The opening volumes, where they try and put Yusuke’s personality on track, was what started to pull me in. He reminds me a lot of Onizuka, another character I loved, in that he’s so wonderfully flawed. You don’t see Goku having some sudden epiphany and becoming a better person because he’s already sitting in the Lawful Good alignment to start with; there’s not a whole lot of room there for progression. By contrast, the delinquent is a great character to make the protagonist because he can’t be perfect and he has to grow at some point. Starting the series off dead
and in need of redemption really gives that development a kick in the pants too. Of course, Yusuke never makes it marginally close to being paragon of justice. He is generally good, has a sense of justice, and cares about his friends mind you, but ultimately he just wants a good brawl, and saving the world in the process is gravy.
This leads into the other characters. Kuwabara is another delinquent who is determined to become more powerful that Yusuke some day. Since he’s not the main character, you can guess how well this is going to work out. He grows in a much different direction though, motivated by a few events in the story (one seemingly minor) and his blinding determination to never give up. Kurama is a formerly powerful demon that has been stuck inside of a human’s body. Forced to see life through humanity’s eyes, he reforms his ways and becomes a protector of the race. Finally, Hiei is an enigma for the majority of the series, you don’t even find out much of his motivations until the final arc. Even he develops a minor form of justice and a grudging respect for Yusuke. Overall, I loved these characters and their interactions throughout the story. Their personality clashes allow for a decent bit of levity to lighten up the fighting backdrop.
If you’re looking for a story, well, it’s a good thing there’s strong characters, because this is a Shonen series. You should check your story at the door. But, a plot still exists, and there are definite motivations to the characters’ actions. A few of the villains can even be painted as a bit unfortunate in their path to evil (or are they really evil?). The ending theme and eventual moral to this whole story is the same as that which Nippon Ichi has taken and ran with for the past few years. Light is not good and dark is not bad. Judging people based on stereotypes and what you’ve always been taught to believe is never the way to go; each being deserves to be looked at based on their own merits and shortcomings. Given that’s the conclusion, it’s natural that Yusuke ends up being a mostly neutral aligned character. Beyond that, like every shonen, there’s going to be those ludicrous points (such as the entire final arc), but just sit back and let it pay off on sheer enjoyment factor, because it will.
Manga pretty well rests on the art style, and this series doesn’t disappoint. I don’t know how many times I looked at a fight scene… then went back again… and again. They’re drawn well, lots of action and explosions and all that greatness. As a warning though, the further you get in the series, the more gore you’re going to see. Backgrounds are well drawn when they’re the focal point of the panel, and take a natural backseat in quality and appearance when they’d end up detracting from the main attraction. The same process applies to the character designs, and they’re generally in that decent to good range that you get in this genre. I do have to say that I liked a lot of the enemy characters, for appearing for such a short time there’s some original design put into them. In particular, I really liked Younger Toguro’s design.
Bottom line, this is a shonen series; you know roughly what to expect in this territory. If you like the genre then I’m going to wonder why you haven’t read this yet. If you’re not much of a fan, this series might not convert you, but it’ll still be a pretty good ride throughout.
The story is about a 14 year old boy named Yusuke Urameshi. He dies in a car accident after trying to save a little boy. He ends up being a Spirit Detective (someone who hunts down demons in the human world and solves cases). So we get to see him solve some cases and kick some ass. The story gets more interesting in the Dark Tournament Arc where you see some of the nicest moves the show has to offer (Dragon of the Darkness Flame anyone?). The third arc is Chapter Black Arc, which talks about some psycho trying to
rid of humanity, but of course he gets his ass kicked too.
Unfortunately, the author fell sick sometime during the third arc so the quality of the artwork was reduced (so I had to give it an 8 :/) However it was still excellently drawn. The Three Kings Arc is the most intense and you'll have to see for yourself how awesome it is.
If you have watched the anime then you should read this!
Today we look at a comic with some serious flaws, but I love it anyways. Many people remember seeing Yu Yu Hakusho on Cartoon Network both on Adult Swim and a butchered kid friendly edit for Toonami. It never gained the popularity of DBZ, but older Otaku still remember the series fondly. That is why it is interesting that so few people outside Japan have read the original manga. Of course when you open the manga and look at it, you will figure out why that is. This brings me to the first flaw in Hakusho.
The first minor blemish on this otherwise good title
is that the art in this manga is quite bad and I mean BAD! The anime looks so much more polished that it is almost difficult to read the manga after seeing the anime.
