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The importance of ch. 374

My sister and I were at the library today and we stumbled upon volume 38 of the manga. (My first thought was, "Hey, this is finally out? It only took them 5 years!" XD) Flipping through it, I noticed that the image they chose for the title page was this one. I was struck by that choice, since they usually use images of key scenes for the title page. Since that volume also housed important developments with Hakudoshi and Kohaku, the implication of the choice of that image seems even stronger to me.

Maybe I'm overanalyzing this, but it just seems to me that a lot of people on an official level with the series really notice/like the relationship between Sesshoumaru and Kagura. I mean, I always have considered their relationship to be really key to understand Sessh as a character, and I also feel that chapter 374 is one of the most critical chapters in the manga. So much about Sesshoumaru's character and the growth he goes through as a person hinge on the events of that chapter. But it seems like within the fandom, people try to downplay that significance. So whenever I see something like this, or like when they play up their interactions in advertisements or on the opening/ending scenes in the anime... I get really excited, because it makes me feel like we really aren't off-base. Even though she died, even though they didn't end up together, I feel like there really was something there. Thoughts?

Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
aamalie
Jun. 1st, 2010 11:57 pm (UTC)
I definitely think that that chapter was a major event, not only for the characters involved, but for the story as a whole.

I think what's important to note about fandom is that Sesshoumaru is a fangirl-magnet bishie, and that is going to color a lot of opinion about him as a character. Kagura starts out as an antagonist and doesn't get her full redemption as a character until after the first anime ended. Add to that the fact that Sess/Kagome is like... a driving force in fandom, and yeahhh, Kagura's significance is going to get marginalized.

As it is, there is definitely something there. If you look at IY as a whole, "I just want to see him again" is Takahashi-speak for "I love this guy" and is laden with romantic subtext. Kagome says it about Inuyasha, Sango says it about Miroku, and Kagura says it about Sesshoumaru. Throw in the fact that side characters make commentary about Kagura's feelings for him, and her response to that - it's not overtly romantic, but she is definitely driven by something not-quite-platonic for him.

With Sesshoumaru, it's a lot more ambiguous. He doesn't go out of his way to help her for much of their storyline, and is generally dismissive towards Kagura for a long time. But, when it comes down to the end, he goes to her and tries to save her life, and later declares himself to be the one who gets to determine if Kagura's life was spent in vain or not. Kagura's passing is a major turning point in his life and progression as a character.

I'd say Sesshoumaru and Kagura's relationship - whatever it was - is incredibly significant. Whether or not it was necessarily romantic, or mutually so, is something that can be debated...but anyone who says Kagura was unimportant to Sesshoumaru definitely did not read the same manga I did. :)
jeweledeyes
Jun. 2nd, 2010 06:31 am (UTC)
This is such an excellent comment. You really hit the nail on the head about Sesshoumaru being a fangirl-magnet. That's exactly why sometimes, within the fandom itself, I think that Kagura gets shoved to the side, and that's not fair because, romantically or not, she had a very big impact on Sesshoumaru as a character.

I also agree with you when you said, "If you look at IY as a whole, 'I just want to see him again' is Takahashi-speak for 'I love this guy' and is laden with romantic subtext." Inuyasha is not the kind of manga where you're going to get a lot of bold declarations of love, even from the main canon couples. That's just not her style. As far as I've always been concerned, Sesshoumaru and Kagura are "canon," maybe not in the hug-and-kiss, happily-ever-after, but in the, "There are definitely some feelings between these two."
aamalie
Jun. 2nd, 2010 07:04 pm (UTC)
"canon," maybe not in the hug-and-kiss, happily-ever-after, but in the, "There are definitely some feelings between these two."

To put it succinctly: YES, THIS.

The interesting thing about Sesshoumaru and Kagura is how much is resolved and left unresolved, all at once. Kagura gets her freedom and her dying wish, and Sesshoumaru is so impacted by her passing that there is PROGRESS with Tenseiga... but there's this huge, gaping hole of "but what if?" left behind.

