Inuyasha (1997)


Volume 1

Inuyasha - Volume 1 (1997)

Author/Artist: Rumiko Takahashi
Publisher: Shounen Sunday Comics

The reincarnation of a shrine maiden is transported 500 years into the past, where she must ally with a half-demon to safeguard a jewel of immense power.

This series is significant for me as it was one of the first I started importing after I left the Army and I wasted plenty of time and digital ink in college debating and analyzing it on the discussion boards. The series is interesting in that it takes the romantic comedy Rumiko Takahashi is best known for, blends it with the horror elements of her Mermaid series and borrows the basic time-traveling concept from her short story Fire Tripper. While I will agree with critics that it drags on a little longer than it should, the storytelling is far more compelling than the more episodic Urusei Yatsura and Ranma 1/2. You could see her basic approach in the big battle epics of Ranma 1/2, but here they become the norm rather than the exception and it's the little one-shots that become rare. Another interesting factor is that while it's not always accurately represented, the story does progress in a set timeframe rather than being stuck in the limbo of comic book time as UY and Ranma were. Only Maison Ikkoku follows a more definite real-time progression. But enough about all that. Let's talk about this volume in particular.

We're off to a strong start with a prologue that we spend the first part of the story trying to unravel. I do like how Inuyasha starts off as more or less villainous (though it's pretty obvious that he's trying a little too hard to be the bad guy). It gives him a starting point for his character arc (unlike the more static Ataru and Ranma who preceded him). Yura makes for a good first true threat, the Mukade Jorou and Shibugarasu being mere warmup villains.

My appreciation for Takashashi's art should be well-established by now. The interesting thing is that here at the beginning of the series, her art style looks more like it was a few years prior to its release. It could be that she drew the first few chapters as a pilot and Shounen Sunday sat on it until Ranma finished its run. Though there won't be as dramatic of an art shift as some of her previous long-runners, you will see considerable development over the course of the series. Generally speaking, the character art takes on an increasingly sharper look. You could see the same trend over the course of Ranma's run and UY before it. If you haven't read the Mermaid series prior to this, the grotesqueries that are some of the youkai and all the blood and gore may shock you a bit. There's also a fair bit of casual nudity, though not as much as in Ranma. There are plenty of good action sequences to be had and let's just say that Yura's character design has a lot of fans.

While the latter half of the series drags a bit, it really does start strong here. We get a couple nice starter villains before ramping things up a bit with Yura. If you want action, romance, comedy and horror all bundled up in a nice little package, this series is for you. This one is worth adding to the collection.

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