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InuYasha – FIRST SEASON BOX SET (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

January 8, 2009 by  



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“’An enchanting anime series that will just win you over!  Fun and cool characters, well-written and very addictive!  A fantastic series that anime fans, especially Rumiko Takahashi fans will love!”

© Rumiko Takahashi/Shogakukan • Yomiuri TV • Sunrise 2000

DVD TITLE: INUYASHA – FIRST SEASON BOX SET

DURATION: 675 minutes (27 Episodes)

DVD INFORMATION: Original Uncut Episodes, Stereo, Bilingual (Japanese and English), English Subtitles

COMPANY: Shonen Jump Home Video/Viz Media

Originally created by Rumiko Takahashi

Director: Masashi Ikeda

 

Character Design: Yoshihito Hishinuma

Art Director: Shigemi Ikeda

Music: Kaoru Wada

 

Featuring the following voice talent:

Kappei Yamaguchi/Richard Ian Cox (Inuyasha)

Satsuki Yukino/Monica Stori (Kagome Higurashi)

Kouji Tsujitani/Kirby Morrow (Miroku)

 

Ken Narita/David Kaye (Sesshoumaru)

Houko Kwashima/Kelly Sheridan (Sango)

Kumiko Watanabe/Jillian Michaels (Shippo)

Toshiyuki Morikawa/Paul Dobson (Naraku)

 

Kagome Higurashi, an average ninth grader, gets pulled into an ancient well by a demon, bringing her 500 years in the past to the feudal era.  There she meets Inuyasha, a half-demon who seeks for the Shikon Jewel to make himself a full fledged demon.  With Inuyasha and new friends, Kagome’s search for the Jewel of Four Souls begins…

There are not many long running anime series that I find wonderful but for “InuYasha”” is one of those special titles that is what you can call a total package.  Cool characters, cool storyline, cool animation, cool art background… A good balance of everything that you can want in an anime.

But it’s something that I expected no less coming from a manga series from Rumiko Takahashi, one of my favorite manga-ka’s in Japan known for anime TV series hits such as “Urusei Yatsura”, “Maison Ikkoku”, “Ranma 1/2” and “InuYasha”.

I have to be truthful and say that I am actually a late bloomer to the “InuYasha”” TV series.  As a big fan of Rumiko Takahashi’s earlier works and “Ranma 1/2” really helping me get into anime nearly 16 years ago, having enjoyed the three previous hits, I felt that I enjoyed them so much, what if I didn’t enjoy this new series (which aired in Japan back in 2000)?  So, nearly a decade I have caught a few episodes that would air on television but never watched the series from the beginning and what better time to do it but now.

“INUYASHA – FIRST SEASON BOX SET” comprises of the first 27 episodes in both Japanese or English.

The story takes place in Feudal Japan and you see a half human/demon named InuYasha stealing the Jewel of Four Souls.  As he escapes, a Priestess named Kikyo shoots him with a sacred arrow and sealing him on a sacred tree.  But for poor Kikyo, she has been mortally wounded and she asks to be buried with the Jewel of Four Souls in order to make sure no yokai (spirits or monsters) gets a hold of the Jewel of Four Souls ever again.

Flash forward to modern Tokyo and we are introduced to high school student Kagome Higurashi.  As the family cat has run off and her little brother unable to get it, she tries to retrieve the cat inside the Shinto Shrine but out of nowhere, a centipede demon grabs her and takes her down into a well.  Next thing you know, Kagome is now in Feudal Japan.

The first thing she sees is InuYasha sealed to the tree by the arrow but as she walks around, she is taken by the Villagers who think she may be a demon because of her modern school clothes.  The older woman named Kaede (who was Kikyo’s younger sister) recognizes that Kagome is the reincarnation of Kikyo.  And she tells Kagome about Kikyo and even InuYasha but all of a sudden, the demon Centipede is back and wanting Kagome for the Jewel of Four Souls.  Kagome doesn’t know what the demon is talking about until it is revealed that the jewel was inside Kagome’s body.

With the Centipede wanting to kill Kagome, Kagome runs back where she arrived from and ends up in an area where InuYasha is pinned.  She awakes InuYasha who says that if she wants to be saved, he must release that arrow that is pinning him to the tree.  She obliges and thus releases InuYasha.

