Inu-Yasha 9 (VizBig ed.)

Rumiko Takahashi – Viz – 2011 – 56 volumes
this is an omnibus containing vols. 25-27

This took me forever and a day to read. It’s long, sure, and three volumes of manga. But normally I fly through these omnibuses, and Inu-Yasha is paced very well. This time, all three volumes deal with a massive storyline about the Band of Seven.

It was especially hard slogging through this after reading a volume of Toriko. I mentioned that Toriko’s charm is in its one-off ideas, and that the series was paced incredibly well for a shounen manga, since nothing ever lasts for more than half a volume in the parts I read. Inu-Yasha is like that, too, with even major story arcs usually only lasting for a volume, maybe a volume and a half, and the fun creature battles that I like best usually only taking three chapters.

But this Band of Seven storyline. It started in the last omnibus volume I read, and it looks like it will last at least one more volume. We don’t even get the benefit of getting the enemies introduced in order. At the beginning of this omnibus, we meet the final two of the band, and they periodically attack Inu-Yasha, Koga, and Sesshoumaru. Unfortunately, they don’t even get defeated that frequently. They simply flee (sometimes because Naraku tells them to do so), and then come back for another fight later. It’s so tedious, and they aren’t that interesting.

What is intriguing is that every character in the series is stumped about where Naraku has fled. This is slowly uncovered through all three volumes, and the final volume deals more directly with the mystery. The solution is quite interesting, and I like that the one enabling the hiding is apparently a character that Inu-Yasha et al will speak to next time. Also, the place where Naraku is hiding forces Inu-Yasha into human form, and I’m always all about those stories. That didn’t happen at all in the last omnibus, and I missed it quite a bit.

I feel bad not talking a bit more about this, but really. It’s a lot of fighting. It’s more serious than usual, and there are a lot of good moments (Kagome loses it at one point when it appears that Inu-Yasha was blown up, and I still love that Sesshoumaru is so protective of Rin), but it’s mostly just the Band of Seven throwing themselves at the protagonists again and again. I’m hoping there will be a return to the shorter stories in the next volume. They don’t even have to be that short. I’d just prefer it if they didn’t take up six volumes or whatever. But I’m still enjoying the nuts and bolts of the series, such as the characters and action and whatnot, and as long as the storylines keep the context fresh, I won’t have any problem polishing off another thirty volumes of this.

Inu-Yasha 8 (VizBig ed.)

Rumiko Takahashi – Viz – 2011 – 56 volumes
this is an omnibus containing vols. 22-24

Rin-ne always makes me want to read Inu-Yasha, since I prefer the action/fantasy in this series to Rin-Ne, which is more of a weak cross between Inu-Yasha and Ranma 1/2. I’m liking Rin-Ne more and more every time I read a new volume, but it’s still not nearly as good as Inu-Yasha. Good thing I’ve got more than half the series left to read!

Unfortunately, despite the fact human Inu-Yasha is on the cover this time, none of the content featured his full moon transformation, which is a first for these omnibuses. There were lots of other fun stories to be had, though, including one that took place in Kagome’s Japan, and a return to the “wandering around exorcising things” storylines from the beginning of the series. I like these short fights with miscellaneous demons, so I was happy to see them back.

Actually, the main bit of story in this omnibus was a plotline where Naraku tried to lay a trap for Sesshomaru in order to absorb his powers, and wound up driven out of his castle and out of hiding, period. From this point on, none of the characters can sense Naraku anywhere in reality, and the return to wandering demon slaying is a means to learn any sort of information about where Naraku may have gone. I can blow this part off with a simple summary, but the story was a good one. Sesshomaru grows on me a little more every time he appears, and this storyline would have us believe that he’s fighting Naraku for the sake of Rin, who has been kidnapped. Not only does it look like he’s gone soft towards Rin, but it also looks like he may have avoided confrontation and/or a fight with Inu-Yasha’s group.

Anyway. All of that is pretty significant plot development for a series like this, and the aftermath changes the types of stories that appear afterwards. The shikon jewel has taken a backseat, apparently, to finding Naraku, and I’m not sure how I feel about that. The shikon jewel has always been sort of a tool for a demon power-up, and it’s become increasingly obvious that Inu-Yasha isn’t going to use it, so… that leaves defeating Naraku as a goal. So that’s okay.

