In the year 298 from the era of the gods, elementary school girls Sumi Washio, Sonoko Nogi, and Gin Minowa are tasked with an important mission. They are to become heroes and fight Vertex, a mysterious enemy that is attacking Shinju-sama, the god tree that protects Shikoku, the only area in the world that is still habitable. What they don't know, is that this fight will cost them more than they could have ever imagined.
The first six episodes of the second season of TV anime "Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru" will adapt "Washio Sumi wa Yuusha de Aru." Prior to the broadcast, the episodes are being screened theatrically as three movies.
Oh, WaSuYu has a TV Version now, I guess it’s as good of a time to rewatch it…again.
Now before I begin this review, I need to make a disclaimer. This show is meant to be a prequel series to Yuuki Yuuna is a Hero, or Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de aru. If you have not seen YuYuYu, do not watch this show. This show was made to be watched as a prequel, and needs context from the original YuYuYu to be understood entirely, as well as to know aspects of the story for more of an effect. Due to this, I will assume you’ve
seen YuYuYu already if you’re looking at this review outside the synopsis, and will bring up terms from the show, as well as casually spoil elements of YuYuYu because of the show’s nature. So go watch YuYuYu before you both read this review, or watch WaSuYu. Now with that out of the way, lets begin the actual review.
Friendship is a very beautiful thing, it can last ages and creates powerful bonds between people. With the help of others, one can take on larger problems, work together, grow together, and accustom oneself with one another. With friends, you can create memories, some happy, some sad, but definitely some that will be unforgettable. Washio Sumi’s Chapter is a story about that kind of beautiful friendship, in the form of a story about a trio of powerful heroes that fought not long before the heroes we are already accustomed to.
This story takes place a mere two years before the events of YuYuYu, if it isn’t obvious already, this is the story of Tougou as a yuusha before she lost her memories, back when she was taken in by the Washio family, where she was given the name Washio Sumi. In this prequel, Washio is part of a smaller team of yuushas than the ones we are familiar with in both age and numbers, and it’s up to her, Gin, and Sonoko to fight against the Vertexes that invade from the Great Seto Bridge. Fighting Vertexes works differently in WaSuYu, for one, the yuushas don’t have help from the fairies, so the yuushas will get injured and aren’t as powerful. Second is that Jukai in general works a bit different, instead of being an open field, the battles all take place on the bridge, and it’s like a tower defense where the 3 girls have to prevent the vertex from reaching the end of the bridge and to the Shinju.
As for the actual story, it begins first with introduction and training as well as a few fights. Unlike YuYuYu however, the fights are not too plentiful, and in fact, about half of the show is pure slice of life, which actually serves a purpose in this show. Now, this story resolves a few of the questions that were left unanswered in YuYuYu, like why there were fairies in the first place, and why the Taisha chose to use them in the first place.
Now if you remember the events in YuYuYu should realise that this story does not end happily, Sonoko goes Mankai twenty times and loses most of her body functions, Wasshi loses her legs a large part of her memory, including the time she spent with Sonoko and Gin, eventually turning into the more self-doubting Tougou, as for Gin, you’ll see what happens to her in time. Now remember what I said about the slice of life elements? Well the show uses those parts along side the likeable characters to get you attached to the trio, so that even though you know it ends sadly, when the tragedies hit, they still hurt to watch even though you’ve anticipated them.
The art is pretty good, but also in some areas could be better. The art itself is very graceful looking, with thin lines and a pretty feel. The art itself looks very good for the most part, I especially love the eyes of the characters, as they look really pretty and are also expressive. It’s definitely above average level in my opinion but at the same time doesn’t really reach for the top. Just like YuYuYu however, I think the jukai looks excellent as usual with it’s bright and colorful surface, a place where the coloured vertexes actually kind of match.
