InuYasha is a Japanese shōnen adventure and romantic comedy manga created by Rumiko Takahashi. The story tells of the adventures of Kagome Higurashi, who can travel back in time through a mysterious well, and the half-demon, InuYasha, along with their companions Miroku, Sango and Shippo. It was adapted into an 167 episode anime series produced by Sunrise which first aired on Nippon TV in Japan from October 16, 2000 to September 13, 2004. The television run of the anime has ended while the manga was still being released in Japan. A second series, "InuYasha the Final Act", is currently airing to complete the first series with the rest of the finished manga.
The series is named after the main character, InuYasha. The name "InuYasha" literally means "dog demon". Inu is a Japanese word meaning "dog" while Yasha can be translated roughly to "Demon".
The story begins in modern day Tokyo, Japan with a junior high-school girl named Kagome Higurashi, who, on her way to school, heads to the covered well on the family property (which happens to be a Shinto shrine). She does this to retrieve her cat, Buyo, from the well, since her brother was afraid to go inside. When she approaches the well a centipede demon bursts from the well and grabs her. The demon claims that Kagome possesses the Jewel of the Four Souls ( Shikon no Tama) and attempts to seize it. When the demon is driven off, the baffled Kagome emerges in the Sengoku period of Japan. Kagome wanders into a nearby village and meets an old miko (Shinto shrine maiden) by the name of Kaede, who recognizes that Kagome is almost a mirror likeness for Kikyo (Kikyou), her elder sister (and powerful shrine maiden) who had died at the age of 17 and had her body burned with the Jewel of the Four Souls, taking it with her into the afterlife. Kaede relates the story of how, 50 years earlier, a han'yō named InuYasha had tried to steal the Jewel from Kikyo, mortally wounding her in the process, but Kikyo had managed to strike him with a magical arrow, pinning him into an enchanted sleep against a tree and thus retrieving the Jewel before she finally died. It is later shown that Inuyasha had a relationship with the priestess Kikyo. Inuyasha must fight his half brother Sesshomaru because he wants to kill Inuyasha for their father's sword, Tetsusaiga. Later on it is known that the reason for Kagome's existence in the Sengoku period was because Kagome was Kikyo's reincarnation.
The story focuses mainly on Kagome and InuYasha and their expanding group of friends, mainly Miroku, Shippo and Sango as they seek the shards of the Shikon Jewel of the Four Souls. Shippo is a young fox demon who occasionally squabbles with Inuyasha. Though when he is needed in battle he always pulls through for his friends. Miroku is a rather perverted monk armed with spell scrolls and his trusty spiritual staff, as well as his "Kazaana (Wind Tunnel)", an other-dimensional black hole embedded into his right palm. Sango is the beautiful but very sensible demon exterminator with a giant boomerang-like weapon (Hiraikotsu) and Kirara, her cat-demon companion who transforms from innocent kitten to formidable flaming feline. Thoroughout their journey new characters such as Naraku are introduced.
- Hanyo - commonly translated as "half-demon". They are products of a union between a supernatural being (commonly a yōkai) and a human, and are often considered as an outcast in the human society.
- Obake - ghosts, goblins and monsters from Japanese folklore, including spirits of the human dead.
- Yōkai - belongs to a class of obake and generally has a sort of spiritual or supernatural power. Some possess part animal and part human features.
- Taiyōkai (Daiyoukai) - an especially strong and powerful yōkai. Literally "great yōkai".
- Taijiya - yōkai exterminator.
- Kitsune - fox yōkai from Japanese folklore known by their magic tricks.
- Hōshi - Buddhist monk.
- Miko - although commonly translated as "priestess", miko are actually young female attendants at Shinto shrines.
- Shakujo - Buddhist staff.
- O-fuda - translated as "sacred sutras" or "spell scrolls". Papers which hold special powers and are used against yōkai.
- Tanuki - raccoon dogs from Japanese folklore.
- Nekomata - A cat older than ten years is said to receive magical powers and two tails.
- Sengoku Jidai - Sengoku period, feudal Japan.
- Goshinboku - Time tree. For example: the one Inuyasha was sealed to.
- Shibugarasu - demon crows
- Shōki - demonic miasma
The manga was serialized in Japan in the weekly publication Shonen Sunday by Shogakukan, with the first installment issued on November 13, 1996. Chapter 481 was published November 7, 2006 with the series still ongoing. Every 180 pages, usually ten chapters, the issues are collected in bound tankōbon. Volume 45, collecting chapters 439 through 448, was published in May 2006. Volume 46 has been collected recently, with 47 in sight as the chapters needed to compile 48 are on the verge of completion. In the United States the English version is published by Viz Communications. The artwork is flipped to conform to the American standard of reading left to right. Volume 1 was published in March 1998, with either two or three new volumes following each year. Volume 27 was published in October 2006.