Rumiko Takahashi (高橋 留美子 Takahashi Rumiko, born October 10, 1957) is a Japanese manga artist. With a career of several commercially successful works, beginning with Urusei Yatsura in 1978, Takahashi is one of Japan's most affluent manga artists. Her works are popular worldwide, where they have been translated into a variety of languages, with over 200 million copies in circulation. She has won the Shogakukan Manga Award twice, once in 1980 for Urusei Yatsura and again in 2001 for Inuyasha, and the Seiun Award twice, once in 1987 for Urusei Yatsura and again in 1989 for Mermaid Saga. She also received the Grand Prix de la ville d'Angoulême in 2019, becoming the second woman and second Japanese to win the prize.
Inuyasha (犬夜叉 Inuyasha) is the titular protagonist of the series. Born of a dog-demon father and a human mother, his appearance is equivalent to that of a fifteen-year-old boy who is always barefoot. As a half-demon, he had a difficult and lonely childhood, as demons and humans despised him for his mixed bloodline. Bound to a tree by priestess Kikyo, Inuyasha was under her spell for 50 years unaged and unharmed, until Kagome freed him in attempt to defeat Mistress Centipede. He has dog ears, claws, superhuman strength, and other demonic abilities. He sports a red garment called the Robe of the Fire-Rat and is always barefoot. Inuyasha also wields a strong demon sword called Tetsusaiga.
Kagome Higurashi (日暮 かごめ Higurashi Kagome) is the narrator and coprotagonist of the series. A brave and kind girl who believes in never turning her back on someone in trouble, she develops a close relationship with Inuyasha over the course of the series and begins to fall in love with him during their quest to collect the Shikon shards and defeat Naraku, though she finds herself competing with the revived Kikyo for his affections. Although physically weak, she becomes stronger and skilled in archery as the series progresses, and eventually learns to master her immensely strong spiritual powers.
Miroku (弥勒 Miroku) is an eighteen-year-old lecherous Buddhist monk who travels the countryside performing spiritual services, such as exorcisms and demon exterminations, though he has a habit of either ripping off or outright robbing his clients if they are rich. Miroku can attack enemies with his khakkhara and sutra scrolls, but his greatest weapon is the Wind Tunnel (風穴 Kazaana) embedded in the palm of his right hand, which is actually a hereditary curse originally inflicted upon his grandfather by Naraku.
Sango (珊瑚 Sango) is a sixteen-year-old demon slayer (妖怪退治屋 yōkai taijiya, "Apparition Exterminators"). She hails from a village that practices the act as their profession and is also the original home of the Shikon Jewel. While travelling, she wears a traditional woman's kimono, over which she wears long skirt, most likely "mo-bakama", and traditional woman's arm guards and leg guards, and straw sandals. As a demon slayer, Sango dresses in a black skin-tight jumpsuit, and pink armor plates made of demon parts, and a red sash. Of her broad repertoire of tools and tricks for fighting demons, Sango usually wields her most powerful weapon called the Hiraikotsu (飛来骨, "Flying Return Bone"), a human-sized boomerang made of purified demon bones, which she can throw using her enhanced strength. Her other weapons include a short sword, a concealed blade and various poisons. She is always accompanied by the demon-cat Kirara, her mount.
Shippo (七宝 Shippō) is a young orphaned kitsune, who attempts to steal the Shikon Jewel from Inuyasha and Kagome, wanting to become stronger and avenge his father's death. Though his plan fails, Inuyasha and Kagome aid him after hearing his story, and he becomes their companion. Shippo normally appears to be a young boy with certain fox-like features: his legs, feet, ears, and tail. He can shape-shift, but his other forms (such as a large flying balloon) are temporary and often ineffective, usually given away by his lingering fox tail. He can also create illusory duplicates of himself, as well as weak Foxfire (狐火 Kitsunebi) magic and toy-based tricks such as his giant spinning top attack.
Kirara (雲母 Kirara) is Sango's faithful companion who usually appears to be a small kitten-sized feline with two tails, but can become large enough to carry several passengers whenever the need arises. She is a spiritual entity, like the kitsunes; her full-sized form has fangs and flames, while in her small form, she is small and cute.
Sesshomaru (殺生丸 Sesshōmaru) is a powerful dog demon (daiyōkai), feared throughout the feudal era. Born of a great demon bloodline, he is the older half-brother of Inuyasha. Chronologically, he is over 200 years old, while according to the official Inuyasha Profiles guide by Rumiko Takahashi, his appearance is equivalent to that of a 19-year-old male. He appears as a tall and handsome young man. He has fair skin, golden eyes with slit pupils, waist-length white hair (in the anime, his hair reaches as far as his knees), and a purple crescent moon on his forehead. Sesshomaru's true form is that of a giant red-eyed white dog. He produces an acidic poison that is mainly released from his claws in the Dokkasō (毒華爪) attack. While in his true form, the Dokkasō attack is transferred to his fangs. Due to his full-demon bloodline, his strength, speed and senses are all significantly greater than Inuyasha’s (except when Inuyasha’s demon blood takes control, at the expense of his mind).
