Sesshōmaru is a major antagonist-turned-supporting protagonist in the anime/manga series Inuyasha. He is a powerful dog daiyōkai who is feared throughout the feudal world, the half-brother of the hanyō Inuyasha and the first son to the Inu no Taishō, their father. Unlike many other yōkai, he has no interest in possessing even one shard of the Shikon Jewel to enhance his powers. On his journey, he is accompanied by a two-headed dragon named A-Un, a demon imp named Jaken, and an orphaned human little girl named Rin.
He is voiced by Ken Narita in the Japanese version of the anime, and by David Kaye and Michael Dangerfield (The Final Act) in the English version of the anime.
Humanoid form Sesshōmaru appears handsome and frail-looking at the same time, appearing as a tall and slender young man. He has fair skin with pointy ears, golden eyes with slit pupils, and waist-length white hair with short bangs. He has a crescent moon on his forehead that can be seen beneath his bangs, two stripes on each cheek, and a magenta stripe on each eyelid. When he uses his Dakkoso three stripes appear on his wrists.
Yōkai form Sesshōmaru's true form is a giant white dog with markings similar to the ones he has in his human form. His eyes become red with blue irises; the yōkai marks on his body widen and become more apparent the stripes on his cheeks which are usually smooth become jagged and change into a somewhat fiercer color while his mokomoko wraps around his body and extends into his tail. He only fully transforms to his yōkai form three times: during a battle with Inuyasha, which results in the loss of his left arm, again when he meets his mother, and finally during the battle against Magatsuhi.
Sesshōmaru's armor includes a spiked pauldron that covers his left shoulder attached to the upper section of his cuirass and "lotus petal" faulds. When damaged, the armor automatically regenerates itself using yōki. Both his armor and his long flowing sash have a decided Chinese influence, as opposed to the customary Japanese armor and obi. His kimono is mostly white with a red and white cherry blossom flower crest at the collar and sleeves, showing that he is of royal birth. He wears sashinuki hakama which are gathered at the ankles, producing a "ballooning" effect. His footwear consists of black ankle-high boots, also reminiscent of Mainland influence. On his right shoulder is his mokomoko-sama: the fur and tail of his true form which he retains in his humanoid form.
In the 3rd movie it is seen in his younger year he worn a similar but different outfit. His kimono was cream color and had leaf patterns, and a blue sash belt.
Sesshōmaru, born of a great demon bloodline, possesses the perfect power that many demons desire. Because of this he is always composed and confident in his power.
His air of aloofness and indifference is a product of dignity that only one of such rare demonic power may possess. Sesshōmaru is more or less emotionless; only anger, annoyance, and dissatisfaction showing on his face. Because both his heart and body are so strong, he had no desire whatsoever for the Shikon Jewel. He had absolute confidence in his power, so he did not need the Shikon Jewel and doesn't have to conspire with allies. Sesshōmaru even responded sarcastically towards Naraku, who had assumed an air of impudence due to his increased demon power. In battle he judged his enemy's power level and attacked with the minimum power necessary. He dealt with his enemies after determining their power. Once he had realized their weak point, their attacks were futile.
Sesshōmaru is obsessively proud of his father the Inu no Taishō, of whom the whole demon world was in awe. Because he respects his bloodline so much, he despises Inuyasha as well as Inuyasha's human mother Izayoi. He insults Naraku, who tried to take advantage of Sesshōmaru's power. All that his father left him was a dull sword that wouldn't cut anything. Anger welled up in his heart for not being able to use Tenseiga, which was left by his father, whom he highly respects. Sesshōmaru held resentment towards his father for having left Tessaiga to Inuyasha, whose power was weaker than his own. However, over time, Sesshōmaru comes to grasp why his father gave him Tenseiga and lets go of his disgust towards his half-brother, even showing concern for him in rare moments. He was also secretly angry that Naraku, who was assembled by demons far lower in level than Sesshōmaru, used abusive language and disrespect towards him. Sesshōmaru had stated that he seeks to only fight the strongest beings alive and how he had wanted to fight his father and defeat him. Sesshōmaru's love for his father was so great that even though he inherited the at the time worthless Tenseiga, he kept it around him for sentimental value. During the brief period Tenseiga was stolen from him in the third movie, he stated Tenseiga is not a sword he would miss if he lost if not for his father.
Sesshōmaru felt nothing for others, sneering and dismissing humane feelings. Anyone in his way is an enemy whom he will exterminate without hesitation. He does not hold back his power, even against women. He rationalizes that all his prey is the same and defeats them accordingly. For one with such pride in his power, cooperation is proof of weakness and being alone is a condition for the strong. Once he judges someone as an obstacle, he is quick to kill without hesitation.
