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This Week in Anime
Does Yashahime Recapture Inuyasha's Magic?
by Jean-Karlo Lemus & Monique Thomas,
The adventures in the world of Inuyasha continues in Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon, starring the offspring of everyone's favorite half-demon and his stoic, beautiful brother. Does Towa, Setsuna, and Moroha's exploits recapture the magic that made the original a huge hit? Jean-Karlo and Nicky put on their nostalgia goggles for a trip to the world of demons in feudal Japan.
This series is streaming on Funimation, Crunchyroll, and Hulu
Disclaimer:The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network. Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead.
Jean-Karlo Hi, Readers. I'm Jean-Karlo. This is my associate Nicky. You know, we've had a lot of fun times here on This Week In Anime talking about sapphic librarians, murderers of the pink-haired or Victorian variety, or big orders. But there comes a time where you got to sit back and stop to remember what this "anime" stuff is all about: characters shouting each others' names, colorful demons with weird titles, and fire kitty.
Nicky I guess I can say that today we're going back to our roots! Long has been since the day that I used to turn on the TV to Adult Swim with the volume low (so I wouldn't disturb my parents) to watch episodes of Inuyasha while doing my math homework.
I, too, have had the image of the Inuyasha cosplayer dancing in a living room with a bunch of other cosplayers etched into my living soul, courtesy of long Friday nights watching Adult Swim. "I'm not alone anymore", indeed. But it's 2020 now, so we have no time for crushed bitrates and Inuyasha. Children get older, I'm getting older too. It's time for the much-anticipated sequel to the old Adult Swim mainstay. So let's talk about Yashahime.
So just like everything from the 80s getting that reboot, characters having children and then the sequel featuring their "younger" kids is another common way to inject new blood into an already existing property. See: BORT (Boruto), son of NART (Naruto). Yashahime is no different, but it is interesting since it's not directly about Inuyasha but instead follows the two daughters of Sesshomaru, who was Inuyasha's full-demon older brother and rival in the series prior. Sesshomaru was an important character in the first series with his own arc and a fan favorite, but he's also pretty enigmatic, so upon hearing the premise this stirred up a lot of fan reaction.
While I'm not going to get into the details of the plot just yet, I was tentative but excited at the prospect of Inuyasha with an all-girl cast this time!
Likewise! Rumiko Takahashi is already beloved for having created some of the greatest women in anime (Lum Invader, Akane Tendou). While her post-Inuyasha manga Rin-ne didn't seem to make a splash, I was interested in seeing what the kids of famed heartthrobs Inuyasha and Sesshomaru would get up to.
They also have really good designs that I think portray all aspects of the previous cast well, even in more subtle ways. This is also fine by me because the boys were also absolutely the most annoying part of Inuyasha for me. Having only three members of the cast to focus on cuts down a bit of the chaff.
Though, I would say that's pretty difficult in a series based on having 90% chaff.
So, the story goes that Kagome decides to stay in the Feudal Era with Inuyasha, while Miroku and Sango... somehow have a stable, healthy relationship. Meanwhile, Sesshomaru has twins with someone: Towa and Setsuna. They're separated by a calamity, and Towa gets sucked through a time portal to the present day and spends the next ten years being raised by Kagome's younger brother, Sota. She never stops worrying about her sister, however, and grows up to break bullies faces and gender norms.
We even get an early episode with the old cast doing the same stuff as always, trying to defeat a demon after the Shikon Jewel (even though that thing is dead). But, right from the get go, there's a lot of gaps in this premise. Where are Inuyasha and Kagome? Where's Sesshomaru? When we're introduced to the girls, they're all pretty much on their own. Setsuna and Towa were running through the woods until the day they were split apart. Also, who is their mother anyway?
To all this the show pretty much just says: "No."
It's not here to answer any of these questions right away but it is here to have a good time!
Right out of the gate, yeah, Yashahime's biggest flaw is that it's a sequel to Inuyasha. So anyone who's been nursing that Sesshomaru crush for the past two decades is going to be frustrated because you're going to have a lot of questions that just won't even be acknowledged. But I digress. When it comes to our heroines in the decade since Towa and Setsuna are separated, Setsuna joins up with Sango's family and becomes a ruthless demon hunter. Meanwhile, Moroha, daughter of Kagome and Inuyasha, becomes a bounty hunter and uses a combination of her quarter-demon abilities and her inherited sacred powers to hunt demons.
