Foreign Friday: InuYasha

“Sit boy!” – Inuyasha

This week’s Foreign Friday is the series Inuyasha by Rumiko Takahashi.

The Story

Kagome is an ordinary modern schoolgirl living an ordinary life. Who would have thought the dried-up old well on the site of her family’s shrine would be a gateway to Japan’s ancient past? Drawn through the gate against her will, Kagome finds herself battling demons for control of what she thought was a worthless trinket but is actually a powerful magical gem, the Shikon Jewel! Together with an unlikely ally, the half demon Inuyasha, Kagome begins a quest to recover the shards of the Shikon Jewel and learn more about her link to the past.

The Characters

Kagome Higarashi is a girl who can’t be overwhelmed. Despite being thrown into the warring states era, and regardless of countless demon assaults, the heroine manages to keep her cool, with a little modern humor. She’s a kind person with a real sense of duty, who desires to get good grades at school and save medieval Japan at the same time. Inuyasha is the stubborn, strong, and occasionally petulant hero. He has a chip on his shoulder, and the world knows it. He wants the Shikon Jewel to become full demon…or at least that’s what he claims. The two are joined by a fox demon child Shippo, who’s comic relief compliments his weak powers, the traveling monk Miroku, a lecherous fellow with mystical powers and a curious right arm, and Sango, a female demon hunter with excellent skill.

What I Thought

This series is great, especially if you’re looking for action and humor. While there are dramatic moments, the series has far more humor than drama. It avoids a lot of time-travel pitfalls that many other series fall into, such as the fact that Kagome is able to travel back and forth through time at will (she tries to attend school while hopping back in time to assist in looking for shards of the jewel), and her family is fully aware of the situation. Her mother packs her lunches for her search, and her grandfather covers her absences at school by calling in a series of fake illnesses (which everyone believes). Although the main arc of the story is fairly typical, the search for the shards of the Shikon Jewel, the humor and side quests keep it from being boring. However, they do fight a lot of demons (if there were really that many demon attacks in feudal Japan, there would be no people left), and the series does fall into a redundant rut for a few volumes in the mid 30s before rising back up for an excellent finale. The 56 volume series is compete and available in English in the US.

The art style of Inuyasha is older than the previous works I’ve written about, reflecting an earlier generation of drawing style. My least favorite thing about it is that Takahashi will draw the top half of the female form without clothes. I had to censor my copies before I let my little brother read them. Because it started it’s English publication so early on, the first 20 or so volumes were “flipped,” where the pages are mirrored and then copied so that the volumes would read left-to-right for English readers. This presents problems, however (such as writing within the pictures are all backwards, and all the characters are now left-handed, etc.) and eventually publishers ceased “flipping” manga and printed it in the current right-to-left format it was originally intended for. Only recently have those first volumes become available in the correct format.

Inuyasha was made into an anime, which ran for seven seasons and is available in the US. I hear that there is a final season, but it isn’t available here yet.

Stay tuned for next week! And check out my book on Kindle!

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