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.
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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.
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.
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.
Yu Yu Hakusho remains one of the most cherished animes I have watched in my entire life. From beginning to end, I always find it hard to stop watching Yu Yu Hakusho, from the intense battles to the great character development. There are 112 episodes and I have managed to actually watch this series 3 entire times and I own all 4 seasons on DVD. This is one of my favorite shows and I hope this review can convince you to watch Yu Yu Hakusho if you haven't already.
I'm going to review the story not as a whole, but instead by giving my
impression of each season.
First Season: The transformation of the main character, Yusuke Urameshi, from an immature delinquent into adulthood, begins with his death and rebirth into Spirit detective. From there, Yusuke meets the demons/apparitions Hiei and Kurama (who is a demon fox trapped in a human's body). Along with Yusuke's delinquent friend, Kuwabara, the four create an impenetrable bond of friendship throughout the series as they grow up, while facing many hardships. With a unique beginning, the first season of Yu Yu Hakusho extremely memorable and sets the right tone for the rest of the series, even though it is much more campy and light compared to the rest of the show. It's very hard to find a way to draw in people to watch a series that will take hours out of their days, but Yu Yu Hakusho succeeds in this aspect.
Second Season: Yusuke Urameshi and his friends face off against other teams of demons throughout the Dark Tournament. This is where the series becomes more grim and serious, despite abundant amount of humor, which Yu Yu Hakusho does a perfect job at balances the two. The ending to the tournament is epic, with the unforgettable battle Yusuke wages against Togoro's seemingly invincible team.
Third Season: After the Dark Tournament, it seems that Yusuke's group has defeated the strongest enemy imaginable, until a man named Shinobu Sensui and his band of psychics pose an eminent threat to the entire human race. The season ends in what I feel to be the greatest and most epic fight scene in the entire series, and one of the best I have seen in any anime.
Fourth Season: Yusuke, Hiei, and Kuroma return to demon world, where they each take an opposing sides of each demon king. This season introduces many new characters in such a short amount of time, yet each one is well done and developed, especially the three demon kings. Every good show has to end, and Yu Yu Hakusho has a perfect ending to a great series.
The art in Yu Yu Hakusho is obviously dated compared to today's standards since its broadcast was in 1992. Yet there is a certain charm to the artwork.
The opening theme is classic, as well as all the ending theme songs. Like any other good television show or movie, the soundtracks set the right mood for the entire series. From establishing sense of tension in battle to desperation in a final move to win a battle to the more relaxed time during this experience, Yu Yu Hakusho nails in the music department. The voices as well as the dialogue is spot on, especially in the English dubs. Sorry that I haven't watched the Japanese version yet, but I might later on.
From the main character to the villains, and even the side characters, all are given great emotion and purpose to the show. All are well developed and grow throughout the series, even the villains and most of the side characters!
Yusuke Urameshi starts out a tough guy delinquent who is still trying to find purpose in life, that is until he becomes a spirit detective. All I have to say is that Yusuke is one of the best main characters in an anime show and is completely unforgettable. At first Yusuke's chiseled friend Kuwabara seems to be there for only comedic purposes, which he excels at. Kuwabara, though, is a character with a lot of heart. Hiei, the proud and ruthless antihero of the show, is in a lot of ways like Vegita from Dragonball Z. Last, but not least is Kurama, the calculating bishounen pretty boy. All four characters have great chemistry together and make an unforgettable team.
I can't say how much I recommend this anime series because it transcends the enjoyment of the average anime show into something else. It was truly an unforgettable experience!!!
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