One of the best episodes in Inuyasha, Season 4 on the iTunes Store is "Kirara Come Home," an homage to underappreciated pets everywhere. When Inuyasha's crew finds Kirara missing, each member thinks back to how he or she might have taken advantage of this remarkable two-tailed companion in some small way. (Well in at least one case, the insensitivity wasn't so minor.) Of course Kirara is not your average pet, but like a trusty friend, she is always there.
Watch this episode when you need to feel some warm fuzzies. Buy this dubbed episode, or the complete dubbed season on the iTunes Store. Watch the subtitled episode, numbered 97, on vizanime.com.
Inuyasha volume 45, out today, introduces Yemeiju, a demon tree who sucks the life force out of humans and demons (it's an equal opportunity attacker!) instead of manufacturing its energy from water, sunlight, and minerals in the soil. Naraku tries to revive Yemeiju for his usual nefarious purposes, but fortunately doesn't exactly get the results he sought...or does he? That Naraku sure is tricky!
I can see why people across cultures and time have attributed personalities to trees...
I edited a great manga at VIZ Media once called Ogre Slayer in which ogres were believed to be born from the roots of trees. In Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, great ancient sentient trees called the Ents come to the rescue when their forest is attacked. And in Avatar, the Na'vi communicate with their deity Eywa through a network of trees, using one Hometree as the spiritual and architectural center for their community.
On Earth, human settlements often have a huge gnarled tree at their center. I read somewhere that this might be because the bent and gnarled trees weren't good for cutting into lumber, so they remained after all the straight ones were cut down. Their irregular branches and twists and turns add to their personality. Some even have names, like Wonderboom (a giant fig tree in South Africa), Drago Milenario (the Ancient Dragon Tree in Tenerife Island, Canary Islands), the Guilty Chinese Scholartree (a type of Pagoda tree in Beijing’s Jingshan Park, China), Major Oak (the fabled hangout of Robin Hood in the real Sherwood Forest, England), and The Chestnut Tree of 100 Horses (on Mt. Etna in Sicily, Italy).
Myself, I find it easy to imagine that trees harbor a spirit or consciousness. I had the privilege of growing up under old-growth oak trees over 100 years old in Massachusetts. Either the houses were built around the trees, or saplings flourished and grew up between them.
Each tree in our yard had a distinct personality to me. They were over three stories high, arching high above our peaked attic roof. Every branch and knot and crook and twig was familiar to me — as were the squirrels who populated them, like little "familiars" to the spirits of the oak trees. (In German, the word for squirrel is eichhörnchen (little acorn) or eichkätzchen (acorn kitty). As anyone who grew up near Salem, Massachusetts knows — cats and other small animals are a witch's "familiars," or magical companions.
I imagine the spirit of trees as more benign and nurturing, than evil and demonic like Yemeiju in Inuyasha, since they shelter you from the sun and rain and draw the fire of lightning away from you. (That's why you should avoid standing under trees in a storm!)
On the right is a picture of the tree friends who surrounded the home where I grew up. Maybe I should name them... Any ideas?
— Annette Roman, Inuyasha manga editor
(tree photo © Annette Roman)
Volume 44 of Inuyasha is full of surprising twists and turns as Inuyasha and company continue their quest to help the demon sage recover his stolen liver (ewwww, gross!). I won't say much more to avoid any spoilers, but suffice to say you will be surprised!
The rest of this volume is quite tragic. A wolf demon tribe is attacked, and many clan members are slaughtered. A tribe member fights to save his brother's life, and fellow wolf demon Koga joins the battle. These wolf demons are humanoid, but the story got me thinking about wolf hunting in the real world. It makes me so sad to see these magnificent, intelligent, social animals hunted down.
Like the clan of imaginary wolf demons in Inuyasha, real wolves have a complex social structure. The adults mate for life, and packs live, hunt and raise their young cooperatively. Shooting the adults for trophies disrupts these social groupings and breaks pair bonds, thereby jeopardizing all the pack members' chances for survival.
Now it's true that ranchers suffer financial loss when wolves kill livestock. But ironically, hunting wolves can just make the problem worse. Killing adult wolves, who are experienced hunters, pushes the younger wolves to attack livestock because they are easier prey.
And no, I'm not totally opposed to hunting. Many hunters are great conservators of our wild natural land. Deer live a better life wild in the woods than a steer does in a stockyard or a chicken does in a cage. Deer can quickly overpopulate so the whole herd suffers starvation. In that way, shooting and eating deer makes sense to me.
I think the public and our government should support ranchers by helping them with costs to erect "fladry," non-lethal strings of cloth and plastic used in Europe to repel wolves.
And shooting an animal just to stuff its head and stick it on your wall...not so sensible. Furthermore, I don't understand how you can get a rush from shooting fierce wolves...with high-powered rifles from a great distance or after running them to the point of exhaustion with a helicopter! Can't you get the same thrill of the hunt by photographing wild animals or doing target practice in a video game?
If you're interested in learning more about wolves and wolf hunting, check out the short documentary Return to the Wild: A Modern Tale of Wolf and Man as well as the Defenders of Wildlife website and the Center for Biological Diversity website, which has some cool free animal ring-tones too! At least I thought they were cool…until my fellow VIZ Media editors objected to the howling, hooting, and growling emanating from my cell phone...
— Annette Roman, Inuyasha manga editor
More dubbed goodness hits iTunes this morning. Inuyasha Season 3, Vol. 1 and Inuyasha Season 3, Vol. 2 are available now. That's 27 episodes, including old favorites like "Shippo Gets an Angry Challenge," "The Red Tetsusaiga Breaks the Barrier," and that "Fateful Night in Togenkyo." Check 'em out.
We know you're loving watching all 167 subtitled episodes of Inuyasha here on VIZ Anime, but if you're craving the dubbed versions, then you'll be happy to know that the iTunes Store just got more of them. Season 2, Volume 2 is out and ready for download. This set contains 14 action-packed episodes:
Kagura's Dance and Kanna's Mirror
The Wind Scar Fails
Kaijinbo's Evil Sword
Sesshomaru Wields Tokijin
Juromaru and Kageromaru
Onigumo's Heart Still Beats Within Naraku
Return to the Place Where We First Met
Kohaku's Lost Memory
That Unforgettable Face!
Inuyasha's Soul, Devoured
The Demon's True Nature
Father's Old Enemy: Ryukotsusei
The Backlash Wave: Tetsusaiga's Ultimate Technique
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