Anime Review

Anime Hajime Review: Yashahime – Princess Half-Demon

Original Run: October 3, 2020 - March 20, 2021
Number of Episodes: 24
Genre: Action, Fantasy, Historical, Supernatural
Based on the Series Created By: Rumiko Takahashi

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon. Reader discretion is advised.***

Series Synopsis

Living in feudal Japan, the half-demon twins Towa and Setsuna (voiced by Sara Matsumoto and Mikako Komatsu) were inseparable. One day, a fire burned through their peaceful home. In the confusion, the escaping Towa accidentally let go of her sister’s hand. When she turned around to search, something unimaginable happened.

A portal opened up, and Towa was transported to modern-day Tokyo. Fortunately, she was taken in by Souta Higurashi, the younger brother of one Kagome Higurashi. For ten years, Towa has wondered what became of her sister.

As fate would have it, the twins were destined to meet again.

Another portal appears, and through it steps, to Towa’s joyful surprise, Setsuna, as well as the two’s cousin, Moroha (voiced by Azusa Tadokoro), the daughter of Kagome Higurashi and the half-demon Inuyasha.

Thrilled to be reunited with her sister, Towa decides to return to the past. Once there, a whole new adventure begins as she, Setsuna, and Moroha fight many powerful enemies while trying to understand the motives of the twins’ father, Sesshoumaru.

Series Positives

The nostalgia is strong. InuYasha was early 2000s, old-school Adult Swim (if you were also a middle schooler growing up in the States).

Believe it or not, I didn’t watch much anime back in the day. As a kid, I only followed a handful of shows, Dragon Ball being my centerpiece. Although I occasionally caught series such as Fullmetal Alchemist (2003) and Stand Alone Complex, InuYasha was one I tried to view nightly.

Thus, when I heard about Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon (Yashahime), I was surprised. Granted, it wasn’t the happy kind of surprise. It was more the but-why-though type.

Not the best of starts to a review, I know, but let’s keep going.

If you’ve been a long-time InuYasha fan, ask yourself, did you ever expect a sequel series? After all, InuYasha had its conclusion; the story finished, quite satisfyingly, I might add. Of course, it took nearly ten years to get that finale, but, at least, it happened.

For those unaware, the original InuYasha series (2000) just sort of stopped. It wasn’t until 2009’s InuYasha: The Final Act did we learn what became of our characters’ adventure.

So, it’s not like this franchise has the best record at giving us endings. Still, an ending came eventually. Now, we are over ten years removed from Final Act (this post came out May 2021). The biggest hurdle Yashahime needed to clear was justifying its existence.

To be frank, this series could have – a.k.a. should have – done a better job at that.

Going into this show, I tried to keep myself in check. I didn’t want my fond memories of InuYasha to be an obstacle for Yashahime to overcome. Therefore, I had hoped to judge this series by its own merits.

I failed to do so, but not in the way you might assume.

It was InuYasha’s legacy that saved Yashahime. If this show had nothing to do with the InuYasha franchise, I imagine this review would be a lot harsher. Be that as it may, and though I’ve landed on a side, I was on the fence whether to recommend this series or not (continue reading to see my answer).

There were issues with this series – a few of them – but Yashahime did have a few things going for it.

First, and most importantly, Yashahime did not disrespect its predecessor.

I do not buy into the notion that a follow-up can ruin a finished story (keyword “finished”). If a narrative makes it to a conclusion, and you are happy with said conclusion, isn’t that enough? If a sequel comes along and “kills” a show that is already over, then that original show was never any good in the first place.

That said, an unnecessary follow-up does risk disrespecting a franchise. What I mean by this, an unprompted sequel is primed (not guaranteed) to haphazardly undo all the growth and development seen in its predecessor. While that’s never a good thing, it’s also not the end of the world. As fans, it is totally okay to disassociate a continuation if it turns out to be garbage.

In this sense, Yashahime was, indeed, problematic, but it was not garbage.

Though a flawed story, it was easy to believe Yashahime took place within the Inuyasha universe. The atmosphere was the same; the dialogue was the same. The new characters’ personalities fit well with those who came before them, and there was decent enough continuity to think, “yes, this is happening down the road.” 

There was a healthy mix of old and new, and one never overshadowed the other.

And critical to what success this show had, this wasn’t Inuyasha and Kagome’s story. They were key figures, sure, and I suspect they will play more significant roles in season two, which, as of this post going live, is scheduled for October 2021. For the time being, though, this was Towa, Setsuna, and Moroha’s tale, and it was with these three characters that Yashahime found its greatest win.

Of course, when I say, “these three characters,” what I really mean is Setsuna and Moroha. Towa, well, we’ll get to Towa more later on.

A trait Yashahime carried over from InuYasha was having all its main protagonists feel essential. Although Towa was the primary face of this series, Setsuna and Moroha were not sidekicks; they were co-equal heroines.

Each lady had their own detailed backstories that fleshed out and defined who they were as characters. Considering their linage – Towa and Setsuna being the daughters of Sesshoumaru, Moroha being the daughter of Inuyasha and Kagome – it was no wonder they could hold their own in a fight. They were highly skilled but inexperienced fighters, and that came out often in this show.

To get into specifics, I want to highlight Setsuna and Moroha. Both of these characters were positive elements for this series.

Of the three, Setsuna came off as the most competent warrior. Whenever she fought, it was usually to win. By contrast, Moroha, despite having her fair share of moments, was a more comic relief character. Regardless of that, Setsuna could have existed in the original InuYasha. Her temperament and pride felt familiar.

