By Jodie Langford / June 5th, 2013
Warning: the following contains spoilers.
Enter the world of a feudal fairy tale, set 500 years in the past. The land is full of demons and humans and the Sacred Jewel of Four Souls. Welcome to the world of InuYasha, a manga created by Rumiko Takahashi and adapted into an anime by Sunrise. The anime debuted in 2000 on Tomiuri TV in Japan, and on Cartoon Network and Adult Swim for both America and Australia. InuYasha: The Final Act is the final season of the show, and it finished airing in English in March of this year. The Final Act follows to the end of the manga, which finished in 2010. So what kind of anime is InuYasha? It’s heart-wrenching, it’s action-packed, and it’s humorous. It’s an anime that gets its hooks stuck into you, and gets you thinking deeply about yourself and who you are.
InuYasha begins with 15 year old school girl Kagome Higurashi who lives in Tokyo. On her 15th Birthday she is taken through the “Bone Eaters Well” and transported by a demon 500 years into the past into Feudal Japan. Having been born with the Sacred Jewel of Four Souls inside her body, the demon, known as Mistress Centipede, takes her through the well in an attempt to take the jewel from her and use it to gain immense power.
Upon escaping Mistress Centipede’s grasp and running away in desperation, Kagome finds InuYasha, who is in a deep slumber and pinned to a sacred tree. In her hour of need she releases InuYasha, setting him free of the seal placed on him 50 years ago by Kikyo, who Kagome is the reincarnation of. Even though InuYasha manages to kill Mistress Centipede, the jewel is later shattered into many pieces. InuYasha is a half-demon, meaning he was born of a human and a demon; his mother was a human and his father was a well-known dog demon. Desiring the Sacred Jewel in order to use it to become a full-fledged demon, InuYasha teams up with Kagome, who can sense the jewel shards using her Miko or priestess powers, in order to collect the shard and make the jewel whole again. Kagome is also able to return via the well back to her time, which she constantly does in the anime to stock up on supplies and attend school for tests.
The next major battle in the series begins with the introduction of the fangirls’ man of this anime and InuYasha’s half-brother: Sesshomaru. Unlike InuYasha, Sesshomaru is a fully-fledged dog demon like his father. Accompanying Sesshomaru is his faithful servant Jaken, who carries the staff of two heads and often preaches Sesshomaru’s greatness. Sesshomaru seeks out InuYasha to find the grave of their deceased father, which contains the heirloom sword Tetsusaiga, the blade that can kill a hundred demons in one stroke. As it happens, InuYasha has a black orb hidden in his right eye (placed in his eye when he was younger at the request of his father), which opens the portal to their father’s grave (otherwise known as the world of the dead). Sesshomaru extracts this portal from InuYasha’s eye and travels through it. InuYasha and Kagome follow, determined to find and claim Tetsuaiga after the urging of Miyoga the flea, who was InuYasha and Sesshomaru’s father’s faithful servant.
Upon reaching the grave, Sesshomaru finds Tetsusaiga embedded in a stone inside his father’s skeleton. Unfortunately for Sesshomaru, the sword rejects him, burning his hand where he grasped Testsuaiga’s hilt. InuYasha then tries to draw the sword himself and finds himself unable to do so as well. Sesshomaru then attacks InuYasha and they start fighting, using their claws, of which Sesshomaru’s are poisonous. Just before Sesshomaru delivers the final blow, Kagome manages to release Tetsusaiga from the stone, causing Sesshomaru to stop and attack Kagome. Kagome is saved by Tetsusaiga, which protects her from Sesshomaru’s poison. Kagome then hands InuYasha Tetsusaiga, which he uses to defeat Sesshomaru in his demon dog form by cutting off his arm.
The anime’s main plot thereafter revolves around the evil Naraku, who uses trickery and his own reincarnations to do his dirty work in collecting the sacred jewel shard. He loves to toy with people’s emotions and get under their skin, as seen throughout the series with Naraku’s manipulation of Sango’s little brother Kohaku, who is controlled by Naraku using a sacred jewel shard which sustains his life. He seeks the sacred jewel for himself in order to become a fully-fledged demon, for Naraku is merely the sad result of a human offering up their body to demons in order to fulfill the desires they cannot achieve as a human. This is a strong theme in the anime; the expression of human emotions and of course the concept of humanity. Onigumo was a bandit who was found by Kikyo, badly wounded beyond healing. Whilst being cared for by Kikyo, he began to desire her for himself and as a result gave his soul to demons in order to be able to claim Kikyo as his woman. It is Naraku’s wish to become a complete demon and to dispose of his ‘weak’ human heart, and this is commonly expressed throughout the anime.
Along their journey, the two are accompanied on their trip by Shippo, an orphaned fox demon whose family were killed by the treacherous thunder brothers. Miroku is a lecherous Monk who suffers from a curse laid upon the males of his family by a powerful demon Sango is one of the last remaining demon slayers after Naraku took control of her younger brother Kohaku and forced him to slaughter their family. Accompanying Sango is Kirara, a demon cat who appears cute and cuddly most of the time but is in fact able to transform into a larger and more ferocious cat form and fly. Yes, who else doesn’t want a pet kitty that can transform into a sabre tooth cat on fire that can fly?
Other characters appear in the series to spice things up. The most entertaining of these is Koga, the wolf demon prince. After meeting InuYasha and his party for the first time, Koga decides to kidnap Kagome to use her ability to sense sacred jewel shards. Koga, having previously gained three jewel shards, keeps two in his legs and one in his arm. He wishes to utilize their power to defeat the Birds of Paradise, the wolf demons’ arch nemesis. Shippo is also kidnapped with Kagome, and they are able to escape when Kagome and Shippo attempt to run away and she throws him off a cliff (he can fly using his fox demon magic). Upon seeing this, Koga approaches Kagome and says “I’m going to make you my woman” for the English dub, or in the Japanese as seen below “You’re gonna be my woman.” From that day forth, Koga appears constantly to see Kagome and to make sure the “mutt” is looking after her. He also shows up in various battles to protect Kagome when they encounter each other looking for clues for Naraku’s whereabouts. Koga seeks the jewels so he can use them to kill Naraku and avenge his fallen comrades; Naraku had tricked his friends and slaughtered them all. Other characters such as Miyoga the flea and Totosai are important in InuYasha’s growth in skill with his sword, Testusaiga. These characters add a lot to the humour of InuYasha, so it is not too dark and confronting.
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