Yuki Yuna wa Yusha de Aru: Washio Sumi no Shou – Anime Series Review

Episodes: 6

Genre(s): Drama, Slice-of-life, Fantasy, Mahou shoujo

Aired: Oct 2017 – Nov 2017

Also known as: Yuki Yuna is a Hero: The Washio Sumi Chapter; WaSuYu; 結城友奈は勇者である -鷲尾須美の章-

Summary: Three elementary school students are to become heroes and protect Shinju-sama, the god tree that protects humanity, from the mysterious Vertex. These 6 episodes also serve as a prequel to Yuki Yuna wa Yusha de Aru.

Review: Due to how it’s written, WaSuYu could possibly be watched before YuYuYu (which is the original series) and the viewer wouldn’t be missing all that  much, probably.

YuYuYu heavily really depends on the impact of certain plot twists and WaSuYu revisits such scenes. That means watching WaSuYu first would probably spoil the fun, as it were.

Look. I think you can either watch WaSuYu first or YuYuYu first. WaSuYu only hints at the developments and the reveals which gets fleshed out in YuYuYuYuYuYu also provides the backstory and history and explains whereas WaSuYu assmes you’ve already watched YuYuYu and skips such details. You do you and choose since both can work. Both are somewhat similar in themes, visuals, and narrative scope, however, so you should probably steer away from WaSuYu if you weren’t a fan of YuYuYu. With that being said, the presentation of WaSuYu is quite different, for better or for worst, which affects how the viewer perceives WaSuYu.

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Before I proceed, I would like to explain why I’m reviewing Yuki Yuna wa Yusha de Aru: Washio Sumi no Shou, or WaSuYu, in the middle of the Fall 2017 season. Well, it’s because the other 6 episodes are called Yuki Yuna wa Yusha de Aru: Yuusha no Shou and take place after Yuki Yuna wa Yusha de Aru: Yuusha no Shou. In other words, the first 6 episodes form a prequel and the other 6 episodes form a sequel (and a re-cap episode). So to me, WaSuYu is separate from Yuki Yuna wa Yusha de Aru: Yuusha no Shou and should be evaluated independently. It’s probably an unpopular opinion but I’m standing by it.

Be that as it may, one can’t help but notice that WaSuYu is short at 6 episodes. Such an interesting split allows the (two) series to avoid the mid-season slump that affects other titles since Yuna wa Yusha de Aru: Yuusha no Shou, in my opinion, is the start of another (part of the) story. Furthermore, the half-season length theoretically causes WaSuYu to skim on the filler and padding that may accompany other series.

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However, the reduced amount of episodes also serves to exaggerate the prominence of the episodes in which the girls are just fooling around and acting like kids (they’re regular elementary school students, after all). However, said episodes are very much needed to establish what the girls are fighting for and to allow the audience to get to know these girls more closely. True, the audiences get to see these girls come together as a team and defeat the Vertex, but that sort of interaction only goes so far. During peacetime, we get to see a lot more sides to each girl, which is important.

It’s crucial because the audience needs to care about these girls or else the series loses a lot of its impact. I’m sorry if you don’t know anything related to Yuna wa Yusha de Aru, but this prequel is essentially a tragedy where everyone experiences misery (not that the series fails to let you know about this considering how the narration at the beginning and at the end of each episode is always foreboding and ominous). And to make this work, as stated earlier, we need to be emotionally invested in this girls, which is what these slice-of-life segments across multiple episodes do by providing characterization that wouldn’t be found on the battlefield (and by making these girls moe).

So, in my opinion, your perception of the series partially hinges on whether or not you care for these girls. I personally did, so I enjoyed the series despite the fact that it shredded my beating heart with a julienne peeler and threw the messy scraps right into my face so the bits would stick to my cheeks and mouth due to my tears.