Anyway, there are other things going on here, too. A plotline earlier in the volume has Inu-Yasha learning yet another trick, the power to break shields, while helping out a fellow half-demon that’s being abused by her family. The later demon hunting stories are all things like… an ogre taking over a palace, a hair demon that brings the party back in contact with Koga… relatively minor storylines like that. I don’t mind the break after all the heavy Naraku-centric stuff lately, and I especially liked the chapter where Kagome went back to the present to take a test and Inu-Yasha went to “wait patiently” while she finished. It’s little stories like this that make me adore this series.

I’m one behind in the omnibus release of this series. It’s always hard to convince myself to pick these up, since I tend to read them in one sitting and part of me knows that the action can get a bit repetitive if taken in a big dose like that. But I can’t get enough when I do finally pick them up, and I can’t help but think that one volume of this series at a time isn’t nearly enough story at once. It’s just an absolutely perfect mix of entertaining action, imaginative demon enemies and folklore, and likable characters. It has a pretty universal appeal, and I can see why it’s so popular. Part of me is itching to pick up the volume 9 omnibus right now.

Inu-Yasha 7 (VizBig ed.)

Rumiko Takahashi – Viz – 2011 – 56 volumes
this is an omnibus containing vols 19-21

In case I haven’t said this enough, I love these omnibuses of Inu-Yasha. It’s such a simple and highly addictive pleasure, and it’s so easy to plow straight through the volumes, that a 3-in-1 book like this is perfect for me.

There’s a good mix of stories in this volume, including ones that focus on Miroku/Sango and Shippo. Shippo’s story was short, but much appreciated, since he’s almost literally a hanger-on at this point. There are also stories about Kikyo, about the Tetsusaiga and its power-ups, about Inu-Yasha’s continued struggles against going full demon and why this should concern him, and another appearance by Koga in a story where Inu-Yasha turns human.

My favorites are always the stories where Inu-Yasha turns human, though this one was a little underwhelming since the point was not that he was vulnerable, but more about who saw him that way. This also takes the fun out of the Koga part of the story too, since I like these for the clash of personalities (his fruitless advances towards Kagome, and the way that he and Inu-Yasha bicker) and again, there was a bigger concern about someone else finding out about Inu-Yasha’s human-for-a-night thing.

It was Shippo’s story that was my favorite this time around, though. It was only a chapter or two long, but it was a really sweet story about Shippo wanting to give a lonely little girl a chance to see her dead brother again, and getting a chance to really save her from a demon. Even Inu-Yasha gave him the chance to look cool in front of the little girl.

The Miroku/Sango story was also pretty great. Not only did Miroku get to show off his real power for a change, there was also the fact that Sango helped him do it, and the two of them grew closer as a result. Part of the seriousness of this story was spoiled by periodic interruptions to a fight Inu-Yasha and Kagome were having about whether or not Sango liked Miroku, but the humor breaks were much appreciated.

Those two lighter stories came later in the volume, after the huge revelation stories about tetsusaiga and Inu-Yasha’s demon blood. Tetsusaiga is still too heavy, and Inu-Yasha finally learns what he needs to do in order to lighten the load, but it’s no easy thing… basically, he needs to slay a demon that not even his father could defeat. One that is immune to swords. His motivation for finally conquering the tetsusaiga comes after a story where he slays dozens of human bandits in his full demon form, completely unaware of what he was doing. Both of these stories are pretty serious-minded, and the demon form story in particular is heavy stuff, but still makes for great reading in the context of the series.

After a big volume like this, it can feel a little like an endless parade of battles… and yet, I have such fun with it. Everything is so well-written and pitch-perfect, it’s hard to deny it the pure joy of being a shounen manga. And I love the little Inu-Yasha/Kagome moments because I am a huge girl about these things. It is what it is, and it pretty much maintains the same tone from volume one, but the fact that it’s amazing immediately and doesn’t diminish throughout the 21 volumes I’ve read so far is quite an achievement.

Inu-Yasha 6 (big ed.)

