SSBS – Yu Yu Hakusho Episode 6 | The Three Demons! Hiei, Kurama, Goki

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, Goki, 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 he 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. Goki 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…..


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AniManga Clash! Yu Yu Hakusho Volume 2

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Chapter 9: The Momentary Resurrection

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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’s 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? That’s so dumb….

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

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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

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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 so.

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

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Ah, finally. We’re at another chapter that was reflected in the anime – Prerequisites for Lovers.

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

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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 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

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I love how the action lines are also inside Yusuke’s mouth.

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.

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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.

Winner: Anime


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AniManga Clash! Yu Yu Hakusho Volume 1

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Preface: It’s no secret that I love Yu Yu Hakusho. It’s one of my favorite anime, and it’s my favorite shounen fighting anime. (Naruto, DBZ and One Piece are up there, and HunterXHunter is looking to be very strong competition for top spot as I get further into it, but YYH has maintained the top spot.)

However, I’ve never read the manga before. I’ve never even heard or read up much about it before, either. So I figured, since I’m also doing a Shounen Step-By-Step on the series, it’s the perfect opportunity to also dive into the manga and do an AniManga Clash on it.

So let’s not waste anymore time and explore volume one of the Yu Yu Hakusho manga!

Chapter One: So Long World

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(First episode review and summary) Yusuke smokes in the manga when he’s about to chew gum in the first episode.

The wake is a lot less dramatic in the manga. Atsuko sits for half of it like she does in the anime, but she does it with this cartoonish blank face as opposed to just a blank face. Additionally, Kuwabara doesn’t attempt to hit Yusuke’s picture and end up bursting into tears in the manga. The picture in question is a cartoony picture of Yusuke, though to be honest the one they used in the anime seemed really weird to me. Like he was a much younger kid looking back at a camera, but he was obviously the same age.

The anime doesn’t include a really sweet flashback (Well, part of this flashback is in the anime much later.) Atsuko thinks back to the last time she saw Keiko so forlorn. It was several years prior when Yusuke got a bad cold.

He fell into the river after running from Keiko after he flipped her skirt. Keiko was adamant to not leave Yusuke’s side and was very upset about how sick he had gotten. The next day, despite still being sick as a dog, Yusuke decided to suck it up and go to school because if he took a sick day Keiko would continue to worry as she was the day prior, and he didn’t want that. When we cut back to present day, Atsuko slightly berates her son for making Keiko sad again before basically passing out on the counter.

It’s a shame because this is an adorable flashback that adds to Keiko and Yusuke’s relationship quite a bit and even gives us some more glimpses into Atsuko as a caring mother, if only slightly. I mean, she is still blaming him for leaving.

Chapter Two: The Test for Revival

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(Episode 2 review and summary) Keiko is blaming herself heavily throughout all of chapter two. The last thing she said to Yusuke was ‘Just die!’ and now her last exchange with him keeps replaying in her head. The anime doesn’t include this, which is a shame because Yusuke comforts her (in his own way) and combats her guilt before he tries to tell her about his body being cremated.

Apparently, in the manga, they implement a restriction on Yusuke after he possesses Kuwabara. He can’t infiltrate people’s dreams or possess anyone until the test is over. But this restriction wasn’t in the anime. In fact, much of the episode about Kuwabara and his friends is centered on Yusuke helping him through his dreams and possessing people.

Chapter Three: Time to Begin!

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This story is actually pretty different from the anime version, and that’s quite disappointing because, in the manga, this chapter is one of very few where the focus is entirely on Yusuke’s feelings for Keiko and vice versa.

In the manga, Yusuke is told that he only has one more day to talk with any loved ones, specifically Keiko (or his mother) before the test to get revived formally starts and he’s completely barred from communicating with them. Why is he barred from communicating with his closest loved ones? No idea. Just cuz, I guess.

Because of this, Yusuke has a chance to give his ‘last words’ to Keiko in person instead of a dream, because she might not believe the dream is really Yusuke talking to her. Yusuke must possess Kuwabara, because he has higher spirit sensitivity, find her, convince her that he’s Yusuke and pass on his final words before his possession window closes in 30 minutes.