And speaking of familiar, there was Moroha, and she so was so obviously the daughter of Inuyasha. There was a wildness to her personality that was as confident and as stubborn as her father. It is unfortunate that (for reasons) we never got a scene with the two together. If I had to pick a single reason to look forward to season two, that would be it.

To conclude this section, there were plenty of things about Yashahime that caused it to be underwhelming. Nevertheless, this wasn’t a difficult show to sit through.

There were instances where I was annoyed, maybe even a little infuriated; we’ll get to a few examples momentarily. That notwithstanding, I can’t say I was ever bored.

Perhaps if I had watched this show without having grown up with InuYasha, I wouldn’t have gotten any enjoyment out of it. And while I won’t pretend this was a necessary follow-up, it could have been much worse.

Series Negatives

If you want to know about a follow-up that was borderline disrespectful, Higurashi: When They Cry – Gou. That show took the same characters, the same location, the same time period, the same pretty much everything, and utterly undid the satisfying end the franchise had already given us.

At least with Yashahime, there were new characters, a new story, and all the gains made in its predecessor weren’t negated.

Of course, season two hasn’t come out yet. So maybe I’m jumping the gun, but like I said, things could be worse.

And while we’re on the subject of worse, this next point might have some rose-tinted nostalgia attached to it. Perhaps take this with a grain of salt, but I remember InuYasha being far more visually interesting. Yashahime was quite dull looking.

Character designs were bland, fights were repetitive, details were nearly nonexistent, and overall, this series lacked – in the absence of a better word – pop.

I know InuYasha was no masterpiece of animation, but it still holds up for being a twenty-year-old show.

Luckily, as problems go, flat visuals are not a deal-breaker. Too bad this wasn’t the only problem.

There was Towa. Whenever I thought I would like her, she went and did something either incredibly irritating or amazingly stupid. Thank god there was Setsuna and Moroha to pick up the slack because if Towa had been it, this would have been a rough watch.

Her naivety would have been legendary had it not been so maddening.

I’m not referring to when Towa insisted on saving innocent lives; I’m not that jaded. No, I’m talking about when she would become needlessly preachy.

There was an episode where Setsuna and Moroha were fighting a mock battle between one another. In all fairness, they should have told Towa that the fight was fake and that they didn’t invite her to join because it was a secret and Towa was an awful liar. Setsuna and Moroha had no qualms about telling Towa similar things before.

Still, Towa was shocked and horrified that her two best friends were opponents. They were allies and comrades, and infighting was the lowest of the low. And all the while she was riding her high horse, Towa never once noticed the complete lack of hostility or animosity between Setsuna and Moroha.

If that were the only example I had to give, I wouldn’t blame you if you accused me of being overly nitpicky. Don’t worry; there was an even dumber thing Towa did that I don’t think I can ever look past.

So, between Towa, Setsuna, and Moroha, each of them had one of the seven Rainbow Jewels, mystical stones that amplified the girls’ demonic powers. You know, the very things demons had attacked the trio over and the things that offered them a slight chance of beating the main antagonist.

Well, Towa just gave hers to – for all intents and purposes – some random guy with a highly questionable sob story. No fight, no compromise, no pressure, she simply said, “Here you go.”

Then when she told Setsuna and Moroha what she did, the two started listing all the reasons why that was the dumbest thing they had ever heard anyone do. Slowly it began to dawn on Towa that she was, in fact, a grade-A moron. She then turned around to beg the person to give her back the jewel, but they were already long gone.

Our hero, folks.

And yet, even that I could stomach if, you know, characters asked a damn question every now and then.

This actually pissed me off something fierce. It was a persistent issue throughout Yashahime, but the worst offense was right at the beginning.

Because of reasons, Setsuna and Moroha were transported to the modern world as Towa had been a decade earlier. Keep in mind, Towa had been adopted by the younger brother of Kagome (THE heroine of the original series). When the three girls met, Towa’s family was present, including Kagome’s mother and grandfather.

I can accept that Moroha had her reasons for not knowing who her parents were and why it wouldn’t likely be a subject she would bring up herself.

HOW-THE-F@#$-EVER!

Why didn’t Kagome’s family, AFTER SEEING SOMEONE WHO TRAVELED THROUGH TIME AND WHO LOOKED JUST LIKE THEIR DAUGHTER THEY HADN’T SEEN IN OVER A DECADE, be like, “Hey, do you know this girl named Kagome?”

To which Moroha could have said, “Oh, that was my mother’s name, but I never really knew my parents.”

Then Kagome’s family could have been all, “Wow, that sure as s@#$ doesn’t sound like our daughter. What happened to them?”

And so on and so forth. Through this, we could have learned that something unknown befell our beloved heroes from the last series, INSTEAD OF SEEING IT IN SOME RANDOM ASS FLASHBACK THAT CAME OUT OF NOWHERE AND COMPLETELY DERAILED THE STORY’S PACING FOR A SHORT WHILE.

So, I took exception to that.

As I said at the start of this review, it was thanks to InuYasha’s legacy that Yashahime didn’t fall flat on its face.

Only one type of audience can sit through this show – those who know and are fans of the InuYasha franchise. If that is not you, then not only is Yashahime not going to make much sense, but it’s also going to appear broken.

Final Thoughts

On the one hand, this was not a good show. On the other hand, I am looking forward to season two.

While there were good things to come out of this series, it relied heavily on the goodwill its predecessor has accumulated over these past twenty years.

I can’t say I didn’t enjoy myself, but I also can’t pretend things were flawless because they sure as hell weren’t.

However, if – and only – if you are a fan of the original, can I recommend Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon. Should you be using this as your entranceway into the InuYasha franchise, then you are making a mistake.

But these were just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this series? How would you advise Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.

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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.

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