Setsuna challenges Moroha to a duel but eventually they stumble through a little thing called the Tree of Ages and through time where they meet up with Towa, who is excited to see her long-lost sister again. But the problem is that Setsuna doesn't even REMEMBER HER and promptly gives her the cold treatment.
Moroha reveals that Setsuna was most likely a victim of a Dream Butterfly that not only robbed her of her ability to sleep or dream, but also her memories. Towa, feeling guilty, becomes determined to return to the feudal era in order to be able to restore her sister back to her former self.
Once the girls go back, however, the Tree of Ages tasks them with hunting down a powerful demon named Kirinmaru, a task that would also require them to fight and kill their father Sesshomaru. But first, they have to defeat Kirinmaru's Four Perils.
I do want to point out that all this exposition is covered in the first three episodes. I know this is a lot, but the original Inuyasha was also something that required a flowchart to follow. So points to these girls for staying true to their roots, I guess.
Yeah, most of the plot is front-loaded and then when it gets to the feudal era proper, the show falls more in line with the Monster of the Week formula and watching the girls hang out. Even the four perils don't really feel like a huge threat in comparison to the other rando monsters as long as they can be defeated in the span of 20 minutes.
Pretty much. Not to get too far ahead of myself, but the Four Perils are all handily defeated in short order in the first cour of the series and the biggest reaction out of anyone is from Moroha – because she can't claim their bounty.
If you're watching this because you're invested in the twenty-year-old question of who carried Sesshomaru's children, you're gonna be sorely disappointed because even Towa and Setsuna don't seem to care.
The formula however is really good at letting us spend time with the characters, especially highlighting Towa's struggle to reconnect with her sister. So now that we've introduced the girls, let's get into what makes their personalities actually work with each other. Towa is first, as she's rather straightforward. She's kind, chivalrous, and diplomatic. It's obvious that Kagome's bro raised her right, she encapsulates a lot of the same modern values that Kagome has that made her a good heroine in a rather unkind world. Also she's got a cool glowing sword and a cool eye. (Okay, she's not the only one with a cool eye but that's MORE plot)
We stan a gender nonconforming princess with a sword. Utena Tenjou would be so proud.
Towa is also kinda the de-facto leader of the group because she has a cool head but at other times her kindness and unfamiliarity with the feudal era makes her naive and an easy target. I also think her power to neutralize demons is a neat and non-confrontational way of dealing with things, like when a human monk gets possessed by a cat demon, even though it was also present in the first series. The other girls also have lots of different cool, inherited skills that we see used in unique ways.
Next is Setsuna, she's pretty stoic and like Sesshomaru, her circumstances are the most mysterious. Kaede, a mentor figure from the previous series, stated that Setsuna basically just showed up in the demon slayer village one day, possibly as some sort of rite of passage by her father.
Setsuna's the most ruthless of the bunch, willing to chop heads off first and ask questions later. She reminds Towa often that the feudal era is not a nice place and you cannot take anything at face value. But with how much time she's spent around Miroku and Sango's brood of demon slayers, I have to wonder if her cold shoulder isn't due to the Dream Butterfly – the rest of the slayers seem like perfectly well-adjusted folks.
I feel like that's an aspect that she more than likely took after her father and having been raised alone for most of her life unlike the demon slayers. To me, Setsuna represents a lot of the negative aspects of Sesshomaru – cold, practical to a fault, competitive – while Towa represents the more positive ones like having a deep connection to family that he gains throughout the series. Though, that doesn't make her a bad character, as it gives Towa a much-needed reality check and motivation to strive for as she tries to get her to warm up to her. Despite her cold exterior, Setsuna is also quite loyal, dutiful, resourceful, and also pretty good with a violin.
Oh yeah, she's also mostly mentored by Kohaku, who I really like having seen grown up into a responsible adult after spending so long being a bit of a minor-antagonist and also kinda a zombie (it's complicated).
