Introduction to Inuyasha

Page written by Kalliel

Disclaimer: Written by memory, on the spot, and with no reference material. Pure memory. It is stated later in the text that you shouldn't write reports based just off Inuyasha-history. That's why this isn't going to see anywhere near my school binder. Any inaccuracies can be directed towards the LoP contact form.

Now, to start from the very beginning...

It all began well over a million years ago...with an event scientists regard as continental drift... The land, "Pangaea", meaning "all earth", was made up on Earth of all the current continents put together like a jigsaw puzzle... Seafloor spreading... Convergent/divergent boundaries... Ok. That's a bit too far back.

Inuyasha is set primarily in the Sengoku Jidai--roughly the late end of the 1500's, otherwise known as Japan's feudal era. The land was divided in various domains, which were governed by the ruler who conquered them. In the social class, shogun were of highest rank, below them being daimyou, who were overseers to specified sections of their master's domain. Samurai, soldiers who were trained specially to serve their lords, were below the daimyou. In the non-war section, artisans were often very well spoken of and wealthy. Farmers, as is with many social class systems, were on the lower end. Peasants and beggars made up the last strand of Japanese.

Inuyasha himself comes from an apparently well-off, wealthy family that rules the 'western domain'. Inuyasha's clothing (the red hariginu [top] and matching nu-bakama [a type of hakama; bottom] are most likely modeled after a child's costume of the higher court. Kikyou and her sister, Kaede, however, are priestesses that, while well cared for and treated as a higher class, are relatively poor. Their costume is almost identical to the uniform of a miko, or Shinto priestess. While real miko's jobs consisted mostly of entertaining and serving food at weddings, Kikyou and Kaede's roles have been expanded to include being the matriarch of a village and keeping invading forces--both human and supernatural--at bay.

These supernatural beings, known as primarily youkai (but also oni, bakemono, mononoke, and obake) are what make Inuyasha not historical fiction. Historical fiction is defined by keeping in with true history and creating a fictional, but fully plausible story in a historical time period. Inuyasha involves the supernatural, and youkai, which makes it fantasy. Along with this new genre title comes many more things that are untrue of the time period. The language variation that is spoken, for instance, is far from the actual Japanese dialect spoken in feudal Japan. Clothing and occupations (like the taijiya, or demon slayers) are altered for either a more intersting look or storyline. While an intrest in Inuyasha can lead to knowledge of the sengoku jidai, don't base your entire thesis report off of the information you gain by watching. ^_^ Instead, check out a book called Japan Before Perry, which is, truthfully, very dull and boring. However, it is required reading when you plan to major in Buddhism. Kalliel's mother owns the book.

Japan Before Perry means, Japan before Perry infiltrated the country and exposed Japan's sheltered civilization to the rest of the world. That means that the Japanese religions of the time, Shinto and Buddhism (which originated in India and traveled across Asia through China to Japan) were virtually unopposed by Christianity or other religions involving 'God'.

Shinto is what Kikyou and Kaede practiced. Their trademark clothing and hairstyle is not the only thing devout Shinto followers share. Shinto is the art of believing in gods, or spirits called kami. It is believed that everything, from the antagonistic youkai, to the trickle of water from a spout, is governed by a kami.

Buddhism, on the other hand, is very different. The character, Miroku, participates in a small Buddhist sect. Though his robes are black (sometimes they are orange), the kesa (purple sash) is very different from real kesa of the era. Buddhist monks sewed their kesa out of many mismatched fabrics, to demonstrate humility and the "Middle Way", which means that true enlightenment is gained not my immense riches or suffrering, but by choosing to be somewhere in between the two. Miroku's staff, or shakujou, is equipped with rings to warn things that he is coming. This does not mean that he wants his enemies to know when to kill him--a truly benign monk shouldn't have any real enemies to begin with--but the small insects on the path, so he does not harm any living thing. The Miroku in Inuyasha has a habit of disregarding that particular teaching of the Buddha.

As for Sango, her occupation is, obviously, quite fictional. And the taijiya uniform? Gaudy as anything. There is no clothing in the actual sengoku jidai that even remotely resembles her uniform. But her normal clothes are similar to a saleswoman who travels around with her goods. The taijiya village itself always reminded Kalliel of "Iron Town" in the movie--also set in the sengoku jidai--Princess Mononoke. There they forge iron. The taijiya village forge weapons not from iron, but youkai parts. For a small fee, they will hunt down and kill a youkai that is plaguing a village, as opposed to counquering territory with their iron weapons.

There are others, though, whose lifestyle does involve conquering. The daimyou, who have already been introduced, served the shogun, and their job was to maintain the areas that the shogun's soldiers had won. In Inuyasha, the majority of these daimyou are human. It appears that the youkai prefer a feral lifestyle, and rarely settle in one place or gather followers, prefering to be nomads. This is an interesting concept, because if they were to become more organized, the youkai would have overpowered the humans instantly, and taken over Japan. Perhaps they (or rather, Rumiko Takahashi) knew that, and also knew that in doing so, it would not only disrupt the flow of history and nature, but also the story for Inuyasha. If all the youkai ganged up and took over, where would the conflict be?

