Monday, January 1, 2001

Yuu Yuu Hakusho

Genre: Martial Arts
Parental Guidance Recommended
1992-1995 Yoshihiro Togashi. Shueisha Fuji T.V. Studio Pierrot

Yuu Yuu Hakusho DVDs
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Everything Yuu Yuu Hakusho

Skysenshi's Description:
When 14 year-old Yuusuke Urameshi dies, a spiritual guide named Botan brings him to Koenma, prince of Reikai (The Spirit World). Giving him a chance to go back to Ningenkai (Human World), he must be a detective and assist in hunting souls that escaped from Makai (Demon World) and recover lost artifacts. In the seasons that follow, he becomes a part of many deadly tournaments to defend mankind. His arch-enemy Kuwabara joins him, and along with other companions, Hiei and Kurama, there is a secret power that binds all of them to these three worlds.

Four seasons:
Joshoo - Reikai Tantei hen
(The Detective of the Spirit World) - eps 1-25
Ankoku Bujutsukai hen
(The Dark Tournament of Martial Arts) - eps 26-66
Makai no Tobira hen
(The Front Door of the Demon World) - eps. 67-94
Makai hen (The Demonic World) - eps. 95-112

NOTE: Some of the reviews were written sometime in 2001 and was recorded in the classic Otaku Fridge as ??.??.2001. Unfortunately the database would not accept non-numerical values, so this review is now dated January 01, 2001 by default.

I thought it was bad at first. >>> by skysenshi (??.??.2001)
Admittedly, at first I couldn't stand watching Yuu Yuu Hakusho because the artwork was poorly done. However, I was forced to watch the series due to the fact that my schedule was so busy the only thing it would allow me to see on TV was YYH. After a time I realized that the story wasn't as trite as I initially thought, and when the other members of the YYH team came, the plot started getting interesting. There's Kuwabara Kazuma, Yusuke's worst enemy who later becomes his best friend. There's Hiei, the mysterious demon with a bitter past. And there's the brainiac Kurama, my personal favorite, who turns into the irresistably handsome Fox Demon when provoked. The storyline doesn't end with the introduction of the characters alone. The plot deepens with every episode you tune into, and the mysteries that cloak each of these characters unravel pretty fast.

The anime that YYH is often compared to is Rekka no Honou. In fact, YYH even bests Rekka in terms of continuity and consistency in both action scenes and storyline. While the animated version of Rekka had a vague storyline and an unresolved ending, YYH was very clear as to where the story should branch out and what character best fits a particular episode. It isn't all about Yusuke alone. Although YYH is no match for Rekka in terms of artwork, the fluidity of the characters' motions aren't that much different from Rekka.

The battles are actually the best part of this series. Sometimes I just couldn't get enough of those tournaments that I literally go home from the office early just to catch them on TV. These are the same kinds of tournaments that Rekka fans would probably kill for just to watch. Overall, YYH is a great anime. If it weren't for the weird art at the beginning of the series, I would have given it a 10 rating. It was a blessing that I only had to suffer seeing the ugly artwork during the first few episodes. It later improved, much to my relief.

Ah, yes, before I forget... my idol Megumi Ogata is the seiyuu for Kurama. She's known as the voice actress of SailorUranus (SailorMoon), Shinji (Evangelion), Eagle and Esmeraude (Rayearth) and many other popular roles.

Individual Rating: Art/Animation 7; Story 9; Characters 9; Sounds 9

It's that damn good... >>> by MarkPoa (01.26.2004)

I first saw Yuu Yuu Hakusho not in its animated form, but in its fighting game form for the SNES. I remember that it was an overseas review in a US gaming magazine that caught my attention with its good art and weird character descriptions. I immediately thought "hey, something like Dragonball" since that was the really popular show being shown in the Philippines at the time (yes, it's that old).

I was quite happy to catch the series from the very beginning and, despite the multiple inconsistencies due to dubbing problems over here, ended up enjoying it immensely. It's still one of my favorite and most memorable series of all time.

