Inu Yasha Vol. #13 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: A
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • 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

Inu Yasha Vol. #13

By Luis Cruz     January 29, 2004
Release Date: December 02, 2003


Inu Yasha Vol. #13
© Viz Media


What They Say
Koga, leader of the Wolf-Demon tribe, kidnaps Kagome for her ability to spot the shards of the sacred jewel. Dragged into the war between the Wolf-Demons and the so-called Birds of Paradise, Kagome is in danger and must be saved by Inuyasha and the others. Just when things seem as though they can't get any worse, Naraku sets Koga against Inuyasha – in a duel to the death!

Contains:

Episode 37: The Man who fell in love with Kagome
Episode 38: Two Hearts, One Mind
Episode 39: Trapped in a Duel to the Death!

The Review!
A humorous middle act saved what was otherwise a repetitious volume. Den of Wolves treads ground we have seen before in an effort to build up two new characters.

Audio:
For my primary viewing session, the Japanese audio track was listened to; as with previous volumes, the front soundstage was utilized well during the action sequences while the dialogue was sharp and clear. There were no noticeable problems during playback providing a rich audio experience. Dub fans will have an equally enjoyable experience as a spot-check showed that the English track is on par with previous volumes.

Video:
The video is on par with previous volumes; the picture is sharp, colorful, and, to my eye, defect-free. The only minor quibble one could have would be with the size of the subtitles; they still feel a bit too large considering the amount of action that takes place during the episodes. However, it does not detract significantly from the viewing experience. The front-loaded trailers are still present; fortunately, you can use the "Next" button on your remote to skip past them.

As with every Viz disc I have reviewed, this volume replaces the original Japanese credits and episode title cards with English equivalents placed directly onto the video transfer. While this practice does not bother most, my preference is to have the original Japanese video intact from start to finish.

As other company’s releases have borne out, DVD technology allows the original Japanese credits and English translated credits to coexist on the same disc. Viz is not utilizing this technology on this volume, and my video grade reflects that.

Packaging:
The front cover is a collage of Kagome, Inu Yasha, and Koga against the mountainside. The upper right corner of the front cover bears the "Second Season" logo. At the bottom of the front cover, some scenes from the episodes are displayed. The English logo is three-fourths of the way down from the top of the cover; below it are the volume title, episode titles, and the Japanese logo respectively. There is still no volume indicator on the front cover.

The back cover retains the placement of the synopsis, screenshots, and disc specifications seen on previous second season volumes. Inside the case is a one-page insert that has the front cover shot on one side and the chapter listings beneath some screenshots on the reverse.

Menu:
The main menu consists of a simple picture of a temple gate in the background; the menu items are within the temple gates. Tetsusaiga is in the left portion of the screen and has scenes from the show playing on its blade, a very subtle effect. The final touch has Kirara looking tiny and cute near the gate. When you select a menu item, a brief shot of Kirara flying plays. The menus are intuitive, easy to use, and look really sharp.

Extras:
The extras are the standard fare of the Japanese and English cast list, a line art gallery, and the Japanese promos for the episodes. A promo for the US Playstation game makes its return in the extras section; however, there is no actual footage of the game in the promo, which probably speaks volumes about the quality of the game. It is clear that the game promo is included to serve as a commercial rather than as an extra.

Content:(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
While Den of Wolves builds up a new character and introduces another, it provides no new material in the process. As the volume opens, Kagome is still held prisoner by the wolf-demon Koga. After helping Shippo escape, Kagome is shocked when Koga proclaims her "his woman". He promises to kill Inu Yasha so she will be free to love him instead. But first, they must defeat the wolf-demon's enemies, the Birds of Paradise, and take their jewel fragments.

The battle is joined, but it is Inu Yasha who claims victory by defeating the chief Bird with a single swipe of Tetsusaiga. Since a new male character has been introduced, it is time for Kagome to make Inu Yasha feel jealous, and she does so by protecting a wounded Koga from Inu Yasha after the battle. The cycle of repressed feelings leading to anger is renewed as they anger each other. This time Kagome has had enough and borrows Kirara for a quick ride to the well so she can go home.

The time Kagome spends in the present day is always a refreshing change, and the middle act is no exception. Kagome returns to school to find her friends spying on Hojo, the boy that strives for Kagome's love. Hojo is apparently being pursued by a seventh grader; Kagome's friends attempt to pressure Kagome into dating Hojo forcing Kagome to reflect on Inu Yasha's good and bad qualities.

Back in the Feudal era, Inu Yasha mopes around the village unwilling to venture to the modern era to retrieve Kagome. While Sango and Shippo fret over the situation, Miroku manages to hit on the village women yet dispense useful and sage advice about Inu Yasha and Kagome's tempestuous relationship. The most amusing bit comes when Shippo explains the events of the last two episodes to Kaede via a series of crayon drawings. They are very cute and remind you of just how young Shippo is.

Kagome and Inu Yasha both reflect on how wrong their actions and make up after their fashion. The modern era episodes all seem to serve the purpose of having the Kagome and Inu Yasha reflect on their relationship, but they are written so well and provide a healthy dose of humor. These episodes come close to capturing the romantic comedy feel that Urusei Yatsura perfected.

The cliffhanger for this volume revolves around an all too familiar trap set by Naraku. He tricks a pack of wolf-demons into entering his castle and uses his new pawn Kagura, a fan-waving female demon, to kill them. Naraku's insects lure Inu Yasha and the fellowship to the carnage while a "survivor" gives Koga a jewel fragment and tells him to hurry before everyone else dies. Koga arrives at the castle to find Inu Yasha stained with the blood of his comrades; the inevitable duel to the death ensues.

The writers do not seem able to place many tricks up Naraku's sleeve. We have seen this ploy used with nearly every secondary character in the series, and there is little doubt as to how this duel will turn out. There is no sense of tension as we watch the fellowship rush headlong into the same hackneyed trap. They have a giant flying cat; when will they actually use it to scout out the situation first?

Another aspect that I am growing weary of is the endless flashbacks in every episode. These flashbacks range from a few minutes of the previous episode to a minute or two of material we just saw in the current episode. The merchandising machine is running at full steam as the series continues to be padded out by these flashbacks and repetitious introductions of new characters through the same plot device. What is sacrificed is the potential to weave a tight and well-written story containing characters one grows to love. The series continues to slide into mediocrity, something I would rather watch only occasionally on television rather than ardently follow.

In summary:
If not for the middle act, this volume would have received a lower grade. It added a good dose of humor and introspection to a volume heavy in recycled material. The series as a whole is starting to drag on longer than necessary making each volume more of a chore than a pleasure. My best advice would be to rent this one if you have to see the show subtitled; otherwise, catch the episodes when they air on television.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles

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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