Yashahime is a sequel anime to Inuyasha that focuses on the children of the main cast. Vol. 1 reinterprets the anime in a new, humorous way.
Inuyasha is a popular series from legendary mangaka Rumiko Takahashi. Originally published between 1996 and 2008, Inuyasha received an anime adaptation in 2000 and ran for 167 episodes, which originally concluded in 2004. The remainder of the manga was adapted between 2009 and 2010 into another 26-episode anime series called Inuyasha: The Final Act. A decade later, Sunrise — the animation studio that adapted Inuyasha — developed a sequel series called Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon, which focused on the children of Inuyasha’s original main characters and ran from 2020 to 2022.
The premise of Inuyasha originally centered on the destructive love triangle between Inuyasha, Kikyo and Naraku, the latter of whom became Japan’s deadliest villain in the Sengoku era. Prior to the story’s main events, Kikyo was a powerful miko (shrine maiden) tasked with the responsibility of purifying a powerful jewel known as the Shikon no Tama, which had the deadly power to grant anyone their wish — whether good or bad. Naturally, youkai and corrupt humans alike pursued the jewel for its power, including Inuyasha and a thief named Onigumo.
Inuyasha’s relentless pursuit of the jewel led him to meet with Kikyo multiple times and was single-handedly defeated each time. Eventually, he lost interest in the jewel and fell in love with Kikyo, eventually pursuing a romantic relationship with her. During this time Kikyo also encountered Onigumo, who was severely injured, and nursed him back to health. Onigumo developed an obsession with Kikyo, which led him to offer his body to youkai and become the hanyou known as Naraku. As Naraku, Onigumo was responsible for murdering Kikyo disguised as Inuyasha, which ensured the latter would become sealed on the Tree of the Ages for 50 years.
Kikyo reincarnated as a young woman named Kagome Higurashi in Japan’s late 20th century and was reunited with Inuyasha when she was brought back to the Sengoku era by a centipede demon. With Kagome — along with Kikyo’s soul and Shikon no Tama — back in the Sengoku era, Naraku resurfaced and unleashed a new reign of terror that impacted the lives of many people. These individuals include a Buddhist monk named Miroku, a demon slayer named Sango, and an orphaned fox youkai named Shippo, all of whom joined forces and successfully destroyed Naraku.
Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon takes place a little over a decade after these events, with most of the main characters marrying and having children. Inuyasha married Kagome and had a daughter named Moroha, while Inuyasha’s brother, Sesshomaru, married a woman named Rin and fathered twin daughters with her: Towa and Setsuna. At some point while all three girls were growing up, Towa was separated from her sister and ended up in Kagome’s original world, and was adopted by her brother Sota. Setsuna lost her memories of her sister, but became a demon slayer alongside her cousin Moroha. A decade later, the same centipede demon that brought Kagome to the Sengoku era facilitates a reunion between the twin sisters and cousin, though it isn’t smooth.
The manga adaptation, Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon Vol.1 by Takashi Shiina, more or less follows the same storyline as the original anime. However, it also deviates significantly from the show’s tone, and in its execution of plot and character developments. While both Inuyasha and the Yashahime anime thrive on action-adventure with humor and drama sprinkled in for good measure, the Yashahime manga adaptation thrives more on humor.
While Shiina’s writing attempts to capture Rumiko Takahashi’s style of storytelling, it lacks the pacing of Takahashi’s original work and doesn’t strike a good balance between the story’s humorous moments and its more dramatic elements. As such, moments that should be more emotionally charged don’t stick the landing and tend to read almost like parody.
Another detail that doesn’t help the humor/drama balance is the artwork itself. While Shiina’s art style is similar to that of the original Yashahime anime, it also presents the characters as parodical versions of themselves to the point where the manga’s more heartfelt moments are lost in execution. This is most notable with the character of Kaede (Kikyo’s younger sister), who in the original Inuyasha series is presented as a more tragic figure and depicted as a voice of reason. In the Yashahime manga by Shiina, she’s depicted as a stereotypical grandmother figure whose thought process borders on the absurd, similar to Kagome’s grandfather.
One thing Shiina’s artwork does excel at is action sequences. In the scenes that depict Towa, Setsuna and Moroha battling youkai and other types of monsters, Shiina is great at panel layout, which does an amazing job of presenting the action in a dynamic and fluid way. This helps give readers a strong sense of a youkai’s power levels and speed. Shiina’s artwork is especially great at showcasing Towa’s superhuman abilities and why they set her apart from her classmates in the modern era.
Despite action sequences being Shiina’s major strength as a visual storyteller, unfortunately, the first volume of his manga adaptation still struggles with pacing: two-thirds of the story is spent on exposition, while only one-third of the manga actually moves the story along.
On the whole, Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon Vol.1 by Takashi Shiina offers a new interpretation of an anime series that follows the same premise but doesn’t fully replicate it. At the same time, it doesn’t succeed in capturing the essence of the Inuyasha franchise characters and struggles with pacing and execution of ideas, which could disappoint fans of the anime.
Author: Takashi Shiina
Release Date: June 21, 2022
Published by: Viz Media
Diane Darcy is features writer for anime, comics, and television at CBR. She’s also the owner of the popular HelenaWayneHuntress.com blog and has contributed features to WomenWriteAboutComics.com, ShelfDust.com, and ComicsBookcase.com. She’s also a co-host of the Huntress Podcast for WrightOnNetwork.com.