For me, a key part of writing these weekly reviews is breaking down the plot and themes of each episode. Now, I’m trying my best, dear readers, but more so than even the worst of the episodes that preceded it, “The Princesses Strike Back” really does feel like a bunch of random scenes that were haphazardly slapped together with no rhyme or reason to speak of. I’d be lying if I told you that I fully understood what was even going on, by the end of things, but I guess I’ll give it a shot?
We open in the present, with Mr. Kirin bumping into Sota and his little family to ominously inquire about Towa’s whereabouts. Here is where I will be as fair as I can possibly be and highlight the one moment of the episode I liked, where Sota blames Towa’s extended absence on a medley of random illnesses, just like Kagome’s folks did back in the day for her. That was a cute callback, and what I wouldn’t give for a version of Yashahime where we got more connections to the original series like it. Mr. Kirin also takes a moment to point out the spooky demon comet in the sky to Sota, but Sota can’t even see it, so the only reason this scene exists is to establish that Kirinmaru has some kind of cross-temporal connection with his…what? His doppelganger? Descendant? Time clone?
Who cares! The show definitely doesn’t, since it immediately transitions to Kirinmaru meeting up with none other than Sesshomaru’s Mother, whose name is…”Sesshomaru’s Mother”. Very creative. Anyways, here is where Kirinmaru and Sesshomaru engage in some incredibly vague conversation that nearly explains what our villain’s motivations are beyond simply murdering SesshMoMaru’s grandkids, but nope. That would make too much sense, so the show decides to skip all of that and introduce the Windmill of Time, which as best as I can tell is a completely new thing that is not a holdover from InuYasha, and all of my Googling of “time windmill” only turned up some obscure non-fiction books. What is the Windmill of Time? I don’t know! All that Kirinmaru mentions is that Sesshomaru has been seeking something called Akuru’s Pinwheel. What is that? I don’t know! Later on, we see a kid named Akuru with a pinwheel that Sesshomaru completely ignores so…yeah, no, I’ve got nothing.
Now, here’s where we need to double back a bit; this episode is titled “The Three Princesses Strike Back”, right? What are they striking back against? That one, at least, is simple enough to track: The girls are taking the fight back to Zero, and Setsuna even has the mysterious “Blood Blade” to add to her fighting repertoire. The last fight with Zero was a relative highlight of the series’ back half, so at this point I was still wondering if the show could manage the same trick of being sort-of decent twice in a row. It turns out the exact opposite happened, instead; once the girls arrive at the burnt-out ruins of the old Grampyasha manor, the episode takes a full nosedive in quality and basically devolves into utter nonsense.
Here’s the shakedown: After a bunch of lame banter between the girls, Zero, and Riku, the pirate boy eventually reveals that, now that Moroha and Setsuna have arrived with their Red and Gold Rainbow Pearls, he’s gathered every one of the lost gems to return to Zero. She was apparently unaware that this plot was even in place, and reacts very angrily, though she ends up taking the Rainbow Pearls back anyways. Now, the show has repeatedly claimed that the Pearls are the source of her demon powers, except she’s had demon powers this whole time, and when she finally does reunite the collection of off-brand Infinity Stones that Yashahime has been building up for twenty-three weeks now, the grand result is…Setsuna killing her in less than a minute, with a single blow from her Blood Blade.
I’m not kidding. After all of the hullabaloo Yashahime raised over “Rainbow Pearl, this” and “Rainbow Pearl, that”, Zero ends up getting one-shotted by Setsuna and dying in Riku’s arms. Does…does Yashahime realize how inconceivably stupid this looks from the audience’s perspective? It gets worse, too: When she dies, Zero’s spirit is whisked off to the underworld, where she gets into a very long back-and-forth with SessMoMaru about the respective pain they suffered over Grampyasha’s stepping around over the years. The conversation doesn’t go anywhere at all except for Zero freaking out when SeshMoMaru accuses her of indulging in petty “human” emotions. Oh, I guess there’s the teensy detail that we learn of how, when Zero dies, Rin also must die, so Sesshomaru pops in to use the Tenseiga’s life-giving powers on Zero’s corpse.
In all of this chaos, Rin wakes up with the goofiest look on her face for all of five seconds or so, and then immediately dozes off without a single word when Zero comes back to life. Rin isn’t the only victim of the episode’s truly terrible artistic gaffes, though; there’s one shot of Zero’s dead body that literally looks as if someone cropped a JPEG of the character from a different scene into the frame, and then flipped it on its side to make it look dead. It has to be seen to be believed:
Look, I know it’s COVID times, and I know that animation is one of the most difficult and underpaid jobs pretty much anywhere, but for real. Yashahime. What the heck are we doing here? And then, when Zero wakes up and angrily demands the Rainbow Pearls from Riku, despite them being just a couple of feet away on the ground, only to have the about-face interrupted by Kirinmaru descending from heaven like some kind of Hot Topic Emo Demon Jesus? I ask again: Just what in the heck are we doing, Yashahime?
The preview for “Sesshomaru’s Daughter” has an ominous mood that goes so far as to foreshadow that Setsuna is going to die, and it bills itself as “The final episode”. On the one hand, please God, yes, let this finally be over! On the other hand, there is no universe wherein Yashahime can satisfactorily wrap up its story in a mere 22 minutes. We’re one week away from the finale, and I’m not even sure that the story has started, yet. I don’t know what I fear more: The possibility that Yashahime might truly attempt to conclude this terrible, terrible story for good in just one week, or the possibility that there might be more weeks, months, or even years of Yashahime yet to come…
Odds and Ends
• I damn near forgot to mention that, when Zero is revived and raging at Sesshomaru, Towa’s inner-monologue pops in, and she muses, “Living in the world is hard. If you don’t follow the set rules, you’re treated as an outcast. I was so tired of it when I was in the other world. What Zero is feeling now is probably like how I felt back then.” This is, generously, one of the most inane and incompetent bits of writing I’ve seen in, God, I don’t know how long. It’s even worse than that wretched non-sequitur about Towa being too addicted to her cellphone from Episode 14, and that’s really saying something. I’m far more accustomed to Yashahime‘s flagrant, spiteful disregard for “making sense” and “letting its characters sound like functional human beings”, so I guess it didn’t hit me quite as hard.
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