Inu Yasha Movie #2: The Castle Beyond the Looking Glass (of 4) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, February 02, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, December 28, 2004
What They Say
With their greatest foe seemingly defeated, Inuyasha and his friends begin to return to their lives. But their short period of peace is once again shattered as a new enemy begins to emerge. Kaguya, the self-proclaimed Princess from the Moon of legend, begins a plan to plunge the world into a perpetual night of the full moon. Inuyasha, Kagome, Miroku, Sango and Shippo must once again unite to face the new threat.
The second theatrical outing for Inu Yasha introduces a new villain and a few old tricks but results in a solid 100 minutes of entertainment.
My primary viewing session consisted of the Japanese 5.1 audio track. The track is very sharp and utilizes the front and rear soundstages throughout the entire film. There were no distortions, dropouts, or other problems; music, sound effects, and dialogue are balanced very well.
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. From the bright sunshine to the dark recesses of the moonlit night, colors are vibrant providing a lot of lush detail. The film is a visual delight from start to finish. In a surprising move, the original opening and ending credits are left untouched.
A montage of nearly every character in action graces the front cover; the logo and movie title are 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 Kaguya standing in front of a temple. A sample of music plays in the background while images from the movie overlay the temple scenery. Transition delays between menus are minimal, and the menus are intuitive to use.
Viz provides a good batch of extras for the film; included in the extras are forty-two character design sketches, thirty-one art design sketches, the Japanese trailer for the third movie, and fifteen Japanese trailers for this second movie. The best extra is a thirty-three minute "Special Footage" feature. The feature counts down the top thirty things about Inu Yasha chosen based on reader comments. While its primary purpose is to promote the second film and merchandise, it features a number of amusing segments that summarize the story to date.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Films based on TV series have to walk a fine line; it needs to be general enough to draw in those not overly familiar with the series. But, it also must be able to provide the plot details that can draw in the die-hard fans of the series. The Castle beyond the Looking Glass manages to walk that line fairly well. As it opens, Inu Yasha is holed up on the eve of the new moon waiting for the sun and his demon half to reappear. At this inopportune time, Naraku chooses to attack the fellowship of the jewel.
Dawn soon breaks though, and the battle between these bitter rivals rages on amid quick signs that enlighten the casual viewer about the cast. Despite Naraku's formidable powers, the combined power of Inu Yasha's Tetsusaiga and Kagome's sacred arrow eradicate Naraku from the face of the Earth. Our heroes breathe a sigh of relief and go their separate ways.
Sango goes off in search of her brother Kohaku; Miroku, freed of the curse of the wind tunnel, returns home to visit the grave of his father. Kagome returns briefly to her time to resume school. All seems peaceful now that Naraku and his evil machinations are over.
However, Kagura and Kanna find that they have traded one master for another. A strange figure in a mirror promises Kagura true freedom if she obtains five objects and drops them in the lakes around Mt. Fuji. Doing so frees the moon princess Kaguya allowing her to restart her reign of terror. All she needs to complete her plan is the celestial robe stolen from her over fifty years ago.
Naturally, while searching for the remaining jewel fragments, Kagome and Inu Yasha bump into the person who now holds that garment. Kagome is quickly kidnapped, and it is up to Inu Yasha to follow Kaguya to her Dream Castle. The remaining members of the fellowship meet up with Inu Yasha, and they all race to save Kagome and the world.
The film feels like four TV episodes sewn together, but it is so seamless and well paced that the time goes by quite quickly. Having a large action sequence up front allows the film to build up to the final confrontation through some great character moments. With the weight of Naraku and his machinations off of their shoulders, each character is allowed to relax a bit and reflect on what to do with their lives now.
However, these moments do work against the film a bit for the casual viewer. Without knowing the numerous trials the characters went through to get to this point, the full impact of the conversations and their nuances is lost; still, the dialogue and situations work well enough to compensate for this. You will still feel a connection to the story if you have not followed the series much, but it will not be as strong as those who have.
There are also numerous bits of humor sprinkled throughout the film mostly from Miroku and his busy hands. What impressed me the most was the ending of the film. For the most part, it is a fairly predictable ending, but it does provide a bit of a twist. If you look back at the rest of the film, you can see that this twist was telegraphed a bit, but the film managed to connect me to the characters and their feelings to the point that the twist did come as a bit of a surprise.
Inu Yasha fans will get the most out of this film; there are numerous subtle references such as Miroku painting a hole on his hand that are meant to connect more with these fans. Again, it works on a small level for the casual viewer, but these moments are clearly meant more for the fans.
While enjoyable by the casual viewer, the second Inu Yasha film is clearly aimed at the large fan base of the series. The action and character interaction is well paced and draws the viewer regardless of their knowledge of the series into the story. However, it is the small touches that will make the fans laugh and cheer a little bit louder than others. Still, it is the sort of film one can use to draw new fans into the series; it provides a good, quick introduction to the cast and shows just how good it can be when the writing is solid as it is in this outing.
Japanese 5.1 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles, Line-art gallery, Japanese Inuyasha Movie promos, Special Inuyasha footage
Mitsubishi 27" TV, Panasonic RP-82, Sony STR-DE915 DD receiver, Bose Acoustimass-6 speakers, generic S-Video and optical 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: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Inu Yasha