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Inu Yasha: The Final Act Set 1 Blu-ray Anime Review

9 min read

The final push is on to bring the sprawling series to a close.

What They Say:
Kagome is an ordinary schoolgirl who finds her destiny linked to the half-demon Inuyasha and the powerful Shikon Jewel. In their quest to restore the shattered Shikon Jewel, Inuyasha and Kagome face their ultimate enemy, the demon mastermind Naraku.

Meanwhile, Sesshomaru learns the truth behind his sword Tenseiga, and Kikyo discovers a secret that could defeat Naraku! With the jewel nearly complete and in enemy hands, the race to collect the remaining shards intensifies, and an epic battle is brewing on the horizon!

Contains episodes 1-13.

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for the series is quite good as we get the original Japanese language track in stereo as well as the new English mix, both of which use the DTS-HD MA lossless audio codec. The show has a pretty dynamic forward soundstage mix to it with a good bit of action flowing rather continually and it’s balanced by some decent dialogue that has good placement throughout. The show tends to shine more in the action for obvious reasons and there’s some good impact to be had throughout and lots of well placed ambient sounds as well where needed. The opening and closing songs tend to be the richest areas for obvious reasons and they come across very well here. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback. We weren’t able to switch on the fly due to audio locking to see how the dub and sub compares.

Video:
Originally airing in 2009, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The thirteen episodes in this set are spread across two discs with seven on the first and six on the second. With a five year gap between the two series, the animation production here is significantly better and the series has a very, very vibrant look to it. Colors are rich and bright with lots of vibrancy throughout and the animation comes across as strong and fluid. The transfer brings it all about here in a very clean fashion with no problems at all. The more I watched this set the more I was struck by how visually well done it is, especially compared to the previous series. There’s no complaints to be had with the transfer here and fans of the show will definitely love seeing how strong this looks in high definition.

Packaging:
The packaging for this release comes in a standard sized Blu-ray that holds the two discs that make up the release. The front cover gives us the standard Inu Yasha logo with the Final Act subtitle, both of which have a nice dash of color. The central focus is on Inuyasha himself with him in an action pose with a serious expression and sword out to do battle. It looks good with a clean set of colors which is made a bit stronger by the soft green background to it. The back cover uses the same kind of background which stands out a bit more since it’s not covered by Inuyasha. What we get here is a nice side shot of Kikyo along the right while the left has the condensed summary of what the show is about, a breakdown of the technical specs and a look at the special features. Add in a few production credits and shots from the show with a meager technical grid, something that I wish Viz was stronger in dealing with, and you have a simple but good looking release overall. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.

Menu:
The menu design for the show is rather nice overall though it’s not one that you’ll spend much time in. With the usual unskippable initial opening logos and four minutes of skippable trailers, we land on a static screen that does the paper style background with a hint of leafless trees and some softer spring colors drawn into it to give it an aged feeling. The central piece is a shot of Inuyasha running with Kikyo on his back with weapons extended. The navigation along the bottom doubles as the pop-up menu and it’s done in scroll form with the standard sections to hit up that work effectively and without problem. As noted before, you can’t switch languages and subtitles on the fly, but you do get a few setup choices.

Extras:
The show has a few extras to it that are somewhat standard fare for Viz Media shows. We get a section of production art that you can move through and a section of storyboard art. There’s also three of the original Japanese trailers for the show included. Listed as an extra but not really one is the fully translated credits in English.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
When Inuyasha ended its original run in 2004 after a hundred and sixty-seven episodes, most people figured that was the end of the anime incarnation, even though the manga went on for another four years. To everyone’s surprise, after it ended in 2008 it was announced that a new season would debut, running twenty-six episodes, that would bring everything to a close. I had read the first few volumes of the manga and made it through four episodes of the original series before I walked away from it, partially because of the release format at the time (3-4 episodes per disc) and partially because I was far too familiar with Rumiko Takahashi’s style of just going on and on and on. With this release, I decided to just jump right into it and found that it’s very, very easy to pick up on because of that fact. I wouldn’t recommend that for everyone though.

