Inuyasha: A Feudal Fairy Tale (戦国御伽草子 犬夜叉), shortly known as Inuyasha (犬夜叉) is a manga series whose mangaka is Takahashi Rumiko. The manga was adapted into anime series, which was produced by Kyoto Animation, Sunrise, Yomiuri Telecasting Corporation, and Viz Media. Its sequel – Inuyasha: The Final Act (犬夜叉 完結編) – was produced by Sunrise, Aniplex, Viz Media, and YTV. The genres which describe this franchise (as usual, according to MAL) are action, adventure, comedy, demons, fantasy, magic, romance, shōnen, and supernatural. The soundtracks and the character songs for the series were released by Avex Mode. The franchise also includes a novel, a live-action film, video games as well as a mobile game.
I have not read the manga, so as usual, I shall be talking about the two seasons of this anime as well as its films. I will not talk about the two seasons separately; instead, I will talk about the story as a whole and I will be referring to it as ‘Inuyasha’; I will, however, talk about the films one by one.
Today’s Tokyo: Kagome is a normal high-school girl who lives with her Mother, little brother Sota, grandfather, and cat Buyo. Everything starts when on her 15th birthday a centipede demon appears and drags her though the Bone Eater’s Well (骨喰いの井戸)…and so she lands on the same spot 500 years in the past (1496), when Japan was in the Sengoku period. The story revolves around Kagome and the friends she makes in this era (Miroku, Sango, Shippo, Kirara and many others) and the romantic relationship she forms with Inuyasha. Together, they must put back together the Shikon Jewel (四魂の玉) which the priestess Kikyo (for whom Kagome is most times mistaken, much to my dismay) died in order to destroy. The bad guys – mostly Naraku and his gang – won’t allow our heroes to do so…too easily.
Music and nimation
KyoAni usually makes pretty animation, and this is also the case of Inuyasha. While it might seem a little ‘old’ at times, it really is not the case. I found the art really pretty and the animation quite smooth. Besides the really nice soundtrack (my favourite has to be Inuyasha ~Soutanshi~ and because I’d really like to make up for being absent for such a long time I shall…well, just keep reading and I hope you enjoy what you find), I loved the opening and ending themes. They kind of ‘marked’ my years of high school, really. (I think I still know by heart the lyrics of Every Heart by BoA…in fact, I think even my Mum remembers them, as we were watching Inuyasha – amongst others – together).
The story was also pretty interesting. Inuyasha is certainly one of the most enjoyable anime with a romantic story in feudal Japan. At times I found it hilarious, at times it made me cry, at times I was frustrated with Kagome for not fighting for what – or rather whom – she really wanted and angry at Inuyasha for not knowing how to accept his true feelings and let go of his past, at times it made me happy for how Miroku got it from Sango and sad for how many Sango and Kohaku had to go through, but the bottom line is that all these times – they only made me love the story and characters even more.
Story and characters
Regarding the characters, there is a lot of character development. Thank goodness for that, considering the number of episodes the two seasons have combined. THAT level of character development is one of the main aspects that made Inuyasha one of my favourite anime series. Hmmm…there are lots of characters in Inuyasha, but the following are the ones I really want to say something about. However, I also want to mention that I loved all the characters – ‘good’ or ‘bad/evil’, I loved them all.
Basically, Inuyasha (犬夜叉) turns from a wimpy-winy-lazy-indifferent-overly-sensitive puppy into a decisive-slightly-more-mature-definitely-more-sensitive-and-tactful-by-now-just-sexily-annoying male dog. If in the beginning (well, ‘throughout the series up until almost the end of The Final Act’ would be a slightly more accurate description) of the series he was still overly attached to his past with Kikyo, by the very end of the series he learned to accept, but most importantly to cherish his past, his mistakes, what he is, who he truly loves, what his older brother actually wanted all along (even though maybe he [Sesshōmaru] didn’t know it himself for quite a while), what friends and family mean, and many, many more aspects of his current self.
At the same time, Kagome (日暮かごめ) learns to be more honest with herself, especially regarding her feelings; learns what it means to fight for the person she loves; learns that even if she hit a wall, she can still find a way to get round it if she really wanted to. She learns the value of choices and that as hard as it may seem, choices are out there and everybody has to make them, sooner or later.
