Recently, I had the great pleasure to sit down and watch the third and final movie of the Washio Sumi chapter of the Yuusha de Aru franchise, Promise. As a film, I felt Promise was an absolutely fantastic conclusion to what may stand as my personal favorite chapter of the Yuusha de Aru timeline. I fell in love quickly with the small tight-knit main team and I feel the movie adaptations captured what made the novel an spectacular experience and expanded further upon what made it good. I could spend a lot of time on why I felt the anime adaptation was such a fantastic experience, but that is a topic I would definitely like to cover on another day. Today, I’d like to talk about the third film, Promise, and several different interesting things and callbacks the movie makes throughout its run. There will be spoilers for all three currently finished chapters of the Yuusha de Aru universe (Yuuki Yuuna, Washio Sumi, and Nogi Wakaba), so be wary. Without further ado, let’s dive right in.
The Inner Workings of the Taisha
This isn’t as much of a detailed explanation or theory, but more of something I appreciated about Washio Sumi as a whole and, in particular, how it is presented within Promise. Throughout the run of YuYuYu, the Taisha are a largely secretive organization and not much is seen of them as an organization outside of their orders given to the Hero Club. Due to the closer connection between the WaSuYu team and the Taisha, we get a much more in-depth look at the Taisha as an organization. We see an example of a funeral for a Hero, an esteemed person within the eyes of the Taisha, through Gin’s funeral and we see the ceremony towards the end of the movie with Sonoko being enshrined after her multiple times using Mankai. It’s a small touch, but I appreciated a more in-depth look at the functioning of the Taisha as an organization (albeit we did get some of that within Nogi Wakaba as well)
Sumi’s Birth Parent
This is something that was already known through the light novel, but I appreciated how the film handled the concept of Sumi’s parents. I don’t believe it was referenced in the previous two films, but at the time of Sumi’s selection to become a Hero, she was adopted into the Washio family, an influential family within the Taisha. Her adopted parents are shown at times throughout Promise, but I felt one of the most interesting moments came early within Promise during the reception following Gin’s funeral. The parents are shown talking to a shorter woman with black hair about Gin’s sacrifice in defense of the Shinju-sama which leads to an interesting comment from the black-haired woman:
While this could have been an off comment, I believe it is implied that the woman the Washio parents were talking to is Sumi’s birth mother. Her birth mother, as Tougou, is shown indirectly, without ever getting a full view of the face, twice during Episode 10 of Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru, both before and after her time as a Hero with Sonoko and Gin. While we don’t ever get a full view of the face of Tougou/Sumi’s mother, it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to think that she would attend the funeral of one of her daughter’s comrades. As the Tougou family was compensated for her services as a Hero, her mother would likely have had knowledge of her daughter’s exploits and come out to pay her respects to a Hero that fought alongside her own daughter, while at the same time expressing regret and fear that her daughter may one day endure the same fate as Gin.
Aki-Sensei the Driver?
Okay, this is a much more crackpot theory, so I won’t spend much time on this one, but it was an interesting observation I made. Following Sumi and Sonoko’s battle with the Vertexes during Gin’s funeral, Aki-sensei is shown driving Sumi and Sonoko home (in an apparently Taisha-sponsored car). Mind you, this theory is very out there, but the same car, or at least the same style of car, is shown in YuYuYu Episode 8 driving Yuuna and Tougou home following their meeting with Sonoko near the Grand Seto Bridge. We never see the driver of the car escorting Yuuna and Tougou, so what if the two cars had the same driver? It’s a bit far-fetched, but not completely impossible. Due to Aki-sensei’s donning of the mask (which we’ll discuss a bit later), it would be difficult to tell her apart from other members of the Taisha (as well as the Taisha’s appearances in YuYuYu being similar to one another due to their robes). This theory mostly stems from the similar appearance of the two vehicles, mixed with Aki-sensei’s connection with Tougou and Sonoko.