Yuu Yuu Hakusho follows the adventures of Yusuke Urameshi, a delinquent who died and came back to life as a detective for the spirit world. He has the power to shoot spirit bullets, an ability termed Rei-gun (incidentally, a very punny name I understand that Rei means spirit in this case). He is guided by the spirit Botan and later joined in his fight by Kuwabara, his former rival who wields the Rei-ken spirit sword; Hiei, the three-eyed bad-ass wielder of the Black Dragon; and Kurama, the fox-spirit reincarnated into a human bishounen with powers over plants. The series initially followed Yusuke's attempts to return to life since he died saving the life of a child (something the people above didn't expect a delinquent to do). After he came back to life, he was tasked to be a spirit detective by Koenma, the son of the Otherworld judge Enma. I thought that the spirit detective phase was a bit short, though, as he only had four cases (with only the first two involving real detective work). The first case involved three items stolen from the Otherworld that led him to battle Kurama and Hiei. The second case involved finding a criminal who was taking part in a martial arts tournament ran by Genkai, who trained Yusuke further after he won. The third case involved a threat by bugs from the Otherworld, where the four main protagonists fought together for the first time (Kurama and Hiei being given the mission as a way of atoning for their crime). The fourth one involved a case to save Hiei's sister Yukino which led the group to first encounter Toguro.

Somewhere during the end of the first case and the start of the second case, the series started to go "Dragonball Z" in terms of fighting. It wasn't as over the top as Dragonball's world-destroying fighting techniques though... the characters gradually changed and showed increasingly powerful fighting skills and techniques, but the logic in the strength increase was not too radical and came out as believable.

The series changed its perspective a bit in the episodes that followed. At first thought defeated, Toguro showed that he was stronger than he led on and invited the team to join a tournament. The tournament arc, which was probably the best and surely the longest arc in the series, showed the team facing impossible odds, growing in their strength, and finally winning. The arcs that followed, the Sensui arc and the Makai tournament arc, were definitely good story arcs in their own rights, but felt less when compared to the Toguro tournament.

One thing I've always liked about the tournament fighting in Yuu Yuu Hakusho as opposed to Dragonball Z was it was more self-contained and realistic. Most fights ended in one or two episodes. There were also a wide variety of dangers, opponents, and challenges in the fights. This made the tournament exciting rather than monotonous. You know that the heroes would probably win in the end, but there was still the prospect that one of them wouldn't make it or that they'd lose. The drama around the fights were pretty well-written and the build-up to the fights were very appropriate.

In retrospect, I think I would have enjoyed this series even if they didn't go down the DBZ fighting route and just dealt with cases as in the early episodes. Yusuke and his gang are fun characters who can carry the story and make even the supernatural seem natural and real. They had distinct personalities and motivations that made it easy for people to find favorites among them.

For a fighting series, Yuu Yuu Hakusho has its fair share of light moments when the people aren't trying to kill each other. It serves as a good balance to all the seriousness and fighting drama.

Of course, people shouldn't be watching this with expectations that there would be deep and meaningful discussions on the value of life, the aspects of death, and the goodness of man, despite its supernatural inclinations and stuff about the Eastern afterlife. This is merely an anime series that is simple, good, clean, and fun to watch.

Art-wise, I've heard people complain about the art in the first few episodes, but rave about the great art when the series started picking up. I agree with them on the latter part, but disagree with the first. I think the art of the first episodes was appropriately goofy. (This was the time when Yusuke and his friends were still young and unfaced with the challenges of the spiritual realms.) I think that the more mature art style appropriately reflects the change in their perspectives after Yusuke came back to life and their fights became more serious.

Other than that, Yuu Yuu Hakusho's art has been largely consistent and good, except for some episodes. This is best exemplified in the Toguro Tournament episodes with the detailed fights and action.

I'd be biased in talking about the soundtrack: I love it. Yuu Yuu Hakusho has some of the best ending songs around, with a good mix of different songs. My personal favorite is the ballad "Sayonara Byebye" with its moody music that seems to remind you of old friendships. The opening song is a catchy and powerful piece that sets up the "action anime" feel appropriately. I even like the recurring background music during fight scenes. It adds to the mood of the fights themselves and gets the excitement pumping.

Why do I keep recommending Yuu Yuu Hakusho? It was one of those series that just did things well. It had great characters, good plots, nice art, and catchy music. It didn't drag like Dragonball Z. What more can you ask for?

Oh, right. Good consistent translation for the dubs. But that's a problem in Philippine TV only. I certainly hope the other releases would not face the same problem.

On a very tangential aside: I still don't get why people keep pairing up Kurama and Hiei.

Individual Rating: Art/Animation 7; Story 9; Characters 9; Sounds 8

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