She learns to live with the consequences of her choices. She learns the pain of giving up and the bitter-sweet joy of being next to the person she loved even while he was thinking of his past love. She turns from the innocent, shy, rather-low-on-self-confidence high-school girl into a calm, collected and mature woman, who knows what she wants and how to get it.
As for Sango (珊瑚) and Miroku (弥勒) they grow up together. Sango as well learns to live with her choices and to accept her past; the truth is, Sango has always seemed strong to me – not only physically strong, I mean. She always seemed to know what she wanted and what she had to do; she always fought for what she believed in and never let go of whom she loved – and yes, here I’m talking about Kohaku (琥珀).
Before starting on Miroku, I’ll say that I was very fond of Kohaku and felt a lot of pity for both him and his sister, but I was very happy to see how they both ended up – extremely happy, in fact. Now, Miroku. Well….I suppose he does grow up a little – and I mean it when I say a little. He does become a father and he as well learns that once he has to become a man instead of staying a boy forever and fondle Sango’s behind and make her jealous by jumping on every single female who appeared before his eyes. There.
I loved the relationship between Shippo (七宝) and Kirara (雲母) – they were so adorable! I have to admit that the moments with Kōga (鋼牙) were hilarious; besides, it was good for Inuyasha to feel a little jealousy – Kagome really had her share with Kikyo. Speaking of whom…Kikyo (桔梗) seemed rather immature to me; I understand that she wanted revenge; I understand she made a goal of killing Naraku (奈落); I understand she felt sorry for herself for not having been able to live longer and longed for Inuyasha; I understand she felt jealous of Kagome; I understand she was perhaps angry with herself for having fallen into Naraku’s trap.
But – BUT! – I do not agree with how she behaved. I really found it immature – like I already said and cannot emphasise it enough – , selfish, unreasonable, childish and tactless, reckless and rude, oblivious and self-harming sometimes, as well as completely negative and inappropriate for a miko. This is my opinion of her. It was at the very end of The Final Act that she finally showed some degree of intelligence and maturity and eventually made me like her slightly more than I like Kokutou Azaka from Boundary of Emptiness.
I loved Kagome’s family – her Mum’s attitude towards Inuyasha especially so, since my Mum behaves just the same way with whomever my partner happens to be; her grandfather and his excuses for Kagome’s absences from school – possibly the funniest aspect of the series; his behaviour does remind me a little of my grandfather’s…and I’m just realising why I’m feeling so attached to Kagome and her family….
Anyway, moving on. Sesshōmaru (殺生丸) – except for the fact that he’s so sexy and strong and mature…well, he’s also slightly mean and arrogant; however, these just made me love him more, because it was obvious that deep down, he truly cared for his little brother and he wanted him to become stronger and to succeed on his own, as I said – even though maybe Sesshōmaru himself did not know these for quite a while. Also, I ship him and Rin (りん), but not in the way of a romantic couple, just in that I want them to stay together, as in, by each other’s side.
Who do I still want to talk about? Oh, yeah, Kaede (楓). She kind of reminded me of Genkai from YuYu Hakusho, for some reason. Lovely and wise lady, I really loved her character and strength.
Kagura (神楽) and Kanna (神無) are apparently begging me to be next (I assure you that I am not schizophrenic). I felt pity for them. I really did. I might have thought that they were slightly mean, but honestly, I couldn’t blame them considering how Naraku controlled them. And actually, thinking of The Final Act and Kagura’s ending…I would have shipped her – in a romantic way – with Sesshōmaru. Yes. Yes. You read that right. And I can assure you that I was surprised myself.
Hmmmmm….for some reason, I feel like I’m forgetting somebody I really wanted to mention. Somebody rather coward…hmm….oh! how could I forget about Myōga (冥加) the flea?! Slightly annoying and arrogant, but he still cared about Inuyasha & Co., and I believe in giving credit where credit is due (to slightly quote Sheldon from TBBT). I love his relationship with his wife, Shoga…who wouldn’t want a marriage which makes you avoid your spouse as if they were your worst nightmare?? Oh, and if I’m speaking of characters who sometimes made me want to cringe, there’s two little someones worth mentioning: Jaken (邪見) …although Sesshōmaru quickly puts him to his place so that kind of makes up for his awfully off-putting personality; and Tōtōsai (刀々斎) – although I found the latter hilarious more often than annoying.