Another thing that might put off readers is that Hakusho starts surprisingly slow for a shonen comic. Usually the anime is the adaptation with all the painful filler, but in Hakusho it is the manga if anything that has more padding. As a ghost, Yusuke already saves Kuwabara's cat in both versions. Did we really need that chapter with the little kid and ghost dog? It WAS heart warming, but an unusual choice for starting out an action series. However, I don't really mind this slow start because of the next Hakusho flaw that I will discuss. As the manga goes on it relies more and more on fighting tournaments and becomes a complete dragonball ripoff. It ran in the early 90s at the same time as Dragonball and clearly wanted to copy Toriyama to boost its sales. I find myself wishing towards the end to go back to stuff like the ghost dog chapter in volume 1! At least it wasn't shamelessly stealing from DBZ back when it first started! Finally, after the 3 Kings arc it ends really awkwardly with an unfinished arc in which the Spirit World are the bad guys. This was a cool concept, but it really wasn't drawn out and lasted literally about 5 chapters before just stopping. It really looked like Togashi planned on a grand, final arc that was never made either due to low sales or Togashi himself just got tired of drawing Hakusho. Despite having the aforementioned flaws, it still has badass characters like Hiei and Kurama, as well as some of the best comic book fights of the 90s decade. Hakusho does an excellent job creating its own world and mythos. Besides having memorable and often complex characters, Hakusho was more ambitious than its early 90s shonen peers in trying to show moral ambiguity and complexity. If Dragonball was Harry Potter, Hakusho would be more like Golden Compass in that regard.
Story and characters: 9/10
Hakusho is easily one of the better shonen action comics of the 1990s and is well worth your time. If you are a younger fan and love the new Hunter X Hunter, this is the same author. Hakusho was Togashi's breakout work and many would say his magnum opus. If you are an older fan who simply missed Hakusho, I would go back and give it a try. There are plenty of sites where it is free to read, so it won't cost you anything. I would recommend this series to everyone that loves action, great fights, and conflict that isn't just black and white/ good vs. evil.
Yu Yu Hakusho is a series that has garnered a reputation as a great classic amongst many members of the anime/manga community. Much like the opinion of any arc of DBZ after the Saiyan Arc being good, however, most of the praise YYH gains as a great work is purely fuelled by one of the major banes of critical thinking; nostalgia.
Note that this review will be more of a spoiler-filled analysis of each arc of the series to fully analyse the story's quality, particularly for a fair lengthed Shonen in which delving into detail is fairly necessary.
===Part 1: Spirit Detective Arc===
The Spirit Detective Arc, whilst
having an interesting beginning, quickly turns into 2 volumes of episodic, forgettable missions of Yusuke as a ghost as we're constantly pushed the idea of what a great guy he is, to the point his initial perception by the characters as some typical punk doesn't really seem consistent when we see this side of him far less. Even after his revival, we only have a repetitive formula of a new big bad demon trying to conquer the world with about as much personality as a piece of paper until the Toguro brothers show up. Two of these, Hiei and Kurama, are given more personality by becoming permanent members of the main cast, but the former is poorly handled. Despite his nefarious introduction, Yusuke seems to have no qualms with working with him during the Four Beasts segment despite the common trope of misgivings and conflict amongst the main cast being appropriate here. Instead, the only character with any animosity towards Hiei was Kuwabara, someone who wasn't even there to see Hiei in his evil phase and has conflict with him just because Hiei called him an idiot. Overall, the Spirit Detective Arc is an overly formulaic arc that has some problems in it's character writing and is fairly mediocre overall. 5/10
===Part 2: Dark Tournament Arc===
This is what is often considered the peak of the series as we're offered the idea of a death tournament with the fate of the world in the balance...only to get a very by the books tournament arc with nothing new to offer to the over-saturated formula. Hardly any of the tournament matches outside the finals had much lasting impact with the plot or character progression, with the only opponent to offer anything meaningful to the plot after their defeat being Suzuki and the only one to offer much food for thought being the triple battle against Team Ichigaki. That said, you could cut out or change 90% of the tournament and the overall plot and character development wouldn't change at all. It also doesn't help that Toguro was constantly pushed as the endgame for Team Urameshi from the start with how far above the rest of the competition he was to the point it makes all the other teams and the backing of rich council members acting as though they stood a chance meaningless.
Saying that, why not change it to a tower-style team ranking in a style similar to Heaven's Arena in Togashi's current work? Doing so would not only be more engaging than a run of the mill tournament, but make the factor of Team Toguro being the only endgame far more justified.
I will say Toguro's character writing was good with his guilt and his sympathetic qualities being well foreshadowed. However, this is little saving grace when the majority of this is infodumped after his death and what repercussions he brought to the main cast through the deaths of Genkai and Kuwabara are made completely hollow when the former was revived and the latter was never actually killed. On the subject of Genkai's revival, this brings out a lot of questions about the series' afterlife, as if the likes of Genkai can be revived by Koenma, why is death treat as something truly permanent in this series? At least something such as DBZ had consistency in how the dead can interact and venture to the living world and the ruler of it's afterlife wasn't part of the main cast for maximum plot convenience.
Overall, the Dark Tournment had potential, but ended up being a typical Shonen tournament with all the poor plot devices the demograph is guilty of. 5/10
===Part 3: Chapter Black Arc===
Now, I will offer some fair praise to this arc, with it's first half easily being the peak of the series. The idea of having skill vs power akin to in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure and Togashi's current work Hunter X Hunter, as well as much focus on the idea of humanity's savage nature being very engaging. However, everything quickly goes downhill once the battle with Sensui starts. Not only does the revelation that Sensui was immeasurably above the main cast all this time come out of nowhere, but the other major revelation of Yusuke's ancestry have no foreshadowing whatsoever and act as a highly contrived power up. Along with these and Yusuke's friends getting rage boosted to A-Class instantly, this completely betrays the arc's premise of strength not being everything, especially when the 3 humans who ushered in this interesting aspect of the arc are completely removed from the climax.