Rumiko Takahashi – Viz – 2011 – 56 volumes
this omnibus contains vols. 16-18

See what I mean about the omnibuses we’ve been treated to lately? I can’t get enough of these VizBig series. Inu-Yasha’s a great candidate, since now I don’t have to spend considerable time and money tracking down 56 volumes. Plus, I imagine reading Inu-Yasha a volume at a time feels less rewarding since it moves so fast, even the three volumes of content that I’m getting in the omnibus feels like it goes by just as fast as one.

What can I say? Takahashi is skilled at writing appealing action series. I’m still very drawn to the characters, and I think the battles with the monsters are interesting. Admittedly, I got a little bored of the “this monster is a part of Naraku and therefore invincible!” battles that happened a couple times in this volume, fearing that the rest of the series was going to be similar creatures. But after a couple of those monsters, the third “volume” in the omnibus went back to good old fashioned character drama between Kagome, Inu-Yasha, and Kikyo, which are my favorite parts. There’s something very human and appealing about Inu-Yasha’s inability to chose between Kikyo, the love of his life from the past, and Kagome, the woman he fell in love with after he thought Kikyo was dead. It’s subtle, and admittedly not a major part of the story, but when it does come up, and the drama lasts several chapters like it does here, those are my favorite parts. It also usually means a trip back to the present for Kagome, and that will never get old.

But yes. This volume is mostly battles. The first one is a fight between Naraku and Inu-Yasha, with Naraku’s two new demons helping him out. This is a carryover from last volume. You know how this goes. Everyone is near death, it looks like Inu-Yasha is dead… and then they overcome. Later, a mind-reading demon shows up to fight Inu-Yasha as Naraku minion #3. This fight was interesting, because it involved the power of the Tetsusaiga and its effect on Inu-Yasha, and we are shown a new aspect of Inu-Yasha that’s not just a power-up (though it is that, of course). Later, we go back to the Tetsusaiga’s swordsmith and there’s a battle with a couple familar faces that Inu-Yasha has to fight as a human (another one of my favorite parts of the series, since it so clearly bothers Inu-Yasha). Then we have a fight with Naraku minion #4 that gets Koga in on the action as he happens to be wandering by. At this point, using Tetsusaiga is a challenge, and that’s part of this fight, too. Then the Kikyo stuff comes after this.

It is formulaic… super formulaic. And there were some points that started to drag because of the formula in this volume. But there’s enough to like about characters that I forgave the formula in hopes that I would be rewarded with something I did like, and I frequently was. It’s fun to read, especially in a large format like this, and the volumes are a great value for a really good series. As long as it is, I’m glad I started reading it with these omnibuses.

Inu-Yasha 55

Rumiko Takahashi – Viz – 2011 – 56 volumes

So I tried an interesting experiment. I’m 40 volumes behind this one, and I wanted to see how much I missed in between.

Turns out I wasn’t that lost at all. Inu-Yasha, Kagome, Shippou, Sango, and Miroku are fighting Naraku, who has possession of the Shikon jewel. It’s the same group I’m reading about now, save for the fact Naraku has a new minion I haven’t met yet. Sesshoumaru was there too, playing an interesting role, and I regretted seeing that a little, but everything else? Pretty much par for the course. There was one other thing, dealing with Sango, that I was a little surprised by, but after reading it, it made sense.

I was happy that I could jump in so easily, since that means Inu-Yasha is the type of series one could pick up anywhere and not be lost. It’s the strong characters and interesting demon fights that I’ve been enjoying in the 15 volumes I’ve read so far, and I’m happy to see things don’t get too much more convoluted or complicated past where I am now.

There were some additional fighting techniques, but they didn’t strike me as too extreme or much of a space-filler, which is good news. The fight looks like it will carry into the next volume, so it does make me wonder how much of an epilogue we’ll get to enjoy after the end of the story.

Basically, it seems like Inu-Yasha is good, solid fun all the way through. Not a whole lot of development, but I think that’s good in the case of a series that’s 56 volumes long and following the same villain and story the whole way through. How complicated would it be if it were doing the usual shounen manga thing of adding tons of extra moves and characters? Not cool.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

Inu-Yasha 5 (big ed.)

