Plot: Yusuke is going toe to toe with the demon, Gouki, who is using the Orb of Baast to steal souls, particularly those of small children, and eating them. However, it seems like Yusuke has bitten off more than he can chew with the hulking Gouki towering over him and easily taking every blow Yusuke doles out. The same cannot be said of Yusuke, however, who is being pounded into dust.
He’s suddenly saved by a familiar voice acting as a group of people posing a threat to Gouki. The demon decides to spare Yusuke for now and flee before the group shows up. A tattered Yusuke then quickly passes out.
Three days later, he awakens at home to a tearful mother who had been worried her son’s life might have been in danger. Turns out, the familiar voice he heard was Botan. She had taken on a human form to help assist him as he performs his duties as a Spirit Detective.
News reports are pouring in about kids around the city falling into comas, and Botan and Yusuke know Gouki is the one behind it all. Yusuke expresses a deep desire to save the kids, especially since a soul cannot pass on to the afterlife if it’s consumed by a demon. Yusuke must face Gouki once more, but this time he has his fully powered Spirit Gun. Problem is, Gouki’s skin is like armor and the Spirit Gun will likely not be enough to pierce it.
Round two starts, and Gouki starts whupping Yusuke once more. He’s being beaten to a pulp when Botan shows up with a large piece of wood to help stave him off, but it’s obviously not enough to do any real damage. However, it does give Yusuke the opening he needs to shove a piece of the wood into Gouki’s mouth, forcing his jaws open. His skin may be armored and protected against his Spirit Gun, but his insides aren’t so lucky. With one good shot to the mouth, Gouki is defeated.
Yusuke has successfully retrieved one of the demon artifacts, but he still has two more to go.
As Yusuke hobbles through town wondering how he’ll be able to handle another demon challenge, the holder of the Forlorn Hope, Kurama, approaches Yusuke. He claims he doesn’t want to fight and will even give Yusuke the item willingly if he meets him in three days. While Yusuke is actually trusting of Kurama, Botan is suspicious. The Forlorn Hope’s power is to grant the user any wish in exchange for ‘something’ and it only works on full moon nights, which is three days from now, meaning the only reason he’ll seemingly give over the item is because he’ll have used it by then.
Still, Yusuke waits and meets up with Kurama at the hospital. Turns out, Kurama lives a rather human life with a human mother that he cares for deeply. However, she’s deathly ill. Kurama was originally a spirit fox who slowly developed demon powers as he lived throughout the centuries. He eventually used his keen intellect to become a thief who most enjoyed solving puzzles and codes to open locks to sacred items.
One day, he was badly wounded by a pursuer during one of his jobs. In spirit form, Kurama sought out an unborn child within a woman and merged with it, becoming the ‘human’ Shuichi. He decided to lay low for a while as his spirit energy recovered, but human life and human feelings eventually got in the way.
His father died when he was young, and his mother fell very ill. Even though Kurama was at full strength and could leave whenever he pleased, he found that he was too attached to his mother to abandon her like that, especially after all the hardships she went through raising him as a child.
As he said before, he is willing to give up the Forlorn Hope immediately once his greatest desire – his mother’s life being saved – has been granted.
However, there’s a hitch. The Forlorn Hope’s price is the user’s life. Kurama is more than willing to give up his life for his mother, especially once she takes a massive turn for the worst.
Under the light of the full moon, Kurama calls upon the Forlorn Hope’s powers, but Yusuke suddenly intervenes – not to stop him, but to sacrifice his life in Kurama’s stead. He’s already seen one mother grieve the loss of her son and he doesn’t want to see that happen to another. In a brilliant light, the Forlorn Hope grants the wish.
Kurama gets up and rushes to his mother, who is miraculously in much better condition and on the road to recovery. Yusuke is collapsed on the ground, much to a tearful Botan’s dismay, but Yusuke soon gets up, realizing he was being a little silly considering his mother would have been grieving again if he died then.
The Forlorn Hope reveals that it granted the wish without taking a life since Yusuke made such selfless sacrifice.
Yusuke now has the Forlorn Hope and the Orb of Baast, but time’s running out. One last artifact to go – the Shadow Sword, and the three-eyed fire apparition, Hiei, won’t be giving it up so easily.
Breakdown: Since this is another episode that might as well be in two parts, let’s separate them again, shall we?
Side A (Gouki):
The conclusion to Yusuke’s first actual battle against a demon is very well done. He realistically gets his ass whupped only to be saved in the nick of time by Botan. Granted, I think it was a little unrealistic for Gouki to get scared away by Botan’s trick, but it’s not a big issue.
