Yu Yu Hakusho is one of those anime that you’ve probably either seen or heard a lot about. Leading to the obvious question, is it really that good? The answer, not really. It isn’t a bad anime, I would even call it good, but it certainly isn’t good enough to merit the wide spread recognition it enjoys.
Like most shounen anime it has a very simple story. A young man named Yusuke dies and comes back to life as a spirit detective where he’s tasked with fighting demons who threaten the human realm. It isn’t anything special, but it certainly isn’t a terrible idea. The good thing, storywise, is that they don’t do the usual shounen anime cliche of the main protagonist always coming in to save his allies at the last minute. They use that cliche once. Compare that to DBZ where they use it in almost every story arc. One major problem with the writing in this anime is that it gets lazy at the end. They basically recycle the fighting tournament plot from earlier, but only show a few fights in it, leading to a very anti-climatic ending.
Yu Yu Hakusho is carried primarily by the characters. Fortunately, they keep a core group of four major characters so they get a lot of development. Even the supporting characters and antagonists are pretty well developed. The main problem with the characters is that they develop almost everybody but Yusuke. I don’t know why this happens so often in shounen anime, but if you’re going to have character development you should try giving some to your main protagonist since that’s probably the character we’ll see the most but, for whatever reason, a lot of these anime have the main character stay the same all the way through and just have him gain more power. This is not character development.
The artwork is pretty bad, even for 1992. You get a lot of bizarre facial expressions and twisted proportions, especially during fighting scenes. The character design isn’t bad for shounen anime. You get some ridiculous hair and some characters who just look bizarre, but at least they have the excuse of having characters who are mostly not human. It’s not like Shaman King where they have a bunch of humans who just look really bizarre.
The voice acting is pretty good. Ogata Megumi does a great job as Kurama. (Why does she so frequently voice characters with lots of homoerotic subtext anyway?) Hiyama Nobuyuki and Ebara Masashi also do really well in their roles as Hiei and Yomi.
Yu Yu Hakusho has a yuri factor of 3/10. There’s some room to interpret it between some of the female characters, but you don’t really see those characters often enough for it to go anywhere. If I was reviewing this under the modern format, I’d point out that Hiei and Kurama are pretty homo-erotic.
My final rating for Yu Yu Hakusho is a 7/10. It may be highly over-rated but it’s a good anime and certainly worth watching through once.
This is actually one of my most whined about reviews. I got quite a bit of complaining because I “only gave it a 7” as though a 7 is a negative rating. I even had someone tell me I was “doing it wrong” because I didn’t review the English dubbed version. Which is strange to me since the voice acting was one aspect I really liked and I can guarantee that would not have been the case had I watched the English dub. Remember, a big part of the reason I don’t review anime dubs is that I know the people who would want to see a long paragraph of me discussing how much I hated the acting are in the minority.