Character Role: His Place in the Series

Like a cast of actors and actresses, everyone plays a certain role in the Inuyasha series. Jaken is no different. Though many Inuyasha fans out there may say that Jaken is useless, I beg to differ. In fact, he has more than a few uses. Below, I've covered his role and how he takes part in the series as well as my take on what kind of difference his character brings.

Servant/Retainer:

Most of the time, his main role in the Inuyasha series is basically Sesshoumaru's self-appointed super loyal servant. Wherever Sesshoumaru is, Jaken also wants to be there right by his master's side through the thick and the thin. Regardless of how dangerous the situation may be or how afraid he is, Jaken will suck it up and continue following Sesshoumaru. He does everything that Sesshoumaru asks him to do- even when it doesn't make sense to him. He often tries to think of solutions to any problems or dilemmas Sesshoumaru may have, and will willingly submit himself to dirty work just so Sesshoumaru won't have to be the one to do it.

Being the one to carry the Staff of Heads, he will also be the person to use it to Sesshoumaru's bidding when needed. Basically, he tries to be every bit as helpful as he can be as Sesshoumaru's servant and he takes pride in serving his master even though he may not be treated well. As a servant, he sadly has to subject to Sesshoumaru's occassional abuse (like being stepped on or having his life constantly threatened) and he has also been Sesshoumaru's guinea pig in a demonstration of what the Tenseiga actually does. As a servant, I have to say Jaken does a very good job. He obeys his master to the extreme and continues to willingly sacrifice himself in order to please Sesshoumaru. Even through times when he felt as though his master doesn't appreciate him. What more can you ask out of a servant- especially one who is self-appointed and doesn't really gain much of anything by being one?

Servant 01Servant 01

Caretaker:

After the introduction of Rin during anime episode 35 and manga volume 14, Jaken's role as Sesshoumaru's servant has extended an extra notch. His responsibilities now include looking after and taking care of the human child. Most of all, he has to make sure that no harm comes to her as that would most probably bring Sesshoumaru's wrath upon him. If Rin is hungry and needs to eat, Jaken has to be the one to go with her in search of food. If Sesshoumaru needs to go on a mission where it's too dangerous and distracting to bring a little human girl with him, Jaken has to be left behind in order to look after Rin. This of course frustrates and upsets Jaken quite a bit as he always wants to be with Sesshoumaru during these "missions", because he wants to be of help to his master should his services be required at a critical moment.

Needless to say, he doesn't enjoy the fact that he now has to look after somebody- much less a human. Jaken doesn't understand why Sesshoumaru brought Rin back to life, especially when she's just a human child. Like his master and most other pureblooded youkai, he despises humans and can often be heard grumbling about their stink. He makes it no secret that he dislikes looking after Rin and will almost always grumble about it when the time comes once again for him to look after her while Sesshoumaru is gone in one of his journeys. Basically, he blames Rin for being in the way and causing him to be separated from his master time and time again.

As much as he hates looking after Rin, he does it anyway because it's Sesshoumaru's orders. As mentioned, he will do anything he's asked to do by Sesshoumaru- not only because he's loyal, but he knows he'll be punished if he doesn't follow orders to look after Rin. Such is his frustration and dilemma. One thing to note, however, is the fact that Jaken seems to be warming up to Rin much more now that the series has progressed. They've really become a team of their own and Jaken makes a more diligent effort in protecting her from danger now than compared to when they first met. Rin herself has also grown quite attached to Jaken and has shed more than a few tears for the cute youkai whenever his life is in danger. I daresay Jaken has come to be more fond of Rin than he cares to admit and it's really quite cute how he's her caretaker. :)

Caretaker 01Caretaker 01

Other Roles:

In contrast to the two previous roles of Jaken, this area covers his character aspect on a more abstract note. He may be Sesshoumaru's servant and Rin's caretaker, but he's also everybody's grumpy little demon who I can't help but have a soft spot for. Here are some examples of what else he's viewed as in the Inuyasha series:

RoleRole

His Importance:

After the recount of Jaken's role in the series, I would hope that it's obvious Jaken plays a part that's of some importance. Sure, he may not be a major character like Inuyasha, Kagome, Naraku, or Sesshoumaru- but he's definitely more than just a minor character. Since it may sound like I'm only repeating what I've already described in the sections above, I'm going to approach the value of his character another way. And that's what the series would be like without Jaken.

  1. Lack of Humor: Being that he's a humor source, many scenes would've been a lot less funny if Jaken wasn't a part of it. It doesn't matter if the funny parts come from Jaken being "bullied" somehow or something else- when it comes down to it, he still brings comical relief. The scenes with Sesshoumaru and Rin would've been pretty bland if there was no Jaken around to provide that personal touch of his. Picture it. All we'd see is Sesshoumaru walking and not talking like his usual self. Then we'd see Rin hopping around with no one to entertain or be entertained by. She'd just be saying "Sesshoumaru-sama" and well...Sesshoumaru or not, how interesting would that be?
  2. Lack of Lackey: Who else could run the little errands for Sesshoumaru? Who else could wield the Staff of Heads and use it to Sesshoumaru's advantage? Who else could stick by Sesshoumaru no matter how scary the situation was and still try to help? Who else could dirty their hands for Sesshoumaru in order to get certain things accomplished? Most of all, who else would willingly subject themself to the abuse and still remain to be the most loyal and faithful servant to Sesshoumaru? Inuyasha viewers are always asking why Sesshoumaru still bother to keep Jaken around- but how come no one asks why Jaken bothers to stick around? And why shouldn't Sesshoumaru want to keep such a loyal servant around? He only has something to gain out of it after all. Other than Jaken, where else can you find a completely devoted servant who will never betray you? Enough said, really. :p
  3. Lack of Care: Whether Jaken hates taking care of Rin or not, the truth is- he does take care of her. He's kept her out of danger more than once and even Rin has come to love Jaken. Even though Sesshoumaru has kept Rin around, he doesn't have time to really look after her. He's always suddenly off on some mission of his and getting involved in dangerous situations. If there was no Jaken around to leave Rin with, what would he do with her? Abandon her by herself in a youkai-filled forest while he goes away? I can say now that she wouldn't last even a few hours, nevermind a day. If there was no Jaken, I can almost safely say that there would not be a Rin- at least not for long.
  4. Lack of Staff: Even though Sesshoumaru was the one who gave him the Staff of Heads to begin with- I can't help but think about who would use the staff for Sesshoumaru if Jaken wasn't around. There are certain things that obviously only the staff can do (such as locating Inutaisho's tomb)- and sure, Sesshoumaru may use it himself. But can you imagine Sesshoumaru walking around wielding that staff? :p
  5. Lack of Information: Without Jaken, we would know a lot less things about the way certain things work- and most of all, we would not know as much information about Sesshoumaru as we do now. It's not as though Sesshoumaru would suddenly volunteer the information on his own. Throughout their journey, Jaken was always the one who asks the questions- and even though he may end up getting the short end of the stick as a result of those questions, we still get more insights and answers through that than anything else. Sometimes we'll hear Jaken mumbling to himself about Sesshoumaru's habits or purpose and other times, we'll hear him enlighten Rin in the ways of his master. We've also learned quite a bit about Sesshoumaru's past through Jaken's re-enactment of the events, and even some about Inutaisho. He's brought a lot of "development" in terms of Sesshoumaru's character and who better to do it than a servant who has been by Sesshoumaru's side for so many years?

Needless to say, I feel Jaken plays a more important part in the Inuyasha series than most people realize or give him credit for. Think about it and maybe you'll agree with me. :)

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