Sacrifice Within The Yuushaverse
This was a really poignant point from the latter half of the movie, just preceding the final climactic battle. Aki-sensei is shown talking with the Washio parents about the new evolution of the Hero System and the implementation of the fairies, while likely informing them of Mankai and its effects as well. At this point, Aki-sensei offers a rather poignant statement that carries a lot of weight within its delivery and also throughout the series as a whole:
“The title “Hero” sounds noble, but those chosen have always been offered as sacrifices”
As Aki’s statement concludes, the final image we see before shifting to Sumi and Sonoko before the fight stands on the six pillars centered on the Grand Seto Bridge. From left to right, the names read “Takashima”, “Uesato”, “Iyojima”, “Shiratori”, “Doi”, and “Akamine”. Not included with this screenshot are also pillars reading “Washio” and “Nogi”. For those up-to-date on the franchise, the relevance of these are obvious. To the less informed, the names, with the exception of Akamine whose relevance hasn’t been revealed yet, are the names of the Heroes (and Miko) featured within the far prequel light novel, Nogi Wakaba wa Yuusha de Aru.
(MAJOR NOWAYU SPOILERS AHEAD)
The implication stands that those Heroes were “offered as sacrifices” and gave their lives to protect the Shinju-sama.This idea of “sacrifices” is obvious within the film through Gin’s sacrifice to protect the Shinju-sama with the Vertexes, but the relevance of this idea comes up once more within NoWaYu.
In the final chapter of NoWaYu, it is revealed that a group of six miko were selected and offered to the Vertexes as a method of communication and developing a truce with the heavenly beings. In order to protect the remaining slice of humanity, sacrifices are frequently made to achieve that end, be it that of the Heroes or the mikos.
(NOWAYU SPOILERS END)
The Reworked Transformation Sequence
During the final fight with the Vertexes within Promise, Sumi and Sonoko transform, seemingly as normal, but there are several pointed differences within the two girls’ transformation sequences. From the outset, a minor difference can be noted before the sequence even fully begins. While the transformation screen before had just been the flower on the phone’s screen, the transformation screen before the final fight is significantly different, with the flower taking up a smaller portion of the screen and featuring other apps and a notification bar making it much more similar to the screen within YuYuYu. Moving on, as the transformation sequence begins, there is an immediate noticeable difference within the music for the sequence. During all other transformations in WaSuYu, Kami he no Doukai had been used as the sequence’s backing track. However, during the transformation following the upgraded Hero System, Ifuu Doudou was used to accompany the sequence, which is also used for transformation sequences within YuYuYu signalling the evolution and change of the Hero System for the final fight.
Our next point in the change of the transformation sequence comes in differences in both girls’ costumes following the upgrade to the Hero System. For comparison, let’s take a look at costume shots from both the second movie, Tamashii, and Promise.
Let’s take a look first at the change in Sumi’s attire. The most immediately noticeable change comes through her weapon. With the upgraded Hero System, she trades the bow she had previously wielded for the rifle she is known for as Tougou Mimori in YuYuYu. Past the obvious change in weapon, her attire has changed significantly from previous battles. The robed sleeves have made way for an outfit that looks much more form-fitting and “battle-ready”, akin to her outfit in YuYuYu. I have a small theory about this change in costume that I will discuss shortly, but before that, let’s take a look at Sonoko’s change in costume.
On the contrary, Sonoko’s battle gear seems to shift in the opposite direction of Sumi’s. While Sumi’s outfit traded robes and flair for battle purposes, Sonoko’s outfit added robed sleeves and flowing garments to the underside of her costume. The outfit is given a more regal appearance and its design is much more dignified in its presentation. My theory on the changes comes through the idea of foreshadowing. The changes in their outfits foreshadow their fates following the battle. While Sumi’s shifts into a more battle-ready and combat-oriented style, signifying further call to action after the conclusion of the grand battle, Sonoko’s outfit takes on a more posh and noble appearance, signifying her position of worship among the Taisha following her repeated use of Mankai in order to defend the Shinju-sama.
