Plot: Yusuke’s back proper now, and he’s got his first big case as a spirit detective. Three demons have stolen three incredibly powerful artifacts from the vault of Koenma’s father, King Yama. Yusuke is tasked with hunting them down, bringing them to justice and retrieving the artifacts before the thieves do anything malicious with them.
Breakdown: Ah, we’re finally into the nitty gritty. Yusuke’s officially a spirit detective now, and he’s got his first case. Not to mention, it’s the case that will lead us to two other main characters, Hiei and Kurama, who happen to be two of the aforementioned thieves.
We also get our first detective item in the Spirit Filtering Spectacles, known in the dub as the Psychic Spyglass, which allows the user to see through things such as walls, clothes etc.
Sadly, this is the first and last time we see this item, like so many other detective items, because, like I said before, it’s pretty much a gimmick they completely dropped not too long into the series.
As for Yusuke’s first enemy, Gouki, he’s pretty much forgettable. I get that we needed someone who was a typical run-of-the-mill type criminal for Yusuke to cut his teeth on before he moved onto bigger game, but he really is just forgettable. I remember him being a part of Hiei and Kurama’s short-lived thief crew and I remembered the item he stole, but I couldn’t remember his name or what kind of powers he had, and I just barely remembered his base character design. His full demon state, or I guess I should say ogre state, is also very, very boringly typical. Just a big muscular red dude with horns and big teeth.
I commend Yusuke for actually agreeing to this role. At first, he’s kinda blasé about it and wants to do his own thing, but he accepts that, in return for getting his life back, he owes it to Koenma and Botan to do this job. He’s ‘earning his keep’ as he puts it.
The first half of the episode really isn’t about the case, however, it’s about Yusuke’s return to school. Everyone is scared to death of him, whether it be because they’re just afraid of Yusuke by default or they’re terrified about the fact that he rose from the dead.
Mr. Iwamoto is also not happy about his return – so much so that he tries to have him expelled by framing him for various thefts. He even punches Yusuke in the face when he refuses to confess! God, I really hate Iwamoto….Oh well, at least he’s also a dumbass who keeps the stolen items in his frickin’ pocket as he’s interrogating Yusuke.
Speaking of idiots, let’s talk about Koenma for a minute. Yusuke has a one week time limit on retrieving these items, but not because the three thieves are planning something major that will go down in one week – it’s because Koenma’s dad, King Yama, is coming back from vacation in a week. If he sees the items are missing, he’ll go ballistic – supposedly raining havoc and destruction all over earth until he gets them back.
And the reason the items went missing, even though Koenma was specifically told to ensure the vault was properly protected….was just that Koenma didn’t guard it well enough because he just didn’t think anyone would try to break in…..
But that’s not all. Yusuke wants to teach Iwamoto a lesson for framing him and trying to get him expelled. Koenma points out that it’s in poor taste to attack a teacher after he was set free, but Yusuke is like ‘well, I can’t just let him go!’ So Koenma teaches him his trademark attack, the Spirit Gun, to attack him invisibly. At this point, the blast is no stronger than a really good punch, so that should be revenge enough. It is indeed a good shot of revenge since it flattens him out on the ground in an instant.
You may be wondering why this is a problem.
Well, teaching Yusuke the Spirit Gun right now isn’t a problem, and it’s only kinda problematic that he taught him the move in order to strike his teacher, since he deserved it and all – it’s that, after he already shot one off, Koenma tells him he can only use it once a day….He tells him that right before Yusuke sets off to find and confront the thieves.
Koenma let him waste his best and, pretty much, only decent weapon against demons and other monsters just because he was pissed off and too childish to let it go or at least wait until later to get his revenge. Hell, he could’ve told him about the Spirit Gun and the one-shot-a-day limit immediately and then told him to wait until after the case to shoot Iwamoto. The jackass isn’t going anywhere.
Overall, a bit more of a building block episode, but a good one. Yusuke’s first official case is a really big one, but there are three culprits to deal with one at a time to better split it up and let him grow more gradually at he faces each opponent. Gouki may be small potatoes and forgettable, but like I said he basically had to be as such in order to give Yusuke a training-wheels-esque enemy.
Next time, one of my favorite episodes!…And not just because it’s the proper debut of KURAMMMAAAAAAAA!!….I’ve always loved Kurama a lot…He’s my favorite character….And I may have had a big crush on him back in the day…..
Picking up where we last left off, Keiko was in the hands of the thug, Daisuke, who brought her back to some seedy bar to show her off to his friends. She doesn’t go quietly, however, especially when they start trying to do pervy things to her. They beat her up and knock her unconscious, leaving them open to sexually assaulting her. However, Yusuke, who comes in wearing a mask he won at a pachinko parlor, rescues her before they do anything.
Kuwabara, who got the news when Yusuke did, arrives on scene to save her, but Yusuke hands over the unconscious Keiko to Kuwabara so he can pretend he saved her – making it so she won’t ask questions or realize he’s alive for a day.
I don’t know why Yusuke is allowed to talk to Kuwabara but not Keiko or his mom. Also, Keiko is just faking being unconscious right now, she woke up a little earlier…so…what are the rules there? She’s allowed to acknowledge that he’s temporarily alive, touch him and hear him speak, but as long as he doesn’t speak to her and vice versa….it’s fine?
Keiko continues to fake being unconscious for several more hours, I guess to force Yusuke to not go traipsing around town and risking his body like that. When she leaves, Yusuke realizes she put a little kissy mark on his face.
This was…a fairly okay little arc. It was cool to see Yusuke back in action, and his ridiculous masks were hilarious. Plus, this was a cute little moment between Keiko and Yusuke, but this is just one of so many instances of Keiko being a damsel in distress. And the continued aspect of threatening sexual assault is uncomfortable.
Not to mention that I just find the whole aspect of him being able to see and converse with literally anyone else BUT Keiko and his mom is a grade A plot device that doesn’t even function logically. Yusuke put on a mask so Keiko wouldn’t recognize him, but it turns out she can acknowledge everything about his existence except communicate with him. And if he wrote that note to Keiko at the end, the one where he acts as if he’s Kuwabara, doesn’t that count as communicating with her?
I can definitely see why they didn’t put this in the anime.
Chapter 10: Forbidden Games
Another manga exclusive story, this chapter returns us to Shouta, the boy from a few chapters back who was dealing with confidence issues and the loss of his beloved dog, Jiro. Now, Shouta is doing pretty good in life, but he’s haunted by the spirit of a girl named Sayaka. She’s dragging him out of his body every night to play with her because she’s so lonely, as she was also very lonely in life. Shouta doesn’t remember these encounters after he wakes up, but when he’s in spirit form he resists going with Yusuke and abandoning Sayaka because he doesn’t want her to be lonely.
This is the first spirit Yusuke actually fights in the manga – and he loses pretty badly. Sayaka’s loneliness has created a deep darkness in her heart, and it’s granted her incredible power that Yusuke just can’t stand up against. If Sayaka continues to take Shouta’s soul out of his body night after night, she’ll eventually weaken his soul enough to drag him to the afterlife with her, but since her soul is so corrupted by loneliness, she’ll only be entering a world of darkness and despair with him.
After a few days of being Yusuke being unconscious (how that works as a ghost, I don’t know) we discover that Shouta is becoming pretty weak, though still not realizing what’s happening at night. Yusuke goes to confront Sayaka once more, but she refuses. She wants to finally bring Shouta to what she believes is heaven, but when she goes to force Yusuke away again, she finds her powers to be entirely diminished.
It seems that hanging out with Shouta so much has quelled the loneliness in her heart, and her powers have greatly weakened because of it. She still doesn’t want to leave Shouta and vice versa, however, so Yusuke happily offers to be a big brother to her and play with her until she’s finally ready to pass on for real.
She agrees, and Shouta returns to his regular life, healthy as a child should be, but it seems Sayaka is sticking around for longer than they thought.
I really liked this story and, truth be told, it’s better than the anime version of Sayaka.
Yes, Sayaka exists in the anime, but she’s basically changed so much that she’s not even the same character outside of the design. In the anime, she’s a one-episode character, taking the role of a spirit investigator sent to determine if Yusuke is really worth saving. She evaluates Yusuke’s friends and family as well as Yusuke and his relationship to them. Most notably, she investigates the relationship that Keiko and Yusuke have. She’s uncertain about her findings until Yusuke willfully sacrifices his spirit egg, his one chance at returning to life, in order to save Keiko’s life.
