Inuyasha was the running joke in my group of anime-loving friends. We would relentless mock the franchise every chance we got. It’s on at 3 a.m., no one watches it. The dub is so bad, how could anyone bear hearing him speak? Inuyasha is such a whiny guy, I can’t stand him. With what little knowledge of the show we knew from catching late night glimpses on Adult Swim, we thought Inuyasha was a mess of an anime. No one we knew at the time watched it; we saw no one buying the manga at our local bookstore (shout out to B. Dalton). It was a trash show with bad voice acting that aired at 3 a.m. to fill time. And, as a bonus, yelling Wind Scar in crazy voices at each other when you’re twelve is really fun. Let’s bash Inuyasha, it probably deserves it.
But it’s hard to escape such a classic show; sometimes I felt like it was following me. I would see people cosplay the characters at conventions, the books in the stores, the commercials on late night TV. Driving home from school one day, I saw a license plate embossed with TETSAIGA, the name of Inuyasha’ blade. On nights when I couldn’t sleep, I would go down and watch a few episodes between 3-5 a.m. Too young and tired to really pay attention, its ending credits song was the only thing that stuck with me. The haunting Fukai Mori became my late night anthem. On late, insomnia fueled nights, I played the song to lull me back to sleep. I still do. My opinion slowly changed from “Inuyasha is trash” to “Inuyasha is trash with a really good ED.” Yes, not the biggest transition, but it was an opinion change nonetheless. But were my roasts really so unfounded? What was so good about Inuyasha?
Then, after over ten years of hating on a show I never actually watched, I went to cat sit for the weekend at a friend’s house and saw a bookshelf filled with Inuyasha. Over 40 volumes at my disposal, waiting to be read. I love sitting down with a manga, especially now that I read most my series online; reading a physical copy is always a treat. I also had just finished reading 20 physical copies of Berserk, so I was on a manga-binge. I grabbed volume 1 of Inuyasha and dove in.
Firstly, Inuyasha is written by Rumiko Takahashi, famous for Ranma ½ and Urusei Yatsura. That was a pleasant surprise! And after sitting with the book for a few minutes, I could totally tell by the art and style. Instantly, my hopes were up. Okay, okay, there’s something to work with here. Let’s see what’s up. And there’s a lot up in Inuyasha. And all of it is kind of awesome.
Secondly, wow it’s gory. I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of violence and blood in the fight scenes. Inuyasha does not hold its punches. Maybe Adult Swim censored it? Maybe, as a tired kid up too late, I just didn’t notice? But there are limbs and guts flying everywhere in this manga and I love it. Bring on the brutal battles! It makes the world even more exciting.
And thirdly, I think I actually like it. Inuyasha has a compelling plot. A quest to find the shards of the shikon jewel, a powerful magical artifact that could save or destroy the world. A young heroine, the reincarnation of the jewel’s protector, teams up with her ancestor’s murderer in an alternate world to retrieve the pieces and reclaim the power that was lost. Family drama, demons and devils, revenge, deception, salvation. Inuyasha is a ride that, if you’re a prolific anime fan, you’ve been on before, so you know it’s a ride you want to go on again.
Upon reading it, Inuyasha is a series that has everything I love in it: exciting and gory samurai battles, a fun group of underdog characters, and sprinkles of shoujo trash, comedy, drama and mystery. Kagome is an awesome character; she’s witty, she can shoot, and she knows her limits and how to fight within them. Inuyasha…is still a bit of a whiny guy, but that’s part of his charm. He’s rough around the edges because he’s jaded from his turbulent past (swoon). I have no doubt Kagome will soften him up.
At the time of this writing, I’m about a fifth of the way through the adventure and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. It reminds me of the good old days of Dragon Ball: a rag-tag group on a quest that turns into something more. It’s not original, but it’s super entertaining. It knows what it is and does it well. It has the opportunity to become a series I really love and enjoy.
I see you Inuyasha. But I will still mockingly yell Wind Scar at the top of my lungs until you convince me otherwise. You’ve got me engaged. All you have to do is take your themes and plot a little further to make me understand why people love you. You can do it, Inuyasha, I believe in you. Make me change my mind. Make me want to write about you again. The stage is set, perform on it.
I probably won’t change my license plate or anything, but I’ll admit that you deserve the praise you get. Just show me what you can really do. I’m ready.