When Cartoon Network began airing a new action/adventure anime known as InuYasha, they couldn't have possibly forseen the firestorm of controversy that it would unleash.
Created by Rumiko Takahashi, the J.K. Rowling of Japan, InuYasha is the story of modern schoolgirl Kagome Higurashi, who travels back in time to Japan's fuedal Sengoku period. There she meets the hanyo InuYasha, and together the pair of them set off in search of the Shikon jewel, a jem which grants any demon who possesses it great power.
There's nothing offensive or controversial about the show itself, but see, it seems that InuYasha fans are truly fanatic about their program - whenever the show went into reruns or was pulled from rotation (so that Cartoon Network could, you know, get some more episodes translated and dubbed), the fans went nuts, demanding to know what had happened to it.
Now Toynami, purveyors of fine anime-inspired figures, are taking a shot at the demon dog and his friends, hoping that the sort of fanatical devotion that plagued Cartoon Network will translate into solid sales for them.
The first figures released were of the titular half demon and the show's main character, schoolgirl Kagome. Toynami also created 2,000 exclusive Human Form InuYasha figures to be split among SDCC, Wizard World Chicago and the Anime Expo.
The figure, based on the mass-market version of InuYasha, is very sparsely articulated. It's kind of a shame, since he's such an active character, but there's really no other way to capture the look of his big, flowing red robes. He moves only at the ankles, waist, shoulders, wrists and neck, and though you might expect his long hair to render that one useless, it's a fairly useful balljoint.
The head sculpt isn't entirely new, but it does have a few changes. The most obvious is that his normally white hair is now black - the biggest cue that he's turned into a full human. On top of that, the little dog ears that poke out of the top of his skull have receded. The facial expression is the same sort of impatient determination that the regular figure has.
There's some debate about the proper way to spell "InuYasha." Depending on who you ask, it could be InuYasha, Inuyasha, Inu Yasha or Inu-Yasha. Truth is that there is no correct spelling: Japanese does not use spacing or capitalization, and the confusion is just a result of the romaji translation. A similar problem arose around Vietnam, which could just as correctly have been Viet Nam or VietNam.
InuYasha comes with two accessories. Well, to be perfectly honest, two versions of one accessory - his sword Tetsusaiga. Forged from the fang of his father, InuYasha's sword is a very mighty weapon. Normally little more than a dull, rusty blade, Tetsusaiga multiplies in size and becomes a real threat when it is being used to protect humans.
To convey this change, InuYasha comes with two Tetsusaigas - one small and dinky, the other large and mighty. The small version measures 3 3/4" long and is nicely detailed with all sorts of dings and nicks along the blade. The large version is 5 1/2" long and is detailed right down to the fur that conveniently disguises the change from the scrawny little handle to the massive blade. Either sword can be held in the figure's right hand, and the small one can fit in the included sheath.
The show is pretty good, if a bit slow - the plan is for 167 episodes of the series, plus (so far) four theatrical movies. If you think that's a lot, there are more than 350 issues of the manga that inspired it. Sad to say, the first figures don't really do the characters justice. Series 2 will feature InuYasha's brother Sesshomaru and the Priestess Kikyo; hopefully by then, Toynami will have put a little more effort into the toys.
What's the slower show: InuYasha or Dragonball Z? Tell us on our message board, the Loafing Lounge.