Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 10 of
Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon ?
“The Gold and Silver Rainbow Pearls” is not an episode that's actually about the titular pearls, even though their theft is the closest thing we get to an inciting incident this week. No, this chapter of Yashahime is really all about the intense and complicated emotions that come along with close sibling bonds. This is a subject that actually seems like it should have been explored more already, and I was eager to see if Yashahime could address its characterization issues with a more specific focus. Did it work? Well…kind of? Honestly, more than any meaningful story or character development, “The Gold and Silver Rainbow Pearls” primarily succeeds in informing us that Yashahime knows other anime that use subtext, and that all of them are cowards.
The pre-credits scene introduces us to the Ka Clan of snake demons — our three antagonists for the week. The first is the matriarch of the clan herself, Joka, who gazes with cold ambition at the little conjoined snake twins she has hatched. The two most important of them are Kinka and Ginka, who are gold and blue respectively — though Ginka is really supposed to be more of a silver, given the very subtle thematic parallels that run between them and our twin heroines. You see, Kinka and Ginka's species operate on Shark Fetus Rules, meaning that one will eventually kill and absorb the power of the other, claiming the body and the right to live in the process. Ginka and Kinka have been fighting for years on account of this arrangement, equally matched in both their strength and hatred for one another…or is it really love!?!?
Yes, as Yashahime goes to painful lengths to remind us throughout the episode, the unbreakable bond between siblings transcends easy categorization, and what may initially seem like animosity could very well be the fiery bond of everlasting love being forged. In case you didn't get the comparison, Kinka, the long-haired snake boy, manages to steal Setsuna's Gold Rainbow Pearl, and the slightly shorter-haired Ginka snags Towa's. They do this by literally slithering into each twin's free eyeball, controlling them long enough to force a Twin Fight™ between the girls, which allows them to steal the Rainbow Pearls in the chaos.
They return to Joka to present their newfound trinkets, but Joka takes this opportunity to begin draining Ginka's life-energy away, right in front of Kinka's eyes. The gold snake exclaims, “Ginka, your flesh is to become a part of me, and no other!”, and before Yashahime can begin to unpack the many layers of meaning you can pull out of that one line, Towa and Setsuna arrive to reclaim their Pearls, eventually joining forces to help Kinka free Ginka from Joka's clutches. In the midst of the snake twins' emotional peril, Setsuna conveniently experiences some brief flashbacks to her muddy childhood memories of being separated from Towa, which gives her one of those handy anime power-ups that come when a character is feeling things especially hard at the moment. Joka gets eighty-sixed from the realm of the living, with Ginka and Kinka following suit soon after, evaporating into magic demon sparkles just in time for Moroha to arrive and bemoan yet another completely wasted demon hunt. The end.
That was a lot of straight plot recap, but it's because there isn't very much to comment on or analyze, aside from the almost comically obvious themes and to-be-expected sloppy storytelling. It is yet another instance of Yashahime telling us what the characters are supposed to be feeling and learning, but failing to properly represent it on screen. The initial fight between Setsuna and Towa is wasted because it doesn't come on the heels of any simmering resentment or friction between the two; they're just being puppeteered by the snakes. The kind-of-sort-of conflict that has been Towa trying to bond more with Setsuna is as stilted as ever, too, because even though we're ten episodes into the series by now, it hardly feels like the two have had any interesting or meaningful interactions between each other. Yashahime is still trying to play up Setsuna's inability to even recognize Towa as a sibling as some kind of pivot for her character development, but all it does is make her come across as even more of a blank slate, and a little dense, to boot.
In short, the “Siblings Gotta Stick Together!” angle is something that only works well on paper, and not in execution, because the siblings in question continue to be the two least interesting characters in the show. That includes one-offs like Ginka and Kinka, too, and those guys spend almost the entire episode just screaming their names at one another repeatedly, like they were practicing for an All-Snake-Bro revue of James Cameron's Titanic. Yashahime even loses my coveted “Moroha Bonus Half-Star Award” by sidelining the real star of the show for nearly the entire episode! I get the joke of the group deciding that they can't be bothered to wait five extra seconds so Moroha can't board the Takechiyo Express, but it's an odd gag to fall back on so soon after last week's episode established that Moroha feels genuinely sad about being abandoned by the only friends and family she's ever had. It also makes it even harder to like Towa and Setsuna, because it is starting to read as the two of them honestly not caring about Moroha at all.
All in all, “The Gold and Silver Rainbow Pearls” is another middling episode of Yashahime that puts together a whole hullabaloo only to arrive at a simplistic point that probably would have worked a lot better if it had been delivered much earlier, and if the show had taken the time to adequately endear us to its characters and story. As it stands, the series remains stuck in a limbo of half-baked concepts, flat characters, and a plot that is taking its sweet-ass time getting to…wherever it is headed. Hopefully, the next stop on the journey will at least give us more Moroha to help pass the time.
Odds and Ends
• When Joka mentioned that she was pursuing revenge against Sesshomaru, I figured that she must be some kind of callback to the original series, but the wikis tell me that isn't the case. If any Inuyasha Experts know otherwise, feel free to let me know in the comments!
• Was it just me, or did the Snake Bros stealing the Rainbow Pearls achieve absolutely nothing other than send the girls after them? Aren't these things supposed to be, like, the Inuyasha equivalent of Infinity Stones? Also, I don't know about any of you, but I found it just a little hard to take Ginka and Kinka's deaths seriously when, after they got separated, the snakes' tail-holes made the two look like balloons that just got popped.
• True to form, the single most entertaining moment of the week was Moroha frantically trying to scoop up the Snake Bros' ashes for their bounty. Poor kid just can't catch a break with these cousins of hers around, can she?
discuss this in the forum (188 posts) |