Reviewby Theron Martin, Sep 6th 2006
DVD: Season 3 DVD Box Set
Modern-day junior high school student Kagome Higurashi, who lives with her mother, little brother, and priest grandfather at the family shrine, splits her time between school work, friends, and gallivanting through the Japanese feudal era, which she can access via an old well on the shrine grounds. She's been journeying with the half-demon Inuyasha, the monk Miroku, the demon-slayer Sango, and cute little fox demon Shippo in their quest to collect fragments of the mystical Shikon Jewel, which can empower the demons that run rampant in that era. Chief amongst their adversaries is the powerful, scheming half-demon Naraku and his primary incarnation, the Wind Sorceress Kagura, who have caused Inuyasha and crew considerable grief in the past. They must also occasionally contend with the wolf demon Koga, who sees himself (rightly or wrongly) as a rival to Inuyasha for Kagome's love; the undead priestess Kikyo, Inuyasha's former love; and Inuyasha's brother Sesshomaru, who has never gotten along with Inuyasha. As Kagome's posse searches for the final few fragments of the Shikon Jewel the other opposition includes a demon tree, a dark priestess, demon bats, a clan of panther demons, a new incarnation of Naraku, and Jaken, the henchman of Sesshomaru, who decides to make his boldest move yet.
Season 3 encompasses episodes 55-81, a period of the series comparatively light on major revelations and long-term developments. This block of episodes does show how Inuyasha gains the crucial ability to use his Tetsusaiga to break mystical barriers and ends with a climatic confrontation involving Inuyasha, Sesshomaru, and Naraku, one whose outcome impacts the storyline for dozens of episodes to follow. It also adds one additional small piece to Kikyo's back story, in the form of her past conflict with the Dark Priestess Tsubaki, and gives Kagome a couple of different opportunities to return home. Lacking in this season are any significant developments in the Inuyasha/Kagome/Kikyo love triangle, but Miroku and Sango do take a couple of significant steps forward in their relationship. On the whole, though, only a handful of moments in these episodes truly stick out.
All of Season 3 is composed of the series' standard pattern of 2-5 episode mini-arcs occasionally sprinkled with generally more light-hearted stand-alone episodes, including two which feature Shippo. (Episode 55's “The Stone Flower and Shippo's First Love” and episode 68's “Shippo Gets An Angry Challenge.”) The storytelling retains the same balance of action, comedy, drama, and romantic entanglements which made the series such a hit in the first place, although the drama component is not as strong or effective as in the previous two seasons. Those viewing this season for the first time should also still find the content at least moderately fresh, as the series has not yet reached the problems with repetitiveness often complained about in the later seasons.
Over time the artistry has become a little more stable and refined than it was in the early going, creating one of the better-looking long-running series. Recurring character designs are invariably distinctive and appealing, albeit typical of designs seen in any other Rumiko Takahashi work. No new character appears in this season who lasts more than a few episodes, but the various guest appearances are all visually typical of what has been seen before. Minor amounts of fan services and some blood can occasionally be seen, but this has never been a series that's been especially graphic or pandering to otaku. Animation, as always for the series, uses shortcuts in action scenes and small amounts of CG, but provides enough flashy scenes and motion to produce convincing and effective action scenes.
Inuyasha's background music, while still very effective, uses the exact same themes in Season 3 as it does in the previous two. Two different openers are used during the season: “I Am,” which played through most of the second season, also starts this one off, with a switch to “Owarinai Yume” beginning with episode 65. “Dearest,” the closer through the first few episodes of the season, switches to “Every Heart” beginning with episode 61. Both closers are quality numbers, while the openers are forgettable.
Ocean Group's production of Inuyasha's English dub has always been a strong one, and by the third season all of the VAs have their roles down solid. Some of the vocal styles are different enough that those used to the subtitled version may not care for them, but the performances are well-acted. Paul Dobson in particular shines as Naraku, lending an air of constant menace to Naraku's voice that isn't present in the Japanese dub but feels very fitting for such a melodramatic villain. The English script never strays too far from the original and always captures the spirit, tone, and emotions of the characters and scenes.
The 26 episodes in this set are spread over five disks in a fold-out case with matching slipcase. An episode summary sheet is included. On-disk extras can only be found on the final disk, which includes clean opener and closer and Special Footage, which is essentially an episode-length topical recap. The whole width of the packaging is thinner than three individual volumes, so it's an excellent value for space efficiency as well as price. A limited Deluxe Edition, which includes a necklace with a jar of jewel shards, is also available.
Although the Adult Swim broadcasts are well past this point and DVDs of later episodes have been available for some time now, the Season 3 Box Set is a good and economical value for the true Inuyasha enthusiast or the fan who has gotten into the series well after Adult Swim stopped broadcasting these episodes. It isn't the strongest season in the series and only has a small number of developments which are important for the long term, but it does offer plenty of entertainment value.
Overall (dub) : B
Overall (sub) : B
Story : B
Animation : B
Art : B+
Music : B+
+ Good English dub, good mix of action, comedy, drama, and romance.
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