Perhaps character writing could have saved this arc, but not quite. Most of the Sensui Seven didn't have much depth to their character and whilst Sensui was interesting, the plot twist involving him was poor and his seven personalities was unnecessary for doing anything but prolonging the arc when there was little conflict between them in their overall goal and if comparing it to other similar characters, Gemini Saga from Saint Seiya pulled off the multiple personality gimmick far better. On the subject of comparison, the ideas of humanity he represents have been explored with far more coherent writing through the Hunter X Hunter character of Meruem and many more in the Chimera Ant Arc, to the point Sensui and this arc seem fairly dated overall. What could have been the shining jewel in this series was forced by cheap conveniences to be an average at best one. 4.5/10
===Part 4: Three Kings Arc===
Whilst I gave the three previous arcs flak, I at least found them to be average or so. The Three Kings Arc, however, is absolutely terrible. Let's start with the power ups being a further betrayal of the previous arc's premise with how bad the power creep became. Not only did the 6 returning side characters from the Dark Tournament return to far surpass Sensui after Genkai's training, but Kurama far surpassed them by doing...absolutely nothing from what we're shown. Now, the idea of the Makai being divided in three could have been an amazing premise harkening back to the historical epic Romance of the Three Kingdoms and if mimicking it's drawing points could have been the best arc in the series...except nothing of the sort occurs because after Raizen's death, the conflict just becomes another boring tournament to settle everything. Going back to the 6 demons and Kurama, their training and reaching of new plateaus amounted to nothing as their performance in the tournament were so irrelevant most of their performances get infodumped long after the tournament is over. In fact, most of the tournament is skimmed over and the winner is a bland character nobody cared about. The only thing I can say positively about this arc is Hiei finally got some slight character development, though his backstory didn't really offer anything essential that couldn't already be pieced together.
Moreover, the post-tournament events are completely boring as a new conflict against irrelevant fodder erupts and is quickly overcome as the finale to the series. One of, if not the, most anticlimactic finale in all of Shonen. 1.5/10
===Part 5 - Characters, art and final thoughts===
Moving on to quickly go over characters, there's little to say, whilst they are more consistent than most Shonen characters, the cast is still a bunch of fairly typical archetypes beyond the two villains already discussed and the majority of such characters have a far better equivalent in the series' spiritual successor of Hunter X Hunter to the point discussing any of them in depth would be rather meaningless.
Onto the superficial aspect of art, it can be hit or miss. It's nice to see Togashi change his drawing style and experiment with different art techniques, but it causes things to become inconsistent and pages start to gain a major lack of detail for the most part halfway through.
In conclusion, Yu Yu Hakusho is quite a dated work now that it's creator has polished his craft far more long after it and with people not being so limited to what they can watch nowadays, it ought to be evident that most of the elements praised by the masses had already been done better elsewhere. If wanting a series not so focused on fights being settled purely by power, there's JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. If wanting a series focused on giving it's 4-5 main cast members a good deal of spotlight, there's Saint Seiya. If wanting a series that offers far more creativity and depth than the average Shonen, there's Togashi's other big hit Hunter X Hunter. For any of those categories, however, I can't recommend Yu Yu Hakusho.
Yu-Yu Hakusho. The once great, but forgoten series.
The story isn't anything ground breaking. The main character, Yusuke, dies, comes back to life, and becomes a spirit detective with special powers. With these special powers Yusuke fights demons, monsters, and other guys with special powers. I only have beef with one of the special powers used, and thats Yusuke's. He shoots a ball of blue energy out of his finger which looks exactly like a mini kamehameha from DBZ. It kind of pissed me off, but most of the other powers are pretty cool.
So the story was broken down into three arcs. The first arc
is defenitly the best. It's a tournament, and all the characters fight the bad guys one on one each showing off their own unique powers. The third arc had so much potential, and looked like it was going to be the best, but then the mangaka was forced to end the manga right when it was getting freaking awesome so there were around 5 chapters of absolute CRAP to end the series. Yu-Yu Hakusho has got to have one of the worst endings in manga history. That brings the 'story' score down a lot.
Theres not much to say about the art. It started off pretty good. It didn't make your jaw drop, but it was decent. It got the job done. Then, near the end, it just got worse and worse. The last few chapters of CRAP had maybe the worst art i've ever seen in a manga. I would have given a 7 or 8 if it wasn't for the ending of the series...seriously its really, really bad.
Not really unique. You had the tough guy main character who never gave up, the goofy friend, the super strong sensei, the emo guy, the girl who loves the main character, etc. If you're a shounen nut who loves everything shounen, then these characters will be your best friends.
I didn't enjoy the characters when they were just standing around talking to each other. But most of the time they were fighting demons, and shooting energy balls at stuff. Watching the characters fight was very enjoyable. I just straight up had fun reading through the fight scenes. It's too bad the ending is like watching your cat die.
It would be wrong to say this manga did a lot of things right, but it also didn't do a lot of things wrong (except for the ending. That was very, very wrong). I'm sort of torn on this. The one good thing it did was the fighting. The two bad things it did were the characters and the ending. The art started good, but then went bad. This manga screams AVERAGE.
So it gets a 6. I know you're thinking "wait! That's one better then average!". Good observation you genious review reader. That's because all the manga that i read who have anime counterparts that I watched when i was a kid get 1 extra bonus piont. The 6 still stands.
Published from 1990 to 1994, Yu Yu Hakusho is an earlier work of mangaka Togashi Yoshihiro, who also wrote Hunter x Hunter. Chances are; if you like one, you'll probably like the other. And while Hakusho isn't at all as good as HxH, it still is very entertaining.
The story starts shockingly enough, with the main character, Urameshi Yuusuke, a delinquent, dead after saving a young boy from being hit by a car. Not knowing what to do with his soul, after a delinquent like him sacrificed himself, the spirit world gives him a chance to return to life, but unless he performs more good deeds,
the deal is off.
Thus the story shortly follows him doing good deeds as a ghost, until it decides to become a story about him, alive and well, fighting demons who invade the human world, as a spirit detective.
The story is pretty interesting, the concept is intriguing, and it features some great characters, but it isn't by any means that great. For the most part, before the ending comes closer, the story simply moves the characters from one fight to another, with little other than "This guy is evil", and "This guy is reeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaally strong". Basically; before the last two story arcs, the story is a bit boring at its worst, and at its best: entertaining, and fairly good. When the two last arcs come around though, the story gets a lot better, which really helps the series.
When it comes to the ending, I honestly don't know how I feel about it. It was entertaining and interesting, but felt really unnecessary. I'm not saying the manga was too long, the last few chapters just felt pointless, and you're ultimately left unsatisfied. The ending isn't at all bad, it simply accomplishes little.
Obviously what stands at the top of this manga, truly isn't the story, but the characters and terrific action sequences.
The characters had different personalities, and all felt rather unique, however when it came to fighting, and their wish to become stronger, they usually had the same interest. Though there are some characters who don't care about fighting at all, the four main characters were really fond of it, and they all had their own personality in their fighting; from Urameshi Yuusuke, the strongest fighter, who dislikes killing, to the occasionally useless Kuwabara Kazuma, who often appears to only exist for comic relief, to the smart, calculating Kurama, and the brutal demon Hiei (who also happens to be a three eyed midget). The characters had their individual traits that made them likeble.
The bad guys were also done really great, and were interesting characters as well. And the character development thoughout the manga was great, as you can usually feel the development, which is really nice.
Also, as we've come to expect from Togashi-sensei, the female characters usually had little to nothing to do with the story.
A completely different aspect that Togashi-sensei keeps as his trait, is the design. He has possibly, my favorite design when it comes to character design, "derp-faces", and battle sequences. And of course we can't forget the brutal, yet realistic, violence in his action sequences, which is simply stunning. The only problem I have with the design, is that the overall quality of the drawings are truly, not all that amazing, not at all bad, but not that great either.
A really nice touch with this series is how it dedicates a lot of time to show the strained relationships between humans and demons. Though it's obvious that there had to be one, what I loved was how it was done. How it dealt with the concept of good and bad, was also really interesting.
As you can tell, there were both parts that did nothing for me in this manga, but also parts that made me love it. Sometimes it was amazing, other times it was not that great. Occasionally a 10, other times an 8. Mangas like that are hard to rate, since when they switch between the grades, it can be har to remember what made it good or bad earlier, and then it can get an unfair grade based only on some scenes. Therefore I settled this on a 9, simply saying it was sometimes a weak 9, other times a strong 9. It could have used some work, but overall is still terrific, and I definetely recommend it, especially if you have read and loved Hunter x Hunter. In fact it reminds you a lot about a hybrid of sorts between Hunter x Hunter, and Dragon Ball.
Urameshi Yusuke and his friends "Yu Yu Hakusho" marked a generation with action packed adventures, very charismatic characters and a much more compelling story that many knights in armor of the period.
The first volume of "Yu Yu Hakusho" too little account of what you should expect from the series. Yusuke Urameshi is a troublemaker who avoids the death of a child, but ends up himself to the land of standing by. As his death was unexpected, they give you the alternative to make the resurrection of the test, and now he needs to show that it is a good person. The first volume is basically
it, with Yusuke knowing several supernatural cases of spiritual guide Botan company and interacting distance of his schoolmates, the prissy Keiko and Kuwabara rival.
Although the manga seems a simple comedy, will be starting next volume that things will change figure: Yusuke will rise(spoiler king). And will work as a supernatural detective, caring for cases involving a lot of punches. Like any classic shonen obviously the clichés of training and fighting tournament are included.
But the grace of "Yu Yu Hakusho" is that the manga is less no-brainer that his countrymen's Shonen Jump magazine, as "Knights of the Zodiac" or "Dragon Ball". RPGs fan, Togashi always creates interesting powers for their characters and limitations that make each battle pretty much a game of chess for the fighters involved, without this be boring for the reader. The author might use this side of creation stories in a series published later in Japan, excellent "Hunter x Hunter".
In short; this is one of (if not the) best manga from the earth!
Yu Yu Hakusho is one of the most influential and important Shounen Manga of all time. Sadly, many younger viewers/readers now see this as the other series made by the same guy as Hunter X Hunter.
