The Fall 2021 Preview Guide
Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon - The Second Act
How would you rate episode 1 of
Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon - The Second Act (TV 2) ?
What is this?
After a near-death defeat, Towa, Setsuna, and Moroha are determined to become stronger and uncover the secrets hidden in their bloodline.
How was the first episode?
Full disclosure: this is the first episode I have ever seen of Yashahime. However, that doesn't mean I'm not at least somewhat familiar with the franchise. Back in my college days, I watched the original Inuyasha on Cartoon Network, though I did give up on it somewhere around episode 100 (when I realized that it wasn't going to end anytime soon). But I was still enough of a fan back in the day to have played the Inuyasha fighting game (Inuyasha: A Feudal Fairy Tale) with my friends.
So while I haven't given Inuyasha a second thought in a good 15 years, I still remember enough of the basics for the general concept of Yashahime to make sense to me. The kids of the original series' heroes and villains are on an adventure together to kill the newest in a long line of big-bad demons.
My attitude going into this episode was one of general blasé acceptance. Towa can make magic lightsabers out of broken swords? Sure. Sesshomaru's sword can bring back the dead? Ok. Moroha is dumber than a box of rocks? Why not. My goal was simply to try and follow what was going on—which surprisingly wasn't too hard.
Honestly, the whole episode can be summed up in a single sentence: “Towa uses a special sword to bring her sister back to life while everyone else watches.” This takes about 22 minutes.
Oh sure, we have the swordsmith making a new naginata for no real reason while this is going on that summons 100s of demons to kill everyone—but it was hard to see them as a threat. After all, Sesshomaru is standing right there and I find it hard to believe he couldn't eliminate them all with a flick of his finger if he felt they were becoming a real problem. And none of that changes the fact that the vast majority of the episode is Towa yelling “Setsuna” over and over again with little result.
I guess what I'm saying here is that this episode has a serious pacing problem. It's trying to milk its drama way too hard and for way too long. I can't imagine a single viewer out there believing for an instant that Setsuna is permanently dead, as if the show would kill off one of its three main characters halfway in. Because of this, there is no suspension of disbelief and the audience is left just sitting there, waiting for Towa to get on with it.
As a lapsed Inuyasha viewer, I'll say this for Yashahime: with the way it's spinning its wheels, it really is true to the spirit of its predecessor.
I have a theory: when the opening theme to the new season of Yashahime tells viewers to “tighten your soul,” what they really mean is “gird your loins,” because this looks like it's going to be another bumpy ride, possibly because every episode is going to be twenty-four minutes of the characters doing exactly one thing and narrating the action for us. This week that one thing is, depending on the characters, “grunt a lot,” “be annoying,” or “be dead.” Mind you, there are at least two separate kinds of annoying represented, so maybe that should count as two different actions depending on whether it's Moroha Annoying (loud) or Sesshomaru Annoying (stoic and unhelpful).
The one who's dead is, of course, Setsuna, and I have to wonder if she comes back to life in part because the cringe factor of having Kirinmaru remember her name is too much. Towa would be the one who grunts a lot as she attempts to follow her father's remarkably unhelpful instructions to make the sword he handed her work in an effort to bring her sister back. It's a noble cause, certainly, and given her lingering feelings of guilt about accidentally abandoning her twin all those years ago, it's absolutely something she'd be very invested in. It's just…did she have to sound so constipated while she was doing it? Her effort noises definitely aren't putting me in mind of draining her demonic power at the wrong phase of the moon. But what's perhaps more irritating is the way that Sesshomaru just stands there, watching her with a remarkable lack of fatherly concern. I'll grant you that he's never been particularly helpful before, but you might think that would change a bit when one of his daughters lies dead on the ground before him. After all, he did bestir himself to come help out; apparently there are simply limits to his helpfulness.
Meanwhile Totosai shows up on his three-eyed cow to make cryptic comments and reforge a naginata while Moroha seems to yell a lot and Jaken starts being the exact same kind or annoying he was back when the original series was running. The real meat of the episode is reviving Setsuna, but that feels very much like too little plot for too much run time. Yashahime was an exercise in frustrated patience in its first season, something that eventually got put on for background noise when I was home alone rather than watched with any semblance of interest or a whole lot of attention. I don't see that changing in its second.
Y'know, the funny thing is that, if the only exposure to Yashahime you ever had was the little recap of the first season that plays at the top of this premiere, you could almost be tricked into thinking that it was a halfway decent show. You would, of course, be horribly wrong, since Yashahime's first season was a more-or-less unmitigated disaster. There were, occasionally, the faintest glimmers of promise to be found—Moroha continues to be the best idea that the series ever squandered, for one, and the first few episodes of the series were genuinely enjoyable—but for the vast majority of its 24-episode run, the first season of Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon was equal parts infuriating and embarrassing.
The main villain, Kirinmaru, is a trash-tier OC ripped straight from the worst fanfiction that the Inuyasha fandom has ever produced, and the new supporting characters aren't much better. The scripts were frequently nonsensical, the pacing was all over the place, and you frequently got the impression that episodes were rushed out of the door half-finished. So, yeah, Yashahime's first season went beyond disappointing its audience; it was downright hostile in its badness.
Still, every show deserves a second chance, right? The final episode of the first season was just as much of a hot mess as everything that came before it, but it at least opened up the possibility for a better Season 2. Setsuna was dead, Towa was overcome with grief, and Sesshomaru finally got off his ass and intervened in his long-lost daughters' suffering. Maybe, just maybe, Season 2 would be where Yashahime finally found its own voice, and began to live up to the Inuyasha pedigree?
At least, that was my hope before I watched Yashahime's Season 2 premiere. Afterwards, I could only hang my head and sigh a deep, bone-rattling sigh, because it doesn't seem like Yashahime has changed one bit. Sloppy animation and direction? Check. A frustrating insistence on having characters loudly and repetitively explain what's going on, yet somehow still explaining absolutely nothing? Check. Moroha getting absolutely wasted as lame comic relief, even though she's literally the only interesting or likeable character in the entire series? Double-check. The entire Sesshomaru clan sucking the life out of the story whenever they open their mouths to speak? Oh, you had better believe that's a big old check-a-roo!
Here's the rundown of the whole episode, for those who lack the morbid curiosity to watch it themselves: Moroha, Totosai, Jaken, and Sesshomaru all stand around Setsuna's corpse for twenty minutes, while everyone except for Sesshomaru screams about swords. Towa, for her part, just screams Setsuna's name and makes constipated grunts for the whole episode. Eventually, Towa yells really loud, and brings Setsuna back to life, which means that the big cliffhanger that ended last season was essentially a waste of time. Moroha gets beaten up a lot, as usual. Sesshomaru flies off without explaining a single goddamn thing. Fool me once, Yashahime, and shame on me. Fool me twice, though…
So, do I recommend the second season of Yashahime, based on this premiere? Good God, no, unless you already liked the first season; if that is the case, though, my opinions are clearly not going to be useful for you. Everyone else should stay far away from this one. The land is cursed. There's nothing but death in the air. Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.
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