Reviewby Rebecca Bundy,
Naraku kidnaps Rin in order to blackmail Sesshoumaru into killing Inuyasha. His plans for the dog demon are cut short though when Inuyasha, armed with his new barrier-cutting Tessaiga, nearly obliterates Naraku and forces him to flee. But with this most recent defeat, Naraku's energy seems to have vanished without a trace! Where could he be hiding and what's the cause behind the sudden surge of demons running loose across the countryside?
Twenty three volumes in and this series still packs a serious punch, though if you haven't seen the series or read the manga up until now, you won't get a single thing from it. This volume roughly covers episodes 80-85, though fans of the anime might be surprised to learn that Ayame, Koga's “fiancée”, doesn't appear here or anywhere else in the manga. It might've been nice to see Koga developed a little at this time, but for now his focus remains exclusively on Kagome.
Even though Koga is overlooked as far as character development, there's plenty of it for the rest of the main characters. Ever since he first met Rin, Sesshoumaru has taken a noticeable, if only minor, step towards becoming less evil. His true feelings for Rin however are finally tested when Naraku kidnaps her and Sesshoumaru walks willingly into Naraku's trap in order to rescue her. His words might say “I don't care about humans”, yet he gives up a perfect opportunity to finally kill Naraku in order to save her. Inuyasha and Kagome have some priceless and adorable moments together in a cute filler, while Miroku shows genuine concern for Sango's feelings. Even Kagura makes it very clear that her desire to be free of Naraku is not a dream that she's going to give up on anytime soon.
The pacing of the entire volume is balanced perfectly between action, conversation, and reflection. The battle and near-defeat of Naraku is broken up by a sweet filler appropriately titled “Intermission”, which then leads right into the next part of the story. Certain battles are sharp and concise to keep the plot flowing, while another is drawn out to extend the suspense surrounding Naraku's supposed disappearance.
Rumiko Takahashi has had plenty of time and experience to perfect her unique style and character designs. Most things, such as faces and hair, are kept simple so that more time can be spent on clothes and monsters. Incredible detail is paid to the hair monster met later in on the volume, where page after page is filled with every strand of hair drawn out to emphasize how unruly and hairy the monster is. My only complaint would be about the character designs, which have changed somewhat since the earlier volumes.
The most disappointing thing about this volume is the obvious lack of substance outside of the original content. “The story thus far” section does an incredible job of reiterating the basic background of the series, just in case there's an anime/manga fan out there who doesn't know what Inuyasha's about. Beyond this basic information, though, there's absolutely nothing. The lack of actual “story thus far” makes it impossible for someone to just jump right into the series at this point. The “Characters” page is just as informative with about as much information as you'd expect on a trading card. It's understandable that someone might be a bit intimidated by the thought of releasing over 40 of these things, but a little bit of time should be put into keeping the information in the front up to date.
If you're an Inuyasha fan who hasn't been keeping up with the manga, this is a great volume to snag just so you can see some of the differences between the manga and anime. For those who haven't kept up with the series or manga, feel free to thank Viz for making it impossible for you to jump in later in the game.
Story : A
Art : A
+ A great plot with plenty of character development.
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