Naraku (奈落 Naraku, litt. "Hell") is the main antagonist of the series, having caused the misery of most of the main cast. He was born fifty years ago from the desires of a gravely burned bandit named Onigumo (鬼蜘蛛, "Spider Demon"), who was found by Kikyo who tended to his wounds. As the injuries had severely crippled him, Onigumo forms a pact with the surrounding demons attracted to his darkness to consume him in return for his soul to occupy a new body created from their merged bodies so that he could satisfy his frustrated lust for Kikyo. However, with Onigumo buried deep in his subconscious, the newly born Naraku acted against his human self's desire as he arranged for Kikyo's demise and her falling out with Inuyasha in the expectation that events would corrupt the Shikon Jewel. When Kikyo had the jewel burned with her corpse, Naraku bides his time until the Shikon Jewel is brought back to the feudal era by the priestess's reincarnation, Kagome Higurashi.
Kagura (神楽 Kagura) is Naraku's second detachment, although she is introduced before her "elder sister" Kanna. As a wind witch who is always barefoot, Kagura uses a fan to enhance her powers where she can create a blade-like tornado or use wind to animate dead bodies. She can also use her feather hair-ornaments as transportation, enlarging them to ride in the wind. Though initially cold and calculating, Kagura despises Naraku more than she does his enemies, because he possesses her disembodied heart and uses it as a means to punish her or remind her of her place. As a result, Kagura's desire to be free leads her to covertly aid both Inuyasha and Sesshomaru, developing feelings for the latter, in hopes that they can kill Naraku for her so that she can reclaim her heart. As time goes on, Kagura becomes much more sympathetic and caring toward Inuyasha and even more hostile toward Naraku and his minions. She is ultimately killed by Naraku moments after he returns her heart, but dies content that she got to see Sesshomaru one last time and that she is free.
500 years ago, during ancient Japan's civil-war era, in a world full of demons, spirits, curses, swords, and samurais, the renowned priestess Kikyo fell in love with the half-demon Inuyasha. Kikyo was the protector of the mystical Shikon Jewel, a jewel with exceptional powers that must be carefully guraded against demons and evil people who would want to control its power. Kikyo wanted to give the Jewel to Inuyasha so that he could become a full human, and she would no longer have to be burdened with protecting it. However, their relationship was soon torn apart when Kikyo took it upon herself to care for Onigumo, a man who was bandaged from head to toe because of intense injuries. He couldn't do anything but lie down and talk, so he stayed in a cave and Kikyo fed him and cared for him. But Onigumo was a sick and wicked man at heart, and he wanted Kikyo and the Shikon Jewel to be all his for his own twisted desires. He became so obsessed that he allowed a large number of demons inside of him in exchange for them giving him a powerful body of his own. When all the demons fused into Onigumo, the demon Naraku was born. Naraku's first goal was to make Inuyasha and Kikyo hate each, for if Kikyo's heart were to be filled with anger and hatred, the dark energy of the Shikon Jewel would be strong. Disguising himself as both Kikyo and Inuyasha, he tricked both of them into believing that each betrayed the other. His scheme ended with a wounded Kikyo(who had been attacked by Naraku, disguised as Inuyasha) sealing Inuyasha onto a tree with an enchanted arrow. Before she died from her injury, Kikyo told her younger sister Kaede that the Shikon Jewel should "die" along with her. And so, Kikyo's body was cremated along with the jewel so that no one would be able to obtain it. 500 years later, in the bustling city of Tokyo, Kagome Higurashi is just an average high school student who lives with her mother, grandfather, younger brother Sota, and cat Buyo. Her family owns an ancient shrine, and one day, while looking for Buyo in the shrine, Kagome is pulled down the old well by a centipede demon! She ends up in ancient Japan, and while wandering around the forest, she sees Inyasha sealed to the tree by Kikyo's arrow. But when the centipede demon attacks, demanding the Shikon Jewel, it's discovered that the Jewel was inside of Kagome! This leads Kaede to believe that Kagome is the reincarnation of Kikyo. Kagome is able to free Inuyasha from his seal and he destroys the centipede demon. However he's still full of contempt and insolence because of Kikyo's betrayal, and he demands that Kagome give the Shikon Jewel to him so that he can become a full demon. But Kagome, being the reincarnation of a powerful priestess, has some control over Inuyasha; all she has to do is tell him to "sit" and the rosary around his neck pushes him face-first into the ground! However, before anything can be decided about what to do with the Shikon Jewel, a crow demon steals it, and when Kagome destroys it with her arrow, the Jewel is shattered and all the shards become scattered throughout the entire realm of ancient Japan! Even just a small shard of the Shikon Jewel can grant anyone immense power, so Inuyasha and Kagome must travel around and find them all before they fall into the wrong hands! At first, Inuyasha refuses to accept Kagome, probably because she looks so much like the woman he thought betrayed him. And Kagome tries her best to be friendly with Inuyasha, but she's sometimes turned off by his hotheadedness. But as they travel around together, facing the deadly powers of evil demons who've obtained a Shikon shard, and even Inuyasha's dangerous brother Sesshomaru, their feelings for each other steadily grow and grow. Although they never admit it, Inuyasha and Kagome form an unbreakable bond with each other that soon goes beyond just companionship. They also pick up many friends along the way; Shippo, a friendly, little fox demon, Miroku, a mischievous but noble monk, who has a Wind Tunnel in his right hand(a curse that Naraku put on his family) and a soft spot in his heart for pretty girls, and Sango, a demon slayer whose family and village were destroyed by Naraku(the only one left alive was her pet demon cat, Kirara.) And so Inuyasha, Kagome, Shippo, Miroku, and Sango travel around feudal Japan, fighting demons, collecting pieces of the Shikon Jewel, and most of all, seeking to destroy Naraku!