Yu Yu Hakusho Season 2 Blu-ray Review

Anime


Yu Yu Hakusho Season 2 Blu-ray
Studio: Studio Pierrot
Publisher & Localization: FUNimation
Release Date: August 9, 2011
Price: $44.98 – Purchase Here!

Overview:
When Yu Yu Hakusho was first released, it was a manga all the way back in 1990 and it was created by one of the most memorable names in manga today, Yoshihiro Togashi. Two years after the creation of the manga an anime was created and began airing in Japan in 1992. Then something wonderful happened, ten years after the anime began airing in Japan, FUNimation licensed the show to be released in English.

For many of us, Yu Yu Hakusho is one of the first anime that we began watching as children. It is also one of the most memorable. Now nine years after the show was first aired in North America, FUNimation is back with Yu Yu Hakusho in Blu-ray format. Season 1 has already been released, but how does Season 2, which contains some of the best fighting of the entire series fare?

Story:
Yu Yu Hakusho is the story of a Junior High School boy named Yusuke Urameshi. Yusuke Urameshi was a delinquent and an overall bad influence on all of those around him, but one day he made the decision to save a young child’s life by pushing them out of the way of an out of control car. His reward for this act was death, but his selflessness began his job as a Spirit Detective. Throughout his first few cases he fought against many demons not only for his life but for the lives of those around him.

After surviving against countless obstacles, a demon that Yusuke and his childhood frenemy Kuwabara thought they had killed named Toguro has returned and shown off his true power. He confronts Yusuke and shows him that he is absolutely powerless against him and forces him to join something known as The Dark Tournament, a tournament for the toughest demons to do battle in. For if he does not join, he will kill Yusuke and everyone he cares for.

Now season 2 picks up nearly at the start of The Dark Tournament halfway through the first battle featuring Kuwabara against Rinku. There are many anime that can be considered a sort of, monster of the week type show where new creatures show up every week that have to be defeated or fought against. However despite the fact that nearly all of season 2 revolves around tournament combat, it is tournament fighting done properly.

Every match is between a team of opponents and before each match the team captains choose the victory conditions. The winning team will advance to the next round. This means that there are plenty of episodes of nearly continuous combat between the fighters of Team Urameshi and a plethora of different opponent teams. Despite following a path that most other anime couldn’t pull off properly, Yu Yu Hakusho does so with flying colors thanks to one crucial element. Set up.

Many other shows will simply throw two opponents in a tournament such as this and call it a fight. Yu Yu Hakusho however always takes a little bit of time to explain most of the characters that Team Urameshi comes up against. Sure there are a few enemies which barely see any actual development, but the majority will at least speak up and flesh out their characters a bit. This is usually done either before a match or during a fight, which only heightens the experience and tension for those who’ve yet to see the outcomes of the fights.

Plus, this isn’t your average tournament either. Enemies don’t fight one another with martial arts; in fact some battles may not even involve fists flying at all. Nearly every single opponent and battle has something different about their combat style. This includes enemies that use yo-yos as weaponry, can wield ice at will, create zombie like followers and even those with a whole mystery bag of tricks.

While the episodes contained in season 2 may end just a few episodes short of the final climactic battles with the Toguro Brothers, Yu Yu Hakusho takes what many can see as a limited format and does wonders with it. Action lovers will not be disappointed with the amount of combat that is delivered and those who want to see a bit of character development at well should find at least minimal amounts that will keep them interested. Of course since Yu Yu Hakusho is a relatively standard shonen anime, it may not appeal to those who don’t care for non-stop beat’em up action but it still is certainly enjoyable.

Artwork:
One of the biggest highlights with a Blu-ray release of an anime that we have all grown up and loved, is the fact that we can see it completely remastered. Plus the anime is completely uncensored so yes, there will be blood. Yu Yu Hakusho looks extremely amazing on its new Blu-ray home which is amazing for a series with as much age as Yu Yu Hakusho has. The colors are extremely vivid and the battle animations are nearly all completely flawless.

Of course there are still a few problems. For example there are some frame problems with slow moving sections of the show which can cause trouble with little white dots appearing and quickly disappearing in black areas of the show. These are not very noticeable and more oftehn than not you will be paying attention more to the action on the screen than the surrounding areas but it still is a problem. Also those who own widescreen televisions should know that the series is not initially set to stretch to fit widescreen televisions which will leave black bars on the sides. Though stretching the series to fit would certainly lower the quality of the product, it is something to take note of but not something to pass up the show for.

Audio:
For lovers of both the English and Japanese dub, then you will be glad to hear that season 2 of Yu Yu Hakusho contains both the original voice cast dubs. The voicework in both versions sounds absolutely wonderful and will definitely tickle your nostalgia when you hear your favorite characters in battle once again, especially as crisp as the Blu-ray provides.

Yu Yu Hakusho’s background music is also something that is quite impressive to hear, as many main characters have their own specific theme that will play during dramatic moments of their battles. Kurama’s theme is exceptionally wonderful to hear. The anime comes with both a clean version of the opening and the ending which is a nice touch as well.

Characters:
One of the biggest highlights of this season is the fact that so many characters are introduced at a brisk pace. The standard Team Urameshi consists of team captain Yusuke Urameshi, Kazuma Kuwabara, Kurama, Hiei and a masked fighter. Each of the characters in Team Urameshi may have been introduced in season 1 but this season contains some extensive character development for team highlight Yusuke as well as Kurama. Whether it be more backstory revealed or lessons learned and powers gained each of the Team Urameshi fighters has to deal with hardship, so much so that it may even leave a viewer in tears.

Besides Team Urameshi, we are treated to tons of new characters in the form of Team Urameshi’s opponents. As I mentioned earlier a lot of these characters receive some form of backstory and even their motivations for fighting in the dark tournament. Sometimes not even willingly. Sure the majority of character arc development is reserved for the main characters, but the constant sight of new personalities, sometimes hilarious ones at that, is a major part of why The Dark Tournament may be the best tournament in all of anime.

Overall:
Yu Yu Hakusho is a series that has aged extremely well despite it’s nearly twenty year age. Sure there are a few minor issues in the graphic department but there is nothing that will hold you back from watching and enjoying your favorite battles from The Dark Tournament. Of course it is still a bit of an issue as the end of Season 2 finishes abruptly before the last few episodes of The Dark Tournament finishes, which means that those who have been watching all of Season 2 eagerly waiting for the final climactic battle will need to wait a little longer until Season 3 is released.

It is also a minor issue that as far as extras go, there are no bonuses besides the clean opening and ending mentioned earlier as well as a few trailers for previous and upcoming FUNimation releases. Still, Yu YU Hakusho is a stellar series and The Dark Tournament is arguably the best tournament held in a long running shonen anime. This is simply because the extremely interesting characters which show up continuously as well as a swell mix of humor that shows up, sometimes during the most unexpected situations at that.

I give Yu Yu Hakusho Season 2 Blu-ray
9-0-capsules-out-of-10

As a big fan of anime and games I'll be quick to cover anything that happens to be of interest.

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