Rumiko Takahashi – Viz – 2010 – 56 volumes
this omnibus contains vols. 13-15

As I’ve said before, there is something completely addictive about Inu-Yasha. It is polished and manufactured, certainly a popular Shounen Sunday series through and through, but even so, it is also addictive and I genuinely like reading about the characters and the demons they cross paths with. I love reading the 3-in-1 volumes especially, because I fly through even these. I’m sure I’ve said this before, but I can’t imagine reading this a volume at a time, or even a chapter a week.

I was surprised by how character-centric this volume was. I mean, it usually is, but this blew me away with how much it revealed. It almost makes me worry for the content of the future volumes, because here it seems to move awfully fast. Volume 13 was about the Tetsusaiga, Sesshomaru, and his sword the Tenseiga. We find out the true power, why it won’t go to Sesshomaru, why it is better suited to Inu-Yasha, and why Sesshoumaru was left a seemingly ill-suited sword of his own by his father. The Tenseiga makes for an interesting bit of future development. While Sesshomaru isn’t as unrepentantly evil as Naraku, he’s still a bad guy, and there might be some evil versus good fun down the road with a sword like that.

Volume 13 also had the second half of a story from last volume, where Inu-Yasha attempts to slay a demon miasma, Kikyo has questionable loyalties, and we try and figure out if Inu-Yasha is really “over” Kikyo. I’m always surprised when these relationship conversations and jealousy plots come up between Kagome and Inu-Yasha. There’s no romance between them whatsoever, but all the same they are the strongest couple that I’ve ever seen in a Takahashi series, not counting Maison Ikkoku. Also, this story made my confusion surrounding Kikyo even worse, if that’s possible. In theory, she is a soulless demon monster, but she’s just like Kikyo was alive, and has no alliance to good or evil. What is her role? Observer? Why does she interfere the way she does, then?

Volume 14 is almost all about a not-so-evil demon wolf tribe that kidnaps Kagome in order to use her ability to see Shikon shards to stop a rival tribe of harpies. In this case, the enemy was sympathetic and also completely smitten with Kagome. She eventually forgives him the kidnapping and begins to defend him, which rankles Inu-Yasha. This whole story then becomes, again, about Kagome and Inu-Yasha, with things spilling out into the real world. I still like that Kagome worries about exams and her friends while saving the supernatural world from the threat of powered-up demons, and I love that Inu-Yasha can still come for her. They are touching, in their way, but again, they lack romance, and it’s a little odd that they are so close this early in the series. I suspect this will never grow or change, but that’s okay. I do like the way things are now, and I love that the story can lapse into these action-less breaks every now and again.

After the romance, the action starts again with a new Naraku villain and the Wolf Clan making a comeback. Lots of action, lots of jealousy, some soul stealing, some re-animation of the dead. I like pretty much everything that went on in these three volumes, and as always, it went by in the blink of an eye and I want more. I still think there isn’t much extraordinary about it, but it does do everything right. I like it a lot better than Rin-Ne so far, too. Rin-Ne’s characters are a little bland for my taste, and the battles feel a little pointless. In theory, Inu-Yasha’s success over it rests on the fact that their creature fights are dire and the characters are identically angry and stubborn, but what can I say, it’s a little more interesting that way.

Also, Takahashi’s monster designs are great. I don’t care who says different. How great are they? Well, the harpies that the characters fight re-appeared in the volume of Berserk I read after this. And I consider Kentaro Miura the forever king of monster design, so there you go.

Inu-Yasha 4 (big ed.)

Rumiko Takahashi – Viz – 2010 – 56 volumes
this omnibus contains vols. 10-12

So yeah. I’m still ridiculously addicted. Couldn’t put this down, read it all in two sittings, et cetera. Inu-Yasha is good stuff, and I’m amazed that it’s withstood the test of time and raises spectacularly above its generic shounen brethren when, by all rights, it should be down there with them.

Wow. The story that dealt with only Kagome and Inu-Yasha was super-sweet, my favorite so far. The two save an abused half demon from the wrath of his village by finding the real killer demon and vanquishing it in front of all the villagers. Seeing the big, scary demon calling for its mother, followed by a scene of an old lady beating up Inu-Yasha, was definitely a high point. This story also has plenty of time for lots of Kagome/Inu-Yasha moments, which I know aren’t going anywhere ever, but are sweet just the same. There’s even a little bit of character development for Inu-Yasha at the very end, where he admits it was hard growing up as a half-demon, though he never admits to feeling sorry for the one he helps out. This story was quite good, but did not involve a shikon shard nor did it have anything to do with the main plot. It was basically filler, which makes it even stranger that I liked it so much.

