InuYasha 27 by Rumiko Takahashi: B

From the back cover:
Inuyasha and comrades are deeply entrenched in the battle of their lives as they fend off the vicious attacks of the undead assassins known as the Band of Seven. But Inuyasha gains some unlikely allies when his brother Sesshoumaru and feral rival Koga get entangled in the skirmish. As the Band of Seven’s numbers dwindle, their attacks become increasingly more desperate and push Inuyasha’s new comrades to their limits. All comes to a fiery climax as another of Naraku’s malevolent plots is revealed!

InuYasha is a lot of fun when one gets on a roll with it, but sometimes I find it hard to even remember what happened a volume ago. Probably because foes keep on getting partially vanquished and then returning to fight again, it becomes hard to keep things straight. It does make a difference to read a bunch of volumes at once, though, so I’m probably going to go ahead and devour the rest of my InuBacklog.

The battles begun in the last volume continue here—Sesshoumaru is a complete badass in his battle, and Koga less so, though they each succeed in taking care of one of the Band of Seven (the former with help from Kikyo.) Miroku and Sango also have a little side bit of their own which was interesting, as they’ve gone off to investigate a cave that might be Naraku’s hiding spot.

What always amazes me about InuYasha is how fast of a read it is. It might take me a couple of hours to work my way through one of the more text-heavy shoujo titles that I love (or even Maison Ikkoku, also by Takahashi) but these volumes go by so fast because you’ll get a full page where all that happens is two combatants hit their swords together and someone dodges a gout of flame. It doesn’t actually require much mental effort to process that sort of thing, but it can be surprisingly enjoyable.

InuYasha 24 by Rumiko Takahashi: B

From the back cover:
In the face of a too-tempting reward, Miroku’s eagerness to investigate the cursed castle of a giant oni or “ogre” is at odds with the reluctance of Inuyasha. Is Naraku’s absence from the scene a sign of increased demon activity to come? Next, in a more lighthearted vein, a misplaced monkey-god makes mischief. Later, the reappearance of demon-slayer Sango’s little brother, Kohaku, is just the start of new complications. Who are these enemies, and what is the source of their fascination with Inuyasha…?

I can’t believe it’s been nearly two years since I last read any InuYasha! This is a volume I didn’t review when I first read it in 2006, since I didn’t start writing them until the following month, so I’m going ahead and doing it now. The next two volumes have already been reviewed here and here.

It was a little hard to get my bearings at first, coming into the middle of a story about an ogre, but it was in this volume that the Band of Seven arc got underway, so it was a good spot from which to resume the series. The best part of the volume was the battle between Inuyasha and Jakotsu, who I liked as much for his ruthless fighting as for his propensity to comment on Inuyasha’s prettiness.

I also liked the couple of chapters dealing with the monkey sprites in search of the holy object containing their monkey god. They were pretty cute, but my favorite bit was one of their pranks (getting Inuyasha to accept a rock which became a boulder that adhered to his hand) resulting in a grumpy Inuyasha getting poked with a stick by curious village kids.

Maison Ikkoku 5 by Rumiko Takahashi: A-

From the back cover:
Godai’s New Year’s fortune comes true, but he quickly learns he should be careful what he wishes for. When Valentine’s Day arrives, Godai receives flowers from Kozue and then soon after from Kyoko—each with their own meaning.

This volume was comprised entirely of stand-alone episodes, several of which I liked very much. One thing that helped these stories to stand out was the inclusion of some fantasy sequences from Kyoko’s perspective. The best example was when she compared a future as Mitaka’s or Godai’s wife, complete with dozens of mewling babies.

I also admired the art a great deal in this volume. In addition to the impressive backgrounds during all outdoor or public scenes (like a department store), some dialogue-free panels were just wonderful. For example, when Godai’s New Year’s fortune told him to take things slow with Kyoko, he contemplated how that would work out. His ensuing fantasy ranged over three identical panels of he and Kyoko sitting around blinking at each other.

There was another great one in the last chapter when Kyoko’s mother, who’d been pressuring Kyoko about giving her grandchildren and had dragged her off to tea, got up to use the restroom. Each of those remaining at the table wore a different expression—Mitaka looked smug, Godai annoyed, Mrs. Ichinose gleeful, and Kyoko as if she were appealing for Heavenly intervention.