Sayaka’s report on the matter impresses Koenma, who agrees to bring him back anyway since he showed such selflessness.
Sayaka just always seemed like an unnecessary character. Isn’t Botan doing enough investigating and reporting on Yusuke’s attitude and relationships that Sayaka’s role is redundant? I never disliked her in the anime or anything, but she wasn’t really made interesting and, like I said, her presence seemed pointless.
In the manga, her story is much more interesting, and even somewhat heartbreaking. I absolutely loved that Yusuke offered to be her big brother and play with her without any hesitation. He knows she’s not a bad kid, she’s just lonely and sad. It was also nice to see Shouta again. It’s good that he’s still doing well and is turning into such a sweet kid, even if it is slightly implied that he’s becoming a bit of a ladies man….as much as an eight year old can be, anyway. I dunno why they needed that implication. Can’t he just be a nice kid to both genders without implying that he’s being nice to girls to impress them?
I was a bit sad that Shouta didn’t even mention Jiro, but Yusuke brought up his promise to Jiro, and that was really sweet. We’ll have to wait and see what Sayaka’s continued presence will bring to the series.
Chapter 11-12 A Broken Friendship/Demonic Hand
This is a two-parter story involving two best friends, Emi and Natsuko. They’re both top of their respective classes, and they’re competing for the lone spot offered by their school to go to N High School – a very prestigious school that everyone’s pressuring them to attend.
Recently, Emi has been having very ominous feelings, as if something is watching her or causing her to suffer misfortune. Yusuke spots the seeming culprit, the spirit of a boy who used to attend the school five years ago. He committed suicide, and I quote “due to some setback” but very much regrets his decision.
He’s not really the problem, though. He was attracted to Emi due to a dark power resonated from her because of an amulet. Natsuko had placed a curse on Emi to cause her to slip up in her studies and stop being competition for her for the spot in N High School. Natsuko was pressured even more by everyone else, especially her family, to get the N High School spot. This pressure was compounded by the fact that Natsuko was consistently second place to Emi throughout their entire friendship. She resented her for it, but those feelings would usually quickly dissipate after saving Emi from bullies or spending time with her.
Evil and corrupted spirits were attracted to the amulet, making it more powerful. However, the boy’s evil energy started fading when he kept seeing what a kind person Emi was. He didn’t fall in love with her or anything, but she showed him a light that drove back the darkness.
Meanwhile, Natsuko started regretting her decision after hearing Emi talk about not wanting to bother Natsuko with her worries, especially since Natsuko believes in the paranormal and may freak out.
Natsuko rips up the ‘amulet’ which I think is moreso a talisman, but okay. However, she’s shocked to find the mark of the amulet now tattooed on her wrist. At the same time, Emi is being pulled across the railroad tracks by a dark entity right as a train approaches.
The boy vanishes before the second half of the story. Yusuke asks if he’s moving on now, and Botan says suicide is too grave a sin to move on yet. He has a lot of repentance to do before he can do pass on properly.
Sayaka, who alerted them to Emi’s problems in the first place, notifies them of Emi’s current situation. However, they can’t do anything about it since spirits can’t really interfere much with human matters, and this evil entity is too powerful for any of them to take on. That’s not enough for Yusuke, however, as he rushes in and tries to bite the entity into submission, but he’s literally chucked all the way into space as a result.
The boy’s spirit returns and manages to bring Natsuko to the tracks to save Emi. That’s all he’s able to do before he disappears once more.
Natsuko pleads with the entity to let her go, and after a touching speech, the entity finally vanishes, as does the mark, and Natsuko saves Emi.
Later, at school, Natsuko and Emi tell their respective teachers, who have been pressuring them a lot since the class of the student who goes to N High School will get a lot of respect and adoration (and Natsuko and Emi are from two different classes), that they want the school to take them out of consideration for the N High School spot. They’ve both decided to not listen to anyone who is pressuring them anymore. They want to make their own decisions from now on. They’ve decided to go to S High School together, much to their teachers’ dismay.
This story was pretty good, even if I’m not sure it warranted being a two-parter. Emi and Natsuko have a very realistic friendship. Even the best of friends can have hidden resentments and anger amongst them while still being very strong friends, and such massive pressure on the both them could easily make them do crazy things, especially if they believe it won’t actually work. Despite believing in the paranormal, Natsuko didn’t believe her silly spell would work until she realized something was actually troubling Emi, and when she realized it was real she almost sacrificed her life to make things right.
My two main problems with this story are the boy spirit and the roles of Yusuke, Botan and Sayaka. The boy spirit, who is never named, mind you, seems like he could have an interesting story. He’s a kid who committed suicide at the very school the girls are currently attending, but we get an almost insultingly pitiful amount of information on him. Not only do we never learn his name, but we never learn of his story or why he committed suicide in the first place. “Due to some setback” is so vague it’s almost irritating. It was only five years ago. Why is he so unspecific about it?
And even though I get that suicide is taboo in a lot of religions, it does bother me that even in YYH suicide is apparently so grave a sin that you can’t go to heaven once you do it. They never imply he’s in hell or anything, just that he has to do god knows how many good deeds as a spirit before he can move on, but still. The kid was suffering so much that he killed himself and now, as a ghost, realizes he lost everything and regrets it. Isn’t that bad enough?
He does come back and help Natsuko save Emi, but then he vanishes and is never even brought up again. It’s a sad ending to an already sad story and it’s pretty much glossed over.
In regards to Yusuke, Botan and Sayaka, this is another story where they might as well have not even been there in the first place. You could completely remove them from this story and everything would have been exactly the same. The trio basically just acted as audience surrogates – creating an avenue for the characters to give exposition without it being narration or something, and that wasn’t necessary because…yeah, just have it be narration.
It’s not like Yusuke did any Spirit Detective-ing either. He literally just talked to the ghost stalking Emi and asked what’s up. The boy ghost was even the one who found out it was Natsuko who cursed Emi.
Yusuke attacked the entity, and that was a little funny, but it did absolutely nothing and the girls weren’t even able to notice he did it.
So, in conclusion, decent story but it didn’t have to be a YYH story nor a two-parter.
Chapters 13-14: Prerequisites of a Loved One/Inside the Flames
As I mentioned before, Sayaka is not a spirit investigator in the manga as she is in the anime – she’s just the spirit of a little girl. She has grown extremely attached to Yusuke, and she and Botan basically follow Keiko around so Sayaka can see if Keiko and Yusuke’s relationship is true love.
Everything else in the story is exactly the same barring the very ending. In the anime, Yusuke was told that the only way to save Keiko’s life was to use the power that has been stored up in his spirit egg to create a pathway in the fire. This would mean sacrificing his one chance at coming back to life, but Yusuke does it anyway since Keiko’s life means more to him than his.
After the ordeal, Koenma appears. He’s so impressed by Yusuke’s selflessness that he agrees to bring him back to life anyway.
In the manga, Koenma appears during the fire and explains to Yusuke that he’ll have to agree to a deal for Koenma to use his power to save Keiko. Yusuke doesn’t let him explain what it is as he’s far too impatient to wait for Keiko to be safe. Koenma uses his power and opens a pathway in the flames. Later, Botan explains that, in order for Koenma to make a miracle, like saving Keiko, he needed to use human virtue. Since Yusuke was the other half of the deal, he used the virtue that Yusuke had been saving up in his body to use his power.
However, unlike in the anime where this meant he sacrificed his chance to come back to life, in the manga, this simply means that it will take longer for Yusuke to build up more virtue and return to life. And he really doesn’t care, so this doesn’t seem like nearly the same kind of massive sacrifice as Yusuke made in the anime, which is disappointing.
Granted, the anime also doesn’t make a lot of sense because it’s revealed later that, despite the egg being destroyed in the fire, his spirit egg hatched further down the line and became Puu. Still, you lose a lot of the emotional impact when you replace ‘You can never be resurrected’ with ‘it’ll take a bit longer to be resurrected.’
The manga also goes a bit further in the story. Kuwabara shows up and takes Keiko and Yusuke’s body to his house to help cover up Yusuke’s secret. His sister, Shizuru, loans Keiko some clothes to replace her burned ones, and she cuts Keiko’s hair since it was singed. We also learn Shizuru wants to be a beautician, which is something I don’t believe was ever conveyed in the anime.
