Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon
Episode 11

by James Beckett,

How would you rate episode 11 of
Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon ?

“Curse of the Man-Eating Pond” is a solid monster-of-the-week episode of Yashahime that improves upon last week's mixed bag in a number of key areas. First off, the story doesn't feel quite as slapdash or obvious in how it is trying to draw parallels between the demon story and the development of Setsuna and Towa. There's still a little bit of the usual Yashahime clumsiness that needs to be addressed, but it's been brought to a tolerable level. More importantly, Moroha isn't completely abandoned halfway through the episode, and the number one rule of Yashahime has always been, and will always continue to be, that an episode's quality is directly proportional to how much screen-time Moroha gets, and the more, the better.

The opening scene of the episode was easily my favorite, where Moroha's excitement about the prospect of being able to cook and eat pancakes whenever she pleases is so great that she nearly chokes to death in her attempt to scarf down three flapjacks at once. What's even funnier is that, in her scramble to unclog her airways, Moroha dives headfirst towards the titular pond, which is the nastiest looking puddle of slime and bacteria that you ever did see; a veritable hepatitis milkshake. Though the twins remain bizarrely apathetic about their cousin, Towa at least cares enough to stop the feral dork from choking to death on dry pancakes, and that has to count for something.

Honestly, this scene is a perfect little capsule of everything that I can like about Yashahime when it is working, and all of the areas that it is still so desperately lacking in. Moroha is a great and loveable character, but she only ever feels relevant to the story when there isn't any story. These goofy hangout scenes, of which there have been precious few, are where our trio of protagonists are able to actually feel like the kind of interesting characters with genuine chemistry who would be worth following for an entire two-dozen episodes. The problem is, between the three main characters that Yashahime has to work with, Moroha is the only one that has demonstrated the ability to carry a scene purely on her own. Towa is the kind of blandly nice heroine that is more suited to playing the straight-woman to other characters' antics, and while that works fine when it's between her and Moroha, Yashahime keeps insisting on awkwardly cutting Moroha out of the story so that Towa and Setsuna can have time to bond.

Therein lies the greatest flaw of all: Namely, Setsuna is boring as hell! She's a nothing character, lacking any sense of motivation or interest in the world around her, that somehow manages to be less interesting even than her own father, who himself was a self-made blank slate of supernaturally passive contempt. Setsuna's missing memories and lack of a relationship with her sister are a key plot point, sure, but they also make Setsuna a huge bummer to be around, both in-universe, and for the audience watching the show. The episode remains rather plain as Moroha gets stuck cleaning up Jyubei's place for no particular reason, while Towa and Setsuna go back to the scummy pond to investigate whether or not Kohaku and Moroha were both correct in identifying that something sinister lies underneath the surface.

When Towa and Setsuna bond with the children and the grandmother who are grieving the mother and father who got swallowed up by the pond, it's supposed to be touching, and it almost gets there when the twins share what feels like their first meaningful conversation about Setsuna's inability to sleep. We're almost a dozen episodes into this series now, and I'm sorry, but no amount of people trying to argue that “Inuyasha was slow-paced, too!” are going to convince me that it isn't kind of ridiculous how little we know or care about two-thirds of our main cast halfway through the series. Remember, I began watching Inuyasha properly for the very first time just this year, and I promise you, it did not take until Episode 12 for me to “maybe sort-of care about some of what the main characters were doing every now and again”.

Still, a C+ level of execution is better than what Yashahime has been offering more often than not, lately. So how is the fight against the Man-Eating Pond? Well, it's actually a demon called the Venom Serpent, and so far as Inuyasha monsters go, I didn't mind it. It's a little weird for the girls to be fighting another snake-themed demon just after the three-for-one deal we got last week, but I like the look of the Venom Serpent significantly more than ol' Kinka and Ginka. Also, while Moroha once again gets sidelined in order for Towa and Setsuna to learn a lesson about teamwork or whatever, at least she's there this time. It's also really silly how Myoga explains that Setsuna is immune to venom, while Towa is immune to poison mist, because…well, just because.

It's stuff like that which ends up making a lot of Yashahime's scripts almost feel like first drafts, where nobody ever bothered to give the plot a once-over and ask, “Wait a minute…couldn't we think of something better than a placeholder excuse like ‘Different siblings are immune to different consistencies of poison’?” Though, if push came to shove, I guess I'd rather take a halfway decent first draft over a completely forgettable one. I hate to damn the show with faint-praise…but I think we all know what would solve that problem, don't we, Yashahime? That's right: Nix the twins, drop the Fake-Shippo off at a fire station somewhere, and make Moroha the star of the program. Call it “Beniyasha's Potato Chips n' Pancakes Power Hours!”, and have it be nothing but Moroha gorging herself on futuristic foodstuffs and mangling J-Pop karaoke.

Now that is an anime that I could get behind!

Rating:

Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon is currently streaming on Crunchyroll, Funimation, and Hulu.
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James is a writer with many thoughts and feelings about anime and other pop-culture, which can also be found on Twitter, his blog, and his podcast.


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