The series really begins to hit its stride when Kagome and Inu-Yasha, while bickering, nevertheless prove an effective team against the demons they encounter in the Warring States netherworld. Two new characters create complications. Shippo, an orphan fox spirit, meets Kagome and Inu-Yasha in the Warring States period. A more conventional but potentially more dangerous addition is Hojo, a handsome upper classman at Kagome's school, who's concerned about her recent absences. His understated good manners contrast sharply with the prickly Inu-Yasha--just as Kagome is beginning to recognize his good points.
In the multi-part adventure that begins with "Kikyo's Stolen Ashes," the filmmakers presenting conflicting versions of the relationship between Kikyo and Inu-Yasha, and the intriguing plot twists typify Takahashi's sophisticated story-telling. The tone darkens as the back story emerges: 50 years earlier, Kikyo tended Onigumo, a badly burned thief. As his desire for the Sacred Jewel--and Kikyo--grew, Onigumo summoned a horde of demons, whom he allowed to consume his flesh and soul. The evil creatures fused to form the terrible Naraku. Recognizing his feelings for Kagome, Inu-Yasha tries to protect her from Naraku by sending her back to her own time and blocking the passage between the ages. Inu-Yasha, Kagome, Shippo, and Miroku face a bizarre array of monsters and villains, including a forest demon who vomits hordes of monstrous, three-eyed wolves.
As the tapestry grows richer, Kagome and Myoga begin to explore the origins and nature of the Sacred Jewel that radiates power yet brings misfortune to everyone who approaches it. The source of the jewel turns out to be the demon-slayers' village. Inu-Yasha, Kagome, and their friends learn how the Jewel was created long ago in a battle between hordes of monstrous demons and Midoriko, the greatest priestess of the age. But the Jewel is also a miniature battleground between good and evil: a metaphor for the world--and for Inu-Yasha's heart, as he vacillates between selfishness and kindness. (Rated 13 and older: violence, grotesque imagery, brief nudity) --Charles Solomon