「三匹の姫」 (Sanbiki no Hime)
“The Three Princesses”
With Episode 01’s focus being centered around the older cast of InuYasha, Episode 02 gives us a more formal introduction to the heroes of Hanyou no Yashahime. The events of the second episode might only give us a cursory gist on what Moroha and Setsuna’s experiences have been like as demon hunters, but in return, it gives us an incentive to grow attached to the plot’s leading protagonist, Higurashi Towa.
In comparison to the happy-go-lucky spontaneity of Kagome, the hot-headed arrogance of Inuyasha, or the stoic brooding of Sesshomaru, it’s nice to see that Towa has a personality of her own. She fits the mold of your standard street tough, going out of her way to wear clothes that will allow her to fight comfortably and swiftly. I don’t know about wearing dress pants if you want to effectively kick somebody, but it’s amusing to see how little time it takes for her to start a fight with other rival hooligans.
At the same time, she doesn’t 100% follow the same path as Kujo Jotaro, whose delinquency had caused him to put on a bitter facade around his loved ones. For Towa, her punkish nature begins and ends with the number of fights she’s taken part in to get transferred several times. As the adopted daughter of Kagome’s younger brother Souta, she still holds her adoptive father and sister Mei with high regard. After seeing Mei and her grandparents being taken hostage as a result of her reckless fighting, she takes it upon herself to try to change so that her interest in fighting doesn’t take any more of an emotional toll on Mei.
Along with the empathy she has for her loved ones on her adoptive side of the family, she’s also amusing to see react to surprises. At first, she expects the worst when she gets lectured by her new homeroom teacher, but as soon as he says he’ll merely give her a slap on the wrist, she’s astounded by the end results. It’s little things like her reactions and the character designs for the side characters that still feel right at home for InuYasha and reminds you of the charm that Takahashi Rumiko’s art style gives to any story.
But to me, what I find to be the most poignant part of Towa’s character is how strongly she feels about doing things by her own accord. While she still likes to humor the thought of embracing her feminine side, she doesn’t let the peer pressure behind adhering to societal standards pertaining to gender directly influence her behavior. She dresses in men’s clothing because it makes it simpler to do what she enjoys (read: fighting) without feeling restrictive. Even if she eventually decides not to be as stubborn about upholding her tradition of picking fights with everyone, the act of going by the beat of her own drum as opposed to adhering to the same performative gender roles that drove her to rebellion to begin with is very damn positive representation.
There is reason to believe that this anime is geared towards a younger crowd since it premieres so early and shares the sound effects/commercial cues with a number of Saturday morning cartoons, so it makes it all the more special that Towa has her own autonomy with how she dresses and behaves. I can see her being a positive role model for a younger audience with how she can set her pride aside to protect those she cares for, but not get so caught up in the peer pressure that comes from being forced to adhere to what society deems is right or wrong for a woman to do. With how much positive influence has been brought with Takahashi Rumiko’s stories, it is heartwarming to know that Yashahime was able to tell a story that encourages audiences to go against the grain of societal standards that dictate the youth on how to behave in a way that appeases older curmudgeons who would take any excuse to exert their creepy world views on the next generation. It’d be a stretch to say that Yashahime is going to change the world, but it was a nice surprise to see Towa acknowledge gender in a way that was sophisticated enough to bring to mind that, because gender is fluid, you don’t have to completely change yourself based on what a proper lady or gentleman from a bygone era would do if they were in your shoes. That peer pressure from your ancestors should never be the beginning and end of how you see your role in life as a man or woman. Just go with the flow and do what makes you feel like you.
The rest of the episode’s sections with Moroha and Setsuna were alright. I can sense Setsuna being a stick-in-the-mud, but I could imagine her being a nice foil for Towa and Moroha to interact with considering how Towa and Moroha’s rebellious spirits go against the kind of character that Setsuna could wind up as. Moroha is a fun addition to the cast, but many of her accomplishments were sidelined in this episode as soon as Hisui and Kohaku show up on the scene to derail the momentum her character had as a demon slayer. I’m eager to see how much of their grand reunion takes place in the present day since InuYasha spent enough time in the Feudal era that we only got a basic gist of what it was like in Kagome’s time through the episodes where she was able to return. With Yashahime though, maybe they’ll be able to have some more fun in the present day before they warp themselves back into the Feudal era.