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Book Thirteen: The Boys
On the first day of first grade, big kids pushed Sakamoto Jiro down and stole his lunch. He did not suffer alone. As he picked up his head and prepared to howl, he saw a little boy about his size lying face down a short distance away. Jiro gaped, so fascinated by his fellow victim he forgot to cry. At first he thought the boy was a foreigner. His hair was a warm red-brown, the color of miso paste and autumn, but when he sat up his face was like anybody else's, almond-shaped dark eyes and high cheekbones, a spray of freckles lost in the tan of his cheeks. The boy didn't cry, just scowled and sat up, cross-legged, arms folded, with a thoughtful look on his face.
"Bastards," said the boy. "Are you all right?"
"Yeah," said Jiro. "They got my lunch."
"Mine, too." said the boy. "I hate this." He considered for a moment, then sighed. "Well," he said, "this is just one more inconvenience of this form. If I'm going to transform again, I hope it happens sooner rather than later."
It had never occurred to Jiro that this was something a six-year-old might say. One minute earlier, he had hated school, but suddenly a universe of possibilities seemed to be opening up before him in the person of this red-haired boy. "My name is Sakamoto Jiro," he said, hoping the other boy would say something wonderful.
And he did. "In this place I'm called Houjou Inuyasha," he said, "but in Musashi's Domain 'Houjou' was the name of my mother's household and I refused to use it, because I vowed to destroy them and it didn't seem right to call myself that. Some of the people there called me Inuyasha Who Seeks the Shikon no Tama. Well, mostly the youkai called me that. The humans just called me Inuyasha." He considered for a moment. "Actually, that's what most of the youkai called me, too. Nobody calls me Inuyasha anymore. Except my parents do when they're mad at me. If Kagome were here, she'd probably still call me that, but I haven't found her yet. I'm not going to stop looking for her, though." He sighedor perhaps he was just stopping for airand then said, "Well, everybody here calls me Koinu. You can call me that, too. I'd better go get our lunches back."
As Jiro watched, wide-eyed, Koinu squinted toward a group of children standing on the edge of the playground and sniffed the air. Two of the children were the lunch stealers, and were displaying their booty to a cluster of admirers. Koinu grinned. He had lost his top front baby teeth, and the effect was to make him look like he had fangs. "Those bastards are right where we want them!" he exclaimed.
"They are?" Jiro said.
"Tree," said Koinu.
Jiro blinked, and then ran after Koinu, who was bounding across the playground. There was, indeed, a tree, with branches hanging over the schoolyard. Jiro stood dumbfounded as Koinu stripped off his shoes and socks and began shinnying up the trunk. He paused halfway up to look at Jiro, a puzzled expression on his face. "Are you coming?" he asked.
Jiro shook his head. "I don't know how to do that," he said.
Koinu frowned. "Oh, yeah," he said. "You're human. But I'm pretty sure I'm human, and I can do it," he said. "Okay, well, get ready then," he said.
Jiro had no idea what he was getting ready for, but he tried to look alert. He watched with an expression of intelligent readiness as Koinu crept out onto a heart-stoppingly narrow branch high over the little group of big kids, and with a blood-curdling shriek launched himself into the air.
Time seemed to slow down. Koinu appeared to fly, spread-eagled, his red hair floating upward. The shriek wasn't just a shriek, there were words in it, although Jiro couldn't make them out. The group on the ground froze, and then looked upward. It took a fraction of a second for the girls to begin to scream. Jiro didn't like heights, but he wished for a moment he could be with Koinu, looking at the expression on the lunch thieves' faces. Koinu brought his knees up into a cannonball just before he hit the taller of the two thieves, allowing the bigger boy to cushion his fall even as the two of them bowled over the second thief and one of their admirers.
Koinu recovered from a sprawl and rose to his knees, the two lunch boxes in his hands. "Jiro!" he cried. This was the thing for which Jiro was to be ready. The lunches came flying into his hands, straight and true, one, two-Koinu was a boy who had played a lot of catch. Koinu found his feet, a bit slowly. Was he hurt? He seemed a bit winded, but not so much as the boys who were still on the ground. "Now," he said to the big boys, "you'll never do that again." The older kids gaped at him. He waited for a minute, as though expecting an answer, then gave a quick nod and-bowed politely. He ambled toward Jiro-was he limping?-and smiled, a huge, gap-toothed grin that was like sunshine. "That's better," he said.
Jiro handed him his lunch. "Are you hurt?" he said.
"Nothing worth mentioning,"
Koinu said, peering into his lunch box. "I wish it was lunch time already,
don't you?" he said. "Let's both choose one thing from our lunch and
eat it right now." He reached into his box and pulled out four neat quarters
of apple, offering two to Jiro. Jiro took a red bean bun from his lunch and
tore it in half, offering Koinu his choice. They sat contentedly on a corner
of the playground, their first day of being friends, chewing silently, Koinu
rubbing a bruise on his knee, until some grownups came and told them they had
to go inside.
[From Inuyasha, Noriko
(1986): "Sesshoumaru in Europe: A Sampler." Proceedings of the
34th Annual Meeting of the American Cryptohistorical Society, Chicago, September
In 1639, the Tokugawa Shogunate, keenly aware that the European nations were in competition to gobble up the remainder of the globe, closed the doors of Japan to all foreigners, with the exception of a small Dutch trading post in Nagasaki, on the island of Kyushu. From the ship's log of the English ship Lusty Herne, outward bound from its last sojourn in Nagasaki harbor, we garner a fascinating picture of a group of Japanese travelers, apparently exchanging the Japanese Archipelago for the British. They are described by the captain as
travellers of a most peculiar sort. Three comely young people, two men and one a ladye, all of high degree, garbd as is their custome, and attended by a servant, a little man of the most foul and dreadfulle mien. One man and the ladye are well-fashion'd in the way of their kinde. The third, who the others call liege, and gives the name Tai-Yo, leaves us quite amazd, for their hair, which is always black, is on this man white as the snow, and his face strangely tattooed as is seen in some of Africa and America, and most frightening his eyen, which are like unto those of a daemon, such that many of the men would not countenance him aboard, but sail only under pain of death. They keep apart in their cabin, and speak for the most part only their own barbaric tongue.