Though strangely, we don't see much of Sango and Miroku even though they're around and not dead?
Let's put a pin on the Sango/Miroku thing, because I wanna talk about my precious trash-daughter Moroha! The daughter of Inuyasha and Kagome, she's got her mother's spirited, stubborn nature and her father's... shall we say, "unsophisticated" way of thinking. She's a bounty hunter in debt, so she hunts demons for a living. When she wears her magic lipstick, she becomes the super-powered Beniyasha, but conks out for a whole day afterwards.
You've probably seen her rummaging through your trash when you turn your garage lights on in the middle of the night.
God, I love my feral child. She's really energetic, but rarely successful, so she's a joy and a riot onscreen.
Unfortunately for her, she's also totally stuck in the bounty hunter gig economy and demons have a habit of turning into dust.
Moroha is the best, which is why she's playing third wheel to her cousins. They get all the drama and character development, while Moroha seems quite well-adjusted for someone who grew up without their parents around. She's got a rough lot but has otherwise made the best of things. You just can't keep her down, but the "-yasha" series has always thrived on melodrama. So, comic relief she is.
She really inherited the best aspects of her parents' personalities. Everyone can immediately tell that she's their daughter, it's really sweet. She also got all their OP powers though, so she has to get hindered otherwise she'd just steal the show. I like that she's basically just along for the ride.
Oh yeah, she also bought a bunch of shit using her uncle's card before she left so we still get lots of fun anachronisms, like bringing in a WHOLE BIKE!!
She's just trying to travel in style like her dear old mom. Remember Kagome's bike? Yashahime sure does!
But speaking of call-backs, I'm glad this series doesn't really depend on them. They could have rehashed some bit about Naraku reviving or something like that. Instead, the most obvious call-backs are that the three Half-Demon Princesses have Rainbow Pearls inside of them that grant non-specific powers, and that their first encounter is a giant centipede woman. You know, like the Mistress Centipede Kagome fought way-back-when.
There are call-backs, and then there are a few episodes that are basically just copy-pasted from it's predecessor. Like the one with a child trying to avenge his turtle father – isn't it essentially the same as Shippo's backstory? There could be that I didn't catch, ecause I'm not going to remember hundreds of episodes of Inuyasha that I watched a long time ago. I find this stuff to be the weaker material as it feels a bit lazy, even if I enjoy seeing all the different designs.
They're quite careful to give us stuff that's respectful of your time, parentage information notwithstanding. They could have given us Yura of the Hair Jr or a return to Jinenji or Shiori, but instead we have a nice episodic adventure where the girls fit comfortably into their routine. New demon appears, it's possibly connected to the Four Perils, girls fight it, Moroha doesn't get any money. I have to supply my own "Fukai Mori" for the ending because they didn't get Do As Infinity, I guess.
The rest of the writing feels pretty variable though, it's pretty much all dependent on whether you like the individual episodes. I wouldn't call any of them skippable per se, given that it's only one cour so far and it's pretty comfy with its setup. I think part of the comfort is that even if this is slow for two cours, it's actually much more efficient compared to Inuyasha's hundreds of episodes without anything significant happening.
I'm permissive of Yashahime spinning its wheels because God knows Inuyasha rolled along like it was on a road trip. I expected it and Yashahime, within those limits, has been perfectly satisfying to watch. I won't call it must-see television, especially since I am admittedly a little antsy to know Who's The Mother?™️, but this scratches the old itch that used to be taken care of by Inuyasha. I'd go so far as to say that even if you've never seen Inuyasha, this is a perfectly serviceable standalone series.
I will say, it's pretty cozy to put on in the background every week. The animation isn't stellar but it looks clean enough and I enjoy the flashy moves and bombastic music for the action sequences. Since it's intended for a young audience, it's not really that violent. Parents or older fans could definitely watch this with their kids and family, which I think is mostly the intent given how most of the struggles are family-related. Even if you may have to come to terms with the eventuality of explaining to everyone that the girls' mom MIGHT be Sesshomaru's previously adopted daughter, whom he raised since she was like...five...which I HOPE isn't what the show is supposed to be going for!! We see (what I presume is) her all grown up, in suspended animation.
