Rumiko Takahashi – Viz – 2012 – 56 volumes
(this is an omnibus containing vols. 31-33)

On one hand, there’s always something for me in Inu-Yasha.  There’s an awesome bird-demon and her daughter in this set of volumes.  You don’t see the mother until volume 3, but the daughter (some sort of demon princess) is a great character.  Super powerful, very predatory, and extremely snobbish to the half-demons Naraku and Inu-Yasha.  Apparently her mother was poisoned by Naraku’s miasma, and she needs blood to purify her mother.  So there’s about a volume as she runs from village to village with Inu-Yasha in her wake.  Later, her mother wakes up, and her mother is a huge demon with a very unique attribute.

Sadly, both of them bite the dust quickly once Naraku is done with them.  I was disappointed.

On the other hand, Inu-Yasha is very repetitive.  Paramount in annoyance in this volume is that Kikyo is a huge topic in these three volumes.  I THOUGHT WE WERE DONE WITH HER.  Similarly, we have to see Sango struggling with Kohaku being violent again.  Guess what?  Naraku is one step ahead of all the characters in all three volumes!  The big reveal, the place all the characters are trying to get to during all three volumes… was someplace we’ve already seen.

I got a little excited when I realized the Shikon shard they’re going after is the last shard, but nothing comes of that this time.  Maybe next volume.  It’s a quick read, and I will likely finish the whole series now that I’m more than halfway, but I really hope it switches gears now that we’re done (?) with the Shikon shards.

Inu-Yasha 10 (VizBig ed.)

November 9, 2014

Rumiko Takahashi – Viz – 2012 – 56 volumes
(this is an omnibus containing vols. 28-30)

Again, I haven’t been reading much manga lately.  But I’ve still seen some of the hype about the new Ranma 1/2 omnibuses, and as a result, my roommate and I have been watching the anime.  Still good!  I would re-read the Ranma 1/2 manga, but it’s stored in another state right now.  What I do have handy is the second half of Inu-Yasha.  It’s not Ranma, but it’s still Rumiko Takahashi goodness.

It’s hard to be disappointed when I pick this one up.  I know exactly what I’m going to get.  In this 3-for-1 volume, Inu-Yasha fights an undead bandit leader while Sango and Miroku break a shield around a mountain that Naraku was resurrecting himself behind.  They find a room of creepy dead babies, Naraku beats them up, and then he leaves when Sesshomaru shows up, for some reason.  Volume 2 is mostly the characters trying to figure out what Naraku is doing, and some more Kikyo drama.  Volume 3 is a return to the old-style stories where the gang is tracking down demon stories and helping villagers.  They are also currently looking for the “last” Shikon jewel shard.  As there are another 26 volumes, I don’t really believe them, but whatever.

There’s some fun new stuff, too.  An alternate, split form for Naraku that’s sort of cheerfully menacing.  A huge demon fire-horse.  Lots of character development for Kagome, Inu-Yasha, Miroku, and Sango, which you don’t normally see.

There’s also human Inu-Yasha, who’s my favorite.  And, with the return of the regular-type demons at the end of the collection, we also get a refreshing return/reminder that Inu-Yasha is actually very powerful, something that power escalation in these types of series often overlook.  Demons he struggled with at the beginning are now going down with a swipe of his claws.

Still enjoyable stuff!  I don’t know if I’m going for the next anthology next or something else, but finishing up with Inu-Yasha is definitely in my future.

Inu-Yasha 9 (VizBig ed.)

April 25, 2012

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.)

February 5, 2012

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.

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.)

March 12, 2011

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

January 9, 2011

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.