Inu Yasha Vol. #31 (of 56) (Mania.com)

By:Luis Cruz
Review Date: Wednesday, July 13, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, June 28, 2005



What They Say
When a suspicious faith healer persecutes a twin-tailed demon that Shippo mistakes for Kirara, Inuyasha and his friends rush to its defense. Afterward, suspicions arise when clay warriors once used by Urasue reappear... Hass Kikyo used the magic of the evil sorceress who brought her back to the world of the living?

Features Three Episodes:
The Suspicious Faith Healer and the Black Kirara
Plot of the Walking Dead
The Mysterious, Lecherous Monk

The Review!
A mediocre set of three Inu Yasha episodes moves us no closer to Naraku or to the characters.

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; the dialogue was clear and blended well with the music. The track was free from distortions, dropouts, 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 Kuroro, Shippo, Koume, Miroku, and Inu Yasha. 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 a clean and readable layout of 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.

Menu:
The 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 Sango 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.

Extras:
The extras include the standard fare of the Japanese and English cast list, three line art galleries, 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 one of sketches, you can zoom into the artwork and move across it.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After allowing the characters to rest in the previous volume or two, I was all set to have the story start building up some steam and really begin the search for Naraku in earnest. Unfortunately, this was not to be the case with the latest set of three episodes. The first offering revolved around a village that has come under the influence of a mysterious faith healer.

The healer instructs them to cast out a two-tailed cat named Kuroro that resembles Kirara. The fellowship eventually stumbles into the middle of the village's problem and discovers that the healer is really a rat demon. Shippo becomes smitten with a young girl named Koume and protects her and Kuroro from the rat the best he can. Inu Yasha takes out the demon with some spiritual help from Miroku.

This episode was a sign of things to come. The action in the episode was boring, and nothing else in the story compensated for this. There was only one humorous scene in the episode, and the story provided no real character or overall plot development. While the story was not horrible, it failed to capture any of the elements that have made previous episodes enjoyable to watch.

The second offering showed a bit more promise when Kikyo came across a girl that was just like her, dependent upon other souls to live. The girl's name is Enju, and she is running away from her brother Kawaramaru. She quickly runs away from Kikyo and ends up finding the fellowship.

She and her brother were both brought back to life by Urasue, the witch that brought Kikyo back to life. Kawaramaru has been forcing Enju to create an army of puppets using Urasue's magic. Inu Yasha makes quick work of Kawaramaru, and Kagome convinces Enju to try to enjoy her second life despite the way she obtained it.

It feels like a huge opportunity was lost with this story; at the very least, this could have been extended to a two-part story with the narrative portion setting up the characters in the first half and having the action build and climax in the second. However, the episode feels rushed as the writers had to cram in exposition on Enju and Kawaramaru's background and then provide a quick finish at the end.

So, the episode falls flat again by not providing entertaining action and not moving the characters or overall plot forward. The final offering revolves around a Miroku imposture and ends up providing no action and only a brief smirk.

The main failing of all three of these episodes is that they give the audience the impression that the anime is stalling for time. The anime has to stretch out the story long enough to fill a season's worth of episodes. Season four started out with the fellowship trying to find a clue to where Naraku has gone.

After finding this clue in the previous volume, their journey in that direction gets off to an extremely tepid start. All of these stories feel like ideas that did not make it into season one and were recycled to extend season four. These three episodes were not horrible, but given the build up behind them, they just do not make for compelling viewing.

In Summary:
Every long running series is going to have its slumps where episodes just do not grab the audience's attention. This latest volume of Inu Yasha is one such slump; each episode is forgettable and does little to build off what season four has already accomplished. The episodes are not horrible, but they lack the polished action, humor, character development, and plot development that the season has had until now.

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: 24.98
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Inu Yasha