There were a few plot-centric stories in this omnibus, the biggest was one that involved a carefully laid trap for Miroku, a widening of his wind tunnel, and a gigantic demon face-off where Inu-Yasha’s sword powers up in one of those incredible shounen manga fights where he kills one hundred demons with a single swing. We learn quite a bit about Miroku, who, for as much of a background character as he plays, does have a fair number of tricks for staying ahead of demons. We find out a little about his past and see the temple where he grew up, and there’s also one of those trials where he decides the group is better off without him, blah blah blah. The sum of its parts doesn’t sound like much in summary, but it’s still an entertaining read, helped immensely by the characters.

A similar story about Sango occurs later on, where Naraku resurrects her dead brother with a shikon shard and Sango has a falling out/betrayal with the group in an attempt to save him. This is slightly more notable than the Naraku chapter, since everyone finally gets to meet Naraku face-to-face, and we learn that the only person he fears is actually Kagome. Interesting. The fight is… you know, lots of poison vapor and Naraku sneering. But the Sango parts are genuinely touching. More important is probably the second half of her introduction storyline, at the beginning of the volume, when she thinks Inu-Yasha killed her entire village and that Naraku is trying to help her. Obviously this… yeah, this works out okay, but it’s also got some of the better action scenes in the series so far. Sango’s fighting style is quite different from anyone else’s so far, and I’m a big fan of her exterminator costume.

There’s also a nice story where the gang fight a lone water spirit that may or may not be a Water God. It was nice to see that there were Gods in the world of Inu-Yasha, and that they are not to be trifled with. It’s strange that more haven’t appeared as of yet.

Yes, it’s still a pretty archetypal shounen action series. It does everything right, including all the usual characters. But the demon types are still really interesting, how the fights begin are always different and unexpected, and I really love the characters at this point, though admittedly there’s still not much behind their basic personalities (Inu-Yasha is prickly with a soft side, Kagome is a strong girl trying to do the right thing, Miroku is a mild-mannered monk who can hold his own and has a perverted streak, et cetera). Inu-Yasha’s my absolute favorite, and even I know there’s not that much to him just yet. The fact he has romantic feelings that he can acknowledge, and doesn’t feel the need to punch people who bring them up, is a lot more than most shounen heroes get, though.

It’s just… good. Takahashi knows how to write a shounen series, and this is probably the best example there is. And that’s coming from someone who was manga-raised on Ranma 1/2.

Inu-Yasha 3 (Big ed.)

Rumiko Takahashi – Viz – 2010 – 56 volumes
This omnibus contains vols. 7-9 of the series.

I’m always at a loss when writing these big Inu-Yasha volumes up, because the thing I enjoy most is that it’s a rather pure exercise in shounen manga. It has very dynamic, exciting fights with interesting enemies and a nicely blossoming cast of side characters. Inu-Yasha himself makes a good prickly anti-hero, and Kagome is the perfect kind of love interest. It’s good because it fulfills the formula to a T, and that’s the most constructive thing I can possibly say about it. Everything else makes for a weak-sounding “oh, this enemy was great” or “so-and-so is getting on my nerves.” I think it’s even more overwhelming when it’s in a huge chunk like this, because I read the whole thing in one sitting and it still felt like not much happened, a sure sign of addiction.

There were a handful of good stories this time around. A fight with Sesshomaru that led to Inu-Yasha and Miroku finally meeting up with Naraku, an encounter with the resurrected Kikyo that included some strangely choice romance scenes between Inu-Yasha and Kagome, and a nice one-shot plot unrelated to the main storyline where the group has to steal a Shikon shard from a human who has turned to cannibalism in search of eternal life. We are also introduced to a village of “exterminators” in the last chapter of the volume, but I expect we’ll be hearing more about that next time.