Yu Yu Hakusho has 47 million total volume sales and it is only 19 volumes long. That's a ratio of 2.47 million copies of each volume. That is one of the highest sales per volume of all time!
Now, lets move on to the actual review. I'll also do some anime comparisons and talk about the Viz release.
Story: Yu Yu Hakusho centers around a Jr. High delinquent named
Yuuske Urameshi. Eventually, after a series of trials, Yuuske ends up becoming a Spirit Detective. Essentially, he has to "solve cases" *cough* beat the crap out of demons *cough*. Early on the series does have an actual detective aspect to it but the series quickly develops into a battle manga, even boasting the best tournament arc of all time (in my opinion). It may sound generic now but Yu Yu Hakusho laid the groundwork for what would turn into stereotypes. The story is a means to the end for this series as the real beauty of Yu Yu is in its characters.
The Story is divided into 4 arcs. Sadly, the final arc is not good and extremely rushed.
Art: If you are familiar with Togashi's other work, Hunter X Hunter, then you know how wildly inconsistent his art can be. At times, his art is great and other times its unbelievably bad. It took a few chapters for Togashi to really start developing the art in this series but once he does it is actually quite good for a weekly Shounen anime. You can even see Shojo influences in his art. However, towards the end of the series the art just crashes. Really, Togashi just crashes as the end of the series is easily the weakest part.
Characters: The best part of the series hands down. The series has many side characters, great villains, and probably the best main cast out there. 2 out of 10 of my favorite characters of all time come from Yu Yu. You'll have characters take wildly different approaches to battles, which add to the the diversity of fights. One character will astound you with their intellect and another will make you laugh at how hardheaded they are.
Enjoyment: Overall, Yu Yu Hakusho is a must see Shounen. It laid the groundwork for many future works and it is simply fun. It'll make you laugh, it has emotion, and of course there are plenty of epic fights.
ANIME: Ok, so how does the manga compare to the anime? This is one of the rare cases where the anime is clearly better than the manga and I do mean that. If you haven't watched or read Yu Yu Hakusho, then just go watch the anime. The manga is like a rough draft and the anime is the real finished product in my book. The Manga and Anime are pretty much the same story until the very end. The Anime has one of the best dubs, great music, better art, much better fights, and it actually cuts out unnecessary parts from the manga while adding much better scenes. The anime is more serious, while the manga does have more comedy. At times this adds to the manga but it can be distracting during certain moments. Thankfully, the anime does its best to maintain the comedic nature of the series while keeping the serious moments serious.
Viz: Ok, so I like supporting the industry and I hope you do too. The manga has been licensed and fully released in English. Sadly, the translation may be one viz's weakest. I don't know if they were trying to censor certain curse words or trying to directly translate Japanese to English but the translation feels off at times. It's one of Viz's earlier translations, so it's kind of understandable. Still worth buying, most of the time the translation is fine just some goofs here and there (grammar mistakes as well), and Togashi's extras in between chapters and volumes are hilarious.
Overall: I gave this series an 8/10, with an inflated score coming from the sheer influence this series had on future shounen. You must consider that this is an early 90s series. At times, this series is frankly great but at others it sadly falls quite short of its heights. That being said, every Shounen fan must watch and/or read this series. It's an all time classic. Yu Yu Hakusho isn't just that other series made by the same guy as Hunter X Hunter; it's the series that paved the way for HxH, many other battle manga, and in many ways is still better than the newer stuff.
High school delinquent Yusuke Urameshi opens Yu Yu Kakusho by saving a boy, sacrificing himself in the process. Luckily for Yusuke, and us, the story does not end there, with Yusuke finding himself in the spirit world with a chance to win back his life. Having tons of action and humor, the series has a lot to enjoy, but unfortunately there is also a lot holding it back. While reading, one cannot help but think that there is so much potential for something great, but those opportunities are never fully realized.
Drawn in a cartoony style, the art of the series is functional, but never really
dazzles. The style, however, is very easy on the eyes and lends itself quickly to the over-the-top nature of the action and humor of the series. The art does mature over the course of the series, becoming quite good at certain spots, but unfortunately suffers severely near the end as the mangaka was plagued with stress. Since a large majority of the manga takes place in tournaments, there is usually a lack of interesting settings and backgrounds. The character models, though, are interesting and varied, especially with the demons.
Luckily the characters themselves are just as colorful as the designs, with interesting personalities which become fairly well fleshed out. The main character requires a bit of suspension of disbelief to swallow at first, since we are told that he is this extremely evil delinquent even though he barely looks or acts the part. Besides this point, Yusuke is quite a likeable character, having the same kind of draw as other shonen leads who are extremely blunt and tend to decide things with their fists (e.g. Monkey D. Luffy). The other protagonists are perhaps even more interesting, though they all tend to be fairly straightforward. The antagonists actually have the most backstory and we slowly realize that almost everyone believes they are fighting for a just cause, though truly despicable characters still exist for those who like that.
Yu Yu Hakusho has no overarching story connecting the story arcs, of which there are surprisingly few. Though this is not inherently a negative point, it would have made more sense if there was something more driving the main characters to accomplish their goals. Even Yusuke's desire to become stronger lasts only within the specific arcs.
