Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Yu Yu Hakusho

Grade: A-
Studio: Studio Pierrot (Bleach, Saiyuki)
Manga Author: Yoshihiro Togashi (Hunter x Hunter manga)
Genre: Martial Arts, Shōnen
First complete run: 1992-1995
Regular episodes: 112

Yu Yu Hakusho is one of the absolute best of the shōnen style. Despite its young target audience and old school style, Yu Yu is a timeless classic. The show chronicles the adventures of Yusuke, a juvenile delinquent who dies and is reborn as the illustrious "spirit detective" working for the prince of the underworld. As the spirit detective, Yusuke seeks out and combats evil spirits and apparitions who are wrecking havoc in the human world. Like the Dragon Ball series, the show borrows heavily from Bangsian fantasy. The afterlife is very intimately connected with the normal human world, and select demons and spirits can freely travel back and forth. The lore, combined with the anime's emphasis on fighting and martial arts, place it in a category with Dragon Ball Z and other shōnen favorites. And in some ways, the show is hindered by its aged feel; the episodes may feel repetitive and the lengthy show can drag on if the viewer loses interest. But Yu Yu Hakusho is arguably the best ever of its genre.

Everything you would expect from a show like DBZ, Yu Yu does and does well. The characters are diverse and amusing, in both English and Japanese audio. Yusuke is a lovably pig-headed boy whose fiery personality carries the anime. Even though a hundred episode anime about martial arts is always going to have some repetition, the combat scenes in Yu Yu have a nice and at times unpredictable variety. And the truly unique world of Bangsian fantasy facilitates casual interaction between human and "spirit" worlds, which helps to set the anime apart. The show features several distinct arcs, each one of which expands on the lore of its predecessor enough to keep the viewer interested. I'm not a huge shōnen fan, but Yu Yu Hakusho's 112 episodes went by lightning fast for me. A great anime for young kids, and perhaps an even better anime for adults hoping to recapture their youth.

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