Volume 8 has been my favorite so far. Character development is not the order of the day in a series like Inu-Yasha, but the Kikyo story here was good for quite a bit of it, with jealousy on Kagome’s side and a frank admission of his feelings for both Kikyo and Kagome on Inu-Yasha’s side. There’s also a rather sweet reunion at the beginning of the volume after Kagome had been in the present for an extended period of time. Again, while what runs between Kagome and Inu-Yasha is not a generous romance, it is far more than what other Takahashi leading couples have had in the past (and the present, for that matter). Volume 8 also reveals the origins of Naraku, though there is still quite a bit of mystery left to go as far as his story is concerned.

I also really liked the Peach Man one-shot. Both it and the Kikyo story share this series’ strength (aside from being true to the genre), which is its rich folk tale-inspired world. There is a neat monster at the beginning of volume 8, but the way Kikyo is revived and sustains herself, along with the way Naraku was birthed, lend themselves well to the amazing atmosphere of the place where Inu-Yasha dwells. The Peach Man is no different, making a story told in the human villages come to life as the group investigates what they think is an ogre tricking humans into his lair. There’s not that much to the Peach Man as far as motivation, explanation, and powers go, but he does have some neat tricks to keep things interesting, and the story takes place over the new moon, so Inu-Yasha has that complication to deal with as well.

I also love the continued insistence that Kagome’s school life continues even while she travels in Inu-Yasha’s world. She studies while in the past, and she still has to periodically return to the present in order to take tests and keep up appearances. It’s a small thing, and I can see how some might consider it an annoying detail that interrupts the story, but I think it’s very unusual and an interesting complication.

It’s good stuff, and it’s not for nothing that this was one of the most popular shounen series. You don’t need me to tell you whether or not to read it. But just know that, even after hearing all about the ups and downs of the story secondhand for years, I’m still finding a lot to like and follow in these compilations. I love the VizBig format, by the way. Such a good second chance for long series like this.

Inu-Yasha 2 (Big ed.)

Rumiko Takahashi – Viz – 2010 – 56 volumes
This omnibus contains vols. 4-6 of the series.

I don’t know if this is a fair assessment to make since it’s been years since I touched her other series, but I think this is my favorite long work by Takahashi.  Judging by the six volumes I’ve read, at least.  I love that it’s got a loose overarching plot, and I also love the slightly meatier stories, usually spanning about a volume rather than just three chapters.  I like that it still incorporates some humor without being a gag series, and I really like all its ties to mythology.  It’s very well done and deserves all the attention it gets.

My favorite story in this volume was the spider-monk one that reveals Inu-Yasha’s secret weakness.  In addition to being a little heartbreaking and creepy on the story side, I like that Inu-Yasha has times that he can’t be a tough guy.

Later on, Miroku appears in his story, and he’s about what I expected.  Good at defending himself, good at stealing, good at beating demons, smooth talker, loves the ladies, cursed by a demon, et cetera.  I was a little surprised to see so much hostility between he and Inu-Yasha’s group, especially since he’s such an easygoing guy.  I did like the way the first… er, demon slaying led to their amicable partnership in the end.  Oh, and Miroku is the one who drags Naraku into the story.  Thanks, Miroku.

The first story in the volume was the continuation of the Thunder Bros story from last time.  It went on longer than I expected, but only because I was thinking it was going to be Ranma 1/2 3-5 chapters long.  It got far more serious and involved than I expected too (at one point, one of the brothers punched a hole straight through a beautiful lady’s face and out the back of her head), and was a great way to set the mood for the rest of the volume.

The one thing I was disappointed with was the use of Kikyo as an ongoing villain.  I liked that story, but was sad when she wound up living on at the end.  Especially since that leaves her open to be drafted by other bad guys in the future.  Major points for her totally slaughtering that ogress, though.

Now traveling in the party: Inu-Yasha, Kagome, Shippo, and Myouga.  Next volume looks like it’s going back to Sesshoumaru and will also introduce Naraku for real.  Hooray for that, since I’ve never actually seen Naraku.

Inu-Yasha 1 (Big ed.)

Rumiko Takahashi – Viz – 2009 – 56 volumes
This omnibus contains volumes 1-3 of the series.

