Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon - The Second Act
Episodes 1-3

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 1 of
Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon - The Second Act (TV 2) ?

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

How would you rate episode 3 of
Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon - The Second Act (TV 2) ?

If there's any one good thing I can say about Yashahime, it's that it at least comes by its “Feudal Fairy Tale” roots somewhat honestly. (Yes, I know, that was its parent series Inu Yasha. Indulge me.) While it'd be a bit of a stretch to say that these are good episodes, they do have some legitimate folkloric roots – not necessarily Japan-specific roots, but still. The most obvious for most viewers is that the Sea Snake Demon's story is very much of a piece with Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid, with a healthy dose of the Medusa myth thrown in for fun. The variations on those themes are probably the most interesting element of these three otherwise fairly disjointed episodes – it's as if the second episode combined Mermaid and Sea Witch into a single character, not unlike how Satoshi Kon's Magnetic Rose turns the Sleeping Beauty story on its head by making Eva both Sleeping Beauty and Evil Fairy. Not that I'm suggesting that Yashahime is on par with Magnetic Rose, but it is an interesting coincidence. Then when we throw the Medusa story in there, we get a story about both fate and love corrupted, with the mutual love between the demon and the fisherman coming to an ending where they're both dead, a far cry from what we usually think of as “happily ever after.”

That, however, is probably the least objectionable piece of three mediocre episodes. Taken together, they all work towards reforging Towa's sword into something that she can actually use to fight Kirinmaru and his sister Zero, but separately, they're, if not precisely a mess, then at least something that doesn't entirely flow together. Part of this is of course Sesshomaru's apparent goal of winning “Worst Dad of the Year,” but there's also just a lot that feels awfully like nonsense. Chief among these is Zero, who seems much more excited that her silver scale curse is going to turn Rin ugly than the fact that it will eventually kill her; somehow I think that “eventual grim death” is a much bigger threat than “you'll look like a feudal Silver Surfer.” But then again this is a woman who apparently wants Towa and Setsuna dead simply because they're not full-blooded demons; she's the in-show version of someone obsessed with racial purity. If she had a specific grudge against Sesshomaru or Rin other than the fact that they had children together, she'd probably make for a more compelling villain, although I've had run-ins with more than my fair share of people who dislike me for my heritage to know that, with decent development, she could be quite scary.

But that's really a persistent problem that this series has as a whole – none of the characters quite manage to capture my interest. Everyone has potential, but no one really lives up to it; honestly I think I like Riku the most and that's probably because his sword earring is kind of cool. Towa, Moroha, and Setsuna are all fairly one-note, and those notes aren't interesting; everyone's got pretty much one motivation and that's it. The scene in episode three where Moroha outwits the tree demon is one of the strongest because it shows her doing something besides yelling and it actually works to further their goal. (It's also another nice folkloric link; outsmarting the supernatural and then overhearing one last useful thing as you leave is a persistent theme around the world.) Mostly, however, these episodes are just the girls trekking along, with the whole “rainbow pearls” thing stopping by for a chat and Riku's origins as Kirinmaru's horn (antler?) being dropped in almost as a throwaway.

“Throwaway” is perhaps the best word for this series as it embarks upon its second season. It isn't ghastly, but it's also pretty disposable, the kind of story that doesn't give you a lot to think about, or at least not in terms of plot. (I'm still trying to decide how Towa keeps her white outfit so clean.) On the plus side, we are getting a bit more on the dream butterflies and why they're at all important – they were gestated on Setsuna's body to keep Rin from dying of the silver scale curse – so that's a positive direction for things to be moving in. While I can't say I'm excited to see where things are going, I'm also not dreading it yet, so I'll take the win and wait for next week, when we hopefully won't find out how many ticks the girls picked up from walking through all that tall grass.


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

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