The First Kill
One point I thought was particularly interesting came following Sumi and Sonoko’s Mankai ascension. Through the entirety of the story beforehand, the Heroes had only managed to push back the Vertexes, but after ascending, they acquired their first actual kill on a Vertex. This was met with surprise by the two girls, as they had never fully defeated a Vertex and experienced the flow of sand from the core of a defeated Vertex. The surprise and questioning from Sumi in this scene was an excellent depiction of the extent of the girls’ new power and the progression of their own powers as Heroes.
While this isn’t a point that is necessarily exclusive to Promise, it is an aspect of the Yuusha de Aru franchise I found particularly interesting. While the several Vertexes featured throughout the multiple properties of the Yuushaverse appear multiple times, there is one Vertex whose appearance and threat is synonymous with the idea of a “final boss”. The Leo Vertex always comes about at the climax of each story, presenting itself as the strongest enemy the Heroes have ever faced and the final grand imposing threat to the featured Heroes. The Vertex has, so far, appeared in each finished chapter of the Yuusha de Aru franchise at different points. As such, it is featured within Promise near the conclusion of the climactic final battle.
This same Vertex was featured within the final climax of YuYuYu, with Tougou blasting a hole in the plant barrier and letting the grand Vertex through the hole in an attempt to destroy the Shinju-sama and “end this wretched world”.
As well, the Vertex is introduced within NoWaYu as a massive-scale Vertex being constructed just outside the invisible barrier protecting Shikoku from the outside world. It is also seen within NoWaYu launching the giant fireball that lays waste to the world outside Shikoku.
Within each chapter of the Yuusha de Aru franchise, Leo is set as “the big one”, the massive imposing Vertex that threatens to crush mankind within a wave of fire. Leo represents the greatest threat to humanity within the franchise and its effect on the franchise resonates throughout every chapter.
The Closing of the Book (The End of WaSuYu)
In its conclusion, Promise made several efforts to conclude the story of Washio Sumi, Nogi Sonoko, and Minowa Gin through the final portions of the film. During the final fight, a large portion of the Jukai can be seen dying during the Vertexes’ final attack. This represents the ensuing destruction of the Grand Seto Bridge, leading to the state it can be seen in during YuYuYu. Along with this, I felt there were two major aspects of the scene following the final battle that bridge the gap between WaSuYu and YuYuYu. The first of these comes through a scene that can be seen mirrored within YuYuYu, the changing of the name tiles.
During the ending portions of Promise, Sumi is seen waking up in the hospital in a scene mirroring one from YuYuYu (which we’ll discuss shortly) and the “Washio Sumi-sama” name tile can be seen being removed from the hospital room. This scene is almost directly mirrored later within YuYuYu, through Tougou’s flashbacks to her first waking up after the “accident”.
Within YuYuYu, an almost exact replication of the same scene can be seen during a flashback sequence from Episode 10. With the “Washio Sumi-sama” tile removed from the door, it is replaced with a name tile depicting her birth name, “Tougou Mimori-sama”. To me, this really symbolizes the end of “Washio Sumi” as a Hero and a person. The short existence of Washio Sumi comes to an end, replaced by her original existence as Tougou Mimori. There are several moments from this and the next category that tie together, so that isn’t the last we’ll discuss of Tougou’s awakening, but that topic will be put on hold for now.
There was one last topic I found of particular interest during the conclusion of Promise revolving around Aki-sensei. As the procession and enshrining of Sonoko as a Hero begins, Aki is seen just outside the main shrine area by herself. Fully robed, she takes one last step in order to close the story of the Heroes of WaSuYu and bring a tumultuous chapter of the franchise to a close: Donning the signature mask of the Taisha.
With the exception of information learned from Sonoko and Tougou herself, nothing is heard throughout the original season of YuYuYu regarding Gin, the WaSuYu team, or Aki-sensei herself. Aki-sensei’s donning of the Taisha mask to me represents the end of her role as a public figure among the Heroes. It is the final nail in the coffin that brings the story of WaSuYu to a close and paves the way for the beginning of the story of Yuuki Yuuna and the Hero Club.
