Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 9 of
Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon ?
Man, it sure is strange to see the opening of this week's Yashahime addressing a lot of the issues that I've been noting over the past 8 weeks! For the first time, Setsuna and Towa point out how they really don't have much of a reason to do bounty hunts with Moroha, since it has nothing to do with Towa's quest for the Dream Butterfly. Setsuna even reiterates how she doesn't care about that mission, either, and the whole thing becomes the first real argument between these cousins. Moroha, especially, is hurt because she's finally found family that could also be her friends, after being on her own for pretty much her entire life. We'll just have to ignore the fact that, in making Moroha cry, Towa and Setsuna have cemented themselves as even greater villains than Kirinmaru. What matters more is when Jyubei brings in the obvious solution to both Moroha and the twins' problems: Posting a big enough bounty on the Dream Butterfly might be enough to draw some information out of the woodwork, and it just so happens that the 1,000 mon job that Moroha nabbed will give the twins enough capital to make headway on their own hunt. It's a simple and long overdue establishing of stakes, investment, and direction, and though “Meifuku, the Meioju” doesn't go much further when it comes to picking up Yashahime's narrative slack, it does a lot with just the little we do get.
The rest of the episode is mostly just a stock villain-of-the-week affair, albeit with one twist: It almost completely rehashes an episode we've already seen before in the Inuyasha canon. Kirinmaru's lackey this time around is a demon named Konton, who has two elemental spirit dogs at his command and generally abhors anything “distasteful”. He's never shown up in the franchise before, so far as I know, but then the girls meet a tiny orphaned Meioju turtle demon named Meifuku. This tyke's father was the much older and tougher demon that Konton recently killed, and the bastard is even wearing the dead turtle's shell as a keepsake piece of armor. Thus, Meifuku will need the girls' help to realize his own potential and avenge his father.
In other words, it's exactly the same as Shippo's introduction from the original series, right down to the dead father's carcass being worn as an ornamental trophy by the villain. Except, instead of introducing a core cast member to the story, this episode is dealing with mostly forgettable characters and predictable action beats. The animation isn't at its best this week, either, which doesn't help with the stilted fight scenes, and we also stop for a very awkward spirit chat between father and son right in the middle of things while Towa and Konton sneer at each other. Aside from being yet another one of Kirinmaru's mooks, there's nothing at all about Konton's character design or personality to make him memorable, and Meifuku isn't exactly winning any awards for Supporting Character of the Year or anything, so it's a shame that so much of the episode was devoted to this relatively flat one-off adventure.
Still, getting just a little acknowledgement from the story that it is aware of the girls' disparate attitudes and goals makes their dynamic feel much more believable and interesting, and there's some funny banter to tide us over as well. Moroha trying to play off being rejected by Towa and Setsuna was charming as heck, and I admittedly laughed at the jokes made at the expense of Meifuku's age – it'll take him about fifty years to get much of anything done, it seems. “Meifuku, the Meioju” wasn't top-tier Yashahime, but I'm not sure we even know what that would look like at this point, and the episode was a step up from previous weeks, for sure. We'll just have to see if the show can keep it up as we roll on into December.
Odds and Ends
• To be clear, I feel like how similar Meifuku's story was to Shippo's is an intentional choice on Yashahime's part, so I'm not necessarily faulting it for being unoriginal. I just don't think the execution was anything special.
• I snorted when it seemed like even Towa wasn't entirely clear on what her motivations to split up from Moroha were. Still doesn't get me to forgive making Moroha cry, though.
• I'm glad to know that the girls have all acknowledged their familial ties at some point in between episodes, but that just makes me wonder even more why none of them have raised any questions about the parents that aren't Sesshomaru. It doesn't seem like the older characters have been erased from people's memories or anything, so seriously, what gives?
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