He used to feel nothing for anyone, but meeting various people, such as the ever-changing Inuyasha, Naraku with his numerous proposals, and all-alone Rin had brought change to his heart. After he saved Rin and became a true owner of Tenseiga, he started to show feelings behind his heartless and cruel words. He stopped the demonic Inuyasha's wildness by controlling his power and he looked at him like an older brother reprimanding a younger brother, though claimed he would kill Inuyasha despite his actions showing the opposite. He even refrained from killing Kohaku when he could easily do so, when he looked in his eyes and saw emptiness and that he had given up everything.
Sesshōmaru has a very inquiring mind when there is something he cares about, but at the same time, he had almost no tenacity of purpose. If he becomes interested in something else, he will arbitrarily turn his back on what he's doing, even during battle. Just like his fighting style, he is quick to make decisions and act on then immediately.
The encounter with Rin awakened him as the true user of Tenseiga. The smile and fleeting life of this young girl who tried to save him caused Sesshōmaru to change for the first time. The will of his father, who cared for humans, has finally been passed to his oldest son. Sesshōmaru used to leave anything behind that might bind him but he has slowly but surely changed. Sesshōmaru genuinely cares about Rin and Jaken and while he rarely shows it, he does appreciate their loyalty. Sesshōmaru originally held much contempt towards protecting the weak, seeing it as a waste of time and ridiculous. Unlike the Inu no Taishō and Inuyasha, Sesshōmaru has trouble admitting he had people to protect (Rin and Jaken) and out of pride, would never admit that he does, as Sword of An Honorable Ruler showed. Another trait of Sesshōmaru is one he shares with his younger brother. Both have tempers and are very easy to annoy (Inuyasha being loud in his anger, Sesshōmaru being subtle) as he has been known to hit Jaken when he says something that displeases him, similar to how Inuyasha is with Shippō.
Sesshōmaru, who previously was a cold-hearted, arrogant, and extremely powerful daiyōkai was humbled by his "worthless half-breed" brother, Inuyasha, who used the sword to cut off his left arm. In another incident, Sesshōmaru had used his poison claws against Inuyasha, temporarily blinding him. Having sensed the clashing of the two yōki, Inuyasha unknowingly used the Wind Scar against Sesshōmaru. The Tenseiga prevented a possible fatality and transported the daiyōkai's battered body. Sesshōmaru quickly rested for the time-being in a forest near a village, where he first met the orphan girl, Rin.
He was cared for by Rin during his rehabilitation from injury. He was initially hostile to the mute girl, who offered him food, by refusing to eat and telling her to "mind her own business." However, the little child continued to serve him. Once he recovered, he set off with Jaken, but he sensed Rin's blood scent when she was attacked and mauled by Kōga's wolves; he was initially going to ignore her but when Tenseiga pulsed and told him to save her he used Tenseiga to resurrect her, whereupon she began to follow him. This incident proved to be the turning point in his life as it dramatically transformed his attitude towards everyone else. This was apparent when Rin was seen wearing new and colorful kimono later. When Rin falls off to the cliff in the process of getting life-saving herbs for Jaken, Sesshōmaru comes in a bolt of light to save her after she called out his name. In Forever With Lord Sesshōmaru, after Sesshōmaru saves Rin, he asks Rin to do what she wishes. This is not at all typical of Sesshōmaru, as he was usually shown to leave Jaken at times before he met Rin. Jaken is even shown to be mumbling that "Lord Sesshōmaru will kill him if something happens to Rin," obviously showing his concern for the girl's safety. Sesshōmaru, while fighting Jakotsu, rushes off to rescue Rin, who fell when the bridge broke. Jakotsu notes that Rin is Sesshōmaru's weak point. Exploiting this fact, Suikotsu and Jakotsu threatens to kill Rin when they are cornered. Sesshōmaru even saves Kohaku, Rin's best friend and protector, who was under Naraku's control, under the behest of Inuyasha and his friends. These are some of the many traces of compassion that Sesshōmaru displays.
Sesshōmaru's compassion for Rin is evident, but he prefers to disguise it, because it would taint his pride. However, he shows his love and concern for Rin when she appears to be dead due to her time in Hell. Sesshōmaru enters Hell for the purpose of rescuing her, but upon learning that he cannot save her life, he is crushed. When he realizes that it was his urge to strengthen Tenseiga which brought them to Hell and ultimately killed her, he casts the sword aside and says that for the sword to gain power at the expense of Rin's life means nothing. However, when Sesshōmaru's mother revives Rin, he is seems to be relieved. Finally the will of his father, who cared for humans, has been passed to his son.
When Kagura was injured, Sesshōmaru originally intended to leave her in the river she was drowning in, but when Rin falls in trying to save her and Jaken follows Rin, Sesshōmaru pulls all three from the river. He stayed there afterwards and warned her not to do anything that would get her killed. Later however, before Kagura's death, Sesshōmaru seeks her out and considers using the Tenseiga, only to conclude that Tenseiga cannot save her.
