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Roughly translated, the full title is InuYasha, A Feudal Fairy Tale (戦国お伽草子ー犬夜叉, "Sengoku o Togi Zōshi InuYasha").
InuYasha is a shōnen action adventure romantic comedy, with elements from the horror genre. The story begins in Tokyo, Japan with a junior high-school girl named Kagome Higurashi, who on her way to school heads to the covered well on the family property (which happens to be a Shinto shrine). She does this to retrieve her cat, Buyo, from the well, since her brother was afraid to go in the dark wellhouse. When she approaches the well a centipede demon bursts from the well and grabs her. The demon claims that Kagome possesses the Shikon no Tama (aka Sacred/Shikon Jewel), and attempts to seize it. When she drives the demon off by an unknown and mysterious power, the very confused Kagome emerges in the Sengoku period of Japan. Kagome wanders and meets an old miko (priestess) by the name of Kaede, who claims that Kagome is the spitting image of Kikyo, her elder sister who had died and had her body burned with the Shikon no Tama, taking it with her into the afterlife. Kaede relates the story of how, 50 years earlier, a hanyo named Inuyasha had tried to steal the Jewel from Kikyo, mortally wounding her in the process, but Kikyo had managed to strike him with a magical arrow, sealing him to the Time Tree and into an enchanted and supposedly eternal sleep, retrieving the Jewel before she finally died.
It turns out that Kagome is the reincarnation of Kikyo, and that she does possess the Shikon no Tama, embedded inside her body. When the centipede demon rips it from her and swallows it, granting the demon a great boost in power, Kagome is forced to pull out the arrow and awaken Inuyasha so he can defeat it.
Soon after they recover the Jewel, it is lost again, and Kagome accidentally shatters it into pieces as she tries to recover it. The pieces scatter far and wide, and the story tells of Kagome and Inuyasha's adventures as they search for the shards of the Jewel. As they search, they meet new characters who either join them on their quest, or oppose them for various reasons. Throughout the story, Kagome and Inuyasha come closer and develop feelings for each other, though the romance apparently remains as a side plot for most of the story and is not a main topic.
Most people agree that the artwork in both the anime and manga versions of InuYasha is quite impressive, with Akemi's Anime World, Anime News Network, and many others praising that it is "excellent". However, some viewers, such as Derrick Tucker, from THEM Anime Reviews, complain that some action scenes are often reused and that sometimes a static image moved against a background is used as a substitute for animation. He concedes, however, that the costs of producing a long anime series like InuYasha often make such compromises unavoidable.
Since its introduction on Cartoon Network, the ranks of InuYasha fans have swelled to the point where anime.com calls InuYasha a "cult" and its fans "rabid zealots". The show is so popular that although it has been taken off the air many times in its run (to make way for shows such as Kikaider, Big O, and FLCL), it has always been reinstated due to the demands of viewers. After a while, the people who write the bumpers for Adult Swim became sarcastic about this, and it became something of a running joke that they were on the side of the viewers, but were at the mercy of superior departments ("Suits"). As time progressed, the show was moved to increasingly late viewing hours. As of October 2002 it aired at 11:00 PM. As of March 2004, it aired at 12:30 AM. As of March 2009, it aired at 2:00 AM. Presumably, the logic behind this is that the InuYasha fans will not mind staying up later, and other shows can be put between them and their goal. However, the show has proven to be a slightly more mainstream hit in other countries such as Canada, where it is one of the station's highest rated programs running on week nights at 8:30pm on YTV, and Latin America, where it runs on weekday afternoons.
There are many possible reasons for the popularity of the InuYasha series. A likely one is that it is eclectic, including elements from many different genres. At first, the series mainly appears to be action-oriented, and it does indeed have a significant amount of action, with at least one confrontation with an enemy in most episodes. However, it also includes a great deal of comedy (frequently slapstick), many monsters that add notes of the horror genre, and occasional romance. Another probable reason that InuYasha is so popular is that it is has rather sympathetic characters who are varied enough that most people can relate to at least one of them.
Sunrise Ltd. and Columbia TriStar Television own the copyrights.
- Yōkai 妖怪 - Japanese word for demons or monsters of supernatural origins, literally means "supernatural being".
- Hanyō 半妖 - a being that is the offspring of a demon and a human, thus half-demon and half-human. InuYasha is a han'yō, and there are a few other han'yō that appear in the series.
- Miko 巫女 - Japanese word for "shrine maiden", usually translated as priestess.
- Inu 犬 - Kanji for canines, basically a "dog".
- Shikon no Tama 四魂の玉 - Jewel of Four Souls - 奇御魂 - 智 Intellect, 荒御霊 - 勇 Courage, 和御魂 - 親 Virtue, and 幸魂 - 愛 Love. It is often called the "Shikon Jewel" in English versions of the anime and manga, however "Jewel of Four Souls" is occasionally used as well.
- Sengoku jidai 戦国時代 - warring states era of Japan.
- Yōki 妖気 - The source of the power of yōkai. Lit. translated as "Strange Gas", but the actual meaning is closer to, and usually translated as, "demonic aura".
- Tessaiga is called Tetsusaiga in the English language versions of InuYasha that are produced by Viz Media. For more information about the difference in terminology, see Tessaiga.