The one thing that continues to annoy me is Godai’s relationship with Kozue. He came close to using her for kissing practice in this volume, but was foiled by a sweet potato vendor. It’s perfectly in character for him to behave that way, of course, but I’d rather he didn’t.

Maison Ikkoku 4 by Rumiko Takahashi: B+

From the back cover:
How can Godai and Kyoko ever be alone when the motley crew at Maison Ikkoku are always inviting themselves to every get-together and social event? When the two finally have some one-on-one time, their housemates’ gossip and meddling leads them to learn the hard way that home is where the heart is!

I didn’t like this volume quite as much as the others.

The second chapter showed great promise because Godai had resolved to end things with Kozue. He tried, but after witnessing a messy breakup scene at a restaurant, he never managed to actually do it. This chapter ended with the text “And so, the triangle is repaired.” So, all of that simply led to a reset of the same holding pattern.

There also seemed to be a surfeit of annoying characters. The denizens of Maison Ikkoku seemed worse than usual, and there was also a particularly odious couple that Godai lived with for a while when a misunderstanding with Kyoko drove him to seek alternate lodgings. Additionally, said misunderstanding resulted in a mini-arc that was kind of underwhelming.

That said, there were some things I definitely did like. One was Godai’s attitude towards consummating his relationship with Kozue. If he has to keep going out with her, at least he actually thought about the consequences of sex and realized that it could ruin his whole life. I also liked the end of the last chapter when Godai and Kyoko were reunited and, from relief and/or drunkenness, both burst out crying in the middle of the street.

Though I had some complaints with this volume, I still enjoyed it a great deal and am loving the series as a whole.

Maison Ikkoku 3 by Rumiko Takahashi: A

From the back cover:
Kyoko’s meddling parents plot to get their daughter to give up her independence and move back home. Yusaku meets his (sort of) girlfriend’s overzealous folks and then ends up on a never-ending visit to his own parents’ house.

I think Maison Ikkoku must be the manga equivalent of crack. It’s especially addictive when there’s more of a linked story line between the chapters. The stand-alone ones can be cute—there’s a nice one in this volume in which Godai looks after a friend’s cat—but they don’t hit the same kind of important character notes that the mini-arcs do.

Most of the plot in this volume had to do with Kyoko’s parents pressuring her to give up her job managing the apartment and to come home, revert to her maiden name, and ultimately remarry. Surprisingly, only Godai actually seemed to have any insight on what Kyoko’s true feelings are in the matter.

There’s a great scene between them later where they’re hanging out on a playground at night and he tells her he wants her to stay just as she is for several years—no pressure from him, because he’s got to graduate from college and find employment before he’d have anything to offer her. I don’t remember that happening in the anime, though I could be wrong.

About the only thing I don’t like is Godai’s relationship with Kozue. She’s just so deluded and clingy, and Godai clearly feels guilty for prolonging things with her. I suppose she’s fulfilling her purpose of inspiring jealousy in Kyoko, and at least her relationship with Godai is chaste so far, but I find her kind of annoying all the same.

Maison Ikkoku 2 by Rumiko Takahashi: A

From the back cover:
Kyoko and Godai start dating—other people. She goes out with her handsome tennis instructor, Shun Mitaka, while he reluctantly dates Kozue, a former coworker. The two finally arrange to go on a date together, but a mix-up leads them to end up at different restaurants!

I’m not really a big fan of comic misunderstandings in general, and I seldom find Mitaka’s dog fear to be amusing, but Maison Ikkoku is so seriously charming that I can’t help but like it.

As in volume one, a lot of time is covered in this volume—from summer until Christmas, with the anniversary of Kyoko’s arrival as manager celebrated along the way. There are a lot of good stories, but I think my favorite is probably the one where Kyoko attends the art festival at Godai’s school and ends up participating in a puppet show and causing him to flub his lines, to the delight of the audience (comprised of kids).

Speaking of kids, I adore the way Takahashi draws and writes Kentaro. I seem to like him more now than when I watched the anime—maybe it’s because he always looks so small in relation to everything around him. In any case, I’m really enjoying this series, and find that it deserves all the praise it has received.

