Inu Yasha Vol. #21 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B+

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

Inu Yasha Vol. #21

By Luis Cruz     September 08, 2004
Release Date: August 24, 2004

Inu Yasha Vol. #21
© Viz Media

What They Say
When 15 year-old Kagome Higurashi falls down a well she finds herself magically transported to medieval Japan, a place where the countryside is inhabited by demons and goblins. Before long, she encounters a demon named Inuyasha, a dog who has been pinned to a tree for the last 50 years. When she approaches, he tells her that she smells exactly like Kikyo, the woman who pinned him to the tree all those years ago. Upon freeing the demon, Kikyo uneasily allies herself with the dog and begins the search for the sacred "Jewel of Four Souls" with him as she begins to suspect that she could be the reincarnation of Kikyo. In these episodes, Kikyo returns to warn Tsubaki not to harm Kagome. While Inuyasha fights with Tsubaki's pet demon, Kagome uses her mental capability to break the spell she is under. Tsubaki tricks two priestesses into attacking Inuyasha and Kagome. They turn out to be equal matches for the duo.

The Review!
Any concerns over the third season lapsing into mediocrity like the second seem to be unfounded. This volume provides some good action and quite a few laughs.

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, while the dialogue was clear and blended well with the music. The track was free from distortions, drop outs, or other problems.

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. Viz continues to use white subtitles which I am finding less readable than the yellow subtitles used previously.

The front cover is graced by Inu Yasha, Kagome, the temple guardians Momiji and Botan, and the shikigami versions of Inu Yasha and Kagome. The forest green background is very pleasing on the eye. The upper right corner of the front cover bears the "Third Season" logo. At the bottom of the front cover is the series logo and volume title; the volume number is just above the right of the series logo.

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 next a screenshot from the episode on the reverse.

After a brief animation of Kagome firing the arrow that shatters the jewel, the main menu appears; it is rendered as pieces of parchment paper containing line art of Kagome and Inu Yasha. Each menu item has a jewel fragment next to it; sub-menus appear after a brief, unique piece of animation and continue the parchment paper motif. The menus look great and balance being artistic with being functional.

The extras are the standard fare of the Japanese and English cast list, a line art gallery, and the Japanese promos for the episodes. However, Viz has put a new spin on the cast list and line gallery. Rather than a plain text list, each character has a picture with the English and Japanese voice actor's name next to it.

The best change is with the line art; there are only three pieces of artwork, but Viz allows you to zoom into the art work and move across it in this close-up mode. It is a great feature, one I hope Viz continues to use while finding a way to include more pieces of work. One last extra appears in this volume; there is a step-by-step guide on how to make shikigami also known as paper spirits.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
It has been a long time since I have laughed so hard during an Inu Yasha episode; in fact, it might be fair to say that I have never laughed so hard during an episode. But, I am getting ahead of myself. As the previous volume drew to a close, Naraku made his appearance known once again. With some trepidation, I began to watch this latest volume wondering if the series was headed for the same low points experienced in the second season.

Fortunately, the third season is still staying away from the same devices that made the second season a bit of a chore. The main reason for this is that Tsubaki, Naraku's latest pawn, is the first interesting villain to arrive in quite some time. As the volume opens up, Tsubaki is still holding Kagome's life in her hands. Kikyo arrives on the scene and manages to distract Tsubaki for a bit.

Kikyo tells Tsubaki that she can do to Kagome whatever she wants but warns her to leave Inu Yasha alone. With Tsubaki distracted, Kagome manages to lead Inu Yasha to Tsubaki's location. The remainder of the episode and the second episode resolve the first battle between the fellowship and Tsubaki. To break the curse, Kagome had to answer the eternal question "who are you?". Tsubaki manages to escape with the nearly complete jewel fragment.

The final episode sees Tsubaki returning to the temple where she trained as a child. There, she finds Momiji and Botan, the last two acolytes of the temple. She deceives the pair into heading out to fight Inu Yasha while she attempts to free a powerful demon trapped in the temple's pagoda.

The resulting conflict had me laughing continuously; Momiji and Botan are highly inexperienced and have trouble figuring out who in the fellowship is a demon. Poor Kaede is branded as a demon while Shippo proves to be problematic due to his unbearable cuteness. The highlight of the episode comes when Momiji and Botan create shikigami versions of Kagome and Inu Yasha. These oversized, super-deformed versions allow the writers to have some fun at the expense of the pair; the dialogue comes very quick and is quite sharp.

This is what I enjoy about most about Inu Yasha; at its best, it can combine the cold, calculating machinations of a villain like Tsubaki with some hilarious slapstick and dialogue. Tsubaki's past history with Kikyo and her desire for eternal beauty makes her an intriguing villain. Everything seems to be falling into place naturally making each episode easy and enjoyable to watch. The dialogue and characterization is just flowing together effortlessly and is bringing the series back up from the "power-up/villain of the week" formula the second season tended toward.

In summary:
This is an easy volume of Inu Yasha to recommend; the final episode is comedic gold while the first two episodes provide action and an interesting villain in Tsubaki. The writers seemed to have found a good stride and have all facets of the series clicking. Comedy, action, character development is all moving along fluidly and in an engaging manner.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Art Gallery,Cast Lists

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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