Thursday, December 31, 2009

Manga Review: Inuyasha - VIZBIG Edition 1

Rumiko Takahashi is a legend. With stuff like Ranma 1/2, Urusei Yatsura, and Inuyasha under her belt it’s no wonder the Takahashi name is synonymous with anime and manga as a medium. While each of these venerable series have been out for quite some time, it’s nice to take a look back once in a while. VIZ has just released a massive “VIZBIG” volume of the first three volumes of Inuyasha’s manga. Totaling 576 pages in all, this omnibus release is something to behold, whether you’re an Inuyasha fan or not.

For the uninitiated, Inuyasha begins with a tale the originates back in feudal Japan and sees a half-demon, named Inuyasha, attacking a village in search of the Jewel of Four Souls. A young miko named Kikyo uses her powers to seal the demon and dies protecting the jewel. Centuries later one of her decedents, Kagome, finds herself in the midst of events beyond her imagination. One day Kagome happens to be near a well on her family’s property and she’s dragged into it by a centipede-like demon. The well takes her into the past and soon enough she’s face to face with people from Kikyo’s village, including Kikyo’s little sister (who is now quite old).

After realizing the gravity of what just happened Kagome is attacked once again by the centipede demon. Hope seems lost, but when she finds herself face to face with the sleeping Inuyasha her course of action seems clear. With little hesitation she awakens Inuyasha from his slumber, against Kaede’s wishes, and he reluctantly comes to her aid. After taking care of the centipede Inuyasha turns on Kagome, thinking she is Kikyo. You see, Kagome looks like her, smells like her, and Inuyasha can sense a Shikon Jewel on her person. Naturally he wants to get his hands on it, but the quick thinking Kaede helps out by putting a collar on the half-demon that makes him susceptible to Kagome’s command.

With everything going on Kagome really just wants to go back home. She heads back to the well which brought her to this point in time, but is intercepted by a crow demon that wants to get its claws on her Jewel. This leads to another battle that sees Inuyasha springing into action at Kagome’s side. Though he defends her it would seem that Kagome has some innate abilities that came from Kikyo, such as an affinity for using a bow and arrow and seeing things other humans cannot. The conflict with the crow actually holds ramifications for the rest of the series, because Kagome’s Shikon Jewel is shattered into several shards that scattered across the land. This prompts a searching mission for Inuyasha and Kagome, and the two have to work together to recover all the shards.

From this point the manga moves forward with their adventure and pushes their relationship to new bounds. There’s also plenty of action as well as various enemies step forward in this installment such as Yura of the Hair and Sesshomaru, Inuyasha older half-brother. I particularly enjoyed the second volume of the manga, which featured an epic confrontation between the demon brothers (the first of many, I assure you). Peppered in between the battles and talk about the Jewel shards are various trips to present day Japan by Kagome and other demons (Inuyasha even crashes her house at one point). It adds to the mystique of the series and really fleshes out the overall plot and character development.

While much of what we see within the first three volumes sets up the rest of the franchise, there are plenty of important happenings here. 28 chapters are featured here and by the end we even receive the introduction of the endearing young fox-demon, Shippo. If you’re familiar with Inuyasha then you already know that the story becomes epic beyond this point. I mean, with this release we receive a mere three installments of the manga, which features a total of 56 volumes. It’s still a meaty chunk of Inuyasha and highly recommended in every way. Just know that once you sign up you’re going to be in for the long, long haul.

Inuyasha’s VIZBIG release faithfully presents the original story, translation, and Takahashi’s fantastic artwork. If you’ve never seen the manga before, then all you need to know is that Takahashi is a legend for a reason. Her work is inspired, detailed, and truly captivating. This book is also much larger than traditional manga with proportions that allow for magnified images, larger text, and bigger pages.

From the first page to the last, Inuyasha’s first VIZBIG collection is truly an instant classic. With 56 volumes of the manga to collect, that’s pretty daunting for newcomers and those late to the game. The first three volumes come together for a massive release that endears itself to rookies and fans alike. This is one manga that should be in everyone’s collection.

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