Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon - The Second Act
Episode 9

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 9 of
Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon - The Second Act (TV 2) ?
Community score: 4.0

You see, Yashahime? You really can do it if you try! Although we check in with Towa and Moroha this week, the episode is mostly devoted to Setsuna, and as we saw earlier in the season, focusing on just one character or plotline really does wonders for the storytelling. Of course, it may also help that this episode is at least loosely based on an established tale type – The Swan Maidens, or ATU400. Stories in this category also include selkie legends and the story that formed the base for Yu Watase's Ceres: Celestial Legend, and typically they involve a man who falls in love with a fey creature or goddess and, to force her to stay with him, steals her feathered robe/sealskin/celestial garment. Eventually (as in after they've been married for years and have kids) she reclaims what was stolen and returns to the heavens or the sea or wherever she came from in the first place.

What's neat about this episode is that Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon basically flips the genders. The evil Mayonaka, a local demon-god, was once a kind god named Mahiruma. He fell in mutual love with a local girl, but had his divine item, the Blessing of Five Grains, stolen by the girl's father. As a result, Mahiruma, thinking he'd been abandoned by Oharu who was in cahoots with her father, transformed from a god into a demon, and despite leaving the village once – he now remains tied to it. He thinks – presumably having known a few swan maidens in his time) that this is because he realized that Oharu's dad abused the divine powers of the Grains, and now as its original owner he is bound until he gets it back. But (and here's where I was most pleased with the episode) it turns out that's not the case at all: he's bound to the village because Oharu is buried there and it's her he keeps returning to.

This is an especially nice twist on the story, although it's also in keeping with the fact that supernatural wife stories usually end with her regaining her freedom and leaving while supernatural husband stories have the traditional Disney happy ending, and Mahiruma and Oharu's story, although it follows the former type, definitely ends with the latter – and he is the supernatural one in their relationship. (Apparently tale types cannot be defied.) More importantly for the show, it gives Setsuna the opportunity to learn more about how to use her naginata: she does finally successfully cut a thread of fate, the one binding Mayonaka to the village, but before that she realizes that if she simply touches the blade to a thread without activating it, she can see the past of the thread's owner. Previously all she's tried to do is sever, but this episode suggests that severing without knowing what came before in a person's life isn't going to cut it – the blade will only work if Setsuna is fully equipped with all pertinent information.

I have to say that that's a bit of a relief, because while I don't think Setsuna would deliberately abuse her power, it is one that could unintentionally do a lot of harm. Given that Setsuna's not the most emotionally intelligent character in the show, that puts her at risk of cutting what she oughtn't while thinking that she's doing the right thing in black and white terms. The naginata demands that she consider all options, not just start slicing without having a grasp of the situation. This could mean good things for Setsuna's own growth as a person as well, because she'll be forced to look at things in ways that she's not accustomed to.

It looks as if Moroha may get the next couple of episodes to come to similar realizations as we flash back to her parents and Hisui's, who apparently took down the Full Moon Tanuki she was just defeated by. The fact that it's a two-parter may be a good sign that things will go more into depth than the series usually does. And if we have to see other characters (and I think it'll be Towa), hopefully we'll also get the return of lavender's power of gifting Riku with Sparkly Shoujo Vision. As superpowers go, it's definitely one of the funnier ones.

Rating:

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


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