Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 22 of
Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon ?
I'm going to get this out of the way now, just so I can switch things up and not start things off on such a negative foot: “The Stolen Seal” isn't a terrible episode of Yashahime! Relatively speaking, at least; lord knows there are a lot of bones I have to pick, but they're the kinds of problems we've come to expect from the whole of Yashahime by now, and while they usually say that familiarity breeds contempt, in this show's case I'm perfectly happy to mix my metaphors and go with the devil I know. At the very least, “The Stolen Seal” doesn't end on a character-destroying gag like last week did, and it's not infuriatingly incompetent like, well, a lot of prior episodes have been. Here's your gold star, Yashahime.
We actually begin with another flashback, this time to a previous arrival of that one evil comet, which we see being destroyed by Kirinmaru, Zero, and — hold for surprised gasp — Grampyasha himself, the Great Dog Demon! The reveal that Kirinmaru and Zero used to be besties with GDD is something that feels like it should be shocking, or at least emotional, but Yashahime has bungled its pacing and narrative so badly that the best it could muster from me was a slightly cocked eyebrow and a mild snort. I'm sure the show wants us to make a big to-do out of the mystery of what happened between these three to lead them to…whatever it is that Kirinmaru and Zero are trying to do, now, but this is the first time that Kirinmaru and Zero have even *kind of* felt like characters with personalities and goals. Even with Zero and Kirinmaru vaguely gesticulating about the Spooky Plans™ for the girls for half of the episode, I'm still not entirely sure of what they want to accomplish now, so Yashahime sure as hell hasn't shored up enough vested interest to get me concerned about the villains' pasts.
Speaking of the Spooky Plans™, yes, that is what this week's episode is all about. For some reason that Yashahime hasn't bothered to tell us yet, Zero and Kirinmaru actually want to unlock Towa and Setsuna's sealed-away demon powers, and Zero goes about this scheme using those creepy demon powers that I guess she didn't seal away, after all. Do the treacherous siblings simply want to see what the twins are capable of at full strength, before killing them? Or does Kirinmaru have greater use for Towa and Setsuna? Could it be that he might even have their best interests in mind? Probably not, but we're getting to the point where the obnoxiously dragged out “mysteries” of the story are just frustrating and pointless, so we've got to fill in the blanks with something to work with.
In any case, Zero first pays a visit to Miroku in order to figure out how to unseal Setsuna's power, and then she takes her newfound knowledge to the sisters themselves. Zero manages to easily brainwash Towa into helping her, thanks to Towa chucking away her Silver Pearl last week like a damned nincompoop. Moroha, being the only sweet and good character in this entire series, does her best to help, but to no avail: Zero rips away Setsuna's seal, transforming the young half-demon into the venomous, rage-filled beast that we've seen consume her before. Oh, and then she grows big purple butterfly wings and flies away to wreak more havoc elsewhere.
Is the implication that Setsuna is the dream butterfly? Or is Zero the Dream Butterfly, and the wings are on her account? Or is this some kind of extended Naraku/OG InuYasha reference that is just (heh heh) flying over my head? Either way, I have to be honest: It looks goofy as all get out. And not in a charming, “This is a fairy tale meant for kids!” way, oh no — it's plain corny, is what it is. Most of the action this week is pretty lame, as sloppily and poorly storyboarded as it is, but Magical Butterfly Setsuna is perhaps a bridge too far, especially since we don't have enough context to know why she would just randomly sprout butterfly wings all of a sudden. And what does all of Setsuna's rage and thrashing about amount to in the end? A blink-and-you'll-miss-it appearance from Sesshomaru, who, true to form as ever, can only muster mild disgust for his daughter's inability to perfectly master her demon powers entirely on her own, years after being completely abandoned by the only parent who could have maybe given her some real pointers. Dad of the Year material, he is most certainly not.
Still, I meant it when I said this was a step up from previous episodes. I liked Miroku's daughter, Kin'u, who takes a solid minute to dunk on her dad for getting gooped up in Zero's spiderwebs before helping him out. I liked that Moroha got more to do this week than just stand around, waiting for an opportunity to sneak in one of her zingers. (Even if the end result is still, you know, Moroha getting her ass beat. Again.) Hell, I even liked the incredibly stupid cliffhanger at the end of the episode, where we cut back to the present day for the first time in almost five months, to see Towa's teacher, Osamu Kirin, remarking on the reappearance of that gosh-danged evil demon comet. Get it? “Osamu Kirin”? With the floofy hair and oversized Harry Potter specs covering up his face?? Man, I almost feel bad for Yashahime at this point because of moments like these, where it feels like the show genuinely believes it is telling an interesting story worth giving a damn about. It isn't. At all. If the show can just maintain a few episode's worth of this baseline level of near functional quality, though, I might just be able to humor it long enough to get to the finish line.
Odds and Ends
• The bar is so low at this point that I nearly gave “The Stolen Seal” a 3/5, just for how much it didn't actively annoy or insult me. Then we got to the scene where Towa noted that hugging Riku sure did make her feel different from when “Papa Sota” hugs her. This is, categorically, the single worst line that the show has ever had the gall to throw at us, and Yashahime is lucky that I didn't throw another Adam Sandler movie GIF at the scoreboard. You're on thin ice, Yashahime! Keep the girls' nascent horniness to your damn self, please and thank you.
• So, Zero and Grampyasha were most definitely getting their shag on, right? The internet tells me that Sesshomaru's mother has already made her appearance in the series, so my initial theory that she was going to be the twins' grandmother doesn't seem like it makes any sense. But still, she's out here calling GDD her “lord” and giving him the “slam my salmon” look throughout the whole episode. That explains why she gave up her demon powers in a fit of grief — even if, again, it seems like she definitely still has all of her demon powers — though I still don't get why she was so keen on killing GDD when he was deathly ill, last week.
• Totosai also pops up to foreshadow the “training with the Blood Blade” — I don't know what a Blood Blade is, but I was feeling like Steve Rogers when the old blacksmith popped up:
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