Round two was also well done. Considering Yusuke starts off the fight getting his ass handed to him again and not even the Spirit Gun seems to be a worthwhile effort makes the entire fight very tense. I liked that, again, Botan’s help allowed him to get the opening he needed to win the match. Botan becomes less active as time goes on, but she really doesn’t get enough credit.
Something else I appreciated about this episode was repeatedly showing Yusuke with his mom. I may have a lot of problems with Atsuko, but this episode really showed her better side. She was crying and worried sick when Yusuke was brought home unconscious and beaten again, and she was extremely nice to both him and Botan, even making them tea and snacks. That’s quite the changeup from the mom we saw in the first episode who basically acted like she didn’t care at all about Yusuke.
Not only is this genuinely nice to see, but it fits in perfectly in the second part of the episode where Yusuke remembers his mom’s grief and sacrifices his life for a complete stranger just so that same thing won’t happen to someone else….even if he does realize way too late that his own mother would’ve suffered a second time if Yusuke died right then.
All in all, a great team effort with some awesome moments, even if Gouki was, ultimately, a very forgettable enemy.
Side B (Kurama):
Ku-ra-ma! Ku-ra-ma! Ku-ra-ma! Ku-ra-ma! Ku-ra-ma! Ku-ra-ma!
Kurama has a very interesting backstory, and his conversation with Yusuke on the roof in the red light of the sunset has always been very memorable to me. He barely knows Yusuke, and vice versa, yet both of them trust each other enough to have this meeting in the first place and have such a deep conversation. Likewise, as I mentioned, Yusuke is willing to sacrifice his life for Kurama’s even though he’s basically a stranger and a demon because he didn’t want to see his mother suffer and knew he was being genuine and selfless. Say what you will about Yusuke’s general demeanor, he can be a prince sometimes.
The fact that Kurama’s mom happened to be on death’s door that very night was insanely conveniently dramatic, but it’s not as bad as Yusuke’s resurrection.
I also thought it was sweet that Botan started crying a little when she thought Yusuke was dead again. Although I still have to ding Koenma for his shitty management practices. All Botan knew about the Forlorn Hope was that it grants the user’s deepest desire for a price that no one seems to know, but Koenma knew and he didn’t bother telling Botan, his most trusted advisor, until Yusuke was already meeting with the demon that had it. I’m not going to give him major points off since the item itself makes the price clear (which is probably why most people don’t know of the price – if you use it, you die.) but still, Koenma, give your employees all the vital information they need to fix your stupid mistake.
Not that any of it matters anyway. That moon is so insanely massive that we’re all certain to die in mere minutes from the catastrophe it will wreak for being so close to earth.
I will say that the Forlorn Hope is a very confusing and seemingly useless DEMON artifact, because it appears like it’s only useful in situations where you have a completely selfless wish.
If the user has to give their life to get their deepest desire, then there is literally no point in using it unless their wish is selfless. If you want to rule the world, find love, be ungodly rich, etc. one of the common desires of humans or demons, then you literally won’t live to enjoy your wish being granted. It’s especially funny to think about if your wish is immortality because it’s clear the price is paid and then your wish is granted.
To anyone suggesting that normal demons might just use the good ol’ fashioned human sacrifice method, it really seems like they can’t. The Forlorn Hope straight up asks the user if THEY’LL sacrifice THEIR life for their wish. Even if a sacrifice could be used, it seems that the person needs to agree to the terms in order for the deal to be complete, and I sincerely doubt anyone would do that.
I guess their could be some cases where the user would want something so badly that, even with death as the price, they’d still want it to happen. For instance, they might want to avenge a loved one or destroy the universe or something, but in the vast majority of cases I can guarantee that it’d be passed over.
This brings us to the other point about the Forlorn Hope….why was it impressed by Yusuke’s sacrifice so much that it made the wish free of charge? Yes, Yusuke’s sacrifice was indeed noble, albeit a little stupid given his reasoning, but if the Forlorn Hope only logically works in the case of selfless desires, for the most part, then why is Yusuke’s sacrifice so impressive to it? Is it just because he was being even more selfless for sacrificing himself for someone else’s deepest desires and life?
The Forlorn Hope is so accommodating and reasonable that it really doesn’t fit as an “Artifact of Darkness” among an orb that steals souls and the sword that can turn humans into demons.
Overall, a really great episode. Unlike Yusuke’s Back, I didn’t feel like this episode was just two episodes smushed together. There were two largely different stories and tones, but they melded with each other a lot better than Yusuke’s Back, and other than some weirdness involving the logic of the Forlorn Hope, which is really more nitpicking and speculation, I didn’t really have any complaints.
It sure is terrible that no one will read this post due to the deadly natural disasters caused by the moon not practicing social distancing with the earth, though.
Next time, Yusuke faces his biggest challenge yet – fighting everyone’s favorite three-eyed not-Vegeta, Hiei!
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