InuYasha (犬夜叉?), full title InuYasha, a Feudal Fairy Tale (戦国御伽草子 犬夜叉, Sengoku Otogizōshi InuYasha?), is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Rumiko Takahashi. It premiered in Weekly Shōnen Sunday on November 13, 1996 and concluded on June 18, 2008. The series follows a time-traveling high school student, a half-demon, a lecherous monk, a fox demon, a demon slayer, and a nekomata during the Sengoku period as they seek to find all the fragments of the Jewel of Four Souls and to keep them out of the hands of evildoers, especially Naraku.
The manga was adapted as two anime television series produced by Sunrise. The first, broadcast for 167 episodes on Yomiuri TV in Japan from October 16, 2000 until September 13, 2004, was directed by Masashi Ikeda for the first forty-four episodes and by Yasunao Aoki for the remainder. The second series, called InuYasha: The Final Act, began airing October 3, 2009 to cover the rest of the manga series, and is still ongoing.
The story begins with a flashback to Feudal Japan, when the half-demon InuYasha raids a human village to steal the Jewel of Four Souls, a magical jewel that enhances its wielder’s powers and can grant a single wish. InuYasha hopes to use the gem to turn himself into a full-blooded demon, but is soon stopped when Kikyo, the young miko of the village, shoots him with a sacred arrow, sealing him onto the sacred tree Goshinboku in the nearby forest. Mortally wounded, Kikyo tells her younger sister, Kaede, to burn the jewel with her body to prevent it from falling into the hands of evil.
The story then shifts to modern Tokyo, where a junior high school girl named Kagome Higurashi lives on the grounds of her family’s hereditary Shinto shrine. When she goes into the wellhouse to retrieve her cat, Buyo, a centipede demon bursts out of the enshrined Bone Eater’s Well and pulls her through it.
Kagome emerges into a strange wilderness, initially unaware that she has travelled back through time to the Sengoku period of Japan, fifty years after Kikyo’s death. Other than the Bone Eater’s Well itself, the only familiar landmark is Goshinboku. She finds InuYasha still sealed onto the tree in an enchanted sleep, and a group of hostile peasants who drag her back to their village.
Their old priestess, Kaede, recognizes Kagome as the reincarnation of her sister Kikyo; when the centipede demon returns, Kaede realizes that the Jewel of Four Souls has also been reborn in Kagome’s body. Kagome frees InuYasha so he can kill the centipede demon, but after defeating it, InuYasha again tries to take the Jewel for himself. Kaede thwarts him by placing a magical rosary around his neck, allowing Kagome to subdue him with a simple command.
The Jewel of Four Souls attracts more demons, and the jewel is shattered into numerous shards that disperse across Japan. Even the individual shards are capable of granting great power, and are eagerly sought by humans and demons alike. Kagome and InuYasha set out to collect the shards and restore the Jewel of Four Souls. Along the way, they befriend Shippo, a small fox demon; Miroku, a cursed monk; and Sango, a demon-slayer with a tragic past.
The group encounters many friends and foes during the adventure, including InuYasha’s older half-brother Sesshomaru; Kikyo, partially resurrected with a fragment of Kagome’s soul; Naraku, a powerful collective demon who manipulated the initial conflict between Kikyo and InuYasha; and a wolf demon named Koga, who is InuYasha’s dedicated rival in both love and war.
Eventually, Naraku collects all of the shards and reassembles the Jewel of Four Souls. Although InuYasha defeats him, Naraku uses his power as the Jewel’s owner to wish for Kagome’s soul to be trapped inside it with his own, which would allow Naraku to survive within it in eternal conflict with her. Naraku’s wish can only be fulfilled by tricking Kagome to also make a selfish wish to save herself, but she has enough confidence in InuYasha, and instead wishes for the Jewel to disappear forever.
Kagome is thrown back into her own time, and InuYasha is no longer able to see her. However, after Kagome’s graduation from high school three years later, a portal opens and allows her to return to InuYasha’s time. They acknowledge their love for one another and she chooses to remain in the past with him.
Written and illustrated by Rumiko Takahashi, InuYasha premiered in Japan in the November 13, 1996 issue of Shōnen Sunday, where it ran until its conclusion in the concluded in the June 18, 2008 issue. The chapters were published by Shogakukan in 56 tankōbon volumes, with the first volume released in May 1997, and the last released in February 2009.
Viz Media licensed the series for an English translated release in North America. Initially, Viz released it in monthly American comic book format, each issue containing two or three chapters from the original manga, but eventually abandoned this system in favor of trade paperbacks with the same chapter divisions as the Japanese volumes. Viz released its first trade paperback volume in March 1998. At the time, American manga reprints were normally “flipped” to conform to the American convention of reading books from left to right by mirroring the original artwork; among other effects, this caused right-handed characters to appear left-handed. Viz later stopped flipping its new manga releases, although InuYasha was already well into printing by the time this change was made. Reprints of older volumes have not been “re-flipped” to match the newer ones. As of January 12, 2010, 44 volumes were released in North America, and new volumes of the series are being released monthly. Viz has also started to reprint the series in their “VizBig” format, combining three of the original volumes into each omnibus with slightly larger pages and full-color bonus art that was previously reduced to grayscale.
Viz Media also issues a separate series of “ani-manga” volumes which are derived from full-color screenshots of the anime episodes. These volumes are slightly smaller than the regular manga volumes, are oriented in the Japanese tradition of right to left, feature new covers with higher quality pages, and a higher price point versus the regular volumes. Each ani-manga volume is arranged into chapters that correspond to the anime episodes rather than the manga.
InuYasha is also licensed for regional language releases in Brazil by Editora JBC, Italy by Star Comics, France by Kana, Finland, Germany, Norway, and Poland by Egmont, Spain by Glénat, Indonesia by Elex Media Komputindo, Mexico by Editorial Vid, Israel by Aruts Hayeladim, Vietnam by NXB Trẻ and South Korea by Haksan Publishing.