Warning: this story contains spoilers for Season 11 of The Walking Dead. Eleanor Matsuura says it's long been the plan for Yumiko to inherit Michonne's comic book storyline in the eleventh and final season of The Walking Dead. In the comics, Michonne reunites with her long-lost daughter, Elodie, when a group led by Eugene arrives at the advanced Commonwealth community in Ohio. After Season 10 put Eugene (Josh McDermitt) and traveling companions Ezekiel (Khary Payton), Princess (Paola Lazaro), and Yumiko on the road to civilization, Season 11 saw Yumiko resume her career as a lawyer and reunite with brother Tomi (Ian Anthony Dale).
Speaking to ComicBook.com's Brandon Davis, Matsuura revealed when showrunner Angela Kang started planting seeds for Yumiko to take over from the exiting Michonne (Danai Gurira).
"I didn't really have any of that information when I first joined The Walking Dead. It was really more about the group because I joined with four other characters, and we kind of came in as this unit," Matsuura said of the Season 9 group of Yumiko, Magna (Nadia Hilker), Luke (Dan Fogler), and sisters Kelly (Angel Theory) and Connie (Lauren Ridloff). "We had to work out our characters for ourselves. When I joined, it was very much... I felt like I was really one of five. We were always sort of seen as the new group, and we kind of moved as a pack."
Season 10 revealed key backstory for pre-apocalypse lawyer Yumiko, hinting at Kang's plans to have Yumiko replace Michonne at the Commonwealth.
"Over the course of [Season 10] I started to learn, kind of as the audience did, really, I just learned all these really great details about my backstory," Matsuura said. "And I had a conversation with Angela about it, and she planted the idea really early on that I might have a brother somewhere, and maybe I came to America looking for him, but obviously never found him until now."
"What was wild to me was that I realized this season, that actually they've been planning this storyline for a really long time," Matsuura shared. "And that's kind of wild to me that that's been in the works for so long, because obviously it's Michonne's storyline from the comics. That's kind of the storyline that I inherited, and they must have had an idea of it a long while before they kind of let me in on it."
Matsuura continued, "It was just a reminder of how there's this sort of universe of The Living Dead, and they're all pulling the puppet strings of the characters, of where they want them to go. It's all kind of already mapped in the stars. It's already written out long before I got to [the Commonwealth]."
Matsuura previously revealed about 15 years have passed by the time the Okumura siblings reunite at the Commonwealth, where ex-baker Tomi has since returned to work as a thoracic surgeon — a development that could save the life of the cancer-stricken Ezekiel.
"When I found out about it I was stoked, obviously. I mean, I just think it's such a gift of a storyline, and it's just allowed me to really explore different sides of the character and venture into new places and new territories that The Walking Dead hasn't been to before," Matsuura said. "So I've loved every second of it, honestly. I really have. And I just hope that we get to see that play out. I'd love Yumiko to have a great full-circle kind of ending in the show, and I think her brother will be a big part of that. I'm really honored that I get to do this storyline."