The more clever--or those who would indeed be partial to running the country their way--youkai did live in castles and maintain a family territory, like Inuyasha's brethren mentioned earlier and Naraku.

Naraku is the main antagonist in Inuyasha. He has his own castle, vassals, comrades, and territories, and life is good. However, Naraku was not originally born youkai. Or even hanyou. He was a lone wolf bandit named Onigumo. But things went wrong (it was never mentioned exaclty what in the manga, though there is a filler episode and a filler two-part special dedicated to Onigumo and what he did in B.N.--not Before Christ, but Before Naraku). The lady Kikyou happened to come across this sorry excuse for a broken, bandaged and burnt man, and began to nurse him back to at least a state of semi-life.

This Kikyou also happened to be the protector of the now-legendary Shikon no Tama, or the Jewel of Four Souls. This jewel was said to have originated near the taijiya village, when a priestess of ages gone by faced a huge conglomerate of youkai, who were living for one purpose--her demise. She could neither win nor accept defeat, so she sealed the souls of the youkai and her own into a sphere, which was later named the infamous Shikon no Tama. This is essentially the Philosopher's Stone of the sengoku jidai. It was rumoured to have great power and could grant the wish of its owner. The jewel was placed in the priestess Kikyou's care so she could try to purge the demonic powers of the jewel and make it completely pure and benevolent.

But the jewel had power. And those with great power usually end up twisted in their own glory, and no owner of the jewel had ever gained in life. The jewel has a negative connotation (similar also to the pearl in John Stienbeck's, The Pearl).

In addition to caring for Onigumo and tending to the village she occupied, Kikyou was also busily making friends with a feral hanyou named Inuyasha, who had been roaming the area for quite some time, in search of the shikon no tama. Why? To make a wish, and become a full youkai. For those who wish to know why he wanted to do so, it was probably because the fandom was suddenly overrun with pretty hanyou females flocking to him. No, I kid.

Kikyou had gotten it into her head that she and Inuyasha were alike, or at least similar. She told him so--after, that is, she pinned him to a tree with a few arrows, let him down, and demanded they talk in a fairly windy, flowery sort of field (wind and flowers are good for flashbacks).

With the more interesting background out of the way, the actual "intro" will be fairly rushed, maybe sarcastic.

Kikyou and Inuyasha slowly grew closer to each other, and in the anime, intimate to the point of kisses. The immobile Onigumo got wind of their courtship, and this aggravated him greatly. Kikyou, if it has not been mentioned before, possessed a heavenly serene beauty. Since this woman was the only one (besides her child-sister, Kaede) that the sex-deprived Onigumo had laid eyes on for quite some time, he began to lust for her. But had she too fallen for his handsome bandages and sallow cheeks, agile body, and hearty conversation? No, of course not--she liked that hanyou boy with the sharp tongue and hostile eyes. All the pretty women go for the badboy type.

It should be mentioned about now for the sake of InuyashaxKagome shippers that Kikyou "may not have really liked Inuyasha in the beginning". What Kikyou wanted was to be freed of the duty to protect the jewel. In order to do so, a pure wish had to be made. For a hanyou to wish to become completely human was categorized under 'pure'. In the beginning she may have been using Inuyasha and seducing him with her priestessly charm. But for the record, she does fall in love with Inuyasha, or else he would have been dead by now. Because, immobile though he was, Onigumo still possessed a sliver of wit, and he struck a deal with the youkai gathering in the cave. They could use his body as a base, and merge together to become more powerful, and he would be given movement to smash a rift through Inuyasha and Kikyou's growing relationship.

This would not be hard to do, once he had thought of a complete plan. Neither side of the pairing, hanyou or priestess, were quick to trust. Inuyasha, after all, had led an apparently traumatic childhood, and he shouldn't have mixed with humans at all, especially not with the youkai-purifying type. Kikyou was a priestess of great stature, and associating with a hanyou so closely was likely to bring her reputation down. If he ever betrayed her, she would probably be ripped of her station and exiled completly. So she had more than enough reason to be scared. If he turned around and stole the jewel, she would either be dead, exiled or both. As it stood, their friendship had stood on rickety foundation from the get-go. When Kikyou finally got the courage to tell Inuyasha that they would use the jewel the next day to turn him human, she knew she was taking a big chance.

Taking that morsel into consideration, Onigumo --who now renamed himself Naraku-- devised a plan. He would take on the appearance of Inuyasha and come to the meeting, steal the jewel by hurting the owner, laugh at her stupidity and tell her she was a moron for ever thinking that he, half-demon, would ever consider being human. Then, he would put the jewel back in the shrine it was housed in (remember, Kikyou was probably not supposed to be walking around with the valuable shikon no tama, and she wasn't supposed to be saving half-dead bandits or half-demon men) and then transform into Kikyou, intercept Inuyasha on the way to his and Kikyou's meeting, and begin shooting arrows at him.

