Manga Review: Inuyasha VIZBIG Volume 11

Inuyasha VIZBIG Volume 11 combines Volumes 31 through 33 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 11
Written by: Rumiko Takahashi
Publisher: Shogakukan
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: May 8, 2012

At the end of the previous volume, it was revealed that the final shikon jewel shard was located at Inuyasha’s father’s grave, which is located in the borderland between this world and the afterlife. The first three chapters see Inuyasha and the others being followed by Naraku’s saimyosho as they head to the land of fire to try to go through the gate that leads to the borderland in order to reach Inuyasha’s father’s grave and retrieve the shikon jewel shard before Naraku can lay his hands on it.

Of course, getting to the borderland is no easy task. The gate is guarded by two large stone statues. Even beyond this, there’s a catch to go through the gate… only the dead may pass through. After a fierce battle with the statues and the gate is opened, Kagura’s demons slip past and try to pass through the gate. It turns out it’s a good thing that the demons slipped past, because it would have been the end of Inuyasha and the others if they hadn’t witnessed what would have happened to them if they had succeeded in going forward. I have to say, it must have been frustrating for Inuyasha and the others to realize that Hakudoshi was using them, as well as Kagura, to test what would happen if someone tried passing through the gate in this manner. It would also be frustrating to realize that you’ve gone back to square one for trying to find a way to reach the borderland and retrieve the shikon jewel shard.

Naraku, meanwhile, finds the Bird Princess Abi, who is using blood-sucking birds to get human blood in order to cure her mother, who has been poisoned. Naraku wants Abi to join forces with him. He swears he will help her collect human blood, in exchange for something that he wants. Naraku leaves her a trident that is made from his bones. Even though Abi accepts the trident, she doesn’t trust Naraku, and I can’t say that I blame her. Princess Abi plays a large role in the story that unfolds over the course of Inuyasha VIZBIG Volume 11, especially after having an encounter with Inuyasha and his group when they try to protect a village from Abi’s blood-sucking birds.

This volume also sees a noblewoman being told she has given birth to a stillborn baby. However, Kanna and Kohaku arrive with the other half of Hakudoshi from when he split apart in a previous volume, telling the woman that this other half of Hakudoshi is her baby. Kohaku stays in the village in order to protect the infant, and when Abi and her birds later appear to lay siege to the castle when she thinks there’s a connection with Naraku there, Kohaku is ordered to slaughter the villagers and escape with the other half of Hakudoshi. During this time, Kohaku starts regaining his memory of slaughtering his village and injuring Sango. His memory is totally awakened when Sango appears, but Kohaku has to hide the fact that he has remembered everything. Kohaku has now made it his goal to take down Naraku, but he has to pretend to still have amnesia in order to prevent accidentally tipping his hand. To me, this is a big change for the series, and adds another layer for both Kohaku’s character and for the story.

A mysterious woman named Hijiri is introduced, who only speaks through her two aides and has never removed her veil. After she reveals some impressive spiritual power, it fuels speculation that this might actually be Kikyo and that she isn’t dead. At one point, Hijiri’s two aides are seen taking some of the soil from Kikyo’s shrine. The aides lead Kagome to where Kikyo is, and she must make a choice as to whether or not to save Kikyo. What a choice to have thrust upon her, especially with her feelings toward Inuyasha and her jealousy of Kikyo. In the end, I applaud Kagome for the decision that she makes… even if Kikyo acted like she didn’t appreciate it. Later, when Inuyasha meets up with Kikyo, she gives him a special arrow to give to Kagome, although it’s up to her whether or not she will master it.

After Kagome helps Kikyo, there’s quite a focus in this volume on the triangle between Kagome, Kikyo, and Inuyasha. Kagome spends time trying to sort through her feelings, but by the end of the volume, it doesn’t appear that she’s found any answers or resolved the issues that are bothering her. Sometimes, she takes her frustration out on Inuyasha, especially when she believes that he’s lying to her about his interactions with Kikyo. I think this is a realistic depiction, although I had to feel bad for Inuyasha at one point, because he was telling her the truth and she chose not to believe him.

Naraku finds a way to get to the borderland after killing Abi’s mother, and Inuyasha and the others “hitch a ride” on Naraku’s method. Unfortunately, with this method, there’s no guarantee that they will be able to return to the land of the living. At the gravesite, they find that the skeleton of Hosenki, the one who forged the black pearl, is guarding the shikon jewel shard and refuses to let anyone have it.

The remainder of the volume sees Inuyasha and the others battling with Naraku over trying to obtain the shikon jewel shard. Of course, this also includes trying to get Hosenki to hand the shard over to them before the shard can taint him. Sesshomaru finds a way to join the fray, and this exciting fight is actually resolved before the end of the volume.

The last two chapters in the volume begin a storyline with Naraku ordering Hakudoshi and Kohaku to kill a large shrine rat and take his zushi. With this item, they release a bunch of small zushi nezumi shrine rats. If you use physical attacks on them, the chunks become new rats and causes their numbers to multiply. The storyline with the rats is just getting going when this volume ends.

After reading Inuyasha VIZBIG Volume 11, I feel that this volume is important for moving the story forward. Several revelations are made that force some of the characters to really take look at themselves and their feelings. Kohaku regaining his memory and keeping the fact this has happened a secret from everyone is also a major development. And of course, the revelation that Kikyo isn’t dead and can still influence the characters and the story is another important event that takes place in this volume. When all is said and done, the chapters included in this volume are a game-changer for the series.

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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