Intriguingly, the captain notes that at the end of the voyage, when the group disembarked at Dover, they had "cloth'd themselves in the manner of Christian gentles."
In the tradition of nameless minions everywhere, pulled from Youkai Central Casting.
Didn't knights have anything to do in Arthurian times? They were always hanging around forests and fountains, challenging people and molesting or protecting virgins (sometimes both). This is why Nintendo was such a blessing.
King of the Britons. He hasn't got shit all over him.
Housewife turned social activist, mother of Houjou Inuyasha. Informed she was unlikely to bear a child, Haruka founded the Women's International Peace Committee as an outlet for her considerable intelligence, energy, and high-mindedness. When the miracle of in vitro fertilization made motherhood a possibility, Haruka proved that a properly motivated woman can be totally dedicated to serving a worthy cause and totally dedicated to managing all aspects of her child's life at the same time. If you want to turn a daemon into a Houjou-kun, give him to Haruka.
Houjou Koinu's formidable Kiwi (New Zealander) nanny (and, we can guess, frequent co-conspirator), the beloved of Auntie Terra (his less formidable English co-nanny), Auntie Barbra counts as one of the bevy of women who try to protect Houjou from the world, even though she is, as Koinu puts is, still technically a man. Auntie Barbra and her charge express their considerable love and respect for one another through cheerful mutual rudeness using the most obscene and outrageous language possible.
A good-natured and tolerant young Brit in a strange and foreign land.
Houjou Koinu's less formidable English nanny, Auntie Barbra's life partner.
American historian of Japanese birth, the world's foremost authority on the near-legendary Japanese warlord known as Sesshoumaru. Youngest sister of Haruka, the favorite aunt of Houjou Inuyasha, who as an adult has collaborated with her on a number of publications.
Heir to a centuries-old tradition of public service, one of a long line of samurai supporting the rulers of what is now Japan, Yoshi is an economist for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in which capacity he has served in embassies and consulates in Europe and on the Pacific rim. Kendo champion in high school and college; comfortable and happy in a three-piece suit. The kind of dad who takes his kid to baseball games and Star Wars movies. Yoshi's a mensch.
In this book, she starts out as the young girl in the floppy pajamas. After that, we see her more than ten years later, as a slightly pregnant young wife. As a young girl, she was a companion of Inuyasha Who Seeks the Shikon no Tama, his partner in the quest to restore and purify the jewel. As an adult, she is married to his reincarnation, who was once the boy she called Houjou-kun.
Kagome's mother. A mom's mom. Puts up with a lot, but obviously the kids are worried they're pushing it.
American of Irish background, paranormal investigator for a family-run agency called Hibernating Bats, Auley has been hired by a man named Jaken to find Inuyasha of the Shikon no Tama and convince him to inform his brother, Sesshoumaru, that Sessh's evil sword Toukijin has been stolen from the "museum" where it is stored. Auley is still trying to get Houjou to admit to being Inuyashabut he seems to be getting sidetracked...
The prime mover for the
Hibernating Bats agency, Mona is a born eldest sister, even though Auley is
American of Irish origin, younger brother to Mona Hanlon and half-brother of Auley DeDannan. Researcher and transportation expert, if you want to call it that, for the Hibernating Bats agency, although he thinks of himself as a playwright.
Younger sister of Mona and Matt, and half-sister of Auley DeDannan. Researcher for the Hibernating Bats agency, waitress extraordinaire. Imagine Gracie Allen with a photographic memory and an overload of pheromones.
Kinetic sculptor extraordinaire, shoe salesman not so extraordinaire but good enough, trance medium, and Matthew's newly discovered true love.
Feel free to laugh and clap at the cameos.
Kagome's brother: computer geek, chemistry whiz, Shinto priest, and he still finds time to dye his hair.
The Higurashi shrine cats.
Toad-daemon, assigned to Sesshoumaru as a personal retainer by the dog-daemon Inutaisho. For all of his faults, it should be noted that Jaken has been consistently faithful to his charge (unlike his counterpart, Myouga, who tends to abandon Inuyasha in times of danger), and even displays what seems to be sincere affection for his mercurial master. In the 21st century, Jaken has somehow acquired a more-or-less acceptably human form.
Younger brother of Sango (the quest companion who later married Miroku). At the age of eleven, on his first mission as a daemon exterminator, Kohaku was possessed by the evil Naraku, who directed him to attack and kill his compatriots, including his father and sister. Sango survived the attack and restrained her brother, who came to his senses as Naraku's minion directed nearby guards to kill both brother and sister. Sango barely survived her wounds, digging her way out of a hastily dug grave. The mortally wounded Kohaku was implanted with a Shikon shard that kept him alive and under Naraku's control. One of Inuyasha's declared goals in the quest for the Shikon no Tama was free Kohaku and save his life. (The others were to reassemble the complete jewel, to kill Naraku and avenge Kikyou, to protect Kikyou from Naraku, andperhaps foremostto ensure that Kagome survived. He had to go into extra innings to take care of that last one.)