Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 20 of
Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon ?
Hold your horses, everyone, and stop the presses, because this is the week that Yashahime has finally seen fit to grace us with an episode that is kind-of okay! Ain't that just somethin'? Now, I don't think anyone is going to go mistaking “The Hidden Village for Half Demons” as anything particularly good, but it's mostly a standalone flashback episode, which means all of the dumb nonsense from the main plot is mostly ignored, which is always a good thing. Plus, Moroha isn't around, and while I would usually consider that to be a knock against any given Yashahime episode, the show has gone out of its way to prove that it is only interested in using the poor girl as the butt of its dumb running jokes, so mayhap it's actually a good thing that she isn't around to be ignored/abused/wasted. I know, that doesn't exactly ring as glowing praise, but we're twenty weeks into Yashahime, people, and we've got to grade on a curve.
The framing device for this week's flashback is so simple that you wonder why the show even bothered with one at all: Towa has once again tagged along with one of Setsuna's patrols, and once they arrive at the forest clearing Setsuna is to guard, she tells Towa the story of what happened to her after getting abandoned in the woods all those years ago. It's another one of those episodes that really brings the show's pacing into question, since you could have slapped down this story at literally any point over the past few months without having to change a thing. Why wait this long to answer questions about one of our main heroines' backstories? I don't know, but for whatever it's worth, it isn't like Yashahime cares very much either way.
Point being, and for reasons that will maybe be explained someday, ol' Jaken schemed to have little Setsuna delivered to a hidden forest refuge for half-demons, which is run by a half-human and half-bat-demon named Shiori (who I am told is a character from the original series). Here, Setsuna grew up, occasionally getting mysterious messages delivered to her that instructed her to train in the art of cutting wind and water, which made her all strong and stuff. She makes some friends in Futa and Raita, who have the annoying habit of repeating each others' sentences, and together they help ward off the various demon spookies that would eat them all for lunch. There's a somewhat random interlude where Setsuna goes to live with Kaede for a bit, before her murderous attitude towards the local bandits proves a bit too much for the human folk, so Setsuna just sort of goes back to Shiori's hideaway.One day, an extra spooky demon named Gaga Gozen comes to screw everything up, with Miroku and Hachi just happening to trail close behind. Setsuna opens up an extra-powerful can of demon whoop-ass on Gaga Gozen, and I'd be lying if I said it wasn't kind of cool to see her straight up bisect him and then explode his head (weirdly gory for this otherwise kid-friendly series, though). Miroku puts that lock on Setsuna's latent powers, though we already saw that a long time ago, so the moment doesn't feel like much more than some obligatory filling in of the blanks on Yashahime's part.
So yeah, that's really all there is to this episode, and while it's not all that exciting or interesting, it's at least functional, which is right around where the bar is at for Yashahime these days. There's still plenty of janky art and moments that are plain dumb, like when Setsuna explains how her advanced sense of smell is what allowed her to detect Gaga Gozen and his demons, even though they're a crew of obviously evil furries that are traipsing about without a care in the world. There's also the clumsy way that the episode tries to sell its emotional beats. Maybe Shiori's presence will work better for a more die-hard InuYasha fan, but I didn't have much emotional investment in any of Setsuna's backstory. Then there's the sweet-on-paper tag at the end where Setsuna explains why she's opening up to Towa all of a sudden, but Yashahime is so goddamned weird and out-of-order with its narrative that there's no way to know if it's going to stick at all. One week, Towa and Setsuna will be growing closer; the next, they might as well be back at square one. Who even knows, at this point?
Still, fair is fair. Yashahime didn't go out of its way to piss me off or confuse me this week, and that's worth…well, it's worth something, I guess? All we need to do now is keep up the streak for a few more weeks, and maybe give Moroha something to do in the meantime, too. I won't get my hopes up, but hey, a guy can dream, can't he?
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