Shizuru, having even stronger spiritual powers than Kuwabara, can actually see Yusuke’s spirit around Keiko. She comments that he seems to be a good guy and asks if she likes him. She says yes and Yusuke looks a little embarrassed.
Meanwhile, Sayaka also bids her farewell. She accepts that Yusuke and Keiko are a great pair. She doesn’t like the idea of relying on anyone else’s boyfriend, so she decides to pass on and find her own boyfriend in the afterlife. She even suggests Koenma is kinda cute and might seek him out next. She tells Yusuke to have two kids with Keiko, a boy and a girl, before finally departing.
There’s also a small part where Koenma shows back up after Sayaka leaves. He tells Yusuke that, since he had to save Keiko’s life and interfere in real world matters, he took a body part from her. Yusuke freaks out and rushes to Keiko and Koenma giggles and points out that he took her hair (since she just got a haircut.)
You’ll notice that another scene is missing from the manga, and that’s the scene after the fire is put out. Keiko stands by with Yusuke’s body in a wheelchair, believing he saved her from the fire. Atsuko, in a kind of annoying ‘I’m not really taking this seriously’ tone goes on about how sorry she is that she wasn’t there, but she’s thankful Yusuke is alive and will do better for him from now on.
I do kinda wish the manga had some scene with Atsuko, because this is literally all her fault. Like I said in my review of the anime episode, I almost feel like it was originally planned to have Atsuko accidentally set the fire due to her negligence but they decided against it to not make Atsuko too unlikable. Instead, she left the windows unlocked and covered her son in dust and garbage, giving the arsonist easy access and allowing the fire to spread easily.
This was definitely a sweet story in both versions, but I can’t help but prefer the anime’s retelling a little more. Yusuke knowingly and willingly sacrificing his one shot at being brought back to life is just better than him needing to be a ghost for a while longer. He didn’t know what he was agreeing to in the first place, and he didn’t care at all when he found out the cost.
Yusuke, in the anime, after everything was said and done, had a bit of a blowup. He yelled out to his mom, Keiko and Kuwabara to stop talking to what was now an actual dead body. He yelled at his mom to stop apologizing because he’ll never be around to say it’s okay, and he accepted that he was dead for good. He even started crying a little before telling Botan to just take him heaven or hell or wherever he was supposed to go now.
This blowup doesn’t mean he regrets saving Keiko, of course he doesn’t, but it’s very genuine to also show that the cost deeply affected him. A sacrifice isn’t really much of a sacrifice if the loss doesn’t hurt you.
Chapters 15-16: Target! A Victory/Victory Depends on Guts
As he’s floating around town, Yusuke spots an old classmate of his, Suekichi, being bullied by a group of thugs. Back when they were kids, Suekichi was always being bullied and Yusuke would save him from the bullies….for a fee, of course. He was so spineless and weak that the other kids had nicknamed him Suekichi the Idiot.
Yusuke couldn’t stand watching Suekichi be ruthlessly beaten into the ground anymore, so once he was knocked unconscious Yusuke jumped into his body, ignoring the warnings of Botan. Yusukichi easily flattened all of the thugs in one fell swoop, but Yusuke became locked in Suekichi’s body.
Meanwhile, Koenma appears before Botan and explains that a decision was made on Yusuke’s revival. They will allow Yusuke to be brought back to life even without him regaining the virtue he lost earlier. They explored Yusuke’s heart and found that he wasn’t evil, but he wasn’t entirely noble either. He very much acts without thinking, but many of his acts lead him to noble deeds….and some not so noble.
They’ve concluded that he’s a ‘bubblehead’ who can’t be accurately judged in his spirit form, so they’re taking the opportunity to see what he’ll do in a regular body..
Once Suekichi’s consciousness was reawakened, he freaked out at the invasion of Yusuke’s spirit, but Yusuke explained that he wished to help him. Suekichi is an aspiring boxer and he’s loved the sport of boxing since he was a kid. However, he’s never won a single match, which is really all he wants to do. Being bullied his whole life, he has a nasty habit of closing his eyes when the opponent is about to strike, so he always loses.
He does have a wealth of knowledge on boxing and great technique, but when it comes to applying it, he’s a total mess. However, he was chosen to partake in a competition as a representative of their school’s boxing society. He was one of only two candidates with the other being a thug named Itou who lost the position due to skipping too many practices. Itou’s cohorts were the ones beating on him in the start of the story, trying to get him to relinquish his spot. Itou himself starts wailing on him to get him to give up, but once again Yusuke takes over and beats the snot out of him.
Yusuke keeps trying to get Suekichi to believe in himself and have fighting spirit, but no matter the situation, he always folds.
One day, they bump into Tachikawa, who is meant to be his opponent in the match. He’s a dirty fighter who is known for purposely breaking bones and blinding his opponents in order to win. Yusuke took over his body and stood up to him for Suekichi, but when the time came for the match and he tried to get Suekichi to rise to the occasion, Suekichi simply couldn’t do it.
Yusuke finally got fed up and punched Suekichi (and by extension himself) in the face. With one final…let’s call it a pep talk Yusuke-style, Suekichi bites the bullet and heads out, which allows Yusuke to leave his body.
During the match, he does quite well. He doesn’t close his eyes and he has a newfound confidence. Even after he takes a hit, he’s able to power through because Yusuke’s punch was a lot worse. Tachikawa then aims to elbow him in the eyes to blind him, but Suekichi blocks with his head gear and socks Tachikawa in the face, laying him out and winning him the match. He cheers to Yusuke, even though he’s gone from his body, and Yusuke looks on with a smile.
I gotta say, if this was the main crux they were using for Yusuke earning his right to be revived….what a shitty story to do that with. It’s not a terrible story, it’s just largely uninteresting and not worth being so important. And haven’t we already had a story when Yusuke helps some bullied kid be brave? Nothing is riding on this competition besides some vow he made to himself several years ago, the outcome is entirely predictable, Suekichi is not an engaging character at all, and Yusuke was able to help him by beating up a dozen people and punching Suekichi in the face? Are you kidding me? THAT’S the act that instantly shows the higher ups in Spirit World that Yusuke’s worth bringing back to life?
Why couldn’t they have just made it so him sacrificing his ‘life’ for Keiko was the big act that convinced them? Why did he need to do something in a human body to show this? Didn’t he also do good deeds the few times he possessed people? Hell, just look to the brief period he was brought back to life and how he saved Keiko from that gang, even risking losing his chance at coming back to life if she spoke to him. It’s so backwards. This should have been one of the first ‘Yusuke proves he’s an alright guy’ stories not the final one.
Chapter 17: The Golden Awakening
Ah, we’ve finally reached Yusuke’s awakening, and it’s pretty much exactly as it was in the anime. The only real change I saw was that, at least in the English dub, Yusuke claims Atsuko had good insurance and that’s how they got such a good apartment after the fire. In the manga, a text box explains that Atsuko got money from pimps to pay for it…..I don’t know if they’re insinuating that Atsuko’s a prostitute or she just knows pimps who would give her money, but….there’s that.
Speaking of Atsuko, another thing that stayed the same was Atsuko going out and getting plastered, leaving Yusuke’s body all alone AGAIN. I know I’ve already complained about that when talking about the anime, but REALLY. She nearly loses her son AGAIN to a house fire because she was out getting shitfaced, and she decides it’s a good idea to yet again leave her son alone while she goes to get shitfaced. Bloody hell….
As a few final notes, the anime did add a scene where Yusuke tries to corral Kuwabara while he’s at the arcade, but his efforts fail, and the anime’s shot of Keiko kissing Yusuke was just plain better in the manga. The actual kiss is covered, but the angle is a lot better than the weird sideways kiss she gives him in the anime.
….Oh and also, the previous two chapters were even more pointless if he was just going to be revived immediately after.
And that was volume two! Quite the long road to Yusuke getting revived, but we’re finally getting him into Spirit Detective mode.
As for this volume’s journey to getting him there….Eh. The filler was okay, but I didn’t feel particularly impacted to the point where I was like ‘Whoa, I’m sad they never adapted this to the anime.’ The arc with Suekichi only gets increasingly frustrating the more I think about it. It’s boring padding that definitely didn’t deserve to be the defining moment for proving Yusuke’s worth as a person.
The manga just seems to have a problem with making stories that otherwise don’t really need Yusuke and Botan around. It doesn’t feel like Yu Yu Hakusho – it feels like an anthology. A Yu Yu Hakusho anthology-esque section could very well work if they focused more on giving Yusuke and Botan more stuff to do instead of reacting to what’s going on around them.
