Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 12 of
Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon ?
If nothing else, we can certainly give Yashahime some credit for communicating its intentions right up front with episode titles like “Night of the New Moon and the Black-Haired Towa.” Not only is this twelfth episode's title a direct reference to InuYasha's thirteenth episode, “The Mystery of the New Moon and the Black Haired Inuyasha”, it also delivers exactly what it advertises on the tin. As is the case with all half-demons, Towa undergoes a regular depowering that arrives on the night of the New Moon, which leaves her defenseless when the demon Nikosen attacks at the behest of Konton, one of Kirinmaru's Four Perils. Luckily for Towa (and the audience), Moroha is here to basically save the day all by herself. She fends off Nikosen, protects Towa in the meantime, and is generally a good little feral demon girl. Let it be known that Moroha was, once again, the best part of the episode.
At this point, would any of you be surprised that I have some nits to pick about this episode? Probably not, since Yashahime has made a regular habit of pairing any of its good decisions with one or two equally frustrating ones. Namely, the way it handles the whole concept of Towa's New Moon phase doesn't do much at all besides inform newcomers of one of the peculiar drawbacks that comes from being a half-demon, which longtime fans of InuYasha were already well aware of, by now. Nevermind the fact that Nikosen is another forgettable nothing-villain, or that Setsuna is the member of the trio that gets almost entirely sidelined until the very end of the story; the single biggest issue facing “Night of the New Moon and the Black-Haired Towa” is that the titular main event of the episode barely matters at all.
When we first learned about the New Moon phenomenon in InuYasha, the stakes were immediately present and recognizable, because Inuyasha was far and away the most powerful member of the original group, which meant that the comparatively vulnerable Kagome and Shippo were in real danger while they waited for him to get back to full strength. If anything, Towa's naivety and general lack of forcefulness have made her, if not the weakest member of the trio, then the one most likely to get herself into trouble that Setsuna and Moroha will need to help her out of. Having her rendered unconscious for most of the episode is more of an inconvenience than anything else, which Yashahime essentially admits when it has to artificially increase the tension by cutting Setsuna out of the action for most of the plot. She scuffles with Nikosen a bit near the beginning, yes, but then her time is spent primarily waiting around with Hisui, while Moroha tends to Towa and builds protective spirit barriers around the cave they are in.
On top of that, it is difficult to tell whether the New Moon depowering is being treated by any of the girls as something surprising, which makes their muddy understanding of their own demon powers that much harder to parse. The episode tries to force in a last-minute “lesson” by having Towa resolve that she mustn't run away and allow herself to be protected anymore, which is paid off when she is arbitrarily allowed to deal the killing blow to Nikosen's core, since Moroha and Setsuna's methods couldn't do the trick. You can't even say that the episode is worth it for the spectacle, because the art is pretty rough this week. There are a number of limp cuts spread throughout the episode, and some noticeable instances of the characters being distractingly off-model.
In short, this is an episode that seems like it wants to provide an opportunity to develop its characters, only to prevent any of the main heroines from having more than a few meaningful words exchanged between them at a time. It also puts on the airs of offering important exposition, but it is almost entirely information that longtime fans would already know, and it isn't even clear if the characters themselves care about the details all that much. No bounties have been won, no more clues to the Dream Butterfly have been found, and Kirinmaru's agents remain content to sit in the shadows and scheme their conveniently vague (but super evil!) schemes. I've already forgotten most of what happened in the span of writing this review. We'll see if I've been able to retain any memory of this week's events at all when Yashahime picks back up next time.
Odds and Ends
• I had to consult the wikis, but Nikosen is indeed a villain from the original InuYasha. For those of you that were familiar with the character: Did recognizing Nikosen enhance or detract from your enjoyment of this episode at all?
• I really do have to wonder just what Kohaku and Hisui are even doing in this show. I'm pretty sure that the two have had maybe a dozen lines between them since the season started. Is anyone even going to try and inquire about where the original crew has wandered off to?
• Speaking of which, I know that next week's preview hints at some long-awaited appearances from Sango and Miroku, but I'll believe it when I see it. For all we know, the ten frames of them that we see in the preview could be from a dream, or a minute-long flashback, or hell, another episode preview.
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