The story begins with short stand-alone tales as Yusuke solves miscellaneous problems using solutions that only a delinquent would think up. These stories, though a bit predictable, offer some great tales with shonen sensibilities. After two volumes, the story quickly becomes a battle manga, and it is at this point that the story takes a nose dive in quality. The plot becomes formulaic and fights often employ nonsensical, arbitrary rules. Even more bizarre is that the protagonists easily accept these unnecessary constraints even if they are winning. Being all about the fights, one would expect to see these characters training frequently, but the manga skips all of it, so that when a character does become stronger, it seems out of nowhere and lacks the payoff that a manga of this nature would traditionally have.
Worse still is Yoshihiro Togashi's all too frequent use of deus ex machina to solve almost every conflict. Characters often comment that good luck follows those with strong powers, but it becomes very tiresome when a solution comes out of the blue with very little logical progression. In almost every situation, some conflict is set up, the protagonist is losing pretty badly, and suddenly some random event occurs to allow the protagonist to completely overpower their opponent.
The true tragedy, however, is that the story actually has a lot going for it. Revelations about the antagonists and even about the spiritual world itself are actually very interesting and defy the traditional one-dimensional nature of similar manga. However, these points often come far too late and are given too little attention to make any serious impact. For example, an important development regarding King Enma comes at the very end as hearsay during an offhanded remark.
This would have been acceptable if the mangaka spent his energy in a more appropriate spot. However, the fights, which should be the main attraction of the manga, quickly become disappointing. They almost always involve one person completely dominating the other, with very little ingenuity in the fights. When the fights should be interesting, they are quickly glossed over and ignored. For instance, the highly anticipated fight between Yusuke and Hiei begins, and then is completely disregarded in a single panel reading “And many hours later.” In fact, the entire final arc cuts off right before the most interesting fights begin, and never pick up again.
Even significant improvements to characters' abilities are ignored. Kurama, a demon fox trapped as a human, finally masters the ability to go between his human and demon form at will only to use that ability once on an enemy no one really cared about. Yomi's son's development is a large focus of the final arc, only for him to be quickly removed from the plot, never fighting against any of the protagonists. This is an unfortunate pattern that plagues almost every character's finishing moves, and even characters themselves. The series plays its cards in the wrong areas, leaving too many problems in too many places.
While Yu Yu Hakusho's style and genre would imply a younger, shonen audience, some of the themes involved in the story are inappropriate for younger children. Yusuku's mother apparently gave birth at fourteen, and it is heavily implied that she works as a prostitute. Some of the characters are driven to evil because of some really disturbing pasts, such as a life as a sex slave or watching extreme videos depicting graphic torture. In fact, alcohol is even given to young children (as in under the age of ten). While the series is never extremely dark or graphic, the themes do exist in the story.
While my review may appear to be extremely critical, I did still enjoy Yu Yu Hakusho, especially the first half of the series. Despite many setbacks, the series can still be a ton of fun. For people who are dying to read a good shonen manga, I would say “Go for it.” With the popularity and acclaim that the series has reached, it is clear that many enjoy the manga. If story is something that is really important to you, then you may want to pass for something else.
The 80s and 90s was a special time for manga. It was a time when Shonen manga was at its peak popularity. Everyone knew titles like Dragon Ball, Fist of the North Star, and Full Metal Alchemist, while the likes of Naruto, One Piece, and Bleach were only just beginning. Among all of these other, action packed series, stands a true gem, and that gem is Yu Yu Hakusho.
Before I begin to talk about the story, I would have to recommend that you read the first chapter of the series yourself before continuing with reading this review, as I believe it is the greatest first
manga chapter of all time. I would not like to spoil what happens for anyone, so please do that first, as I'm about to talk about the the basic premise, and I don't want to spoil the beginning for anyone. Yusuke Urameshi is seen by everyone as a delinquent. He regularly skips school, is reprimanded by his teachers constantly, gets in fights on a daily basis, receives neglect from his alcoholic mother, is avoided by most adults, and has almost no real friends. The only person who he has any real relationship to is his childhood friend, Keiko, and she also nags him to start caring about his own life. So Yuusuke is basically a loner who no one expects anything good to ever come from… until he saves a child from being hit by a car, which kills Yusuke instead. Yusuke, now a spirit, meets Botan, the guide to the spirit world (afterlife). She reveals that Yusuke died in vain, as the car would have missed hitting the child. However, now the spirit realm isn't prepared for him either, as they did not expect him to accomplish anything, especially not a good deeds like this. So Yusuke is given the chance to earn back his life through helping others, and the story takes off from here. The beginning section of Yu Yu Hakusho is actually rather slow, as it deals mostly with Yusuke helping others, and has little to no action in it. However, it is clear that the writer, Yoshihiro Togashi, decided to take the series in a different direction after the initial part, and the series quickly develops into the action packed series that is to be expected from a Shonen. It's mostly the typical Shonen affair, with increasingly powerful villains, supporting characters defeating the main villain’s underling, and tournament arcs galore. There are only two problems with the story. The first problem is there are A LOT of time skips. Though time skips can be useful to bypass long periods of training, Yu Yu Hakusho uses this plot device far too often in order to justify character power ups. The second problem is that the final arc felt like it rushed to end as quickly as possible. It seemed as if Togashi finally got bored with the series, and wanted to just move on to something else (Hunter x Hunter). Other than that, the story is good, but it is definitely not the main focus of Yu Yu Hakusho.
