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Yu Yu Hakusho - The Saga of the Three Kings
With the release of The Saga of the Three Kings boxed set, the final story arc in the long running Yu Yu Hakusho anime is collected at last. Previously released on six individual DVDs, this collection gathers those releases together in an attractive box at a greatly reduced price. It's a 'complete your collection' set as Yusuke travels to the Demon Realm that's on the brink of war. If he can't stop the three rulers from fighting each other, the Human Realm will be in as much trouble as the Demon's world.
Yusuke Urameshi was a 14-year-old juvenile delinquent who frequently got in fights and was fond of skipping school. That is until the day he died. When he sees a child run out into the street, Yusuke sacrifices himself to save the tot, pushing him out of the way of a speeding car only to be hit himself. This noble act surprises everyone, including the people in the spirit world. They never considered that Yusuke would do such a thing, and so he arrives in the afterlife earlier than planned.
Since he's thrown things off a bit by dying when he did, Prince Koenma gives Yusuke the chance to earn his life back. He eventually does this after a series of adventures. Alive once more, Yusuke continued to have contact with the spirit world. Prince Koenma was so impressed with the young man that he made him a 'Spirit Detective'. Now Yusuke is responsible for tracking down monsters that have escaped to Earth from the demon world, capturing them, and then sending them off to the spirit world for punishment.
Yusuke doesn't have to do this all alone however. Along the way he gains some friends who help him along. Included in this bunch are his old rival, Kuwabara, who also possess some mystical powers, the fire demon turned friend Hiei, and Youko Kurama a five tailed fox demon. Other important characters in the series are Botan, the cute and bubbly spirit of death who first takes Yusuke when he dies tags along sometimes, and Yusuke's childhood friend Keiko Yukimura.
After the events in the previous saga where Yusuke killed the powerful Sensui, the Spirit Detective is troubled. His mentor Genkai tells him to go see a former Spirit Detective, Kouroko, which helps him some. While visiting though Yusuke meets three S-class Yokai who need his help, and this starts the young man off on the final saga of the series.
It seem that the Demon Realm is divided up into three equal sections. The three rulers, Raizen, Yomi, and Mukuro, have an uneasy truce, but things have gotten worse lately. Raizen thinks that demons should not eat human flesh, but the other two don't agree. Raizen himself hasn't consumed a human in over 1000 years, and he's getting weak. The three Yokai want Yusuke to travel back to the Demon Realm and support Raizen in the upcoming battle. They want him to do this not only because Raizen is the most moderate of the demon rulers, but also because he's Yusuke's father.
He goes of course, but to say that Yusuke and his father don't hit it off would be an understatement. The two end up fighting, a lot. But Raizen doesn't have long left, and what will happen to the demon world when he dies and the balance of power is upset?
This was a good story arc overall. I liked the fact that they explored Yusuke's past and gave a nice explanation for the fact that he was so powerful even before he became a Spirit Detective. There were also subplots involving Hiei and Kurama that explained the part that they were playing in the Demon Realm as well as looking into their past. This added history was one of my favorite parts of the series and gives the show more dimension and heart.
Near the end when the started with another fighting tournament though, I have to admit I let out a big sigh. This series has had its share of refereed battles, and I was expecting this one to be more of the same. Though there was a sameness to this section of the series, I didn't find it as boring or tedious as I thought I would. It wasn't the highlight of the set, but it wasn't horrible either.
This saga wraps up the Yu Yu Hakusho story, and I was a little sad to see it end. Though some of my favorite characters didn't have a big part in this story arc (Kuwabara for instance) it was still a fun romp. The show does end very well, with things being wrapped up in a very nice manner. A fitting end to a very popular series.
This final story arc is presented on six DVDs, as originally released, each in a seperate keepcase. The cases come in a nice slipcase which matches the others in the series.
These discs come with the original Japanese language track in stereo as well as an English dub, also in stereo. I alternated audio on the first few episodes and thought they were both fine though I viewed a majority of the episodes in Japanese with English subtitles. The soundtracks were both free of dropouts, hiss, distortion, and other audio defects. While neither track was particularly spectacular, they both did a fine job. A nice solid soundtrack.
The fullframe color picture is fine for a show from 1992 (according to the copyright date on the packaging.) The colors aren't very bright or vibrant, but that's the look the creators were going for. The lines are tight and digital artifacts are very minimal, only a bit of aliasing that is limited to some background scenes. A fine looking series.
The first five discs in this set have pretty much the same bonus items: clean opening and closings, character profiles and some text bits on the names used and translations of some signs there weren't covered in the subtitles. The final disc in the set adds some commentary tracks too, six in all! Each episode has two tracks, and there are comments by the ADR and mixing crew, the supporting cast, the leading cast, and the writers. There is also an interesting outtakes reel, where they present some of the more humorous flubs that were recorded over the course of the series. Unfortunately they didn't play the video that goes with these scenes, they just laid the audio over episode 111. It worked for the most part, and I smiled in several places, but it would have been better if they had included the video that the goofs went with. The last, and best, commentary was entitled Memories of Yu Yu Hakusho that appeared with episode 112, the final show. Justin Cook, who voiced Yusuke as well as being voice director and line producer for the show reminisces about the program and what it's meant to him. I'm not a huge fan of anime commentary tracks, but I really enjoyed this one.
I'd never say that Yu Yu Hakusho was one of the greatest anime series ever, but it is a lot of fun. The show, including parts of this set, does tend to get wrapped up in too many fights, but this is a fighting series after all. The characters are enjoyable though and the storys are always interesting. This final story arc works very well and has a pretty good balance of fights to plot development (when compared to the rest of the series.) When all was said and done, I was a little bit sad that the show was over. It has been a great ride. Recommended.