The end of 'season six' is rapidly approaching - one volume to go - and so you'd think that we'd be working up to something major to round it out with. Even though Inu Yasha's 'seasons' seem to be arbitrarily plucked out of the air by Viz. Hakudoshi's search for the final shard is producing results, though, and that's making life very interesting for Kagome and the gang...
142 - Untamed Entei and Horrible Hakudoshi
Inuyasha and the others are trying their best to keep up with Entei, and follow him to a location in the mountains where a deadly demon, Rengokuki, had been sealed away. Entei's presence at the grave is enough to break the seal and free Rengokuki, who turns out to be a rather cocky guy with dreams of conquering the world - and no inclination to hang around and fight Inuyasha. Kagome, meanwhile, finds that her new charge seems somewhat older than the child she'd been looking after previously, and while searching for food and clothing for him, comes face-to-face with Rengokuki and Entei herself...
143 - 3,000 Leagues in Search of Father
A village has been attacked by a headless horseman, leaving the locals picking up the pieces and scared that the demon will return. Fortunately, Inuyasha and the others are passing through the area, and with the village boasting a number of eligible young women, Miroku's quick to offer their help. It doesn't take them long to track down the demon, either, as it turns out to be almost the height of a tree - and surprisingly easily dealt with. In the process, though, the gang meet a young raccoon-dog demon who's in search of her father - or, more accurately, her father's body. Just like the demon Inuyasha had just killed, her father had been beheaded a few days earlier by Hakudoshi - she's kept his head, and now would quite like some help in reuniting it with the rest of him...
144 - Hosenki and the Last Shard
White mist and giant bones, clad in a suit of armour - a place that Inuyasha and Kagome know well, as they've been there: the grave of Inuyasha's father, and now, it seems, the resting place of the final shikon shard. Knowing that is one, thing, though - getting there is another. For a little help in that department, Inuyasha goes to see Totosai and Myoga - the black pearl within his right eye is the key to his father's grave, and they need to find a way to get it out of there. Totsai knows one person who may be able to help them - Hosenki - but it seems that Hakudoshi is keeping an eye on their progress. Kagura, meanwhile, is beginning to tire of being used as a babysitter...
At the risk of repeating myself: Inu Yasha filler: meh. Arc stories: much better, especially when they don't involve Naraku. The Big Bad does make an appearance on this volume, but it's a very brief non-speaking one, so we don't have to put up with his ego. As far as the filler / arc split goes, the first two episodes are essentially filler with some little tidbits of useful information dropped into them; while the final episode brings the search for the final shard into the forefront of the story and has the feel of being the start of a sequence that's going to last for a while.
Hakudoshi is the key to current events - even when he's not directly involved in the story, there are usually tales of what he's been up to, the holy men he's killed and demons he's beheaded. His attitude is quite refreshing after 140+ episodes of Naraku's scheming-from-the-shadows: as Kagura herself points out, "unlike Naraku, he doesn't mind getting his hands dirty", and having a villain who's not afraid to stand up and do his own dirty work is a pleasant surprise.
The search also takes us back to places we haven't been to for a while, and brings Sesshomaru back into the picture - not least because he's the one person who's already proved his ability to open the gate inside Inuyasha's eye. But while Sesshomaru does make an appearance on this volume, it's in a role that tries to highlight his growing humanity, rather than from Inuyasha doing the obvious thing and asking his big brother for help. That pride's gonna kill him, someday. The effect that Rin has been having on Sesshomaru since they came together, though, makes for an interesting tale, as the demon who had no concern or interest in the world of humans is slowly developing a heart, and while my self-confessed appreciation of the big guy may make be biased, I'm enjoying seeing his personality develop.
Kagura also gets a little bit of character work, with her continued use as a glorified babysitter for Hakudoshi in both his forms is seeing the fires of rebelliousness being rekindled in her. You get the distinct impression that that's not going to end well, but once again she's a great character for having a mind of her own and for not simply doing what Naraku wants or expects her to do.
One of the better volumes since the Shichinintai were sent packing, then, with Hakudoshi shaping up to join Kagura as the only of Naraku's offshoots worth watching and making the volume enjoyable to watch. I just wonder how long he'll be able to maintain his appeal.