For this week”s review, I wished to tackle my favourite genre of graphic books, the mangas. I”m sure you just went to the review section to see my last post and yes that was a manga too… but here”s the catch… this is a Japanese Manga and its published in Eastern Style!
Manga, for those who are not so familiar with the term, are the Eastern version of comics and since they are Eastern they are written from right to left and you start reading from the “back”.
My review will be about Viz”s edition of Inuyasha by Rumiko Takahashi. Viz is one of the major publishing houses for manga. At the moment Viz is collecting some of its major publications (some on-going whilst others are finished) and re-publish them in omnibus editions. Inuyasha was concluded recently and Viz in 2009 started to publish an omnibus volume every 3 months. Having 576-580 pages, this massive manga has 3 collected volumes inside with a coloured cover (paperback).The original covers of the volumes as well as some additional artwork is also printed at the back in full colour so buying the omnibus version doesn”t mean that you”re missing out on anything at all!
Rumiko Takashi is the author of other classic mangas such as Ranma 1/2 and Urusei Yarsura. Inuyasha and Ranma 1/2 both made it to the silver screen and have been a hit for years. The story of Inuyasha starts off very simple. Kagome is a high school student and the present day reincarnation as well as being a descendent, of a priestess called Kikyo. One day Kagome falls into the family owned well after she”s dragged inside by a demon centipede. Falling through the well she ends up in Kikyo”s village, travelling back in time and meeting up with Kikyo”s younger sister Kaede, who is now quite old.
Eventually Kagome learns about Kikyo”s story as everyone in the village mistakes her for the priestess who had been injured to death and died many years ago. To save the village from the centipede demon, Kagome wakes up the half-demon Inuyasha who had been sleeping for years after he had been shot by Kikyo. Inuyasha saves the village and allies himself with Kagome who as the reincarnation of Kikyo, she also possesses the Shikon Jewel. The Shikon Jewel is a magical gem that Kikyo was protecting. The person who owns the jewel would gain tremendous power and many demons coveted. Kikyo was burnt with the jewel which however ended up in Kagome”s possession in the present.
For Kagome, meeting demons, learning Kkyo”s story and having Inuyasha around is too much to bare and she just wants to go back home. However another demon, this time in form of a crow attempts to attack her to rob the jewel in her possession and in the process the jewel is shattered in many small shards which get scattered all over the land. Kagome realizes that her job is to help Kikyo”s old village by finding all the pieces of the jewel since she is the only one that can sense when a shard is near. Inuyasha who wants the jewel for himself joins her with the pretention of protecting her.
The story continues on with Inuyasha”s and Kagome”s search for the shards. They meet various new demons and humans some of which join their cause. A new demon called Naraku who had caused Kikyo”s death in the first place, is now also fighting Kagome”s party and sends many obstacles their way.
The Vizbig edition provides the reader with the luxury of enjoying Takahashi”s artwork to the fullest. Having the pages slightly bigger than the normal manga and printed on white thick paper; the black and white artwork really stands out. Rumiko Takahashi takes good care in panelling battle sequences that usually lack dialogue or have only a few phrases to engage the reader in a quick fast paced environment. The characters” clothing and expressions are also very well cared for even though they might be simple in design.
Until now I”ve arrived to volume 8 and I must say that the story is really good. The cast of characters is varied and they all mature and develop clearly through the series of events that they encounter. Each new adventure is clearly narrated and even though they have side missions, the common search for the shards as well as for Naraku (whom they intend to kill) keeps the reader focused. Rumiko”s talent is her ability to develop the characters so uniquely amongst each other. They all have their own personal stories too which we discover as the story moves on.
However this wouldn”t be a review without mentioning something bad right? Even though the Vizbig edition of the manga is convenient (even money wise) the downside is that it is too big to carry around. Each omnibus is quite heavy and it doesn”t fit in all the bags. It isn”t a good read when travelling abroad for sure.
Apart from that, the series makes a good read especially for those who like the setting of “feudal Japan”. For beginners in manga, Inuyasha is also a good start for them because not only the story is quite straight forward but its intriguing without being over the top complicated. Having demons, spirits and magical items as part of the plot, adds an element of fantasy to a rather mundane setting. Thus, I recommend this manga for all those who like adventure, fantasy, feudal Japan and a good story with great dialogue. Whether you”ve watched the series or not you will still be able to enjoy the manga, especially since it lacks fillers and still keeps the same storyline.
For those of you interested in checking out this series please visit Viz”s official website – http://www.viz.com/product?id=8858 . The next omnibus is Vol 11, due to be released May 2012.