Starting off with a quick primer to the background of Kikyou and Inu Yasha and their fateful battle over the Shikon jewel, viewers are quickly introduced to the original beginning to the story. This first episode effectively introduces the two main characters Kagome and Inu Yasha as well as the minor character of Kaeda. However, beyond the character introduction and brief background history, things jump around too much to make sense or give any true sense of direction or continuity, let alone where the story is to go from here. For those who are familiar with the manga, the story, a la Takahashi and the never ending fights, is much more clearly and strongly developed there than seen here in the anime.
The lack of story development, continuity, or sense of flow and revelation of material makes for a dull and boring watch with little to no purpose. (I know it's early so there won't be much development yet, but this isn't how you want to start a series). Events and information are revealed in whatever manner happens to be convenient rather than using a more intriguing or involving method making things too convenient, too contrived, and too predictable. From story development, to what happens next, to the timing of how long it'll take for the next step, things are very obvious.
The voice acting is also nothing spectacular. I have to admit I'm getting tired of hearing Yamaguchi Kappei as the lead for so many of Takahashi's works let alone lead males. From Ranma, to Kudou Shinichi, and Kindaichi, (and John Brown in a radio drama I've picked up...) his voice is not only quite distinctive, but also a touch overused. Kagome on the otherhand isn't bad, but her seiyuu isn't fully in character sounding at times like her lines are being read. Likewise, Kaede is a bit weaker than would be hoped. Hopefully this is just a matter of getting accustomed to one's role and the voice acting will improve over the next few episodes. The youkai's (monster's) acting is also not particularly convincing along with Kagome's and Souta's reaction to the sudden appearance of the youkai.
If there is one saving grace to the series, it's the animation. Using lots of CGI, the animation is quite smooth and there is some nice detail although there are also a number of scenes using speed lines. However, what did catch my eye is that there is some artefacting which is especially noticeable around the characters' faces.
Typical of Japanese anime, there is a boppy opening theme song (by V6). However, the background music is mixed at times sounding uninspired, but it is good at heightening tension during action based scenes. Overall while action packed and fast tempoed, it just doesn't do anything for me.
While I know that this is the first episode and therefore we have the elements of introducing the story and characters, having some action and starting the plot set up, this first episode of Inu Yasha just doesn't do a good job. In fact, I have a pretty bad feeling about this series so far. The lack of direction and the repetitive use of the same methods of revealing characters' inner thoughts doesn't make a good first impression. (It is much like the first episode of Kareshi Kanojo no Jijo, except the viewer is partisan to all characters' thoughts, not just the main one). Perhaps once the series is actually fully into the story, things will be more interesting and will fall together better. It's a shame that this introductory episode doesn't pull together very well nor does it do particularly well at building viewer interest. Quite frankly, had we not already preordered the next two DVDs I wouldn't bother continuing with this series.
- JYN, 2001.06.22