He has also been shown saving Inuyasha's friends on several occasions. On his way to Mount Hakurei, Sesshōmaru saves Kagome, Miroku, and Sango from the poison master Mukotsu, one of the Band of Seven but only claims that he killed Mukotsu because he would not answer his questions. He also revives a young otter yōkai's father, claiming that it was the will of Tenseiga. Another example is when Inuyasha and his companions are involved in a fight with the "water god" Numawatari: when Sesshōmaru arrives, he insults Inuyasha's inability to kill a "low life yōkai," and then easily dispatches Numawatari using his Meidō Zangetsuha ability, leaving straight after.
Also, when Byakuya, Naraku's newest incarnation, is about to take Kohaku, who had one of the last three shards of the Shikon Jewel, back to Naraku, Sesshōmaru appears and launches a ranged Meidō Zangetsuha (still in the crescent moon shape), barely missing him. Byakuya flees, claiming that he does not want to die, and comments on how it is so unlike Sesshōmaru to save someone. Thereafter, Sesshōmaru seems to have taken Kohaku under his protection, albeit in his typical grudging demon-slayer fashion. Later, when Kohaku's shard gets tainted by Magatsuhi, Sesshōmaru attempts to save Kohaku at the expense of great injury to his arm.
It is his compassion that caused the Tenseiga to be reforged as a weapon. Its offensive powers were locked until Sesshōmaru was able to show true compassion. In his battle with Mōryōmaru, the villain insulted the dying Kagura, which angers Sesshōmaru and he shatters Mōryōmaru's indestructible shell (and his only weapon in the process). Acknowledging the yōkai's growth because he is defending a dead person, Tenseiga called to its creator to reforge it as a weapon. Later, to show his compassion and respect for his father, he gave the offensive powers of his sword to Inuyasha (albeit in his typical fashion) in accordance with his father's wishes and recognizing his brother's worth as the heir to the sword.
He refused to use Bakusaiga on Inuyasha when even Magatsuhi noted it was the obvious choice to make and in the third movie Swords of an Honorable Ruler it is hinted that he actually does care about Inuyasha but refuses to admit it when he is protecting him from the Sō’unga's "Dragon Twister" attack.
Despite his growing compassion, he, like his brother, uses impolite Japanese. He addresses strangers or people he does not like with "kisama," which, like "temee," is an offensive form of "you," though still more formal. He addresses himself with the polite "watashi", signifying his high rank and power. Other than "kisama," he uses "omae," either to Jaken or to Inuyasha, the latter being occasionally and not rarely. Thus, he can be insulting while retaining the dignified speech pattern of a lord, as opposed to the rougher speech used by Inuyasha.
Powers and Abilities
Sesshomaru is widely considered one of the (if not the) most powerful characters in the series, who has a plethora of techniques at his disposal. Because of said power, many characters compared his power to be near equal to that of his father's.
- Master Swordsman: Sesshōmaru is an extremely skilled in swordsmanship, having wielded several demon swords in battle. In the several occasions when he and Inuyasha clashed with their demonic swords, Sesshōmaru was able to easily and consistently overwhelm his younger brother. Even in the rare chance that Inuyasha managed to defeat Sesshōmaru, it was only after Sesshōmaru had held the upper hand and Inuyasha became accustomed to Sesshōmaru's skills. Sesshōmaru's overall skill was such that he could wield the Tessaiga with at least the same level of efficiency as Inuyasha using both hands with just one hand, if not even superior.
- Hand to Hand Combat: Along with his swordsmanship, Sesshōmaru is also a highly accomplished unarmed fighter and even with only one arm, his skill was still formidable. Unlike Inuyasha, Sesshōmaru normally attacks with swiftness and elegance.
- Immense Strength: Sesshōmaru possesses Herculean strength, even with one arm. He has repeatedly overpowered and powerfully thrown aside Inuyasha. He can even use his claws to easily tear through solid rock, and through the bodies of most demons. His physical strength with only one arm was equal to Inuyasha's maximum strength.
- Immense Speed: Sesshōmaru can close distances quickly and without warning. His speed far exceeded that of Inuyasha's own considerable speed, as in their fights, Inuyasha was not capable of landing a single hit on Sesshōmaru even with Tessaiga in hand until he learned the Wind Scar. He even got behind the cautious Naraku with ease.
