This post and other one has been dug around for a while here. I wrote down a list of all the shows that I wanted to cover recently and it’s gotten huge. I can safely say that my backlog of media for me to discuss has increased again which is good because I was suffering from a lack of one from November to early January. But yeah, I talked about Yuki Yuna a year or so ago and it’s taken a long time to get to this season because it wasn’t anywhere legally watchable. Season two appeared on Hi-dive before season three came out there and well, I will get to the Mankai chapter soon. The plan is to get into it after Love Live School Idol Project Season 2. With that stated and the obvious noted, there will be two separate posts about each section of season 2 because there is a lot of differences between then. Like this being the better one.
The Washio Sumi Chapter is the prequel chapter to the original first season. A good six episodes of the backstory of some members of the cast and it explores some more of the system that was barely shown in the first season. Considering how, to me, the og series was cut into two six-episode halves for an overall arc, it makes sense for this season to be constructed like this. Maybe it didn’t make sense to a lot of people at the time when it started to come out, which I heard was the case for a lot of people, but it completely makes sense why this second season was cut the way it was now. Especially since each arc seems to have a clear ending point that makes it feel fulfilled even if its heart crushing. That is why I really dug how this season came to be in its end product.
This story is the systematic exploration of the magical girl self-sacrificing in this series. There is no Yuki Yuna in this series, but two characters that are familiar to us who watched the previous season and one that isn’t there so that’s the overt hint on how the show is going to end up. Not that it stops it from hurting. But yeah these three kids by the name of Gin Minowa, Sumi Washio, and Sonoko Nagi that are chosen to fight out of their class in Elementary school. So that automatically separates them as they fight in their new forms for this system at large to keep humanity safe. Their duties add such a large strain on their lives in ways that make them abnormal. I guess that is obvious too.
From a character level, the writing of Yuki Yuna is simply brilliant. I mean, its simple stuff because this is an arc about Washio breaking out of her shell to meet these two other kids. Like the title mentions, this is her story. Yet, Gin and Sonoko feel like genuine people too with Gin being the ideal form of the self-sacrificing hero who will literally stop on streets to help get pets or help older people cross the street instead of getting to school on time and the very easy going Sonoko who is a genius but sleeps all the time and is so relaxed that she knows the right course of action in a pinch. It is a great arc of Washio breaking out of her own shell. Predictable but so effective.
What hurts is that we know who Washio is and who she will become. I feel like Yuki Yuna is one of a few stories that knows how to use amnesia in a correct way. It’s very clear that the character we met in the first season still has the attributes of this younger form, but they don’t know who they are yet so it’s a small rediscovery arc. In this story, Washio is literally like the old-style bit of Japan where she is secluded from the word or from other people until she meets people that can do things better then her. So that self-acceptance is honestly really cool because it just feels genuine in general too.
The development of the system adds a lot of intrigue into the story too. Especially since on the first episode of this Washio Sumi chapter, the system is so much less advanced. Seeing one innovation after another, because the girls are like guinea pigs after all. So its interesting to not only see the system a lot more in general too. For the good and the bad when the girls are walked through a lot of ceremonies to the horrible thing that happens in the middle to the end. Its so sad to see it all collapse in horrifying ways. Very simple but so effective elements that are done so well so quickly.
There are some things in this section that makes me feel like I shouldn’t be watching this as a western viewer because there is a lot of Japanese cultural aspects in it. Especially since Yuki Yuna is wrapped more into a Japanese cultural context compared to a lot of magical girl shows. Especially with all the other ceremonies and other things as well. I feel like I get it more from how much anime and Japanese foreign media that I’ve watched in my life, but I still feel like an outside observer seeing this. But it didn’t hurt my own thoughts about Washio Sumi’s chapter because of the character journeys in it too.
On a visual level, the production of it had the highest highs and some of the softest lows. I mean, the highest attributes come from the three turning to their magical girl forms and faces the different kind of vertexes out there. Oh there are some magical girl moments outside of specific locations that had some high bits of work there too. But there was a lot of resting bits of characters sitting down and talking to each other at locations with limited animation. I don’t care though because the show is just so well written. Well textured and excellent all around. I feel like this might be my favorite Yuki Yuna chapter.