Parallels with YuYuYu
One of the most interesting things I found during the ending portions of Promise were in its callbacks and references to various things throughout YuYuYu. While it’s likely I missed several more of these, the ones I’ll mention here are the points that stood out to me the most. The first of these points that struck me revolves around something we mentioned earlier: the destruction of the Grand Seto Bridge. Following the battle, a news report is seen playing in a familiar-looking udon shop. During the report, it is stated that “four people are missing” due to the events at the bridge. While it is never directly stated, it can be inferred that two of the people that went missing (and would later turn up dead) were the parents of Fuu and Itsuki Inubouzaki, referenced during a flashback in YuYuYu Episode 4.
Among the most interesting parallels I noticed during Promise were several shot recreations of moments from YuYuYu. The most obvious of these scenes would be the recreation of Tougou first awakening in the hospital, featured within the flashback sequence in Episode 10 of YuYuYu. However, there were several other small references and callbacks featured throughout, such as the moment Tougou first realizes she has lost the use of her legs. Her vision looking down at her legs stands nearly identical to a shot within Episode 12 of YuYuYu, wherein Yuuna comes to the same revelation about the function of her own legs. As well, during the previously referenced sequence in Sonoko’s ceremonial chamber, we get a brief glimpse of the chamber Sonoko is to be enshrined in which is also featured within Episode 10 of YuYuYu, signified by the same small markers in a shot of a different portion of the chamber.
Finally, among the most blatant of these parallels comes from the final conclusion to the movie preceding the credits and “Yakusoku”.
At the conclusion of Promise, we are greeted with a scene fans of YuYuYu should know quite well. The first meeting between Tougou and the girl who would change her life forever, Yuuki Yuuna, is re-created within the conclusion of Promise almost to a tee, albeit with some different shots and angles. This final scene acts as the final effort from the conclusion of Promise to bridge the gap between WaSuYu and YuYuYu and plays out much like the conclusion of the light novel and the same scene within the anime of YuYuYu. It makes for a nice finishing touch and a “more to come” conclusion for the series of films, leading into the events of YuYuYu.
I could spend an entire write-up talking about the three ending themes to the Washio Sumi no Shou films and their significance and meaning to the films they conclude and the franchise as a whole, but for today’s ramblings, I’ve chosen to take a look at one line in particular from the final film’s ending theme, “Yakusoku”, that struck me with its relevance to later events within the universe.
Within the duet between Sumi and Sonoko, this line is uttered that holds significant significance to events later on within the series. The final time Sumi and Sonoko see one another before their first meeting as Tougou and Sonoko within Episode 8 of YuYuYu comes during their final battle as Heroes at the Grand Seto Bridge. Following the battle, Sonoko is enshrined as a pseudo-god to the Taisha and Sumi is returned to her life as Mimori Tougou with her memories of her time as a Hero gone. The next time the two girls would meet one another comes two years later in Episode 8 of YuYuYu…
at the Grand Seto Bridge. The line “Let’s meet there again” implies the two girls’ reunion in the same spot where they fought their final battle as teammates before their unavoidable fate following WaSuYu. It’s a small detail, but it was something that really stood out from me in the ending song to a fantastic film.
I’ve spent 3000 words singing the praises of Washio Sumi no Shou Movie 3 – Promise and I could spend much longer talking about everything else I felt the movie did right. The Washio Sumi films were a fantastic experience for myself as a fan of the Yuusha de Aru franchise. It adapted my personal favorite chapter of the Yuusha de Aru franchise and expanded upon every factor I loved of the original light novels. There are several more interesting notes and concepts executed throughout the course of the films that I couldn’t even begin to express my adoration for. The Yuusha de Aru franchise is a truly special one for me and it is ripe with opportunities for exploration and analysis.