The arc with Yusuke’s temporary resurrection was okay, and the ending with Keiko was a little sweet, but I still find the conditions of this temporary arrangement to be bunk. It really just felt like a forced plot device to ensure Keiko and Yusuke don’t have some sort of reunion before he actually revives.
When it came to storylines that were adapted into the anime for this volume, everything seems in order, barring that one moment at the end of Prerequisites for a Loved One where the anime just did it objectively better all around. The manga did Sayaka’s role a lot better, but in comparison to the ending changes, it’s not much consolation.
Hm…..I feel like it’s a bit of a close call, but, ultimately, I’d give this round to the anime. If the anime had omitted more memorable stories and moments, I’d definitely give it to the manga, but they just made too many missteps here.
Volume 3 coming soon….
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Plot: Uhhh, there’s some tournament called the Toshin tournament, but that doesn’t matter because we never see the tournament over the course of the show. This anime is also based off of a video game of the same name that I’ve never played, but I hope to God at least the fans of the game find some meaning behind this show.
A man named Eiji was apparently the last tournament’s winner, and his brother, Sho, has turned bad, apparently, and has betrayed his family, so Eiji’s on a mission to find him…..apparently.
But there’s also some lady named Uranus who dresses like Lady Gaga’s lobotomized twin. She’s evil and runs some evil organization called….The Organization. Eiji along with a bunch of other characters who are never adequately explored fight The Organization.
Breakdown: THEM Anime Reviews has, at least at one point, labeled this the worst anime they’ve ever seen. Ouch. Now, I’ve disagreed with THEM before, and, at this point, I’ve seen my fair share of crap. Do I share the same sentiment?
……Uhh, I wouldn’t say ‘worst’ but it’s pretty damn low on the list. It’s bottom 10 at least. This anime is confusing as hell to me. I really, truly hate when shows, anime or otherwise, expect that you should know the full backstory behind something, especially when the backstory is explained in an entirely different medium. I’ve never played Battle Arena Toshinden, yet this anime not only acts like you should know full well the backstory to this whole mess of an OVA, but it also assumes you know every character and what their story is too.
When they actually do bless you with some information, it’s thrown at you like a rock of exposition. Characters are constantly showing up, especially at the ending where the big clusterfuck of cameos happens. I had no idea who 98% of those people were when they showed up and the ones I did recognize I still knew nothing about. Oh yeah, the old man with Wolverine claws, dominatrix love-interest chick. ♪ And the rest….are here on Gilligan’s Isssllllleeee! ♪
Not like they even did anything either. They were simply meant to fight the lacky no-name no-face enemy characters to give the main guys a chance to go after the characters who actually somewhat matter. Eiji, one of the main characters, actually said “We don’t have time to deal with those pawns!” Yeah, great, thanks for telling me there’s no reason to give a crap about what they’re doing.
I didn’t even really get to know the main character that well. He’s a master martial artist and a nice guy…..that’s…about…it.
Another character who literally shows up just to create a plot point is Ellis. She’s a cutesy knife thrower in the circus who was also a participant in the tournament that I’m told happened. She appears in the final minutes of episode one and is in a coma dying from poison five minutes into episode two.
I don’t care about this person. If anything, she annoys me. I don’t care about her dad (It was also an exposition rock that a fighter named Gaia was her dad) And oh she’s voiced by Lisa Ortiz….
Let’s address Uranus, hm? Well, first of all we don’t see her do anything. She’s one of those behind-the-scenes villains who talks big then runs off when she’s confronted face to face. Oh and…she grew wings out of nowhere.
By the way, can someone please explain to me what the hell this is?
It looks she fell in the shower, got wrapped up in the shower curtain, curtain rod and all, walked to the mirror and said, “….Hm…that’s fine. Time to go to work.”
And look at the front!
Her dress has no top! What was that listed as in the item description? “Side-Boob-Displaying Uncomfortable Dress from Hell”? That has got to be one of the dumbest clothing designs I’ve ever seen in anything.
Oh well, she has to look better when she’s prepared for battle, right?
Wow….more practical but still ugly as all hell. I doubt she’d be able to move in that thing, though, considering the way the shoulder guards are designed. Also, all that armor, looking clunky as a robot made of washing machines, and the two areas they don’t cover are the head and the boobs. Oh well, at least she has boob socks – the strongest of all female armor.
I am thoroughly unimpressed with everything. Thank you.
Our only two actual villains in this movie who do things are Sho and a man-machine (because ‘android’ or ‘cyborg’ are just too complicated) named Chaos. Sho’s obviously the big brother who joined the bad ranks for whatever reason but still wants to fight his brother in an honorable match. Chaos is just a crazy guy wielding a sickle. He has a grudge against Gaia for beating him a while back and that’s about it.
From what story I could piece together, there is nothing here. It’s filled with so many cliches and suffers from such a lack of originality that it’s just sad. Being cliché doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker. You just have to be creative with the cliches…and they’re not. I could not care about anything in this OVA. Not the story. Not the characters. Nothing.
This isn’t even really good for action. The action scenes, while not being particularly boring, weren’t particularly interesting either. Their moves are so uninspired that I honestly would never be able to tell them apart if they were done one after another.
They all have regular weapons from your traditional sword, to a buster-sword-thing, to whips (of course the dominatrix character gets a whip….a PINK whip.) to big billy clubs (wielded by a female character who seems to be roller-derby-ish…..and they’re, of course, pink….They also look like giant Nerf toys.) to the aforementioned Wolverine claws. They also have the never-explained ability to use energy-powers, but none of these moves are memorable either.
Oh and did I mention that the ending basically resolves nothing? They manage to get the antidote for Ellis by defeating Chaos. The reason they couldn’t defeat him before was because he was turned into a man-machine. Every time he fought one of the main guys, he’d get data on their fighting styles and predict their moves. How was he beaten? Eiji shrugged him off and said to just fight using each other’s moves so Chaos couldn’t predict it.
Eiji: “You’re a fool for thinking we’d just do the same moves over and over.” You know what? That is a great point and a gigantic flaw in this multi-billion dollar experiment to make man-machine fighters. Way to go, Uranus, you dumb stupidly dressed sack of idiot.
Uranus gets away, the real Sho shows up (don’t ask) yet disappears as soon as he arrived to just say “Yeah I blew up all the stuff you had. Just wanted to end this BS. Bye!” Uranus escapes due to her unexplained sudden growth of wings (even though I don’t see how she really did escape unless there was a series of holes leading straight up out of the building), the good guys survive the explosion complete with walking out of the flames without even attempting to walk at a brisk pace because bad-ass.
At the very end, some guy, I guess, according to the Youtube comments, his name is Vermillion, comes out, Eiji smiles, unsheathes his sword, slashes once and reveals the title screen before the end credits start.
Look, if you want to release an OVA that is purely meant as an advertisement for a game or a manga or whatever – be my guest. There are plenty of times when that can work, but you have to do it well. You can’t expect that your audience knows all of this crap that may or may not be explained in the video games, and it’s really bad practice to do that because chances are the video game will become dated and phased out due to people ditching their old consoles for new ones, but the OVA will stick around for future viewings and people will be insanely confused.
I guess the Youtube commenters must’ve been fans of the game because I kept seeing “this is a good anime” and the like. However, seeing as how many people were also bringing up how this OVA is such a blast from the past, I’m going to either believe they have nostalgia goggles glued on or this OVA really is a lot better when you know of the game. However, I believe even if I knew of all of that stuff that this would still be awful.
Art and Animation: The art is terrible. It’s exaggerated fighting anime style, but it’s still really bad. I don’t know if I’d say it’s some of the worst I’ve seen, but it’s still awful. I will commend them for actually animating the action instead of resorting to still screens, but the animation as a whole is pretty damn bad.
Voice acting:English Dub – Ranges from ‘okay’ to ‘Wow, they really hired this guy?’ Most of the characters lean on the side of ‘okay,’ but characters like the Duke were just laughably bad.
Music: The music wasn’t that bad, but like everything else it wasn’t memorable.
Bottom Line: Unless you’ve played the old Battle Arena Toshinden games and can find some value in this OVA, there’s no point whatsoever in watching this. It’s confusing, poorly paced, extremely poorly written in terms of both story and dialogue, gives you no reason to care about anything and there’s not even good mindless fight scenes to enjoy. And I do have to reiterate – there’s no ‘battle arena’ in Battle Arena Toshinden. There WAS one. You just missed it.
