I find myself at a loss on how exactly I felt about this episode. Compared to the previous few episodes, the emotions felt are almost melancholy though not to be dismissed entirely. "Sesshomaru in the Underworld" is a wonderful looking at the always enigmatic Sesshomaru.
At the start of the episode, we are revisited by the death of Kikyo and the sadness of the group. Still as beautifully sad as it was a week ago, it did seem strange to replay that scene again. Really the episode had nothing to do with the group's sadness and loss; then I realized that this episode was also about tragic loss.
Sesshomaru seeks out his mother in hopes that, in the past, his father has given her knowledge of unlocking the Tenseiga's full power of the Meido Zangetsuha. She appears to be just as cold as Sesshomaru, but petty to boot. As if playing with a toy, she teaches Sesshomaru that power can only be gained at a great loss. Though this lesson seems inadvertent on her part. She draws Kohaku and Rin into the Underworld with the use of the Meido Stone and through his struggles to retrieve them and revive them, Sesshomaru gains more power to the Meido Zangetsuha.
I felt myself on the verge of crying a few times during his struggles. His mother fails to notify him that none living can come back (even Sesshomaru himself) from the Underworld and Rin passes on. Even though Sesshomaru saves her from The Guardian of the Underworld, the Tenseiga will not revive her again. We are afforded a small look into the heart of Sesshomaru as he silently morns her death. You could almost feel his pain behind his stoic facade. I think what kept me from crying this time was the comical sadness of Jaken. Though he cried tears of sadness and of joy for Rin, as Sesshomaru could not, he did it in such a way that the tension of the scene was lost.
The mother eventually gives Rin another chance at life by using the Meido Stone. I had to scoff again at the tension of the scene being ruined by the animation style of bringing Rin back to life. It was like the end of Sailor Moon's transformation, all sparkly. None the less, Sesshomaru is uncharacteristically tender toward Rin and I was caught up in the moment again. I left the episode feeling light, but in need of reflection.
This episode, much like the last few, will cause you to reconsider your previous stances on characters. In this one, I came to believe that maybe Sesshomaru is not as cold-hearted and power-hungry as I had once thought. He has experienced true loss and, even though Rin's life was spared, he now has common ground with InuYasha in that they have both lost someone they loved.
Next time on InuYasha: The Final Act "Flowers Drenched in Sadness". This one looks a little weird, but I'm still looking forward to it!