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WaSuYu, much like YuYuYu, touches upon the concepts of being a hero and being a human. I won’t really be going into what it means to be a human here (I’ll probably dedicate a post to talking about this in December), but the way the series seems to glorify self-sacrifice as being heroic can rub individuals the wrong way. It’s a narrow definition of a hero, to be sure. But in this series, just like in YuYuYu, this system and set of ideals are confronted and challenged and ultimately shown as flawed – it’s just these three girls are kept in the dark for too long and are left powerless to change anything (not to mention they’ve been brainwashed into accepting it as with nearly everyone else).

I’m always terrible at talking about music, but Okabe Keiichi is in charge for WaSuYu (and for YuYuYu) and he does a stellar job. Gamers should know about the excellent OST he wrote for NieR:Automata. He’s a household name at this point and he helps sell this series big-time with pensive tracks and explosive songs. That being said, I might be biased since I loved the OST for YuYuYu since, as WingKing points out, the original WaSuYu instrumentals aren’t nearly as memorable. I enjoyed listening to the ED and seeing it feature changing animations that were different every week, however.  And for the OP, I love how Gin is on the screen when the lyrics are talking about a silver glow and how Sonoko Nogi is visible when they talk about blossoming.

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As for the yuri – Minowa Gin may have dreams about being a bride, but she’s totally gay. They’re all gay. Mostly Sumi and Gin, however. Nogi Sonoko is more of a shipper like us. I know I was overly perturbed over how Riko and Kanna (from Kobayashi-san chi no Maid Dragon) were a bit too into each other since they’re kids and that this isn’t much different. I guess this is okay because these girls are much less physical or less prone to overreactions?

If I had to whine about something, then I would like to be upset about how Washio Sumi’s transformation scenes are overly sexualized. She’s only in 6th grade. Yes, she’s very developed for her age, but it doesn’t make that any less creepy. And then Sonoko and Gin receive the same treatment later on in the series, too. I just felt like it wasn’t needed.

Verdict

Despite presenting a flawed idea in regards to being a hero, WaSuYu remains an enjoyable watch that will likely leave you in tears. It’s cruel and relentless to the very end. It doesn’t really matter if you watch this before YuYuYu or after YuYuYu, either. You should really watch this after YuYuYu, which sort of puts a slight damper to the tragedy since you know how everything turns out in a few years, but WaSuYu will still mess you up emotionally. As someone who appreciate passionate voice acting, this series, as with YuYuYu, doesn’t disappoint, Throw in a strong OST and the fact that the girls are super gay and you have a good show. Give WaSuYu a shot if you’re into magical girl series!

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21 thoughts on “Yuki Yuna wa Yusha de Aru: Washio Sumi no Shou – Anime Series Review

  1. Good job on the review. I heard about this series on your “Originality” rant post and it certainly sounds different from Madoka Magica. I also liked how you went in depth with how this shows works and how the order of watching it and other parts of the series could feel different.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mmm it still bothers me that some people were saying it’s a Madoka rip-off, but maybe they just want to get a rise out of people like me.

      I feel like I missed a lot such as the symbolism in regards to flowers and the Shinto imagery and so on, but thank you. There’s a lot of ground to cover.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah. I hate when people use baseless claims of something being a rip off. Granted, I’m not knee deep into modern otaku culture despite liking and reviewing anime in addition to other visual media, but that’s bogus that they would troll you. I was even surprised that some people called Patapata Hikousen no Bouken a rip-off of Nadia: Secret of Blue Water which is fallacious. Sure, Patapata isn’t perfect, but I do find it a very underrated anime and the only similarity to Nadia is that both are steampunk series based on Verne’s work. If something is a clone, I will call it out and use evidence.

        Okay, that rant is over. Hahaha! 😛

        That’s cool how there’s legitimate symbolism with this anime. Sounds like there was legitimate thought or effort put into the storylines.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah, these wonderful magical girl shows that just love to rip out your heart and show it to you, still filled with the emotions you felt for the characters. ❤

    That said, I am gonna be the one person that considers it could be possible to watch WaSuYu first, and here's why: *emotional impact*. Certain bits in YuYuYu (namely, episode 8) become *so* much more powerful when you've seen WaSuYu, enough so that you should go re-watch ep8 after seeing WaSuYu if you saw YuYuYu first.