This part in his plan, in my opinion, was slightly flawed, because Kikyou was a "master archer". This usually means that you don't run up to your target, shoot four arrows at a slow moving, very confused target, and shout, "DIE, INUYASHA!". At least, that's not what an experienced priestess would do. But Inuyasha was probably just as nervous about using the jewel and the chance ofa certain priestess betraying him as Kikyou had been, so he didn't stop to consider those things. He automatically assumed that, obviously, it was Kikyou. Wouldn't it still smell like Naraku? Moving along...

Inuyasha managed to get away (once again, wouldn't Kikyou, who easily pinned him before, be able to hit him at least once if she wanted to kill him?) and decided to take the jewel for himself. So he leapt over some very tall things, avoided all the villager's nets and spears, and crashed into the shrine, set it on fire, and stole the jewel. The real KIkyou had recovered from her shock by now, and saw the real Inuyasha fleeing her burning village. Taking his assault as adding insult to injury, she also did not think to wonder why, if he had stolen the jewel from her, why he did not run away as quickly as possible, so as not to be caught? She proceeded to follow Inuyasha.

Just as he was making his getaway, Kikyou shot a single arrow--get this, one arrow--and pinned him to a tree near the village. [Though, in my speculative opinion, the tree moved. In the beginning, Kikyou shot her arrow from below the steps leading up to the shrine, but later, the tree is in the middle of a nearby forest that joins into the vilage's rice paddies, which lead into the village, and then, at the top, is the shrine. It simply doesn't make any sense. You coulnd't shoot that far even with modern aluminum olympic arrows.]

Kikyou died soon after, following someone she still loved (she didn't kill him, you notice, only pinned him to a tree for all eternity) into 'death'. The young Kaede took over her sister's duties, though she must have been, at youngest, nine, and at oldest twelve.

Let's pick up the pace an fast forward a few hundred years into the future--roughly five hundred, let's say. The sengoku jidai is long gone, as is the tokugawa. Now it is the year 1997 in bustling Tokyo. We see the sunny face of an adolescent girl named Kagome Higurashi.

It's her fifteenth birthday tomorrow, and she has a weird family who is too superstitious and a very fat cat that she loves.

Oh, the toils of young girls these days. To make a short story even shorter, her brother, Souta, watches Kagome get pulled down a well by a freakish being and never seen again. Not for a while, anyway.

Kagome, the level-headed, unsupertitious person she is, doesn't think that the giant centipede woman with large breasts really existed. And when she climbs out of the well and sees a dog-eared man pinned to a tree with an ancient arrow and vines crawling all over him, she doesn't think that he's a supernatural being either. And when she gets captured by some villagers, taken to see the village protector, an old woman named Kaede, she still hasn't taken the hint. It is her pragmatic outlook that most likely saved her from despairing completely. She never really thought all that was happening was real--at least, not until she had stayed long enough to not mind all the differences as much.

So, what is a young, modern girl to do when she's been stuck in the sengoku jidai? Find a way back home! The plot widens, however, when the by now infamous shikon no tama comes into play once more. And a certain hanyou still wants it to become full youkai. For unknown reasons, the jewel happened to be inside of Kagome. This leads Kaede--remember, she was the younger sister, now she's much older, as fifty yearws have passed since Inuyasha was imprisoned on a tree--to believe that Kagome is the reincarnation of Kikyou, whose remains had been burned and buried with the jewel. Kaede backs up her theory with the fact that Kagome looks exactly like Kikyou. My counter? She doesn't. Only as much as Kagome looks like she was drawn by the same artist (which she was) does she look anything like Kikyou. In any case, Kagome is then entrusted with the protection of the shikon no tama, or, in Kaede's words, "Ye must keep that jewel from the hands of evil." And no, no one really knows why Kaede inherited that accent. It must have been one of those feudal fads, as Kikyou does not/did not possess the 'ye' and the 'yonder'. Of course, the first thing Kagome does with the jewel is break it into over a dozen pieces that scatter themselves across the country waiting for someone to find and misuse them.

In order to retrieve all the shards, Kaede pairs Inuyasha and Kagome up. Inuyasha can fight the youkai and Kagome can feel the aura that the shards emit. A perfect combination. Well, it would have been, if they acted civilly toward one another.

So some youkai got ahold of the jewel and the world turned to living hell, then smoke and ashes. Then the ice age came and blew them all away. Fifty thousand years later, new life forms inhabit the planet. They are called, "pokemon". Just kidding. Not really. So ends this boring topic.




To be continued...in manga chapter summaries! Coming soon...

Last updated June 25, 2005


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