Additional Information and Notes: Battle Arena Toshinden is based on a series of video games for the Playstation (1-3 and Vita) Game Boy and Sega Saturn. There hasn’t been an incarnation of the series since 2009, and even then it was released under an entirely different name with no connection to the previous storyline.
The OVA was produced by Animate Film and JC Staff. It was directed by Masami Obari, who also directed pretty much every Fatal Fury anime, Voltage Fighter Gowcaizer and uh…*cough*….some hentai titles.
It was co-written by Masaharu Amiya (episode one) who also did minor work on Ai Yori Aoshi, Beyblade, Karin, Inuyasha and….Yosuga no Sora.
Episode two was written by Haruo Takayama, and either the dude is too ashamed of this work to display it anywhere he’s listed or the Wiki doesn’t have accurate information. The only Haruo Takayama I can find did the screenplay for both of the Turn A Gundam movies and wrote the script for Jungle do Ikou’s OAV. Nothing anywhere about Battle Arena Toshinden.
The OVA was originally licensed under the now defunct Central Park Media, then known as US Manga Corps. Their licenses were distributed to many other media companies, but it’s unclear who owns the license to Battle Arena Toshinden now, if anyone owns it at all.
Recommended Audience: Plenty of violence, but nothing gets incredibly gory. One nude shot, of course of a woman, of course the dominatrix lady, some sexual-ish content, no swearing. 12+
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Plot: Koenma finally starts the process of reuniting Yusuke’s soul with this body, but the procedure for resurrecting him is complicated. First, Yusuke only has one day’s worth of a window to do what needs to be done for the ritual. Otherwise, he’ll have to wait 52 years to try again. Secondly, he’ll have to have someone who cares about him to transfer some of their life energy to him within that 24 window – and that life energy must be transferred through a kiss. In order to do this, he enters the dreams of the three people who care for him most, or two of them anyway, Kuwabara and Keiko, to convey images of them kissing him as he glows gold (a side effect of the gateway being opened within his body.)
Kuwabara is far too freaked out to even think about the dream any further, so it’s up to Keiko.
As terrible luck would have it, her mother is hospitalized with exhaustion that very same day. Keiko won’t leave her mother’s bedside until she recovers, so Yusuke goes off to find his only other two chances. However, despite Kuwabara’s high spirit sensory abilities allowing him to feel Yusuke’s presence, he is still too freaked out by the ‘tickle’ feeling of his powers to get the message.
Yusuke’s final option is Atsuko, and she’s too drunk at the bar to even think straight.
It seems like Yusuke’s destined to be a vegetable for the next 52 years until Botan gets an idea. She transmits a message to Keiko through her sleeping mother to go to Yusuke immediately. She’s got a handful of minutes to rush across town and kiss Yusuke before the strike of midnight.
She cuts it as close as humanly possible, but she succeeds.
Yusuke’s back in the world of the living once more!
When Yusuke returns, he wants nothing more than to lay low and relax, but curiosity gets the better of him when he hears that a bunch of thugs from Rugafuji Junior High, lead by Sakamoto, have muscled in on Kuwabara’s turf. Yusuke notices something very strange about Sakamoto that appears to go unnoticed by everyone else – he has horns growing out of his head! Despite this, Yusuke decides against getting involved, so as not to disturb his vacation.
He learns that they have Kuwabara running around like an errand boy, trying to do things that go against his honor code. Yusuke is shocked to see Kuwabara bowing down to Sakamoto and his goons, but apparently they have someone precious to him as a hostage – Eikichi. While Yusuke initially believes this is a girl, it’s soon made apparent that it’s a little kitten.
Sakamoto is displeased with Kuwabara’s inability to break his codes, so he gives Kuwabara one last chance to get back his precious Eikichi – he must beat up his friends until he tells him to stop. This is one step too far for Kuwabara, despite his friends agreeing to the terms full-heartedly. Sakamoto orders the cat be killed, but suddenly Yusuke rushes in and saves Eikichi.
Everyone is shocked to see the legendary Yusuke Urameshi back on the streets again, especially Kuwabara, but there’s no time for pleasantries. There are asses to be kicked. The Rugafuji thugs get taken down rather easily by Kuwabara, his crew and Yusuke, but Sakamoto makes a break for it.
Yusuke corners him in a tunnel and knocks him out. He thinks this is the end of it, but a little demon suddenly crawls out of the boy’s mouth. He’s shocked that Yusuke can see and catch him, as he’s normally not visible to humans. A strange fortune teller that Yusuke ran into earlier tells him that this little demon is a criminal that the spirit world has been trying to apprehend for weeks, but he’s so cagey that he always eludes capture.
Breakdown: Ya know, I always forget that this episode isn’t two separate episodes. The two halves are just so drastically different in their storylines that I kinda don’t understand why Yusuke’s resurrection wasn’t attributed to one episode and his first outing as a spirit detective wasn’t relegated to another. It’s just very odd in its structure.
Since I always see it as such, I feel it fitting to review this episode in two halves.
Side A (Yusuke’s Resurrection)
Ah the infamous episode where they pretty much seamlessly meld a Cinderella story with a Sleeping Beauty one. Even though I always find this story to be tense and exciting, barring the title of the episode completely spoiling the outcome (though, being fair, there wouldn’t be a series if we had to wait 52 years for Yusuke to come back) there’s no denying that it’s a clusterfuck of plot contrivances.
Of course Yusuke only has the next 24 hours to get the ritual done in order to come back, and of course he’ll have to wait an unreasonable amount of time to try again if he fails. Of course it’s a literal kiss of life scenario. Of course Keiko doesn’t try the first time she sees him, despite the dream, because the golden glow effect starts at his covered feet and works its way up. Of course his only legitimate chance to come back is sidetracked by a random medical emergency. Of course it’s a rush down to the second to kiss him, and of course she does it in nick of time while the bells of midnight are chiming, no less.
I can forgive all of those because I do love this storyline. It’s great for Keiko and Yusuke in regards to their relationship, and there were a couple funny Kuwabara moments.
However, that’s not to say the entire episode was good. There was one aspect that really pissed me off, and, let’s work one more ‘of course’ in here – of course it’s Atsuko.
You read right in the plot synopsis – despite nearly losing her son in the previous episode due to a house fire because she was too busy getting drunk off of her ass at parties, today’s episode showcases her, yet again, leaving the house in a drunken stupor to get more drunk down at the bar, leaving her comatose near-death son home alone.
At the very least she supposedly had really good insurance so their new home is bigger and nicer, and Yusuke’s not covered in trash and dust this time, but still. What the hell is this woman’s problem? How many times does her son need to nearly die in order for her to stay sober? Excuse me, her son actually did die once, so apparently not even death can stop her from being one of the most irresponsible parents I’ve ever seen.
Side B (Yusuke’s Officially a Spirit Detective)
Going back and watching the start of this series kinda makes me sad because I remember that the ‘spirit detective’ gimmick never really sticks around. From start to finish, Yusuke is a spirit detective, but, for the most part, the series never goes back to the way it started out. Yusuke used to get all sorts of neat gadgets and items to help him through his cases, and the stories used to at least have some semblance of mystery to them. However, quickly enough, this all goes away and becomes the usual shounen tournament fighter fare. Big baddie, fight littler baddies to get to him, get stronger, come out on top, prep for next baddie. Wash, rinse, repeat.
His ‘cases’ are usually just designating a target and explaining why he needs to be defeated.
Don’t get me wrong, I still adore Yu Yu Hakusho – it’s my favorite shounen fighting anime – but I still kinda wish we had held onto the spirit detective aspect more firmly. They pepper it here and there, it never fully goes away, but there was a lot of wasted potential in my opinion.
In other news, Kuwabara is a precious cupcake, protect him.
I mean, come on, the guy gave up his turf, bowed to an asshole’s demands and demeaned himself for a kitten. How can you not love him to bits?
As for Yusuke’s return, it was really well-written and bad-ass. He not only came to Kuwabara’s aid in the nick of time, but he also saved his kitten and defeated a demon. He was a tiny demon but a demon nonetheless. Plus, the fact that this guy was being possessed by a demon was pretty well done. He wasn’t being too over-the-top, he was just being a massive asshole. You probably never would have suspected he was a demon unless Yusuke noticed his horns.
And so starts Yusuke’s long journey as a spirit detective.