    Honestly, WaSuYu doesn't really spoil anything for YuYuYu. While it does hint at many things, and shows quite a few, including Mankai's origins (or, for example, the permanence of Mankai's after effects…after all, were never shown in WaSuYu how Sonoko ends up after the fight, quite), it never actually explains those things , and thus leaves a lot of questions for YuYuYu to then eventually answer if watched afterwards. Knowing who Sonoko is, but not what actually happened to her after the end of WaSuYu, and then you get to ep8 of YuYuYu…ouch.

    And I don't really think there's that much that WaSuYu assumes you know about all the stuff, or at least that that stuff doesn't really affect a viewing of WaSuYu, as the girls themselves know next to nothing, and thus you're at the same level as the characters as they themselves learn more. (And though you've seen a little more than the characters by the time of YuYuYu as such, you're unlikely to understand what any of it means until it's actually explained/shown again in the show itself. With the exception of the stuff in Ep1 of YuYuYu, perhaps.)

    Those sexualized transformation scenes were indeed a bit unnecessary. Nanoha, for example, featured moments of full nudity in it's transformation scenes for small moments, but it still never felt so superfluous there, and yet here…eh.

    Sonoko is best girl. Just saying.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Holy moly, I was not pinged of this comment. I’m sorry I’m getting to it so late.

      That’s YuYuYu and WaSuYu in a nutshell! They’re too brutal.

      See, that’s what I was thinking when I initially suggested that you can watch WaSuYu!! It keeps things vague and then YuYuYu can fill in the blanks. It’s like playing a visual novel where the first route sort of gives you a glimpse into what happens and then you find out the specifics in later routes. I’m glad you agree.

      Mmm I only recently started watching Nanoha for the first time and I couldn’t help but notice that there’s nudity in their transformation sequences. Yet it feels…sort of natural, you know? It’s not overly emphasized unlike here.

      I’m in agreement! HEY WASSHI

      Yeah, I’m going to edit this review. Again. Thank you so much for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Not at all! I’m just glad to be noticed every now and again!

        And yet somehow, the brutal magical girl shows are the ones I like the most (though Nanoha is at the very top, and it less brutal and Madoka/YuYuYu which are slightly below it, but still).

        Hadn’t thought of a VN comparison, but yeah, that actually describes it perfectly.

        Yeah, exactly. In Nanoha, I hardly even noticed the nudity the first time watching through it. I only really realized it later on. My guess is that in Nanoha, it sort of feels like the girls are “owning their bodies” or sort of being the ones who decide about the nakedness, whereas in WaSuYu its sorta more the camera angles and such that make it sexual, which makes it feel more like voyeurism?

        “Let’s Enjoy KAGAWA LIFE!” (Just this Wednesday talked about my favorite characters at my local anime club as we had a meeting about doing such, and Sonoko was indeed one of the few from this season already right at the top of my list there.)

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Mmmm some degree of brutalness is nice. I’ve definitely dropped the ball when it came to Nanoha.

          That’s a fascinating way to put it. The power of camera angles is simply too potent. The girls in Nanonha feel a lot more in control and the nakedness feels more like a process they’re following. I wish the same could be same about for the girls in WaSuYu.

          Too posh!
          (I’m in full agreement with your taste. She’s managed to overtake my previous favorites, Fuu / Karin. Sonnochi is a good girl)

          Liked by 1 person

    2. You know, thinking back on it again, the Japanese fans in 2014 actually got YuYu and WaSuYu in tandem. The first six chapters of the WaSuYu LN (through the end of Gin’s arc, but before the Hero System’s implementation) were published before the TV show premiered, ch 7 came out after episode 3, and the last chapter (revealing the Hero System’s price and Sumi’s true identity) dropped just a few days before episode 8. So the closest equivalent to following the original release windows would be something like WaSuYu 1-5, YuYu 1-7, WaSuYu 6, and YuYu 8-12. It’s not quite perfect, since WaSuYu 6 adapts both chapters 7 and 8, but the only thing that would be spoiled a bit too early watching it that way is the reveal of what’s beyond the wall. Sonoko’s crossing of the barrier was an anime-only scene; the 2014 viewers were still supposed to wait to get that reveal along with Togo in episode 10.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Ahhh, that sort of complicates things.