With The Final Act, the series has a strong feeling that it’s intent on just getting a lot of things done. And it doesn’t expect new viewers to really be joining it either as there’s no quick reintroductions or back story to make sure they can follow along. But admittedly, it’s not all that difficult with a few of the basics that the series has stuck with for its run. While we’re past the time when Inuyasha and Kagome dated, she’s still coming back to this place from the real world regularly, though we get some small connecting points along the show here how her life in the big city is getting to be problematic. Because of the number of vacation days she takes, she’s falling further behind on her studies and the entrance exams for college are coming up soon. So when she comes through to spend time there, she brings one big bag of books and study materials with her.

Not that we really see her study. Inuyasha is intent on finishing up the quest to get all the shards of the Shikon jewel with Kagome, though there are obvious problems since some of their friends lives are tied to the shards. The two main groups continue to operate as Inuyasha has Kagome, Shippo, Miroku, Sango and Kirara seek out the shards while coming up against Sesshomaru and his group. And in the midst of everything you have Naraku that’s manipulating a lot of circumstances to his advantage, sometimes pitting the two sides against each other or just watching how what he’s doing with someone else ends up interfering with either one or both of the groups. With the way Naraku changes throughout the season here, it’s sometimes a little hard to keep track of him, but he’s intent on bringing the series to a close himself so going through the evolutions makes sense.

The general thrust of the series is the same as it always was in that you have Inuyasha struggling to do the job he’s set out to do, gets caught up in some of Kagome’s stuff with how she can control him and he has to deal with mastering more and more of his sword. That becomes one of the key parts here as, similar to Naraku himself, he’s getting it to evolve more quickly as it absorbs more demonic energy and more. Seeing how he masters it is certainly reminiscent of other shows like Bleach that do the same, but each new instance isn’t overly drawn out. Sesshomaru goes though the same with his sword, which is the “lesser” part of Inuyasha’s, and there’s some welcome growth and exploration there of his abilities. All three men really do go through some solid changes in this set for different reasons and catalysts, but the growth is surprisingly engaging.

While it does push them all towards a final confrontation, with skirmishes along the way, the rest of the cast isn’t ignored along the way. Miroku has been a part of things for so long that his power finally pushes him further than before and he ends up absorbing too much miasma at one point and is on a fatal path now where further use of the Wind Tunnel will be dangerous. His reason for doing so is obvious when it involves Sango, and she herself goes through some good evolution as her weapon is damaged and she has to go through quite a challenge in order to try and continue on as a fighter. With her weapon having quite the history itself, putting it through its paces like she does means that trying to fix it becomes a true trial, one where she has to put her life on the line. The orbiting relationship between Sango and Miroku is a lot of fun to watch here since it’s all worn very plainly on their sleeves yet still has that restrain to it.

With Kagome getting the short end of the stick here, the other character that gets some big focus as always is Inuyasha. While his sword training and growth is a big part of it,t here’s also some true closure brought into the story when it comes to his relationship with Kikyo. The two have long had things going on and unresolved issues, but she really comes across well here as events lead to her making the ultimate sacrifice in the end. It speaks well of her, but more so of Inuyasha as we see how he has to cope with this particular kind of loss and how it draws Kagome into wanting to help him all the more. Inuyasha and Kikyo have been a pairing that has always made sense for obvious reasons and seeing their story finally come to an end in this set only opens the show up for more events in the second half.

In Summary:
Inuyasha has never been a favorite of mine out of Takahashi’s many works, but I completely get why it works and why after the broadcast in the US it has such a good following The Final Act is living up to its name in this first half of its run as it moves the story forward, mostly through some very good encounters that produces changes to the dynamic and the power levels of certain characters, so that it really does have this almost barreling towards completion feel about it. It almost feels like too much, but it has a good bit of ground to cover and wants to wrap it all up. Sunrise really upped their game for this run with some great looking animation and a sense of color that gives it renewed vibrancy, making for a show that stands out well. I wasn’t sure how it would play out, but it’s left me wanting to see the second half and almost making me want to finally watch the main series in full rather than just the abridged version. Fans of the show will definitely enjoy this release across the board.

Features:
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Production Artwork, Storyboard Gallery, Original Trailers

Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: B-

Released By: Viz Media
Release Date: November 20th, 2012
MSRP: $54.97
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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