Anime Look-Back: Inuyasha
Plot: 500 years ago, a young half-demon named Inuyasha fell in love with a priestess named Kikyo who was charged with guarding a powerful item called the Shikon Jewel. After a supposed betrayal left Kikyo dead, cremated with the Shikon Jewel, and Inuyasha bound to tree, it seemed the story was over. Until 500 years later when the priestess was reincarnated as a young girl named Kagome. Traveling back to the past after falling in the bone-eaters well, Kagome and Inuyasha team up to take down the real person behind Inuyasha and Kikyo’s betrayal all those years ago while finding the pieces of the now broken Shikon Jewel.
Reasons for rating: I have such a love hate relationship with this show. On one hand, it has great characters, memorable storylines, nice art, great action and more. On the other hand a crapton of other annoying crap.
Inuyasha was one of the handful of anime that I watched before I had real access to the Internet. It’s definitely one of the more well-known anime in existence. I really fell in love with it when I first saw it. When most anime on regular TV were mostly non-stop action, fighting shounen shows (Sailor Moon was only on in my area at like 7:00 am and Cardcaptors was only on for a few weeks before it got booted from the channel I was watching it on) it was nice to see a show that had more a shoujo feel with action.
This is probably the second longest anime I’ve reviewed so far clocking in at a good 167 episodes (Naruto taking the top spot with over 200). Which is one of my main problems with it, but I’ll get to my problems later.
Some of the good points before I blast this with ranting.
-The music is wonderful. It has some of the best vocal songs and scores I’ve heard in anime. I love all of the openings (except one) and endings. I’d gladly buy the soundtrack in a heartbeat.
-The art is great and the animation is pretty good and has a fairly distinct style to it.
-The characters, for the most part, are likable and memorable. Many of the villains and side characters are also likable and memorable.
-The story is fairly unique even if it does have a cliché FF “let’s collect stuff” storyline. Especially in the form of a crystal/jewel.
-There’s a fairly good degree of character development in a good chunk of characters, albeit incredibly slow.
-The action scenes are wonderfully handled and exciting.
-The attack moves and most of the episodes are memorable and cool.
There is plenty to like in this show, but how much you enjoy it depends on how much this next section matters to you. (Warning – I will be mixing nitpicks with legitimate rants.)
1) I’m not sure how reincarnation works, but why did it take 500 years (or 550 years I guess) for Kikyo to be reincarnated into Kagome? What, was her soul and the shikon jewel just chilling in the ether for 550 years?
2) Kagome doesn’t look like Kikyo, yet in the first few episodes she is constantly being mistaken for her. However, this is purely the fault of the anime. Kagome actually looks fairly similar to Kikyo in the manga. However, in the anime, Kagome’s facial features, hair, voice etc. are all fairly distinctive of Kikyo’s. Even when they bother to put her in priestess robes, you could easily tell them apart. Some might say this is because Kagome’s 15 and Kikyo’s 18, but at the end of Final Act, Kagome’s 18 and she looks almost exactly the same as when she did when she was 15. Hell, if Sango’s hair color were more blue-black instead of dark olive green-black she’d be able to pass as Kikyo better than Kagome would.
3) After rewatching a few episodes of the series, let me give you some perspective on why Kagome’s seen as so useless. In the first two episodes she is kidnapped a total of three times. (Once by the villagers, once by ‘Ms. Centipede’ and another by the bandits) And she has been attacked a total of FIVE times (once by Ms. Centipede, again by Ms. Centipede, once by Inuyasha, once by the bandits and once by the crow demon. It’s been six if you count the villagers “attacking” her.) And let’s not forget her grand idea of throwing the jewel out the door, which didn’t even result in the demon stopping its attack on her.
4) The Bone-eaters well never made sense to me. How is time still moving in the past? Does the well compensate for the time spent in her era? By fast forwarding time in the past to the exact amount of time she spent in her era?
5) I’ll just go ahead and say it, Shippou’s annoying as hell. He’s basically our little puff ball of cute comic relief in the series. Nine times out of ten he’s being (Unfunny) comic relief or transportation the other time he’s being obnoxious or getting himself into trouble by acting like a hotshot. He has a really cute and memorable design, but he as a character is just annoying.
6) The main pairing in this series is Inuyasha and Kagome (Love triangle if you’re including Kikyo) and they could not be more irritating. It was cute in the first 20 or so episodes, but it gets old fast. First off, there’s this constant nagging in your head that Inuyasha may only like/love Kagome because she’s the reincarnation of Kikyo. It was constantly bugging him when he first met her and you can’t tell me that it’s a coincidence that he falls in love with her so quickly. He’s also completely indecisive when it comes to his relationships, especially when Kikyo gets reincarnated. In fact, until Kikyo’s final death, he’s still constantly flip-flopping between the two, though he always seems to go to Kikyo at the drop of a hat, no matter what it does to Kagome, he doesn’t seem as inclined to do the same for her. It really makes Kagome seem like a runner-up in this love competition. It takes Kikyo’s final actual solidified we’re-not-kidding-this-time death to make him finally decide on her….and that’s not even in this series.
Kagome’s not much better. I get it, she’s just a high school girl from modern times, thus she can’t be that useful in battle, but you’d think spending a few years in that era that she’d learn to fight beyond shooting a few arrows every now and then. She’s also kidnap fodder/damsel in distress and is always screaming Inuyasha’s name just as he screams hers whenever one or the other is in danger.