In the anime, they continue on the plotline from the previous chapter about trying to prevent his body from being cremated. Originally, Keiko was convinced enough by the dream sequence of Yusuke telling her to check to see if his body’s still alive that she ran to Atsuko’s house in the middle of the night to do so. She was successful, though Atsuko had already discovered Yusuke was alive because Atsuko opened his coffin to smack him one more time and noticed his face had color.

In the anime, she’s somewhat convinced by the dream, but decides to not tell Atsuko about it out of fear that she might upset her even further. Yusuke has to find a more convincing avenue of telling her, so we cue up the Kuwabara plot to tell her in person. I don’t much care for this change because we go from a sweeter plot of Yusuke rushing around to give one last message to the girl he loves to a race to save his body from being cremated with sweet moments with Keiko interspersed throughout. The sweet moments are still very sweet, but it’s more romantic in the manga.

The rest of the story goes the same in both versions, basically. Yusuke possesses Kuwabara but runs into all sorts of problems while trying to find Keiko including accidentally pissing off Keiko’s parents by ‘posing’ as Yusuke and running into a ton of thugs that Kuwabara and his gang have challenged in the past.

However, he does indeed find Keiko and convinces her that he’s who he says he is by grabbing her boobs and joking around about it, which is something Yusuke has more or less done since they were kids. She slaps the fuck out of him, yelling out his name, and she instantly knows he really is Yusuke.

This is where the two stories shift again. In the manga, he only asks her to wait for him and have faith that he’ll return to her. She agrees and tells him she’ll wait forever. In the anime, obviously, they have to add in the part where he tells her that he’s taking a test to return to life and that he needs her to take care of his body until then, including stopping the funeral so he won’t get cremated. Then the conversation ends with the aforementioned dialogue exchange.

Again, this scene is still sweet and romantic, but it loses something when the other stuff is piled on there. It’s much more emotionally impacting if he’s simply rushing around to tell the girl he loves his ‘last words’ to her than it is to have him tack it on at the end of telling her stuff she has to do for him to help him out.

Oh and the anime adds Kuwabara taking advantage of the fact that Keiko was hugging his body when he was possessed by Yusuke to get in some hugs from a cute girl only to have Keiko slap the fuck out of him again. This was unnecessary but it did kinda highlight that Keiko truly knows Yusuke and could tell when Kuwabara had taken over again. However, I don’t think Kuwabara, Mr. Honor over there, would continue hugging Keiko like that to be a little pervy.

After Yusuke is saved in the anime or just after he returns to spirit form in the manga, Yusuke looks on at Keiko and proclaims that he must go back now because he promised her. He even says he’ll never do another bad deed again if he can come back to life (though he thinks to himself that fighting’s not a bad deed.) In the anime, Yusuke just checks the spirit egg, which is feeding off of his spirit energy. He wonders if that’s a good thing because he thinks he only did good things that day, but Botan wonders because he beat up a lot of people too.

This is actually a point where they lost a sweet moment entirely. I love that Yusuke has a newfound determination to come back to life for Keiko, even promising that he’ll never do another bad deed if he returns. The anime’s ending isn’t necessarily bad, but this romantic gesture is completely lost.

Chapter Four: The Old Dog and the Wolf

This chapter never made it to the anime, and I’m very glad for that because, even though I can’t bring myself to say it’s a particularly bad chapter, it is still insanely sad, and I don’t much care for Yusuke’s behavior in it.

The chapter involves a boy named Shota grieving over his dying dog, Jiro. His bitch of a mother coldly forces him to go to school while Jiro is on death’s door, and a bunch of asshole kids bully him about his dog when he arrives. Botan and Yusuke are watching, knowing that the dog won’t live until Shota returns.

They’re right. Jiro dies while Shota is at school and he’s completely devastated by it to the point where Yusuke thinks this may be the tipping point for the kid to commit suicide.

Jiro’s spirit won’t leave Shota’s house because he’s worried about him. Yusuke comes up with a plan to appear to Shota in his dreams, pretending to be an agent of hell trying to ferry Jiro down to hell because he won’t go up to heaven. He even uses a thorny leash and kicks him over and over, which I thought was really overkill. I get that Jiro is dead, but if hell is a place in this universe and you can feel pain there, it’s not a stretch to say Yusuke is actually hurting the dog.