Next time, we get introduced to everyone favorite demons – Kurama and Hiei!…and some other third dude!
Plot: Yusuke has been given a spirit beast egg as part of his trial to come back to life. If he’s good, the egg will hatch into a guide who will reunite Yusuke back to the world of the living. If he’s bad, the egg will hatch into a horrific monster that will consume his soul.
A spirit world investigator named Sayaka arrives to keep an eye on his case. She is particularly focused on Keiko since a big part of bringing people back to life is ensuring the person in question has people who actually want him back.
Keiko cares for Yusuke’s body, waiting for him to return, but when his body is suddenly put in, ironically, mortal danger, she has to find some way to save him or else he can never come back.
Breakdown: This is another really great episode, particularly for building Keiko and Yusuke’s relationship even more. I feel like it’s a bit on the cruel side to say that there’s no point in bringing Yusuke back if he doesn’t have people who want him back. What about people who are really great but have no friends or family because of circumstances beyond their control?
The fact that Yusuke sacrifices his chance to come back to life, seemingly anyway, to save Keiko’s life is really touching. His outburst after his mom apologizes to his body is quite heartbreaking. Plus, despite the fact that Keiko’s very much a passive character throughout about 99% of the show, this is one moment where she gets to shine. Running into a burning building to get Yusuke’s body shows insane levels of courage.
There were, however, a couple of things I disliked about this episode, and one of them is pretty much hatred.
Let’s cover the least infuriating first – the random arson on Yusuke’s house. We needed to put Yusuke’s body in massive peril so Keiko would have to save him. To achieve this, they put in a random arsonist/pyromaniac who, of course, has Yusuke’s house set as his next target. This guy comes out of nowhere, has no face, is never caught and is never brought up again.
Also, the Neighborhood Watch Committee’s message on this is strange. They warn people of staying safe in the heat, and then they tag on that there’s a suspected arsonist who has already set fires to two homes. It’s literally ‘Hey guys, it’s mighty hot, so remember to stay hydrated, keep your pets inside (OR well watered, dub?) and oh yeah, there’s an arsonist around that you can do nothing about who is putting your lives in mortal danger.’
There’s even weirder dialogue later where they say there’s been 12 fires just that day, despite the arsonist only being linked to two, so the fire department conveniently can’t get to Yusuke’s house in time.
The randomness and convenience of this guy isn’t even what fully gets me. It’s the deep suspicion that I truly believe this was a hasty rewrite. I haven’t read the manga yet, and I doubt this is in there, but I always felt like this was originally meant to be Atsuko’s fault.
Which leads me to the hatred part of this episode – Atsuko.
I know I briefly talked about how the funeral in episode one showed us that Atsuko really did love her son, no matter how shitty of a mother she was when he was alive, and this is compounded briefly in episode two when she’s so happy to see that Yusuke’s still alive, even though she was going to slap his corpse for DYING, but now….
In this episode, Atsuko is just not home. How long she hasn’t been home, I don’t know. She didn’t call Keiko to take care of Yusuke for her – she just left a cartoony note that, for all she knows, Keiko wouldn’t have found for days. It seems like Keiko hasn’t visited Yusuke in a while due to the fact that she’s shocked as to the state of the house.
How is he even being giving nutrition? There’s no IV, and he’s in a coma so he can’t eat or drink.
Not only is Atsuko not home, but she’s also clearly drinking and partying. The house is a pigsty, covered in loads of garbage, and even Yusuke is covered in trash and dust. Also, the house wouldn’t have caught fire nearly as easily if there wasn’t loads of trash everywhere.
What mother who just got blessed with her dead son coming back from the grave would treat their son like this? It’s repulsive.
Granted, yes, she felt bad about it, but she moreso felt bad about not being there when the fire happened, not that she was doing a shit job of taking care of her son in the first place.
My theory connecting back to the first negative note was that I believed this fire was originally intended to be caused by Atsuko’s negligence. I feel like Atsuko was meant to leave a lit cigarette around the massive piles of trash and it was meant to cause the fire instead of Rando McPyro.
Then it was changed at the last minute because they realized this would make Atsuko seem a little too irresponsible? To the point of being unlikable?
Again, this is all just a theory I came up with, but it makes perfect sense to me.
Next Episode, it’s Yusuke’s one chance to come back to life, and he needs a kiss to do it. If he misses his window, he’ll have to wait 50 years for a new one. Can Keiko give him to kiss of life in time?
Plot: Coach Mountain is bringing the hammer down hard on Ikki and the Screws. It seems like every time they accidentally get in his way, he makes them all run and exercise until they’re exhausted. Coach Mountain seemingly hates Medabots and is especially strict about having Medabots and robattles on school grounds. When Erika shows them video footage of Coach Mountain training a Medabot, they all become livid. Why is Coach Mountain training a Medabot and why is he acting so peculiar?
Megaphant: An ELF Medabot, Megaphant’s design is based on an elephant. It has an iron ball on a chain on its trunk, which it uses to flail its enemies, thick armor, and two strong shields for hands.
Digmole: A MOG Medabot, Digmole’s design is a combination of a bulldozer and a mole. Digmole’s only specialty is digging and doesn’t have much in the way of offensive capabilities.
Coach Mountain vs. Gangsters: Winner – Gangsters (Coach Mountain surrenders his right to buy the land)
Ikki vs. Gangsters: Winner – Ikki (Megaphant surrenders his arm shield to Metabee and the gangster surrenders the right to buy the land)
Breakdown: The Screws are out training when they’re caught by Coach Mountain. He’s incredibly strict when it comes to robattles or Medabots on school grounds. If he catches you, he chastises you for wasting time with Medabots and forces you to exercise until you’re pouring sweat.
Ikki: “I mean, bringing their Medabots to school? How stupid can you get?” Nearly every character has been doing that since episode one, including you.
Metabee drops by, nearly getting Ikki the same workout treatment the Screws are getting.
Ikki: “And I heard he stopped an erupting volcano by plugging it with his butt!” The dialogue in this show is so stupid sometimes.
After discussing the legendary harshness of Coach Mountain with Metabee, Ikki tells him to never come back to school again, to which Metabee begrudgingly agrees.
The next day at school, Ikki is doomed to Coach Mountain’s exercise regimen after he, along with the Screws, got less than a 30 on their latest tests.
After a rigorous exercise stint, the Screws spot Coach Mountain talking to some shady guys about cash that Coach Mountain seemingly owes them.
Throughout the week, Coach Mountain continuously rides Ikki and the Screws for a bunch of honest mistakes, running them ragged until they’re unable to walk anymore…..I’m really surprised no one’s cited Coach Mountain yet. Making kids run laps because they do something bad, fine, but he’s making them so exhausted they can barely stand or keep their eyes open – and this is all because of accidents and mistakes.
This time, Ikki and Metabee spot Coach Mountain doing something suspicious. He’s dressed in dark clothing with a big wad of cash muttering that the money he has currently isn’t enough.
Ikki and the Screws try to hide out at the store to get some rest. I actually like when the Screws and Ikki hang out with each other. It’s an interesting dynamic.
Erika shows up to give them the latest scoop – a video of Coach Mountain training a Medabot. Everyone’s shocked, but they believe this is the missing piece to the puzzle of Coach Mountain’s harsh behavior. The shady characters, the wad of cash, the Medabot – the only logical conclusion, apparently, is….Coach Mountain is using his Medabot to collect their sweat and sell it to mad scientists.
…..*sigh* Okay, not only is that really dumb, but if the Medabot was the one collecting the sweat, wouldn’t they have seen it by now?
In order to get back at Coach Mountain for all of the exercising (And to get a great news story, on Erika’s end) Ikki, the Screws and Erika join forces to expose Coach Mountain.
That night, they start following Coach Mountain around town, eventually leading them to a very seedy part of the city that Sam claims is haunted. I have no way to prove this, but given that Sam is blushing here and the part of town they’re in, I’ll assume she’s actually talking about something more….adult….than ghosts.
My concerns are basically validated in the next couple of scenes because they’re then lead into an alleyway where….I assume a prostitute tells them they have to be 21 to get into…wherever this is, then they run into some grabby drunk guys who try to invite them to karaoke. Those obstacles are pretty realistic, but then they come across a guy who won’t let them pass on the street unless they solve some ridiculous math riddle.
