Inu Yasha Vol. #20 (of 56) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, August 24, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, August 03, 2004
What They Say
Naraku enlists the help of Tsubaki, a dark priestess specializing in curses, to kill Kagome. Tsubaki is dubious at first, but Naraku convinces her to do his bidding by promising her the nearly complete Jewel of the Four Souls that she has long sought. Will Inuyasha's friends be able to break the curse ? before it forces Inuyasha to relive a nightmarish experience from his past?
Features three episodes!
Fateful Night in Togenkyo, Part II
The Beautiful Sister Apprentices
The 50 Year-Old Curse of the Dark Priestess
Three truly is a magic number, as the third season of Inu Yasha continues to turn out entertaining episodes.
The Japanese audio was used for my primary viewing session; Viz maintains the high quality of audio that has been present throughout the series. The action sequences utilize the front soundstage very well, while the dialogue was clear and blended well with the music. The track was free from distortions, drop outs, or other problems.
Viz also maintains the high level of quality on the video in this volume. From the lush, green forests to dark, foggy canyons, the scenery is detailed and contains vivid colors. The video appears to be free from any problems associated with the digital transfer. The original Japanese credits and episode title cards have been replaced with English equivalents placed directly onto the video transfer. Viz continues to use white subtitles which I am finding less readable than the yellow subtitles used previously.
On the front cover, Inu Yasha holds an unconscious Kagome while Tsubaki stands prominently behind them. The upper right corner of the front cover bears the "Third Season" logo. At the bottom of the front cover is the series logo and volume title; the volume number is just above the right of the series logo.
The back cover contains the requisite synopsis, screenshots, and disc specifications. Inside the case is a one-page insert that has the front cover shot on one side and the chapter listings next a screenshot from the episode on the reverse.
After a brief animation of Kagome firing the arrow that shatters the jewel, the main menu appears; it is rendered as pieces of parchment paper containing line art of Kagome and Inu Yasha. Each menu item has a jewel fragment next to it; sub-menus appear after a brief, unique piece of animation and continue the parchment paper motif. The menus look great and balance being artistic with being functional.
The extras are the standard fare of the Japanese and English cast list, a line art gallery, and the Japanese promos for the episodes. However, Viz has put a new spin on the cast list and line gallery. Rather than a plain text list, each character has a picture with the English and Japanese voice actor's name next to it. The best change is with the line art; there are only three pieces of artwork, but Viz allows you to zoom into the art work and move across it in this close-up mode. It is a great feature, one I hope Viz continues to use while finding a way to include more pieces of work.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Takahashi's work is at its best when the comedy, action, and human drama are blended together seamlessly. The first season of Inu Yasha did this quite well throughout, while the second season rarely did. The third season regained the magic formula right out of the gate, and this next volume continues the upward trend.
Tokujin continues to hold the humanized Inu Yasha captive, preparing him to be fed to the Tree of Human Faced Fruit. Inu Yasha lets it slip that the jewel fragments embedded in Tokujin's belly came from Kagome. Eventually, Kagome, Inu Yasha, and miniature versions of Miroku and Shippo escape from Tokujin's home and find themselves near the evil Tree.
After Kagome uses an arrow to extract the jewel fragments from Tokujin, Inu Yasha selflessly sacrifices himself to save Kagome; he pushes himself and Tokujin over the cliff. However, the jewel fragments ended up in the Tree, and the Tree uses its roots to grab the falling pair and use them for sustenance. As luck would have it, dawn breaks at that very instant allowing Inu Yasha to dispose of the Tree once and for all.
The fellowship only sees the Tree die but believes Inu Yasha to be dead. A tearful moment of saying goodbye quickly turns amusing when Inu Yasha comes behind them asks them what they are doing. While the events are trite and easy to see coming, it still works well; the group has come to care deeply for Inu Yasha. You can feel their sense of loss and grief; then, the story lightens things up by allowing the group to share a collective sigh of relief. The writing transitions from tears to laughter naturally and with no forced effort.
The next episode gives Sango a chance to carry a story on her own. While she repairs her hiraikotsu in her village, a pair of sisters begs her to train them in the ways of demon hunting. Serina and Suzuna's village was attacked by demons, and they want to learn how to defend it. However, things are not what they appear; the sisters are secretly ninjas, and their village was wiped out by the demons. They make off with the weapons from the demon hunter village.
This proves to be a fatal mistake, as the weapons have not been cleansed of their demonic aura. Sango has to race to their rescue and in doing so learns what her father's true wish for her was. He wanted her to live to be strong and find her happiness. The episode also shows once again how to blend comedy to lighten up the mood. Miroku frets and worries about Sango being late to meet up with them, while Inu Yasha tells him it will be his fault if she does not come back. Amusing and touching, it is nice to see a secondary relationship developing into a strong piece of the overall plot.
Naraku finds his way back into the plot in the final episode; he tracks down the dark priestess Tsubaki who is skilled in the art of curses. Tsubaki also just happened to have a run in with Kikyo fifty years ago. Lured with the promise of revenge over Kikyo through Kagome and possession of the Sacred Jewel, Tsubaki joins forces with Naraku and places a strong curse on Kagome using the fragments of the Sacred Jewel she carries.
This cliffhanger episode is entertaining but shows signs of having the story revert back to what made the second season a rollercoaster ride. The glimmer of hope in this episode is the mental struggle Inu Yasha faces; how far is he willing to go to protect Kagome? We will not know until the next volume, but I hope that the next volume does not reveal it is back to the usual Naraku tricks that made the second season a bit boring to watch.
Another two strong episodes show that the third season is recapturing the magic formula of the first season. Comedy, action, and drama are all balanced very well making for a number of memorable moments. Any exuberance over the first two episodes of the volume is tempered by the reappearance of Naraku in the final episode. Does this herald a return to what made the second season mediocre? The next volume will be the key to answering this question, but in the meantime, this volume is one I can without hesitation recommend picking up.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles
Mitsubishi 27" TV, Pioneer DVL-919, Sony STR-DE915 DD receiver, Bose Acoustimass-6 speakers, generic S-Video and audio cable.
Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: A
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: A
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Viz Media
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Inu Yasha