One could argue that his relationship with Kikyo is better, and for a while I would’ve agreed with that. It took quite a bit of work and trust for them to finally get together. Kagome and Inuyasha just seemed to gradually start liking each other. No real work went into it. And it really seemed like they were deeply in love. However, two things changed my mind about this.
First, Naraku was right; it was surprisingly easy to get them to turn on each other. Kikyo’s a priestess with incredible abilities; she couldn’t tell that it wasn’t actually Inuyasha attacking her? Inuyasha has demon powers and super strong sense of smell; he couldn’t tell that Kikyo didn’t smell right?
Second, one of my friends that actually had ‘Inuyasha’ as part of her screenname, was right when we were discussing shippings; maybe neither of them are right for him. Maybe he needs to find someone else or just be a lone wolf. Sango and Miroku are a much better couple IMO. Sango’s a much more likable character. She’s a strong, yet caring girl who can kick ass and take names. Miroku’s a noble and brave man who just happens to be a bit of a lech. There’s no BS about their relationship really because they’re not the main couple. I much more enjoyed their back and forth over InuxKag.
7) Inuyasha’s biggest flaw is that it has 167 episodes built onto a plot that just isn’t strong enough to support it. Other shows can get away with it because their relative goals are usually incredibly vague and more like dreams like becoming Hokage and being King of the Pirates. In shows like Naruto, DBZ, One Piece etc. they have goals like that and arcs to break up the monotony. The Hidden Mist arc, the Chunnin Exam arc, the Buggy arc etc. DBZ is so set in their arc-y ways that their entire series is set up to be separated into arcs specifically.
Not Inuyasha though. They have like two storylines that can really be called arcs. They have only two goals throughout the entire show: Gather Shikon Jewel shards and beat Naraku. That’s it. The Jewel is about the size of a shooter marble and yet has enough shards to make a Shikon bowling ball apparently. Especially considering the size of most of the shards that they find. Naraku’s shtick of miraculously getting away after nearly being defeated or turning out to be a puppet get old FAST and it’s sad when one of your most powerful weapons…actually probably your most powerful weapon period, is constantly being deemed useless thanks to bugs. Also, he has the amazing ability to live in a castle surrounded by a thick purple poisonous miasma and yet no one can ever find the bastard.
8) However, what really damns this show is the ending. You’d think after waiting 167 episodes of mostly non-plot oriented episodes that they’d build up to a big payoff. Nope. Far from it. After collecting a bajillion jewel shards, beating Naraku 70 times, beating puppet Narakus countless times, after numerous upgrades to Inuyasha’s sword, after 167 episodes and 4 movies…..we end on “Naraku’s still out there and the jewel’s still not complete. No one’s story came full circle. Nothing was resolved. But we’ll keep fighting! The end!” Yup. Many fans were understandably pissed about this when it was first released, but the anime had caught up with the manga and they didn’t want to go the route of Naruto and just make a bunch of pointless filler for ages, so they ended the series. Many people pegged this as the worst anime series ending for a long time until The Final Act came out.
Yes, several years after ending, a new Inuyasha series was released to continue and end the anime correctly; Inuyasha: The Final Act. However, many people believe it to be too little too late and I’d have to agree. It’s nice that they actually got around to finishing the anime, but it was way too long after the ending of the original show for many people, even die-hard fans, to care.
That being said, even the Final Act isn’t all that great. But I’ll get to that eventually. I will say that the final battle with Naraku is disappointing. You’d think after 193 episodes and four movies as well as starting off with a brand new series that they’d try to end with a bang. Well, if the original was a dud, this was a sparkler.
Now that my ranting is out of the way, this stuff doesn’t stop me from going back and enjoying an episode or two. Sometimes I even feel like watching a handful of episodes. But it just feels like they really dropped the ball on this show. It’s just too drawn out, the ending to both series aren’t satisfying (but at least TFA actually has a legit ending), there’s a lot of irritation and it gets really repetitive. Watch the first 20-30 episodes and ask yourself “Would I like to watch 130-160 more episodes of exactly this?” if the answer is yes, watch on! If the answer is no….watch it casually and if you find yourself getting too annoyed, drop it. You honestly won’t be missing out on too much.
Art: The art varies a bit. There are some episodes where the art just seems awkward. Most of the time, however, the art and animation are great.
Music: Like is said, the music is wonderful and unique and, barring, I think, the second or third opening to show, all of the music is spectacular…Don’t listen to that opening though, seriously it sucks.
Voice acting: The voice acting is also wonderful. I’ve only seen the English dub for the TV series, but the original voices also seem great too from the one movie I watched with them.
Bottomline: I can’t bring myself to hate this series too much. It means too much to me. Anyone who knows me knows that I only rant like this when I find some enjoyment out of it. Hell, if I didn’t I wouldn’t care enough to rant about it. Like I said, watching the first 20-30 episodes will really give you a good idea on whether or not this show is really for you.
Additional Information and Notes: Inuyasha based on a manga series by Rumiko Takahashi, creator of other fan favorites such as Ranma 1 1/2, Maison Ikkoku, and Urusei Yatsura. The anime was directed by Masashi Ikeda and Yasunao Aoki, and written by Katsuyuki Sumisawa. It was produced by Sunrise. The English dub is produced by Viz,
Year: 2000 – 2004
Recommended audience: There’s quite a bit of violence and some gore. There’s also kinda-nudity (Ecchi-nudity/Sailor moon nudity essentially) Never any sex (Hell, hardly any kissing, really. Fun fact: Kikyo and Inuyasha kiss more in this series and Final Act than Inuyasha and Kagome.), some swearing but nothing beyond damn, hell, crap, etc. Some heavy themes….errrr 13+