Yu Yu Hakusho
My all time favourite anime!
The story about an average high school boy... Oh wait, not so true. Yusuke Uremeshi is actually a total jerk (well at first someone would think). Even the spirit world is surprised, that he literally saved the life of a little boy, who was nearly hit by a car. But in process, he died, and now he thinks its better this way, and has no though of wanting to live again. Or so he didn't.
Because of his childhood friend, Keiko, his own mother, and his rival, Kuwabara, he decided to try to get back to life. But its cost to be a spirit detective, who has to fight the monsters of the city.
And his adventures just began! It shows us a new world, with humans, monsters, and spirits, shows us friendship, makes us laugh and then cry. The development of a boy, who became a man at the end of his path.
I have always loved action animes, with some comedy, and the same time with real story. It really reminds me of my childhood, because from that time it has been my only real favourite. (let me note, that I am a girl.)
If you feel like you want some exciting time, wants to laugh, wants to smile, just watch this one, and I am sure you won't regret. ( I have watched it 9 times, and I rewatch it nearly every year, without getting tired of it.)
Yu Yu Hakusho (YYH) is one of the lesser known fighting shonen of the 90’s and life went harsh on it. It aired at the same time Dragonball Z was at its peak and its explosions were not as big as there, so many pushed it aside as a watered down DBZ. To be honest, it is not THAT different in its actual plot but at least it tried to be a bit smarter. And that is what makes it better than most shonens. It tries.
Let’s take the first episodes for example. The lead character dies and is floating around as a ghost, trying to return back in his body. In order to do that, he needs to get the approval by the lord of the dead (well, his son actually), convince his loved ones and even his rival that he can do that in order for them to preserve his body, and even use their life force as part of the procedure of resurrection. That is a far more sophisticated approach than just gathering seven orange spheres and making a wish. All this time we have almost zero action (some street punks are having a brawling but it’s nothing much) and the entire plot is centered on getting to know the main characters and how they feel and act. That was a wonderful way to be introduced dynamically to the story and to be bonded with them in just four episodes.
After that, the lead becomes a “spirit detective” as his spirit power (this anime’s version of power level or chi or whatever) got a boost thanks to his journey to the spirit world. He thereafter protects his city from various demons who want to harm it and this is where the action part begins.
To be frank, it takes a lot of time for epic-level battles to appear and that is probably why the anime never got the fame DBZ did. I mean, even in the first series of DB in just a few episodes you had people breaking rocks with a punch and blowing up mountains with an energy blast or turning to huge monsters that wreck entire fortresses. YYH takes a much slower route by having each character building up from a simple street punk to a guy who uses a generic special attack and gradually improves it to be more devastating. For the impatient battle-lovers that would seem boring and since the target audience is young teens it is very hard to find appreciation in patience. The good fights start around episode 30, when the opponents are literally torn to pieces and everybody is now using energy blasts and lightning fast movements. Yet even then, when the level of violence is ten times more, you still don’t get the same feeling of excitement than in DBZ for the simplest reason. All the opponents are demons. The entire show hardly shows normal people dying but demons are there to be ripped to shreds on every corner. It is hardly the same thing like, let’s say, in Hokuto no Ken where everybody was human. Or in Dragonball, where the bad guys kill innocents by the hundreds. These here are demons; you are meant to hate them and see them dying miserably. There is not a drop of sympathy for the losers.
On the other hand the pacing of YYH is to the most part extremely well done, without spending entire episodes just powering up while staring at each other screaming. Most of the battles are short and dense in action, plus they usually have some strategy that makes them far more interesting than simply stating “My battle power is bigger than yours”. But again, it’s not as if pacing means anything for the target audience as long as it is not constantly building up in action and frustration. And nobody beats DBZ in that. Before you jump to conclusion, I admit that there isn’t exactly THAT much strategy in battles in the longrun. In fact, the tricks the heroes use most of the time are simple and most of them have to do with countering an opponent’s attack back at him. Other times it’s plain luck; they slipped and the opponent lost his attention and got owned by his own attack. In real life situations, most enemies would be experienced enough to not fall for such cheap tricks. But as I said, the basic strategy is there and for its time it was fine. I will not lie though; Hunter X Hunter has a much-much-much more sophisticated strategy in battles and that is the reason it became so famous. Plus, DBZ ended by that time and the dreadful DBGT took its place. Poor YYH simply came out at the wrong time.
Another thing that alienated the viewers even further was the rather poor production values. For its age, the animation is very crude, with lots of simplistic character figures and cheesy special effects. Its soundtrack is also completely full of average to good songs that are simply forgettable next to other more famous shonen shows. Anyone who watched DBZ or later anime like Naruto will definitely have a hard time to get used to the crummy looks and sounds of YYH.
Another thing that will probably feel as bad is the actual structure of the show. Although its pacing is great to the most part and filler episodes are close to zero, its plot will probably feel like a long line of fighting tournaments or a cheesy videogame. It’s always about getting objectives by the higher ups, like finding artifacts or beating strong demons, and the procedure is crossing a linear route of traps and beating minor enemies. There isn’t much complexity even when the hero becomes a team with three others; they just take turns fighting one-on-one or crossing linear dungeons and castles. The villains also seem to play fair and fight one-on-one as well. It would be far more interesting if they would spread out and fight simultaneously all the minor obstacles; it wouldn’t affect the plot anyway. Plus, there isn’t much time for relaxation either. Remember those silly episodes in DBZ where Goku was learning how to drive or Gohan was a hero in a movie? As useless as those may be to the plot, they served as points or relaxation between greater events. YYH doesn’t have that; as soon as one threat is over, another will pop up almost immediately. Hell, even the various evil groups seem to wait for their turn in this show.
