Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 13 of
Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon ?
Man, I was all prepared to begin this write-up of “The Delicious Feudal Monks” with something along the lines of “It may have taken thirteen entire episodes, but now that it has reintroduced some of its long-awaited original cast members, Yashahime finally seems ready to kick its plot into gear.” Except, when I finished the episode, I realized I couldn't open with that, because while Miroku and Sango do show up to provide some much-needed connective tissue to the original InuYasha, Yashahime's story is as stagnant and shapeless as it has ever been. Plus, it's another episode where Moroha gets treated as a complete afterthought, a move that Yashahime is apparently treating as some kind of hilarious running joke. Well the joke is on you, Yashahime: There's nothing in the world that is less funny than depriving an audience of their well-deserved Moroha time. I've called the Anime Police on you, and your crimes against loveable, garbage-tier demon girls everywhere will finally be brought to justice.
I suppose my job is to talk about the other twenty-two minutes of “The Delicious Feudal Monks” that aren't about Moroha, though, so here's the plot, I guess: This week's foe is Totetsu, one of Kirinmaru's Four Perils, but there isn't anything at all that differentiates him from any of Yashahime's other forgettable demons-of-the-week, except maybe the fact that he survives to fight another day. His existence as a monk-hungry chonker is merely an excuse for Towa and Setsuna to be sent along with Hisui to play guard duty and visit everyone's favorite serial molester: Miroku!
After complaining for months about Yashahime being so blatant about how it was dangling the reappearances of Inuyasha and Co. above its audience's noses like a carrot on a stick, it might seem like I'm just impossible to please now that I'm complaining about Yashahime finally doing what I wanted and giving the original cast something to do. Well, true to form, Yashahime has managed to make the eagerly anticipated return of Miroku and Sango feel underwhelming and borderline pointless. Sango literally doesn't do anything, since she's been stuck at the family home while Miroku has spent the last two years on a thousand-day-long training regimen. The goal of this training is apparently to obtain a divine power-up, on account of a vaguely explained battle against a powerful demon that apparently shook Miroku enough to ditch out on his paternal responsibilities for the better part of three years.
Now, I will give the show credit in that the bones of a functional story are present in this episode, what with Hisui's resentment over what he perceives as his father's “shamelessness”, and the potentially interesting complications that could arrive from finding out that some of the beloved characters from the previous series haven't exactly made for perfect parents. The main issue with how Yashahime executes on this potential, though, is that Hisui is probably the single least developed and engaging character in the entirety of Yashahime (and that is really saying something). I could literally count on my hands the number of lines that Hisui has had in this show that couldn't have just as easily gone to any one of Kohaku's random demon slayer pals; to make matters worse, it is never made entirely clear why Hisui resents his father to begin with.
There's something there about Miroku's cowardice, which, sure, the guy has always been more of a schemer than a fighter, but he's also dedicating years of his life to a hardcore training regimen so he can fight off some supremely powerful demonic threats. Sango is seen praying at a memorial shrine in her brief appearances this week – did Miroku's actions lead to the death of one of Hisui's siblings, or something like that? It's so frustrating when Yashahime demonstrates the capacity to tell actual stories about both its past and present protagonists, but settles on dishing up the absolute bare-minimum of character and plot development instead.
This speaks to my prior complaint, that so many of these episodes' scripts feel like rough drafts that never got a proper revision done before being rushed out the door. Hisui's character development is basically nonexistent, and all of Miroku's contributions to the story are half-baked at best. For some reason, he has to remind his demon-slayer son to use the convenient poison pellets that every demon slayer carried with them at all times. Then, when the poison isn't enough to knock Totetsu out, Setsuna randomly announces that she does remember who Miroku is, and wouldn't you know it, he just so happened to have sealed up her demonic transformation powers. He unseals them, Setsuna borrows her father's poison-blood trick to beat Totetsu, and then Miroku promptly seals them back up again. End of episode.
I just…I have so many questions. Why does the show have Miroku decide to just not elaborate on his connection to Towa and Setsuna's pasts, even when they flat out ask him how he knows them? Why is it still completely unclear how aware any character in this show is of Inuyasha, Kagome, Sesshomaru, or Rin's fates? I know that Miroku had no love for the twins' dad, but we saw that Kagome left Moroha in Hachi's care during that dream-flashback-thing, and that girl apparently grew up as a practically feral indentured servant to Jyubei. Were Sango, Miroku, Kaede, Kohaku, and even Shippo so quick to turn down the babysitting duties that there were literally no better caretaker options for the three half-demon princesses than some sketch-ass hermit debt-collector and/or the woods?
Based on what I've seen online, some fans really wanted to go all-in on the defense that Yashahime is doing its own thing, that our focus should be on the story of the girls themselves, and that all of the references to the original cast are fun extras for fans to appreciate as fanservice. Even if I thought that was true (which I don't), Yashahime can barely get by when you strip away any of the expectations it has established itself as a sequel to one of the most popular anime of my generation. Totetsu is a lame villain, the art and animation are mostly weak (it is especially crummy whenever the monster is on screen, for some reason), and the plot is aggressively committed to developing as slowly as is feasibly possible. The preview for next week's episode suggests that we're going to learn about the demon that started the fire that separated Towa and Setsuna from each other, but I'm not getting my hopes up. Instead, I'll keep expecting Yashahime to be baffling, boring, and irritating in equal measure. That will just make it all the sweeter if the show manages to pleasantly surprise me down the line.
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