The Anti-Social Geniuses Review: Yashahime: Princess Half Demon Volume 1

Justin: In modern day Japan, Towa’s your typical new student with a mysterious aura about her. From her cool vibe to her sometimes fierce expressions, most of the students at her school admire her but are also terrified of her. She also seems to be a bit anti-social, as she turns down an invitation to hang out. But maybe not, as two young girls – one in particular – try to confess her love to Towa! Towa even accepts and invites the two to her shrine, and even dons her white suit to greet them. Of course, as her little sister Mei knows, she’s not inviting them to accept their romance — she’s here to exorcise monsters.

The problem is after she does exorcise the one monster she faces, another one shows up, this time way stronger than the one she beat. Just when things seem dire after her weapon breaks, two young girls arrive and meet Towa for the first time. Towa is unfortunately dragged by the new demon through a portal, and when she finds herself feeling the sunshine, she now finds herself in the Feudal Era: the one where her parents Sesshomaru and Rin are at, and her sister Setsuna and cousin Moroha have lived since birth.

…This is just a bit different from Yasahime the anime isn’t it?

Before we begin, a personal note. I…actually liked the anime. Something about returning to the world that Rumiko Takahashi created filled the nostalgia that I was hoping for when the anime was announced, and I couldn’t help but be swept up in it. Actually, it might be more accurate to say enhanced – I finally sat down to watch Inuyasha: The Final Act after many years of stalling, and then went straight to catching up to Yasahime. So that might’ve aided me in being patient regarding a couple of the anime’s decisions regarding its main cast and the sometimes goofy nature with the three princesses carried me through, and it did eventually culminate in season 2, where the girls got to see their parents once again.

That said, while I say I liked it, there’s no denying the many lame writing decisions throughout both parts of Yasahime the anime, which, for the manga, it avoids in its first volume. How does it do this? Well first it helps that Takashi Shiina’s experience shines through and understands that while there are some things that have to remain consistent, you can’t adapt everything from the anime into the manga nor try and reflect everything from Rumiko Takahashi. And in many cases, there’s much more freedom whereas there are limitations for an anime. That’s why it’s interesting to think about how Towa is introduced in the anime not donning the school uniform but her white suit, she fights the boys who keep looking to beat her, and has her family, her dad Sota Higurashi especially, wanting to hide her powers from everyone else.

In the manga and how she’s first introduced, she’s still popular in her school uniform but still comes off as intense, her family’s definitely aware of her unnatural powers (we even get to see her parents defending them after the principal at her old school demanded she wear glasses to hide her eyes), and she ends up vanquishing a monster after luring it to her shrine…with her family watching and supporting her. Danger? What danger actually?

If you come into this manga thinking about how the anime was like, erase that thought. So far you have the basic beats: Towa was separated from Setsuna, she’s been living with the Higurashi family who took her in, the pearls still seem to be important just like the anime, and whatever the troubles involved Towa, Setsuna, and especially Moroha’s parents are still present in the manga, they just happen totally differently. After that, it’s not even close to how the anime is. Now whether it’ll ultimately be better we’ll have to see, but the writing’s so far much sharper than the show: we immediately establish a much more cordial relationship between all three princesses; the backstory involving everyone’s separation is a bit more clear yet mysterious in a good way; for better or worse, it’s immediately established Sesshomaru and Rin is a thing, which it actually took a while for the anime to confirm; And so far it’s been more willing to build the story up, as we only for now have the reveal of a pearl within Towa, and they’re giving clear directions on what these three will do.

So what about the Demon Slayers? What about the rest of the pearls? Why didn’t the bike come with them? Yeah, none of that’s in this first volume. For now the manga has given reason as to what’s happened between these three, shown us some of our old favorites, and now they journey to help save the world. You combine some of this and the art from Shiina, you get a really good first volume of a manga series. It probably won’t stray too far in some of the anime’s core tenets (particularly with characters), but the manga’s definitely out here doing it’s own thing. It definitely looks like I’m going to have a good time reading the manga even more than watching the anime.

