A Hanyō (半妖, はんよう, "Half-demon") is a mixture of a human and a yōkai, either by birth or by unnatural means. There are two ways that a hanyō is born. One can be born of a yōkai and a human. Apparently, in most cases, the father is a yōkai, and the mother is a human.The other way is when a human with an unfulfilled desire merges with many demons; Naraku and Sara were born as hanyō in this fashion.
Many hanyō by birth show physical signs of their yōkai roots, though they usually have a primarily human appearance. If the children of Hōrai Island are the standard for "normal" half-demons, many of them seem to have pointed ears. And also hanyō which have no physical yōkai-features, almost always have an unusual color of the hair and eyes, or even the skin. Jinenji's mother once said that there is for every pretty half-demon also one which is not it. However, so far Jinenji is the only hanyō which looks "monstrous" in the series.
The unnatural type of hanyō almost have complete human forms due to being originally human however their true form is mostly an amalgamation of other demons put together because they are essentially a colony of demons inhabiting a human body.
Due to this mixed nature, hanyō are often considered outcasts to both human and yōkai societies due to the mutual hate between both humans and demons. The humans only see half-demons as no different than the monsters full demons are, while full demons see them as an impure mockery to their demonic powers and thus consider them too weak to associate with. This disdain can lead to unfair prejudice and even downright death threats.
The only people of either races that are even capable of accepting or tolerating hanyō are close family members and/or friends most of the time, who are ostracized themselves for choosing to being close to a hanyō such as Jinenji’s mother and Shizu (Shiori’s mother) both being labeled as witches in their villages. Due to the unfair prejudice and hate half-demons receive on a daily basis, many of them sought to resolve their impurity by either becoming full demons to be stronger than their oppressors or full humans to be accepted by the peacefulness most humans live in. However some are just happy the way they are and accept their heritage without question such as Jinenji or eventually Inuyasha, for Kagome's sake.
However, a hanyo may be accepted as a member of the community by villages and people that they have developed a positive reputation with. Such was the case over time with Inuyasha when he took up residence primarily in Kaede's village. Due to his increasingly heroic actions and Kaede's approval as the village elder, Inuyasha became able to walk among the humans of the village as one of their own. And such presumably became the case with Jinenji when the villagers were saved by him from the flesh-eating demons that he fought off, as Jinenji was not noted to have suffered from the same prejudice after the altercation.
Aging & BehaviorEdit
The half-demon aging process is difficult to figure, as Inuyasha has lived for more than hundreds of years but still resembles a young man. There are many theories as to how their aging pattern works. The first is genetics where which ever parent has more dominant genes will dictate the child's age rate. However another theory is that all half-demons start the aging as human until maturity or double digits (10yrs).
It is possible that some half-demons also have some attributes of their demonic side. When Inuyasha lay on the ground to take a smell, Kagome had the impression that he looked "like a dog". In a episode, she even throws a stick, so Inuyasha catches it, whereupon he is offended. Because Inuyasha is the only hanyō who is seen very often; it is unknown whether other half-demons also show similar behaviors.
Powers & AbilitiesEdit
While a hanyō can rarely be as strong as the demonic parent without becoming a full yōkai, most hanyō seem to be powerful enough to not only deal with any human hostilities, but also to easily dispatch most yōkai if their will and aggression is very strong. It seems that this attribute mostly applies to the demons strong enough that their hanyō spawn are more powerful than an ordinary yōkai even when diluting their power with human blood. Inuyasha is the prime example of this, born of Tōga, a very powerful daiyōkai.
A half-demon does not always possess the self-healing factor of a demon. Inuyasha is aged more than 200 years, only slowly, and can recover within mere hours or days from heavy injuries, even growing a new fang in half a day. However, Jinenji seems to grow old at human speed, and recovers from injuries at human speed. This could be because Inuyasha's demon genetics are more dominant and thus grants him longevity nearly equivalent to a demon while Jinenji's human genetics are perhaps more dominant which results in his human aging due to the difference in strength of their yōkai fathers. Though this could also be up to chance as the hanyō children of Hōrai Island are shown to still have the youthfulness of children despite having lived on the island for at least over 50 years and none of them have daiyōkai parents if the difference in their powers to Inuyasha are of indication.
In addition, many hanyō also have special powers that are rare or unique, depending on what kind of yōkai they are related to. Inuyasha has sharp claws and the attack "Sankon Tessō". Shiori can create powerful barriers. And Ai can supposed to have powers that are beneficial to her in the water. For a young child she swam in a surprisingly short time, a long distance from the Hōrai Island to the mainland.
However, a hanyo's powers may simply not activate until they allow themselves to dip into their demon nature or until they are placed into a situation that forces them to engage their survival instincts. This can be seen in Inuyasha who has reguglarly been forced to fight coupled with his rather aggressive personality. On the other hand, Jinenji's less hostile and more passive personality coupled with his lack of combat experience seem to be the most influential factors in keeping his true demon strength suppressed for so long until he was forced to fight.
Half-demons have a big weakness. Once a month, they lose, for one day or one night, their demonic powers, and are no different from pure humans. Both Inuyasha and Kōga have said most half-demons hide the time of their weakness out of fear of being killed.
Vice-versa, a hanyō can also become a pure demon when he endures great pain or more commonly, their life is in danger. In this case, they are also as strong as the yōkai from which they are descended from. Inuyasha is the only hanyō we see in this form, and as a yōkai he is wild, cruel, and randomly kills, sometimes laughing as he does so. He takes great pleasure in killing, and cannot tell friend from foe, even attacking Kagome.
As Inuyasha is the only half-demon we see in this form during the series, it is unclear if all half-demons lose their human minds. Since all hanyō share a human transformation however, it can be assumed all share a demon form.
- The term "Half-breed" is used as an offensive term for hanyō.
- In the movie, InuYasha: Fire on the Mystic Island, there is a secret haven known as Hōrai Island where yōkai and humans lived together in peace, raising many hanyō offspring who were accepted by all.
- The miko Kanade once said that the spiritual forces of humans and the demonic forces of the yōkai by nature to repel each other. In a hanyo, however, they are united in harmony.