And, yeah, okay, I could talk about this all day.
zigsa
Jun. 2nd, 2010 05:20 pm (UTC)
You've covered most of what I'd have said. One thing that has always struck me about the manga version of events that is often ignored in the fandom is what Sesshoumaru was doing when he made the decision to go to Kagura's side when she was dying.

By that point, everyone knew that the only way to kill Naraku was to strike his heart and that Mouryoumaru was carrying his heart. Sesshoumaru and Jaken were hot on Mouryoumaru's tail when Sesshoumaru caught Kagura's scent. Sesshoumaru suddenly abandoned the direction they knew Naraku's heart lay in to go in a completely different direction, knowing the only thing he'd find at the end of the journey was a dying Kagura. Jaken didn't know where Sesshoumaru was going or why, but he was verbally shocked to see Sesshoumaru abandon Naraku's heart for something else.

So, not only did Sesshoumaru go to Kagura's side when she was dying, but he actually sacrifice the chance to destroy Naraku's heart to do so.

I'm not one to say that Sesshoumaru was definitely in love with Kagura when she died, but even without claiming it was "true love", that decision wasn't just a big gesture from a man of his personality, it's a gesture that's as significant in scope as any gesture any of the other men have made for their significant women.

It surprises me that it's ignored so much.
aamalie
Jun. 2nd, 2010 07:54 pm (UTC)
So, not only did Sesshoumaru go to Kagura's side when she was dying, but he actually sacrifice the chance to destroy Naraku's heart to do so.

This just needs to be quoted. Because it is awesome and I love context. *_*

It surprises me that it's ignored so much.

It doesn't really surprise me all that much, but it does make me sad, because it gives both characters so little credit. Ignoring what happened between them is like... IDK, ignoring a characterization goldmine. I don't get it. At all.

Basically, all that to say, "I agree with this comment, dude."

(Oh and manga > anime. Just sayin'.)
heron_advocate
Jun. 2nd, 2010 01:27 am (UTC)
I was going to say something, but I think aamalie covered just about everything I wanted to say. It's undeniable that something was there. (What the "something" was is a bit more open to interpretation, I guess.) To me, the strongest evidence is the bit that aamalie mentioned, between Mouryoumaru/Sesshoumaru (about her life being in vain). And the reason is that Sesshoumaru, who is normally so cool in battle, is set off by that one little statement. It stood out to me, because a flicker of emotion in Sesshoumaru is almost the equivalent of a heartfelt soliloquy on the part of another character. ;D
jeweledeyes
Jun. 2nd, 2010 06:41 am (UTC)
aamalie's comment eloquently summed up everything I've ever thought about this pairing but couldn't put into words. She's kind of my favorite person right now, lol!

That scene is one of my favorites. I fully freaked out the first time I read it. I was really mad that they rearranged the order when they did it in the anime, because I feel like it detracted from the poignancy of the scene. It really demonstrated how much Sesshoumaru has grown as a person. Also,

a flicker of emotion in Sesshoumaru is almost the equivalent of a heartfelt soliloquy on the part of another character.

YES! Exactly! This is just what I was trying to say in my above comment, where I said that as far as I'm concerned, Sesshoumaru and Kagura are canon-- you don't need lengthy declarations of love in order for those feelings to be there. Kagura's feelings for Sesshoumaru were pretty apparent, but his were always very well concealed, to the extent that it was uncertain whether they existed or not. But when

1) He came to her when she was dying with the intention of saving her and
2) He reacted so strongly to Moryomaru's taunts

I think he made it pretty apparent that he had some feelings for her in return, even if he hadn't realized it. I mean, we're talking about Sesshoumaru here. Those kinds of actions are very, very significant!

Ahhh I'm loving this post!
(no subject) - jinxy_sama - Jun. 3rd, 2010 03:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jinxy_sama - Jun. 3rd, 2010 04:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
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