Inu Yasha Movie #1: Affections Touching Across Time (of 4) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Saturday, September 11, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, September 07, 2004
What They Say
200 years ago, InuYasha's father sealed away a powerful demon from China named Hyoga... A Shikon Jewel shard awakens Hyoga's son, Menomaru, inspiring him to absorb the remains of his father's power to take control of the world! It's now up to InuYasha and his friends to stop this nearly invincible foe!
Inu Yasha's first foray on the big screen proves to be highly entertaining.
My primary viewing session consisted of the Japanese 5.1 audio track. The track is very sharp and utilizes the front soundstage throughout the entire film. There were no distortions, dropouts, or other problems; the rear channel does not provide much ambient sound but does strength the overall track. Music, sound effects, and dialogue are balanced very well. The English audio is also a strong track; the voice cast performs as well as they have in the TV series. Both sets of fans will be pleased with the audio.
The big screen means a big budget and results in a stunning video experience; Viz has translated the big screen experience into the digital realm flawlessly. There were no noticeable defects caused by the digital transfer. With most of the film revolving around a forest and a tree, there are a number of lush settings with vibrant colors. There is a lot of detail in the backgrounds and characters making the film a visual delight from start to finish.
The original opening and ending credits contain English translations placed directly on the print. The entire ending credit sequence has also been altered to squish the original images into smaller boxes. Fortunately, the original, full-sized version is available in the extras section.
A montage of nearly every character in action graces the front cover; the logo and movie title is at the bottom of the cover. The back cover contains the standard synopsis, screenshots, and disc specifications. Both sides are rendered to appear metallic almost to the point of looking like the foil packaging used for trading cards. The character designs and this metallic look help separate this title from the various TV volumes sitting next to it on a store shelf. Inside the case is a one-page insert that has the front cover shot on one side and the chapter listings on the other.
After a small animation plays, the main menu loads up and is rendered as the giant Tree of Ages with the menu items appearing in the tree's roots. A sample of music plays in the background while images from the movie rotate around the image of the tree. Transition delays between menus are minimal, and the menus are intuitive to use.
Included in the extras are nine Japanese trailers for this film, Viz's trailer for the second film, character sketches, "special footage", and the Japanese closing credits. The Japanese trailers feature a number of scenes that did not make it into the final film or were reworked for the final film.
The Japanese credits are quite different as the images take up the entire screen rather than the small boxes Viz used for the images. It is a shame that the original ending could not have been used as an alternate angle and viewed directly in the film itself. You can switch languages during its playback, but the subtitles will not appear even if selected.
The "special footage" is a thirty-five minute summary of the story of Inu Yasha to date of this first film. Narrated by the characters, it is a great introduction to the series' world for those that may have picked up this film as their first Inu Yasha title.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Taking place just after the end of the second season, Inu Yasha departs from its main story arc and presents a new, stand-alone villain in its first feature film. As the film opens, we see the Sacred Jewel breaking into fragments. One of these fragments travels deep into a forest and embeds itself into a tree. A figure emerges from the wood of the tree.
We flash forward towards the present day in feudal Japan; two women attack Sesshomaru but are easily defeated. As Sesshomaru departs the scene, the women are revived from afar by a mysterious figure. This figure realizes that Sesshomaru does not carry the item he seeks, the legendary sword Tetsusaiga.
We then are given a quick introduction to the main cast as Kagome races to meet up with Inu Yasha and the rest of the fellowship. They successfully defeat a scorpion demon, but Kirara suffers a poisonous wound. Kirara races off deep into the forest while Kagome runs in an opposite direction after being insulted by Inu Yasha yet again.
Miroku and Sango chase Kirara deep into the forest and find Ruri and Hari, the two women that attacked Sesshomaru. They have taken control of Kirara and trick Miroku into using his Wind Tunnel. Ruri quickly duplicates this power for her own use, and both women depart with Kirara.
Meanwhile, the mysterious figure reveals himself to Inu Yasha and Kagome as Menomaru, a moth demon from China. Subduing Inu Yasha, Menomaru finds himself unable to wield Tetsusaiga. Naturally, this means Kagome has to be kidnapped in order to lure Inu Yasha into helping Menomaru's cause. Inu Yasha obliges and uses the power of the Wind Scar to break up an ancient seal.
This seal contained the power of Menomaru's father Hyoga; Hyoga was sealed ages ago by Inu Yasha's father during the Mongol invasion of Japan. Menomaru absorbs his father's power to become even stronger than his father. The stage is then set for our characters to rush headlong into the final battle and its inevitable conclusion.
Whenever a series makes its way to a theatrical release, the key to being successful is to write a story that can appeal to those that are familiar with the original work and those that are not. The first film does just that by quickly introducing the characters in a quick five minute narration at the beginning of the film; this gets the audience up to speed on who the characters are and what they seek.
From there, the film tells an engaging story that builds upon this introduction and does not go too deeply past its thin surface. The action is nearly non-stop from start to finish making the time pass quickly. A larger canvas also allows the writers to give all the main characters equal screen time; the focus does not rest solely on one or two of the fellowship. Instead, Inu Yasha, Kagome, Sango, and Miroku all carry the plot equally as they each have their own enemy to fight.
And what fights they have; Miroku and Sango get to show off some impressive hand-to-hand combat skills against Ruri and Hari. Inu Yasha and Kagome must combine their skills to defeat the overly powerful Menomaru. Each battle is very energetic and fun to watch; it also helps that the battles blend well with the overall story rather than feeling tacked on.
The plot also manages to touch on the relationship building between Kagome and Inu Yasha; the pair shares some touching moments giving the audience a good feel for the growing love between the pair. While I doubted if the plot would be able to be sustained for 100 minutes, it did so very well and did not drag in any spot. It transitioned from action to exposition to drama smoothly and effortlessly.
The characters also get a bit of a touch-up in the design department; while most of them remain unchanged, they have been sharpened in detail especially their faces. Kagome's design shows the most change and is vastly different from her TV design. However, near the end, she resembles the TV Kagome more than she did at the beginning. The Tree of Ages is also rendered at times in CG; while decently done, it just does not fit the rest of the artwork of the film. Fortunately, the CG effects were kept to a minimum.
Overall, this is a great film that can be enjoyed by fans of the series or by those utterly unfamiliar with it. For the latter group, it also makes a great introduction to the series and its cast of characters.
Enjoyable by fans and newcomers alike, the first film for Inu Yasha provides plenty of action coupled with some great relationship moments for Kagome and Inu Yasha. Menomaru, Ruri, and Hari are great villains and provide some stiff competition for our heroes. While it does not advance the overall plot of the series or introduce any new elements, it makes for an entertaining break between seasons two and three. If you have friends that are not into Inu Yasha, this is the perfect title to draw them into it.
Japanese 5.1 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles, Line-art gallery, Japanese InuYasha Movie promos, Special InuYasha footage
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: A
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: A-
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Viz Media
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Inu Yasha