Inu-Yasha Movie: The Castle Beyond the Looking Glass
Not too long after the release of Inu-Yasha: Affections Touching Across Time, US audiences are now treated with the second movie in the series, Inu-Yasha: The Castle Beyond the Looking Glass.
There is probably only one really big difference between the first and second movie. While the first movie was a great movie for fans of the series and anime fans alike, Inu-Yasha's second movie will be more appreciated by people who really love the TV show. The movie has some secondary characters that people unfamiliar with the show wouldn't know, and there are key moments in this movie that only fans of the TV will be able to enjoy to the fullest. I do enjoy the TV show, so I feel that I got a lot more out of this movie than someone who just wants to see a good anime movie. This is still a good movie in general, but if you like the Inu-Yasha TV series, there is a lot more here for you.
The overall story of the movie isn't the most original idea. It's your basic evil person wants to end all human life, and the good guys must stop them. Even though it's not one of the most original premises I've seen in an anime, it's still well done and has the typical Inu-Yasha quality and style to help it out. The movie has a good mixture of comedy, action and romance between our two leads.
Inu-Yasha: The Castle Beyond the Looking Glass starts out with the main characters, Inu-Yasha, Kagome, Sango, Miroku and Shippo battling Naraku, who is the main villain from the TV series. This might seem like your typical episode, but at the end of this fast battle, our cast of heroes actually wins, and the main plot of the movie takes over. The Castle Beyond the Looking Glass deals with a priestess named Kaguya, who is supposedly a celestial being trapped inside of a mirror. After Naruko is defeated, Kagura and Kanna, both of whom were born from Naruko to do his bidding, go on a journey to try and free the celestial being. This part can be a little odd, because you never really get a sense of why Kanna decides that they should do this until the very end.
While collecting what they need to free her, they run across Inu-Yasha and his gang. Of course, they want to try and stop Kagura and Kanna. We find out later that this celestial being is actually a demon trying to stop time and end all life. The ending is nicely done; it doesn't seem rushed in any way, and it has some nice action scenes to really top it off. It also does a good job of concluding and making sense of the events shown at the beginning on the movie.
This second movie is a lot like the first one in that the main characters split up for a portion of the movie, only to reunite two-thirds through the movie. In this particular movie, it does play a key role. While separated, the characters reveal keys to the overall plot and uncover new information for the viewer. As in the first movie, these parts can feel a bit dragged out, but since the individual stories piece together the main story, it's not bad.
The animation is very well done; this movie just looks good and it is a treat to watch. The character designs are top notch once again, with good background art, nice CG, and smooth-looking battle scenes. They also do a very good job on the sound. You get decent music, but with only two memorable songs, one of them being the ending theme.
The packaging for the Inu-Yasha movies has been really nice thus far. I loved the cover art on the first movie with its glossy finish, and this one is just as nice. They really stand out from the crowd. The DVD does have a problem though, the same problem as found in the first movie: the lack of special features. You do get some "special footage", which is this time "behind the scenes" footage, as well as some story overview. However, you also get advertisements for the Inu-Yasha manga and card game, which seems like a really cheap plug to me. Nothing on this DVD is going to separate it from the pack as far as special features are concerned. Wrapping up the DVD itself, the menus are nicely done and easy to use.
The Castle Beyond the Looking Glass doesn't add anything to the plot of Inu-Yasha. It's just a stand-alone movie, but it's one that any Inu-Yasha fan will not want to miss, because it does have one of the biggest events for any Inu Yasha fan in it. I won't give away that secret, but trust me when I say that if you love the TV show, then you'll want to see this. The fangirls have been waiting a long time for this particular moment. Like the first movie, it's hard to say exactly where this fits in the course of the series, but since the movies are outside of the series' timeline, it doesn't really matter.
Overall, Inu-Yasha: The Castle Beyond the Looking Glass is a great movie for fans of Inu-Yasha, but if you don't really enjoy the series or have never seen the series, you might want to stay away from this one.