Animation is usually satisfactory, however in some areas, the animation cuts budget and resorts to 3D animation. Now I’m not one to say 3D animation equals bad animation, but in some of those scenes that do use 3D animation, it looks unnatural and kind of jarring. This is not for all the 3D animation in the show however, as the vertexes and bridge animation look fine, mostly it’s the character’s movements that look strange in 3D. Still, you can look past it, and overall, the art is really good.
This is one aspect of the show that I found really well done. Most of the tracks are reused from the WaSuYu movies, to be expected, so it’s nothing new in that regard. Just like YuYuYu, is one of Keiichi Okabe’s few works in anime soundtracks, and I think he did very well with the sound design. Most of tracks aren’t as recognisable as those in YuYuYu in my opinion, but those that are shine very, very well. Emi Evans returns again for the vocals in the soundtracks, and my fucking god she does an amazing job. As expected from the vocalist for the OST of the NieR: series, her clean angelic voice does an excellent job at setting the atmosphere for some of these scenes. My favorite track by far has got to be A Girl’s Wish, a track used at the finale of the show, and one that almost makes me shed a tear as I remember the heartwretching events so clearly. The ED’s are reused from the original movies, and depending on the episode, the ED’s and visuals change for both emotional purposes and to fit the state of the show.
As for new tracks, we have the OP Egao no Kimi e, roughly translated into ‘To the Smiling You’. The OP is actually sung by our main character Wasshi herself, just like the movie OP and the first and third ED. I personally love it when characters sing their theme songs, and Wasshi is a damn good singer. The song itself is also one I really love, and prefer it over Sakiwafuhana, the OP for the movies. While some people might prefer the slower and more grander song of Sakiwafuhana, I find Egao no Kimi e to be much more suited to my taste, with upbeat positive vocals, a rising beat, and an overall happy atmosphere. I also love the OP because the lyrics actually makes puns of the main character’s names.
The characters of WaSuYu are awesomely done, at least in my opinion. The show only really focus on the main 3 girls, the only supporting character that gets any real screen time or really any real purpose is the teacher. Asides from that, we only focus on the 3 main characters, but this is what they lack in variety they make up for in development. The characters of WaSuYu are extremely likeable with very recognisable and charming personalities, yet none of them are perfect. Washio is very bad at socialising, but takes her work very seriously. Upon first meeting them, you realise Sonoko is very carefree and commonly sleeping, and Gin seems to be too relaxed and commonly late for class. But the characters are properly developed in the show, and we’re seen more about how they work as the show progresses.
Unlike with YuYuYu, our three main yuushas are not close friends with each other at the beginning in the show, and instead were just 3 classmates that they loosely knew. In this prequel, we’re shown the yuushas having to familiarise with each other, grow together, improve their teamwork, and become stronger as a TEAM. All while learning more about each other and strengthening their bonds with one another, which is one of my favorite aspects of the show. Their development and growth together is easily witnessable, and due to the viewer being able to really see these characters get to know each other, train together, and deepen their friendship with one another feels very, very genuine. You really get the feeling that these three girls have a strong and dependable friendship, as opposed to YuYuYu where you’re mostly told they’re good friends instead of really being shown it. This all increases the impact when the tragedies strike, and it's painful to watch these three loveable friends and their strong friendship go through the stuff that hits them in the show.
You could probably expect this, but I absolutely love this show. From beginning to end it was a joy for me to watch, and I loved all the emotions it brought me. It definitely hit me harder than YuYuYu ever did, all because of the characters WaSuYu gave us. They were more likeable due to the extra bit of focus on their characteristics we got in the SOL segments, and thus it was easy to get attached. They were loveable characters that had a friendship that stemmed from barely anything, that blossomed into a genuine feeling, strong, and supportable bond that would last ages.
This show brought me on a bit of an emotional rollercoaster on the final few eps, and while it’s not as intense as a show like Clannad or AnoHana, it also did more than the average show as well. Plus watching the characters interact and familiarise themselves with one another was just a lot of fun, especially with Sonoko’s quirky personality, Gin's strength and kindness, and Wasshi's sense of responsibility. Even despite the initial differing traits between them, these 3 close friends go together like yin and yang.
