After 12 years, 56 volumes, and over 550 chapters, the final chapter of the Inuyasha manga (chapter 558) has been released, completing Rumiko Takahashi’s longest series. I’ve been avidly following the Inuyasha story since the anime was released in the US in 2002, and although its been one of my favorites for many years, I’m both relieved and a bit sad that it’s finally over…
Before I talk about my opinion of how the series ended, I just wanted to lay out some helpful info: the Inuyasha manga series has been running in Shounen Sunday in Japan since 1996, and of course, has now ended in 2008 at chapter 558. The anime series began in 2000 and ended in 2004 with a very inconclusive ending; it basically stopped the story at around volume 36 of the manga because the anime was too close to catching up with the manga. The anime began airing in the US in 2002 and ended in 2006. Currently, Viz is up to volume 33 of the English version of the manga, with 34 and 35 slowly on their way. I began writing individual chapter reviews of the Inuyasha manga starting at chapter 482 when the series hit its 10th anniversary, but I had to stop at chapter 520 because I no longer had the time to keep them up.
But although I no longer write individual chapter reviews of the manga, I of course had to make one final Inuyasha manga-related post since the series has finally reached its greatly anticipated conclusion. About a year and a half ago I wrote a post about why a new Inuyasha anime needs to be made in order for the series to regain its former popularity, since it now has more than enough manga material to work with. I also talked about how the quality of the manga has deteriorated since the anime ended, and now that the manga itself has finally ended, my opinion hasn’t really changed much. Personally I think that the Inuyasha series was absolutely brilliant and endearing until around volume 41, when it began to becomes less and less interesting. I won’t go into detail about why, since I already addressed that in the previous post, but lets just say that from volume 41 and onward, the series had its good story arcs and its boring story arcs, but it never went back to the excellence it used to be. It seemed like this latter half of the series was used by Takahashi-san to experiment with different possible ways to end the series, thus it just seemed kind of scattered and she began making up new subplots instead of trying to tie them up.
And finally now, we have the series finale. First of all, the main villain Naraku, who has “died” a number of times in the series only to come back again, is finally killed in chapter 552. I guess a unique aspect of Inuyasha when compared to other long-running shounen series’ is that it’s kept the same main villain all these years. Because of this, I would suspect that Naraku’s death would be all the more epic, but personally I thought it was kind of lame. Instead of feeling totally relieved and happy that one of the most hated and evil villains of all is finally defeated, out of nowhere Takahashi throws in a bit of sentiment about how he only wanted his wish of being with Kikyou granted. After years of portraying Naraku as a heartless bastard who only had base desires for Kikyou, we’re just now suddenly supposed to feel a shred of sympathy for him? I don’t know, but that was the impression I got. If she wanted Naraku to be a more complex character instead of pure evil, she should have given us evidence long before this. Personally, I think Naraku should’ve gone down with a huge bang, and Takahashi should have added one of her humorous filler chapters of the gang having a party and celebrating his defeat! XD But oh well, it could’ve been worse I guess ~_^
And as for tying the whole series up in the last chapter, considering all the characters and subplots Takahashi had to work with, I think she did an okay job (though definitely not perfect). The last chapter was about 40 pages instead of the usual 20 so that helped a lot. To make things easier, let me divide the series conclusion into good points and bad points…
Good points: First of all, while Naraku’s death was mediocre, I thought the “death” of the Shikon Jewel was really awesome. Instead of selfishly making a wish on the Shikon Jewel for Inuyasha to save her or to return to her world, Kagome instead chooses not to choose, because she knows that Inuyasha will save her without her having to wish for it (she instead wishes for the Jewel to disappear). To me this was a very unpredictable and interesting ending for the Jewel. And in the last chapter, we finally get to see Miroku and Sango settle down and have their kids, and we also get a good idea of how the remaining main characters will spend the rest of their days. After reading the few chapters before this one, I was afraid that Inuyasha and Kagome would never get to see each other again, and Kagome would be forced to stay on her side forever. So I was really relieved that in the end they got to be together after all, thus answering a question that fans have had for many years. Also, Kagome calling Sesshoumaru “Onii-san” (and the look on Sesshoumaru’s face at that moment) was priceless XD