        The anime-original scene sort of explains why Sonoka knew what lied behind the barrier/wall (since she told Togo about such things which pushes Togo over the edge and wanting to end the world for “everyone’s sake”), but it also provides some big spoilers, doesn’t it?

        I’m still divided. I just want as much people to enjoy the YuYuYu franchise without getting bogged down by view order!

        Like

  3. I said more or less the exact same thing here about Sumi’s transformation sequence when I looked through the first few episodes. This series was released as a movie back in March, running through July, so I never did end up watching the TV run. I’m currently in the middle of Hero Chapter and are enjoying it so far, as well: curious to hear your thoughts on it!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Mmm I’m glad I’m not alone here.
      Ohhh I bet watching Washio Sumi no Shou as a set of movies was interesting.

      I’m also really enjoying Hero Chapter, too. I should get to writing about it, probably. Glad to see you’re doing episodic reviews on the series!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. “I enjoyed the series despite the fact that it shredded my beating heart with a julienne peeler and threw the messy scraps right into my face so the bits would stick to my cheeks and mouth due to my tears.”

    Remy-san, you certainly have a way with words!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mmm I really liked it, but maybe I should have refrained from writing this since I was a bit overly positive.

      It was indeed harsh which is why I loved it. ;__;
      Hopefully you get around to checking it out within a few years! Then again, you’ve already read it so you know what’s up…

      Like

  5. I hope this isn’t going to turn into YuYu’s version of the, “Should someone watch Fate/Stay Night or Fate/Zero first” debate. My feeling, personally, is that it’s better to watch the original series first if you can, especially if you haven’t already been spoiled about it. Since Washio Sumi revisits every major plot twist from the first series, watching it first would blunt a lot of the impact of that show’s second half for new viewers, plus WaSuYu doesn’t really get into much of the backstory/history of this world or spend a lot of time explaining about the hero system, Shinju, and Vertex, since it assumes you already know those things from the first series.

    Quibbles aside, though, I thought this was a strong followup. I wish it could have been a few episodes longer, just to flesh everything out a little more and give us a little more time with the characters before they go on to their ultimate destinies – one of the things that made the climax of the first series hurt so good was that you’d really gotten to know those girls so well by then – but within the time constraint they had to work with, they did well. If there was any disappointment for me besides those unnecessarily sexualized transformations, it was that I didn’t really notice the OST in this one. That surprised me, because I loved the original’s OST – in fact I own CDs of both the YuYu OST and the first NieR OST (not Automata) – but the only times I ever really noticed WaSuYu’s music is when it re-used tracks from the original series. And the ending song, which was good and made more impactful by the way they kept updating the ending animations.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Oh, jeez, I hope it doesn’t become like that. I don’t want to perpetuate that sort of topic!
      You bring up some good points. I’ll probably end up noting that while it’s fine to watch WaSuYu first, the series does assume you’ve watched YuYuYu already.

      Mmm I wish we had more time with the girls, but yes, they did well with what they had. Ah, fair enough. I just liked the original YuYuYu’s OST enough so I was quick to praise it since some of those tracks played. To be honest, I don’t really know that much about Automata – I was more interested in the original NieR OST and just mentioned Automata since it was more recent.
      Mmm the ED and the changing animations was such a strong combination.

      Like

      1. Understood.

        I’m always just wanting to make shows more accessible while trying to encourage others to just watch a show without worrying too much about order. I wish this was a franchise where people can watch the prequel and then be filled in during the sequel, but you and WingKing have pointed out that this is sub-optimal.

        Like

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