Thursday, August 22, 2013

Inuyasha (Season 4-6)

Inuyasha; animated fantasy action series, Japan, 2004; D: Yasunao Aoki, S: Satsuki Yukino, Kappei Yamaguchi, Houko Kuwashima

With the help of the jewel shards, half-demon Naraku revives the Band of Seven, a notorious gang that was executed years ago, in order to be his instrument in fighting Inuyasha, Kagome, Miroku, Sango and Shippou. After a long battle, in which even Koga is dragged in, Inuyasha defeats the last member and leader of the band, Renkotsu, inside Mt. Hakurei, where Naraku re-assembled his body parts of demons. Mt. Hakurei collapses afterwards, while Naraku kills Kikyo, who is resurrected, however, once again as St. Haijiri. There is also demon Hoshiyomi, who is after two magical blades that will give him power; Naraku's new incarnation, Hakudoshi, who is after a magical horse, Entei, that could give him even more powers and Princess Abi whose birds are sucking the blood of people in order to give it to her demon mother inside a cave and dilute her poison. After a giant fight, Naraku escapes once again.

From season 4 onwards, "Inuyasha" turned into "Dragonball". The beloved characters are still here, but the magic and passion, that made this anime so beloved in the first place, stayed somewhere in season 3. The only thing remaining are endless tiresome battles. Instead of focusing on romance, humor and poetic drama in the first three seasons, while horror and action were in the background, in this rump version of "Inuyasha" the authors reversed that tendency and lazily just decided to give a ratio of 4:1 in favor of the latter. The ration between humor-romance-drama and monotone horror-action simply could not be sustained anymore at a right balance, whereas the quest for Naraku and the jewel shards went on ad nauseum. The segment where the Band of Seven, Naraku's goons, fight Inuyasha and the others for over 20 episodes is so overstretched that it is practically a dissertation on stalling: Inuyasha fights Renkotsu, they both seemingly die in the duel, then resurface again untouched. They they meet and fight again, they both seemingly die in the duel, then resurface again untouched. Then they meet again, they both seemingly die in the duel... And so this goes on for a dozen times. and then Renkotsu is replaced by Naraku with Hakudoshi, Princess Abi...Cue to a whole new level of repetition. The Band of Seven is also comprised of bland members: the only two truly interesting characters are the gay Jakotsu and Dr. Bankotsu, who at times struggled to remain his good personality as a doctor instead of succumbing to his evil side, though even that was not half as good as it could have been.

In episodes 104-106, Kagome, Miroku and Sango were intoxicated by a poisonous gas of one of the Band of Seven. At one point, they even died. This could have made a poetic and untypical conclusion: to have, let's say, Sesshomaru show up and bring them back to life with his sword of life, just like he did with Rin. Unfortunately, they decided to take the dumbest possible way out: the "dead" Kagome, Miroku and Sango suddenly cough and, presto, they are alive again. How? Myoga, the flea, sucked out their poison. Maybe this would have worked as a comedy, but they actually try to present us this with all seriousness. Some ideas and subplots are entirely misguided, like the idea that Kohaku, a child, kills people, or the infamous "Rosemary's Baby" subplot in which Naraku is getting a new incarnation of himself as an infant. One great moment cannot compensate for the exhausting and generic rest, but there is one special scene in episode 117 that is truly a jewel: Inuyasha shows up alive after everyone thought he died in a fire. He and Kouga start arguing, but the overwhelmed Kagome runs towards Inuyasha and simply hugs him, crying. Inuyasha is proud that she cares so much about him and even starts teasing Kouga, upon which Kagome thinks to herself: "It is somehow getting harder and harder to cry". A few refreshing episodes show up after that and remind of the good old "Inuyasha", such as the humorous episode 128 playing out in the school festival, where Kagome was cast as Lady Escargot in a play, or episode 130 where Shippou does anything to keep his fandom of five fox demons - and episodes 160 and 161 contain two jokes involving Sango that are so howlingly funny that one could almost - almost - forgive these three seasons and raise their grade by a point as a gift - yet they are all in the vein of too little, too late and cannot turn the tide of generic battles the authors placed themselves. By milking the franchise in order to be as long as possible, they turned a great anime into a soap opera. Watching "Inuyasha" season 1-3 first and then "Inuyasha" season 4-6 afterwards is a strange experience. It is almost like first watching "Casablanca", the great movie, and then right afterwards watching "Casablanca", the mediocre version.


No comments: