One fateful day, Yuusuke Urameshi, a 14-year-old delinquent with a dim future, gets a miraculous chance to turn it all around when he throws himself in front of a moving car to save a young boy. His ultimate sacrifice is so out of character that the authorities of the spirit realm are not yet prepared to let him pass on. Koenma, heir to the throne of the spirit realm, offers Yuusuke an opportunity to regain his life through completion of a series of tasks. With the guidance of the death god Botan, he is to thwart evil presences on Earth as a Spirit Detective.
To help him on his venture, Yuusuke enlists ex-rival Kazuma Kuwabara, and two demons, Hiei and Kurama, who have criminal pasts. Together, they train and battle against enemies who would threaten humanity's very existence.
#01: "Homework ga Owaranai" by Matsuko Mawatari (eps 1-29) #02: "Sayonara bye bye" by Matsuko Mawatari (eps 30-59) #03: "Unbalance na Kiss wo Shite" by Hiro Takahashi (eps 60-83) #04: "Taiyou ga Mata Kagayaku Toki" by Hiro Takahashi (eps 84-102) #05: "Daydream Generation" by Matsuko Mawatari (eps 103-111) #06: "Hohoemi no Bakudan" by Matsuko Mawatari (ep 112)
Alright, I'll start off by saying that I'm no longer a big fan of fighting-based anime. However, I do still enjoy the ones which are well done, as well as some of the classics. That said, if you really don't like fighting anime of any sort, even if its one which has a decent or really good story, then don't bother reading this review, because I can already tell you that this anime is most likely not for you.
Anyways, for those of you who do like a well constructed fighting/action anime, Yu Yu Hakusho is an outstanding show in this category, overall. Yes, it is
a shounen, and yes, it does have a few of those typical shounen clichés. However, it also manages to come up with a lot of very unique and inventive ideas, and its dialogue, above average story, with much more depth to it than what you would expect from a shounen, and actual good sense of humor (when compared to most other action anime), make this title stand out from the crowd.
I find the characters to be the real award winners here. They each have something unique and interesting about them. Upon first glance they may look like they each have those 1-dimensional cliché roles of an action series, but upon further viewing you will see that there is more than what meets the eye with Yu Yu Hakusho characters. I can guarantee that throughout the course of this show anyone watching it would at least find 1 character which they can truly appreciate. Also, this show doesn't just focus on the main character getting stronger and always being the big hero. There is some very interesting character development for many of the characters, and the way in which they interact with one another, as well the diversity and similarities that they show, make for a very balanced chemistry between this cast.
The animation and artwork isn't top notch, even for its time, but its adequate and gets the job done. The action isn't amazing, but believe it or not, unlike most action/shounen anime this anime often tends to focus more on developing its story and characters, rather than producing lots of mindless action. And at that, even if it doesn't look all that great it is great to see actual strategy and emotion playing big parts in many of the fights, rather than simply just having a bunch of punches, kicks, throws, explosions, etc., taking up multiple episodes.
Now, as for the music, its really all opinion. Some people won't find it to be anything special. I personally fell in love with the entire soundtrack of the series, and believe it or not, it has some of the best BGM that I have heard in any shounen anime. Its doesn't quite give you the same diversity and overall satisfaction that the soundtracks of Cowboy Bebop and a few other anime with great musical scores give you, but once again, its far above average when compared to most other shounen and action anime, or at least I feel that way about its music, personally.
And then finally, there is the voice acting. Oh, and how wonderful it is. Well, if you're watching the sub then chances are the voices will stand out to you as adequate, yet nothing amazing, but as long as you're watching a decent and reliable fansub or the DVDs, you will love the dialogue, which is brilliant in its use of sarcasm/jokes and also in delivering many of the serious and plot-oriented lines. However, if you're an English speaker, even if you typically can't stand dubs, the English dub is the way that this series should be watched. The English voice acting is absolutely fantastic. The voices all fit their respective characters almost perfectly. Sure, the dialogue may not be 100% accurate in correspondence to the original lines from the sub with its added humor and sarcasm (which is well worth going a little off track from the original script for, though), but the messages that each character gets across with their lines are delivered solidly and would be interpreted and understood in the same way, whether you were watching the sub or the dub. So, overall, the dub is loyal to the original text despite the fact that it makes a few very noticeable changes and states some lines in different ways.
Overall, Yu Yu Hakusho is a very fun and enjoyable series. This anime is not something that everybody is going to like, but most people should at least find something about it that keeps them interested. Its not a DBZ clone, and its not just a mindless excuse for intense action scenes. The show is fairly long, but its one of the few series that go over 100 episodes and still manage to stay fresh the whole way through. Therefore, I highly recommend this series. I personally find it to be one of the best series that anime has to offer, action or otherwise, and I know that many people would disagree with me (although, I'm really not a big anime buff), but I have watched my fair share of anime and I almost never give out 10's as scores since no series is perfect (and this anime is no exception), but when I feel that a series deserves it then I give it that score, and Yu Yu Hakusho is one of the few. If you haven't seen it yet then go out and give it a try. I can almost guarantee that you won't be sorry.
I was pleasantly surprised when I first watched this show, as I was expecting another typical DBZ clone that was heavy on action but light on the plot and character development. Amazingly what I discovered was the first shounen action anime that was ever able to hold my attention for over 100 episodes. Despite the length of the series and the now-familiar superpowered junior high school student cliché, Yu Yu Hakusho manages to deliver original material for each episode.
What really set this show apart from other shounen action shows for me was the relatively intelligent use of dialogue by the main characters. I originally watched
the uncut Funimation dub, which is definitely the translation I’d recommend (even if its probably not as true to the original dialog as some of the fansubs.) The humor in the show is less slapstick than most anime, and situational comedy plays a large part in the show, with some parts practically satirizing the action genre itself.
The story revolves around a junior high delinquent named Yusuke Urameshi becoming something called a “spirit detective” (although I’d really call him more of a fighter than a detective.) It is his job to take care of demons that escape into the living world and stop them from causing trouble. Yusuke takes his orders from a ancient mystical being named Koenma who also happens to look like a toddler and in addition to knowing the secrets of the universe is also “quite potty trained.”
Each character is portrayed uniquely, and contributes to the storyline. Yusuke manages to overcome many of the usual tough-guy stereotypes present in anime of this kind, coming across as witty and sarcastic as well as being a strongly independent fighter. Meanwhile, Kuwabara on the other hand actually embraces these same stereotypes to such a degree as to be hilarious as his “dumb punk” behavior is juxtaposed against such things as his love for kittens, or his “romantic” attempts toward Yukina.
The animation is really nothing special, even when compared to other anime released around the same time period. There are a lot of still and scrolling shots and characters are drawn relatively simply. The action scenes are somewhat lacking in visual effects as well, however what they lack in animation quality they more than make up in style. Each fight is characterized by the combatants unique personalities and fighting methods.
The soundtrack is nothing to write home about either, being somewhat repetitive and lacking in originality. Then again, clever musical arrangement is not something I have come to expect from shounen programming anyway. So I’ll admit that as far as audio and visual effects go, Yu Yu Hakusho is pretty mediocre. If you require stunning realism and breathtaking artwork, I would definitely not recommend this show for you. Since I tend to place more emphasis on story and characterization, these obvious shortcomings did not bother me as much.
So I’d say this show was definitely enjoyable, even to someone like me who tends to lack appreciation for less serious anime. While light in tone and not exactly intellectually stimulating, Yu Yu Hakusho manages to deliver an engaging story with a large dosage of clever humor as well. Certainly a decent show, especially if you enjoy classic early 90’s style anime action.
Probably one of the greatest Anime's ever made in my personal opinion. It is a timeless classic that really stands out. This was the second anime I ever watched back in the day thanks to Toonami. Here is my thoughts and opinions on Yu Yu Hakusho.
Story/Plot: Yu Yu Hakusho’s setting is in Japan. It tells the story of Yusuke Urameshi who was hit by a car while trying to save a child’s life. Now Yusuke has to survive ordeals and investigate cases concerning apparitions and demons all while trying to get his life back. Yusuke gets new found powers and has to defend spirit
world and human world from the demons. There are 4 arcs in total for the series.
To note: In my opinion I do feel like the Demon stuff has been overdone a lot, but the Demons in Yu Yu Hakusho were interesting for me due to Togashi's portrayal of some of them being nightmare fuel creatures to creatures similar to human beings. Also to note that even though Yu Yu Hakusho is Shonen, there are actually a lot of elements that would be Dubbed as Seinen (some stuff in the manga that was not allowed to be shown for the anime)
Characters: There are a lot of characters in Yu Yu Hakusho but let's cover the main four.
Yusuke Urameshi – Yusuke has the most growth and character development in the whole anime. He is a delinquent/tough guy attitude in the beginning but actuality he’s a jokester who is kind at heart. Yusuke is also very protective of his friends and is very self-aware of things around him.
Kazuma Kuwabara – Kuwabara may seem clumsy and short tempered at times but he is the most loyal and nicest character in the show. Kuwabara has a strict code of honor and he’s very honest. He is one of the best characters in my opinion next to Yusuke.
Kurama – Kurama is one of the most intelligent and cunning of the main four. He is the type of character that plans ahead while also analyzing and thinking deeply into things or a situation. He is usually very nice even while having a detached emotional state. The other side of himself is shown to be very merciless and cruel.
Hiei – Hiei is the most distant and cold of the main four. Hiei is very cynical and usually mocks or talks down to humans. He also has misanthropic views of the world and people. Hiei in actuality is very protective and actually cares deeply for the people in his group, notably Yusuke. He is a character that is having an internal struggle but projects himself as being cold on the outside.
Even the minor characters in Yu Yu Hakusho are interesting.
The 2 most important main antagonist characters of the story are probably my favorite antagonists in all of anime in terms of personality and design and even their fighting methods. They are not the stereotypical "evil" bad guys, but antagonists you can actually agree with or relate to and feel sympathy for them.
Animation & Art: Even for it's time the animation still impresses me both for nostalgic reasons but also because of the huge process they must of went through for all of the hand drawn animation. The only minor complaint I have is when they zoom in on the same shot 3 times or when some animation is repeated and reused; though I heard they were on some budget constraints at times so it is understandable. When actual big fights happen, the animation gets really good though and even fluent. The Artwork is very 90's of course and you can distinguish it too from Togashi's style of doing a half-anime style and semi realistic style at times.
Sound & Music: The sound effects for the fighting sequences are chosen very well and they match up perfectly with what’s going on. It's also a little on the nostalgia side for me because of the 90's anime sound effects; you don’t really hear them anymore. The music is absolutely amazing in my opinion. Part of it is 90's ambient with funky elements and dark electronic tones. The one thing that bothers me is that there’s a lot of unreleased music from the show. At least thirty plus music tracks are missing on the osts. None the less the music really fits and is very intense.
Voice Acting (English Dub & Japanese Dub): This is one of the rare animes where i actually prefer the English dub compared to the Japanese voice acting with subtitles. All of the character voices fit perfectly especially Justin Cook as Yusuke. This is one of the English dubs you can't forget especially if you watched it back in the day; it stays with you like the dragon ball z dub. I have listened to some of the Japanese dub though, and I have to say it’s also very good too.
Final Verdict: I would highly recommended Yu Yu Hakusho to anyone. It has everything right going for it and is a good example of an anime done right. The best part about Yu Yu Hakusho is that it has no filler and gets straight to the point even with 112 episodes. Yu Yu Hakusho is very actiony, supernatural, comedic, and serious/dark when needed. You don't really see anime like this anymore.
Ladies & Gentlemen this is the greatest shonen of all time. Its a series where ninety percent of the rest stole ideas, characters, writing, art work, battle systems, powers, design, music, etc.
The creator, Yoshihiro Togashi, was only twenty four when he birthed Yu Yu Hakusho, 1990. Togashi was interested in horror and occult films which helped create the premise of Yu Yu Hakusho, lit. Poltergeist Report. It is one of the largest selling manga’s in history selling over 50 million copies, was voted as the best anime series in the 1990s, has two characters ranked as the best yearly, etc. Togashi’s work schedule was four
hours per page without scripting & only five hours of sleep per night. Togashi was under a great deal of stress and had serious health issues throughout. Togashi stated he ended the series so soon do to his own selfishness. I am astounded by the hard work & sheer brilliance Togashi can deliver. To think at only twenty four he stuck to a regiment like this & still managed to create the top shounen of all time that nobody could beat. I think we can all be inspired and respect an artist like Togashi.
1a: Premise, Arcs, Villains, & Complex Characters : The story begins with a teenager, Yusuke Urameshi, who oddly enough is killed during the first episode. Soon after brought back to life as a underworld detective. Yusuke isn’t a popular guy nor is he well liked by the community. Yusuke is a self described street punk who is a delinquent at school i.e. skipping classes, failing tests, and fighting religiously. Yusuke's father walked out on him. Yusuke’s mother to provide works as a prostitute at night & drinks heavily. Yusuke for a majority of his life had only one friend who saw beneath his tough exterior, Keiko. Its very hard for Yusuke to find friends as he is distrustful, hardheaded, violent, stubborn, blunt, brash, and aggressive towards other people. In no way is Yusuke a blank character like 98 percent of anime protagonists. Yusuke has a story, personality, grit, masculinity, heart, and spirit. One of the most inspiring leads in an anime who works for the betterment of his life, relationships around him, etc.
Do to Yusuke’s public image it is a surprise to everyone when its revealed he sacrificed his life to save a child from oncoming traffic. As even the grim reaper, Botan, says this was an unexpected event do to his history. Yusuke appears content to go to the afterlife as he believes people didn’t want him alive to begin with. After viewing his wake though he sees what affect he had on people. Thus, Yusuke agrees to an ordeal to get his life back.
During the ordeal we spend time on one of Yusuke’s enemies soon to be best friend, Kazuma Kuwabara. Kuwabara isn’t a popular guy nor is he well liked by the community either. However, unlike Yusuke, Kuwabara does have a small circuit of friends whom he is vehemently loyal to. To the point of allowing other street punks to beat him to a pulp so long as it would avoid risks of his friends getting in trouble. Kuwabara has immense will power and determination when it comes to protecting those he cares for even if it costs him severe harm. Kuwabara struggles with embracing adulthood and maturity as he is the goofy comedic lovable street punk. Throughout the series we’re delighted to see a transformation of this immature, dorky, sensitive, fun loving guy to become a intelligent mature man focusing on scholastic studies and a future as an adult. Truly understandable for why people absolutely adore his character.
When Yusuke is brought back he is gifted with powers correlated to spiritual energy. In this universe everyone has spirit energy and it is stronger depending on how closely related a person is to spirits, ghosts, demons, etc. According to the user you may manipulate spirit energy into different weapons or fuse it with objects i.e. a sword, dragon, fire, wind, gun, rose, etc. Yusuke manipulates his energy into a ray gun or in the english dub famously, “Spirit gun!”. Yusuke’s first mission is to apprehend three demon thieves: Hiei, Kurama, & Goki.
The main characters out of this arc who become central leads are Hiei & Kurama. Kurama, Shuichi Minamino, was previously known as Yoko Kurama a 1000 year old demon bandit who was nearly slain in demon world. To avoid dying he fused his soul inside the womb of a human baby. After growing his strength back in a few years he planned on leaving. However, he stopped after growing fondness to his human mother & grew gravely worried over her new unfortunate illness. This created three splits in his personality. The human Shuichi minamino, The half demon Kurama, and the full demon Yoko. Kurama is the oldest and wisest of the group. Kurama has done some of the most ruthless crimes out of all the central leads & feels regret over the past. Throughout the series we see him struggle in identity for who he is and who he wants to be. Its a delightful character treat. Another character who isn’t a generic hero. Kurama is neither good nor bad but is a central look at the dualities of human nature. Kurama is a complex bag for what you see is not what you expect.
When Hiei was born he was viciously casted away by his village to die. The event was caused do to Hiei being born into an exclusive female village & him being a fire demon. The only reminder he had left to the village was a priceless necklace from his mother. The prized necklace was an attractor to many demons who fought Hiei to the death over it. Luckily he was found by bandits who raised him for a majority of life until they too abandon him over fear he'd kill them. Hiei is left distraught and perplexed over purpose in life. Is he a monster who should die, or does he have a greater purpose? Pursuing this notion Hiei undergoes a severe surgery to have a Jigan eye put in. The surgery is so immense it brought his power level down to below average. The operator then trains him to become an expert swordsmen as means to defend himself. Using this newly implanted Jigan, Hiei finds his lost village. Hiei doesn’t seek revenge over the villagers who wanted him dead. Instead he seeks out his mother to be met with a grave. Finding out she committed suicide over his supposed death and has a daughter, Yukina. Hiei realizing his mother loved him commits to protecting the one thing left connected to her, the one positive aspect of his past, Yukina. However, do to the criminal history he refuses to ever tell Yukina the truth. A fear that if she knew what he'd done she too might call him a monster, or abandon him.
The horrific past Hiei endured causes him to be snarky, cold, ruthless, rude, arrogant, and aloof. However, when you look closely you see Hiei is self sacrificing man in need of love, family, & acceptance. An enigma beneath appearances & comments. A shadow in a sharp sword. Throughout the series he meets those needs in Kurama, Yusuke, & Kuwabara. Hiei transforms from a cold hearted criminal blinded by questions of purpose to a man who is founded in purpose & lets go of his past. Its all the more reason to why Hiei is one of the most beloved, complex, & interesting characters in anime.
Next we’re introduced to Genkai who becomes a personal trainer for Yusuke to hone his spirit power. Genaki has a history of being a reputable fighter of demons. However, she is no a saint. As she was willing to train a murderous demon so long as he won her tournament. Believing history must be pasted down to the victor no matter whom it may be. Genaki constantly over works Yusuke bluntly keeping his arrogance and bravado in check. Its refreshing to see a female characters with such passion, strength, power, and dynamic in a male centric series. In fact many of the females in this series are strong interesting characters with goals and identities of their own. There is no fan service or cheerleading aspects found here and I adore the series for it. Genkai is a trainer who is not with games or playing around. It actually feels like a truthful honest portrayal of a trainer & their student.
After this we have two arcs showing off Hiei, Kurama, Kuwabara and Yusuke’s teamwork. Then comes an introduction to the Dark Tournament. For what many argue as the best tournament in anime history. Yusuke & friends are forced into this tournament by a central antagonist, Toguro. Toguro is an intimidating shade wearing ruffian who is paid by thugs to do unspeakable acts. Toguro was a lover of Genkai in the past. It was until a horrific event where a demon killed his students that changed him. Soon Toguro became obsessed with power & being ageless to the point of turning himself into the very thing he hated, a demon. Toguro trapped himself in this body he hated and wallowed in misery accepting this form. When he found Yusuke & further realized he was a student of Genkai, and slightly reminded him of himself, he quickly wanted to challenge him. Toguro wanted to see if Yusuke would befall the same fate, and if not, then needed to be defeated by such a man. As he'd find comfort in death knowing pillars like Yusuke won't be corrupted like he was. That life isn't fated & we can change despite our pain. Toguro is one of the best villains in anime. A deeply fascinating tragic character who willfully accepted death and pushed for his own punishments. Where can you find a villain like this? I'll wait.
During the dark tournament Yusuke, Kuwabara, Hiei and Kurama face off demons in different rounds. The matches are intense, have twists, unique characters, colorful artwork, great writing, fast pacing, & add layers into all characters. Its an event that should be watched slowly and uninterrupted. It highlights the changes the leads go through. From Yusuke gripping with emotional barriers & the pain of loss, to Hiei understanding friends, reliability, power, & trust, to Kurama undergoing the process of his true identity, to Kuwabara questioning his role in the team & his future. To understand why these characters are cherished among anime is easy after sitting through this arc. There is NO tournament arc that is better than this. None.
After the Dark tournament passes we begin the Chapter Black arc. During this were introduced to the next central villain, Shinobu Sensui. Shinobu was once a spirit detective like Yusuke. It was until he saw humans do unspeakable acts of horror to demons that ripped his identity into halves. Sensui has seven different spilt personalities encompassing the seven deadly sins. Sensui’s personalities are also represented in his team of fighters. Sensui brings in ideas that no side is morally superior. Sensui is unable to forgive himself over crimes of killing demons as a previous spirit detective. So he finds a solution to die in demon world by a demons hand. Senusi is another fantastic villain who isn't what one would expect. Another character challenging the dualities of good vs. evil, hero vs. villain, etc. You cannot find a villain like this. Nowhere.
The last arc, The three kings arc, is dedicated to the explorations of identities in Yusuke, Hiei, and Kurama. It explores their pasts and brings characters in to trigger an acceptance for who they are, where they belong, & their futures. In the end they decide. Yusuke decides to choose both worlds - fighting in yearly upcoming demon tournaments with his pals, & owning a ramen shop in the human world. Kurama choses his half demon side as a true identity and primarily lives in the human world agreeing to fight in any demon tournament with his three pals. Hiei finally accept his new friends as family, has a purpose, & lives primarily in demon world. However, whenever his friends need him he’ll always be there.
Yusuke Urameshi is one of the best protagonist in anime. In the beginning Yusuke was ready to die as he felt like he had no purpose in life. Yusuke was bad at school, had pretty much no friends to speak of. It was until saw the affect he had on others at his wake that he agreed to give life another shot. This time he starts opening up, makes friends, & has a job he loves - fighting. Yusuke works his ass off to get stronger and faces some very difficult situations. The victories are earned here and are not used as a plot devices. Yusuke may be the lead but nobody else revolves around him. They all have their own issues & solutions to their issues. Yusuke ends the series as a man who embraces life. Yu Yu Hakusho teaches us about not judging people on a surface level, loving life, honoring friends, finding a purpose, choosing a path, honoring a code, etc. Human beings are more enigmatic than we give them credit for. Everyone is worth a shot at life even some beat up street punks or two shady looking demons.
2a: Art: The art is colorful and detailed in design, illustration, technique, variety, etc. It was crafted in the 90s but its still to this day pleasing to watch. The artistic team is a slew of different talents who had free reign to use some balls to the wall animation. In particular Hiei's fight against Bui was a wacky explosive artistic orgasm. Every fight feels different and part of that is because many people we're implanting new ways of animating fights, characters, and expression.
3a: Music: The music is 90s edgy fun! Every song is a hit to feel tension, excitement and sadness at needed moments.
4a: Writing: The writing for the english dub in particular is some of the best of all time. The free range humor, swearing, and chemistry between the voice actors is incredible.
4b: Overall: This is the greatest action adventure shonen series ever! It has a plot, complex characters, insanely good fights, artful variety, clever writing, interesting themes, maturity, questions the duality of humanity, the music is 90s battle fun! Every character is fleshed out and has development! They don't rely on the lead for growth & their purpose isn't to serve him. The central villains are the best you'll find! The show is fast paced and nothing is filler! The beginning fleshes out the characters and their dynamics. The middle throws in problems they'll face. The ending gives a changed resolution to their previous ways. Other action shows need to take notes.
I find myself re-watching this yearly happily sharing it to newcomers. I highly recommend this series. These fictional characters are the best anime has to offer. I would recommend watching the series in either dubbed or subbed. As the voice cast of both do a superb job fleshing out the needed personalities in characters. Most notoriously Hiei's english voice actor Chris Huber adding a needed snarky dry sarcastic side. The dubbed version feels so real & natural its no wonder its acclaimed as the best dubbed anime in history. So what are you waiting for? Grab your popcorn and turn on Yu Yu Hakusho!
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