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Anime Review: InuYasha

InuYasha is one of the more familiar names in anime, it aired from 2000 to 2004 and finished with a total of 167 episodes, of each 25 minutes. It received the ‘Property of the Year’ award in ICv2’s Anime Awards, both in 2004 and 2005 and won third place in Animage’s Anime Grand Prix’s ‘Best Anime’ category in 2003. The series was produced by Sunrise, which is a studios that has made over 400 anime series by now. They are known for, among others, Code Geass, Cowboy Bebop, Tales of the Abyss, Gintama and Mai-HiME. The series was adapted from the eponymous manga by Rumiko Takahashi, which won the 47th Shogakukan award in 2001. She has made a lot of manga, among which Ranma ½ and Kyoukai no Rinne. Since I view this anime as one of the classics, I felt a review of InuYasha was definitely a must.

Time travel, demons and a high school student

The series starts with a scene where Inuyasha, a half-demon, steals the Sacred Jewel, which is also called the Shikon Jewel or Jewel of the Four Souls, and gets pinned to a tree by a priestess’s arrow. This priestess’s name is Kikyo, after Inuyasha loses consciousness she loses her life. Right before this, she tells her little sister Kaede to burn the Shikon Jewel along with her own body. Although it seems like a very simple scene, there is a lot more to it than that. In the course of this series, during its many episodes, you’ll find out more about what really happened on that day and why it all happened the way it did.

The anime follows a fifteen-year-old girl, Kagome Higurashi, as her pretty normal existence changes drastically, after being dragged into the well of her family’s Shinto shrine by a demon. She manages to fend off the demon during her fall, but wonders about the Sacred Jewel the monster mentions, which Kagome is supposed to have in her possession. When she finally hits the bottom of the well she climbs out and unexpectedly finds herself in the middle of a forest, rather than at her family’s shrine. She has gone back 500 years in time and now finds herself in Japan’s violent Sengoku period with this mysterious Sacred Jewel reborn inside of her.

While searching for a way back home she finds Inuyasha unconscious and pinned to the Sacred Tree. Kagome manages to wake him and although this is only the beginning of their relationship, both of them initially seem quite eager to end their acquaintanceship as soon as possible. Unfortunately, due to an accident, the Sacred Jewel shatters into many little shards. They have to work together to find all the pieces and fix the jewel. Along the way they run into Sango, a demon slayer, and her pet nekomata Kirara, Shippo, a young fox-demon and Miroku, a perverted monk. These three join Kagome and Inuyasha on their quest. They need each other’s help to find all of the shards and fend off any dangers along the way.

Although the series is named after the character Inuyasha, Kagome is just as big of a character in the story, if not a bigger one. You gain a lot of insight into Kagome’s, previously, normal life, her family and her friends. She comes across a bit selfish and stubborn at times, but ultimately does what’s right and cares very deeply about the welfare of her loved ones. It’s interesting to see her both in the present time and the past, her behaviour tends to differ quite a bit between these two time periods, but most of that seems to be about the company she keeps. In the course of the series you see Kagome grow from a scared teenager to a strong and pretty independent young woman.

Inuyasha is equally, if not more, stubborn. He has a complicated past that you get to know all about when watching the anime, which explains his lack of trust in others. As expected, you also gain a lot of insight into his family, relationships and how he likes to live his life. Inuyasha doesn’t seem to get other people’s feelings very well, but once he cares for someone he tries his hardest to take good care of them. Slowly but surely he changes into a more trusting and loving person.

The personalities of the many characters of InuYasha definitely make for a lot of interesting interactions, some of which are pretty funny. The romantic couples that form are built out of people who are opposites in quite a few ways, but ultimately add on to one another’s strengths. The interactions between the characters and the insight into who they are make you care for them and about their wellbeing. Although at times they can also make you want to hit one of them, especially Inuyasha when he tends to be insensitive.

Heart-breaking and heart-warming moments fill this series, along with a lot of funny and quite a few serious or sad moments. The genres of this anime are action, adventure, comedy, drama, fantasy and romance. Some of the themes in this anime are demons or youkai, love triangle and of course time travel. This series brushes on a lot of subjects.

I still like your style!

All of the characters have something unique to them and although Kikyo and Kagome are related, for instance, they don’t look too similar. This helps you remember who is who, which is important if you’re watching a series with so many side characters in it and so many episodes. Inuyasha stands out quite a bit, but so do most of the other main characters, either because of the way they dress, their hairstyle or their personalities.

The animation in this series still looks pretty smooth and well done today, which is a huge plus when watching an older series. The drawing style doesn’t entirely match up with the manga’s drawing style, but is still recognizable. It’s clear, if you watch it now, that the drawing style is a bit older than the styles of most newer anime. This didn’t bother me though, because it is still a pretty style, it just lacks some of the details a lot of more modern anime have.

The series has had many intros and outros, all of which were well animated and had pretty catchy songs. The opening that stood out most to me was the first opening, the song ‘Change the World’ by V6, it was the most catchy to me. Although, admittedly this was also the first opening the anime had and this could have something to do with my fondness for it. Out of all the endings I preferred ‘Brand New World’ by V6, which was the last ending. I liked the beat and the images shown with it seemed to fit well with this pretty slow yet catchy song. A lot of the endings I found a bit too whiny or emotional, when it came to the lyrics and voices.

Pet Peeves

One thing I was bothered by, when re-watching part of the series, were the Japanese voices. In particular I didn’t like Inuyasha’s voice, it sounded a bit irritated or whiny me. I’m ashamed to admit this as someone who loves the Japanese language, but the first time I watched it I watched the English dub. I got so used to those voices with the characters that it’s hard to watch the Japanese version, which might be why the voices tend to annoy me a little.

Since this series is pretty old I’m not going to judge it too harshly based on animation or the pace of the story, although as I said the animation still holds up quite well now. It did bother me now, watching it 16 years after it first came out, how slow some scenes are set up. Some very recent anime still have the same problem and I highly doubt a monster that’s trying to kill you will quietly wait for you to finish your sentence.

My biggest pet peeve about this series is the number of episodes. The series stopped before the story was finished, which disappointed a lot of fans. This problem has been solved with the release of the series InuYasha: The Final Act in 2009.

An anime to enjoy, even now

As one of the first anime series I fell in love with, InuYasha will always hold a dear place in my heart. I’ve watched it twice before and recently I watched parts of it to refresh my memory for this review. What I like most about this series is the well thought out storyline and the many characters, which all seem to be well worked out and thought through. A lot of thought and devotion was clearly put into the story by Rumiko Takahashi, which is something I think everyone prefers to see.

When I look back now there are a few things, such as the pace of some scenes, which didn’t hold up entirely, but as I mentioned: a lot of newer anime series do the same thing. It already amazed me when I first watched it about 10 years ago how much fun this series was to watch, even though it was already a few years old back then. Even now it still holds up well and I still enjoyed seeing the characters and the interactions between them. I hope I did the series justice with this review.

If you want to know how the story ends I recommend you watch InuYasha: The Final Act and if you’d like to read about it you should read the manga. Several InuYasha movies and a special have also been released, so there’s plenty to watch!

Studios: Sunrise
Started airing: 16th of Oktober 2000
Number of episodes: 167

Rating: 80/100

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