The Shounen Failure: Inuyasha

Oh hey, let’s put me in the line of fire again. That was fun.

I can still recall the first time I saw Inuyasha. Sicker than a dog (heh) and staying up way past my bedtime, I came across this weird show on Adult Swim while channel flipping. It had a pretty boy with white hair fighting another white-haired pretty boy with really cool powers, so I was definitely interested. The only part that didn’t really work for me was the female, who liked to stand around and obsessively scream at white-haired boy #1 during the fight. Whatever my reservations, it got my curious and I checked out the rest of the show later on.

Then I got older. And now the show annoys me to no end.

2128330_1320179626464-68res_500_349

This was my face the last few episodes I saw.

This show feels like it was supposed to be a “Ra Ra, girl power in shounen” series that falls flat on its face within the first season. The plot is repetitive and annoying, our protagonists are unlikeable schmucks, and there are far too many cooks in the kitchen when it comes to our “antagonists.” 

I want to be clear, this is not a rag on the manga artist. I know Rumiko Takahashi can write and draw really well, being a fan of Ranma 1/2. What I don’t understand exactly is what went wrong with this show. I have my theories below, but what exactly went wrong always eludes me.

tumblr_o1umf7egic1v6lqxco1_500

 

  • Shikon Hot Potato!

There’s one type of plot I hate above all others: the repetitive one. If your plot is so barren than you need to repeat yourself like some lazily-written Groundhog Day to keep it going then you need to consider whether your story should go on at all. Hence one of my earlier posts, Survive or Stagnate.

Inuyasha stagnated something fierce, refused to lay down and die for the longest time. Our resuscitation paddles here came from the ever infamous Shikon Jewel Shards, the pieces of a powerful jewel that Kagome shattered in the beginning of the show.The group’s quest has been to gather the shards to keep big bad baddy Naraku from getting his hands on it. Despite this providing a great opportunity to stretch the story out naturally, the show feels the need to have the hero’s shard collection stolen over, and over, and over again. And just when you think they’ve gotten it back on track…. they lose it again… for five more episodes.

tumblr_m3osy1jf6s1r2hm3k

When it comes to Shounen, repetition is a sickness. In my “Secret To Success” post on One Piece, I praised Oda for keeping the show going for its ridiculous length by constantly coming up with new and exciting plotlines to chase. By adding new material, you could hypothetically keep a show going forever and keep your audience entertained. When Shounen chases its tail, on the other hand, you risk losing people who’ve been there since day one.

  • When Did Abuse Become Funny?

Maybe I just don’t get the Tsundere trope, but I’ve never found romantic violence all that funny or entertaining.

With the protagonist being a human girl in a world of danger, not many people will probably criticize Kagome for wanting to be protected at all times. However, when that threat has passed, when does a want for protection become an obsessive and petty means of causing pain?  Of course, I’m referring to Inuyasha and the prayer beads.

 

I know how slapstick works, and I know how the “Slap-Slap-Kiss” Dynamic is supposed to work. Inuyasha and Kagome are too very hot-headed, very immature characters who have to come to terms with their emotions and we get to laugh along the way. What I don’t get, and what I’ve never gotten, is why Kagome didn’t remove the prayer beads when it became abundantly clear he wasn’t going to kill her, or run off on her.

 

tumblr_nsqujhussy1qzj6elo1_540

There there, honey, you had it coming

In short, it’s because the show thinks it’s funny to constantly have her punish him for various petty things that teenage girls care about, like insulting her cooking, or not noticing her like a good sempai. But what’s supposed to be funny began to ring abusive to me after it became clear that these two were romantically involved and that leaves a sour taste in my mouth.

  • Cheap Pathos Makes the Bad Media go Round

And now, my biggest Pet-Peeve: Kikyo. My God, Kikyo, why do you exist?

An intro to the new guys: Kikyo was Inuyasha’s love interest just before he got killed. The two were well on their way to being together when plot happened and Kikyo was convinced she had to kill Inuyasha, which in turn killed her. The big romantic hub-bub between Inuyasha and Kagome is that Kagome is Kikyo’s reincarnation self. This opened the door for a questionable but otherwise very Japanese fantasy romance that would have been enjoyable and allowed Inuyasha to move on.

And then Kikyo got resurrected as a zombie and wrecked the whole thing.

inuyashs-and-kikyo-ressurection-kikyo-and-inuyasha-11203865-1024-768

I come baring High School Drama!

This idea can work for a one-arc thing, putting Inuyasha through the emotional wringer, and then lose her for a second time for extra angst. But Kikyo became a regular antagonist for the show, a killer zombie whose sole purpose is to kill her lover for the second time. But, to be honest, I’m pretty sure she’s just here to make the fans go “Oh noz, we he leave Kagome?”

This is just cheap pathos. The key to a successful second antagonist is credible threat and logical cause and the presentation of a new threat. Azula makes sense in Avatar The Last Airbender because, while Zuko wants to capture the Avatar, she wants to kill him. Both Naraku and Sesshomaru want Inuyasha dead, and Zombie-Kikyo has little to offer that both of them haven’t already done.

  • Sad But True

It’s easy to accuse me of criticizing a show I just never liked. But, truth be told, I used to love this show, making me all the sadder it’s turned so sour. I enjoyed watching the show for a very long time and lost interest midway through. I got very bored with the repetitive plot, lost my taste for the comedy, and just felt like the show was pandering to a different group than mine.

This show has strengths. Characters like Koga, Miroku, even Sesshomaru are well done for their interesting powers or backstories, sometimes both. The show also knows how to make some really cool monsters and, had it focused on the Yokai of Ancient Japan, it would have been something special. But, instead of a cool action series surrounding old Japanese Mythology, we have stagnating Shounen series with some real cool mythology accenting the edges. It’s one of those times that I wished the scenery would chew the actors… and hopefully spit them back out.
Do you disagree? Is Inuyasha your favorite show? I’m interested in hearing from everyone, so feel free to comment down below. Don’t forget to like and follow for more content just like this.

Advertisements

5 thoughts on “The Shounen Failure: Inuyasha

  1. I watched InuYasha for the first time earlier this year and I did enjoy it. I also found myself questioning why the beads were never removed and also questioned the point of Kikyo. However I think on the whole it succeeded even if the bad guy, Naraku was OP and then suddenly meh, I just enjoyed. Can’t really explain why all that well though.

    Like

    1. Cool beans 🙂

      I’m not dumb enough to suggest the show has no appeal, as someone who liked it too. This here is just more or less chronicling my journey of why I fell out of love with the show and what keeps me from going back.
      But hey, thanks for following, glad to have you aboard. Hope to see you more ^^

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s