Incredibly, I haven’t read any of the Inu-Yasha manga, despite the fact I’ve read at least parts of all of Takahashi’s other series.  It’s probably her most famous, at least in the US.  I know the plot pretty well, and I knew I would like it since I like pretty much all of Takahashi’s other work, but I just never started buying the series.  There’s a lot of it, and starting from the beginning is a daunting task.  Luckily, we’ve got the Big editions now, and it’s the perfect time to jump in.  Notably, the Big editions are unflipped, which isn’t that important to me, but it’s there if that’s what you were waiting for all these years.

It’s… well, it’s Inu-Yasha.  It is what it is.  Reading it was a little strange, because it wastes no time jumping right into the plot I was expecting.  Kagome falls into the well, she finds Inu-Yasha, they start fighting demons, the Shikon Jewel shatters, then they start gathering the pieces.  There wasn’t a lot of exposition accompanying any of that, and most of the background and details come as things move along.  It doesn’t feel rushed at all, just very fast-paced, and it was interesting to see the details dealt with in progress rather than as a wall of text or explanation from one person.

Explaining things as the story moves also helps to keep things very simple.  You don’t know about Inu-Yasha’s father until Myoga and Sesshoumaru show up, and even then, it’s only that his father was a dog-demon and that Sesshoumaru is his brother.  They fight.  That’s really all there is to it, and the story moves on to the next demon, but all the same, the fight is interesting, as is the simple links between characters.  There’s no elaborate backstory (as of yet), and not a lot to remember about Sesshoumaru except that he’s a demon and that the two brothers do not get along.  I know he’ll be around a lot in the future.  As far as the demons go, there’s similarly no metaphysical explanation offered for their existence or powers.  They all take different shapes and do different things, but that’s just the way things are, and no explanation is necessary.  I liked it since it kept the battles very interesting and, again, very simple since there wasn’t a whole lot to know aside from the fact that they are fighting a frog demon that possessed a lord.  Myoga offers some color commentary to the fights later, but it’s never more than “Oh, that’s a frog demon!  It’s super-old and more dangerous than it looks!  Be careful!”

The bigger question to me was how I would like it, since I’d read Rin-ne first.  I liked Rin-ne all right, but the problem was that both the main characters are pretty vanilla in the first volume.  Both series deal with the supernatural, but in Rin-ne it’s exorcising ghosts with quirky stories in the present, whereas Inu-Yasha fights surprisingly gory fights in the distant past.  On the whole, Inu-Yasha seems to be quite a bit better, at least based on the single volume of Rin-ne that I’ve read.  Kagome is still a pretty vanilla character, but Inu-Yasha at least has an entertaining evil streak to him, and it’s fun to watch Kagome and Inu-Yasha work together.  By the end of this big volume, romance is beginning to be vaguely implied between the two, but they play off each other a lot more than Rin-ne and Sakura do, and Kagome has a reason to accompany Inu-Yasha (she can see the jewels, he can’t), something that Sakura doesn’t really have in regards to Rin-ne.

One thing I got a really big kick out of is the fact that the present still plays a role in the story.  I didn’t realize that time passed the same through both worlds, and that Kagome could go between the two at will.  I love it when Inu-Yasha just shows up in the present since he’s so… well, anachronistic as well as a demon, and I like that Kagome still has to worry about her exams.  I’m sure this is downplayed quite a bit as things progress, but all the same, I love the contrast and the nonchalant way that Kagome deals with it.

I have to admit, the simple formula had me addicted by the end of the Big volume.  I’m really looking forward to the next.  Takahashi just has a way of writing that’s super-easy to fall into and enjoy.  There’s not much more to it than that.  I would say that it’s also good because of the familiarity with her type of story, but other than the way the characters act, Inu-Yasha really is quite different than everything she’s written before.  It’s like a bizarre mix of Mermaid Saga (my favorite of her series) and… I don’t know, Ranma 1/2, with the way Akane and Ranma were always at each other.  I’m sad to see the series is on a quarterly release, I was hoping for bimonthly due to the length.  Well… there’s always 40 volumes of the regular size available if I get too desperate.

Also, I don’t think there’s a hyphen in the title of Inu-Yasha, but I prefer it that way, so… you know.  My site and all.


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