One of my absolute favorite things about this particular storyline is also what I despised most about it. Odd, yes? How about this for an explanation: The characters (though not all introduced at once) go through the entire series with the same goal. Not the same collective goal that changes; no, no. They each have their own reason for going out of their way and helping Kagome and Inuyasha for 167 episodes. And it never. Changes. By about halfway through the series the first time, I had completely forgotten why anyone was still with Kagome and Inuyasha, looking for the Shikon Jewel shards anymore.
But enough with the dislike. This was absolutely the best feature that this anime could have because it's so long. Otherwise, the plot would collapse. They do the same thing for the entire length of a show: try to defeat Naraku and collect Sacred Jewel shards. (By the way, it all means the same thing: Sacred Jewel, Shikon Jewel, Shikon no Tama, just different variations. And if you watch it on Hulu, you won't even need to know the last one.) It adds absolute consistancy to the plot and a feeling of frustration when Naraku gets away or doesn't die. It also gives a real motivation to keep watching, as well as... well, a feel-good feeling. I can't exactly describe it. It just makes you want to keep watching, because you can feel like you're really in the Feudal Era and fighting demons. The level of sympathy created for the protagonists is at a maximum, as well as several of the (not so much) antagonists. I'd really call some of them anti-heroes, if they were tipped a little more to the good side of things. The reason for this connection comes from the thorough fleshing-out of the thoughts and reasons of actions of the characters that maybe want freedom from Naraku's grasp.
Though the plot, characters, and sound are fantastic, I have to knock the animation down a few spots. First off, let's be real here: it's freaking choppy, albeit in a charming "good-old" way. The only reason this is truly out of place is the use of CGI in scenes. The flowing CGI paired with this limited animation is just dizzying. I've actually had to pause so that I could clear my head a bit from the after-effects on the eyes. It's good when they don't use CGI, though.
The backrounds and surroundings are gorgeously designed. I especially like how the sakura trees aren't too heavily overused as a sight aid for the "romantic" scenes. The other thing I am pleased with is the rain and water, although I can't for the life of me figure out why water seems to get the characters wet, but in the rain they stay dry. Oh well, it's attractive nonetheless.
This OST is absolutely gorgeous. Unlike lots of anime, the character themes and other songs are recorded from a live orchestra. That doesn't happen much. The voice acting was great on the seyiuu's part, but the American dub was atrocious. I watched it the first time in English and didn't notice anything too bad, but after rewatching it in Japanese, I can't stand the dub. The "filler" music was entertaining and bouncy -- you'll know it when you hear it.
Any characters other than Kagome and the rest of the human-like demons were generic and easily unrecognisable without their distinctive garb. If you study Miroku and Sango's faces, without her eyeshadow, Sango resembles Miroku to such a ridiculous extent that I did a double take.
As for development, the character development was very productive and even amusing, at times. There's almost no way you could watch this show without at least a bit of knowledge about the episodes preceding it, however. If there's one thing they don't do well, it's "seperating the content of the episodes," as you could put it. Anyone who's watched anything with a continuity factor to it would most certainly understand this, but it's crucial to watch at least a few episodes back before the one you want to, especially if it has to do with Shikon Jewel shards.
As my overall review of this anime, I have to admit to being a little biased. I truly loved this because it was the first anime I ever watched and got me hooked on it -- that was, of course, back when I would watch anything dubbed. As I rewatched it recently (because of the continuation series that I'm following, InuYasha: The Final Act; I encourage you to check it out once you finish the 167 eps and movies of this series), I decided that the Japanese version was substantially better, but I suppose the American dub could be worse. VIZ happens to be one of my favorite companies, and Richard Cox doing Inuyasha's voice was actually pretty good. That said, hearing him in the English dub proclaim, "Iron Reaver Soul Stealer!" is a little painful. Anyway, I have a special place for it in my heart, but I really do think that you'll like this. There's enough violence and romance to satisfy even the most picky fangirl and shounen lover alike. Plus, they don't skimp on the blood.
(Also, to anyone who's seen Munto; check out episode 128 and watch for where Kagome's being dragged down the hall -- someone in her school is cosplaying Munto.)