Yashahime Comes Full Circle To Its Opening – and Does NOT Disappoint

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Episode 7 of Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon, "Meeting though an Apple," now streaming on Crunchyroll, Funimation, Animelab and Hulu.

The opening scenes of Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon's first episode was full of mysteries, but as predicted, the show has finally circled back to that cold open with Episode 7, "Meeting through an Apple." While it was initially assumed the show would skip over Towa's imprisonment at the hands of the Deputy Shogun and Yotsume's story to dive back into the action without repeating itself, Yashahime takes a different approach and instead decides to re-contextualize the scene for an entirely different viewing experience.

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This change allows the narrative to focus much more exclusively on Towa, Setsuna and Moroha. It ties into the plot and character arcs of the series so far while taking full advantage of the viewer's familiarity with the scenes to trim the fat and split the episode into two distinct sections.

The first half of "Meeting through an Apple" tells the titular story of how Towa meets the pirate Riku and earns his gratitude by sharing her food, specifically an apple, with him. This half also serves to set up the reason why Towa is captured in the first place --  Riku pawns off the real Kikujumonji onto Towa, having stolen it recently and being aware that his pursuers are close behind. Since the Deputy Shogun's men only know the sword was stolen, coming across Towa with it in hand is evidence enough to apprehend her.

While at first appearing to repeat Episode 1's scenes verbatim, the scene is pared down to only the necessary information for the episode. The differing score helps to make it even less repetitive to the viewer. Instead of transitioning into the tale of Inuyasha and Root Head, though, the story instead jumps over to Setsuna, who discovers Towa is missing and goes looking for her. She runs into Moroha, who joins the search when Takechiyo informs her Towa is near their bounty. It isn't long before they run into villainess Kyuki's "pet" Fubuki -- a towering ice-bear apparition. Being only a projection of power, the two heroines are completely incapable of hurting it -- and it's here where Episode 7 pulls its most devious trick.

Towa wasn't even paying attention to Yotsume's story! Shortly after the attack on her friends begins, while Yotsume is still neck-deep in Inuyasha lore, Towa senses Setsuna and Moroha and instead puts her attention towards helping them. This allows for a new story to take place concurrently with Episode 1's flashback scenes, while at the same time turning Towa into a much more active protagonist. She's no longer just sitting and listening, but attacking as well -- as it's revealed Fubuki's main body is in the Deputy Shogun's estate with her! She's able to attack it discreetly with her powers, thereby alerting Setsuna and Moroha to her -- and its -- whereabouts, and Moroha defeats it with her arrow. From here, the episode transitions back into the ending scenes of Episode 1 again, this time truly verbatim, save for a few timing changes between lines.

By changing the focus of these scenes to Towa, Setsuna and Moroha, the narrative gives them all much more agency and changes the presumed relationship between the three. In Episode 1, there's no reason to doubt Towa when she calls them her "friends." Now, in Episode 7, it's clear that's only her perception of their relationship. Setsuna sees her more like a wild animal that must be "tamed" and Moroha sees her merely as an ally. While it's obvious the three care about each other, they aren't exactly close-knit.

Obviously, there are more practical advantages to the repetition as well, giving the animators and actors a short break by reusing the exact same animation and voice work from Episode 1. However, Episode 7 does an excellent job of re-framing the framing device, making the scenes well worth the second full viewing.

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