a.k.a. Inuyasha: Kagami no Naka no Mugenjo
After another battle with their slippery foe, Naraku, Inuyasha and company head off in their own directions for a little rest. Their peace and relaxation are short-lived, however, as they discover that a permanent full moon has begun. It turns out that Miroku’s grandfather has sealed a creature that in the past caused just such an occurrence. When Kagura attacks in an effort to collect items needed to break the seal on Kaguya, everyone is drawn together for a showdown with the powerful prisoner of The Castle beyond the Looking Glass.
summary by Mugs
Highs: Entertaining; everything that makes Inuyashasuch a fun series
Lows: Really just more filler
The second Inuyasha movie, much like the first, is essentially another short arc about a new villain that ends neatly resolved. That’s not to say in any way that this is a bad movie, but it doesn’t push the series forward in any tangible way. All of the series’ regulars and most of the extended cast have meaningful roles here, with the only major exception being that Sesshoumaru has a total screen time of slightly over a second. I have no clue why they bothered including him as he literally was just flashed onscreen during the opening scene. On the subject of characters, you probably shouldn’t watch this unless you’re familiar with Naraku and his various self-spawned creations like Kagura.
The plot itself is very predictable; anyone who believed that Naraku “dying” during the opening credits was permanent should contact me. I’ve got some lunar real estate to sell you for real cheap. That being said, the movie is very entertaining as everything that makes Inuyasha attractive fires on all cylinders. The comedy works, and no matter how many times Miroku grabs Sango, it gets a chuckle out of me. The characters are their usual charming selves, which is to say Inuyasha and Kagome banter with each other, Sango fends off Miroku and looks after Kohaku and Shippo cowers. The action is another plus, carried over from the series and benefits from beefed up and highly fluid animation. Due to this upgrade, the visuals present the characters as looking slightly different from their television counterparts.
This anime is entertaining, and even a casual fan of the series will probably enjoy it a good deal. It won’t change anyone’s mind about Inuyasha, nor does it help progress the seemingly stalled series or offer any surprises… well, maybe one nice moment towards the end, but you’ll have to see it for yourself.
Highs: Pleasing visuals; trademark Inuyasha action, humor and music
Lows: Nothing new; basically a sidestory to the main plot
Released almost exactly a year after the first movie, Inuyasha: The Castle Beyond the Looking Glass is yet another fun addition to the ever-growing series, but it doesn’t bring anything new to the table. As a whole, this effort is an improvement over the first film and will no doubt please fans of the series, but anyone looking for major plot revelations or closure for the main story arcs will have to keep waiting.
Things get off to a quick start, opening with the “final” battle with Naraku and continuing from there in true Inuyasha form, full of intense action sequences with a dash of humor. There aren’t any real surprises in the plot, and virtually all the twists can be seen coming from a mile away. Then again, the appeal of Inuyasha has always been firmly rooted in its lovable characters, which holds true here. And while the movie may not bring the characters closer to their final goal, it does have a few nice moments highlighting some of the ongoing relationships. Sango fans will be pleased to see that her relationship with her brother, Kohaku, is explored, and Inuyasha and Kagome’s relationship plays an important part in the story, as usual.
The animation is a big step up from that seen in the series, and unlike Inuyasha: The Love that Transcends Time, it remains consistently excellent. The animation style is decidedly different from that used in the television series, but it is not a jarring change that detracts from the movie. The caliber of the animation is what one would expect from a feature length film, and the improved visuals add to the intensity of the action.
Since the plot was specifically written for the movie and never appeared in the manga, the events that take place have virtually no effect on the series. While this isn’t a major complaint, it’s disappointing that the movie has no real significance. Besides this, though, it is everything fans will expect it to be. All the major characters are present in one capacity or another, the music is great and there is a good balance of drama, action and comedy. This installment doesn’t add much new content, but is an entertaining romp on the big screen.
Highs: Improved, albeit expected, visuals; good balance and timing of comedic moments
Lows: Annoyances from the series are amplified here; nothing happens
While watching Castle Beyond the Looking Glass, I came to the frightening realization of where I saw this before when I asked myself, “Where have I seen this before?” And that answer came in the form of every Dragonball Z movie. Okay, to be fair, a good Dragonball Z movie, but the resemblances are there nonetheless.
My main beef with this anime is, after all the dust settles, nothing actually happens. How irritating is it to watch the characters progress through the story, only to go around full circle and not come away with a deeper understanding for their motivations or backgrounds. Even my enjoyment for mindless entertainment was diminished by annoyances that carried over from the series like a bad “social disease.” Takahashi Rumiko can write fantastic side characters, but her main ones leave much to be desired. Inuyasha and Kagome are so one-dimensional that their actions border on exacerbating. Kagome in particular suffers from distressed-Kaoru-itis; like her counterpart in Rurouni Kenshin, Kagome spends the bulk of her time screaming the name of her would-be suitor/rescuer over and over, ad infinitum and nauseam.
But as was mentioned, side characters like Miroku and Shippou shine as much-needed comic relief in the face of melodramatic action scenes. And though their antics are par for the course, their comedic timing is impeccable. This anime is certainly a pretty one to look at with fluid animation and several well-conceived fight scenes.
Castle Beyond the Looking Glass is meant for fans of the series only, as foreknowledge of the characters and story is absolutely required. But even if they weren’t, I would be hardpressed to recommend it to the casual viewer anyway as this anime is the quintessential empty calorie.
Inuyasha: The Castle Beyond the Looking Glass can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.