Inu Yasha Vol. #38 (of 56) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, February 27, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, February 07, 2006
What They Say
The reappearance of Naraku leaves Inuyasha and the others with a clue about their nemesis's whereabouts. The remains of Naraku's demon puppet had a scent of flowers and water, which takes Inuyasha to Hijiri Island, a sacred place where the mummified remains of a Saint are laid to rest. On the island, Inuyasha, Shippo and Kirara find their powers weakening. To make matters worse, Bankotsu is waiting there to face Inuyasha!
Contains episodes 112-114:
Afloat on the Lake Surface: The Barrier of Hijiri Island
The Sacred Vajra and the Mystery of the Living Buddha
Koga's Solitary Battle
Stop me if you have heard this one before. Two swordsmen walk onto an island...
The Japanese audio was used for my primary viewing session; after one hundred plus episodes, it would take an extreme blunder to ruin the audio quality Viz has maintained over time. This volume exhibits the same high quality, problem-free stereo track you can find on every volume of Inu Yasha.
As with the audio, Viz has their routine down pat and turns in another stellar video experience. At this point, anything I can add to this section is redundant. Viewers will have a gorgeous viewing experience to match their audio experience.
The front cover is a montage of Inu Yasha and Bankotsu against a purple background. The series logo is across the top of the cover while the volume name and logos are pushed to the bottom. 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.
The main menu features a picture of Koga on the left of the screen with rotating images overlaid on the moon to the right. Menu items are along the bottom of the screen. Transition animations are kept to a minimum, and music loops in the background. While very clean and functional, the menus have a sterile feeling compared to others Viz has produced for the series.
For the thirty-eight volume in the series, what extras could Viz have placed on the disc? Hmm... If you said the Japanese and English cast list, two brief line art galleries, and the Japanese promos for the episodes, you would be correct.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The tale of Musashi and Kojiro's island duel has been oft recounted and homaged in many an anime; Takahashi has parodied it successfully numerous times in Urusei Yatsura, another long running series of hers. While it may not be a straightforward homage to the Musashi duel, the opening pair of episode on this volume of Inu Yasha bears a passing resemblance to the iconic story. However, it does not prove to be overly entertaining and serves mainly to parcel out a small nugget of plot.
Still searching for the fragrance left by Naraku's puppet, the fellowship comes across a village by the lake. They find a young boy named Shintaro acting as the de facto village elder; his father has not returned from his visit to the sacred Hijiri Island weeks ago after a mysterious light crashed there. As the fellowship escort Shintaro to the island, they learn that the island was made sacred by Hakushin, a monk that turned himself into a living Buddha. His mummified remains are enshrined on the island, and it is his family's duty to protect the shrine.
Arriving on the island, the sight and scent of the flowers they have been searching for greets them. Also present to greet them is Bankotsu and his Sacred Jewel enhanced halberd. With the trap sprung, Inu Yasha finds the sacred aura surrounding the island preventing him from fighting at full force. Predictably, the fellowship finds and destroys the source of the aura, and Bankotsu is spirited away by Naraku's proxies to fight another day. The end result of the two episodes is the revelation that Hakushin's corpse appears to be working for Naraku and has created the barrier around Mount Hakurei.
This is the only payoff for nearly an hour's worth of content and a meager one at that. Nothing else was built up from this battle; the fellowship receives one small clue to the mystery of Naraku's location, but it raises only more questions. And the questions just are not interesting when weighed against the fact that we will have to see Inu Yasha lured into a least one more of Naraku's trap to fight a similar battle with Bankotsu.
The story is starting to drift again from interesting character and plot development to repetitive themes and bland battle sequences. There is no sense of momentum from this encounter; it seems to serve only as a mechanism to drag the story out as long as possible. The Band of Seven are interesting characters but are being used as convenient cannon fodder; the more intriguing aspects of who they are and how they work together are being swept aside.
Ending the volume is a battle between Koga, Ginkotsu, and Renkotsu. Mortally wounding Renkotsu, Koga believes victory is assured but is mortally wounded himself when Ginkotsu sacrifices himself to allow Renkotsu to escape. Again, this is an interesting topic; why would Ginkotsu, a brutal machine of destruction, sacrifice himself to save Renkotsu? Would he have done this for any of the Band of Seven?
The previous volume excited me by the possibilities that the Band of Seven and their individual characteristics held. They were the first villains in quite some time that could have some depth to them if developed properly; it provided a good spark of interest in the long running series. But this volume just could not provide the same spark and felt more of a return to the tiresome cycle of battles leading to small, uninteresting revelations leading to even more battles.
This volume just did not provide the same spark of interest in the Band of Seven or the overall story as the previous volume did. Instead, it used a drawn out battle to reveal a small plot point that only raises more questions. And these new questions feel more like an attempt to drag out the series rather than build up the plot to something that will make the final battle more meaningful. There is still hope that the Band of Seven will be developed into something more than cannon fodder, but this is easily a volume that can be skipped.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles
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