Fans of InuYasha have long been resigned to the fact that nothing much seems to happen to further the main plot of the series along. Imagine my surprise, therefore, when several very major things happen in the 38th volume of the series. Afterwards, alas, we plunge back into more episodic fare, but it’s definitely starting to feel like the beginning of the end.
Volume 38 is a first on several levels. It’s the first volume to be published as part of VIZ’s new monthly release schedule for the series. It’s the first volume to be published under the Shonen Sunday imprint. And, most importantly, it’s the first volume of the series with unflipped artwork; to see earlier volumes unflipped, one will need to buy the VIZBIG editions of the series that will begin coming out next month. Unfortunately, the new packaging approach does not include refreshing the same old “Story So Far” section or providing actual chapter numbers instead of simply numbering them scrolls one through ten.
It seems only right, therefore, that this volume would also provide our first glimpse of some real plot movement in quite some time. When last we left off, Naraku’s minions were conspiring against him, some seeking only their freedom while others strove to take his place. When Naraku gets wind of their plans, he takes care of business and man, is it gratifying to witness something permanent actually happen in this series! While this is going on, Moryomaru, the demon that houses Naraku’s heart, is after the few remaining shards of the Shikon Jewel, which means that Kohaku is a target. We get a few nice scenes between Kohaku and Sango before the end of the volume brings new complications: Kikyo has absorbed the spirit of the priestess who originally created the Shikon Jewel and is on a quest to use the reformed jewel to defeat Naraku, never mind that doing so will cause Kohaku’s death.
The final battle appears nigh, as our heroes, who refuse to condone Kikyo’s plans, resolve to defeat Naraku before the jewel is completed. To that end, they spend the next two volumes engaged in the grand shounen tradition of powering up. Koga acquires a legendary weapon imbued with spirits of wolf demons. Inuyasha, who has been told that Naraku cannot be defeated by any sword, learns of a blade with the ability to absorb the power of demons, so he tracks it down with the intent of incorporating its attributes into his own weapon, Tetsusaiga. He conveniently locates it right away and, after a bunch of fighting, acquires its power. It soon becomes apparent, however, that this new ability is darker and more dangerous than he had presumed; this whole storyline reminds me of Bleach, in which Ichigo takes on some qualities of his enemy in order to obtain the power required to defeat his enemy.
The power ups are important, to be sure, and I really do like it when our heroes acquire new fighting techniques and shiny weaponry and all that, but after the goodies offered in volume 38, I found the subsequent two to be rather bland in comparison. Still, I guess a bit of a lull is generally required before the big climactic battle and they’d sort of have to obtain some new tricks in order to actually, like, win this time.