ANIME REVIEW: Inuyasha Kanketsuhen
After 167 episodes, the original Inuyasha anime concluded back in 2004. It was a sad time, as the anime literally stopped mid-story because it had caught up to the manga. I was a HUGE Inuyasha fan, and ranked it in my Top 10 series ever at that time.
I hoped and prayed and wished for years for a continuation of some kind–an OVA, a movie, anything–to complete the series that I had loved and was so intrigued by. I had questions I wanted answered, and plots and characters I wished to see resolved. Like wishing upon the fabled Monkey’s Paw, my wish for more Inuyasha anime was granted with a concluding season entitled Inuyasha Kanketsuhen–but it wasn’t at all what I had hoped for.
I’m not going to use any typical categories of “Right/Wrong” or “Good/Bad” for this review, because there’s so little “good” about this anime that trying to divide it into good and bad would be a total farce. Because this anime sucks. Sucks.
Beware! There will be spoilers aplenty in this review. But don’t let that bother you! Because by reading the review, you’ll spare yourself the pain and disappointment of watching this embarrassment of a conclusion.
Drama? Who Needs It?
As a series meant to conclude the tales of beloved characters, you would expect to see some dramatic, potentially tear-inducing moments during character resolutions. You would be wrong. Moments that have been built up to for nearly 200 episodes go by in a flash, with little reaction from the characters.
Example: Miroku has sought out Naraku his entire life to break the curse that will eventually cause his own death–a growing black hole on Miroku’s right hand that will someday devour him. Upon the breaking of the curse, Miroku and his love quickly glance at his hand and say “It’s finally over” and then fly off and do something else, never to mention this critical plotline ever again. Yes, the driving motivation behind this main character is resolved in seconds, and neither Miroku nor any other character seem to care. And if they don’t care, why should I?
Kikyou, who has been obsessed with stopping Naraku from completing Shikon no Tama for the entirety of the series at any cost, has a chance to prevent that from ever occurring–and throws the opportunity and her life away instead to save the life of a boy she has no real connection to.
Kouga, who has hunted Naraku for 150 episodes to avenge the murder of his wolf clan, loses his power-up shards of Shikon no Tama early in Kanketsuhen and suddenly gives up on chasing Naraku and completely abandons the main group of characters to fight him alone, with Kouga only appearing again in the epilogue. Oh, and in the epilogue, after pursuing Kagome’s love for the entire series, Kouga is suddenly married to a random chick with no explanation given. Way to go, author.
Half-demon half-human Inuyasha himself has claimed for the entire series to be putting together the shards of Shikon no Tama in order to wish to make himself a full-blooded demon when the jewel is complete. Popular speculation for years was that he would actually wish to become a full-human. Surprise! Actually, in the entirety of this series, neither of those wishes are made, and Inuyasha himself never mentions wanting to make a wish on the jewel even once. I guess he changed his mind during the six-year gap…?
But wait! There’s more! Having brought young fox-demon Shippou with them into battle against hundreds of powerful demons where his life was constantly at risk and oftentimes he saved the lives of his comrades, Inuyasha’s group suddenly decides that the final battle is too dangerous and force Shippou to stay at home. Why? Because it’s stupid.
The Worst Villain Ever
Perhaps most damning of all, the lead villain of Inuyasha, Naraku, has spent his entire existence trying to complete Shikon no Tama and become omnipotent. But when he does complete it, he does virtually nothing with it. He allows his enemies to enter his “lair” for nonsense reasons, and then stands around monologuing instead of using his new, unimaginable power. It’s then revealed that his true wish all along was never omnipotence, but actually to win the love of the priestess, Kikyou. The only problem with this is that Naraku is the one who killed Kikyou. And not once. Not twice! But THREE TIMES Naraku killed Kikyou, including the final time episodes earlier in Kanketsuhen. As he dies, Naraku laments his miserable existence and that his true wish wasn’t granted and that he still doesn’t have Kikyou’s love. Well, here’s a hint, idiot–you can’t win someone’s love if you make them a corpse. I believe the author meant to use this to add depth to Naraku at the last moment, but it violates all prior actions and development of the character and is nothing but ridiculous garbage.
Though there are battles in every episode of this series, I can’t think of one of them that was interesting, much less entertaining. Characters win and lose battles through nonsensical and/or deus ex machina means such as the ability to cut a demon’s “demonic point”, a vital spot on a demon that was never mentioned–ever–in the preceding 170+ episodes. Weapons receive “power-ups” that are only effective for a single episode before they become completely useless again.
Villain Deaths Made Dull
The first episode has a major villain from the first series get killed off immediately. There was no recap or exposition of who he was or what his motivations were or why he would be betrayed and killed or anything like that from when the first series ended 6 years ago, but none of that matters because he’s quickly and ruthlessly disposed of.
Episode 2, another major antagonist bites the dust, with little recap and a rushed murder and death scene that never have a chance to be fully poignant. This particular death pissed me off because it’s of Kagura, a reluctant villain who only dreams of being free. After knowingly allowing himself to be betrayed by Kagura time after time after time with no repercussions in the first series, Naraku suddenly just pops up and fatally wounds her for no apparent reason. But being the benevolent evil psycho that he is, Naraku still allows Kagura to fly off and see the “man” she loves one final time and have touching last words with him. Sorta. This is as close as I came to being sad in the entire series, but the payoff is nothing. Kagura’s love forgets about her and doesn’t mention her ever again by episode 5.
The villain deaths come so fast and furious in this series that I couldn’t tell you who dies, how, or in what order for most of them. The final death of Naraku is especially unexceptional–so much so that after waiting years to see how he would ultimately be defeated, I honest to God could not tell you exactly what happened to him or why. And frankly, I can’t bring myself to care enough to watch the episode he dies in again to find out.
Overall: I could have–and should have–written a fanfic to end this series. It might have been crappy, but it still would have been better than this, and at least I would have brought the characters to dramatic and satisfying resolutions. As it is, the only thing “good” about this ending is that it is indeed an ending, which all complete stories must have. Unfortunately, this is a case where the ending weakens the entirety of the epic that came before it. A complete and total failure.