Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 1 of
Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon ?
How would you rate episode 2 of
Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon ?
How would you rate episode 3 of
Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon ?
If you read my Preview Guide Coverage of Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon's first episode, then you'll know that my biggest issue with that premiere was how little time we actually spent with this spin-off series' main trio. Towa, Setsuna, and Moroha get little more than cameos in the opening chapter of their own show; instead, the majority of “Inuyasha: Since Then” is devoted to giving us a small slice of epilogue to the original InuYasha. Root Head demon shows up and starts causing a ruckus, and over the course of the proceeding mission to take Root Head down, we're reintroduced to the core cast of InuYasha: Kagome, Miroku, Sango, Sesshomaru, etc. It was a decent jumping-off point for the story, but it offered disappointingly few connections to the more relevant adventures of InuYasha and Sesshomaru's progeny, aside from the little tease of the Root Head scrap latching on to the Tree of Ages.Basically, the real premiere of Yashahime comes in Episode 2, “The Three Princesses,” and I'll be honest with you all: It's a bit of a hot mess. There's a lot of ground being covered in just this one episode, and Yashahime visibly struggles to balance the tasks of introducing its three heroines, setting up the basic plot elements that the series will be following, and establishing the overarching mysteries of just why these three half-demons seem to have been completely abandoned by their parents. Sesshomaru's absence in Towa and Setsuna's lives makes a little more sense in Episode 3, when Kaede helpfully exposits to Kohaku and Co. that she believes the elder Dog Demon left his twin daughters to fend for themselves in a “rite of courage and cowardice”, in order to see which of the two girls came out the survivor. That still doesn't explain how the pair managed to survive alone in the woods for four years, if that is indeed what happened to them, nor does it address Moroha's situation, which is equally vague.
The show isn't content to just have The Mystery of the Missing Parents be the central conflict for our girls, either, since Towa ends up sucked into the future and adopted by Sota, Kagome's little brother, who has married and sired a young daughter of his own in the fifteen or so years that have passed since the original series ended. Towa's life with Sota is painted in the broadest of strokes: She dresses “like a boy” and fights all of the time on account of the bullies she's been beating down since elementary school, she's fiercely protective of her little sister Mei, and she scarcely remembers her life in feudal Japan with Setsuna. This status quo is completely shattered before “The Three Princesses” ends, though, because just as Towa is going to rescue Mei, Kagome's mother, and Kagome's grandfather from the literally murderous middle-school bullies that she wailed on earlier, another time tunnel opens up, and out pop both Setsuna and Moroha. Setsuna has become a hardened demon slayer in the decade since she was taken from Towa, and Moroha…well, she's just happy to be along for the ride, kicking the butt of Mistress Three-Eyes, a centipede demon lady who is a direct callback to one of the first monsters we ever saw in the original InuYasha anime.
To recap, the current threads of mystery that Yashahime is setting up to unravel over the course of the season include:
- What happened to Sesshomaru in the last fifteen years, and why did he abandon Towa and Setsuna?
- Why did Towa and Setsuna get separated by time and space when they were just toddlers, and what caused Setsuna to become so hardened and cold?
- What happened to Inuyasha and Kagome, and why did they abandon Moroha?
- Why would Kohaku and the other Demon Slayers seemingly not know that Moroha is Inuyasha's daughter? (Seriously, it is the most obvious thing in the history of the world to figure out for anyone that has ever met with either Inuyasha or Kagome even once)
I'm not necessarily opposed to any of these mysteries on principle, but the way they're half-present and tossed around in such slapdash fashion makes the whole second episode a monumental disappointment. We don't spend enough time with any of the characters to be invested in them on their own terms, and their weird relationships (or lack thereof) to the original heroes of InuYasha are too confusing and vague to work as hooks, either. It's especially frustrating when you take into account the flashback-heavy first episode, which feels like time that would have been better spent easing us into this new story more gradually.
