Inu Yasha Vol. #01 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: A-

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: A
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Extras Rating: A
  • 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 luis     July 10, 2003
Release Date: November 05, 2002



The Review!
Takahashi Rumiko's latest work has hit the shores of the U.S. Anime fans have been anticipating this release for awhile; was the wait worth it? So far, the answer is a solid "yes".

Audio:
I listened to the Japanese track for my primary viewing session. It is a solid stereo mix; the show is dialogue driven for the most part with the focus coming through the center channel. There were some decent effects during the action sequences. Overall, the audio is crisp with no discernable dropouts or glitches.

Episode one was watched again this time listening to the English track. I have been pleased with previous Viz dub casts, and this title is no exception. The voices complement the characters well making it an enjoyable dub to listen to. The dialogue seemed to be mixed at a lower volume than the Japanese track; I found myself turning up the volume more than once to catch what the characters were saying.

Overall, sub and dub watchers will find few issues with the audio.

Video:
For a three year old show, Inuyasha holds up very well as Viz has provided the viewer with a solid transfer. While the animation is standard fare, the colors for the backgrounds were surprisingly rich. Most of the action takes place in feudal Japan; the forests were very green and lush contrasting nicely with the brown earth tones of the dirt roads and villages.

The subtitles were yellow which was a pleasant surprise as previous Viz volumes used white subtitles. They were also very readable as they were larger than most subtitles I have seen used on recent discs. While they did not distract much from the show, I would have preferred the subtitles to have been rendered in a slightly smaller font.

There was only one noticeable problem during playback. With subtitles turned on, a yellow box covers the title card for episode two for all but one second. It is a small but annoying authoring glitch.

My major gripe with the video is that Viz continues to hard subtitle the opening and ending credits. Do this for the television print but please put in the extra effort to have the opening and closing properly subtitled on the DVD.

Packaging:
Against a blue, starry background stands the show's two protagonists Kagome and Inuyasha. The Japanese logo is in the top right corner with the English logo across the bottom. Just above the English logo is the volume title; the only indication of what volume you are holding appears on the spine.

However, "DIY01" is not quite as descriptive as "Vol. 1" would be. It would not have cluttered up the front cover much if they put a volume indication near the volume title. A tiny font was used for the episode names below the English logo; this same font could have been used to inform people that they have just picked up the beginning of the story rather than the middle or end.

Of course, one could simply flip the case over and read that the disc contains episodes one through three. The episode titles are just below the standard boilerplate description of the series with shots from the show below the titles. The rest of the back cover is given over to a tiny line indicating the disc features and a listing of the production credits.

Inside the case is a one-page insert that has the front cover shot on one side and the chapter listings on the other. A smaller insert promoting other Viz merchandise is also included.

Menu:
The main menu is quite busy as you have background music playing while clips from the show are playing around a series of rotating images. Just to the right of the rotating images are the actual menu options. Sub-menus contain no music and only a static image from the show.

There is a transition animation when you enter a sub-menu except for when you enter the scene access menu. The animation is brief enough to avoid being an annoyance.

The setup menu provided an interesting surprise; the language and subtitle options were separate items but were linked together. Choosing "Japanese" as your audio language automatically turned subtitles on while choosing "English" turned them off. Turning subtitles on or off chose the Japanese or English audio respectively. There was no way to independently choose your language and subtitle preference from the setup menu.

While the menus allowed one to get into the show quickly, the busy main menu and unusual setup menu made for an unappealing experience.

Extras:
The extras were a pleasant surprise; to start, there is a list of cast members that has the Japanese and English voice actors listed side-by-side. It was a great touch that I had not seen on any other DVD before. A line art gallery provided some character design sheets to look at.

Also included are a series of promos from both shores; there is a three minute English promo for the show. You can then watch four promos from Japan: two teasers for the show's premiere, a trailer for episode two, and a trailer for episode three.

Rounding out the extras are textless versions of the opening and ending sequences. Unfortunately, they did not provide a translation for the song.

Content:(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Higurashi Kagome is your typical teenage girl; she lives with her mother, younger brother, and grandfather in a temple their family has maintained for years. Unfortunately for her, her fifteenth birthday provides a very atypical turn of events.
While searching for the family cat near the temple's sealed well, a centipede woman bursts out and drags her down the well and into feudal Japan!

Kagome finds herself in the "Warring States"e; period of Japanese history. Apparently, she is the reincarnation of Kikyo, a village priestess that managed to seal a half-human, half-demon named Inuyasha to the temple's sacred tree fifty years ago. Inuyasha was after the Jewel of the Four Souls in an effort to make himself completely demon. Kikyo stopped him but at the price of her own life. The jewel was burned with her body taking its power into the next world. Kagome learns this from Kikyo's sister Kaede but has no time to ponder this as the centipede woman attacks the village.

Her life gets more complicated as she learns that the jewel is inside her and that demons and evil men will kill her for it, including Inuyasha who she just freed to help kill the centipede woman!

Episode two has Inuyasha becoming an unwilling partner and bodyguard for Kagome as Kaede has cast a spell of submission on him. Things get further complicated as Kagome kills a demon that has taken the jewel but shatters the jewel into an unknown number of shards in the process. In episode three, we learn that the shards are scattered across the globe, and Kagome must recover all of them with Inuyasha's help.

On the surface, the show appears to be a straightforward quest story - retrieve the jewel fragments while fighting off any demons and evil men that cross your path. However, there is a lot more bubbling beneath the surface. Inuyasha and Kikyo have some sort of past as he was surprised by her attack on him. And why does he want to become fully demon? These are the two main mysteries revealed in the opening episodes, but they are written well and draw you into the story.

One thing that has always impressed me about Takahashi's works is how she manages to make relationships the focus of her stories. No matter what genre she works in, the story is about how the characters interact and grow with each other. So far, what makes this series unique from her other works is the balance between Kagome and Inuyasha. Both are strong-willed, intelligent, and a bit stubborn, but they must rely on each other to achieve their goals.

Inuyasha cannot restore the jewel without Kagome's power to detect the fragments, and Kagome must rely on Inuyasha to protect her along the way as she does not yet have the power or ability to defend herself. This results in neither character taking the position as the series "lead". Both carry the series equally, and the story benefits from it. The opening sequence shows more characters that will become a part of the fellowship, and I am looking forward to seeing what sort of relationships are formed as they meet and travel.

Another Takahashi touch is the attention to small details. For example, Kagome swims out to rescue a villager's child that has fallen into the river. For her, this is nothing more than finally putting her swimming lessons to good use. However, the villagers are stunned and believe her to be a kappa (water demon) as swimming is nearly unheard of in their time.

On the English dub side, the dialogue is different than the subtitled Japanese dialogue. In some places, the changes give the scene or character a different tone or mood. Overall, nothing is really lost in the dub dialogue, and the changes are not noticeable unless you do a side-by-side comparison. Those who prefer watching dubs will have few complaints with this title.

While I enjoyed the opening episodes, I do have to say that I am a bit hesitant about where this series is headed. They have established a good storyline and pair of characters. However, this series could tilt to being completely enjoyable or to becoming laborious to watch. My fear is that the show will degenerate into "fight the increasingly powerful monster of the week".

Having said that, I still am finding that my anticipation over this series has not been in vain. The opening episodes were enjoyable and pulled me into the action; the foundation for a good story has been lain. I look forward to seeing how the build upon this foundation.



Review Equipment
Mitsubishi 27" TV, Pioneer DVL-919, Sony STR-DE915 DD receiver, Bose Acoustimass-6 speakers, generic S-Video and audio cable.

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