Anime Spotlight: Inuyasha

Inuyasha started out as a manga written and illustrated by Rumiko Takahashi. An anime adaptation of the manga began airing on Japanese television in 2000, and ended in 2004 after 167 episodes were produced; unfortunately, when the Inuyasha anime ended, the manga series had not concluded, so the anime series didn’t truly end. Four films for the anime franchise were also produced. In 2009, another anime series, Inuyasha: The Final Act, was produced. The 26 episodes of the series wrapped up the anime series after the manga had concluded.

The Inuyasha anime was introduced to the United States on Adult Swim on August 31, 2002. The series has enjoyed popularity on Anime Swim, and has remained a major program on the network’s schedule over the years. Viz Media holds the North American license for Inuyasha, and has released all of the original Inuyasha series on DVD. As of this writing, the first set for Inuyasha: The Final Act was released by Viz Media, and the release of the second set is just a few weeks away.

The story of Inuyasha begins in feudal Japan, where a half-demon named Inuyasha steals the Jewel of Four Souls; this is an artifact that can increase a person or demon’s power enormously. However, Inuyasha is stopped by a priestess named Kikyo, who shoots a sacred arrow at him. The arrow seals Inuyasha indefinitely to the sacred tree. Kikyo, however, is mortally wounded; before she dies, she asks her younger sister Kaede to burn the jewel with her body.

In modern Tokyo, a middle school girl named Kagome Higurashi lives at an old shrine, where her grandfather is the caretaker. One morning, as she’s about to head off to school, Kagome goes into the well house to retrieve her cat. While she’s in the well house, a centipede demon reaches up through the well and pulls Kagome down into it.

Kagome discovers that she was traveled back in time to feudal Japan. As she explores her surroundings, she sees Inuyasha sealed to the sacred tree. Nearby villagers find Kagome, seize her, and take her to the village. The village elder is Kaede, and she recognizes Kagome as the reincarnation of Kikyo after discovering that the Jewel of Four Souls is inside Kagome’s body.

The centipede demon attacks again, and Kagome is forced to release Inuyasha from the seal. After defeating the demon, Inuyasha attempts to take the jewel from Kagome. Kagome is able to subdue Inuyasha with magical prayer beads that were given to her by Kaede; the word she uses to activate the beads is “sit.”

The jewel attracts the attention of more demons. While battling with a carrion crow demon, Kagome accidentally shatters the jewel into numerous shards; the shards spread across Japan. Inuyasha and Kagome must team together to locate and recover all the missing shards. During their journey, they encounter and join forces with a little fox demon named Shippo, a cursed and lecherous monk named Miroku, and a demon slayer named Sango.

On their journey, they have various run-ins with Inuyasha’s half-brother Sesshomaru, a half-demon named Naraku and his various “children,” a reincarnated Kikyo, as well as other foes.

My main knowledge of Inuyasha comes from the seven seasons of the original anime series; as of this writing, I haven’t had the opportunity to watch Inuyasha: The Final Act.

Inuyasha begins with a very interesting concept, and Takahashi was able to create a cast of main characters that viewers come to care about. Unfortunately, since the original anime series was being produced while the manga was still being released in Japan, the anime ends up having to add “filler” material in order to keep going.

Probably the worst section of “filler” would be the fourth season. The vast majority of the episodes in that season were “filler” stories that didn’t advance the plot. Of the 18 episodes that appeared in that season, only one had anything to truly do with the main storyline.

Unfortunately, the streak of filler does end up doing some damage to the series. By the time the viewer returns to the main storyline, it’s a struggle to remember where exactly you had left off in the main storyline and piece that together with where the main storyline truly continues in the anime. Perhaps if you read the manga beforehand, this isn’t as much of an issue.

I was glad to see that Inuyasha: The Final Act was one season of 26 episodes that was intended to wrap up the series. Hopefully, when I finally get to see this series, I’ll be able to say that it’s just the right length to finally wrap up the main storyline of the series.

Overall, I do enjoy Inuyasha, even if the fourth season does drag the series down a little bit. By having such an interesting and diverse cast of main characters, it makes it easy to care about the characters very early on the series; by caring about them so early on, it helps the viewer to make it through the “filler” stories in order to see how the story will progress and what will happen to the characters next.

The series also utilizes the perfect mix of drama and humor. It really is no wonder why the Inuyasha anime series has continued to endure over the years and why it can still attract people to watch it over a decade after its initial release.

One comment

  1. medievalotaku · January 18, 2013

    This is one of my favorite series. Right now, I’m halfway through the final act. It is very pleasing to see how high of a production quality these episodes have and that they stick to the main story line. But, that’s why I prefer the manga a little more. Though, the manga did have a few story arcs I would count as filler too–like Inuyasha and the gang vs. mice and all those chapters where Inuyasha couldn’t kill the villagers because they were being manipulated. Neither of those two parts advanced the story, and I erased as much as possible of them from my memory.

    The best arcs were always the ones where Sesshoumaru appears, though.

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