What They Say:
Long ago there was a war between the heroes, the Yattermen and the group of thieves known as the Doronbo gang. The Yattermen triumphed and created the peaceful Yatter Kingdom while the Doronbo were exiled into the dregs of the world. Generations later a girl named Leopard, who is descended from the Doronbo decides to journey to the Yatter Kingdom in order to save her mother but soon realizes that the Yattermen aren’t as heroic as the legends claimed. Devastated by her mother’s death she vows to take down the Yattermen with the help of her two servants and they reform the Doronbo gang.
Content (warning as portions of this review may contain spoilers):
We’ve finally arrived at the last episode of Yatterman Night and it’s quite the ride. Last week’s episode didn’t quite have the emotional impact I wanted, but this one more than makes up for thematically. The end result is a finale that isn’t quite what I expected, but one that ultimately reinforces the idealistic themes of the series in the most fun way possible.
The first half of the episode is mostly a reflective one. Having made up their minds to defeat Dokurobey, the gang quickly realizes how outmatched they are and decide to instead inspire the citizens to rise up. The problem however, is that the people still see the Doronbow as evil, and won’t listen to them. This makes Galina realize the only way for it to work is if he and Alouette decide to take up the mantle as the new Yattermen.
It’s been a long time coming given how much Galina has grown over the course of the story, and especially with how much the series has been as much his journey as it was Leopard’s. For Alouette on the other hand, it’s less so given she hasn’t gotten as much focus, but she finally gets some long overdue growth here and in a way that beautifully works into the show’s themes. As Galina tells her that it’s time to stop looking away from the reality of what happened to her family, she makes a promise to Leopard fight too, and regains her sight, symbolizing that she’s finally ready to move forward and with a new found sense of hope, much like with how Leopard inspired Galina in the first place.
Unfortunently for Leopard, those two making that decision means the end of their journey together as a group. Since they have to play the part as symbols of hope, they can’t be seeing hanging out with the Doronbows and it’s a really sad scene considering how much Leopard’s gotten attached to Galina. It’s the grayest outlook the show has ever displayed regarding the black and white relationship of heroes vs villains, and while it’s not fully at the level the show could have gone with it, it still works really well.
For a while now I’ve been wondering about whether or not the staff on this show has seen Christopher Nolan’s, The Dark Knight trilogy, given that the show has shared more than a few similarities both narratively and thematically (albiet in a much cartoonier fashion). The answer seems to more or less be a resounding yes as Galina and Alouette go full on Harvey Dent in their inspirational speech to the people and even quote his most famous line from the second film, word for word. Of course it’s done in a much more upbeat and earnestly inspirational fashion than it’s source, but it fits the message of straight up hope that the scene is going for.
This all leads into a super explosive battle against Dokurobey’s forces, which is rather amusingly hammed up by the original opening to 80’s Yatterman playing in the background, as the show embraces some crazy retro heroic theatrics. The Doronbow’s help out in the background by fighting the Yatter Guardian Gods and it makes for a pretty cool action scene… Or at least it would if it weren’t chock full of unfinished animation. Seems something went wrong with the production schedule for this episode, though since it’s apparently going to get fixed in the home video release it’s not too much of a hiccup (though given the chances of the show seeing a physical release here may not the greatest, it’s kind of worrying in a different way).
As Dokurobey is defeated the battle closes out on the opener proper to this series and it’s made apparent why pretty quickly. Leopard, Voltkatze and Elephantus return to their regular lives with Leopard’s belief in the Yatterman as heroes re-established. Rather than a revenge fantasy, the real fantasy here was Leopard getting the chance to play at being a hero alongside the ones that she grew up believing in, making the title of the show’s theme song, Kyokugen Dreamer pretty appropriate. Now having seen first hand and, that even to the original Doronbows, the Yattermen represented hope, that dream’s finally over and it’s what the show opts to close out on.
So in the end, the show wraps up by sticking to the classic ideals of heroism that the original series was founded. It may have provided a darker outlook that shows where some of the problems with those ideals can lie, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it disagrees with them. That makes it something of a deconstruction of those ideals in the truest sense, and one that reconstructs them with the highest possible regard that it can give. In that sense it makes Leopard the ideal protagonist for this kind of story as she’s pretty representative of the little kids (or kids at heart) those kinds of messages are usually targeted towards, and how they inspire them. Yatterman Night truly believes that heroism represents hope, and while it’s not the most interesting take on heroism the show could have gone for, and certainly not the most original, it reminds us that those ideals aren’t necessarily a bad thing and why we want to believe in them in the first place.
Yatterman Night’s finale is a pretty spectacular one, and ends things on a high note thematically. The show’s been a lot of fun over the course of it’s run and successfully combines the best of anime and the best of cartoons into one gigantic love letter to classic superhero themes. As a whole it probably would have been a much tighter story had it been made as a movie instead or with a couple less episodes, but it’s extremely entertaining throughout. Despite it’s flaws, the series really turned out to be something incredible and it’s one that I hope gets more of the attention it deserves in the future, rather than fading into obscurity.
Episode Grade: A
Series Grade: A-
Streamed By: FUNimation