Through the commotion, Ikki and Erika are separated from the Screws, but they stumble upon a backalley robattle. Coach Mountain is battling some shady characters. I’d give their names, but even the show doesn’t bother. Even in the Medabot Index screen, Megaphant’s owner is just ‘Gangster.’…..Unless….that’s his name. In which case, your mom screwed your future over big time.
Even though they’re not, at least as far as I can see, Megaphant’s hands look so terrible that I could swear they’re digitally painted over.
He’s defeated pretty handily by Megaphant and tells the kids to run away. The gangsters state that Coach Mountain is a terrible Medafighter since his Medabot is garbage and he doesn’t even know how to use it properly. They also reveal that the reason he keeps robattling them is because he has a dream to turn this area into a park for the local children.
The little children from the area run to Coach Mountain’s aid, and I guess we’re meant to assume that they’ve been there the whole time but are only just now running to him because the park thing was revealed?
Little Girl: “We don’t need a park, we can play in the alley.” And *cough cough* little Timmy doesn’t need his medicine this month. *cough cough* He can hold on until you pay the mortgage on the shed we live in. *cough cough* What? If they’re going to be melodramatic, I can.
Little Boy 1: “We live around here, but there’s no park. So whenever we play outside, we get road rash.”….You…You get road rash? Is someone throwing you out of a moving vehicle during play time? What?
Little Boy 2: “And then this angel man fell from the heavens and said he’d build us a park.” PbbbbbbbbbbtttttttttttHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH! This dialogue is killing me.
Anyway, the gangsters want the land, and this robattle is to determine once and for all who gets the right to buy it. This doesn’t really add up with the earlier dialogue between Coach Mountain and these guys about not having the money and them demanding money, but whatever. Also, apparently Coach Mountain has been saving up so fiercely for this park that he wasn’t able to buy good Medabot parts and has even been starving himself.
Okay, calm the drama down, guys. Pretty soon he’s going to say he’s been selling his blood and crawling on the streets for loose change. And if he’s so dedicated to this cause, why has he been wasting so much time dicking around with Ikki and the Screws, being a complete hypocrite about Medabot usage, when he could’ve been out earning more money with a second job, training with his Medabot or even asking for donations?
Erika: “Wow…that’s the sappiest story I’ve ever heard.” At least they’re self-aware, but the fact remains that this is the truth, so mocking it in-story is kinda mean. It’d be different if they were obviously hamming up a lie.
Digmole obviously loses.
Coach Mountain: “A pink hippo slide….little horsies on springs….A swing made out of an old tractor tire….My dream is slipping away!” I honestly can’t tell if you’re trying to be funny or are going way overboard with the sympathy angle that you don’t get how corny this dialogue sounds. Either way, this is just goofy.
Angered at the gangsters for stealing Coach Mountain’s dream, Ikki and Metabee step up to challenge them instead…..Although….I don’t really get what the gangsters get should they win, besides a piece of Metabee.
Why wasn’t Mr. Referee already here for Coach Mountain’s robattle?
Also, the gangster’s voice is just terrible. I mean, pretty much all of the voices in this show are terrible, but this guy is something else. He’s just chewing up the gangster angle so much I’m surprised he’s not going ‘Nyah, see?!’
Metabee tries shooting up Megaphant, but his shields keep blocking his tracks, his only weak spot, and he has thick armor everywhere else. No only that, but they’re on very sandy terrain, which is great for Megaphant but terrible for Metabee. Ikki commands him to run over the back of a nearby gravel mound. Flying off of the mound to attack Metabee, Megaphant’s tracks are finally exposed from underneath, giving Metabee a chance to attack. He destroys his tracks and bombards him with missiles. The victor is Metabee.
The gangster falls in defeat, and Ikki and Coach Mountain have an awkwardly pseudo-romantic tearful embrace.
The next day, Coach Mountain is back to being a dickwad. He’s punishing the kids for something they did outside of school, which is ‘playing outside at night.’ So you don’t give a shit that they saved your precious park? Nice.
Metabee: “I’d help, but Medabots don’t sweat.” Shut up, Metabee.
This episode is bad, but for different reasons than the previous two episodes. For starters, Ikki and the Screws are actually in the right this time. The Screws were only in the wrong for practicing their robattling on school grounds. Everything else was an accident, yet they kept getting run ragged by Coach Mountain of Shit.
I was especially angry that Ikki saved his park for him and he STILL acts like an unfair twat and punishes them all again.
Not to mention his utter hypocrisy for seemingly hating all Medabots yet secretly having one of his own. I wouldn’t be SO bothered, if not for the fact that he was chastising the Screws for training their Medabots, too, when, again, he was doing the same. We don’t even get an explanation as to where he got this Medabot or why he doesn’t hate this one when he seemingly hates all others.
The first half is really repetitive, boring and irritating, while the second half is just confusing. I get that this is supposed to be some redemption for the guy, but the tone is really screwed up. They acknowledge that this park stuff is cheesy, but we’re supposed to be taking it seriously. They ham up the sob story dialogue like crazy, but the stakes for Ikki’s robattle are supposed to be high.
It’s hard to take any of this seriously anyway with such a cartoonish over-the-top 1950’s-esque gangster character, who doesn’t even have a name, being the enemy. His Medabot is pretty cool and powerful, but that’s about it.
The only thing I liked about this episode was Ikki teaming up with the Screws, just because I find that to be a neat dynamic. Everything else was terrible.
Next episode, Ikki and Erika investigate rumors of a Legendary Medafighter at the local private school.
Plot: Rex’s father discovers more Dino Cards. While waiting for them to arrive, a spinosaurus emerges in Egypt. Since Max is the only one with a stone and a dino, he’s is the only one able to transport himself to Egypt through use of the Dino-Holder. However, the Alpha gang has their sights set on the spinosaurus as well. Did Max and Chomp bite off more than they can chew?
Breakdown: I apologize for that pun, and this episode is pretty boring. Second episodes are usually just about establishing excess stuff that they weren’t able to establish in the first episode. The other two team members need dinos, we need to establish more things about the universe, and the Alpha gang needs a bit more firepower to stay on even ground with the D-Team. Most of the episode is either recapping stuff we already knew, talking about nothing or quickly spewing out exposition.
All you really need to know is now Rex has a carnisaurous named Ace and the power of wind, and Zoe has a parasaurolophus, which is way too hard to pronounce and spell, named Paras and the power of nature. Zoe’s move card is also a healing ability. So yay, more female characters relegated to being support/healers! Whoo.
The Alpha Gang also caught the spinosaurus to make their numbers a bit more even, and Dr. Z fabricated a move card for the T-rex.
…..Oh and the D-Team is also massively stupid and uncaring. First, Max doesn’t notice nor care that Rex and Zoe didn’t teleport to Egypt alongside him. They could be dead for all he knew, but he doesn’t even bat an eyelash.
Second, they’re specifically fighting in the ruins of ancient Egypt because the setting makes for a better battle. And just in case you’re wondering, yes, they do flatout destroy some of the monuments. Specifically, they beheaded the sphinx and they put a massive dent in one of the pyramids. The kids don’t notice nor do they care.
Third, after they’ve destroyed parts of what made Egypt so magnificent and fascinating to begin with, they decide, after the battle, that they’ll stay in Egypt for a week and see the sights…..the thoroughly destroyed sights. Oh and Dr. Taylor and Reese also don’t care that they both destroyed some of the most beloved ancient artifacts in the world (They’re goddamn paleontologists) and are taking an unsupervised week-long trip in Egypt on the fly.
Even if they’re poorly CGI’d representations of the monuments, it’s really hard to root for the protagonists when they flippantly destroy some of the coolest remaining parts of ancient Egypt. They don’t even properly react when it happened. They just throw dinosaurs into them and then YAY we win!
Plot: Kuwabara and his friends save Keiko from a bunch of thugs, but their actions land them in trouble back at school. The bastard teacher Mr. Akashi is more than happy to lay out the punishment for them. The terms: No fighting for a whole week or else Okubo loses his part-time job privileges. Okubo desperately needs this job since his mother is too sick to work, his siblings are too young to work, and his father’s not in the picture.
It seems like a doable task, even with Kuwabara willingly taking every beating that the many thugs who have a vendetta against him and his friends dole out. He even commands them to target him and only him so his friends won’t suffer.
Mr. Akashi suddenly adds another condition: Every boy in the group must earn at least 50 points on the upcoming physical science test. Most of the boys are confident that they can meet this challenge since their scores in the previous test weren’t too bad, but Kuwabara reveals that he got a measly seven points on his last test.
