The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Inuyasha: The Final Act

Title: Inuyasha: The Final Act aka Inuyasha Kanketsu-hen
Genre: Action/Drama
Company: Sunrise
Format: 26 episodes
Date: 4 Jul 2009 – 29 Mar 2010

Synopsis: Inuyasha, Kagome, Miroku and Sango are still battling against Naraku, who is gradually becoming more powerful. It’s only a matter of time before Naraku attains all the fragments of the Shikon jewel and becomes completely unstoppable. They realize that their only hope of defeating Naraku lies faintly in the last fragment of the jewel, the one Sango’s little brother Kohaku solely depends on to live.

The Highlights
Pacing: A big mess; hasty at some points, draggy as hell at others.
Characters: No new development for any of the characters; Inuyasha still grates on my nerves.
Plot: How about Monster of the Week and some filler episodes for plot?
Ending: Unsatisfactory and terribly predictable; in fact, the whole series is predictable.

A decade ago, Sunrise and mangaka Takahashi Rumiko introduced Inuyasha(1,2), a show I (regrettably) embarked and stayed on from start to finish. What makes this Inuyasha so popular is the story formula. The girl with latent powers Kagome travels through time and meets the half-demon Inuyasha. They meet other people along the way and team up against the formidable Naraku. Imagine this in a “Monster of the Week” setting that spans more than 150 episodes, with filler episodes littered along the way. Familiar setting, isn’t it? The series resulted in groups of Inuyasha lovers and haters, and I would readily say that I belong to the latter camp. Nevertheless, the series did not have a proper closure, and 5 years after the end of Inuyasha, comes Inuyasha: The Final Act. This series marks the grand finale of Takahashi‘s extensive work, adapted from the last 21 volumes of the original manga. All grand finales are expected to be the swan song of any series, but not only does this series go against this idea, it throws up on it by offering trite storytelling and zero character development.

Character development in The Final Act is nonexistent: Inuyasha remains as the protagonist whose incorrigible density constantly puts everyone in jeopardy, Kagome is still the centre of all predicaments, Miroku continues to be a lecherous monk, Sesshomaru is the bishie-licious egomaniac whose jealousy still gets the better of him all the time, and Naraku is still the dastardly villain who runs away after every defeat. Seeing all this alone makes one feel that The Final Act is not a continuation, but a revisit of the original series that is condensed into twenty-six episodes. Furthermore, the poor handling of supporting characters in the initial portion of The Final Act is sarcastically put, “astounding”. We see a number of significant characters being wiped off the face of the show under strange circumstances. It’s as if the writers realized there are just too many characters introduced in the original series, and they conveniently erase them as quickly as possible to snugly fit into the 26-episode format in a vain attempt to redeem themselves.

The story is seriously also just as bad. It’s basically the same as the original series: Inuyasha and the motley gang are still trying to stop Naraku from getting the full Shikon jewel. Almost every episode features a new foe or two ala Monster of the Week, and the gang always miraculously defeats it no matter how impossible the circumstances are. It’s like this: gang meets new foe, gang can’t defeat foe, gang does some soul-searching and self-rediscovering, gang defeats foe, and then gang gains new ability. Exception: If that foe is Naraku, he retreats and shall come back to haunt them again later. Repeat almost twenty-six times. The newly introduced foes are also conveniently expended: they’re there just to cater to the lead characters, and get promptly removed once they’ve carried out their dues. This cliché storytelling renders The Final Act one predictable collection of dull, recycled subplots.

I’ve been slamming The Final Act for a number of reasons, but the one that really takes the cake is the climax. Not only is it a chore to watch – seeing Miroku and Sango yelling “Don’t die!” incessantly to each other is downright frustrating – it’s bewildering to see a last-ditch effort being put in introducing empathy into Naraku’s character. It’s particularly hard to swallow; the writers want to introduce some depth into the character when it’s been perfectly fine that he’s a villain who just wants to see everything around him suffer. All of these setbacks are further coupled with an unsatisfying feel-good conclusion that can be seen right from the very beginning. My eyes rolled at the end of the final episode.

There’s probably a whole list of other flaws in The Final Act that slipped my mind, but conclusively it is a poor example of a swan song for a series that, well, isn’t that good either. ARIA the Origination did a huge favor for its trilogy by granting an ending that makes viewers contented that they’ve followed the whole of ARIA. Honey and Clover II overshadows the prequel for its poignant characterization and unforgettable conclusion. The Final Act did neither of them, offering nothing new and choosing to be just a minimized rehash of the prequel. I find it obscene that after 167 episodes and 4 movies, the Inuyasha saga doesn’t even have a decent grand finale to be proud of.

The Rating: 3

Reviewed by: AC

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