Thankfully, “The Dream Butterfly” is a much more satisfying episode than either of its predecessors, though not without its faults. It spends far too much time cutting between Kaede expositing mystery breadcrumbs to characters we barely care about back in the Feudal Timeline and having Setsuna and Towa fight either Mistress Three-Eyes or each other in the Present Timeline. The fight against ol' Three-Eyes does a good job of showcasing the girls' skills and personalities, at least, and I get that Towa and Setsuna's battle is meant to establish Towa's primary motivation of reclaiming her lost family and past, but it just feels stretched out for too long. One thing I will say is that “The Dream Butterfly” does an excellent job of selling Moroha as a heroine: she's charming, likeable, funny, and a much-needed break from Setsuna's dourness and Towa's more straightforward characterization. I don't know how much I care about Towa rescuing Setsuna's dreams from this Dream Butterfly or whatever, but I definitely want Moroha to make some friends, and to kick some demon butt while she's at it.
Outside of a bunch of weird stuff that I'm going to have to save for the Odds and Ends section, Yashahime's biggest problem so far is one of pacing and scope. It's trying to tell too much story, in too complex a fashion, in too little time. That said, while I'm not a diehard InuYasha fan, I've seen enough of the original to be excited to be back in its world, and I could see myself getting attached to our three heroines once they actually have a proper plot to move through. With Episode 3 being such an improvement over the first two, I'm hoping Yashahime will continue to its upward trajectory as the season continues. Who knows? Maybe it will end up living up to the legacy of its beloved parent series, instead of scrambling aimlessly in its shadow.
Odds and Ends
• Weird Yashahime Thing #1: Episodes 2 and 3 have some wonky editing going on, especially with their endings. Did it seem like they both just abruptly cut to black in the middle of a scene to anybody else?
• Weird Yashahime Thing #2: I'm not sure what Yashahime is trying to say about Towa's relationship with traditional gender roles and presentation, but my wife (who is the lifelong InuYasha fan between the two of us) and I rolled our eyes so damned hard when little Mei cried out to Towa about how Towa really just wants to be girly and cute, and that she needs to give up fighting and boy clothes so she can be happy. The show kind of presents this as a joke, but it's still super dumb how the show makes such a point of drawing attention to Towa's masculine style and personality without saying anything meaningful about it. I'm nervous for how that's going to play out, to say the least.
• Weird Yashahime Thing #3: Speaking of things that make me and pretty much every InuYasha fan I know nervous: Can Yashahime please just stop playing coy and tell us if Rin is Towa and Setsuna's mother? Those annoying character titles that keep popping up introduced Rin as the girl who “adores Sesshomaru”, which got a big ol' “Yikes!” face from my wife and myself when we saw it, but I just don't see how the timeline of these girls' births could match up with that. Either:
- Option A: There's some weird time-travel nonsense afoot, and Sesshomaru did the demon-dog-do with an aged-up Rin, or
- Option B: Sesshomaru's going to be getting a visit from Ancient Japanese Chris Hansen sometime very soon.
Or maybe, just maybe, Rumiko Takahashi and the creators of Yashahime chose a much more sensible Option C: Don't have Sesshomaru impregnate his tiny adoptive daughter figure. Please, Yashahime, I'm begging you; we're all begging you: Go with Option C!
• Finally, I've only seen the first seventy or so episode of the original InuYasha myself, but my wife is very well-versed in the original series (not so much The Final Act, which we will catch up with…eventually). In any case, I know the gist of what goes down in all of the Inuyahsa that I haven't seen yet. Between my experience, the knowledge of my wife and several internet friends, and the infinitely useful online wikis, I feel like I should be in a good position to catch the major callbacks that Yashahime is likely to be dishing out, but feel free to contribute your own knowledge in the comments if I miss anything important! Just be sure to properly tag any InuYasha spoilers, and all that.
discuss this in the forum (38 posts) |
this article has been modified since it was originally posted; see change history