Overall, this show is a great one, and an absolute blast to watch. Animation isn’t the most revolutionary for certain scenes, and the story can feel fast or rushed for some, but overall, I think that this show easily makes up for it’s flaws with what it offers. It not only acts as a solid prequel to YuYuYu explaining a few things about the yuusha system and the world, but also shows the audience a story about a beautiful friendship of three loveable characters. The way these characters begin and grow their friendship feels extremely genuine, and the feelings that they have in the show are captured very well as you care more for these characters. You laugh when they laugh, you cry when they cry, you have a fun ride and also get emotional at the inevitable fate the cruel world had given them, but still in a way, it’s a happy ending overall.
If you should take one thing away from this review, it’s that WaSuYu is where I believe this franchise really shines. People always, always argue that YuYuYu is a Madoka Magica clone, and honestly I can absolutely see where they’re coming from. But when it comes to WaSuYu, this is where my stance changes. This part is where the franchise deviates from Madoka Magica, and asides from being a magical girl show, shares little similarities. WaSuYu shines as it’s own piece, and in my opinion, is a lot more enjoyable to watch. This show alone made me go from liking YuYuYu to loving it, it changed my view of the franchise, and if you’re going to ask if it’s worth watching YuYuYu for WaSuYu alone, personally I’d say yes. This show is definitely worth watching the entirety of YuYuYu alone for this story of three friends, and will always be one of my favorite anime to date. Overall it gains a high recommendation from me, and a good watch for any magical girl fan.
PS. The official Amazon Strike subs are absolutely god awful, do not support them. Instead I direct you support MajiYuusha and their fansubs.
If you liked Yuuki Yuuna, you'll probably like this. A little history to Mimori's character, why she had more faeries than the other girls, why she seemed to have more going on than the others in the first season.
That said, it doesn't exactly do anything new. It's just an earlier iteration of the cycle that was established to exist in this world: girls are gifted powers to fight Vertexes, girls get pushed to their limits and realize that there are sacrifices to be made. Almost all of the actual explanation for why Mimori is how she is is in season 1 is done in
the final episode, with the rest being largely emotional buildup to a somewhat rushed conclusion. Otherwise, the visual aesthetic is largely the same, the sound is like a fan tried to copy the soundtrack to Madoka Magica sans vocals, and as a viewer I am still forced to watch a middle school girl's D cup breasts jiggled in battle or be groped by her friends in jealousy.
Speaking of friends, they're pretty one note. At first I legitimately though that Gin and Karen were the same characters. Same hair, same face, same red theme in her battle outfit, same personality, similar choice in weapon. Sonoko is meanwhile... just kinda there. She's a good friend, and... that's it.
Somehow, despite being only six episodes, it still felt like it was too long for what it wanted to do, yet also too cluttered in that it tried to do so much in the final episode. Maybe this is a problem in the source material, maybe it was a directing issue. Either way, it makes for fairly middle of the road storytelling. Aside from the emphasis on Mimori's boobs, I never felt insulted by the show, but I also never was particularly gripped by a fight scene, or surprised at a plot point, or intrigued by the world or premise. In the end, the show continues the narrative of a world whose only reason to exist is to keep existing, and I can't help but feel that that is the reason for this arc to exist as well.
Washio Sumi's Chapter is a prologue to Yuki Yuna is a Hero that serves as both a redefining experience and as a unique universe addition. Its goal was to sit somewhere been essential world-building and narrative, or simply being an extra story to flesh out the main series.
I say this because there's 2 ways to experience the Washio story. Released originally as a light novel, chapters were coming in between episodes and thus were made in such a way as to not spoil the original series and should probably be watched (or read) alongside the original series... to a certain extent. If you haven't already
seen Yuki Yuna is a Hero or plan on rewatching it, then I absolutely recommend the watch order detailed here https://tinyurl.com/yajt5dz9
It gets even more confusing to recommend the best way to experience the Washio Sumi story, as the series was originally adapted into a theatrical run of 3 45 minute movies, that were then condensed slightly into a TV format.