And now, the films. One thing to mention before starting on them: they are not depicting plot from the manga; the films have original content and are and at the same time, are not, related to the story of the anime. Allow me to explain a little: it is worthy but not essential for the viewer to know about Inuyasha’s past with Kikyo, for example. Whether or not the viewer is already familiar with the characters and their stories, will not make the films any less enjoyable or not understandable, in my opinion. Sorry, another thing to mention: I will not write a plot for each film – I’ll just talk about them.
The first film, Inuyasha the Movie: Affections Touching across Time (映画犬夜叉 時代を越える想い), was produced by KyoAni, Sunrise, and Viz Media, and released in 2001.
The title, in my opinion, refers to a very specific moment in the film, a moment when Kagome is in modern Tokyo and Inuyasha in the Feudal Era and they touch. Of course, this is open to interpretation, but I like to think that. There is nothing really to say about the film (considering that Inuyasha & Co. basically do what they do throughout the anime series and the other 3 films: trying to defeat Naraku once and for all) except for the fact that it brought me to tears; I mean, come off it, who wouldn’t cry with that soundtrack going on while Inuyasha tells Kagome he actually needed her?!
The second film, Inuyasha the Movie: The Castle beyond the Looking Glass (映画犬夜叉 鏡の中の夢幻城), was produced mainly by KyoAni and released in 2002.
The first thing I want to say is that I love mirrors – really surprising, coming from a woman, huh?! Now, on a more serious note, I once wrote a little story in which a girl could enter another world though a mirror. Pretty cliché, I know, but that’s a story for another blog. Anyway, for once Kagome admits to being in love with Inuyasha and then she takes it all back – ironic, isn’t it? But I suppose that’s what’s sweet about them. It’s been a long time since I watched it, but I can clearly picture, if not remember, their denying they feel anything more than friendship for each other. Other than that, pretty much the usual story, although we get to see a little more of Kagura, Kanna and even Kohaku. Also, Naraku shows that he can actually play the pretending-to-be-dead game, and he’s exceptionally good at it.
The third film, Inuyasha the Movie: Swords of an Honourable Ruler (映画犬夜叉 天下覇道の剣) was produced by KyoAni, Sunrise, and Viz Media and released in 2003.
Awww, here we get to see actual brotherly love between Inuyasha and Sesshōmaru. And I really meant it when I said ‘brotherly love’. I actually think it’s blatantly obvious how much these two brothers care about each other. If I remember well, the dog-lover in me squealed a lot while watching this film. We also get to witness a very much-deserved and missed ‘sit, boy!’ after the credits. I was wondering when Inuyasha would start missing it, really. But apparently Kagome has the right timing…and also, quite the nerve.
The last film is by far one of the most enjoyable anime films out there, in my opinion. Inuyasha the Movie: Fire on the Mystic Island (映画犬夜叉 紅蓮の蓬莱島) was produced by Sunrise and Viz Media and was released in 2004.
I have to admit, as weird as this might come across as, that this film made it possible, for the first time, for me to imagine Inuyasha and Kagome as a family (note that I watched the film before I watched The Final Act). I mean, seeing how they acted around those orphans, I couldn’t not picture them as the parents. And I found it adorable…although…kind of as I’d expected.
What I want to say next refers to the series as well as to the films, and it is mostly a reiteration of what I’d said when I started this critique: I loved the story in terms of pace and plot development – and boy, did I love the ending! I loved the characters. I loved the music and the animation. I loved the friendship between Kagome and Sango – it could almost be felt. I loved the relationship between Inuyasha and Kagome on the one hand, and Sango and Miroku on the other. And all of these, amongst many others, contributed to this anime series’ becoming one of my favourites. I think another big reason why I love Inuyasha so much is because I identify myself a lot with Kagome (and our Mums behave in a strangely similar manner…)
On a totally unrelated note, it’s still a busy time for me – awfully busy, and I’m sorry for the rather long absences. However, I really really REALLY missed writing, especially for this blog. And I am planning to write at least one more post in the very near future. As always, thanks for bearing with me this far! I hope you enjoy what you read here and if so, please come back to read my posts!