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Inuyasha is the kind of show that many fans love to hate. Some of Inuyasha's most regularly ridiculed elements include its obscenely long duration, its propensity to re-use animation during action sequences, as well as the fact that Kagome never wears anything but her school uniform while battling demons. Hell, some people simply despise it because of the insane level of popularity it is amassing. Despite its failings, however, Inuyasha is a show that more than compensates for its weaknesses by virtue of its strengths.
For starters, the plot, though not particularly deep, is rich and satisfying. Much of the story's movement is very methodical, weaving itself smoothly through various situations that are intended primarily to deepen our appreciation of Inuyasha, Kagome, and their companions. Moreover, despite the tremendous length of the show, there are plot-twists aplenty that keep the narrative fresh and engaging well after we understand its precise eventuality.
However, as the series wears on, filler episodes become more common and dampen some of the viewing pleasure. The filler episodes generally occupy one of three niches: monster-of-the-week episodes, comedy and/or romance episodes, or some combination thereof. The monster-of-week episodes are by far the most annoying and are easily the most fit for cattle fodder. However, the filler with a romantic/comedic slant are, in my humble view, among the most memorable filler in all of anime. They do a tremendous job of further fleshing out the stellar characters (more on them in a moment) and their various relationships while still being laugh out loud funny. I am still rolling from the antics of episode 68, titled "Shippou's Battle Royale", in which we become reacquainted with the Thunder Beast Clan by way of its last surviving member. I won't spoil the fun here, but suffice it to say that if you don't find said episode very funny (for me it was nearly hysterical), I reserve the right to inform your psychiatrist of your impending bout with depression.
Deeply tied with the story of Inuyasha are its superior characters. Like most of Takahashi's work, Inuyasha has a penchant for emphatic characterization. Indeed, much of the plot here is dedicated exclusively to endearing us to the cast and deepening our concern for them on an almost personal level. When I watch this show, I feel pain when Kagome's heart aches over Inuyasha's affection for Kikyo and joy when both her and Inuyasha move closer to one another. Moreover, I feel strongly for each and every one of the other main characters. One of the best and most intriguing individuals though, is Inuyasha's older brother Sesshoumaru, a full-blooded dog-demon that initially has a tremendous disdain for not only his half-demon brother but also for all of humanity. His growth during the series is slow but deeply interesting as his dark, brooding persona becomes gradually lighter, making it difficult to call him good or evil in any conventional sense.
The aspect of Inuyasha most deserving of contempt is the animation. That isn't to say that it is bad in any sense. In fact, it is quite good. However, the immense difficulties that exist in animating such a long action show are formidable for even the heartiest of budgets. As such, when an action scene can be reused, it probably will be. For example, many of Inuyasha's special attacks, such as the "Soul Scattering Iron Claw" or the "Wind Scar", have used the same animation from the very beginning of the show. Another thing done to presumably save money during action sequences is to create the illusion of action by freezing and then panning an image while adding sound effects. It is a weak substitute for action but if it saves us from simply having to deal with horrible moving art, I am all in favor of it. This effect is much less prevalent the further one progresses in the series, likely a consequence of the switch from conventional animation to CG-assisted animation that occurs somewhere in the middle of the series. Despite my criticism, the art is mostly lovely and evocative in terms of both the characters and settings. Along with the mostly ambient background music, the attractive artwork goes a long way in helping further establish some good atmosphere.
So what do I have to say to all those that despise Inuyasha out there? Well, you are of course free to your opinion, but my impression is that sour frame-rates, some rehashed animation, and a long run on television do little to ruin a title that has a worthy storyline and so strong a cast of characters. Granted, the show has problems that are significant enough to tarnish its luster slightly, but in the end, Inuyasha still shines nearly as brightly as an untainted Shikon Jewel.
Take the show down a notch or two if you simply aren't too fond of Takahashi's characteristic flair in storytelling. — Derrick L Tucker
Recommended Audience: Both people and monsters die in this show en masse. Most of them die without shedding as much as a drop of blood, though, and even the ones that are literally sliced in twain just dissolve in a shower of sparklies. Which is quite the departure from the manga, where many die quite messily.
Version(s) Viewed: digital source, Viz domestic release
Review Status: Partial (125/167)
Inuyasha © 2001 Takahashi Rumiko / Shogakukan / Sunrise / YTV
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