Inu Yasha Vol. #27 (of 56) (Mania.com)

By:Luis Cruz
Review Date: Friday, September 09, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, February 22, 2005



What They Say
Jaken plots to steal the Tetsusaiga from Inuyasha, but ends up getting kidnapped by Naraku's incarnation, Kagura. Meanwhile, Sesshomaru grows tired of Naraku’s games and plans to destroy him once and for all. When Inuyasha and Sesshomaru confront Naraku together, can the evil machinations of Naraku be enough to stop the two powerful brothers?

The Review!
The third season comes to a close in the twenty-seventh volume of Inu Yasha.

Audio:
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.

Video:
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.

Packaging:
The front cover is a montage of Inu Yasha, Sesshomaru, Naraku, and Kagura set against a dark background. 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.

Menu:
The main menu is rendered as pieces of parchment paper containing scenes from the episodes. Each menu item has a jewel fragment next to it; sub-menus continue the parchment paper motif. The menus look great and balance being artistic with being functional.

Extras:
The extras include the standard fare of the Japanese and English cast list, a line art gallery, and the Japanese promos for the episodes. Rather than a plain text list for the cast, each character has a picture with the English and Japanese voice actor's name next to it. For the line art gallery, there are only three character reference sheets, but you can zoom into the art work and move across them. In addition to the standards, Viz has included a textless version of the ending theme song along with trailers for the DVDs of the first and second movies.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
In some ways, the end of the third season is satisfying yet disappointing. Since the series is only at the halfway mark, the season does provide closure to the current story arc but leaves one wanting a bit more out of it given the fantastic build-up that the third season provided. Before the final two episodes play out, we are treated to a comedy interlude by Sesshomaru's faithful vassal Jaken. Jaken has decided that Tetsusaiga is too powerful a weapon for Inu Yasha to wield and attempts to steal it from him.

With Rin watching from the side, Jaken fails miserably with each attempt until he stumbles into a successful attempt. However, his plan ultimately fails as Rin drops Tetsusaiga in order to save Jaken from the wrath of Inu Yasha. Kagome seems to be the only fellowship member that notices that a human girl appears to be on the side of Sesshomaru. Rin is kidnapped by Kagura soon after the encounter.

Jaken appears to be the comic relief of Sesshomaru's group much like Shippo is to the fellowship. This episode gave him a chance to provide some great laughs for the audience before heading into the action packed finale of the season. We also get a glimpse into his past and how he came to travel with Sesshomaru.

The final two episodes focus on Naraku's kidnapping of Rin. Naraku confronts Sesshomaru and tells Sesshomaru that Rin will be released unharmed if he kills Inu Yasha. However, this is a trap Naraku has laid for Sesshomaru, and Sesshomaru seemingly falls right into.

Sesshomaru tracks Naraku to his castle and proceeds to shred Naraku's body. This is exactly what Naraku wants as the pieces engulf Sesshomaru allowing Naraku to attempt to absorb a full demon's power into his own body. His plan is interrupted though when Inu Yasha follows the same scent that led Sesshomaru to Naraku's castle.

The battle rages on, and Naraku realizes he has miscalculated when forming his plan. He had not counted on Inu Yasha gaining enough power to breach his barriers. Naraku's attempts to absorb Inu Yasha and Sesshomaru fail forcing him to retreat. Before Sesshomaru can transform and give chase, Naraku informs him that his minion Kohaku is going to kill Rin.

Inu Yasha races off to find Kohaku before Sesshomaru finds and kills him. The brothers arrive at nearly the same time, and a stand-off ensues. However, Sesshomaru lets Kohaku go in order to avoid being caught up in Naraku's schemes any further. Sesshomaru leaves with Rin while the fellowship puzzles over Naraku's disappearance and Sesshomaru's choice of companions.

The third season did a great job of building up the characters, their relationships, and the overall plot involving Naraku. It balanced quite well the comedic and dramatic aspects that make the show engaging and managed to recapture the interest I had lost in the series over the second season. What makes this season finale disappointing is that it does not push the boundaries of the series any further.

Naraku has retreated and will only come back stronger which will cause Inu Yasha in turn to have to find a way to become stronger. While the formula worked well for this season, it is difficult to imagine that the same formula will not lapse into the tired routine that made for a lackluster second season. What seemed lacking was a plot device or twist that would change the dynamics of the quest. It did not need to be a huge change, but it needed to be something that would give the audience something to look forward to other than the exact same chase we have already seen.

But, there is one trump card up the series' sleeve -- Sesshomaru and his relationship with Rin and Jaken. What impressed me the most about the final three episodes was the complexity added to Sesshomaru's character by showing how Jaken came to follow him and how he handled Rin's kidnapping. He continues to show disdain for humans and lesser demons but allows one of each to follow him. On the surface, he does not seem to give either of them much thought.

Jaken is routinely trampled under Sesshomaru's foot, and he does not lift a finger to help Rin find food for her. He is neither parent, guardian, nor friend to either of them. Neither Rin nor Jaken are of much use to him as he travels the land and are more of burden. Yet, he continues to allow them to travel with him. There is something more lurking beneath the cold exterior Sesshomaru presents, and I hope that future seasons continue to explore it.

In Summary:
The third season's story arc was closed out with a good dose of humor and action. Sesshomaru's appearance allowed some additional complexity to be added to his character as the fellowship and the audience all wonder why he does keep Rin by his side. However, the season finale is not completely satisfying as it did not provide any reason to expect more of the same material going forward. Naraku will be back stronger than ever which will result in Inu Yasha searching for more power. It is a familiar formula by now but one that might not work without a few added wrinkles. Despite the absence of any new wrinkles being added, this volume provided an entertaining capstone to a very entertaining season.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
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: A-
Menus Rating: A
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Viz Media
MSRP: 24.95
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Inu Yasha