By: Peggy Sue Wood | @pswediting
I know we’ve titled this with a controversial statement, but please wait hold your judgment for the end. Here at The Anime View, during this long a** hiatus that has recently been brought to a close by my impatience (while we film and re-film everything a few hundred times for Jenna) we’ve been holding debates. One that we had a short time ago was about Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon.
Was Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon good or just a nostalgia sale from VIZ media?
Of the three of us on the team and our extension of friends, almost everyone has watched and loved Inuyasha. And what wasn’t to love at the time of it’s peak? It was a fantastic action show with various male and female leads, time travel of all things, and Koga! It was freaking awesome!
Don’t judge me–we all had a crush on Koga at some point, okay? Mine just happened when I was 12.
This feeling of admiration for the series is why our group was excited about the sequel series Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon that finished airing last season in Winter 2021. However, that excitement quickly fizzled out as the episodes went on, and the debate arose.
I was firmly camped in the grump party–home to those of us who are watching the series but not really enjoying it. While others seemed to relish in the continuation.
One of the main arguments we had was about the story.
In Inuyasha’s early seasons, there was a new villain of the weak sort of setup as we investigate the mystery of time-traveling and Kikyō/Inuyasha’s past through our main character, Kagome. As the series progressed, we got introduced to the big bad antagonist behind all the evil through both the lesser villains and other characters as they traveled the historical land where the story is set.
In Yashahime, much of the original story’s defined conclusion is erased as the portal between past and present is reopened, and half-demon children roam almost indistinguishable from regular humans. Our main character is actually a daughter of Sesshōmaru rather than Inuyasha, with her various siblings and extended family members playing the important roles from support to full-on antagonist. It was a bit of a surprise for those of us thinking the daughter of Kagome and Inuyasha would be the central character, but hey–at least she’s in the main cast.
Anyway… the Yashahime is frequently complicated as it rewrites the ending of Inuyasha through flashbacks to create a place for the new series in the previously established canon. This really hurts the story, as it becomes more about the parents and older generation than about the new generation. Adding onto to that, the pacing is a mess; the character designs, while cool, fail to make sense for several characters and instead relying on that cool factor to carry it. And, frankly, the story isn’t very good as we have to try and fit new characters into the old story that weren’t there before through flashbacks of all things.
Seriously, why is Towa wearing a suit? Hmm? And why no ears? Hmm? Inuyasha was a half-dog demon half human mix. Why wouldn’t Sesshōmaru’s be similar in some way?
It’s hard to see the story as its own work, or as a stand-alone series with new characters because of all the flashbacks, and… well, honestly–if you think about it–the story can’t stand on its own. So, of course it is not its own story.
If you were to remove the flashbacks or stick to newer elements alone, such as the estranged sister’s relationship, you wouldn’t have a show. You’d have a fragment or, possibly, an OVA because nearly every episode relies on flashbacks or rewriting of cannon to progress the central plot, thereby making our main cast of characters passive even in their most action-filled moments. That’s the essence of this work and viewers can tell.
Yashahime is, at its core, a quick cash grab. And maybe that’s what the producers of the series needed at the moment. It’s not unheard of for studios to do such and make a brief killing in the box office for titles that people really love. It’s certainly disappointing though, because there are ways to tell great stories and still use a previous series to jump off from.
Yashahime had every opportunity to do such given the rich source material.
Heck, even the trailers had a great set up, making it seem like the bulk of the story would be about cleaning up the mess left behind by Kagome’s time travel. This could have integrated well into established elements of the world from the previous series while also allowing new viewers to be introduced to the setting in a way that doesn’t rely on you knowing or loving the characters from Inuyasha to love the show. However, that fell apart as the flashbacks hit.
The series could have gone off on its own, using the characters of Inuyasha as support, while telling a new story. After all, Japan continues well into the 21st century so why not embrace that continuation? There are plenty of examples of animes doing this before.
Off the top of my head I would use Shingeki no Bahamut series as an example. Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis is followed by Shingeki no Bahamut: Virgin Soul, and the two, while interconnected, can stand entirely alone. Characters from the first, are now supporting cast in the sequel and it you don’t need to know who the gods before watching to learn about them again in the sequel. Naruto and Boruto are another great example. While Boruto is set in the same world as Naruto and technically continues Naruto’s story–the story can stand apart from its prequel. You don’t have to watch Naruto the series to understand the characters in Boruto because all of the older characters are integrated into new roles that support the new central cast and story rather than define them.
Yashahime doesn’t really continue the original story of Inuyasha or develop on the theme of its predecessor. While watching, one can’t help but feel that it seeks to rewrite both the original series’ ending and the original theme in an effort to make money quickly rather than tell a good story.
That’s not to say you can’t enjoy Yashahime. It’s fine. It’s not great, but it’s also not horrible. It’s just… alright.
Right now, it’s set to have a Season 2 release this October. I hope that the series invests more into their new characters in the coming season than they did in this one.
If you haven’t seen it yet, the first season is currently available on Crunchyroll.
That concludes my thoughts on the subject, but what about you all? What are your thoughts?