• Titles: Yuu☆Yuu☆Hakusho, Yu Yu Hakusho: Ghostfiles, Yu Yu Hakusho, Ghost Fighter, Poltergeist Report, YYH
  • Genre: Action, supernatural, shonen, fighter
  • Episodes: 112
  • Studio: Studio Pierrot

Yusuke is your average teenage hoodlum. Well except that he’s dead. Just not super permanently so. You see, Yusuke may be a hot-tempered pain in the behind but he’s not a jerk. So when he sees that a kid is about to get hit by a car, he’s not just going to idle watch as it happens. Even if he’s the one that ends up getting hit instead. No one really expected a good for nothing like Yusuke to turn out all noble in the end. Not even the afterlife. So now, Yusuke gets a chance to have his life back provided he helps the powers of spirit world to keep demons and other nasties from wreaking havoc on earth, in exchange. Yusuke may have gotten his life back, but it certainly will never be the same!

In case you didn’t know, I’m a pretty big fan of Hunter x Hunter. From what I have read on other people’s blogs, my appreciation sort of comes from a different place but in the end, it was enough to get me interested in Togashi’s other works. And that’s how Yu Yu Hakusho hit my radar. I went into this with all sorts of expectations!

Aren’t we off to a great start!

Production

Yu Yu Hakusho aired in 1992. That means it was made like 30 years ago. No matter how you look at it, it’s been a minute. Not to mention that it’s a series that is absolutely packed with action. Every single episode is filled with fast-paced animation with very little respite. It’s the type of series that’s going to show its age way more than calmer, more contemplative titles. And it does. But at times, the sequences are downright impressive, age or not!

The art and designs are great, in that nostalgic sort of way. I appreciated them a lot and thought they were detailed and impressive. When they were at their best. Which was maybe 40% of the time. Otherwise, the art was wildly inconsistent and character models underwent some crazy transformations whenever the camera changed angles or the movement got too quick. I will say, it does generally look very good for its age. However, you can tell that it would look better with an update.

at least the guys stay super hot!

The voice acting on the other hand has aged like a fine wine. The ensemble does an outstanding job and I wasn’t able to find any fault with it. It sounded like the actors knew and understood their characters and were enjoying working on the show. Of course, 112 episodes is going to give you plenty of time to get comfortable with a role.

I will say, the series does look better and better as the episodes go by, except for the very last episode. I have no clue what happened with episode 112. It’s sort of an epilogue so maybe less attention was given to it or they literally ran out of money. In any case, the quality of that episode (except in the voice acting) takes a nosedive. And it’s a shame because it’s actually a pretty sweet episode.

were you guys in some sort of accident??

Story & Characters

There are three ways for me to appreciate Yu Yu Hakusho. In isolation, as a Hinter x Hunter fan or in otaku context. In isolation, it’s a really fun show. I went through 112 episodes like it was nothing and I wasn’t fed up with it by the end. I could and would have watched more. I’m not sitting here desperately wanting more but I’ll probably look up the movies and OVAs at some point.

It’s a fighting shonen with some really likeable characters and an enormous cast of side characters and extras, all of which bring something to the table.

Of course, considering Yu Yu Hakusho’s pedigree, it’s difficult for me not to compare it to Hunter x Hunter. Some of it works out well. I am possibly the only one to say this, but I always thought that Hunter x Hunter’s greatest asset is impeccable pacing. One of the best-paced anime I have ever watched. And you can definitely see that in Yu Yu Hakusho as well.

Episodes and seasons all move forward in a way that never feels dull or drawn out but gives the viewers plenty of time to really understand everything that’s happening and get to know everyone. It’s great. I was constantly thinking of just one more episode. Yet whenever I had to stop for the evening, I was never confused as to where I was in the series and what everyone’s motivation was.

I know!

However, the majority of fans that I know, like to call Hunter x Hunter subversive. Or argue with other fans about how it’s actually not subversive or something along those lines.

Yu Yu Hakusho has elements that are unusual in action shonen, especially of the time. It starts with the main character dying. That’s more of a hook than anything else but it was quite the first impression. Yusuke is a very flawed hero, often selfish, short-sighted and kind of a jerk. At least two of his companions are way nobler by comparison. And a bunch of our good guys are actually demons and one is a pretty demonic demon at that. All of that is at least a little subversive.

