Reviewby Allen Divers,
Yu Yu Hakusho
DVD 1: Yusuke Lost, Yusuke Found
Things seem to go from bad to worse for Yusuke Urameshi. All he wanted to do was go to school, especially since he hadn't been there for 10 days. Of course, he gets hassled by his only friend Keiko and the teachers don't help much. Ok, fine, he's considered one of the biggest bullies at school, but deep down he's not so bad. In fact, he does sacrifice his life to save a small boy.
Now Yusuke has a chance to return to the world of the living. Since there's always a catch with these things, he has to face a trial given to him by Koenma. Along the way, Yusuke learns more about the people closest to him. Little does he realize how badly he has misjudged Keiko and his long time rival, Kuwabara. He has to move quickly to get these two to watch over his body so he has something to return to!
Yu Yu Hakusho is the third series brought to North America by FUNimation. This new series acts as the lead-in show for Cartoon Network's Adult Swim Action Block on Saturday nights. After building an audience for two months, FUNimation has released the first four episodes in Vol. 1: Yusuke Lost, Yusuke Found. This outstanding series gets a wonderful treatment in this DVD release, containing the new English dub, the original Japanese soundtrack and a nice set of extras.
Studio Pierrot handled the artwork and animation for Yu Yu Hakusho. Begun in 1992, the show's art and overall design feels a bit dated. Character designs follow the standard Anime template, but retain a lot of diversity for the various characters. Detail is kept light, considering this show was on a TV budget in Japan. The majority of the main cast is still in school, so costuming follows the standard Japanese school uniforms. Other costumes and designs follow traditional Japanese costumes (for the spirit world beings) and standard clothing for the modern era. The animation is very fluid and consistent, ideal for this high paced action show.
Both the English and Japanese casts are well suited to their roles. The Japanese version sets a mature line with a lot of the dialogue, delving heavily into a lot of traditional Japanese afterlife beliefs. The English script follows pretty close in tone, but does make a few alterations based on a North American TV audience. Some of the impact of the Japanese version is lost in the script: (Yusuke's surprise to learn he will be meeting King Yemma becomes surprise that he'll meet royalty in the English version.) Many of the alterations center around religious beliefs and potential sexual innuendo, which despite the relaxed editing on Adult Swim, still are too risqué for an American TV audience. The language of the English dub remains mature though, with a healthy sprinkling of TV accepted swear words.
The extras contained in Yu Yu Hakusho are a departure from the norm for FUNimation releases. Featured are character profiles, textless songs, name translation and some sign translation. The name translation is a nice extra because it shows some of the double meanings of the character names. Anime characters traditional have a "higher" meaning to their names. It often reflects their true nature as seen by the series creators. The sign translations reflect this as well with many allusions to Ghosts and other spirit puns.
The episodes of this disk trace Yusuke's path from life to death and back to life again. The real focus of this story arc is to setup the overall premise of the show, and introduce the main players. Each episode does a great job of focusing around one character, taking time to introduce them to the audience. Pacing for the show is rather quick, with a definite beginning and ending to each episode. The story is continuous, but fits in nicely with an episodic format.
Each character in this series is not always what they appear to be. Yusuke himself is quite surprised as he learns more about himself and those immediately around him. The character development in these first four episodes go a long way in presenting dynamic and likeable characters. Each of the main characters feels alive, and capable of a lot of growth.
Overall, these episodes also do a good job of suspending disbelief and making the whole setting work together. There is quite a lot going on, as the groundwork is set up for the long series that follows.
Yu Yu Hakusho is a solid series with a well-established story and character base. Yusuke Lost, Yusuke Found establishes the basic premise of the series as well as introducing the major players. Yu Yu Hakusho mixes a lot of different genres to paint a story with. There's something for everyone, including action, comedy, mystery and romance. Throw into that mix a group of dynamic and likeable characters, and Yu Yu Hakusho is sure to become a staple of every Anime lover's collection.
+ Smooth setup for a great series
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