Bad points: As could be expected from a long-running series with numerous characters and subplots, I felt that some characters and subplots in Inuyasha were left with insufficient development, or were just plain pointless. For example, was it really necessary for Inuyasha to get all those new attacks for Tessaiga in the latter part of the series when he uses the majority of them maybe once or twice? And what was the point of Kouga getting a new attack when he was written out of the series not too long after, and doesn’t even get to appear in the last chapter? And also after all this time, we never hear a thing about Kagome’s father (the anime mentions him but not the manga). Other minor characters such as that kid with the freaky eyes in chapter 493, and even Sesshoumaru’s mom and Houjo-kun lacked a proper conclusion. And there are probably other characters and subplots I forgot about that were lacking but I guess Takahashi wrapped up the main ones well enough. Another thing, I thought that Kagome’s sudden disappearance from the Sengoku Jidai in the end was really lacking: there should have at least been a few pages showing Inuyasha, Shippou, Miroku, and Sango grieving about not being able to see her again. I mean, the five of them have been traveling around together all these years, and suddenly she’s gone and they didn’t even get to say goodbye. Instead, the last chapter just jumps to three years in the future already with only minor flashbacks, and we don’t even see any rejoicing when she finally does come back…so yeah, there definitely should have been more emotion in the ending.
And although Inuyasha and Kagome do indeed end up together in the end, one has to wonder if this would have been so if Kikyou hadn’t died. Inuyasha never actually chose between Kagome and Kikyou…Kikyou was already dead when he ended up with Kagome, so does he now love Kagome more than Kikyou? If Kikyou were to suddenly come back, would he then be conflicted again or would he loyally stay with Kagome? Inuyasha never actually chose one over the other so it could still be argued that the only reason Inuyasha chose Kagome in the end is because she’s the only one of the two left (if Kikyou was still around, this may have been different). Another interesting fact is that even in the last chapter we never see Inuyasha and Kagome kiss (they did in the second movie but that’s not canon and it was hardly a passionate kiss), while Kikyou and Inuyasha have kissed a couple of times before, and quite passionately. Inuyasha and Kagome still haven’t even outright confessed their love…I wonder if Takahashi-san purposely left it debatable whether Inuyasha truly chose Kagome over Kikyou or not.
One last thing I was kind of confused about (though maybe someone can clear it up for me), why, after three years, was Kagome suddenly able to go back through the well? This whole time she and Inuyasha have been missing each other and visiting the well, so why after three years did the well suddenly become connected again? Not sure if I missed something about this but it seems really questionable ~_^ I always predicted that after the Shikon Jewel is destroyed, the time slip on the well would close and Kagome would be forced to remain on her side. It would then be Inuyasha who chooses to go back to her world and live as a human, instead of the other way around. I kinda like my ending better but oh well ^^,,, Perhaps now that the manga has ended, a new anime series will be on the way.
Well, to sum things up, Inuyasha is the only one of Takahashi’s series’ that I’ve read all the way through and I’ve heard that she’s infamous for not writing good endings. But I’m at least somewhat satisfied with the ending of Inuyasha. Actually, the only other series of hers that I’m familiar with is Ranma 1/2, and though I think it’s hilarious, sometimes it gets too silly and slapstick for me. The reason I like Inuyasha so much is because even though its not a comedy series, it has humor that’s more realistic and character-driven, and not as hyperbolic. Also, being one long, continuing story instead of stand-alone episodes like Ranma, together with Takahashi’s brilliant ability to create endearing characters, you’ve got a series with great character development and an intricate, fascinating storyline. Thus Inuyasha was my favorite series for nearly 5 years. Although my interest in it has been decreasing in the past year (mostly due to the manga not being as good as it used to be) it will always be one of my favorites and I’m so glad I was able to follow Inuyasha and the gang all the way to the end of their amazing adventure.