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Grooming Yashahime

Like most Millennials, the 86 born Koriander also watched Inuyasha in her teen years, following the series from start to finish.

Rin, as she appears in episode 15 of Yashahime

12 year old Rin in episode 15 of Yashahime in a role better suited to someone aged 18 or older, next to newborn Setsuna and Towa.

12 year old Rin in episode 15 of Yashahime in a role better suited to someone aged 18 or older, next to newborn Setsuna and Towa.

The issue of grooming as it pertains to Yashahime and to Inuyasha: Final Act

Ten years had passed since the final episode of Inuyasha: Final Act had made air, when a new installment in the series Yashahime, was to debut the characters Towa and Setsuna, the children of Inuyasha's older half brother, Sesshōmaru. Fan speculation grew as to who the mother of the twins would be, but on January 16, 2021, speculation was silenced as "SessXRin" was confirmed as canon.

But there was one major problem.

Rin.

You see, back during the first Inuyasha anime, Rin was introduced about halfway through the first series as an eight year old human child who had been recently orphaned. She becomes a ward of Sesshōmaru's after he brings her back from the dead. Inuyasha: Final Act ends with him leaving her with Kaede until she is old enough to decide for herself where she wants to go.

Fast forward to Yashahime's first episode, and we see only six months has gone by since this moment. Rin is still eleven.

Episode three features a segment where Kaede is telling Hisui that it had been 15 years since the well had closed, and 14 since Towa and Setsuna and been born.

Episode 15, we see Rin giving birth to Towa and Setsuna.

If we are to believe Kaede, then Rin was 12 during this event.

Twelve.

Since this episode made air, a wild stirring has happened surrounding Yashahime.

The official accounts for Yashahime are now more focused on Moroha and the twins. There is an unconfirmed rumor that episodes 3 and 15 may be altered on future DVD releases to change Rin's tween appearance, but the damage is done.

Fans became split, with half of the fan base inventing an array of excuses and the other half voicing their frustrations or flat out ceasing to watch the show. Some fans tried to alter the Wikipedia entry for Rin to justify the narrative while others have started a petition.

Surprisingly, the very same people voicing their support of SessXRin were the exact same people crying fowl when the signer Drake was caught sending grooming texts to a then also 12 Millie Bobbi Brown. Somehow, the #MeToo movement, which saw the correct calling out of grooming, abuse and harassment in Hollywood, has not yet hit anime, where inappropriate scenes involving minors is considered as much a part of the culture as Godzilla.

Rin, age 8, the day she met Sesshy.

Rin, age 8, the day she met Sesshy.

Excuses range from half-historical to just plain laughable. Here's just a few of the more popular ones you can expect to find on a Redbubble store near you:

Back in the Feudal Era, men often took on much younger wives - While this is true, it's still inexcusable. If Kagome can wait to be 18, so could Rin.

You can marry girls in Japan at 13 - This is actually a bit of a misunderstanding. In select, rural prefectures, you "can" marry a girl at thirteen - but only if you have written consent from both of her parents, and honestly, I wouldn't touch her if I was you. Or take her outside of that specific prefecture. And this is a terrible excuse that does more to expose the speaker than to justify Sesshōmaru.

Sesshōmaru never really adopted her, he was just watching her - Oh? so we're upgrading Sesshy from going after his adopted daughter to him going after a kid he is babysitting. Oh I see. That makes everything all better, right? Oh wait, it doesn't. Instead, it just highlights why everyone has Kaede watch the children.

Jaken was more of a father than Sesshōmaru - When exactly was that? When he was calling her names? When he was ungrateful that time she risked her little life to get that flower to save him? I will grant you this is true when she has the twins and he makes a plan to get her away from this season's villains, but noting that Jaken is - at this point without question - the better father does not erase why what we saw was a very bad thing.

It's just a cartoon - Please do inform the BPA (Standards and Practices) in Japan. I'm sure that worked so well on them when they had an entire half-season of PriPara redrawn because 14 year old Sophie was dressed in an age inappropriate nightgown. Oh wait, it didn't. #Overalls

It's just part of the culture - Again, please ask the BPA how they feel about that one, because no. Just no.

But she chose to be with Sesshōmaru - Anyone who says this has no idea how grooming works or why it's a horrible thing to do to a child. You see, there are ways an adult will show seemingly chaste affection towards a minor and have them thinking this is entirely their idea. I need to point this out again, many of the same people who spoke out when Drake was grooming Millie Bobbi Brown are now disturbingly using this narrative in regards to Rin, knowing full well why this statement is absolutely false.

Well that's different because this is a cartoon - Isn't it amazing how very flat this one falls? Next.

But what about Ayame, Sango or Kagome? - Speaking up about SessXRin means I also have no problem addressing the other relationships in this series, so let's make sure they're not left out.

Sango is 16 years old when she meets and then marries Miroku, who is already 18. Now because there is only a two year age gap between them, and because 16 is the age of consent in some prefectures in Japan and in some states here in America, you can argue that it doesn't seem so terrible that in the three years from this point from when Kagome left to when she marries Inuyasha that Sango now has three children with Miroku. But that doesn't make anything less disturbing, especially considering the amount of physical harassment Miroku is guilty of for the entire series up until Yashahime. This means I am also not excusing the girl Miroku originally proposed to, who was eleven when they met, and roughly 14 when they met again just before he proposed to Sango.

Inuyasha is in human years over 200 years old at the start of the original series, but in dog demon years, he's only 15. This makes his relationship with Kagome less of a hassle given she would be the exact same age as him, but since he barely ages at all going into Yashahime, it does seem problematic if she ages to 18 and he doesn't. Even more inappropriate is his relationship with Kikyo, who was 18 when she met him and 19 when she died, making her an adult hanging around the equivalency of a high school sophomore.

Ayame is six in demon years when the already adult Kōga babysits her, and the equivalent of 14 when she debuts in the series and marries him.

Rin, quietly growing up inside the Sacred Tree

Rin, quietly growing up inside the Sacred Tree

While the series does take place in the Feudal Era of Japan, it still fails as an excuse to the events of the 15th episode. We need to demand better content in our anime. If twelve year old Rin isn't enough for you to stand up and demand an end to grooming in anime, I shudder to think what will.

© 2021 Koriander Bullard

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