Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon (Season 1 Review)

Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon (Season 1 Review)
Hanyou no Yashahime

* * *S P O I L E R S * * *

Back when I first got into anime, I started watching Cartoon Network’s “Adult Swim” block as it carried a number of anime titles. One of those titles was called Inuyasha. Although it was in the middle of what was then dubbed in English, eventually, the earlier episodes were rerun. Once the series was over on TV, I looked into more and discovered the series was still airing in Japan. Not only that, I discovered the series was adapted from a manga.

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As such, I delved into both anime and manga. Both grew wearisome by the time they ended. However, on the whole, Inuyasha left a positive impression on me. Therefor, when Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon was announced as the sequel to Inuyasha, I had to watch.

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The Story, in Brief

The story of Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon mostly takes place some fourteen years or so after the conclusion of Inuyasha. After an initial story, adapting an epilogue Inuyasha manga chapter, the series starts in present times. A tomboy girl named Towa, who was adopted by Kagome’s younger brother, has a difficult time fitting in.

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In the Feudal Era, a 14-year old, teen girl, youkai exterminator named Setsuna is joined by teen girl bounty hunter Moroha, as they battle a centipede youkai. They are transported to present day and Towa, eventually defeat the youkai. Towa recognizes the hanyou Setsuna as her twin sister. However, Setsuna doesn’t remember Towa. Eventually, they find a way back to the Feudal Era and Towa joins them.

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After an encounter with the Tree of Ages, Setsuna and Towa learn they are the daughters of the dai-youkai Sesshoumaru. Moroha discovers she’s the daughter of Inuyasha and Kagome, whom are missing. Further, the girls discover they are under threat from another dai-youkai named Kirinmaru. After defeating many youkai, they meet their father, who keeps at a distance, yet has helped them from afar. They also confront Kirinmaru and his older youkai sister, Zero.

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The Bad: Youkai of the Week Stories

After an initial good first episode, Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon quickly falls into the youkai of the week stories. There’s some youkai on the loose, or one of Kirinmaru’s minions are out and about, and so the girls have to dispatch them. The stories are not very interesting. And to make matters worse, the fights aren’t interesting. Not only that, but the girls overcome enemy youkai fairly easily. More on that in a bit.

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Still, I do recall Inuyasha, where sometimes, fights were dragged out over multiple episodes. I certainly don’t want that, so I’ll take the quick ends for sure. However, it would have been better if the fights had weight or a deeper sense of meaning. Without that, the wins didn’t feel earned by the girls.

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The Bad: Towa the Mary Sue

For some reason, the writers of Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon felt the need to make Towa the end all, be all character. To that end, Towa became a Mary Sue character (most of the time), and that was unfortunate. Setsuna and Moroha were not only well trained in the art of killing youkai, they were used to the world of the Feudal era. Towa had no such training, so despite her youkai heritage, she should not have ever been the heroine of the hour.

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Were it up to me, I would have had Towa be the fish out of water. Sure, by coming to the Feudal Era, she’s returning home. And as Sesshoumaru’s daughter, I don’t have a problem with her having immense powers. But without the training, it would have been more interesting to see Towa struggling to contain or use said powers. I would have liked it if Towa was a danger to everyone in combat due to lack of training.

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To be fair, Towa wasn’t always a Mary Sue character. Sometimes, Moroha or Setsuna were given moments to shine. But when Towa was the girl we couldn’t do without, those episodes lost a lot of punch.

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The Good: The Lore and Character Work

The writers of Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon decided to follow the Inuyasha anime continuity rather, and that makes sense. To that end, I appreciated that the writers actually allows a further exploration of lore. It doesn’t happen right away though. That said, for a start, Inuyasha’s father, Touga, gets some screen time to show him in action during his life. We get additional looks at Sango and Miroku’s life. We eventually learn what happened to Inuyasha and Kagome.

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And the writers also allow characters to grow beyond power increases. This was a welcome change over what Takahashi-sensei would have written. She’s notorious for not allowing characters to grow, except to gain some new power. But in Yashahime, the writers take the time to explore some of Moroha’s past. Likewise, Setsuna’s past. As such, we see where they came from and gain a greater understanding of the character arcs they are on. I appreciated that.

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The Good: Sesshoumaru

In the Inuyasha series, Sesshoumaru was an interesting character. He was one of the only characters to actually get a bit of character growth over the course of the series. In Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon, we get to see him in much greater detail toward the end of the first series. To get things started, I was happy to learn that he married the human girl he rescued, Rin. The series makes it clear that he loves her deeply. Yet at the same time, he is still the Sesshoumaru we’ve always known.

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Further, he loves and cares a great deal about his daughters, Setsuna and Towa. He doesn’t come out and express these things. However, after the twins are born, he takes them to a safe place to protect them from Zero and Kirinmaru. Then when Zero literally smokes them out, causing Towa to accidentally be sent to present day times, Sesshoumaru arranges for Setsuna to be sent to a hidden, hanyou village. There, he sends Setsuna gifts and training instructions.

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And yet throughout the Yashahime series, Sesshoumaru never shows much emotion. He’s stoic, aware of things from afar. Sesshoumaru intervenes when he has to. But at the same time, he steps back so that Towa and Setsuna can be tested. Sesshoumaru does what it takes to keep his wife alive, including protecting an enemy and dispatching allies to the underworld. As such, Sesshoumaru gets a lot of love in this series, and here too, I appreciated it greatly.

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The Good: Kirinmaru

I have to say, Kirinmaru has become quite the interesting villain in Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon. Initially, he’s set up as a cliched, scary, youkai villain who wants to destroy the world and hates hanyou creations. At the start, it seems as if Kirinmaru has bent Sesshoumaru to his will. Further, it seems like Kirinmaru possibly killed Inuyasha and Kagome. Plus, he had all of his minions so that he could be the final boss.

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However, as the series progressed, Kirinmaru became much more than some one dimensional villain. For a start, we were shown that he actually worked with Touga to deal with a common threat. Further, we see Kirinmaru has a deep sense of honor. For example, Kirinmaru apologizes to Sesshoumaru’s mother when his older sister, Zero, starts causing problems.

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He’s not interested in just crushing the weak. While this is not an uncommon trait with some villains, I felt Kirinmaru took it to the extreme. Even though he may have plans to bring about the end of the world. he’ll wait 1000 years if needed, just to earn the right to bring about said end. This is exemplified when Kirinmaru lets Towa and Moroha live after an intense battle where he ultimately defeated them.

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Further, after killing Setsuna, Kirinmaru paid homage to her. I believe he genuinely respected Setsuna and honored her. It wasn’t simply going through the motions of honor. He truly meant it.

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Final Thoughts and Conclusion

As a successor to Inuyasha, Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon is worthy. Although it may struggle from having youkai of the week stories at first, the second half of the series gives us more lore, character exploration, and some nice moments. The writers have an unfortunate tendency to try to make Towa a Mary Sue character. Thankfully, they don’t do it in every episode. As such, on the whole, I can give this series a recommendation.

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Now, onto the new season/series.

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