There's a lot going on in “Jakotsumaru of the Red Bone Palace” — probably a little too much for a single episode — but it's the first time so far that Yashahime has kind of managed to capture the feel of the original InuYasha, and that's not for nothing. Moroha, Towa, and Setsuna are back in the Feudal Era and getting straight to the demon hunting, and in the absence of much meaningful development on the “Where the hell is everyone!?” front, that's enough to keep Yashahime's momentum going. Plus, we get more scenes of Moroha wreaking havoc, and that's worth the price of admission in and of itself.
The titular Jakotsumaru is the son of the recently deceased demon Tokotsu, whose decapitation came courtesy of Moroha's bounty hunting antics. At first, I wasn't sure whether either Jakotsumaru or Tokotsu was a character I half-remembered from InuYasha, but I was probably thinking of Jakotsu, the flamboyant snake fellow who worked for Naraku back in the day. Tokotsu is an entirely new creation, and so far as I know, one of the Four Perils who arrived from the mainland at the behest of that rascal Kirinmaru. Jakotsumaru is so mad about losing his pop that he's straight ripping bones out of bodies left and right, all so he can build his dear old dad a new body.
This is a pretty straightforward setup for a monster-of-the-week plot, but the way it is actually told is a bit rough. Towa and Setsuna split from Moroha, and they spend a while bickering and catching up with Kohaku and Hisui before they end up on the trail of the local bone thief. This material is what worked the least for me, mostly because Towa and Setsuna's relationship is nowhere near as compelling as any of their forbears, and their bickering felt less like natural character interactions and more of a perfunctory element tossed in because, you know, this is an InuYasha sequel — there has to be some bickering involved. Likewise, neither Jakotsumaru nor his half-dead dad have much in the way of personality or interesting design, so the whole affair was beginning to feel like a decidedly middle-of-the-road homage to the old InuYasha formula.
Things picked up with Moroha's half of the plot, if only because the questions the show keeps raising about her past and future are more interesting than Towa and Setsuna's half-hearted adventure. She's deep in debt to Jyubei the Corpse Dealer, so already there's more going on with her reasons for hunting down Jakotsumaru and retrieving Tokotsu's head. Also, when Myoga the Flea joins up with her, it becomes clearer that Moroha is well aware of her lineage, both as the heir to the Great Dog Demon's legacy, and as a possessor of Kikyo/Kagome's potent spirit powers. Knowing that Moroha's memories have seemingly remained intact indicates that there are more complicated reasons for her being down two parents and stuck scrounging up demon scraps for a debt collector.
In any case, Moroha and the other girls are swiftly reunited, and though Towa gives some limp arguments for trying to take the nonviolent path with Jakotsumaru, Setsuna rightly reminds her sister that the guy has been yanking skeletons out of people and dogs like they were going out of style. There's no reason to not kill the both of them, and so we get the prerequisite fight scene. It's fine – there's not much to the animation at all, but all of the girls get some shots in, so we're already seeing that they continue to work well as a team. The best part is seeing Moroha finally use her rouge, a gift from Grampyasha to his wife, which transforms her into Beniyasha, Destroyer of Lands.
I'll be honest, I was hoping there would be more to Beniyasha's transformation than some lip color and a shiny power aura, but it's entertaining enough. It also explains why Moroha didn't remember cleaving Tokotsu's head off of his body, since the transformation only lasts a minute or so, and knocks Moroha out cold for a day after using it. In other words, it's a “Get Out of Certain Death Free” card for our heroines to play, with enough of a cost to make it an entirely overpowered plot convenience. Towa, Setsuna, and Moroha will need as many advantages on the enemy as possible, too, since their quest is just beginning, and there are at least three more Perils to beat before getting to Kirinmaru himself, and lord knows how many other distractions to deal with in the meantime.
Odds and Ends
• We also meet Takechiyo, the little tanuki demon who helps Jyubei keep an eye on Moroha and make sure she isn't running out on her debts. He's a cute rapscallion, but he's no Shippo. Where the hell is Shippo!?
• A more explicit link to the original series comes from Setsuna, who reveals that the chant she used to power up during the Tokotsu fight came from a certain mysterious wandering monk that she knew. The chant goes “On meeting an arhat, slay the arhat; on meeting your parents, slay your parents.” Google tells me than an arhat is a Buddhist practitioner that has attained such true enlightenment that they are freed from the never-ending cycle of reincarnation. So, make of that what you will.
• At this point, I have to believe that the show has been withholding more details about Kirinmaru's appearance because his identity is supposed to be some kind of twist. Sesshomaru would be the obvious choice, given all of the foreshadowing, but my money is on it being Inuyasha himself. I don't know, maybe Kagome died or something, and Inuyasha is the one who is trying to corrupt the timeline in order to save her? Though now that I think about it, maybe the reason for Shippo's absence is because a dark, tyrannical nature was hiding behind the cute little fox's innocent smile all along…