Anime Spotlight: Inuyasha (Updated)

Inuyasha is based on a manga by Rumiko Takahashi. The series was produced by Sunrise and was directed by Masashi Ikeda and Yasunao Aoki. The anime aired on Japanese television from October 16, 2000-September 13, 2004. 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. As of this writing, VIZ Media holds the North American license for Inuyasha.

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. This series was produced by Sunrise and was directed by Yasunao Aoki. Inuyasha: The Final Act aired on Japanese television from October 3, 2009-March 29, 2010. As of this writing, VIZ Media holds the North American license for this series.

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 has 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 subdues 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.

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. Most of the episodes in that season were “filler” stories that didn’t advance the plot.

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.

I was glad to see that Inuyasha: The Final Act was one season of 26 episodes that was intended to wrap up the series. After watching this series, I discovered that it did exactly that. There was no filler at all, and the story just kept on moving. And after waiting so long to see how the story of Inuyasha ended, I can’t say that I was disappointed by the ending. This series reminded me a lot of what I liked about the original Inuyasha anime before it started bogging down with “filler,” and reminded me why I liked the first series so much in the first place.

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.

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