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"Inuyasha" Season Two: He's Just a Big Softy

Kagome is a normal Japanese teenager who fell down a well and ended up in the Feudal Era. There she awoke a half-demon, Inuyasha, complete with ears and a nasty temper. His fifty year sleep was induced by his love, Kikyo, when the two were tricked into betraying each other by the demon Naraku. Kagome, the reincarnation of Kikyo, shattered the Shikon jewel, a sacred jewel created from the souls of demons. Because Kagome has the power to sense the shattered pieces, Inuyasha and Kagome team up, at first quite reluctantly, to find the shards of the jewel. Thus begins the tale of Inuyasha, which becomes more entangled and entwined as it progresses.

In these 27 episodes dubbed Season Two, we are introduced to many new characters. We learn much more about Inuyasha’s sword, Tetsusaiga, and Naraku lays more traps, plays with more emotions, and becomes even stronger. To me, these episodes are where the story becomes epic. The first season seems like set up to get to this point, where the story becomes juicy and the characters gain depth.

If you haven’t been introduced to the story thus far, or think it’s progressed too far to jump in, never fear. There are lots of flashbacks in the episodes, and recaps at the beginning of many. Even if that does not satisfy your appetite for back-story, there is a special presentation called “Inuyasha Super Special” in the extras, which basically recaps everything that has happened thus far in the series. It’s a very comprehensive clip show, setting things up nicely for this season.

In this season we see several story arcs. The most major arc involves Inuyasha’s sword, Tetsusaiga, which was created with his father’s fang. It was given to Inuyasha by his father and Sessshomaru, Inuyasha’s seemingly emotionless full-demon brother, is jealous of the powerful sword. Sesshomaru was given a sword, the Tenseiga, also created by his father’s fang, although his is a sword of healing. Through Sesshomaru’s attempts to get the Tetsusaiga from Inuyasha, we learn of Sesshomaru’s true kindness. We are also introduced to Ren, a young girl whom Sesshomaru saves from a pack of wolves and ends up his the traveling companion. This shows Sesshomaru’s softer side. Even though his face is emotionless, there now seems to be a softer side to this brother. I love this about Sesshomaru. While Inuyasha is full of emotion, quick tempered, insanely jealous, and can show compassion, Sesshomaru is quite the opposite. In Ren, however, we see how the two brothers are not quite so different after all.

The other part to the story of Tetsusaiga is the secret power that it possesses. As Inuyasha is fighting one of Naraku’s many incarnations (he has obtained the power to create new demons from himself), the Tetsusaiga breaks. On the brink of death, Inuyasha’s demon blood takes control of his body and he transforms into a full demon, capable of only killing, and taking full pleasure in the slaughter. We discover that the Tetsusaiga is responsible for controlling Inuyasha’s demon blood, and it becomes imperative that he masters the sword to control this other side of himself. The sword becomes a literal metaphor for Inuyasha’s demon side, something he is struggling to control. This is one aspect of his internal battle over his soul, as he started searching for the Shikon jewel in order to become a full-fledged demon. He begins to wonder what will happen if that comes to term, and what will happen to his friends. This is the most striking character development in the series thus far, as Inuyasha is truly struggling with what it means for him to become a demon.

At the heart of the series is the battle against the powerful Naraku. Once a man, Onigumo, he became a half-demon by letting a host of demons enter his body and merge with his soul. He desires to become a full demon, and searches for the sacred jewel shards. Even without the extra power that the shards give him, he is evil beyond all compare. Laying traps, playing with people’s emotions…. That is the true power of Naraku. He gave Miroku, the monk who travels with Inuyasha’s party, the curse of the wind tunnel, which will eventually engulf him. He conspired to kill Sango, the demon slayer who is also their traveling companion, her entire village and her family in order to obtain a shard of the jewel. Naraku’s traps continue in this season, using Kohaku, Sango’s brother, as his puppet to help him kill Inuyasha and his companions and to force Sango to steal the Tetsusaiga. Naraku even sets a trap for the newest character, Koga, the leader of the wolf-demon tribe who owns three shards of the jewel. Naraku does an excellent job of pitting Koga versus Inuyasha; tricking Koga into believing Inuyasha slaughtered his tribe. As a series, Inuyasha differs from many. In this, the heroes are always after the same villain. They never defeat Naraku, although they come close, and Naraku keeps growing stronger and stronger. But with each battle with their arch-enemy, the group gets that much stronger too. At each point it seems as though they may have a chance, and it seems their greatest strength is their determination and pure souls. They struggle with the option to give in to Naraku’s traps, but in the end they follow the right path. It may not be the easiest, but at least it is right. In a way this is what makes the story work.

Koga also plays a part in the love triangles that are so prominent throughout the series. Inuyasha, Kikyo, and Kagome are one part of that love triangle, as Inuyasha can never forget his love for Kikyo, even though she is not of this world since being resurrected. Kikyo wanders the earth collecting the souls of the dead to keep her alive. Her bitterness towards Inuyasha does not prevent him from loving her still. Kagome, however, shows loyalty towards Inuyasha, and he cannot help but protect her from danger. Kagome and Inuyasha always skirt around the issue of their love for each other, but it is apparent in the way they fight and the way they flirt that they do have feelings for each other. This always keeps me wanting more development in their relationship, which does come along every few episodes, but each time I can’t wait for the next love focused episode. One development that helps in that department is the introduction of Koga, the wolf demon. After kidnapping Kagome, Koga falls in love with her, making Inuyasha full of jealousy and rage towards Koga. Kagome is not interested, but that never seems to stop Koga. Each encounter that they have is pretty much the same. Koga declares his love for Kagome, calls Inuyasha a dirty mutt, Inuyasha complains about Koga’s smell, they threaten to kill each other, then Koga runs off before they get a chance to battle. These encounters add just enough humor and emotional tension to keep me happy until the next.

The special features on the disc aren’t anything truly special, except for the “Special Footage” which turns out to be the clip-show “Inuyasha Super Special” mentioned earlier. The other features include Character Introductions, which consists of a menu through which you can navigate to see sketches of ten newer characters and a blurb on each. There’s also a movie trailer for the second movie, Castle Beyond the Looking Glass, and the standard textless opening and ending.

Overall, I am quite pleased with the boxed set, mainly because these episodes are so good. After this season the story seems to keep going on forever with the episodes getting more and more similar. However, this season keeps you on your toes with the introduction of many new characters and deep story arcs. There are a few filler episodes, but those have great character development within them and include one of my favorite episodes, “Jinenji, Kind Yet Sad.” The voice actors for the dub are fabulous, especially Richard Cox, who voices Inuyasha. I couldn’t imagine anyone else voicing the young, temperamental half-demon who we discover is truly a softy at heart.

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