Review: Yu Yu Hakusho’s Debut Arc.
(AfroGamers.com) Yu Yu Hakusho is one of those old school, legendary anime/manga series. Created by Yoshihiro Togashi of Hunter x Hunter fame, it follows a high delinquent named Yusuke Urameshi and his adventures as a spirit detective. His cases occur in both the land of the living and the spirit realm and along the way enemies become friends and allies and battles are fought.
That’s basically Yu Yu Hakusho in a nutshell. It delves deeper with character development, world building, rules of world, and all of that, but on the tin that’s basically what you’re getting.
Our Hero Yusuke
That said, it’s an incredible series with action, adventure, comedy, and drama all mixed together. While it’s definitely an action series, the first story arc can have you believing you’re reading a drama/comedy. This isn’t hard to see since it’s such a slow moving arc but it really sets the pace for the faster arcs that follow.
Yusuke is known for getting into trouble at school. He fails classes despite being a fast thinker, he gets into fights all the time against rival and second strongest Kazuma Kurabawa and other schools in the area, he also smokes, drinks, and gambles. In short, he’s a hard living 14-year old. His childhood friend Keiko stays on his case to be a better person but ehhh…Yusuke’s not having it.
One day, Yusuke plays with a small child who is playing near a busy street. Where this kid’s parents were at the time? I couldn’t tell you. He couldn’t have been older than five and he’s just having the best day ever playing with a ball near busy Tokyo traffic. Yusuke warns him not to play near traffic and leaves.
You might be thinking: “Why didn’t he take him to his parent or look for them?” I mean, the kid’s parents should’ve been nearby instead of letting their 5-year old play with a ball on the sidewalk. I chalk it up to Yusuke being “busy” and not bothering himself with it. It’s tap water weak reason but I’m standing by it.
Sure enough, this kid’s ball rolls into the street and he goes after it, as small children are wont to do. Our eventual protagonist sees this and darts into the street to save him–and is struck and killed by a car.
A Special Case
Yusuke is trapped in a ghost state. The rules are that after you die, your spirit wanders a bit before eventually going on to the Spirit World, usually thanks to a spirit guide. Botan was assigned to Yusuke to explain all of this to him. I say “assigned” because Botan couldn’t be the only guide collecting souls in the Tokyo area. The city’s huge, people depart everyday, and she one person. That’s some extreme corner-cutting business-wise. As a matter of fact, that’s a visit to HR to air your grievances.
What is also explained to our eventual hero is that his death wasn’t foreseen by the higher ups in the Spirit World because of his attitude and the way he’s come off before and the child wasn’t going to die. As a matter of fact, the kid wasn’t even going to be hurt. This all means that Yusuke’s death was for nothing and now he’s dead.
There is a loophole! Since he’s not meant for the Spirit World yet, he has an opportunity to return to his body and live out the rest of his life. This leads to a few of the first adventures of Yusuke as he finds out the rules and workings of the afterlife.
While this is all interesting from a world building and lore point of view–both things I love–it can move slowly.
When I first heard of Yu Yu Hakusho, it was the anime on Toonami. I came in during the middle so I didn’t know about the rest of this stuff. Once I finally started to read it, I thought “People actually love this series. It’s not close to Hunter x Hunter.” It takes awhile to get into it but it definitely picks up. If you remember that this was Togashi’s first big series and he got better pace-wise as the series went on and he delivered by the time Hunter x Hunter started, you’ll be able to appreciate the debut arc here.
Arc Rating: 7.5 out of 10 (Recommended)
Staff Writer; M. Swift
This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.