Desperate to help his friend, Kuwabara starts studying like never before. He’s hitting the books hard, but his many rivals in the area are hitting him even harder. Yusuke decides to try and help his friend by reaching him in a dream the night before the test. He helps him study while he sleeps, and he seems set for a passing grade the next morning.
More thugs try to jump him while he makes his way to the test. Yusuke is helpless to protect him until the boys accidentally knock out a schoolgirl that Yusuke is acquainted with. He possesses her and beats the hell out of the boys without Kuwabara even noticing.
Kuwabara’s test goes well, and he’s able to determine that he passed before he even got his grade by copying his answers and checking them after the test was over. He and his friends are ecstatic, but Mr. Akashi is devastated that his plan didn’t work. Mr. Iwamoto, his bastard partner in crime, helps him by erasing the last answer on the test, giving Kuwabara a failing grade.
When Kuwabara gets his grade, he’s furious, but he’s even more enraged when he notices that Mr. Akashi erased the final answer on his test. Fed up, Kuwabara attempts to hit Mr. Akashi, but Yusuke ‘stops’ him and tells him to not give up everything he just did for Okubo for the sake of beating an idiot teacher.
Kuwabara relents and walks away. Mr. Akashi looks on in satisfaction until Mr. Takanaka shows up and reveals he knows what Mr. Akashi and Iwamoto did to Kuwabara’s test. He demands that he change the grade and honor the conditions that he set for Kuwabara and his friends.
Okubo and the others share the good news with Kuwabara as Yusuke and Botan watch them up in the sky. She reveals that Kuwabara couldn’t hear him or feel him back there, but he probably felt the communication of his intentions through Yusuke’s feelings.
Kuwabara looks up into the sky, seemingly sensing Yusuke’s feelings again, and thanks his lost buddy for his help.
Breakdown: Episodes like this are a shining example of why I love this show and these characters so much.
It also exemplifies why Kuwabara is a precious cupcake, protect him.
Every second of this episode, barring the enraging Mr. Akashi and Mr. Iwamoto, makes my little jaded heart flutter. Kuwabara and his friends protecting Keiko, Kuwabara and his friends fiercely sticking together as they get unfairly punished, them also sticking up for Okubo when he gets targeted, Kuwabara asking, without prompt, for the bullies to target him and only him with their beatings, Kuwabara taking the beatings without an ounce of retaliation, Kuwabara doing all of that hard work studying to get a good grade for Okuko to keep his job, Yusuke helping out Kuwabara several times in various ways, those little moments between Kuwabara and his friends at the end as well as his look to the sky to thank Yusuke and his smile back down at him – how can you not feel all warm and gooey?
When people ask me why this is my favorite fighting anime, I just think of episodes like this. Particularly this one, to be honest, because this is one of my absolute favorite episodes of YYH.
In addition to being a wonderful friendship episode, it’s also a perfect melding of the action aspect with the gentler moments. Yusuke beating the crap out of those jerks as an innocent schoolgirl is just golden. It sucks that the Toonami airing cut out him viciously kicking one of them over and over in the groin.
It’s also great how they perfectly mixed this episode as both a story that highlights the strength of Kuwabara’s friendship with his inner circle with his friendship with Yusuke. We barely even know anything about his other friends at this point either, yet you feel like you know them quite well in this episode.
We haven’t gotten much focus on the friendship aspect of Yusuke and Kuwabara’s relationship yet, so this was a great opportunity to show them as more than just rivals, and it gives a lot of backing behind Kuwabara’s outburst at Yusuke’s funeral.
I guess the only thing left to say about this episode is….
Fuck Mr. Akashi and Mr. Iwamoto.
Next time, Yusuke’s revival is getting closer and closer, but his reincarnation might be put in danger when his house catches fire. There’s no one in the house to save Yusuke’s barely living body, and it’s up to Keiko to save him. Can she get Yusuke’s body to safety or will she die trying?
The one anime that really comes to mind here is Kill La Kill.
I hadn’t heard much of a bad word against Kill la Kill. I had many people suggest it to me, and they gave it very high praise for how crazy, funny and action-packed it was, but I just found it to be, overall, irritating. It’s a lazy plot coupled with a mostly uninteresting main lead and antagonist with one of the most overpowered and ridiculously designed battle outfits I’ve ever seen.
Outside of that, it’s pure noise. It is trying way too hard to be the ‘craziest anime ever’. It never takes a damn break from the gigantic blocks of red text being pelted at the screen every three minutes to the constant yelling to the somewhat ugly art and animation.
I’m no stranger to crazy loud anime, but they usually know when to pump the brakes. Kill La Kill is like running on a treadmill, setting a time to get off and then realizing you’re handcuffed to it. You think it’s alright at first, but eventually, it gets exhausting and miserable.
Let me be completely fair – I never completed this series. I never made it beyond the commercial break in episode two. I really don’t like doing that, but I had no interest in going further. Maybe it gets better. I don’t know. But I didn’t feel like I was enjoying it enough to give it more of my time.
Plot: Yusuke’s quest to return to life is now underway, and Botan ferries him to the spirit world to get him started. While the spirit world seems vast and intimidating, Yusuke finds that the main section is a giant bureaucracy of ogres. Botan claims he’s going to meet King Yama to discuss his ordeal, but instead he meets the infantile-looking Koenma, son of King Yama.
Koenma explains to Yusuke that his ordeal is a test of his character. He presents Yusuke with a golden spirit egg and tells him that it will eventually hatch into a spirit beast after it has slowly consumed enough of Yusuke’s spirit energy.
If he is truly of poor character, the beast that emerges will be a horrific creature that will eat Yusuke’s soul, causing him to be lost forever. If he is truly a good person, the beast will reflect this and will protect him and guide him back to his body.
Yusuke accepts the task, but there’s a hitch. While Koenma has put a pulse back in Yusuke’s body, the funeral and cremation are soon. If Yusuke’s body is destroyed before his ordeal is over, he will never be able to return to life.
He has to find some way to communicate with his loved ones in order to stop the cremation, so Botan tells him that he can communicate with people in their dreams since people are more strongly connected to the spirit world when they’re sleeping.
Yusuke’s mother has been staying awake in a drunken stupor doing nothing but ranting to Yusuke’s body, so he decides to visit Keiko. While she fully believes he’s there and he conveys his message well enough, Keiko can’t bring herself to tell Yusuke’s mom about the dream due to her own odd dreams about him.
Botan offers another option – possession. He can take control of another person’s body for one hour and tell Keiko outright about what’s happening, but the hitch is that it needs to be someone he knew in life and someone who is particularly attuned to the spirit world. Yusuke claims he has no options, but Botan reveals that Kuwabara actually has a strange connection to the supernatural.
He agrees to the possession, but finds his time is quickly dwindling as he keeps bumping into people who have a bone to pick with Kuwabara.
He manages to find Keiko just before time runs out, and she instantly believes he is who he says he is. He manages to relay his message and embrace Keiko before leaving Kuwabara’s body. Keiko runs to Yusuke’s house and finds Atsuko in awe as she finds his body is regaining its color and warmth. With Keiko and Atsuko ensuring Yusuke’s body’s safety and the little spirit egg glowing in his hand, Yusuke has to wait to find out his true fate.
Breakdown: Another good episode, this one establishes a bunch of important things such as the spirit world, Koenma, Yusuke’s revival trials and Kuwabara’s spiritual powers. It’s also a touching episode for Yusuke and Keiko as you can really see how much they both care for each other. Keiko’s line about knowing Yusuke because she knows how he moves and speaks so well is especially beautiful.
I don’t have much else to say about it except maybe one note. I remember watching this series so many times on both regular Cartoon Network and Adult Swim. The Cartoon Network/Toonami version had a bunch of obvious censorship, but I always thought that the Adult Swim version was uncut for the most part.
In both versions, I only remember Yusuke walking up to Keiko saying ‘Nice uniform!’ while the shot held on Keiko’s expression. However, the scene goes on to show Kuwabarsuke grabbing Keiko’s boobs and saying ‘They’re so squishy!’ If I’m remembering incorrectly, please tell me. Otherwise, Adult Swim thought adults couldn’t handle watching a girl get her boobs touched.
Yes, handle all that violence, gore and swearing, but we’ll shield your eyes from five seconds of clothed groping. Unless you’re groping a butt, in which case it’s okay. Right, Miroku?
Next Episode, Kuwabara is cinnamon roll and he deserves the world.
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