Reviewby Carl Kimlinger,
DVD - Season 6 Box Set Deluxe Edition
After much destroying of stuff and hardcore introspection, Inuyasha and his merry band of misfits have retired from Mt. Hakurei to the peaceful forests of their home. Kagome returns to her own time, hell-bent on studying her way back up the educational ladder, only to find that school is on hold while her class gears up for the cultural festival. She throws herself into the festival, only to have dehydrated and reconstituted demons wreak havoc at every event. Once back in feudal times Kagome and Inuyasha wander the wilderness and encounter lots of folks in need of demon slaying assistance, which they render, reluctantly at first, and then enthusiastically as Inuyasha gets into the spirit and whomps demon butt with his big demon-butt-whomping sword. Somewhere along the way they learn that only a single shard of the Shikon Jewel remains beyond Naraku's reach, and that Hakudoshi—Naraku's creepy infant incarnation—is searching for it in the gap between the world of the living and the dead, a process that includes much killing of monks and hoarding of demon heads. Which kind of rubs Inuyasha the wrong way.
Season six is basically a twenty-episode segue between the grim Band of Seven business and the race for the final shard. But even when it is filler, Inuyasha is fast, colorful filler, nearly as fun as it is formulaic. Rumiko Takahashi's cast of almost-but-not-quite stereotypes are allowed plenty of room to indulge in their various quirks, and even some room to evolve (in the two-steps-forward-one-step-back manner typical of the series). The solid visuals occupy the eyes, workmanlike humor flows freely, and in unpredictable Takahashi fashion, important plot threads are allowed to emerge from the unlikeliest of side-stories. For a series that has blundered through 120 some odd episodes of repetitive shard hunting and demon slaying, Inuyasha is still a surprisingly pleasant way to pass the time.
Some may think that faint praise, and they'd be right. It is. Pleasant it may be, but this isn't towering entertainment, compelling drama, or even addictive popcorn fun—it's merely a way to kill some time. And kill it it does. The main plot and relationships proceed at an excruciating crawl, and important developments are separated by blocks of episodes that fall back on the usual “Inuyasha saves village from rampaging demon” plot. Even the non-filler arcs inevitably end by returning the series to the status quo, rendering what has passed ultimately disposable. Over the course of these twenty episodes the only real change wrought is the introduction of a child villain, a change that isn't likely to be met with any enthusiasm.
But sometimes time needs to be killed, and if it's necessary to do so, it is best to do it pleasantly. You can watch even the worst of Inuyasha episodes without fearing that Kagome will suddenly become spineless monster-bait, and brave even the most fossilized of plot devices knowing that on the other side lies Takahashi's odd humor and peculiar take on Japanese mythology. In the meantime the period touches and epic instrumental flare-ups of Kaoru Wada's score bridge the gaps in Sunrise's attempts to keep the animation consistent, shoring up the action with epic, memorable flourishes whenever flashy CG effects aren't enough to distract from the increasingly prevalent use of shortcuts and loss of detail in the riparian backdrops. And even when the music can't carry the series, it always has its huge, well-established cast to rely on. Though it is telling that the most consistently appealing character is a cowardly flea.
Myoga is also the highlight of Viz's English adaptation, embodying the dub at its hammy best. The performances are too wooden whenever emoting is required and lack the extra layer of conviction necessary to make the action thrill, but they're accurate and effective whenever comic relief is necessary. The casting is thoughtful if uninspired, with Richard Cox's arrogant punk take on Inuyasha probably being the farthest the English cast drifts from the original. Thankfully the embarrassingly misguided “period” dialogue of the earlier episodes has been abandoned in favor of easy modern English that manages to avoid sounding terribly stilted even as it remains unusually faithful to the direct translation.
While Inuyasha has long been one of Viz's cash cows, they aren't about to give it the lavish treatment that some of their Shonen Jump properties have gotten as of late. Other than clean versions of the new and eminently skippable opener and closer, the only extra is a video of Myoga the flea giving a quick and dirty account of the series' cultural background. The limited edition also comes with a stylishly colored cheap plastic watch that is far too small to fit around my meaty American wrist.
After five seasons, the wheat should be long separated from the chaff, with those who cannot withstand the snail-like narrative development and oft annoying villains of Inuyasha having long ago departed for greener pastures. Those who remain, whether it's for the action, the elaborate demons, the romantic tensions, or just for the fangirl-bait of Sesshomaru, will find this season has enough of each to keep killing any time that needs killing. It isn't capable of anything more, but the old-timers already know that.
Overall (dub) : C+
Overall (sub) : B-
Story : C+
Animation : B-
Art : B
Music : B+
+ Good, light fun that sets the series up for its final season.
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