InuYasha 42-44 by Rumiko Takahashi: B+

I had determined some time ago not to get excited about any seeming progress in this series until the last couple of volumes, but I broke my own vow with these volumes, in which our heroes get closer than ever before to defeating one of the chief obstacles standing in their way.

These three volumes focus on two things: swords and defeating Moryomaru, a creation of Naraku’s who has rebelled against his maker. The sword fixation begins in volume 42, with Sesshomaru receiving an upgrade to his blade thanks to his newly acquired ability to grieve for others and Inuyasha getting some unexpected assistance from Naraku in mastering his sword’s new power. Of course, Naraku then turns around and presents Moryomaru with a way to improve his armor, hoping to empower both of his enemies enough that they’ll finish each other off for him.

Some pretty awesome battles follow. The first occurs in volume 43, with Inuyasha making more headway than ever before in penetrating Moryomaru’s armor. It’s a gory affair, with Moryomaru attempting to assimilate the bodies of a couple of feuding demon brothers, but mighty cool, as well. After this bout, a very brief training arc ensues in which Inuyasha rather quickly acquires the ability to see demon vortices. “What’s a demon vortex?” you may ask. A detailed explanation isn’t offered, but suffice it to say it manifests as swirly energy in the air and when Inuyasha cuts it, it’s a good thing.

This prepares him for the second awesome battle, this time in volume 44. It’s very satisfying to see Inuyasha and Koga working together for a change (I love the comment from the peanut gallery: “Pretend you’re adults!”) and, again, they come verrrrrry close to defeating Moryomaru. I shouldn’t have gotten my hopes up because there are twelve more volumes to go, but I did, anyway.

In between these more climactic battles, the group still travels around and helps the downtrodden. Now, though, each of these episodic encounters seems to yield something that will contribute to the final battle, even if it is only a chance for our heroes to hone their new abilities. While nothing much has been developing on the personal front lately, each member of the team seems to be contributing a good deal and there have been some nice comedic moments, as well.

While these volumes don’t move the plot along monumentally, they do a good job of maintaining the tension and delivering a slightly more action-packed story than we’ve had for a while. There aren’t any resolutions, but the promise of resolution is reinforced, and that’ll have to be good enough for now.

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