It's awfully complex, considering it's for 2 hours of content. But it's a very complex and worthwhile 2 hours of content.
Overcoming the short runtime is an efficiency of focus. Almost no time is wasted, magnifying solely on 3 things: the 3 leads' lives, the battles and the world.
The condensing of material into just 6 episodes was surprisingly smooth. The introductions were fast but powerful, and the singular slice-of-life episode used a skit-style method to push all of its various ideas, including the leads lives but also to alter our perception of the world they live in, and foreshadow the rest of the series and the original series. It's creative; it's fun, and when it comes down to it, utterly distressing.
The leads go through a lot of development. They realistically and touchingly go from barely even being aware of one another to the best of friends; they heartbreakingly go from being society's outcasts to its heroes, and find something meaningful, something beautiful, along the way to fight for.
"Do your best no matter what" in the original series becomes "make sure to come back", and considering the meek lives these girls have had, and the courage they employ in spite of that, is truly heartwrenching to watch. A particular scream from Washio herself in episode 5/movie 3 is thoroughly spine-tingling, and I dread that the battle following that, with its infinite aggression and rage, may just stay with me for the rest of my life as one of the most distressing breakdowns in anime.
Make no mistake: The Washio Sumi Chapter, like its sequel series Yuki Yuna is a Hero, is one of the darkest magical girl shows around. Yet somehow, Washio Sumi's Chapter manages to eclipse the original series in how far its willing to challenge its leads, while still pushing the unique sense of tear-forming melancholy rather than stomach-churning dread.
Downsizing from 5/6 to 3 heroes makes a big difference, and the girls learn how to put their unique skills together to best fight the very specific, creatively designed vertexes, without becoming video-game technobabble or cheesy.
The movie isn't necessarily subtle about where its story is going, but I'm forever impressed by the subtlety of the world-building. Peppered throughout is a distinct idea of an entirely different, dystopian and apocalyptic world, but these are restricted almost entirely to the convention of the world - there is no idiot-dumping to get you to realise the world they live in is hell, it simply is, and everybody is finding a unique way of coping.
Perhaps in part due to its theatrical run, the visuals are gorgeous... aside from the ever-present fanservice which is just unneeded. It continues to smear the transformation sequences in an overly sexual way, and permeates even into the script as the reference Washio's breasts 2-3 times. It's a reduction compared to the original series, but it's still there and one of the biggest barriers into the franchise.
The music is typically excellent as it was in the original, and the final ED (Yakusoku/Promise) is possibly the greatest tearjerker I've heard in years (seriously, do not read those lyrics once you've got context).
I can't write a review without mentioning the excellent performance from Kana Hanazawa as Nogi Sonnoko. "IT'S KAGAWA LIIFEE" is perhaps one of the most funny, grounded, slice-of-life sequence that will forever be a top-tier meme for its honest self-awareness. "We're friends forever, you see," on the other hand, is one of the most tearjerking monologues in anime history.
(just writing those words down is bringing tears to my eyes. I'm not strong enough for this series)
In my honest opinion, unless you are going to watch the watch order I recommended earlier, and plan on watching the series as a standalone after finishing the original series, then I would recommend the Washio Sumi Chapter movie trilogy over the series. The 45 minute movies are just that little bit better at execution, most notably in the final, though there are very few differences other than the OP/ED breaks.
The Washio Sumi Chapter's addition to the franchise makes the already-impressive Yuki Yuna series even more enticing. There's significant depth added in a strongly executed string of 6 episodes, and it widens the perception of the original series in a very unique way. It helps that the Washio story itself is excellent, but it's not quite self-contained enough to be seen as a standalone. Even though it is fantastic as an additional story, it's hard to recommend the convoluted watch-order to truly experience its universe-altering story.
The Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru series is probably one of the only "dark magical girl" animes since Puella Madoka Magi Magica to stand on it's own whilst still having it's dark underlining themes as a result and not be made a ripoff of, see Genei wo Kakeru Taiyou for the latter.
Seeing Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru: Washio Sumi no Shou which is a prequel already got LA under some skepticism as to how this prequel mini series was going to pan out. From this even being a prequel it was already going to get dealt with the "inevitability" and "knowing what's gonna
happen anyways" elements of it. LA however did see more into this prequel of Yuuki Yuna focusing on Tog- Sumi Washio voiced by Suzuki Mimori, Sonoko Nogi voiced by Kana Hanazawa and Gin Minowa voiced by Yumiri Hanamori and them fighting the Vertexes and protecting Shinju-sama and her hometown of Shikoku.
The characters in this prequel has technically one new character that being Gin Minowa and we do see LOTS of development from her, what with her being the genki hot-blooded character of the trio yet a caring member of her family and pretty much anyone around her at the same time and Gin utter SHINES in this prequel. Sonoko Nogi is the ojou archetype but is also the ace and slightly aloof and times being the maniac to Sumi's minder. Sumi Washio is the typical strict yet playfully dere character and keeps both Sonoko and Gin in line, we also for the most part sees the majority of the anime in her perspective (it is her "chapter" and all). Having watched the original series we can see how at the very least Sumi and Sonoko translates into how they will become later on.
Ok, you probably want to know why LA sees more into this prequel than just being "inevitable because it's a prequel" and by all means this statement is true to a fact but it's what lies in it being a prequel that makes it interesting. We get to see the Shinju-sama system before it all and how it affects our trio, character development from the trio also helps us get used to these characters from things outside of the magical girl element and just looking at their daily lives and that brings in the emotional side of things when things get really sour, yes it's inevitable but damn does this prequel know how to pull on your heart strings extremely quickly yet make it AWESOME at the same time. LA thinks LA said this time and again but it's the "journey not the destination" statement that really makes this prequel something to look at.
The animation by Studio Gokumi is once again in top notch even for a prequel like this, from the moe-esque character designs blended in with the awesome background visuals and the damn good fighting choreography and battle scenes in general were amazing to watch, yes some CGI was used, mainly with the Vertexes but LA thinks that is the point of making them alien/monster-like so the CGI kinda makes sense all things considered. LA will give props to Studio Gokumi for both the character designs and background visuals as it was probably it's strongest element in terms of animation.
The voice acting was superb to say the least, from Suzuko Mimori, Kana Hanazawa and Yumiri Hanamori, but also special mention to Rina Satou as Aki (their homeroom teacher and mentor). LA will probably give Yumiri Hanamori the best voice actor for this anime if only because of her hot-bloodedness and some awesome battle cries she does (seriously Yumiri has been playing against the type this year and it showing). LA thought that LA would get annoyed with Kana Hanazawa's genki moe scthick but more or less because of the plot, she was more refreshing than annoying this time round and finally Suzuko Mimori did an overall decent job in voicing Sumi.
This prequel made LA really like their characters and their quirks in a short amount of time and all yet also seeing the fate handed to them because of it being a prequel. Yet there is just something about this prequel that even though it being a prequel has it's major problems, what it had as a whole was a whirlwind of emotional experience by looking at our magical girl trio in which LA can give this prequel grace and effectively giving us world building we already knew but giving in much greater detail (and in 6 episodes no less) of Sumi Washio's story and by extension how it affected the original series as well.
Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru: Washio Sumi no Shou is a nice prequel and companion piece to the original series, LA just hopes that the sequel to Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru, Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru: Yuusha no Shou doesn't falter on it's quality because it's a sequel and hopefully succeeds it's original series and learn from it's mistakes and looking at Washio Sumi no Shou, LA thinks this is going in the right direction but we'll see once the sequel is released...