Some notes about book 10

Anachronism Alert

The first Europeans to have contact with the Japanese archipelago were Portuguese sailors shipwrecked off Kyushu in the year 1543. That year is noteworthy to the Inuyasha story because it was those sailors who introduced the musket to Japan. Soldiers on at least one Inuyasha battlefield carry muskets: therefore, we know that the original Inuyasha takes place relatively late in the Sengoku Jidai period, definitely after 1543 (which means the "500 years ago" line isn't really accurate—it has to be between 400 and 450 years ago).

If the Sengoku Jidai period ended in 1600, and Inuyasha was pinned to the tree for 50 years, that doesn't leave us quite enough time for him to have seen European sailors on Kyushu when he was six or seven years old

We could say that the 50 years he was sealed was an estimate—that it was more like, oh, 47 years. And there are actually some anachronisms in Inuyasha, which after all takes place in a fairy-tale version of the Sengoku Jidai. Or I could have decided to draw Chinese or Indian or Korean pirates.

But I have a situation I want to use later in the story that calls for Inuyasha to have seen those English pirates. And the little ruffled collars are fun to draw. And the codpieces are funny, period. For those who didn't know: When Koinu mentions the pirates' trousers being strange, he is delicately expressing his astonishment at the codpiece, a stuffed pocket—sometimes hugely stuffed with cotton wadding, or with lunch—that was worn directly over the male genitalia, which it was intended to enhance. It is the funniest, most embarrassing garment in the history of western costume—far beyond the level of, say, crotchless panties or candy underwear because it was worn quite flagrantly over the other clothing as everyday wear by regular people. More than just a fly for the trousers, it was indeed used to carry belongings, or stuffed so that it could be used as a pincushion. If you did Shakespeare in school, they probably left this very important item off the guys' costumes, but its use reached a peak during the reign of Henry VIII of England and the early Elizabethan period, which puts it right in our time period.

Anyway: I decided to invent a little piece of Japanese history for the express purpose of this comic. In the Hero world, Sesshoumaru made contact with some of the less savory members of the European sailing community before those Portuguese sailors ever arrived off Kyushu, so that European ships were sneaking into the Stronghold twenty or thirty years before the "official" arrival of westerners.

About Inuyasha's loss of innocence, and Koinu's confession

Koinu's long confession speech was written back in early October 2001, at the same time as its companion piece, the whole realization/reunion story of books 4 and 5.

During the summer of 2002, there were in the United States a number of highly publicized incidents of children and young women being abducted by strangers. Some victims survived; some were raped; some were murdered, including five-year-old Samantha Runnion, who was abducted from outside her home and who did all the things we teach children to do to keep them safe—kick, scream, fight, tell an adult. Samantha, who did everything she was supposed to do, still died terribly.

When I wrote the story of Inuyasha's abduction by the huntsman (book 7) I was in fact quite consciously constructing a metaphorical rape. Although Inuyasha is not literally sexually assaulted, he is tricked into following an adult he trusts into an isolated location, attacked and penetrated (run through with a dagger) and nearly killed. The huntsman convinces him to remove part of his clothing by telling him he is undergoing initiation to become a samurai. In fact, samurai initiation often did include rape: samurai training involved a mentor system which in some households during some periods required the apprentice to be sexually receptive to his mentor, the theory being that lovers would have extra incentive to protect one another on the field of battle.

In the script for his confession to Kagome, Koinu says, "I just wanted him to stop! I just wanted to get away! I wanted to run away and tell somebody, so they'd make him stop and leave me alone!" This was taken from the advice we give abused children: get away, go tell an adult, keep telling until somebody makes the person stop. It's rough. Children are more realistic than we are: they assume we'll take the word of an adult over that of a child, they know that adults are reluctant to get involved when there is a physical dispute between child and grownup. I gave Koinu that line because I wanted that echo of well-meaning promises, and of childlike helplessness.

I was transferring the issue from roughs to final boards when I realized how that dialogue hit home in the context of the times. I haven't changed it: it says what I want it to say. Ordinarily I wouldn't explain it, as I haven't explained most of the undertones and hidden references in this book (but I'm thinking of putting annotations on the site, just to give younger readers an idea of how to read between the lines when a book pulls from the kinds of varied sources I've used for The Hero). Given the summer we've had, though, I want readers to be aware that this part of the book wasn't intended to be sensationalistic or disrespectful. It's an integral part of the character I'm describing.

Kristine Batey
September 5, 2002

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