The artwork of Yu Yu Hakusho is one of its finest aspects. Every character design sets itself apart from others. Even minor characters are given very memorable designs. This is especially impressive, as there are plenty of characters in Yu Yu Hakusho who make no reappearance after they are first introduced, and yet even they are usually distinguishable from those around them. Perhaps more impressive is the fluidity of movement during fights. Togashi has a way of giving fights a certain flow to them, and he does it with such an expertise that the reader is actually able to pick up on the character’s movements and attacks throughout a fight. Togashi does this better than most artists of his time, arguably even better than the great Akira Toriyama (coming from me, that's saying something, because I love Dragon Ball). A good example is Yusuke vs Shu, which is able to create an intense set of movement within a VERY restricted space. No fight ever feels dull or like it's just a rehash of a previous battle, even if it's a complete blowout. This makes the fights and art of Yu Yu Hakusho another amazing trait.
Finally, and most importantly, is the characters of Yu Yu Hakusho, and the main cast is great. The main cast of Yusuke, Kuwabara, Hiei, and Kurama are the standout of course. One trait (cliche)holds true about all of them (as well as the main villains who I shall have to use every ounce of self restraint from talking about for spoiler purposes): don't judge a book by its cover. I already mentioned Yusuke, the one who seems like a delinquent, but feels lonely deep down and wants to prove himself. Kuwabara, at first glance, seems to be a complete idiot. However, once the reader gets to know him, they see he is rather prideful, and how his quick thinking and strategies often allow him to win difficult encounters. Hiei takes the case of a reformed villain, and is seen as fairly evil when he is introduced. However, we also learn that Hiei is actually much like Yusuke, as he he is prideful and always looking for a stronger foe. Kurama seems to be the most calm and level headed of the group. However, he also has a dark and sadistic side that is linked with his past. These four, along with many of the villains (must… not… spoil… younger… Toguro) all display incredible amounts of character depth, and are very well written. Unfortunately, this cannot be said about the supporting characters. Unfortunately, they show fairly little depth. I can look past this for characters like Botan, Yusuke’s mom, Koenma, as they were never truly meant to have the greatest impact on the series to begin with. However, I cannot give the same excuse for Keiko. Throughout the entire first portion of the series, she was shown to be the only person Yusuke had in his life that was worth living for, but she receives very little character development. To make matters worse, when the action starts to become the focus of the series, she is completely sidelined. This is the only real disappointment I have in the character department, and it does hurt my views on this series, but only slightly.
Like I said before, Yu Yu Hakusho is a true gem among Shonen manga. For fans of the genre, the fast paced and well illustrated battles will not leave your dissatisfied. However, even if you don't like Shonen, I believe you may also be able to enjoy the depth of its main characters. Unfortunately, Yu Yu Hakusho is not flawless, as it has a slow begins segment, too many time skips, and some poorly developed supporting characters. Though this may slightly decrease the value of reading this, I still believe it is worth checking out by all.
Reading this manga is an interesting experience if you're familiar with Hunter x Hunter, the other fighting shounen from Yoshihiro Togashi. Several powers, plot points and characters archetypes from this series are recycled into Hunter x Hunter but with more nuance and exploration.
Don't expect too much action in the opening chapters because the first twenty chapters or so are the main character Yuuske playing ghost detective and solving their problems so they can move on. Most of these stories were actually pretty sad and hit me in the feels department so I found them harder to get through than any other part of the
manga. After that it becomes a traditional fighting shounen with a great tournament saga and never lets up.
Yu Yu Hakusho is very good for what it is, the characters are well realised and go through excellent development, there are great antagonists with amazing fight scenes and the series has the grace to end before getting overly long and bloated (albeit with a rushed and shitty ending, it only has three proper arcs), because it ends quite soon it didn't get fatigued and formulaic like many of the fighting shounen that came after it, each arc feels distinctive and tries new things.
The series may not have had the popularity of Dragon Ball, but I believe it was the stronger in quality and should be held up as one of the strongest in action-adventure shounen manga.
YuYu Hakusho is one of those manga series that got overshadowed when it was getting released due to it going against the juggernaut of a shonen series, Dragon Ball. Years after it's release it remains practically forgotten but the anime apparently remains the milestone of shonen battle series. But how exactly does the manga stand on it's own two feet? By this point you should have some kind of idea of the story. It starts with the hero Yusuke Urameshi getting killed by a car while trying to save a kid. He then meets Botan a messenger of the underworld who explains to him that
if he does all sorts of random missions he will get a second chance at living. The beginning of the series to be honest is downright awful. It has a episodic structure that makes it a chore to get through. The only reason I continued was because I wanted and knew a redeeming factor was coming. And boy was I glad I stuck with it. In the 4th volume we are introduced to some cool new characters and see some awesome fights with inventive new techniques (cough DBZ cough). As the series progresses you see more and more fights that are cool at first but grow repetitive after awhile. Togashi tries to add a little more depth to the villians which is a nice touch and it's nice to see some baddies that are more ruthless than your usual. Throw in a cool cast of heroes that ACTUALLY KILL and you've got a nice layout for a martial arts shonen. However the awful art which sometimes looks like a storyboard is a thing that hinders it. In addition, the ending is the biggest douche bag move I've ever seen in a manga (and I've seen Berserk). That probably has to do with the series getting cancelled (just my guess). So all in all, Yu Yu Hakusho is a somewhat good series if you're willing to be patient with it.
