Manga Review: Inuyasha VIZBIG Volume Eight

The eighth volume of the Inuyasha VIZBIG Edition combines Volumes 22 through 24 of Rumiko Takahashi’s Inuyasha manga into one volume. In addition to putting three volumes into one book, the physical size of the book has also increased and the pages were flipped back to their original right-to-left orientation.

Inuyasha VIZBIG Volume Eight
Written by: Rumiko Takahashi
Publisher: Shogakukan
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: August 9, 2011

Kagome, a high school student from modern-day Japan, travels back in time to feudal era Japan through a well at her family’s shrine. It turns out Kagome is the reincarnation of a priestess names Kikyo, and she has the ability to sense the Shikon Jewel, a powerful artifact that is sought by demons to increase their power.

In feudal Japan, Kagome meets a half-demon named Inuyasha. Together, they must search for the shards of the Shikon Jewel after Kagome accidentally shatters it and causes them to spread across feudal Japan. They are joined on their quest by a little demon fox named Shippo, a lecherous monk named Miroku, and a demon exterminator named Sango. As the series continues on, the main antagonist is a demon known as Naraku.

Volume 22 picks up exactly where Volume 21 ended, where it’s revealed that the man who had no face is going by the name of Muso, and that he is an “offspring” of Naraku. He’s Onigumo’s heart that Naraku tried to cast out. This story arc sees Muso and Inuyasha battling it out. Unfortunately, Naraku discovers that he can’t quite cut his ties with Onigumo yet, so he has to reabsorb Muso into him. Inuyasha and the others find him, and Inuyasha tries to attack with the Wind Scar, but Naraku sets up a shield to protect himself. This story arc takes place over the course of the first half of Volume 22.

The next story arc sees Inuyasha going to visit Totosai to learn a move to cut through a shield, no matter how strong it is. Totosai doesn’t help, but Myoga tells Inuyasha something he knows. It involves going to the lair of the Hyakkikomori – The 100 Ogre Bats and cutting down the guardian demon. Meanwhile, a young girl named Shiori is given to her grandfather, Taigokumaru, the demon of Hyakkikomori, to serve as her guardian. Inuyasha and the others arrive after Shiori is handed over, and they learn about what happened from Shiori’s mother. Inuyasha is then faced with an ethical dilemma. This story arc takes place over the second half of Volume 22, and concludes in that volume. This particular story had been one of my favorites when I saw it in the anime series, so I was glad to finally see it appear while reading the manga. I really liked how Takahashi handled this particular storyline. To me, it’s one of the stronger stories to appear in the series.

Volume 23 opens with Kagura kidnapping Rin and having Kohaku keep guard over her. Naraku wants to use her as bait in order to lure Sesshomaru to him. During this storyline, Rin and Kohaku get to know each other, and it seems like they’re starting to become friends. Unfortunately, Naraku uses a hypnotic ability to have Kohaku do his bidding. Kagome and the others try to rescue Rin. And as Naraku expected, Sesshomaru shows up in order to fight Naraku and rescue Rin. Inuyasha also joins in and is able to use Tetsusaiga’s new power to cut the shield around the perimeter of Naraku’s castle. When it seems like Kohaku’s going to hurt Rin, Sesshomaru arrives as Inuyasha and the others save Rin. The end result of this storyline is that Naraku leaves his castle, but there’s no trace of his aura. This story arc encompasses half of Volume 23.

Next is a chapter that provides a brief break from the action, when Kagome returns to the modern world and tries to catch up with her schoolwork. Inuyasha becomes impatient and comes to get Kagome. She has a test the next day, so she can’t up and leave. The chapter sees Inuyasha hanging out while Kagome is trying to study. When I saw this episode in the anime, I had assumed that it was a filler episode, so I was surprised to discover that it actually appears in the manga. It might have been a filler chapter for the manga to provide a brief respite from the major storylines that had been taking place up to that point. If that’s the case, then it would have to be considered “canon filler.”

In the next story arc, Koga makes a return to the story when he comes to Naraku’s abandoned castle. Koga finds Kagome and the others, but it turns out he attracted a majorly hairy demon that had been hiding in the castle. Koga tries to take Kagome away from the demon as Inuyasha fights it, but the demon is attracted by the jewel shards in Koga’s legs. Koga tries to fight it, but he has to be rescued by Inuyasha. Together, they defeat the demon, but the trail for Naraku has gone cold. At the end of this story, Kikyo encounters a bandit who asks her to take his topknot to a location to bury it and allow his soul to be cleansed. As Kikyo continues traveling, she learns this location is known as Mt. Hakurei.

The final chapter in Volume 23 sees Inuyasha and the others encountering an elderly woman exorcist who doesn’t appear to be as skilled as she claims to be. They all get involved with a case at Ogre’s Head Castle, where it’s said an ogre is causing trouble. As a monk, Miroku is pulled into this story as well, especially after a princess asks for his help and separates him from the others. Sango becomes concerned and gets involved as well. This story arc carries over into Volume 24.

The first three chapters of Volume 24 finish off the story at Ogre’s Head Castle. This is then followed by Inuyasha being mistaken for a dog god by some villagers as they pass by their village. This village is having trouble with some naughty monkeys, and they ask for Inuyasha’s help. This ends up being a light-hearted story to help lighten the mood before launching into the next story arc. When I saw this episode in the anime, this was another one I had assumed had been created as a filler story for anime. Once again, I was surprised to see it actually appear in the manga.

The remainder of Volume 24 gets the Band of Seven arc going, and this arc will continue in the next Inuyasha VIZBIG volume. The Band of Seven are seven powerful mercenaries that Naraku brought back to life using the Shikon Jewel. During Koga’s travels, he encounters Kyokotsu, a member of the Band of Seven. Meanwhile, Inuyasha and the others encounter Jakotsu, another member of the Band of Seven, and Inuyasha and Jakotsu battle each other with their blades. Right at the end of the volume, Mukotsu, another member of the Band of Seven arrives, and Kagome is paralyzed by his poison.

Overall, I thought Takahashi progressed the story pretty well in the manga. There were a couple of “filler” stories (Kagome returning to her world and the story about the monkeys), but after reading these volumes, I can see why Takahashi included them. All of the other stories in these volumes are a bit of the “heavier” side, so it provides a breather from that heavy feeling for the reader. Also, if these short fillers hadn’t been included, the story would just feel like it was moving really fast, so that’s another way those fillers provide a breather for the reader.

I continue to believe that these VIZBIG editions are a great and economical way for Inuyasha fans to collect this long-running series if they hadn’t already collected all of the original volumes. Also, I’d recommend it to readers who may have the original volumes but who want to be able to read the series in its original right-to-left orientation

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