Plot Summary: Kagome lives in modern-day Japan, but on her 15th birthday she falls down a well on her family’s sacred grounds and emerges hundreds of years in the past. The Japan she has entered is full of magical creatures and dangerous monsters. Kagome’s arrival in the past creates quite a bit of buzz, as she is the spitting image of Kikyo, a warrior who died many years before. Even Kikyo’s, now elderly, sister is confused by this young girl who favors her long dead sister. Kikyo died holding the powerful Jewel of Four Stones, and her likeness (Kagome) inadvertently releases InuYasha from the spell that Kikyo put on him many decades before. Inu-Yasha is part demon, part dog, as his pointy ears indicate. At first he is hostile toward Kikyo, but when the Jewel of Four Stones falls from Kikyo’s body and shatters he realizes they must work together to put the powerful and ancient jewel back together.
Critical Evaluation: The story line is exciting and the illustrations expressive and imaginative. I am not familiar with manga, so it took some careful reading to understand the story; however, I do not believe manga fans would have the same difficulty. This is book one of a large series that has also been made into a manga cartoon series for television, which is also very popular. Amazon reader reviews by manga fans call the artwork “beautiful” and call Takahashi “magical” (Customer Reviews, 2005). InuYasha, as a series, has been well received by critics and manga fans alike. “Manga volumes from InuYasha have been popular in Japan, taking high places in rankings listing sales. In 2001, the manga won the Shogakukan Manga Award for best shōnen manga title of the year. In North America, the manga volumes have appeared various times in the New York Times and Diamond Distributions top selling lists,” (Wikipedia, 2011).
A note about me and manga: Let me just start out by saying that I have never been a comic book fan, which is in one way surprising because I am a very visual person, I love picture books, and any novel with added visual elements thrills me. But, comic books are difficult for me to read, my mind seems unable to integrate the illustrations with the text and come up with anything meaningful. Manga brings that confusion up a level, as there are words that are totally unfamiliar to me and I have no context for the settings or the storylines. I actually read another manga book for this blog, but did not understand it enough to write about. So, it is with these major limitations that I reviewed InuYasha, with some significant help from the internet.
Reader’s Annotation: When Kagome falls down a well and lands hundreds of years in the past she must join forces with half-demon dog boy, InuYasha, in order to survive.
Information about the Author: Rumiko Takahashi was born in Japan in 1957. As a teen she was interested in manga, but not more so than any other high schooler. Then, while in college, she enrolled in “Gekiga Sonjuku, a manga school that was known for the demanding nature of its founder, Kazuo Koike,” (Acres, n.d.). It was at Gekiga Sonjuku that Takahashi’s skills and talents developed and she was well on her way to becoming a manga creator.
InuYashi is one of several manga series by Takahashi, who is extremely prolific. Other Takahashi series include: Rin-ne and Ranma, among others. According to Takahashi’s biography, “Inu-Yasha marked a major change in the way she presented her most mainstream works. It was much darker and decidedly non-comedic when compared to the works that had come before,” (Acres, n.d.).
Below is some fascinating information about Takahashi from Wikipedia:
Takahashi is one of the wealthiest individuals, and the most affluent manga artists in Japan. The manga she creates (and its anime adaptations) are popular worldwide, where they have been translated into a variety of languages. Takahashi is also the best selling female comics artist in history; as of February 2010, over 170 million copies of her various works had been sold. She has twice won the Shogakukan Manga Award: once in 1980 for Urusei Yatsura, and again in 2001 for InuYasha. (Wikipedia, 2011)
Genre/Format: Alternative Format: Graphic Novels
SubGenre/Themes: Graphic Novels: Manga
Curriculum Ties: n/a
- Falling down a well and ending up hundreds of years in the past
Reading Level/Interest Age: Ages 10 to 18 to adult
Challenge Issues: In response to any challenges, one can refer to the library’s collection development policies. Also, there are several positive reviews of the book, and it has won several awards and honors.
Why is this book included? Manga Graphic novels are very popular and often reach out to reluctant readers.
Amazon.com. (2005). InuYasha, Vol. 1: Customer Reviews. Retrieved from Amazon.com
Acres, H. & Acres, D. (n.d.). Rumiko Takahashi Biography. Retrieved from http://www.furinkan.com/takahashi/index.html
Wikipedia. (2011). InuYasha. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/InuYasha