November 16, 2009

Bento Bako Weekly: Yu Yu Hakusho Season 1 Box Set

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Written by: Kristin
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yuyuhakushos1Title: Yu Yu Hakusho The Complete First Season
Author/Director: Manga created by Yoshihiro Togashi (Hunter x Hunter), anime directed by Noriyuki Abe (Bleach).
Studio/Licensor: Animated by Studio Pierrot, anime distributed by FUNimation, manga licensed by Viz Media.  The manga is spelled as YuYu Hakusho by Viz, and subtitled Ghost Files (which is the translation) by FUNimation.
Episodes: 112 anime episodes (released as 4 seasons), two films, 19 manga volumes.
Vintage: The manga ran from 1990-1994 in Japan, and Viz began publishing it in 2003.  The anime aired from 1992-1995 in Japan, was licensed in 2001 by FUNimation, and aired on Cartoon Network’s Toonami block until 2005.
Price: The season box sets run with an MSRP of $34.98. Best Buy sells them for $24.99, for $19.99.

This show is one of my guilty pleasures. It doesn’t really have anything amazing going for it. In fact it’s horribly cheesy, really looks its age, and comes from one of the genres of anime that I tend to hate. But it’s so cheesy, and so ridiculous, and it’s fantastic. It’s a good show to watch when I just want to giggle a little at the jokes, or the absurdity of the situations in the story. The series succeeds at this, for me, exceptionally well. Also, when I first started watching it, I was crushing on Kurama (but don’t tell anyone).

The season one box set released by FUNimation (in 2008) contains the first 28 episodes (out of 112) of the series on four discs, in a thin pack. The cases are clear with reversible covers (both sides are nice). There are some weird, amateur packaging mistakes. The episodes listed on the cases (as per each disc) don’t match what’s actually on the discs. All 28 episodes are still there, but each disc is off by one episode. Or, I should say, each disc has an extra episode more than what is listed, so they don’t match up. It’s not a problem for me, but it is kind of a strange mistake. I was also disappointed to notice that, while the first disc contains both dub-titles and subtitles (the second might have as well, I can’t recall), the others only contained the subtitle track. Again, it’s not a problem; it’s the proper track anyway. Just, again, it seems a little strange and inconsistent. Regardless…. DVD extras include some helpful character profiles, textless songs, and trailers. I do wish they had gone ahead and only put the first 25 or 26 episodes on there, because that concludes a story line (or “saga”). Episodes 27 and 28 start a new story line that continues into the second season of the show. Of course, that means, if you want to see the rest you’ll buy the next one, but it’s a bit annoying all the same. Still, it’s hard to complain about 28 episodes on 4 discs.

So here’s the scoop:

Yusuke Urameshi is a fairly stereotypical high school delinquent. He skips school, gets into countless fights (and typically wipes the floor with everyone), mouths off to teachers, etc. One day while walking home from school, he performs the unexpected selfless act of saving a small child from being hit by a car, but he ends up dying instead. Because of this rather uncharacteristic act of self-sacrifice, the Spirit World decides to give Yusuke a second chance at life – but with the condition that he must be a Spirit Detective on Earth.

The series then follows Yusuke with his new found spiritual powers as he works together with his rival and classmate Kuwabara, an intellectually dense but spiritually powerful fighter, to track down rogue demons and humans posing a threat to the Spirit World (and to Earth of course). Along the way he meets up with the thief Kurama, a powerful fox demon hiding out in a human body; and the mysterious Hiei, who uses a mystical third eye to augment his powers and skills with the sword. They all work under the guidance of Koenma, the son of the ruler of the Spirit World, a strange looking toddler with a pacifier constantly in his mouth; and alongside the cheerful Botan, a cute looking death god.

The show is a fighting series at its core. Complete with training tournaments, battle tournaments, plenty of one on one fights and group battles, etc. But the story that’s in there is good, and the characters are very likable… and there’s only a handful of them, really, which is refreshing. Keiko, Urameshi’s childhood friend (and eventual love interest), tags along with Yusuke when she’s not somehow drawing the trouble to herself. Yukina, Hiei’s sister and Kuwabara’s love interest, an ice apparition. Shizuru, Kuwabara’s older sister, who also has some spiritual sensibilities. And Genkai, an elderly martial arts master, and Yusuke’s mentor.

FUNimation does a good job with the dubbing. I do think they dumb down the dialog a little bit, but it’s not an issue because… well, we are dealing with hot-headed delinquents here. It works fine, and it’s hilarious. The voices are so cheesy, but they fit so well. The adorable Sean Teague is fantastic as Koenma, Justin Cook is a hilarious Yusuke, and Christopher Sabat is delightful as Kuwabara.

I cannot recommend this enough.  If you enjoy fighting and action shows, or if you just want something goofy to laugh at, this definitely needs to be added to your list.  The first 25 episodes are known as the Spirit Detective Saga, and episode 26 begins the Dark Tournament Saga, which is continued in the season 2 collection.




  1. Dee

    Yup, picked these up when they came out. Love them! *hugs Kurama plush before hiding it again*…. what?

  2. Kristin

    If I had a Kurama plushie, I’d be hugging mine, too. ^_^ But really, I think that was one of my first anime crushes, lol. I used to watch this on Cartoon Network in college when I got back from classes in the afternoons.

  3. Dee

    Oh definatly a crush! And then Koenma when he was in his adult form? Oh yeah. Total crush!

  4. Kristin

    Bishie Koenma! ^_^

  5. billy

    Wow, $24.99 seems like a great deal for all that content.

  6. Ok, now this sounds like an anime I’d be willing to give a whirl.

  7. You really should! I would definitely say it’s one of my favorite series, and I usually hate these sort of fighting/saga anime (Bleach has been one of the big exceptions). It’s really great, and it’s super funny.

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