Inuyasha the Movie: Affections Touching Across Time

Inuyasha the Movie: Affections Touching Across Time ★★★

After completing the first two seasons of InuYasha, I finally get to experience the first of the films, which turns out to be a pretty typical cinematic side-story: the concept is a slightly modded-up demon-of-the-week scenario without any lasting consequences, the power levels don't exactly map to the series proper, the dialogue is loose with its exposition of background information we should already know, and the heroes find themselves squaring off against a group of eminently powerful villains whose skills roughly track their own. As such, it's a melange of slight improvements over the series and weaknesses exacerbated by isolation from the series.

Affections Touching Across Time features a handful of touching moments between Kagome and InuYasha, taking a slightly more melodramatic tone to follow recent developments in the series and put some of the extra run time to good use. There is the usual uptick in animation quality, which the film actually takes advantage of by getting more creative with its visuals, e.g. the detailed design of Menomaru's transformation and the POV shots of Kagome trying to fire a Sacred Arrow at him. We also get to see Sango use the Hiraikotsu more than once, which I just think is cool; she stays in battle mode for a longer period of time than we ever get to see in an individual episode and I enjoy any opportunity for her and Miroku to hold the front themselves instead of being the backup players. Even if I know that nothing that happens in this movie will change anything in the series, it's still executed solidly enough to distract me from those thoughts most of the time.

On the other hand, the character designs suddenly became a lot scrunchier and more angular, which is a distraction in the more negative sense, as I don't really think it's an improvement over the series. As she often does, Kikyo shows up again for no reason other than to remind us that she is still the most cryptic and frustrating piece of the entire story; I'm not sure Sesshomaru really needed to be in this movie after his initial appearance (it was a nice opening scene), but at least I have a pretty good handle on what's going through his mind, as well as Jaken's and Rin's. Kikyo is still a total mystery to me and I'm wondering for how many of the remaining 113 episodes and three movies that will remain the case. It's also kind of hard to escape how much this feels like just another couple of episodes slapped together - I'm not sure what better avenues are open for a mid-series film for a show like InuYasha, but especially since I just finished watching an arc about an ancient megabeast sealed away by InuYasha's father whom InuYasha ultimately dispatched with almost anticlimactic ease thanks to the Backlash Wave I feel like I'm not getting any new information out of this movie.

That's not entirely true, though, because I did learn at least one thing: canonically, Sango has to stop and change clothes every time a situation arises. I assumed that she was always wearing the jumpsuit underneath so that whenever she sensed trouble she could just whip off the kimono and mobakama, slip on some shoulder pads and boots, and be ready to fight in 60 seconds, but no, she has to stop and find a secluded patch of forest where she can do a full-on outfit swap while the danger gets closer and Miroku sniffs around the bushes. Considering that a shounen anime is a show in which every week, on the dot, a Situation is guaranteed to arise, this seems like a pretty inconvenient way of doing things. But I guess I'm no expert on fashion.

And while it has rankled the back of my mind for a while, this movie goes out of its way to draw attention to the fact that Kagome consciously and exclusively wears her sailor suit to the Sengoku period. I mean, I get it, it's anime, it's a look, and this is the kind of information that you never question in a series because you might as well be trying to deconstruct the rules of the medium, but Kagome's mom handing Kagome her washed and pressed uniform so that she can go back into the well just flings it right out into the open and it's presented as a moment of dramatic significance, however brief, so now I have to think about it.

As a point of mild confusion to tack onto the end here, I've seen a few places name Kyoto Animation as part of the production committee for this movie, as well as the next two InuYasha movies, but they were nowhere to be found in the credits and I didn't recognize any of the names that appeared. I thought at least Tatsuya Ishihara or Shoko Ikeda might show up, since they worked on the series, but I don't know what the deal is with that.