Inu Yasha: A Feudal Fairy Tale
is the latest manga
(Japanese comic book
) offering from Rumiko Takahashi
, who is known for works such as Urusei Yatsura
), Maison Ikkoku
, and Ranma 1/2
. Inu Yasha is being translated
and released as soon as feasible in America
. It is also being adapted and produced as a televised animated
) program. I'm hoping that the shows are also translated fairly quickly and released in America. Inu Yasha translates approximately to Dog Demon.
*spoiler warning: synopsis of the beginning and mild spoiler information*
The story follows the adventures of Kagome Higurashi, a schoolgirl of 15 who lives in an old shrine with her grandfather, mother, and brother Souta and their cat Buyo. One morning as she's heading to school, her brother asks her to get their cat from the building housing the Bone Eating Well, so called because bones thrown into it disappear. Once inside, she is startled as the cat finds her, but that doesn't compare to what comes out of the well, grabbing her and dragging her back in with it!
What has grabbed her is a demon which is after the Shikon Jewel, a jewel that can increase the power of any evil person or demon that posesses it. During the later and final fight with the demon, she releases Inu Yasha from the seal that kept him pinned to a tree for 50 years and he defeats the demon, intending to take the Shikon Jewel for himself.
His plans are foiled as Kaede, the priestess from the village nearby, throws a necklace around his neck and has Kagome speak the word to subdue him, "Sit!" and he is rendered immobile flat on his face on the ground. It is learned that Inu Yasha was sealed to the tree by Kikyou who died that day 50 years earlier and that Kaede is her younger sister. Also, it seems that Kagome is the reincarnation of Kikyou.
Temporarily blocked, Inu Yasha resolves to follow Kagome in order to eventually secure the Shikon Jewel for himself. He is only a half-demon and wishes to use the power to become a full demon, thinking humans and his human half to be weak.
It is not long before another demon senses the Shikon Jewel and comes to try to take it. It nearly succeeds, swallowing it and becoming a much more powerful demon before Kagome uses the power of it's reformation to guide an arrow straight to it. Without that she would never have hit it, being a poor archer, unlike Kikyou. The arrow strikes true, being drawn straight to the demon by the piece tied to the shaft. The demon is defeated and a bright light can be seen for a short moment.
Inu Yasha and Kagome move to find the Shikon Jewel and the demon again attacks. Inu Yasha makes short work of what is left of it and they see something fly from it. Kagome goes to retreive it and they both look in disbelief as she picks up a small Shikon Shard. Returning to Kaede, they learn that her arrow must have shattered the Shikon Jewel and there could be as many as 100 pieces to be retrieved. Inu Yasha is disgusted while Kagome is dismayed to think that now there are so many pieces that demons might use to become more powerful and that it could be her fault.
And so an uneasy alliance is formed between Inu Yasha and Kagome to gather up all of the pieces of the Shikon Jewel to return it to it's full form. There are many demons who would rather have the Shikon Jewel for themselves. Amongst these is Naraku, who was behind the betrayal that led to Inu Yasha's being sealed and Kikyou's death and is a master of plots. Also against them is Inu Yasha's half-brother and full demon Sesshoumaru, who holds nothing but contempt for humanity.
But Kagome and Inu Yasha are not completely defenseless or alone in their search. Not long after they begin their quest for the Shikon Shards, Inu Yasha comes into posession of the Tetsusaiga (Iron Crushing Fang), a sword created from the fang of his father and left as a legacy for him. Sesshoumaru tries to wield it but cannot as it cannot be weilded by one who is not part human.
The first ally to join them is Myouga, a flea demon that knew their father. Myouga is a coward, often running from battle, but he always returns and sometimes with help or useful items. Other allies include Shippou, a young kitsune or fox demon, Miroku, a slightly perverted and rather light-fingered priest also searching for Shikon Shards, and Sango, a girl who exterminates demons and has lost her family.
This story is typical of Takahashi in how it is primarily a love story, regardless of setting. The characters are engaging and believable and the plot is well-paced. This is the type of tale that has a wide range of appeal.