Reviewed by: Azure
Released by: MVM Films
Age Rating: PG
Region: 2 - UK
Volume 1 of 28
Length: 82 minutes
English Dolby Digital Stereo
Japanese 2.0 Stereo
Yusuke Urameshi is considered a waste of space by many of those around him; he cuts class, is rude and is always getting into fights. Things take an unexpected turn when Yusuke dives out in front of a car to save a little boy, and dies in the process. This act of kindness is totally unexpected by the Spirit World, who decide to give him another chance if he can pass the trials they set him –the trouble is the real world is carrying on without Yusuke.
The first thing that will probably hit the viewer is just how old Yu Yu Hakusho is over a decade in fact and it shows next to more modern anime in the same genre such as Naruto or Bleach. The music is also similarly dated but as part of an overall package it works. It’s a shame but the time it’s taken to licence this show hasn’t done any favours, however overlooking that this is a very enjoyable show.
The first DVD of Yu Yu Hakusho focuses far more on Yusuke’s life than you might expect, resisting the urge to leap right into high-powered battles. Instead we slowly start to find out the impacts of Yusuke’s accident, and indeed those who truly miss Yusuke and those who couldn’t care less or are indeed happy he is gone. Yusuke is an intangible ghost for most of the time and isn’t able to anything, and seems powerless to help those few people who do care about him. This leads Yusuke to explore some of his ghostly powers in a bid to help them.
The humour balances out the more emotional themes perfectly. Botan, Yusuke’s spirit guide rides about on a broom, casually remarking on situations without really getting into a panic. Her relaxed and happy personality only seems to wind up hotheaded Yusuke more. Koenma a 700 year old ruler of the spirit world is probably the funniest character so far, it seems that he ages far slower than humans do so despite his age physically he is only a toddler. Yet he still sees fit to order Yusuke around and dispense his own unique brand of wisdom.
Special mention has to go to the dub by FUNimation, the original music is still intact with dubbed opening and ending. The names are also unchanged, and the voices in general are extremely well cast making Yu Yu Hakusho a perfect show to introduce younger fans to anime.
The length of this series will mean only dedicated fans of fight shows will want to see it to the end. If you like the lighter shounen anime such as Dragon Ball and One Piece you’ll probably warm to the characters right away. The romantic comedy elements will also pick up a few more fans. Yu Yu Hakusho is a lot of fun and worth a try, but it remains to be seen if it will be able to sustain its mix of comedy and action through the whole series.