Maison Ikkoku 1 by Rumiko Takahashi: A-

From the back cover:
Travel into Japan’s nuttiest apartment house and meet its volatile inhabitants: Kyoko, the beautiful and mysterious new apartment manager; Godai, the exam-addled college student; Mrs. Ichinose, the drunken gossip; Kentaro, her bratty son; Akemi, the boozy bar hostess; and the mooching and peeping Mr. Yotsuya.

Funny, touching, and a tad off-kilter, Maison Ikkoku is the great Rumiko Takahashi at her very best.

Finally I am reading this! I was planning to watch the anime first, but I got stalled around episode 70 for the longest time and figured I’d probably get through the story a lot faster if I just went ahead and read it.

I wasn’t too fond of the first two chapters: Godai’s neighbors came across as more annoying than wacky and some of the art was still getting ironed out. By chapter three, in which Godai struggled to give Kyoko a Christmas present, things had evened out and the charm of the series was apparent. My favorite chapter was the one in which Godai learned that Kyoko is a widow. It seemed that he finally started to see her as a real person rather than just a pretty object.

The art in this series was pretty different from most of the series I’m reading, with detailed backgrounds and lots and lots of teeth. It was also unique how much time passed—the first chapter occurred sometime before Christmas and by the end, it was at least May.

To end on a completely random note, I’ve decided that if this were an American TV show, the role of Yotsuya would be played by Adam Baldwin.

InuYasha 26 by Rumiko Takahashi: B+

From the back cover:
Inuyasha and friends encounter a strange mountain with mystical powers. The mountain is so sacred Kirara, Kikyo and Shippo can’t even set foot on it!

Meanwhile, the Army of Seven have resurrected their final member and now seek revenge on those responsible for their original deaths. Elsewhere Sesshoumaru is in pursuit of Kohaku when he too is refuted by the purity of the mountain. What is the secret of this mountain? And will the Army of Seven be more than a match for Inuyasha and crew?

I haven’t been very excited by the Band of Seven storyline in general, but things picked up a little in this volume. I must admit that my opinion is probably influenced by the fact that most of the ugly brothers are gone, and it’s just the bishies and the tank guy that just says, “Gyuh.” Suikotsu is my favorite, even though he doesn’t do much except have cool hair and Wolverinesque claws. The last brother, Bankotsu, is introduced, and livens things up a bit, too.

Near the beginning of the volume there are some nice moments between Inuyasha and Kagome, and then the action begins in earnest. It was well done and certainly helped pique my interest in this arc. I was hoping to see the momentum continue to build and possibly some swift and decisive dispatching of foes to keep the story rolling along at a brisker pace, but alas. It was not to be. Still, the volume ends at an interesting point in the story, and overall, I thought it was an improvement over the last one.

InuYasha 25 by Rumiko Takahashi: B

From the “In this volume” blurb:
Inuyasha and friends are in for the fight of their lives—again! This time they square off against the accursed Band of Seven—a group of monsters each with their own special brand of killing techniques. Can Inuyasha and his comrades overcome this bloodthirsty band of killers?

Firstly, a gripe about “The Story So Far,” which appears in each InuYasha volume. It is so not the story so far! It’s, like, the story of volume one, and has never been updated so as to be truly useful in reminding one what went on in the previous volume. Yet, I always read it every time just to be complete about things. Irksome!

The back cover was way spoilery for this volume, so I used the rather vague blurb above. Doesn’t it sound like every shounen manga, like, ever? I’m certainly not going to argue that the ongoing plot is terribly original or that it has a clear sense of direction. Even though the same plot elements with Naraku seem to replay multiple times, and the whole love square with Koga, Kikyo, Kagome, and Inuyasha replays multiple times, this is still an enjoyable title. The main charm in this title is in the characters.

It’s rare for me that my favorite character in a series is the main character, but such is the case with Inuyasha. I’m also quite partial to Shippo. In this volume, he had these little wailing acorns that he used to signal Inuyasha that something was afoot. They were so cute!

So, yeah, anyway, Inuyasha fights some bad guys. Sesshoumaru turns up and fights one. Koga turns up and fights one. Kagome-tachi are endangered, by poison and then by fire. No progress is made on capturing Naraku. None of this is very surprising, but there are enough twists and turns to provoke character reaction and interaction which, in turn, are what’s worthwhile. Am I going to keep reading to the end, even if it’s twenty more volumes of the same? Totally!