Eventually InuYasha kills the Centipede monster but not long after, goes after the Jewel.  Kaede saves Kagome by putting a beaded necklace on InuYasha and each time Kagome yells “sit”, InuYasha is forced by the necklace to sit.  So, each time InuYasha tries to get the jewel, Kagome yells “sit” and thwarts his plan.

But for Kagome, she’s pretty much ready to go home.  She doesn’t know why she’s in this time period but one thing is for sure, the monsters are attracted to the Jewel of Four Souls and all go after it.   On one day, the jewel is stolen from Kagome.  Knowing that the jewel can give a monster ultra powers, both she and InuYasha go after the winged monster.  Kagome shoots an arrow at the bird but it hits the jewel square on and shatters it.  Now shards of the jewel are all over the land and if monsters grave onto the shards, they will be more powerful.

So, thus Kagome is forced into partnering up with InuYasha.  Both must find the jewel shards and defeat each monster who may have possessed it.

Along the way, both Kagome and InuYasha meet companions who join them on the journey but also evil characters that they must fight.  The characters introduced in the first season are:

InuYasha – The half demon/half human who drawn a liking towards the human Priestess Kikyo and has some feelings for Kagome but his ego prevents him from saying anything about his emotions.  Has the ability to leap far distances, has quite a few special attacks including claws that can cut through anything.  Also, wields his father’s sword, Tetsusaiga.  His goal is to take control of the Jewel of Four Souls to turn into a demon.  Wears necklace that forces him to listen to a single command from Kagome.  When Kagome says “sit”, he drops or literally is thrown down to the ground harshly.  He and Kagome are constantly bickering.  In the first day of each month, he resorts back to human form.

Kagome Higurashi – A high school student who is a reincarnation of Kikyo.  Carries a bow and arrow as a weapon but a human who has the ability to go back to her time period through a well in her home and a well in the feudal period.  Has conflicted emotions towards InuYasha but always caring for other people.  Has the ability to control InuYasha by a special bead necklace on InuYasha that forces him to listen.  She has the ability to sense and see the jewels and the shards from long distances or on a monster.

Shippo – A young orphan fox.  Human in appearance with a big fox tail.  His father was killed by a demon and eventually gets himself into trouble while trying to obtain the crystal shards to become powerful and get revenge on the demons that killed his father.    He has nowhere to go and is eventually taken in by InuYasha and Kagome.

Miroku – A Buddhist monk who travels the countryside and performs exorcisms.  He’s a bit lecherous and likes to take people’s belongings and sell them for a profit.  But his goal is to find the evil Naruku who has taken Miroku’s right hand and given him the power of “wind tunnel”, a powerful ability that can suck anything into a black hole like void in his hand.  The hole is growing and eventually he will be sucked into it unless he finds the person who cursed him with it and gets his life back.  He eventually travels with Kagome, Inuyasha and Shippo in search of Naruku.

Sango – Sango is a demon slayer who’s family was slayed by demons.  The person responsible is Naruku, thus joins Kagome, InuYasha, Shippo and Miroku to go after him.  Her main weapon is a large boomerang that is powerful and able to cut monsters in half.

Sesshoumaru – The brother of InuYasha.  A demon who can’t stand InuYasha because he’s half demon and half human and blames their father for being so weak and trying to protect a human.  The two despise each other and twice in season one, he and InuYasha fight to the death.  Has the ability to turn into a white wolf and much stronger and ruthless than InuYasha.

Kikyo – The Priestess who used to wear the Jewel of Four Souls.  Cared for InuYasha but believed he is the one that fatally injured her.  In season 1, she is brought back to life as an undead and wants her revenge against InuYasha.

Kaede – The sister of Kikyo, she is shown in past clips of Kikyo as a young little girl but currently she is 50+ years older, wears an eye patch and assists InuYasha and Kagome with information in their missions when they need her.

Naraku – The main evil who has manipulated everyone in order to get his hands on the crystal shards.  Very evil demon and the main enemy everyone is after.

For the first season, the majority of the episodes focus on build character development for these five individuals.  From InuYasha and Kagome to InuYasha and Kikyo to his relationship (or lack of) with his brother Sesshoumaru.  For Kagome, you see her try to balance her real life in present time as she tries to pass tests for school and then going back to to help InuYasha find the crystal shards and at the same time questioning her feelings for InuYasha.

