Comparing Lum the Forever & the End of Inuyasha
by Dylan Acres
June 8, 2008
A young girl, hovers in darkness, alone, waiting. The fondness than fans have for this girl evoke feelings of sadness as well as fear. When I saw this scene in the pages of Inuyasha it triggered something else- deja vu.
The realization came suddenly, but perhaps should have been building in the back of my mind for weeks. Reading the final chapters of Inuyasha and discussing them amongst the members of the Rumic World Messageboard, the fans of the series had become energized with excitement over the direction the series has moved. Suddenly the end was really in sight, after waiting and reading for twelve years the quest that had begun in 1996 was finally ending. One of the main topics of discussion was just how surprised fans of the series were with the direction that Takahashi had taken the series beginning with chapter 554.
When I say that I mean it in a positive way. The fact that after writing manga for over thirty years Takahashi can still surprise her readers is a major accomplishment. That being said, as I sat and read these chapters, particularly chapters 554 and onwards, it struck me that everything felt vaguely familiar... And then slowly I realized that it was very similar to Urusei Yatsura Movie 4: Lum the Forever.
The similarities were striking, and I think that by examining them one may gain greater insight not only the underappreciated film, but Takahashi's dark turn in the final chapters of Inuyasha.
The first similiarity is that of a previously inanimate object gaining sentience. In Lum the Forever, the town of Tomobiki begins to act as a conscious being while in Inuyasha the Shikon Jewel begins to speak to Kagome after the death of Naraku. As lifeless objects Tomobiki and the Shikon Jewel are never depicted as evil beings, rather they are new lifeforms struggling for survival anyway they can. The Shikon Jewel knows that Kagome Higurashi wishes to end its cycle of destruction and rebirth. Tomobiki reacts to the crisis' that Lum brings to Earth by lashing out at her and other supernatural beings that have effected the town.
After gaining awareness both objects attempt to rid itself of the entities that are not supposed to be there. Kagome, a time traveller does not belong in the Sengoku Era anymore than Lum, an alien, belongs on Earth.
At first the sentient objects attempt to depower the heroines. Lum begins to lose her electrical attacks and eventually her horns disappear entirely. Kagome learns that the majority of her spiritual abilities have been sealed by the Sacred Jewel in an attempt to prevent her from interfereing with its reformation.
When these attempts at depowering are not sufficient the objects try something else. Like the human body suffering from an illness, Tomobiki and the Shikon Jewel attempt to rid themselves of the "germs" that don't belong.
Rather than a mere physical attack, the objects warp reality to remove Lum and Kagome's existence. The girls are lured away from their friends by seemingly docile illusions that supposedly represent their heart's desire. Lum is lead away by a dream-like circus surrounded by child versions of Ataru, Shinobu, Mendo and her other friends from Tomobiki High. In much the same way, the Shikon Jewel locks Kagome in a dream world where she is surrounded by her friends and family from the modern era, albeit with no memories of her adventures in the past.
The similarities are numerous, but was Takahashi actually influenced by Lum the Forever which was released in 1986? It's doubtful. The underlying theme of that particular Urusei Yatsura film was giving up childish fantasies, a message from the director, Kazuo Yamazaki, to fans of the series. The movie was widely derided as imcomprehensible and even the director vowed never to make another movie like it. So after spending almost twelve years writing and drawing Inuyasha would Takahashi choose to link the series with an unpopular twenty-two year old movie? Highly unlikely. However the similarities that exist are fun to analyze, and hopefully by examining them some thought-provoking discussions will follow.