Monday, April 25, 2011

Inuyasha: Season 3

Due to the long running nature of this show, there WILL be some spoilers in this review and the reviews to follow related to subsequent seasons. Read at your own risk, you have been warned.

So here we are gang, after season 3, we're halfway to the end. For those of you just tuning in, it is recommended that if you haven't seen seasons one or two you may want to backtrack a little bit and start with them. The links to those reviews are attached to their corresponding season mentioned in the previous sentence. Or if you want to see them at the same time you can go below and click on the label in the review list marked "Inuyasha." As before, Inuyasha is produced by Sunrise based on the manga by Rumiko Takahashi, and is licensed by Viz Media in the U.S. Naraku's starting to get a little frisky, so ready your weapons and prepare for battle. 

I'll grant that you're trying Shippo, but we know this is filler
and nobody's going to care!
When we last left our heroes (Inuyasha's barely even trying to give lip-service to villain-hood by this point), Inuyasha had just gotten the crap beaten out of him in the fight with Ryukotsusei, had once again gained mastery over his sword, Testsusaiga and was more than ready to test out his shiny new powers on just about anything that might be unfortunate enough to cross his path. So with that sort of epic conclusion to a season, one would expect that the next season would start with him trying to find Naraku and engage in some extreme butt-kicking, right? Well guess what? We don't. Instead we start off with...   Filler! Don't we love filler? It has absolutely no relevance to the plot and nothing will happen during it that anyone will care about ever again! What an awesome concept! Okay, okay, we're moving on. After this brief interlude where Shippo learns about how bad it is to lust after the jewel even if it is to help a pretty girl, we get somewhat back on the rails as Miroku and Sango continue to get closer, Kagura gets a little bit of development, and Naraku sends more baddies after them. But I am afraid that we're getting into a part of the series where filler has invaded, horribly as there are almost as many things that don't matter to the plot as there are things that do.

Yeah, this guy keeps jewel shards in his navel. I'd hate to
think of the belly-button lint that collects in there. ><;
That's not to say that some stuff doesn't happen. There are several major points that do occur. For instance, the Inu-nakama actually does locate an extra jewel shard early on. In another point of interest it happens in the show's first two-part story, in which they happen upon a village of tiny people who are being held prisoner by this demonic sage who wants to train them in sagery so they can be used as fertilizer for a tree that can produce a fruit that grants immortality. To add to the problem, it's the night of the new moon and Sango's off making repairs to her weapon so the nakama is not at full strength to begin with. As a result, things get very muddy (not to mention nasty, see the picture), and we see why Inuyasha doesn't like fighting as a human. Very painfully. There's a point where the Sage body slams him and you can't help but wince and think that had to be a couple of cracked ribs, at the very least. Ouch! It's becoming more noticeable that there are fewer shards to go around at this point though as it seems to be the only shard they actually grab during this season, and later we see that Naraku's part of the jewel is almost whole. 

Naraku must really like having Inuyasha getting shot at
by his would-be girl-friends, seeing as he tries to make it
happen so often.
Speaking of the sacred Jewel, Naraku also seems to be getting tired of waiting around giggling maniacally about how awesomely evil he is and has realized that his lackies alone are not enough and that it's time to start sending out more disposable characters. To this end, he seeks to have Kagome and Inuyasha killed by their own hands by introducing Tsubaki, a dark priestess who is proficient in curses. He lends her the jewel and she uses it to try to control Kagome to shoot at our favorite half-demon in order to force a difficult choice. Apparently she had a beef with Kikyo, because she was given the sacred jewel when Tsubaki thought she should have gotten it. (Now there's someone who can hold a grudge!) To add insult to injury (at least from her point of view), she had even tried to curse Kikyo and the attempt had resulted in Kikyo throwing the curse back at her. When did all this happen? 50 years ago...  hmm...   It also results in Inuyasha getting a pounding by her demons before they manage to dispatch her and move on, but not before she manages to send Kagome into a dreamtime experience where she imagines life if it had been normal, escape once, and go through some monologuing while unsealing a powerful oni in order to control it. (You're not the main character lady! Get over yourself! The monologues are Kagome's job!)

At some point, you gotta wonder if he's got some
 spare heirloom fire-rat robes lying around somewhere.
He ruins his clothes so much with all this getting skewered
and getting beaten up and stuff he'd almost have to.
Then there's the story arc dealing with whether or not Naraku also has "that time of the month" where he's weak and defenseless. This starts because Kagura finds herself not all that busy while Naraku seems to be out and that Koga the wolf demons nearby. Thinking to blow off some steam by taking his shards, she goes to dispatch him and manages to grab his shards before getting the idea to try and escape from Naraku by appealing to Sesshomaru. The offer fails, but as the Inu-nakama happens to be in the area at the same time, they get some interesting info on how Naraku might actually have a moment of weakness because of his amalgamated form being made up of one human and a whole lot of demons, which somehow (I don't quite know how to justify this) makes him a half demon, and therefore prone to half-demon weaknesses. This is mathematically inconsistent. After all, being one part human and several hundred parts demon does not a half-demon make. It would make someone more like 99.89 percent demon or something, but alas, I am descending into semantics. Naturally Kagura get's a hefty punishment from Naraku for leaving the premises, but the Inu-nakama is left to wonder what the heck is going on. It also seems that Naraku is attempting to kick out the human part of himself so he can go full demon. This results in Onigumo getting the boot as a demonic humanoid being who calls himself Muso. Naturally this sparks a fight because Muso is after the same girl that sparked his interest...  50 years ago. Namely Kikyo. But Kikyo isn't around so he goes after Kagome instead, resulting in more epic fighting (with Inuyasha getting run through the stomach again!) before Naraku decides he actually didn't want to get rid of Onigumo just yet so Muso becomes yet another sadly disposable character. Too bad, he seemed to hate Naraku as much as the nakama did, and even if he was pretty evil, he might have been a useful ally.

