INU-YASHA SERIES SPOILERS BEWARE
When I first seriously got into the InuYasha fandom, I was all of eleven years old. And let me tell you, it was love at first read…seeing as I had access to the manga via local library a few years before I was able to buy the anime on DVD. And during that time, like many people I knew, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Kikyo. As if Naraku wasn’t enough…here is this girl constantly getting in the way of and trying to kill my favorite characters! In my mind, she was as much an irredeemable bad guy as Naraku. But then, I got older and started thinking more about why she might have acted as she did. And the more I thought about it, the more my sympathy for Kikyo grew. But, why?
1) Her current self is made only of her hatred InuYasha
Through no volition of her own, Kikyo was quite literally dragged back to life by someone who wanted to make her a battle slave. Granted, it didn’t work out in the witch’s favor, but Kikyo was still forced back into the living world during Feudal Japan. Moreover, her soul had already reincarnated into Kagome’s body. After the process of the witch trying to drag the soul out of Kagome and into Kikyo, it was basically torn asunder, and the newly revived Kikyo was left with only the parts of the soul that hated InuYasha.
Now, think about how she died. Due to Naraku’s schemes, Kikyo died thinking InuYasha had betrayed her. She died from wounds she thought had been inflicted upon her by someone she’d trusted. Combine that with the fact that her body can only move because of the hatred trapped within, and it’s no surprise that the knowledge of Naraku’s manipulation couldn’t really change how she felt. After all, emotions often don’t make sense logically.
2) She died in relative peace
Granted, the situation surrounding her death was full of feelings of violence and betrayal, but Kikyo had accepted what happened and went willingly to her death. As Naraku says, Kikyo could have saved her own life with the Shikon Jewel, but she chose the opposite. She chose to end the chaos and suffering that the jewel brought along with the end of her own life. So, the acceptance of her own death and the knowledge that jewel could no long fall into demon hands would have brought her some form of peace. Unfortunately, she was forcefully brought back into a world of violence…a world she no longer had a place in. That, by itself, would be more than enough to drive someone into a burning rage.
3) She probably feels like she died in vain
For the 50 years of Kikyo’s death, war continued to rage between humans, between demons, and between the two. That was just how things were. However, there was no fighting for the Shikon Jewel, because there was no Shikon Jewel. Which meant there had to be less violence, because the Jewel’s very presence brought chaos and corruption. Kikyo died knowing she took the jewel with her, but she has been brought back into a Feudal Japan where the jewel once again exists. Moreover, the jewel has been broken into hundreds, perhaps thousands, of tiny pieces. So, it’s influence is spread far, far wider than it ever could before. It rendered her sacrifice useless. So, let’s just add some regret, frustration, and resentment onto that pile of burning rage and hatred.
4) She most likely feels like Kagome is her replacement
During her first life, Kikyo met and fell in love with InuYasha. She thought she would live her life with him, but that time never came. Now, she’s in a position where she’s InuYasha’s enemy rather than lover. Moreover, he had a new girl by his side. A girl who travels all over Japan with him. Who fights demons with him. A girl whom it is very obvious that InuYasha is supremely fond of. And to rub salt in the wound, this girl is her reincarnation. And when Kikyo tried to return to the land of the dead (taking InuYasha with her), it was Kagome who interrupted her. Considering all this, it’s safe to throw jealousy onto Kikyo’s churning pile of negative emotions.
5) She does have a plan to kill Naraku
Even though she does assist Naraku plenty throughout the series, Kikyo does have a plan to kill him. Granted, it’s not a great plan, but she does have the intent to kill him. I mean, “help Naraku collect all the pieces of the Shikon Jewel and then purify the jewel and kill him that the same time” was probably never going to work. But at least she hadn’t gone completely evil.
Anyway, when you put it all in perspective, Kikyo is a far more complex character than she first appears. She’s far from being a saint, what with collecting the souls of dead girls to keep her body mobile. But she’s not just some evil woman who’s only there to create a rift between the two characters we want to get together either. No, Kikyo is an unfortunate woman who was dragged back into a living hell after peacefully accepting a death that was brought about by violence. In my opinion, she deserves sympathy from fans rather than scorn.