Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon - The Second Act
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 4 of
Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon - The Second Act (TV 2) ?
I do love it when themes and characters start to come together, and that seems to be what is happening this week in Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon. The big news, which is something we could easily have inferred from things like “his name” and “the voice actors,” is that Towa's erstwhile teacher back in the Reiwa era is definitively linked to the world of the past. Mr. Kirin, who we see at the very end of the episode, is not only aware of the events of parent series Inu-Yasha, but he also notes that the Bone-Eater's Well, the portal to the feudal age, is no longer at Higurashi Shrine – and, more importantly, mentions that he initially came through it. Instead the Tree of Ages is enshrined at the Higurashi place, although whether that replaces the Well or is simply there isn't mentioned. While Kirin's identity is hardly a major revelation, it confirms that the bit about the Dream Butterflies last week wasn't just a one-off blip, and that this season is primed to truly give us more answers about what the heck has been going on.
I admit that I was hoping that either Towa or Setsuna would make some remark along the lines of, “Wait, if Mom was eighteen when she was sealed fourteen years ago, she was how old when she had us?!” Since Towa was basically raised in the modern era, it would make sense for her to wonder about that, although I suppose that could be very uncomfortable to think about for a variety of reasons. (And I have no room to point fingers; my great-grandmother was fourteen when she had my grandmother, and that was young even for the early twentieth century.) But meeting, or at least seeing, Rin works with Moroha's glimpse of her parents in the borderlands and the reveal that Kirinmaru has a daughter of whom he's clearly very fond, Rion, because it drives home the thematic idea of parents and children as a major force in this series. While that has arguably been present from episode one (or maybe two) of season one, the emphasis has been more on the girls' relationships among themselves or Sesshomaru's somewhat laissez-faire parenting style. (Something he clearly didn't learn from his dad; the Great Dog-Demon reprimands Kirinmaru for bringing his kid to the battlefield and refuses to kill the man in front of his child.) I think we could all be forgiven if we assumed that Yashahime was playing with the trope of the Orphan Fantasy, wherein parents have to be dead or something equivalent in order for the kids to have their adventure.
Now, however, it's looking much more like the relationships between parents and children is a stronger force than we (or at least I) was led to believe, Inu Yasha and Kagome's non-reaction to seeing Moroha notwithstanding. Rion's relationships with her father and her aunt Zero are relatively unclear right now, but we know that Kirinmaru thought that bringing her to battle was just part of him showing his daughter her awesome legacy; what Zero thought of it seems a little less clear, but given her emotional attachment to the Great Dog-Demon, finding out that he told Kirinmaru not to let her tag along everywhere might well have inspired her to suggest that he stash Rion away behind the barrier at Mount Musubi. Zero doesn't seem like Sota in how she interacts with her niece, but we only got a minor glimpse of it, so it's probably too early to say. She's the major wild card right now, and since the family theme is being more firmly established, I think her status as Rion's aunt may turn out to be more important than her feelings about half-demon children.
I don't trust Rion yet, although she didn't appear to lead Moroha wrong. I'm also still not entirely sold on the idea that this season is truly going to keep things moving in a more plot-centric direction. I am moderately fascinated by Riku and his rebellion, which is all the more important now that we actually saw his creation this week, and I really like that there was no mucking about this episode as well, which even my favorite of the first three episodes indulged in. But I'm tentatively hopeful that Yashahime is moving in the right direction – I really want to like it. Please, show, let me.
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