InuYasha Season 6 (VIZ Video, T)

inuyasha6-header.jpgInuYasha is a case study in how to keep a long series going.

 

 

 

 

Volume 6 of the InuYasha anime series follows half-demon InuYasha, modern schoolgirl Kagome and their companions on their continuing quest to assemble the remaining shards of the Jewel of Four Souls before the demon Naraku gets to them. You really don’t need to have watched the previous five seasons to catch on to what’s happening: each episode includes an introduction which summarizes the back story and tells you what’s coming up in the current installment. Besides, the Jewel is really a MacGuffin: something which is terribly important to the characters and motivates their actions, but is otherwise just a plot device to give the series a reason to happen. Sort of like the formula to make a silent aircraft engine in The 39 Steps or the stamps in Charade.

The sixth season box set includes television episodes 127 ("Don’t Boil It! The Terrifying Dried-Up Demon") to 146 ("The Fiery Bird Master, Princess Abi"). Rest assured, InuYasha and Kagome are still squabbling like teenagers who really like each other, Miroku still asks every woman he meets to bear his child, Shippo is as cute as ever (and still can’t hide his kitsune tail when in human form), and Myoga still regularly does his turn as Basil Exposition, filling everyone in on important plot points and historical background. There’s quite a bit of back-and-forth between the modern world and the 16th century: Kagome is sweating bullets about preparing for school exams and keeping current with her friends in the modern world, while still making regular excursions back to the Warring States Era to help find those jewel shards. She even takes food back and forth between the worlds, and while instant noodles are a big hit in the 16th century, bringing edible dehydrated demons into the modern world is less successful as the demons get re-hydrated and crash her school’s cultural festival.

InuYasha is a case study in how to keep a long series going. Not every episode is brilliant, but none are really terrible either: new characters are regularly introduced, several story arcs are going on at any given time, and even the filler episodes are interesting enough to watch on their own. "The journey not the destination" is a good motto to keep in mind while watching because the real point of it all is not the jewel shards but the interactions among the characters, and if you enjoy them you will enjoy the series.

The art is outstanding, if also rather conventional, alternating between splashy battle and magic scenes and calmer but more detailed depictions of ordinary Japanese life. It’s just a little sharper, bright and more distinctive than that of most competing anime series, and the artists always find a way to give each character a little something extra which makes them unique. New characters in these episodes include Ente the demon horse, Hojo of the Warring States era (corresponding to Kagome’s friend Hojo in the modern world), and Princess Abi, who commands a fleet of what appear to be pterodactyls which live on human blood.

InuYasha is rated T for ages 13 and older, mainly for violence. The main extra with the DVD box set is an introduction to Japanese history and mythology which is quite useful (in fact, I’d recommend watching it first if you’re new to this stuff). | Sarah Boslaugh

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