犬夜叉 あれから (Since Then) Manga Review
Inuyasha Since Then
Some six months after Kagome decided to live in the past with Inuyasha, she pays a visit to Sango, who’s doing laundry by the river with her young children. They chat about a mission Inuyasha and Miroku are on regarding some youkai who’s tomb was unsealed by a landslide.
Miroku and Inuyasha are investigating one of the headless skeletons left by this mysterious youkai when part of it emerges from the ground, some of its root-tendrils holding rotting heads. Inuyasha attacks, forcing it to retreat underground. It then targets a group of bandits on horseback, removing the heads of the humans and consuming the flesh of the rest. Kohaku arrives at the scene on Kirara and is joined by Sesshoumaru, who identifies the offending youkai as Ne-no-Kubi, which is beneath even common youkai, but Sesshoumaru finds that it is being quite persistent.
Inuyasha and Miroku bring an arrow to Kaede, who identifies it as having belonged to Kikyou. Kikyou had apparently sealed the Ne-no-Kubi with that arrow prior to having met Inuyasha, and like Inuyasha, the Ke-no-Kubi was looking for the Shikon-no-Tama jewel.
At Miroku’s and Sango’s home, Shippou is there as is Rin, who was instructed to wait there by Sesshoumaru. Kagome senses danger as the Ne-no-Kubi attacks, taking down the door of the house. The youkai calls Kagome “Kikyou” and demands the Shikon-no-Tama. Sango forces it back with her Hiraikotsu as Inuyasha and Miroku race to the scene and force it to flee. Because this youkai spreads its roots underground and consumes humans, Kagome worries about the people of the village.
Inuyasha takes off with Kagome on his back, worried that she might be angry because Kikyou has come up again. Miroku joins them and the three battle the youkai. Meanwhile, Kohaku arrives at his sister’s home to see if she’s OK. Sango steps outside to discover Sesshoumaru hovering above the roof of her home with Shippou and Jaken at his side. Sango quietly wonders if Sesshoumaru is protecting them. He leaves her children with Kohaku, then dons her youkai hunting gear, mounts Kirara, and goes to join her husband in the fight.
Kagome wants to be put down to determine where the body of the youkai is underground. Kaede fires the arrow that Kikyou had used to seal the Ne-no-Kubi. When it lands in the ground, the youkai reacts to it. Its massive “head” with mouth and plenty of eyeballs and human heads emerges, telling “Kikyou” that it will devour the Shikon-no-Tama. An angry Kagome, on Inuyasha’s back, tells the youkai her name is “Kagome” and fires a purifying arrow at the youkai, exorcising it.
The battle over, Inuyasha scolds Kagome as she was nearly eaten, but she wasn’t worried because she knew Inuyasha would save her. She asks if the reason Inuyasha was trying to hide things about this youkai was the Kikyou connection. Inuyasha asks if she’s angry. She says she’s not, but she issues an “osuwari” command on him, forcing him to do a face plant in the ground. She then tells him that he needs to trust her more.
Miroku and Sango are amused by this before returning home to their kids while Kagome and Inuyasha sit together on a hillside.
During the course of reading Inuyasha, the manga eventually became quite tiresome and tedious, mainly because Takahashi-sensei refused to allow characters to grow beyond a certain point, and she refused to allow the story to naturally end, thus giving us a boring “lather, rinse, repeat” feel to it. One of the nice things about the final chapter of the manga is that the characters were FINALLY allowed to progress and grow.
That brings me to this surprise special epilogue chapter of Inuyasha, done as part of Shogakukan’s charity efforts to help the rebuilding of the Tohoku region of Japan, which was devastated by the earthquake and tsunami a couple of years ago. I think there have been a couple of other specials done for Shounen Sunday, but this was the first one I was made aware of.
Anyway, because this manga is set six months after chapter 558, there’s a certain freshness feel to the manga even though Takahashi-sensei made sure to touch certain things she knew fans would want to see. I loved seeing Sango as the housewife and mother doing the laundry by the river. (At the same time, it made me think of how glad I am that we don’t have to do laundry this way any more.) She’s no longer the Taijiya (youkai hunter) — Miroku and Inuyasha do that for a living from what it appears.
I loved the fact that Kagome just drops by for a visit. Yes, Sango is her good friend and former battle comrade, but even more, Sango and Miroku are the friend couple for Inuyasha and Kagome. There’s just something about that which makes me smile, even though such a friendship is no surprise or mystery.
The other great part about Sango is that once she knew her children would be safe from an attack by Ne-no-Kubi, she went out to fight at her husband’s side. I loved that moment as well.
The other moment I really loved was Sesshoumaru’s part in this chapter. On one hand, he was true to form in that he refused to join the fight against Ne-no-Kubi. On the other hand, he had gone to see Rin, instructed her to stay with Sango and Kagome, but after Kagome left with Inuyasha and Miroku, Sesshoumaru was quietly acting as a guarding of Sango’s and Miroku’s home, making sure that Rin was unharmed. That was awesome, complete with Jaken’s usual banter on why Sesshoumaru does what Sesshoumaru does (or doesn’t do).
The one thing in this chapter that didn’t quite work for me was Inuyasha not talking to Kagome about the Kikyou connection despite the fact that she mentioned that the youkai had addressed her as Kikyou. I know that based on their past, Inuyasha would always attempt to keep Kagome from knowing about things were Kikyou was involved, but now that Kikyou is dead again, it didn’t make much sense for him to keep information from Kagome. That said, I’m guessing that Takahashi-sensei figured fans would want to see Kagome do her trademark “osuwari” on Inuyasha, thus she crafted the story to get that outcome.
Oddly enough, Takahashi-sensei didn’t have Inuyasha use his trademark Kaze-no-Kizu attack, or at the very least, he didn’t shout it out like normal.
In the end, this chapter was a nice bit of nostalgia, causing me to actually miss reading Inuyasha. It worked simply because the characters were shown in their new lives (Sango and Miroku married with children; Inuyasha and Kagome together; Inuyasha and Miroku earning a living as youkai hunters) while not forgetting its roots.