- 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- 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.