes it was going for, even as they clash with the original version of the material. And with almost all the content from that original version of the Hero Chapter finale covered (with the very last bits presumably still to come in next week’s episode), I can safely say that it would absolutely work to straight-up skip the ‘regular’ version of the episode on your next watch-through and go with this iteration instead—after slotting in all the other Great Mankai Chapter episodes as well, of course. As a ‘new’ episode, it does feel lacking and even shortchanged if you just watched the other version for comparison’s sake. But as a definitive, extra-long reversioning of an episode that was already great? It’s still pretty great.

Rating:




Yuki Yuna is a Hero: The Great Mankai Chapter is currently streaming on
HIDIVE.


Chris is a freelance writer who appreciates anime, action figures, and additional ancillary artistry. He can be found staying up way too late posting screencaps on his Twitter.





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