by Jonathan Cook
The world of Rumiko Takahashi comes alive on American televison with InuYasha. It's the story of a half-demon and his circle of misfit allies who search thru feudal Japan for shards of the powerful shikon jewel. A show with both action and plot, InuYasha truly has something for everyone.
InuYasha is story of a teenage half-demon half-human named InuYasha or "dog demon" who lives in Japan's "Warring States" period (1467-1568). The story starts with him raiding the city of Edo (now Tokyo) in hopes of stealing the Shikon Jewel. He believed that the jewel's powers could be used to turn him into a full demon. He almost succeeded before being stopped by the jewel's guardian, the Shinto priestess Lady Kikyo. She struck InuYasha with an enchanted arrow that pinned him to a tree and placed under a spell of suspended animation. Kikyo, badly wounded from the fight with InuYasha, asked to have the jewel destoryed with her remains so that it can never be used for evil again.
In the 20th Century, a 15-year-old girl named Kagome lives with her brother, mother and grandfather in the family residence and Shinto shrine in downtown Tokyo. One night, Kagome and her little brother heard noises coming from the old well near their house. As Kagome looked inside, a demon-centipede grabbed her and pulled her into the well. She used a powerful flash of light in order to free herself from the demon-centipede's clutches. When she climbed back out of the well, she discovered she was no longer in modern Tokyo. It appeared she had traveled back to feudal Japan. After walking through a forest, she discovered InuYasha's lifeless body still pinned to the tree from Lady Kikyo's enchanted arrow. Before she could get a closer look, the local villagers captured Kagome and took them before their head priestess Lady Kaede. Lady Kaede was stunned when she first saw Kagome. She thought she was her older sister Lady Kikyo, reincarnated fifty years after her battle with InuYasha. But before anything else could be said, the centipede-demon showed up again and started attacking the village. Kagome lured the demon back into the forest where InuYasha was slowly revitalizing himself. Lady Kaede followed close behind and warned Kagome not to awaken InuYasha. Kagome ignored Lady Kaede's pleas and removed the arrow rather than become centipede chow. But the centipede-demon did take a bite out of Kagome's hip to reveal the source of her powers: the shikon jewel. The jewel itself had passed over across time and space into Kagome's body. Once InuYasha destoryed the centipede-demon, he turned his attention to Kagome who had the jewel in her possession. Lady Kaede was able to subdue InuYasha by placing a necklace charm around his neck that causes him to land face-first on the ground whenever Kagome yells the word "sit."
Later, InuYasha learns that 50 years had passed since his defeat by Lady Kikyo and that he and Kagome must work together to prevent other demons from stealing the Shikon Jewel. Another battle with a different demon causes Kagome to accidently shatter the Shikon Jewel into hundreds of pieces and scatter them all over feudel Japan. Now InuYasha and Kagome must search for the missing shards in order to prevent their powers from falling into the wrong hands. Along the way, they meet three loyal allies who join them on their quest for the jewel shards: Shippo, the fox demon master of illusion; Miroku, the perverse Buddist monk; and Sango, the femme fatale demon exterminator. Together, they fight an onslaught of villians from InuYasha's evil half-brother Sesshou-maru to the crafty shapeshifter Naraku. Naraku is also the head villian of the entire series.
InuYasha is one of the first serials in the Rumiko Takahashi universe that plays out in the action-adventure genre. Which is some cases is considered groundbreaking since some of Ms. Takahashi's better known titles fall in the teenage romantic comedy genre. InuYasha has something for everyone. Besides action-adventure, it has comedy, drama, some occasional romantic moments, plot twists, intense character development and a developing bond of friendship among the five heroes that not even Naraku himself could destory.
Even though Cartoon Network only airs InuYasha late at night in the "segregated" Adult Swim block, fans of ALL AGES have tuned-in or set their VCRs to watch the animated adventures of dog-boy and his motley crew. I know this personally because a. I see 10-year-olds dressed as the characters at conventions and b. you'd be surprised the number of parents who call my radio show during the "Sushi Bar" block whose kids want to hear something from my InuYasha soundtrack library.
The show also has other interesting factors of note. Such as fan reaction (including my own) in regards to characters speaking the English err.."Canadian" language. At first, fans were afraid of the possibility of some pretty bad voice-acting. Instead, what they got was the total opposite. Without a doubt, Richard Cox has made fans overnight over his portrayal as InuYasha. I even heard some have "forgiven" him for taking over the voice of boy-type Ranma. To me, he sounded better than Kappei Yamaguchi as InuYasha. (hmmm..I can see the ton of "hate-mail" over that commit.). Other nods include my favorite, Kirby Morrow as Miroku, Kelly Sheridan as Sango, Willow Johnson as Lady Kikyo and Pat Hyatt as Lady Kaede. Although Pat couldn't get Kyoda Naoko's "chainsmoking grandma" voice down, the "medieval" phonics were a nice touch. But my friend Susan in Tampa would kill me if I didn't mention David Kaye..the voice of Sesshou-maru. Yes, he did the voice justice and the fangirls can sleep better at night because of him. However, I have to admit I wasn't impressed at all with Moneca Stori's portrayal of Kagome at first. But I did since improvement in how she carried herself in later episodes plus her voice grows on you after a while.
You can catch InuYasha Monday thru Thursdays at midnight on Cartoon Network. If you can't stay up that late, that's why we have VCR timers. Even though the series is now in it's 4th season in Japan with 100+ episodes and two theatrical movies under it's belt, only episodes 1-36 have aired on Cartoon Network. They are also available on DVD from Viz Video. On August 26th, CN began airing new episodes starting with episode 37: "The Man that Fell in Love with Kagome" with plans to go to episode 54.