- Immense Endurance: Sesshōmaru's tremendous demonic powers have granted him great resistance to injury. On the fairly rare occasion that he receives serious injuries, Sesshōmaru can often continue fighting in spite of them, showing tremendous resilience. This was demonstrated when he was able to easily kill an army of human samurai just after losing his left arm and initial battle over the Tessaiga to Inuyasha. Later on Sesshōmaru managed to withstand the Kaze no Kizu head-on long enough for Tenseiga to use its barrier ability to protect Sesshōmaru from the lethal damage level of the attack. Despite being heavily wounded during his battle with Magatsuhi, Sesshōmaru was able to continue fighting until his powers coalesced into Bakusaiga. Sesshōmaru is also shown to be able to withstand the shock of the Anti-Demon Barrier placed on Tessaiga in order to use occasionally when need be with little reaction, though not without suffering potentially debilitating injuries. Since he holds strong poison in his own body, he is able to resist or nullify most poisonous attacks (e.g. Naraku's Shoki or Mukotsu's anti-demon poisons).
- Flight: Sesshōmaru is capable of independent flight in his humanoid form, and can also hover motionlessly above the ground. He occasionally permits other individuals to accompany him by carrying them on his mokomoko-sama.
- Keen Intellect: Due to his keen instincts and great power, Sesshōmaru is experienced in analyzing any given situation, finding the best route towards his success.
- Keen Senses: Sesshōmaru has excellent olfaction and is able to determine circumstances by scents on the wind. Even for things far away, he can learn what's going on and obtain information by smell alone. He can discern certain characteristics about an individual through scent alone; for example, the scent of graveyard soil allowed him to identify the undead nature of the Band of Seven.
- Demonic Power
- Dokkasō: Sesshōmaru has claw-like fingernails, and can injure — or even kill — an entire group of thieves using his claws. He can also scratch with his claws and release a potent poison at the same time to melt his enemies. Though he normally applies it through his claw strikes, he can also spray the acid from his claws or transfer it into his punches. His poison is strong enough to melt rock or bone; a mere human will melt in an instant. If his poison is taken in internally, it will remain inside and be in effect for a long period of time — even in those with demonic power.
- Mokomoko-sama: The rich fur on Sesshōmaru's shoulder is a part of his body and can stretch to great lengths, giving him defensive capabilities and some means of attack.
- Light Whip: Sesshōmaru can generate a thin, whip-like strand of yellow-green energy from his fingertips to aid him in place of his missing arm. It has shown to be able to puncture armor and flesh with ease and can burn flesh upon contact, similar to his poison. He appears to be capable of manifesting this energy without its destructive properties, allowing him to use it to catch falling allies or yank someone out of danger without damaging them.
- Accelerated Healing: During his battle with Magatsuhi, Sesshōmaru demonstrated the ability to rapidly heal the burns and gashes on his right arm, as well as several large holes stabbed right through his body. This ability seems not to be a passive bodily function however, as he evidently needed to focus his energies in order to heal himself. In the same battle, he also showed regenerative powers, able to fully grow back his left arm, which was cut off by Inuyasha at the beginning of the series. It is unknown why it took so long, however, it is possibly because his left arm housed his Bakusaiga, and was subconsciously suppressed until letting go of his desire for Tessaiga, as Bakusaiga emerged with his new left arm.
- Longevity: As a Great Demon, Sesshōmaru has supernatural longevity. He appears to be physically around 19 years old despite being chronologically over 900 years old.
- Transformation: As a Daiyōkai, Sesshōmaru possesses the ability to transform into either an orb of light or a huge silver furred dog anytime he wants, and although he possesses tremendous destructive power in the latter form, he rarely uses it. While his gigantic dog form appears to grant him a great deal of physical strength, it seems to lack the agility of his humanoid form. Additionally, it was speculated by Jaken that Sesshōmaru loses some of his reasoning abilities while in dog form; there is no substantial evidence to support this theory however. When transforming back and forth, his clothing, weapons, and other accoutrements seem to simply vanish and then re-appear on his person.
- Poisoned Fangs: While in his giant dog form, the toxins of Sesshōmaru's poison claws are transferred into his fangs. This caused his bite to have extremely caustic effects, an ability which is also transferred to his saliva. Additionally, his saliva can be turned into a poisonous, mist-like gas.
- Teleportation: Sesshōmaru's orb of light form gives him the ability to quickly teleport away if necessary, as seen when Sesshōmaru morphed into a ball of energy to escape his father's grave. He later used this form to pursue a fleeing Tōtōsai, materializing upon impacting with the ground and producing an explosion.
- Sesshomaru's name means "killing perfection", which is fitting considering how powerful he is.
- Sesshomaru has transformed into his true form a total of 3 times in the series:
- He transformed to test Inuyasha power with the Tessaiga.
- He transformed to greet his mother
- He transformed during his battle with Magatsuhi
- It's unknown if his Mokomoko fur is a part of his body, although according to the Inuyasha: Profile Book makes it very likely.
- Sesshomaru and Inuyasha's sibling rivialry is often cited as an iconic character dynamic in anime history.
- Sesshomaru is the only character to have no desire for the Shikon Jewel (not even a single shard). Instead, his obsession with the Tessaiga fuels his desires for most of the series.
- His first english voice actor, David Kaye, also voices Soun Tendo.