Review - Inuyasha
[Keep in mind I am a girl in my late teens, so you can keep in mind how my age and gender influences how much I enjoy (and therefore review) a manga]
Target Audience: Older teens (due to nudity and violence). Although most people consider Inuyasha a shounen manga, it can easily be enjoyed by girls, providing that they have a tolerance for lots of action.
Story: While I marathon-read this 56 tankoubon series, I noticed the most that the story tends to become monster-of-the-week. But underneath the countless fight scenes there is a great story, however it is slowly paced, especially mid-series. If you have the patience to go through lots of action sequences to get to the heart of the story, it is incredibly rewarding.
The storyline is basically the fight between good and evil. Although it tends to be formulaic at times, there is still enough plot twists for the story to be enjoyable. The setting in feudal Japan, or as fans like to call it, the "sengoku jidai", is nothing new, but the demons/youkai and the Shikon jewel give the story it's own unique flavour. If you love samurai/historical manga, you'll enjoy it simply from the period it's set it.
The love triangle between Inuyasha, Kagome and Kikyou is the highlight of the series. And if their relationship doesn't appeal to you, Miroku and Sango share some moments as well. In my opinion, there wasn't enough character development (and romance!), and too many fight scenes. But that may be expected for a shounen manga.
Art: Typical of Rumiko Takahashi. If you don't like her artwork, then you won't like it in this series. If you're not familiar with her works (Urusei Yatsura, Ranma 1/2) then expect crisp characters and beautiful scenery. Many readers may find her style outdated. But most can look past that and appreciate Takahashi's art as the classic that it is.
Characters: Excellent character designs with vibrant characters. I found myself having an extreme dislike towards some of them. In particular, Shippou, a kid fox/kitsune demon, really stuck out. I found him annoying and I couldn't really see his purpose in moving the plot. Sometimes characters are drawn similar, as my dad, reading over my shoulder, said, "Can you really tell them apart?". Some characters serving only for one story arch are not fleshed out well - notably the villains. But the reoccurring characters all have unique and likeable personalities.
Many think that Kagome is a whining, wimpy and annoying protagonist. But I think otherwise. Although she may need Inuyasha to help her (as she sometimes suffers from 'damsel in distress'), I thought her to be a strong female lead, who sometimes even strikes the final blow to her enemies.
Naraku as the main antagonist has his own backstory to why he came to be such an evil entity, justifying his actions as the villain of the series. The thing I hate most is a villain without a reason to be evil other than the sake of being evil! Kagura and Kanna are excellent underlings of Naraku. Later in the series come Hakudoushi and Mouryoumaru, however I didn't find them very appealing.
The Good: Lots of vibrant, endearing characters; classic art style; the plot, once you get to it, is very well done.
The Bad: Story drawn out way too long; too many fight scenes and too sparse a plot.
Recommended to those who like historical Japan and lots of action, or those who like Takahashi's other works. As for fanservice there is a few occasions (boob shots!) but there is not so much to scare away female readers, so it may not be enough for ecchi fans. I personally would recommend it... I grew up on the show and it was a great nostalgic read!