Justin’s rating: 4 out of 5

Yasahime Towa

Krystallina: The reveal of the Yasahime: Princess Half-Demon anime was a rather big surprise. Now the manga version delivers another shock with how different it is.

Yes, details big and small are altered or outright rewritten here in this adaptation by the creator of Psychic Squadaka Zettai Karen Children. Towa is a new student at her school, and while the female student body swoon over her coolness, rumors and her sharp eyes combined with her, at times, intense demeanor prevent anyone from getting close.

Towa doesn’t remember anything from when she was very young, but she knows she comes from a different world, one where her adopted father’s sister now lives. But while her family, especially Papa Sota and little sister Mei, adore her, Towa can’t help but feel a bit like an outsider. It’s only when she defeats ghosts and such that she truly feels alive.

But when a monster she can’t easily defeat appears, Towa is aided by two girls who claim they are Towa’s cousin and twin sister: Moroha and Setsuna respectively. Towa has no idea what’s going on, and she’s even more confused when she finds herself in an unfamiliar land — her original home!

I’m hardly alone in thinking the Yasahime anime is rather meh. Perhaps that’s why much of this early setup seems to be directly rebuking the anime. For instance, it didn’t make much sense why Miroku and Sango wouldn’t take in Moroha, the daughter of their BFFs Inuyasha and Kagome. Yasahime the manga changes this so that Kaede received a divine revelation to take in both Moroha and Setsuna. Miroku and Sango do at least swing by to check on the girls after an accident separated them from their parents (which is another change).

Basically, readers should throw out much of their anime knowledge. From the foreshadowing, it’s likely a lot of the highlights will remain the same, but I wouldn’t say that’s assured. Take Towa for example. A common complaint of her in the anime was that she was too focused on Setsuna, as she blamed herself for getting separated from her twin. Manga-Towa has no memories of Setsuna. This alters her characterization, and while she was closer to Rin’s personality originally, in this version, she has much more of Sesshomaru’s personality with loving the thrill of battle. She even wore the girl’s uniform to school. Not all are bad, like Towa referring to Kagome as her aunt, but with so many, there are bound to be differences readers don’t like.

Speaking of changes, Inuyasha‘s English adaptation had inconsistencies and inaccuracies (Tessaiga vs Tetsusaiga), and Yasahime looks like it’s also going to have points of contention with lines like “Princesses of Yasha”. Another demon’s name is different than the Inuyasha manga, but a quick search says this is the name used in the English anime script. May be more cases like this in the future, and plus there are differences from the subtitles.

Story-wise, volume 1 has Towa learning about her heritage and features a few battles to mainly acquaint her with demons and how she’s far behind Setsuna or even the quarter-demon Moroha in skill. Monsters speak of things like a “Rainbow Pearl”, and while the girls don’t have memories of their mothers, they are inspired to go find their parents. I did find myself smiling at several points (Moroha’s abridged summary of Kikyo) and the various callbacks.

Yasahime: Princess Half Demon Sample 1

Yes, whether it’s the heroes or enemies, readers will get hit with nostalgia in seeing their return, even in a different art style. Shiina’s take on the universe is notably different from Takahashi’s more simplistic style, but everyone is still recognizable. It’s a bit like a 90s version of the Inuyasha movies. The opening color images are nice, but the battle scenes stand out more.

With the original having an often-criticized plot and pacing, Yasahime: Princess Half-Demon‘s manga version making alterations is hardly unwelcome. There are concerns this will have a ripple effect on the future, and the localization is already facing bumps in the road. But if nothing else, we get more of Inuyasha, Kagome, and other characters than we did in the beginning of Yasahimeand that makes it easier to recommend to those who aren’t interested in Towa powering up to save the world.

Krystallina’s rating: 3.5 out of 5

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