Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon - The Second Act
Episode 5

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 5 of
Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon - The Second Act (TV 2) ?
Community score: 3.8

I'm not entirely sure why, but upon hearing that Setsuna wanted to save Rin, Sesshomaru cut her dream butterfly. Sure, sleep is nice (and something I've definitely learned the value of more since my mother's injury has required that my sister or I be with her in twenty-four-hour shifts), but if Setsuna's lack of sleep has been keeping Rin's curse in abeyance, then why would he destroy that? Setsuna's constant wakefulness certainly hasn't seemed to be slowing her down at all in the fighting department, unless the implication is that she can't properly use her naginata because of it. Still, Sesshomaru has confounded me throughout this series, so this really isn't anything all that new in the realm of Yashahime's patchy writing.

Of course, one major possibility here is that Sesshomaru is showing his daughter that he trusts her to be able to do what she says she wants to. With Setsuna's dream butterfly gone, there's now a sense of urgency to their mission, because if the girls don't get to Rin fast enough and sever her bond with Zero, she really will die. And Setsuna is definitely well on her way to proving that she can, in fact, learn to use her naginata – she may not have managed to sever the tie between Kirinmaru and Rion, but in eliminating Rion's butterfly, she still freed the ghost from her six-hundred-year torment. Rion has been, she tells us, in that cocoon for six centuries ever since her death, imprisoned there by a possibly well-meaning father. Yes, it definitely conjures up images of the possessive father in the fairy tale Donkeyskin, also known as Cinderella B, who wants to marry his daughter. But possibly the father in the lesser-known tale Maid Maleen is the better fit: in that tale, the father, angry that Maleen insists on marrying a suitor of whom he does not approve, locks her in a tower with her maid and after seven years, her food runs out. Maleen manages to escape by using a single knife, making her one of the few fairy tale princesses who saves herself, which is precisely what Rion aims to do. Setsuna may have cut part of the link, but it's Rion who decides that she's not going to be put back in her metaphorical tower and instead possesses the poppet Kirinmaru constructed to keep her imprisoned. Like Maleen with her knife, Rion uses what she has on hand to defy her father's cruel wishes, with Setsuna playing the part of the maid who helps her.

Whether this link is intentional or not – and it probably isn't, because let's face it, even if Shannon Hale did write a novel-length retelling of Maid Maleen, it's not that well-known – I love that it exists because it helps Yashahime to play with the concept of the “princess,” which has a decidedly fairy tale connotation around the world today. Even if a prince figure occasionally wanders by to help out – as Riku does this week, taking charge of Rion, or at least planning to – the girls aren't waiting for them, and more often than not actively take the reins of what they're aiming to do. It doesn't always work, and I do feel like they all come off as relatively flat characters (Towa a bit less, but she's had a more complicated life), but it's an admirable goal and I do think the show sticks to it. And now that Towa finally has a sword that can really do something, I'm hoping things start really moving in a plot-wise direction.

This isn't the best-looking episode – the monsters are decidedly unimpressive and their loincloths look very diaper-esque, while the demon spirit monster's design is very nearly the least effort that could have been put in (pretty colors, though). It also feels a bit uneven in the pacing department and I would have liked a bit more information about Rion's relationship with her father from her perspective beyond her very justified anger. But I'm now really feeling like this is moving in a much more positive story direction than all of season one. And since I always want to like the shows I'm reviewing, I'm just a bit more hopeful – even if next week looks like it could return us to stagnant plot territory.


Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon - The Second Act is currently streaming on Crunchyroll, Funimation, and Hulu.

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