Down to it the best part of the show are its characters, which are a very colorful bunch. Although each one follows a specific shonen stereotype, along the way they are given emersion that makes them unique and memorable. They are not different individuals by the end of the show but they sure feel enriched a lot and they are not thrown to the side as stunts after a certain point.
It is not a bad fighting shonen but it sure feels hard to be appreciated. Its production values are low, its story is a videogame, its special attacks and overall plot have been ripped-off by following anime (especially Bleach). What I appreciate in it is how it keeps escalating in action without neglecting its characters and that it ends with a solid finale. By then the action will feel far less interesting than the characters (and to be honest many battles could have been far more epic).
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 5/10
General Artwork 1/2 (generic)
Character Figures 1/2 (generic)
Backgrounds 2/2 (basic)
Animation 1/2 (basic)
Visual Effects 1/2 (basic)
SOUND SECTION: 7/10
Voice Acting 2/3 (corny but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Music Themes 3/4 (not great but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess)
STORY SECTION: 6/10
Premise 1/2 (typical)
Pacing 1/2 (good although it lacks relaxation points)
Complexity 1/2 (not much)
Plausibility 1/2 (so-so)
Conclusion 2/2 (solid)
CHARACTER SECTION: 9/10
Presence 1/2 (generic)
Personality 2/2 (rather cheesy but well founded)
Backdrop 2/2 (everyone has some)
Development 2/2 (all important ones develop)
Catharsis 2/2 (strong)
VALUE SECTION: 6/10
Historical Value 2/3 (quite famous as a retro but neglected by many)
Rewatchability 1/3 (low because of too little build up)
Memorability 3/4 (very well made for its kind but has its cheesiness and lack of excitement)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 5/10
Art 0/1 (looks lazy)
Sound 0/2 (sounds typical)
Story 0/3 (generic and dull)
Characters 3/4 (they are well developed but occasionally feel silly)
Story: The plot is often very formulaic: Yusuke and his posse go through different stages to get to their target, kill them, and save the world... in essence. This isn't always the exact case, but it sticks close to this while still managing to keep the viewer watching till the end. The story in itself is pretty great. Inspiring is one of the main qualities that a fighting anime, I feel, should portray and this does exactly that. Yusuke is not the enemy that most teachers and students think. His underdog nature could very well be an inspiration for someone out there. Anyways, although the story is very formulaic, it's not much of a complaint because it is so interesting and appealing.
Animation: The animation only really struck me as great during some romantic scenes like the ending by the beach. I don't have any complaints about the artistry or the depictions of battles.
Sound: Very great. With any fighting anime the sound has to be, right? The intro song has me in tears by the end of the road. The sound adds to the components of the fights. Music at the right time adds to the eeriness or happiness of some scenes. And all of these things while taking into consideration how long ago this was compared to some current fighting animes. The voice actors were stellar. Definitally added to many components of this show's success.
Characters: The characters are what made this anime. It's not the fact that all of them are... relateable. It's that their problems can be translated to our own lives. A lot of the time you can find yourself feeling bad for a bad character or feeling like a bad character who did obviously cruel things... might have had a good enough reason for that. The characters and their personalities MAKE the anime. They make the fights, they make the decisions, they make the interest, EVERYTHING. There are probably so many other things that I am missing in this one category, but this is a short review. I guess you should just know that I think this anime did way more than benefit from its characters.
*TAKE IN TO CONSIDERATION THAT YU YU HAKASHO PIONEERED LOTS OF FIGHTING ANIMES SUCH AS BLEACH. THERE IS A REASON FOR THAT*
Repeat value: HIGH AS FUCK
If you're just looking for a fighting anime, this is probably a pretty good one. Lots of actions, and interesting fighting techniques/powers/weapons. If you want something with originality, and/or a not so cheesy story, this might not be the one for you.I liked it enough that i don't regret watching it, but i dont like it enough to ever watch it again.
This anime strikes me as a poor mans Dragon Ball. Much of the story is heavily inspired by DB/DBZ. The main character is much stronger then most of the other people he knows and meets early in life. After a traumatic physical injury (in Dragon Ball, Goku falls on his head as a child, and in Yu Yu, Yaremeshi is struck by a car and dies) The main character changes from a trouble maker, into a "good guy". All of Yaremeshi's allie's in the show (with the exception of his mentors) start out as Rivals or villains. Both protagonists die at some point, go through an ordeal of some kind in the afterlife, and come back to life much stronger then they were. Then theres the whole fighting tournament that is a constant reoccuring theme in both Anime's. I do give Yu Yu credit for sticking with a more adult tone (through language and humor) from start to finish, where as Dragon Ball (and many others iv watched) toned that stuff down as time went by, at least in the english versions i saw.
All that being said, it's not a terrible rip off. I did really enjoy the Dark tournament, and the story itself after the Dark tournament. Despite the ending being kind of anti climactic, i did enjoy the surprise of it all, and the unexpected outcome. It wasn't your typical, good guy saves the day every single time kind of ending.
The animation seems slightly sub par, even for its day. There are some pretty cool looking character designs, but for the most part, the main characters in the show are pretty basic and lame.
The music in this show is pretty cheesy.
As i mentioned before, much of the characters seem like carbon copies of DB characters. The main female sidekick has blue hair. Yarameshi's best friend starts out as his childhood rival. The two strongest allies Yaremeshi has were bad guys to some degree, one of them even looks like he could be a young vegeta, and he has the attitude to match.