If you are bothering to
read this review, I imagine you already have some degree
of fandom for the wonderful Yu Yu Hakusho anime series.
The show focuses on Yusuke Urameshi, spirit detective, and his
friends Kuwabara, Hiei,
Koenma, Kurama, and Botan. The group works
together to take down evil spirits from the demon world when
those demons have entered the human world in order to cause
total chaos. Yusuke sacrificed his life early in the series to
save another and was given the opportunity to return to the
living as long as he helped to use his strength in a worthwhile
way by helping to protect and save others. Before this moment he
was thought of as a bit of a rebel. Yusuke was probably thought
of as a rebel after facing down these startling events anyway
though. If you are completely unfamiliar with the series it's
best to start at the beginning of the show (each of the four
seasons is available on DVD or Blu-ray). Yu Yu Hakusho
remained a well-made action series with a surprising emphasis on
character-development and interesting thematic material that is
uncommon for a series of its genre and it remained that way
until the satisfying ending.
Much like the
series itself, Yu Yu Hakusho's "The Movie" is a nice,
entertaining, and cool experience. The downside to this is that
it stands as comparable to the mid-range level achieved by any
given episode of the show and the length is so unbelievably
short that viewers will have a hard time considering this an
actual film. It's the exact same length given to any episode of
the series with a total run-time of 25:09. Yes, twenty five
brief minutes of more Yu Yu Hakusho. The film even
duplicates the exact same opening and ending credits used on an
episode of the series.
"The Movie" has a
really straight-forward story that focuses on Koenma being kidnapped. It's
up to Yusuke and the rest to get him back and save the day for
both the human and spirit world. It's a straightforward story
for the most part. There aren't any big surprises and the ending
is unsurprising and resolves the plot almost as quickly as it
began, but it does manage to entertain as a light Yu Yu
Hakusho story. It's basically a small side-plot without
any connection to the main events of the show and can be viewed
at any time.
This collection is
designed and aimed towards fans only. If you have an
understanding and familiarity with the series already then
there's no doubt that there is already some strong interest in
checking out the release to see what Funimation has in store for
fans. Or else, there's no real reason to watch the movie or
anything else on this release.
Hakusho episodes are misleading to everyone. I expected to
see a series of side stories that would help to expand upon the
show and add an extra element of fun. Instead, these episodes
are mere clip-shows (featured only with Japanese Stereo)
and aren't made with much enthusiasm. The clips have no coherent
narrative in shifting from any one scene into another and it
doesn't add up to a good viewing experience for anyone. New
viewers of Yu Yu Hakusho won't gain anything from the
episodes (besides poorly unveiled spoilers) and long-time fans
will find the entire collection a massive bore with nothing to
add to the great series. The total running time for these
yawn-inducing clips is 2:05:38. The episodes which focus on
specific character have a few minutes of new animation but the
production quality was notably poor when compared to the actual
Eizou Hakusho is divided into six
episodes and can also be viewed with a play all feature.
Eizou Hakusho "Episodes" Included:
Eizou Hakusho Dark
Tournament, Vol. 1
Eizou Hakusho Dark
Tournament, Vol. 2
Eizou Hakusho: Yusuke
Eizou Hakusho: Kurama
Eizou Hakusho: Kuwabara
Eizou Hakusho: Hiei
The picture quality is easily disappointing, and
not only because there isn't a high definition option allowing
for this material to accompany the season sets released on
Blu-ray. There's some terrible cropping to the Yu Yu Hakusho movie.
It should have been in 4:3 full frame, but it's in 16:9
anamorphic widescreen instead. The image doesn't look quite
right and it's not what should have happened on this release.
Then there's the picture quality for Eizou Hakusho and the
bonus materials. Those are presented in 4:3 for the most part,
which is accurate, but the image is often out of focus and with
poor color reproduction. There can easily be a case made for too
much print damage to most of the material. The Movie had bright
vivid colors and nice detail despite the cropping but everything
else on this release barely qualifies as having even
moderate-level quality throughout the presentation.
The 5.1 Dolby Digital
Surround Sound included for the Yu Yu Hakusho movie is
a well done, decent production. It was nice to get to hear the
original English dub cast back together in one more show. The
Japanese Stereo tracks on these discs are in poor shape and are
not anywhere near the same level of sound reproduction. English
subtitles are included.
Before writing the
review for this release I debated about putting every element of
the release in the extras section. The entire point of this DVD
set is definitely supplemental.
Scenes of Eizou
Scenes from the Dark Tournament (2:35) is essentially
short clips that weren't included during the Dark Tournament
saga. The animation is poor so I assume these are scenes made
after the show's completion. Each small piece feels sort of like
similar to what is typically included on a blooper reel.
Nightmare Hakusho (9:45) is a small
collection of mini shorts that put the characters beloved
throughout Yu Yu Hakusho into mildly amusing and comical
pieces. The clips seemed cute and interesting enough but don't
really stand out as essential viewing.
Anti-Piracy Clips (2:03) has the four
main characters delivering some audio-delivered messages "in
character" about why piracy is bad for the show. Who knew that
Yusuke, Kuwabara, Hiei, andKurama are concerned with
Yu Yu Hakusho's media sales? These altogether brief
segments are actually pretty funny and well done with the
Yu Yu Hakusho Opening and Ending Encyclopedia (21:01) contains all
opening/ending credits along with some brief new footage that
occurs after the end of the series. It's certainly nice to see
some new material and to know that all is alright for these
great characters but like most of the content on this release it
doesn't necessarily seem as essential as some might hope for new
material based within the show.
Textless credits for
the opening "Smile Bomb" and ending "Sayonara Bye Bye" are
included, although both are cropped to anamorphic widescreen.
There is also an audio only alternate rendition of the "Sayonara
Bye Bye" song as sung by the English voice actor who portrays
Lastly, a "Vintage"
Yu Yu Hakusho Trailer which is actually just an old
Funimation trailer and not even a very good one at that. I was
sort of hoping to see a vintage trailer made before the series
arrived on Japanese television.
Yu Yu Hakusho is one of the best
supernatural-action anime series ever made. It features great
characters and it manages to stand the test of time.
Unfortunately, this new release containing a "Movie" and "Eizou
Hakusho" doesn't fully deliver. The film itself was decently
made but no longer than a single episode. The Eizou Hakusho segments
are just clip-show filler. The actual extras are also somewhat
sparse considering the relatively high pricing on this
collection. Any diehard fans of the series are encouraged to
rent this release, while moderate fans and newcomers shouldn't
bother with this overpriced release at all. Skip It.
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema, and a student who aspires to make movies. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.