Inu Yasha Vol. #01 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: N/A
  • Menus Rating: B
  • 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

Inu Yasha Vol. #01

By Chris Beveridge     September 10, 2002
Release Date: November 05, 2002


Inu Yasha Vol. #01
© Viz Media


What They Say
Fifteen-year-old schoolgirl Kagome Higurashi, whose family tends a shrine, falls into an old well one day and literally tumbles into ancient Japanese history. On the other side she meets Inu yasha, the dog-like demon (inu means dog in Japanese) who claims she smells just like the woman who fifty years ago pinned him with her arrow to a tree, where he's been all this time.

Unwilling allies at first, the two become closer as their search for the sacred "Jewel of Four Souls" continues. If Kagome really is the reincarnation of the shrine-maiden Kikyo, can it be that she's becoming jealous of herself...? Contains 3 episodes!

The Review!
Caveat:
This review of the first volume is being done based on a checkdisc provided to us from Viz. We’ve been told that this is the final checkdisc, so it is essentially the same as the actual release, sans packaging. As I’m not intending to pick up this series for general review due to the episode count per disc and length of the series (and availability of seeing it on Cartoon Network), this is likely my only review of the show. As always, we do accept alternate angle reviews and are looking forward to seeing them come in as these releases get underway.




Probably one of the most anticipated of Rumiko Takahashi’s work to come to the US, especially since the explosive growth of fandom, Inu Yasha has finally arrived.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. For a very recent show, as it’s still airing in Japan as this volume comes out in the US, it has a pretty decent stereo mix though very little in the way of directionality across the forward soundstage. Music and dialogue sound great and ambient effects are nicely laid out, but it’s not one that feels terribly deep.

Video:
With the advantage of current production values, Takahashi’s work finally looks the best it’s ever been. Having been a fan of her style for over ten years now and following just about all of her anime adaptations, this is the one that looks the best and really lets her particular style shine through. The transfer here is excellent for the most part, with colors looking lush and solid. Cross coloration is extremely minimal, with it showing only in a few places. The main thing that may bother some people is the aliasing during camera panning sequences, mostly in the present day areas. I had only one problem with this disc, and that was during the second episode when the translated title card comes up. It’s fine for a half a second, then the entire screen goes yellow, then it turns back to normal just a half a second before going into the program. I’ve confirmed this has happened on at least one other Sony player, though I’ve been told that Viz’s people have not been able to replicate it on their test equipment.

Packaging:
Due to this being a checkdisc, there is no packaging.

Menu:
The menus here feature a nice mix of animation and still shots as well as providing both logos for the show set to some of the music. Moving about the menus is pretty straightforward with everything laid out logically except for one area, that being menu selection. For some reason, you can select things in certain pairs. If you select English language, it forces you to have no subtitles. If you select subtitles, it forces you to have Japanese language. From the menu, you cannot select English with English subtitles or Japanese with no subtitles. However, you can select these on the fly during the actual program, so it’s only a menu problem, but one that makes you wonder “why”? when DVD is all about options.

Extras:
There’s a solid selection of extras included in this opening volume. The cast list deals with bilingual credits for the main characters in these episodes. The line art section provides a number of rather good looking pieces of conceptual black and white artwork, though no translations. There’s an English promo piece which I believe is the trailer that we’ve seen used during this years conventions as well as a number of Japanese promos for the show. A textless opening and ending sequence is also here from these episodes.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Over the years, Rumiko Takahashi has done a number of very popular stories. She’s done the quite lengthy episodic Urusei Yatsura and Ranma as well as doing a more story driven but still somewhat episodic Maison Ikkoku. Add in fun things like Rumik World, One Pound Gospel and the Mermaid shows, and she’s covered a whole lot of material and genres. When I originally heard of Inu Yasha, I had feared that it would be a retread of what she’s done before. Thankfully, she’s managed to take the strengths of her other series and combine them together into something that works very well on an episode by episode basis, but also lays out something much larger to take in.

The story is quite simple, as we’re quickly introduced to Inu Yasha, a half breed demon who’s just captured the Sacred Jewel and is running off with it. He doesn’t get far, as the village priestess named Kikyo manages to take him down with a single arrow. The arrow is stronger than normal though, as it binds Inu Yasha to the tree he’s against and none can remove the arrow or break the spell. Unfortunately, Kikyo doesn’t fare well during this and appears to be mortally wounded.

This brings us back to the present day, where we’re introduced to high school girl Kagome. She’s a raven haired beauty with a bit of a wit and plenty of intelligence to go with the good looks. She lives with her brother and mother and grandfather in the temple, and naturally some of them have some amusing quirks. Through some simple real world circumstances, Kagome ends up near the sealed well inside one of the smaller temple areas, only to find herself being dragged into it by a huge centipede woman. Kagome manages to push her back and suddenly finds herself at the bottom of the well.

And it is the same well, with the exception that outside of it, it’s hundreds of years in the past. In fact, it’s all the way back to the Warring States period! She comes across Inu Yasha, still attached to the tree, but only for a few moments before the locals capture her thinking she’s a spy of some sort. Once back in the village, we’re able to piece together that it’s been fifty years since Inu Yasha’s been bound to the tree and Kikyo died. Those who were alive back then can’t get over how much Kagome looks like Kikyo. The arrival of the centipede woman, demanding the Sacred Jewel, keeps the conversations short though.

This confuses Kaede, the current priestess of the village and also Kikyo’s younger sister. When Kikyo died, they burned the jewel with her body. But apparently, it’s now found its way inside of Kagome’s body and that’s why the centipede woman is after her. Inu Yasha is after her as well, and Kagome must decide whether she should free him to help fight against the centipede woman.

All of this really covers barely half of the first episode. This show goes by extremely fast as it’s very well paced and played out. The characters are instantly likeable, much more so than the manga version I think. The manga for the series hasn’t impressed me terribly, hence my additional initial trepidation towards the anime. But these opening episodes have been a real surprise. The animation for this show definitely helps, as it’s the truest to the style of Takahashi that I’ve seen. I’m particularly glad that for the most part, the series features dual leads, and not one over the other. Both Kagome and Inu Yasha hold their own as their adventures get going, as opposed to earlier series such as Ranma, where Akane gets left behind, or Urusei Yatsura, where Ataru can barely hold his own against Lum.

I also found the dub to be rather good, though I’ll leave it to others to decide whether casting the same voice actor as the male Ranma is a good idea or not for Inu Yasha. On the one hand, he’s familiar with the work and style. On the other hand, is his performance different enough to get the image of Ranma saying the lines out of your head? Some name pronunciations throughout the episodes are off, such as Kaede, but for the most part I didn’t notice anything truly bad besides that.

One thing I did not like is Viz’s continued lack of subtitles for opening and ending songs. This bothered us a whole lot during Ceres and it’s bothersome here as well. Viz seems to be the only company having trouble with this out of all the companies releasing anime domestically.

Barring a few problems, this was a fun way to spend just over an hour. I’ve always enjoyed Takahashi’s work and Inu Yasha appears to be no exception. I’m glad that she’s still getting her shows animated, and it’s quite pleasing to see one done with such excellent present day production values, giving it more life than I think some of her other shows have had. If you’re a fan, you’re likely going to really enjoy this.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Cast List,Line Art,English Promo,Japanese Promos,Textless Opening,Textless Ending

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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