With each episode, there is a lot of action involved, many battles with demons and ghosts and helping different people from different villages.  You start to realize that Kagome has a positive effect on InuYasha and once you reach past episode 20, you start to realize more about InuYasha and Kikyo and what really transpired on that tragic day and who was truly responsible.

With each episode, I literally didn’t want to stop watching.  I was instantly hooked by the characters and each episode’s storyline.  The way the writers handled the character development and integrated everyone into the storyline was done quite well.

Now there are two versions of these box sets.  The first is this regular edition and then there is a limited deluxe edition for each season that comes out with a certain item.  For the first season, the deluxe edition comes with the beaded necklace similar to the version InuYasha wears.

Also, for those wondering if there is any version between this re-release and the 2004 Season 1 release, I don’t think so.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

For an anime created back in 2000, the first season of episodes holds up pretty well nearly a decade later.  There are some stair effect on edges which may be due to the upconverting from my Blu-ray player but overall, the colors are vibrant and the overall animation was done quite well.  If you are a big Rumiko Takahashi fan, you know what to expect from her character designs and the animation was well done.

As for the audio, audio is presented in 2.0 and both languages are done quite well.   The English dubbed seems a bit more clearer and a little louder coming through my front speakers over the Japanese track but overall, it’s a purely dialogue driven anime and there are no 5.1ch tracks, so you get the dialogue in stereo.  For “Ranma 1/2” fans, you will see Ranma voice actor Kappei Yamaguchi return as the voice for InuYasha which was pretty cool.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

The box set features a few features such as a character relationship chart which is controlled by your remote control to see the various relationships with each character in the “InuYasha” anime series.  Also included are the textless opening and closing themes.  You get V6’s “Change the World” and dream’s “My Will” and you get the Japanese trailers for the first InuYasha film.

I feel that when it comes to an anime television series based on a Rumiko Takahashi manga, you really can’t go wrong.  Her first three are classics in their own right and “InuYasha” will surely join the others as not only popular hit manga series but also great anime TV series of all time.  There are not too many manga creators who have a lot of their works get the anime adaptation that spawn many films, CD drama series and soundtracks and also a lot of merchandise.  For Rumiko Takahashi, she’s had three decades worth of series that have lasted for a long time and even today, fans still crave her works because they can be watched any time and they are good now as they were then.

But when it comes to “InuYasha”, where I’ve had such a strong affinity towards her previous releases and even “Ranma 1/2”, I have to admit, “InuYasha” is a solid series and there was not many episodes that were bland or “OK”, they were all very good and again, there are not many TV series where I want to continue watching nearly every episode in one sitting.

So, everything is fantastic about this series but are there any negatives?  Well, compared to current VIZ Media releases such as “DEATH NOTE” or “Busou Renkin” Season Box Sets, they do add the interviews with the English dub voice talent but considering those were 2008 releases and this was released back in 2004.  I think VIZ has learned throughout the years  and have given fans what they want with current releases.  But for this older release, it’s a classic and you do get special features, just not a lot.

For the parents who were wondering if this was a safe DVD box set for the children, I am not sure if the episodes were edited for television in the US but I do know there are some episodes on the DVD that have a lot of violence and even some scenes (especially in Sango’s storyline) that have people dying of unpleasant deaths and you see things like severed heads.  And during a few battles with monsters, you see InuYasha slicing them up or a body part or two.  So, there is violence in this series.  So, parents who are wondering if they can buy this for their seven year old, you may want to stay with a series like Pokemon instead.

The first season was just quite fun to watch with it’s humorous but butt-kicking characters and you get the dramatic storylines between InuYasha, Kagome and Kikyo.  To have 27 episodes on one box set for a very good price is quite nice.  Considering in the past, when anime TV series were 3-4 episodes per DVD.    So, you get your money’s worth by buying this box set.

Again, the first season so far was simply fantastic and for those who enjoyed Rumiko Takahashi’s previous works such as “Urusei Yatsura”, “Maison Ikkoku” and “Ranma 1/2”, she hits a grand slam with “InuYasha”.  The first season box set is highly recommended!

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