「 赤骨御殿の若骨丸」 (Aka Hone Goten no Jakotsumaru)
“Jakotsumaru of the Red Bone Palace”
We’re going to the Bone Zone on a very special Halloween episode of Yashahime as a bone-stealing demon aims to bring his father back to life through necromancy and skeleton theft. Along the way, we get a better glimpse at our three heroines, Kirinmaru’s inner circle, and the powers granted to Moroha.
My first impression of seeing a demon named Jakotsumaru was that the story found a way to give Jakotsu, the gratuitously gay-coded mercenary from InuYasha, a younger relative. But alas, his actual father, Tokotsu, is one of the Four Perils that carries the distinction of being Kirinmaru’s retainers. It sets an overall goal for the earlier portion of the series where the group must either avoid or seek out the remaining Perils to figure out if they want to see Sesshomaru again. It also gave us a nice fake-out in the preview where we’re left to assume that the dead father was going to be Inuyasha and not Tokotsu since there was no way of knowing that their main foe would be an evil demon’s vengeful son.
Although Moroha made short-work of Tokotsu, Jakotsumaru is a far scarier antagonist since his expertise is ripping the skeletons right out of people, animals, and demons like Kano. There’s one scene where he rips out dog skeletons that would’ve been absolutely horrific if the anime wasn’t so bloodless. He and his dad might not have lasted, but I have to give credit when credit is due, and ripping out people’s skeletons and collecting bones to feed to your bone dad is a very memorable way to make your grand debut and grand exit.
One character that could’ve improved since making it to the Feudal era is Towa, whose purpose now is to appease Setsuna to get on her good graces. Setsuna was always going to be in a sour mood throughout the show and has her own personal ethos not to change herself or apologize for what her instincts tell her are the right decisions to make. But since Towa was more excited to see her sister than the other way around, the story makes it so that Towa keeps urging Setsuna to be a little cheerier around her. But unfortunately, it was never going to be a give-and-take kind of relationship, especially when Towa’s response to all of her edgy quips about never apologizing to an enemy or seeing demons as nothing that deserves human compassion or understanding are to give up her initial hand-wringing and go along with whatever her sister said.
It’s a shame because you have a character like Towa built up to be someone who has a sense of independence that ends up being a bit of a pushover by the time Setsuna comes around and treats her like an unwanted presence. I get that it’s a long-lost sister, but it would’ve been nice to see her do more without having to fully adopt Setsuna’s point-of-view. Setsuna grapples with the cognitive dissonance between siding with Towa on not wanting to do dirty work for the Tree of Ages and siding with Moroha for being unapologetic towards demons, but Towa’s main trajectory is appeasing her sister to make better use of a dour reunion.
Of the three girls, Moroha had the most time to shine in this episode. On top of giving us some perspective on her main hobby of selling demon parts for cash, we also get an idea of where a bulk of her powers come from. While she can hold her own in a fight, she’s able to get the upper-hand in any battle through her form as Beniyasha, Destroyer of Lands. The rouge enchanted with the powers and memories of the Great Dog Demon gives her a more sophisticated look along the lines of some of the elegant female designs that have come from InuYasha and other Takahashi works.
It also imbues her with an insane amount of power for a short span of time. While Moroha can competently fight by her own accord, her Beniyasha abilities hike her abilities up to 11 at the cost of knocking her out soon after. It might offer an Achilles heel that would make it difficult to use in battles where she needs to be stronger for a longer duration of time and awake to avoid fatal attacks from scarier opponents. At the same time, it can also prove to be a silver bullet to use in the girls’ back pockets just in case the odds aren’t in their favor for a particular fight without an intervention from Beniyasha. And hey, it gives us another chance at seeing Iron Reaver, Soul Stealer in action, and that’s a huge plus no matter what happens in the future.
I heard elsewhere that Jakotsu from the 1st anime/manga was originally intended to be female, but Takahashi made him a gay man because she didn’t like the idea of Inuyasha beating up a woman.
Also not surprised at the bloodlessness; I think the early/primetime airing slot in Japan would prevent the creators from going overboard with the gore.