Finally, there’s Genkai. Genkai is an older woman who is cast as the mentor character of the series. That’s already pretty unusual in and of itself. This said it’s hardly unheard of. However, Genkai sets herself even further apart from other female mentor characters. For one, when I say she’s older, she really is. She looks like an older woman but she’s not a crone either. Also, she’s a physical fighter and finally, she’s an active combatant. Genkai is part of the action rather than sitting on the sidelines or getting killed before the story starts. In this regard, I think she’s the biggest subversion in Yu Yu Hakusho.

she’s not the nurturing mentor type

Finally, I can’t ignore the otaku legacy behind the title. Yu Yu Hakusho is one of the shows that considered an anime classic by some. It’s really well-rated and lovingly spoken of. It’s a series some can point to and say, look anime was better in the early 90s. But is it?

I really liked Yu Yu Hakusho. I would call it a very good action shonen. Well paced with loveable characters. And that’s it. It’s a pretty standard fighting series. There are more or less 4 arcs throughout the 112 episodes. The two longest of which are two separate tournament arcs. The series is pretty much, a new powerful demon to defeat, one of the main characters steps up (they always fight one at a time even when it’s not a tournament), they fight for a few episodes, barely win, rinse repeat. Like 112 times. There are shonen being released right now that have more depth and variety. Quite a few really. Yu Yu Hakusho can stand right alongside them, for sure. But I wouldn’t be so sure it stands above them.

So here is my bottom line. If you enjoy action shonen like I do, Yu Yu Hakusho is a fun series. I would recommend it.

You might like this anime if:

You really liked the character of Feitan in Hunter x Hunter. You crave animated fighting and nostalgia! You want a classic action shonen with a surprisingly diverse cast.

My favourite character:

Botan, also Shizuru Kuwabara. Still Botan is one of the all time greats.

Suggested drink:

Pea Shooter

  • Every time Botan is being awesome – rais your glass
  • Every time Kuwabara is actually pretty cool – take a sip
  • Every time a teacher or mentor is being a jerk – frown
  • Every time Yusuke possess someone or gets possessed – take a sip
  • Every time Kuwabara takes a beating – ouch
  • Every time we see Koenma’s desk  – take a sip
  • Every time Kuwabara wants to fight Yusuke – take a sip
  • Every time a main character dies – pour some out
  • Every time Yusuke has his hair down – take a sip
  • Every time Kuwabara falls in love – take a sip
  • Every time Anyone’s name ends in bara (just the first time thought) – take a sip
  • Every time Yusuke brings out the Spirit Gun – duck
  • Every time Kuwabara teaches us what a real man does – take a sip
  • Every time Hiei smiles – take a picture!
  • Every time Koenma is in his teenage form – take a sip
  • Every time Poo is not feeling well – oh no!
  • Every time someone says “kenkai” – take a sip

I save all my screencaps on my Pinterest and you can find more there if you are interested. But I still like to show you a few in the post. If you’re like me, screencaps are something that really helps you decide to watch an anime or not.

29 thoughts

  1. Definitely a top tier title that holds up to this day. I had a blast with the show and agree that the cast was outstanding. So many memorable heroes and villains

  2. I have tried 2 or 3 separate times with my brother’s to watch YuYu Hakushou. I kind of woke up one night when I was like 3 or 4, and just saw it on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, The episode: Either the middle or end of Yusuke’s fight against the Younger Togoro. I loved it, and I want to see it again.
    I keep hearing people talk it up- and from what we saw those 2 or 3 times; I honestly have to agree with the age thing. Though I enjoy just how it looks. And the voice acting(we watched the dub) was really top notch.
    My favorite character was definitely Kuwabara. I especially liked the episode where he and his friends had to pass a test and not get into fights. It was honestly one of the coolest non-action episodes I’ve seen. I don’t think I could do anything like what he does.
    I really like Yusuke’s voice and the way he says curse words. It makes me laugh every time I hear it. And his character…….he’s actually not too different from people I know in real life. I know a lot of Thuggish people, but they aren’t bad people…….at least; they’ve never done me wrong.
    Genkai is also a rather interesting. I remember her introduction arc when she was just willing to train anyone who won her tournament deal. Human/Demon; Good/Evil- She gave NO F*CKS about who used her techniques and for what. And when Yusuke won; Genkai MADE HIM train despite his not wanting to.
    Honestly; this show is………Good. REALLY Good. But I here Togashi had some health problems while drawing up the manga- leading to the conclusion being an “Anime Original” or “Anime Exclusive” end. I’ve seen Hiei’s final scene in the show, and it was just kind of nice- him not wanting Yukina to know he was her brother. I kind of wanted her to find out, but I suppose Hiei has his reason- and we should respect that.
    …………..Huh. The more I write things out; the more I realize how much I enjoy a series. I’m working on a Retrospective post about “Attack On Titan,” and I’m realizing just how much I liked it- even though I wasn’t all that attached to it. And I guess it’s the same with YuYu Hakushou…….