It's kinda hard to know given that the girls are half-demons and how demons work in the series. For now I'm just gonna assume that Sesshomaru spawned them out of some dirt or something and put all other options FAR out of my mind in fear of being it too weird.
That Rin herself is in the first episode hanging with Kagome and Sango while Miroku and Inuyasha do Man Stuff™️ doesn't help matters. Nobody wants another Bunny Drop situation on their hands.
Especially when there's a possibility that time travel is involved? There's a lot of up-in-the-air elements even halfway through the series. The world of Inuyasha is full of strange elements of surprise that add this kind of mystique, even if it's also equally bullshit. Like the episode where they bring back the concept of New Moons and Towa ends up losing like all of her power! Somehow I forgot that happened in the original series. This only effects Towa though, since Moroha is only a quarter demon and Setsuna is something something Dream Butterfly.
Or the Rainbow Pearls. 13 episodes in and all we know is that they're powerful, they bestow nifty tricks to demons, and there are... several of them? At first it seemed like only the Half-Demon Princesses had them but now new Perils can't be introduced without a pearl of their own. And we still don't know what their deal is.
They're also not the only ones interested in them and we have no idea how the girls got them other than Moroha, who stole it off of one of the Four Perils' corpse. There's also this man who introduces himself as a pirate, who not only has a pearl but seems to be the one actually putting the bounty on the Four Perils so the girls can do all the work for him.
I appreciate his eyeshadow game though.
I think one of the biggest sticking points is that now that the girls have slain the Four Perils, all that's left to be taken care of is Kirinmaru – which is also going to somehow involve a fight against their father Sesshomaru. And while I've enjoyed the series thus far I don't know if they've adequately built up to that point. Sure, there's another cour left, but Towa and Setsuna don't seem to care much about the identity of their father at all.
Yeah, I'd say the overall reasoning behind the central plot is actually the weakest stuff in Yashahime, even if it takes the most time to explain. The girls don't really seem as motivated about all that compared to fixing Setsuna or making money, which I think are much more relatable motivations anyways. They turned down the official call to battle, since the girls rely much more on their wits rather than brute strength. I expect they will have to find a better way to appeal to Father Floof's good nature more than anything. Of course, this is all speculation. My favorite moments have all actually been pretty standalone. I really enjoyed the episode with the twin demons stuck together in an eternal battle for dominance, mirroring Towa and Setsuna or Inuyasha and Sesshomaru's struggle.
That was a pretty good episode, definitely a highlight. It would have been a filler in Inuyasha, but here it does a good job of letting the personalities of the main cast expand and grow. I wish I could say the same about the episode about demonic pond scum; there's got to be a more organic way of demonstrating that Towa and Setuna have different innate demonic abilities.
I actually liked that episode too because it's actually two demons that are symbiotic! Both also highlight the relationship between the sisters well. I guess you can say that pond is more like a puddle though. Inuyasha has never been deep so I don't really expect Yashahime to dive deep. As I said, your enjoyment is going to depend on how much you like the characters or how interesting you find the episode. I say that it's just decent enough at what it does to be investing. If it were a paper, I'd give it a C+.
I'd agree with that. Considering how infamously slow and plodding Inuyasha was, Yashahime feels pretty brisk – but it's still pretty slow on its own. It's refreshing to see an episodic monster-of-the-week ordeal that doesn't take its own lore too seriously. It's not the finest example of an episodic story, but I enjoy it plenty and I think they did a great job of giving us characters we can care about and a decent enough emotional throughline to support them. Do I wish we had more time connecting the girls to their predecessors? Honestly, yeah. But if its gonna stick entirely to the new blood, at least it includes compelling characters.
If you're not strapped for time and want to kinda sit back and turn your brain off for 20 minutes, even the average bite-sized stories are pretty satisfying every week. It maintains a lot of positive aspects of the original such as the cool moves, the comedy, and the melodrama, but it sheds a lot of the baggage as well as being shorter. I'd say whether you're an old or a new fan, it's worth a shot to see if it's right for you.
Also, for the love of god, protect my feral gremlin trash daughter, Moroha, at all costs.
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