Manga Review: Inuyasha VIZBIG Volume Nine

Inuyasha VIZBIG Volume Nine combines Volumes 25 through 27 of Rumiko Takahashi’s Inuyahsa 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 Nine
Written by: Rumiko Takahashi
Publisher: Shogakukan
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: November 8, 2011

The entirety of the volume focuses on Inuyasha and the group’s run-ins and confrontations with the Band of Seven, which is a group of seven powerful mercenaries that Naraku has brought back to life using the Shikon Jewel shards.

This volume begins right where the previous volume ended, as Miroku, Sango, and Kagome encountered Mukotsu, a member of the Band of Seven who is a poisoner. At this point, Mukotsu has paralyzed Kagome with his poison, and Miroku and Sango are trying to save her. While Miroku and Sango make a valiant attempt, it’s ultimately Sesshomaru who saves her. Not on purpose, of course. It’s just that Kagome and the others just happened to be at the spot where Sesshomaru was going on his quest to look for Naraku. While his rescue wasn’t planned, I still thought it was a rather neat twist.

Later, as Inuyasha tries to lead the others to safety in order to let them rest and find a way to get the poison out of them, he is attacked by Ginkotsu, a member of the Band of Seven who kind of looks like a feudal era version of a steampunk cyborg. This was definitely one of the more unusual choices that Takahashi made when it came to the characters that made up the Band of Seven. Ginkotu’s job is to force Inuyasha to a nearby temple, where Renkotsu, another member of the Band of Seven, awaits with plans of an ambush. He’s able to hide the truth and appear as if he’s the chief monk of the temple… although Kagome is able to sense a shikon jewel shard in him. Unfortunately, she is unable to talk at this point and is unable to point this fact out to anyone. This ultimately leads to a confrontation with both Renkotsu and Ginkotsu.

But it turns out that Inuyasha and his crew aren’t the only ones being pursued by the Band of Seven. Koga and his crew are being targeted as well, since Koga has Shikon Jewel shards in his legs. Of course, this ultimately leads up to Inuyasha’s group and Koga’s group having to band together to take on their pursuers. As usual, the dialogue interplay that takes place between Inuyasha and Koga throughout this entire volume is amusing.

Kikyo becomes involved in the story when she reaches a small village near Mt. Hakurei, the “pure soul mountain” that repels demonic energy. While at this village, she encounters a doctor named Suikotsu, and she’s surprised to discover that he has a Shikon Jewel shard in his neck. But this shard is pure, which confuses Kikyo. If you can’t tell by the name, it turns out that Suikotsu is a member of the Band of Seven. However, he appears to basically have “multiple personality disorder,” and has two distinct personalities: the calm doctor and the vicious killer. His other personality comes out when the other surviving members of the Band of Seven descend on the village with a tank and wreak havoc.

After this battle, Inuyasha aids a weakened Kikyo, which of course, makes Kagome jealous. She tries hard to hide her jealousy, but it’s still obviously there. Fortunately, only a small fraction of the story in this volume focuses on this jealousy, since the bigger focus here is on the Band of Seven and trying to track down Naraku.

The story takes a turn when a boy from a village takes Imuyasha and the others to Hijiri Island. It’s the home of a hakushin, a great monk who became a living Buddha and is enshrined in the island’s temple. The boy is looking for his father, who hasn’t come home from tending to the hakushin. It turns out Mt. Hakurei is nearby. The twist here, of course, is that Bankotsu is on the island, even though it’s close enough to Mt. Hakurei to affect demons. Another twist that’s revealed is that the hakushin seems to be favoring Naraku, which hampers Inuyasha and his companions’ abilities to get the upper hand in the fight against Bankotsu.

Suikotsu comes back into the story, first in his evil form. In a battle between Sesshomaru and Jyakotsu, Rin and Jaken try to get away on a bridge. Suikotsu finds them, and the bridge they’re on breaks, and all three of them fall into the river below. Suikotsu and Rin are swept away, and Suikotsu reverts back into the mild-mannered doctor. He takes Rin with him to the village, and the villagers ask him to leave. Even though his face doesn’t change, the rest of him reverts back to evil and he starts attacking the villagers. When Sesshomaru arrives to rescue Rin and battles Jyakotsu, it turns out the one who saves Rin isn’t Sesshomaru… it’s actually Kikyo and her sacred arrow going through Suikotsu’s neck. It was actually kind of nice to see Kikyo doing something like this, and that it isn’t always Sesshomaru that saves Rin. It’s nice to be reminded that Kikyo still capable of performing the occasional good deed for someone else.

The volume ultimately culminates with Miroku and Sango trying to investigate a cave near Mt. Hakurei, since they won’t be negatively impacted by Mt. Hakurei’s purity. They discover that Kagura and Kanna are there, which makes it seem like Naraku should be somewhere nearby. Inuyasha goes after them after Kagome worries about how long they’ve been gone. The volume ends with Renkotsu finding Inuyasha, and Inuyasha losing his demon powers after getting so close to Mt. Hakurei. The audience is left with a cliffhanger about how Inuyasha will handle Renkotsu, as well as a shocking discovery that Miroku makes. Both of these cliffhangers work as a perfect place to end of the volume, because the reader has double the reason to want to continue on to the next volume in order to find out how these events and revelations will be handled and how they will affect the story.

There’s so many instances of the Band of Seven being able to get away before they can be taken down. Yes, they do lose some of their number over the course of Inuyasha VIZBIG Volume Nine, but most of them are able to come back later for another battle. After nearly 500 pages, there really hasn’t been a lot of forward progression in the characters being able to take down the Band of Seven. It’s been a while since I watched the Inuyasha anime, so I can’t remember how much more of the Band of Seven storyline we still have to go before its finally resolved. However, I have a sinking feeling that a lot of Inuyasha VIZBIG Volume 10 will also be focused on the Band of Seven storyline. But even with how much time the Band of Seven storyline takes, I still do enjoy the Inuyasha series overall.

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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