Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 18 of
Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon ?
Yashahime represents a rather unique sort of failure when it comes to the stuff I've spent dozens of hours and thousands of words trying to analyze and critique: It is a show that had its success more or less handed to it on a silver platter based purely on the affection of decades' worth of loyal fans, with a goal that wasn't even that ambitious to begin with, and yet it has still dropped the ball in almost every conceivable way. “Tell a cheesy, young-adult oriented story about the next generation of kids in the InuYasha universe. Throw in some fun callbacks to the original show, check in with all of the favorite characters, and maybe find a new spin on the old stories that kept people coming back, week after week, all those years ago.”
That shouldn't be a terribly difficult challenge, right? I'm not one to usually advocate for cheap pandering, but long-awaited nostalgia bait projects are ones where I'd say a little bit of pandering would be a good thing! Instead, we're stuck with episodes like “Kirinmaru and Sesshomaru”, which keeps up with Yashahime's grand tradition of sounding like an episode that ought to deliver a whole lot of story and character development, and instead gives us a fat load of bupkis. To the show's credit, Kirinmaru and Sesshomaru do technically share a couple of scenes together, and Sesshomaru even has a couple of speaking lines.
That isn't until the very end though; up until roughly the last quarter of the episode, the girls are on their own against Konton and Totetsu, and they eventually square off against Kirinmaru. There isn't a whole lot to say about the fights against the Perils; I mean, yeah, Konton dies, which should be a big deal, but it isn't, because he had absolutely nothing going for him in terms of charisma or menace, and his defeat feels just as arbitrary as any of the other villains that have gotten axed by these kids. Sure, it took an extra episode to do it, but outside of Towa using her magic sniffing powers to get the drop on Konton, there isn't anything special or unusual about the battle. Just more of the same sword powers and so on. Same goes for Totetsu, except he has run away once more to fight another day. So yeah, he'll probably show up again to fight another day, I guess.
The real centerpiece of the action here is the girls' fight against Kirinmaru, which is just such a lame and drawn-out waste of time on everybody's part that it is honestly depressing to write about. It's playing on the same trope that we've seen a million times before, where Yashahime has Kirinmaru wipe the floor with the girls because he's just so powerful and scary and yadda yadda. This might have worked if we had any sense that the girls were genuinely invested in fighting the guy, or if there were any meaningful stakes, but we know the score, don't we? For Pete's sake, Towa stops to ask pretty-please if Kirinmaru will use his still unconfirmed control over the dream butterfly to give Setsuna's dreams back, and then the trio just stand around trying to figure out if there's even a bounty to be won for killing the guy. And you know what? Of course there isn't, you stupid children! The dude is some mystical demon tyrant of ancient legend, and he's been trying to kill you for years! He apparently has dibs on all of continental Asia! Why would there be a bounty on him? Who would pay it? Why would anyone think some random bounty hunters would even be capable of taking him on????
I'm sorry, but Yashahime keeps doing this thing where it points out that the girls don't have any idea of what they're doing, that they don't have any common motivation or reason to keep randomly hunting demons together, and that they don't have any context or understanding of the larger story that Yashahime keeps insisting will be important, I don't know, eventually. It's just so goddamn frustrating because it didn't need to be this way! Towa and Setsuna could have just been told about the connection between the Dream Butterfly and Kirinmaru from the beginning; Moroha could've had an open and earnest desire to reunite with her long-lost parents that gave her a reason to care about Towa and Setsuna's whole deal; fucking Jaken could have dropped by to foreshadow something about Sesshomaru's secret plan to do…whatever it is he's doing.
Like, did everyone at Sunrise honestly think that the most ideal version of this story is to have Towa and Setsuna coming face-to-face with their father for the first time in their lives, after eighteen episodes of buildup, only for their reaction to be, “Who the hell is this guy?” Or for Sesshomaru to randomly descend from the sky, beat up Kirinmaru for ten minutes, and then fly off without a single word to the twins he almost let burn alive in a forest fire that one time? New viewers are supposed to think that this deadbeat is the sexy, smoldering bad boy demon prince that half the fandom has been thirsting over for twenty years? And what the hell is with knocking Moroha out of every single battle? Is it just so she can ask Towa and Setsuna to explain shit the audience already saw after commercial breaks?
Everything wrong with Yashahime can be summed up in the exchange that the girls have when Kirinmaru beats feet and Sesshomaru dips back off into the woods so he can avoid paying child support for another fifteen years. Towa says, “…it looks like [Sesshomaru] has something to do with Kirinmaru,” as if that is the big takeaway that we're supposed to have gotten from this episode. Except…the Tree of Ages told the girls that already, back in Episode 3, and their response was literally “We don't give a shit, stop bothering us.” Did…did the show forget that? Why would it even go through all of the trouble to write and record that scene if it was just going to eventually end Episode 18 with Towa staring up at the sky and musing: “I wonder what Sesshomaru is trying to do?” I mean, yeah, no shit, that's what we all want to know. Does the show expect a pat on the back for finally arriving at the same place most of its viewers have been for four-and-a-half months already? Sorry, but it's going to have to do a whole lot better than that to earn our trust back, going forward. What's even on the docket for next week, anyway?
…damn it, Yashahime.
Odds and Ends
• In case the screencaps this week didn't get it across, the show's art and animation has remained firmly at the bottom of the barrel lately. You can just assume I'm factoring that into all of these review scores, unless the production suddenly and dramatically improves for the better.
• There was one funny bit where Moroha takes maybe two seconds to confirm that Towa is conscious after the Kirinmaru fight before dropping her back down into the dirt again. That made me laugh, though Moroha deserves so much better than these dorks.
• Riku has three of the Rainbow Pearls now, which is a thing. I'm calling it now: He's secretly Kirinmaru's half-demon son, and he'll be the one who ends up fulfilling the prophecy and killing Kirinmaru. What evidence do I have to support this theory? None whatsoever, other than that it would justify Riku's inclusion in the story. That'd be neat, wouldn't it?
• I wanted to bring back Yashahime Masterpiece Theater, since the bit seemed to go over well last week, but so little happened in this episode that it would have ended up looking like this:
KONTON: Argh! *dies*
KIRINMARU: Nyeh heh, no ya don't!
TOWA: !?!? *gets smacked the hell out*
SETSUNA: !?!? *gets smacked the hell out*
MOROHA: ... *gets knocked out of battle for fifteenth time*
JAKEN: Hrnngghh, Lord Sesshomaru!
SESSHOMARU: Shut the hell up Jaken.
TOWA & SETSUNA: Hmm??
TOWA & SETSUNA: Huh.
MOROHA: What. Why.THE END.
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