Inu Yasha Vol. #29 (of 56) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Friday, September 09, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, April 26, 2005
What They Say
Sensing a great demonic presence, Inuyasha and the others follow it, hoping it will lead them to Naraku. Instead, they find themselves at a castle being haunted by a giant demon’s floating head!
At first, the group decides to help rid the castle of the demon and quickly go on their way. But when Miroku learns of the beautiful princess residing there, plans quickly change, much to Sango’s chagrin...
Features Three Episodes:
The Evil Within Demon’s Head Castle
Secret of the Possessed Princess
Kikyo’s Lonely Journey
The quest to find Naraku knows no end in the twenty-ninth volume of Inu Yasha.
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; 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.
The front cover is a montage of the fellowship sans Shippo, the old lady exorcist, and the giant demon head. The upper right corner of the front cover bears the "Fourth Season" logo. At the bottom is the series logo and volume title; the volume number is in the lower right corner of the cover.
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 with a few screenshots from the episode on the reverse. Viz continues to retool the back cover layout and continues to make it increasingly more clean and readable.
Viz has retooled the menus once again; gone is the parchment paper motif. This current iteration of the menus features a hexagon that plays clips from the episodes while the standard instrumental piece plays in the background. An image of Miroku is to the right of the hexagon, and the menu items are in the lower left. The menus are very sharp, clean, and functional but lack the visual harmony with the series content that the parchment paper menus had.
The extras include the standard fare of the Japanese and English cast list, two line art sketches, the Japanese promos for the episodes, and a textless version of the new ending sequence. 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 sketches, you can zoom into the art work and move across them.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
When one has embarked on a long, seemingly endless journey, one has to find joy in the small details and flourishes along the way. And this is where Inu Yasha is managing to shine and entertain the audience despite a plot line that has yet to build any significant steam. As another three episodes play out, our intrepid band of Naraku hunters still find themselves wandering the land without a single, solid clue of their nemesis' whereabouts.
Their current course brings them to an area with a rather strong demonic aura; Inu Yasha rushes off to pursue the source but ends up finding an aging exorcist. After attempting to banish Inu Yasha with a healthy overdose of purified salt, she tells the fellowship that demon activity in the region is on the rise. The cause appears to be the disturbance of a demon head buried beneath a castle.
They quickly arrive at the castle and learn a number of things. First, the lord of the castle appears to be either the demon itself or possessed by the demon and is killing anyone who comes near his quarters. Second, the lord has a beautiful daughter much to Miroku's delight. Third, the exorcist appears to be a complete fraud as she cannot detect the heavy demonic aura surrounding the castle.
The remainder of the opening episode and second episode follows the standard Inu Yasha plot formula. The actual demon is manipulating the people and events from behind the scenes; Miroku finds his lust has placed him in harm's way once again. Sango is infuriated by Miroku's behavior. And the fraudulent exorcist manages to play a significant role in the demon's demise.
What makes this story rise above the formula are the small touches; there are a number of sight gags, facial expressions, and snatches of dialogue that just bring a smile or an outright laugh from me. They are funny yet are woven into the storyline so well that they just flow with the events that are occurring. It is these sorts of brilliantly placed humorous touches that turn an otherwise bland story into something worth a repeated viewing.
The final episode turns the focus to Kikyo's attempt to track down Naraku and ends up being one of the better written episodes in quite some time. Kikyo is attempting to find Naraku by finding areas where there is a strong demonic presence. All of her attempts bear no fruit and only serve to show her that Naraku is gone leaving lesser demons free to roam the land.
After killing one such lesser demon, an elderly man attempts to rob Kikyo; after learning she has no money, the man dejectedly slumps down against a tree and tells her to move along. She pauses though when she senses a fragment of the Sacred Jewel on the man. We quickly learn that the man stole the fragment from a dying demon and has used it to prolong his life by an inordinate amount of time.
Fate appears to be playing a cruel joke on them both as the man's life story reveals. His name is Rasetsu, and he was a vicious criminal many, many years ago. At one point in his career, he teamed up with an even more vicious criminal named Onigumo, the same Onigumo who later became Naraku. Onigumo tricked Rasetsu into attempting to kill Kikyo in order to claim the Sacred Jewel.
Inu Yasha prevents Rasetsu from accomplishing this mission, and Rasetsu finds that Onigumo planned this all along. It was merely a ruse to steal Rasetsu's men from him. Rasetsu tracks Onigumo down, burns the building down around Onigumo, and then pitches his badly burned yet breathing body into a ravine. After this revelation, a demon that was cast off from Naraku's body attacks them both.
The demon is defeated, but Rasetsu breathes his last breath. His dying wish is that Kikyo take a lock of his hair to a holy place so he might find salvation from his crimes and not fall into hell. Kikyo takes the lock and begins a journey towards Mt. Hakurei where a powerful shrine is said to exist. Kikyo senses that this shrine might be more intertwined with her mission than just fulfilling a promise to a dying man.
The description of the plot may sound a bit dry, but the way the story is told is done straightforward but with the small touches that make the character interaction extraordinary for the series. Their facial expressions and the way they talk to each other gives a vivid sense that both of them know that the karmic wheel is laughing at them as it rolls right over their lives.
While a number of minor characters have died along the way, this was the first one that I was truly sad to see them die. Rasetsu may have been a scoundrel in his youth and cannot fully cast aside his old ways, but he recognizes the need to repent and struggles through old age to find an appropriate place to find salvation and die. There was a certain honesty and tragic desperation to the character that just struck home. The fact that he reveals more back story for Naraku and seems to be providing a push towards another confrontation is an added bonus.
What could have been a mediocre batch of episodes was saved by a number of well-placed and well-executed small touches. The humor in the first two episodes ranged from dialogue to sight gags but never once felt forced upon the situation. The characters play off each other just as any group of individuals would after being together so long. Their banter and antics feel natural and appropriate to their present situation. The last episode brings in a secondary character that I could actually connect with emotionally and actually care about what happens to them in the story. While a bit more back plot is revealed, it is clear that we still have a lot of ground to cover in this series, but it is gratifying to see that the series has found a great, steady stride in terms of the character interaction.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Line Art,Japanese Promos,Textless Ending
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
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Inu Yasha