    1. Writing about anime does the same thing for me. It’s part of why I keep the blog up. Reviewing shows makes me fall in love with them all over again

  3. The Dark Tournament arc is still great after all these years. A lot of memorable battles, everyone gets a chance to shine, and still a lot of humor and near-death experiences.

  4. A classic and one of my favorites! The voice actors did an amazing job (and I get to fanboy even more now that I can appreciate how this is an earlier work for some of my favorite voice actors, like Laura Bailey). I absolutely loved Botan, especially, and was totally miffed with how she largely faded into the background.

    1. The original cast was fantastic as well! I know there’s a lot of wordplay that may get a bit lost in translation but you can still hear the mirth.

  5. I may have to watch it just because Genkai will give me someone to point to when the inevitable tag comes around asking who is most like me in an anime… 😛 Maybe. I’ll have to watch and see….

  6. I love Yu Yu Hakusho so much! When my then boyfriend, now husband and I were getting to know one another, this one of the anime he showed me- and Kurama and Heie were just absolute perfection. Might I suggest watching the outtakes if you can find them? Justin Cook (the voice of Yusuke) is REALLY funny! They’re nearly as good as the Berserk outtakes, which are my gold standard for funny behind-the-scenes content.

    Anyway, glad to hear you enjoyed it, and I’m looking forward to seeing what classics you watch next!

  7. Yay! I’m glad you liked it! This is honestly one of my favorites and I’ve seen it so many times over the years that I have the whole thing memorized in my head. I don’t really want a remake or anything myself, because I love it the way it is, but that’s probably nostalgia glasses again.

    I really love the animation power house that occurs in the Dark Tournament and Chapter Black. That’s where a certain Akiyuki Shinbo started to make this appearance in the anime world and you can tell the production team really put their heart and soul into this show.

    1. At it’s best, the production was ridiculously impressive. It must have been so cost and time intensive for the era

  8. I was super fortunate to have watched this on Toonami , ( I even collected the trading cards) and later rewatched it in Japanese before watching Hunter X Hunter . I did make comparisons once I started watching HunterXHunter, but I still love both shows . The Dark Tournament arc is still one of my favorite tournament storylines in an anime .

      1. Oh that would be great ! Some anime’s really know how to put a fun tournament together. I also liked HunterXHunter’s dogeball episode ! To me that was legendary .

  9. Very recently, I tried the show. It was pleasant enough, but not nearly good enough for me to last through that many episodes, so I bowed out early. I really did like Hunter X Hunter (when it wasn’t being Greed Island), and sometimes even loved it (York New City), but it seems I don’t really click with Togashi (I dropped Level E, too). It’s only two or three months since I tried Yu Yu Hakusho, and it’s already starting to fade. I really did like Genkai, though I dropped the show shortly after she made her appearance. She was great, though, and it’s good to hear she remains an important part of the series.

    By itself, it seems the shounen fighter genre isn’t really a draw for me. I guess part of it is that many of them are designed as long-runners. I still got through over 100 episodes Hunter X Hunter; so there’s that (though if I hadn’t binged the show, I’d probably have dropped it during Greed Island, if not the first training arc already).

    There’s a chance I’ll be picking up YYH again in the future, but it’s slim. The hugest obstacle isn’t actually show quality; it’s episode count. It’s something I could watch two cours at a time over years; it’s not something I can binge. It appears that Hunter X Hunter is special in that respect.

  10. I grew up watching YYH on Toonami back in the day, though I haven’t watched it since I was a kid. I loved the characters and action, to me it felt like DBZ with a bit more story and character development. My favorite was Kurama, as I remember a tiny bit of my shell cracking when I found out he was a pretty boy 😅

    1. For some reason everyone I have talked to recently has Karuma as their no 1. I get it… he’s no Botan though…mumble mumble

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