YYH is one of the more popular 'old school' 90's mangas. It might not be the deepest/complex shonen of its time, but it doesn't need to be - it has fitting artwork and an intriguing (if basic) premise that is followed up on with easy-to-love characters.
[Story - 6]
The story has two parts to it, really - a supernatural detective part and a typical battle-royale part. We start with the former: Our protagonist, rowdy middle schooler Yuusuke Urameshi, dies in a freak accident and promptly journeys to rejoin the living. Along the way, he becomes a 'Spirit Detective', and thus investigates cases of that sort. This
is admittedly enjoyable, if slightly generic, thanks to the writing.
.....But then the second part happens. Suddenly we have martial-arts tournaments, and epic DBZ-type fights, and it's just fists flying everywhere. I wouldn't mind this every once in a while, but it got a bit unbearable towards the end with how frequent this became for every chapter. Like, come on, TWO tournaments? I do admit that these fights can be written rather proficiently (especially the closing fight for the first tournament + the Black Chapter showdown), with tons of detail in both manuscript and panelwork, but the prioritization of quantity over quality makes the impact less strong.
Speaking of the end, it was so blatantly rushed. SO blatantly rushed. I can't get too mad because it appears that the mangaka, Yoshihiro Togashi, has suffered from chronic health issues due to the brutal schedule he was put under while writing this manga, but it's still really irksome. It just felt like a lot was skipped in favour of completing this project, which came at the sacrifice of truly fulfilling the final arcs and possibly having even more material.
[Art - 7]
The artstyle here isn't too great, but it fits the title well. It emulates the general vibe (somewhat serious/spooky, but definitely more childish) sufficiently, from the background designs to the shading palettes. The character design isn't too terribly unique for EVERYONE, but the core players in each arc get their well-due artwork. This is really all I have to say, LOL.
[Character - 7]
The characters are what will make this title stick around in your head for a while, if I'm gonna be blunt. They might not be the most well fleshed-out characters in a shonen, but they're one of the more enjoyable casts at least!
Urameshi is perpetually an edgy trickster who is always raring for a fight, yet it's clear that he goes through a substantial amount of development. From first learning of how to handle responsibility to arriving at the conclusion that taking lives can be extremely taxing if you're not prepared enough, it is rather enjoyable to see how he matures. Again, the latter portion + ending marred this quite a bit, but for what we got it was pretty solid.
The other characters surrounding him (mostly) get substantial exploration - his sometimes-friend sometimes-rival Kuwabara goes from a fellow troublemaker to a fine young man (even if not the brightest), Kurama and Hiei go from enemies to comrades to treasured friends (each having their own struggles, due to their heritage), and Genkai is a typical, yet memorable, sh*tlord of a master who hides her own tragic past.
The antagonists are really hit-or-miss. We have the memorable ones, such as Toguro and Sensui (darker reflections of Urameshi's future), and then we have the.....others, who I can't even name. They usually look really goofy and the bulk of the latter appear in the 'tournament' arcs for very short periods of time, which explains why I won't even bother to remember them.
Other members of the supporting cast also receive the short end of the stick - we have Botan, Urameshi's guide in the beginning who appears to be a mainstay but gets shafted aside for the boys mentioned earlier; Keiko, who is supposed to be the love interest for our protag but barely receives enough paneltime to make me truly care about the romance, and so on/forth. I could say something about how it seems to be mostly women who got this end, but I'll leave that for someone more qualified to speak.
[Enjoyment/Overall - 8/7]
While I am rather critical of this title, I actually enjoyed it quite a bit! It's not too horrid to immerse yourself in some mindless, good ol' fashioned battle shonen as long as you know it isn't Great Material + recognize why exactly that is. If you keep that in mind, this is a great read that is worth the amount of time you sink into it. I highly recommend it to people who are looking for what I /just/ mentioned!
The story started off really basic like any beginning. Introduction to the characters was a hassle for me to get through. Once the beginning stages were set and the characters well known, it got more enjoyable for me. The Dark Tournament was really good and enjoyable. There's just one aspect about it that I didn't like but I won't spoil that here. Chapter Black was just disappointing because I thought it would carry on the greatness but I just found it dumb. The last arc was even worse but it had nice characterization for a few characters. The ending was fan service but it
The characters are the best thing about this manga. Their friendship is what made it enjoyable. If it wasn't for the characters I would of dropped Yu Yu Hakusho in the chapter black arc.
I think Yu Yu Hakusho is the most overrated manga ever. A lot of the fans watched the anime and blinded by nostalgia but the story just ruins it own potential. Respects to Togashi though