Reviewby Allen Divers,
Yu Yu Hakusho
DVD 2: Artifacts of Darkness
After completing the trial set for him by Koenma (well, ok, he bypassed it a bit by helping out Kayko) Yusuke is set to return to life. Of course, all he has to do is convince one of the three people closest to him to breath a bit of their life force into him. Sounds easy, but the three closest people to him are his mother who's out drinking again, Kayko who's facing a family crisis and Kuwabara, Yusuke's oldest rival. If that wasn't enough, Yusuke has to face three demons that have stolen three ancient and evil artifacts that endanger the entire world. Just to make matters more interesting, Yusuke has one week to do this. It's not that the world will end in a week or anything, its simply that's when Koenma's father gets home. Well, on second thought, that might just be as bad. It's a good thing Yusuke has Botan to help push him in the right direction!
Released at the same time as Volume 1, Volume 2 of Yū Yū Hakusho: Artifacts of Darkness continues the storyline of Yusuke as he finally makes his way back to the world of the living. As these 4 episodes unfold, the action picks up a notch as Yusuke returns to land of the living.
Artwork and animation in these episodes remain consistent with the standard set in the first volume. Now that Yusuke is taking on the job of Spirit Detective, the artwork points towards a more horror feel. As the action picks up, the animation stays smooth in the action sequences. There are lots of flashes and bangs as spiritual powers are introduced. Overall, the look continues to stay consistent with the established norms of the series.
More action means more villains and more characters. The cast expands as the shift moves towards Yusuke's role as an investigator for the spirit realm. The English dub brings a nice diversity as these new characters are added into the mix, and doesn't feel repetitive in the voices of these characters. The Japanese soundtrack also features a nice diversity as well. FUNimation's scripting choices remain consistent with the pattern set in the first volume pushing for that television friendly feel. It is still nice to hear the more mature language pushing its way out of the dub, in comparison to some of FUNimation's earlier TV work.
Not mentioned in the previous review is the music soundtrack used in Yū Yū Hakusho. When creating the dub, FUNimation retains the original music and sound effects from the Japanese soundtrack. FUNimation takes that extra step by actually redubbing the opening and closing songs in English. The lyrics are shuffled around quite a bit to make it fit the original musical emphasis, but they retain much of the original meaning. The incidental music found through the series is pretty standard for an afternoon TV series. Because of the nature of the show, the music often has a sense of foreboding mystery. In general, the music helps convey a lot of the emotions in the series, without overpowering the actual performance of the actors. Both the English and Japanese soundtrack feature a balanced mix.
The extras for volume 2 follow the pattern set for volume 1. Collectors get character profiles, textless songs and name meanings. These are nice extras in comparison to some other releases in the market. Given the length of the series, and the probable amount of releases, hopefully FUNimation finds a good balance of spreading out these extras.
The plot of the series now takes a turn towards Yusuke's true role. Action, already a steady part of the show takes a move up as Yusuke's villains change from schoolyard punks to actual demons. The stakes are higher now, and Yusuke shows how much his death has changed him. Throw in some sexual tension between him and Kayko (more apparent in the Japanese version) and viewers get a nice comfortable storyline moving at a strong pace.
Artifacts of Darkness makes a nice transition from the story of Yusuke's return to his new appointment as Spirit Detective. Volume 1 set the stage, now volume 2 barrels forward right into the bigger storylines. Character development keeps up with this new pace as the story moves towards more mystery and action. To keep things interesting are the romantic entanglements between Kayko and Yusuke as well as Yusuke's rivalry with Kuwabara. Overall, Artifacts of Darkness maintains the high level of good storytelling that marks Yū Yū Hakusho.
+ Pacing moves right into the big story
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