Inu Yasha: The Final Act Set 2 Blu-ray Anime Review

Inu Yasha: The Final Act Set 2 Blu-ray Anime Review

Inu Yasha – The Final Act Part 2

The final fight to deal with Naraku and the Shikon Jewel is put into motion.

What They Say:
Kagome finds her worlds colliding as she struggles to both fight alongside Inuyasha in the past and pass the exam to get into her high school of choice in the present. But with her spiritual powers sealed away, how will she purify the Shikon Jewel before Naraku can absorb it forever?

As the battle enters its final stages, Inuyasha and his friends find their strength, loyalties, and will to live pushed to impossible limits. And in the end, the final key to Naraku’s and the Jewel’s destruction may lie in nothing more – and nothing less – than the trust between a half demon and a girl from the future.

Contains episodes 14-26.

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 character artwork could go two ways here with either a full cast shot or just that of the two leads, so it’s not a surprise that they went with the two leads standing strong next to each other with a fairly bland background of orange shaded aspects. 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 Sesshomaru 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 with Kagome that gives it a good sense of closure in a way. 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)
Getting into Inu Yasha: The Final Act has certainly been an interesting experience, having not watched the original series past the first five episodes but largely keeping abreast of its developments over the years. This series was fairly easy to get into since there’s enough background pieces brought into play as each new situation is explored so that you don’t feel like you’re completely out of touch with what’s going on. The show has a pretty standard approach to it so that old hands at anime style storytelling can jump in. It also helps that the series has some pretty solid animation throughout that lets it rise above the mundane in a way and breath a little more life into it. With just a few months between the two sets, it was also easy to segue right into this final half to see the property brought to a proper close after all these years.

The series does spend time in its second half working through the principal cast and all of their issues that have cropped up over the years. A lot of the focus at the end of the previous set and into this one is dealing with the fallout of Sesshomaru finally getting past his sibling rivalry issues for the most part and the problems he had with the sword as given to him by his father. The years of resentment certainly piled up, but it’s welcome to see that as this set goes on, he realizes more and more that he was hamstrung by the sword itself and not reaching his full potential on his own. The way things were done was better set for the two brothers as it gave them what they needed, but it took Sesshomaru a lot long to realize that he needed to move on with all of this and become his own man/demon.

This set doesn’t spend much time on side stories, though some of them are a bit useful, such as one that revisits Hitomiko as Naraku has visited her grave and brought her back from the dead to use since the villagers didn’t dispose of her properly. That brings some decent creepy things into focus, reminding us exactly how Naraku operates, but it also provides a chance to Kagome to start to grow with her abilities a bit. With what’s inside her having been bound and locked so that she can’t use things to her full potential, she manages a winning shot in a surprise way when she powers up one of her arrows and is able to save herself, and Hitomiko as well, in a way that’s not what she expected. Kagome’s always been a bit hamstrung, and that does stick for most of this set, but it starts to reveal more about just how tightly bound she is the Shikon Jewel itself.

What is also revealed along this period is that the Shikon Jewel really is made up of two forces, a positive and a negative, and that negative side is what’s dominating it through the coalesced demon called Magatsushi. In a way, Magatsushi is what’s driving a lot of things here as Naraku is easily manipulated due to not getting his wish from the Shikon Jewel all those years ago and it sets up a set of circumstances that eventually brings everything together where a final fight must be faced. It’s all moved in that direction for an age now but having these aspects of it brought out helps, as it starts to shift Naraku to a bit more of a sympathetic character. At least in the eyes of the viewer as everyone in the show is just intent on stopping him since he’s caused so many problems.

But before it can get there, we have to have a bit of character material relating to Kagome and Inuyasha. With her finishing up her middle school career, she’s spending a fair bit of time back in the present going through studying and entrance exams in an effort to get into a good school, which is certainly hard considering how much time that she’s missed. It’s fun seeing her in the present day since the situation is so different, but it also draws Inuyasha in at times since he’s eager to get going again and he finds this period just so bizarre and hard to process. This part is fun, but I also really liked the brief segment towards the end where Kagome gets to see what life would be like without access to the past and all that it entails, showing her a normal life that in a way she’s always craved. It gives her a further push towards realizing whether she really wants Inuyasha in her life or not, which is admittedly a question that I find a bit awkward to ask a middle school student with so much of their life ahead of them.

When the series boils down to the big event, it does it in the way one would expect as Magatsushi has taken a central role, Naraku has served as a master of distractions by drawing in so many of the other characters and putting them in difficult moral choices, before just getting down to the core question of how far Kagome will go to be with Inuyasha as her fate was plotted out long ago before she was even born when it came to the Shikon Jewel. While it’s all spread out just a bit long and laid a bit thick, as it was when you have Sango making difficult choices and Miroku coming closer to using his Wind Tunnel in a way that would kill him, it’s all proper shonen style material and it executes it competently and with a good bit of style. And it provides just the right kind of epilogue where you really do get that happily ever after factor – for everyone it felt like – and after the one hundred and sixty seven episodes of the first series and the twenty-six here, it doesn’t feel inappropriate.

In Summary:
Inuyasha: The Final Act brings a real sense of closure and finality to the series by working through familiar patterns and big moments that gives almost everyone their chance to shine and to have their main arcs cleared up. And if they weren’t dealt with cleanly within the main episiodes of the set itself, they got the nod in the epilogue that made it clear that happy lives are in the offing, even if there are challenges. For most of it, it’s the same kind of pursuit of Naraku and the Shikon Jewel that has dominated the property but it moves quickly and without much in the way of fluff. Even the time spent in the present day had a real point to it and was used to further some of the larger story items when dealing with the relationship between Inuyasha and Kagome. While the property as a whole will never be a favorite of mine because of how the main series was done, and the way Rumiko Takahashi draws things out, Inuyasha: The Final Act draws things together well in a pretty concise and well animated way so as to make it the most engaging part of all.

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: February 12th, 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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Inu Yasha: The Final Act Set 2 Blu-ray Anime Review