Anime Spotlight: Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon

Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon is a sequel series for the Inuyasha anime. The series was produced by Sunrise and was directed by Teruo Sato. The anime aired in Japan from October 3, 2020-March 20, 2021. As of this writing, VIZ Media holds the North American rights for Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon.

The series opens with Towa, one of Sesshomaru’s twin daughters, taken captive by a shogunate and being interrogated. Apparently, the shogun and his right-hand man found a history book from the modern era and try to pry information from Towa. They also present an old bicycle seat that was found, and the shogun and his right-hand man tell about a story about a priestess they heard about a decade ago who rode around the countryside on her iron wagon. This sets the stage to show an adventure that features the protagonists from the original Inuyasha series. The story that’s told is set six months after the end of Inuyasha: The Final Act, and from what I read, this flashback is an anime adaptation of an Inuyasha manga chapter that had not been previously animated. While it reminds the viewers about Inuyasha and gives fans of that series a nostalgic look back, it turns out it also establishes a demon that becomes important in the episodes of this series that immediately follow the first one. At the end of the first episode, Towa is rescued by Setsuna (her twin sister) and Moroha (the daughter of Kagome and Inuyasha). At the time, I thought this was a good way to ease viewers back into the world of Inuyasha and to provide brief glimpses of the three new protagonists. However, when it’s later shown that this exact same sequence (minus the flashback) shows up in a later episode, it made me wonder if perhaps the series should have just started with Episode Two.

The second episode takes us back to when Towa and Setsuna are four years old and are separated during a forest fire. The episode follows Towa as she is transported to modern-day Japan, and how she is found by the now-grown Sota (Kagome’s little brother). At first, I had a hard time reconciling that the man I was seeing was the little boy from Inuyasha, but I adjusted to this rather quickly. Sota, along with his family, take Towa in and adopt her. The second episode ultimately moves ahead in time 10 years, and shows Towa’s life in modern-day Japan, as well as Setsuna and Moroha in feudal Japan. Setsuna is now part of the demon slayers, who are led by Sango’s little brother, Kohaku. Also among the demon slayers is Hisui, the son of Sango and Miroku. We also see that Kirara is still around and helping out the demon slayers.

The concept of the Rainbow Pearls is introduced (Setsuna has one, Moroha has one, and Towa has one), but the audience doesn’t truly learn anything about what the Rainbow Pearls are until near the end of the series. I found this to be awkward, because it’s thanks to a demon wanting the Rainbow Pearls that a portal opens in feudal Japan that sends Setsuna and Moroha to modern-day Japan. But even with that question lingering out there, I felt that with this second episode that the writers had managed to capture the tone and feel of Inuyasha.

The next episode primarily focus on the three protagonists’ time in modern-day Japan, although there are occasional scenes in feudal Japan where Kaede clues Kohaku and Hisui into some history. While this is important for them to know, it’s also important information for any viewers who are coming into this series without knowing anything about Inuyasha. The fourth episode sees the three protagonists returning to feudal Japan, but thanks to an encounter at the Tree of Ages, there’s no way for Towa to return modern day Japan.

Remember how I mentioned that the sequence of our three protagonists that bookended the flashback appeared later in the series? It finally shows up during Episode Seven. Yes, it takes six episodes to finally circle back to that moment and finally continue on from where that left off. But before hitting that point in Episode Seven, Towa meets a mysterious character named Riku, and it turns out he plays an important part throughout the remainder of the series.

But it was a little frustrating that it took almost half of the first cour to finally circle back to the point in time we briefly saw in the first episode. And it didn’t help that at least one of episodes between Episodes One and Seven felt more like filler than actually progressing the story. The biggest weakness of the first cour is the fact that it has slow pacing and that there are more questions than answers by the time you reach the halfway point of the series.

Unfortunately, the second cour of Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon doesn’t improve things. Yes, more information is revealed in the second cour, but some of those revelations felt like they could have been made a little earlier in the series. And by the final three episodes, it felt like so much information was being thrown out there because the writers realized that they were running out of time. While the first half of the series feels slow and drug out, the second half feels like it’s rushing to get to its conclusion.

But pacing isn’t the only issue that plagues the second half of the series. The writers started making some serious missteps with Episode 14, “The One Behind the Forest Fire.” In this episode, Towa realizes she’s become addicted to her cell phone (which is odd, because one would think the battery would have run out by this point and since there’s no way to charge it up in feudal era Japan, it really shouldn’t be operational anymore). Our three protagonists are hired by Tamano, a young woman who was held captive by Homura, an evil mountain god who was obsessed with her. Homura was possessive and jealous, killing any man who dared even look at Tamano. At the end of this episode, Towa has the gall to compare her obsession with her cell phone with Homura’s obsession with Tamano. I’m sorry, but I thought this comparison minimized Tamano and the situation that she went through.

Episode 16, “Double-Edged Moroha,” was another misstep on the writers’ part. The episode starts in the middle of a fight with a character we had only seen in one brief scene in the previous episode. That person is Yawagari, a member of the demon wolf tribe who was Moroha’s teacher while she lived with them. Moroha ends up in the situation that she’s in (owing a debt to the bounty hunter Jyubei and repaying her debts through hunting bounties) because Yawagari was an idiot who did something stupid and caused a situation that could have been avoided if she had really thought about how sketchy the individual who caused the situation appeared to be. At the end of the episode, the writers tried to write an emotional scene between Moroha and her teacher as Yawagari is dying, but it doesn’t carry the emotional weight that it should because the audience barely knows Yawagari.

I would say those were the two worst writing missteps in the second half of Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon. Outside of the rushed pacing of the final few episodes, I also question the inclusion of Episode 19, “Princess Aiya’s Beniyasha Hunting.” This felt like a filler episode and a waste of time. Not only did it waste time, it took away from giving the writers one more episode that could have been used to progress the plot forward and help slow down the rushing that took place at the end.

When all is said and done, I felt that even though the first half of Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon was a little on the slow side, the series still showed some potential. Unfortunately, the second half of the series squandered that potential. Looking back over the course of this series, it felt like the writers relied a little too heavily on the nostalgia factor. Yes, you need to have the nostalgia factor for a sequel series like this, but it seemed like the writers leaned on that nostalgia a little too much at times. Once you peel away that nostalgic veneer, there’s really not much left here to keep a viewer interested. At the end of the Episode 24, it was revealed that a second season has been green-lit for Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon. Will I watch the next season? Yes, simply because I’m a completionist and want to be able to judge the story by the whole work. However, I’ll be going into the next season with much lowered expectations.

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