Why is it that everything prior to this series happened 50 years ago?
Sure some of these things are time sensitive, but not all of it
has to be directly connected to the point where Inuyasha
got bound to the tree.
This results in some bigger problems though as Inuyasha finds he needs to do some sword maintenance in order to make Testsusaiga powerful enough to break barriers because they've learned that Naraku has one that is just too shiny for Tetsusaiga to handle. This results in them adventuring to a village near a cave of demon bats with a conveniently placed barrier device that works in such a way that if Inuyasha kills the person manning it his sword should acquire the needed ability. The problem comes because there's a little girl guarding it, who happens to be a half demon the son of the tribe's leader produced with one of the villagers, creating a lot of interesting plot development (and the reason I say Inuyasha only pays lip service to villain-hood). He eventually takes a third option that doesn't involve killing innocent children, but you would think that this would give him the necessary excuse to take the fight directly to Naraku now that he has what he needs. Instead we get to see the nakama join Sesshomaru  in fighting off a group of panther demons that have a grudge against the siblings because the tribe lost a battle with Inuyasha's father some centuries before. However, Sesshomaru had to fight them again....    yup, 50 years ago... all by himself because Inuyasha was stuck to a tree. We do eventually get to fighting Naraku in an epic battle where he has to run away because he's getting his ass handed to him, but it only gets two episodes while the panther demon arc and the dark priestess arc got at least three.

To be fair, Richard Ian Cox does a convincing job, but if
you're watching the Japanese dub, Kappei Yamaguchi
sounds sooo creepy when he tries to act like a woman! ><;
The biggest problems so far have been that there are too many disposable characters that nobody cares about. There's been the ones we've mentioned so far, and then there's been the girl with the fake jewel shard from the first episode of the season, Soten, the last of the Thunder brothers, the two ninja sisters who met up with Sango while she was repairing her weapon, Shiori the half demon girl we'll never see again, the samurai that tries to get Sango to marry him... the list goes on and on. Half the season is nothing but filler as they randomly run around searching for Naraku and/or jewel shards and instead find heaps of trouble (it's almost like they were going through an RPG and decided that the queue for side quests had gotten too long). That being said, we do get a decent amount of character development in some episodes. We do get to see a little bit more of the romance between Miroku and Sango blossoming, although I have to say that as time goes on, I'm feeling less and less sorry for Sango for putting up with Miroku. She's coming to expect his lechery more and more, and therefore voicing her surprise when he acts like an adult often causes him to backslide. Not that it isn't hilarious, but it's the kind of thing that she should have expected after all the time they've spent together. We also get a little bit of development for Rin, the little girl who is now following Sesshomaru around, as well as Kagura who surprisingly is turning into a rather sympathetic character in that all she wants is to be free of Naraku. Some of the more comedic filler episodes are also hilariously funny. For instance, in one episode Myoga shows up while being pursued by a female flea named Shoga who is apparently his betrothed and in the process Shoga takes control of the other characters while trying to catch him. This is especially creepy in one scene where she has control of Inuyasha and therefore it looks like he's acting like a woman who is trying to be seductive. There's also the episode where Jaken tries to steal Tetsusaiga by pulling several elaborate but ultimately unsuccessful tricks. The best one though, is probably the last episode in the season where Kagome has gone home and Inuyasha follows her to pick her up, but ends up spending some time there and learning about what life in the modern age is like. This includes eating steaks, taking baths in water that is apparently much hotter than he's used to, eating curry, and dealing with robbers. Given his medieval realm of experience, it's pretty entertaining. (I do wish they would stick to the plot though.)

I still don't have much left to say in terms of style, but on the bright side, we're half finished now, so I'm that much closer to coming out with an overall opinion. We do get a new opening and ending theme song partway through the show. "Owarinai Yume" by Nanase Aikawa isn't a bad theme, and we also get "Every Heart" by BoA (Beat of Angel) which I really like. There haven't been any major new additions to the cast in terms of voice actors, so there's really not that much to add. Both the English and Japanese voice overs are still doing their job although the show is still plagued by narm on occasion and the English dub does have a couple of places where the voice actors just sound like their reading their lines or are being melodramatic, which is a little annoying. At least we're still moving, if not quite as fast as I would like, so I guess the thing to do is sign off until next time. Hope you join us next month when we look at season 4!

Images taken from Inuyasha.

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