Shota, in an effort to save his dog from hell, beats up Yusuke and tells him to leave Jiro alone. Yusuke relents, but says he’ll come back for Jiro if Shota continues to be a crybaby and wimp. He won’t let that happen, and an angelic Botan takes Jiro up to heaven.

The next day, Shota’s mom was apparently replaced by another woman because she actually offers to allow him to stay home from school today. Yeah, his dog is hours away from death, so you scream at him, act like the dog doesn’t matter and force him to go to school. Dog’s already dead? Oh honey, you can stay home today.

Bite me, lady.

Shota, however, declares that he must be strong and go to school because he made a promise to Jiro and he’s going to keep it.

At school, the bullies continue to be dicks, even going so far as saying that once his dog dies (they’re unaware that he died) they’ll chop him up and make dog stew. This time Shota fights back and tells them if they ever talk about his dog again, he’ll beat them both up. Because the chapter’s almost over, of course they relent and Shota’s off to start a new life as a confident young man who will be forever worried that the slightest show of cowardice or soft-heartedness will be a one-way ticket to hell for his beloved doggo. The end.

This chapter really pulls me in two directions. First of all, it deals with the death of a pet, and that’s a very sore topic with me. If you want to see me cry, just show me any story that involves animal death, particularly dogs. It’s almost instantaneous with me.

Second of all, I can’t really get behind Yusuke’s methods for helping this kid. Sure, he pretended like he legitimately got his ass kicked by Shota so he’d get a boost of confidence, but he also threatened the kid basically saying if he ever went back to having feelings and not attempting to beat up two kids who were way bigger than him that he’d send his dog to hell.

Third of all, they were worried that Shota was in such a bad place that he might commit suicide soon, so they decide saying that his dog is going to hell because he’s such a wimp is the best course of action? They’re incredibly lucky that worked, otherwise they might have blood on their hands.

Finally, the ending was really cliché and, realistically, shouldn’t have worked. As far as I can tell, standing up to bullies does tend to make them back off, if you’re dealing with one bully, but in this situation the power balance was a bit too much – it was two bigger sociopathic kids against little Shota threatening to beat them up. They not only relented after he told them off, but they were so stunned and in total fear of him that it was a bit comedic. He didn’t even hit them – he just grabbed one of them by the collar.

I won’t say this was a bad chapter, even if it does have several objective problems, but it did make me really uncomfortable and sad.

Chapter Five: Christmas of the First Year

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Another story that was completely lost from the anime – and it was a Christmas special. Yeah…I never knew there was a Yu Yu Hakusho Christmas special but here we are. It kinda threw me for a loop because that implies that Yusuke’s been dead for MONTHS now. Remember, the episode with Yusuke saving Keiko with his spirit egg happened in summer. I had no idea there was so much of a gap between him getting his spirit egg and actually being revived. I guess this is so we can see Yusuke doing more good deeds while dead instead of him just doing a couple like he did in the anime.

As for the chapter as a whole, it’s very sweet. There’s a spirit of a girl (She’s never given a name) who has been waiting on a park bench for over a year. She’s very adamant about not moving because she agreed to meet a guy she liked, Kenji, on that bench on Christmas of last year, but she suddenly fell very ill, lapsed into a coma and died. Botan wants to help her move on, but she will only leave if she’s able to see Kenji to apologize for standing him up, whether he can hear her or not. They make an agreement – if he’s not there by their meeting time last year, noon on Christmas, then they leave. They wait until 1:30, because she says he’s always late and finds that charming about him.

Kenji, surprisingly, does show up, but he’s there to meet another girl. When they talk about how late he was, he mentions the spirit girl. He explains that he loves to leave girls waiting for him. On that day on Christmas, he had a 10,000 yen (1000 dollars) bet running with his friends that she would wait over five hours for him to show up, but she never showed and he never talked to her again, implying he doesn’t know she’s even dead. He also mocks her before heading off with his girlfriend.

The spirit girl can’t find it within her to get angry with Kenji, however, especially when she states that she would have waited the five hours if she hadn’t fallen ill. She is, understandably, devastated, though. Yusuke is angry that he can’t beat the crap out of Kenji, and he’s frustrated that the spirit girl won’t get angry either, so he decides to help her forget about him and move on instead.

He takes her on a date – movie, seeing the sites, going on a roller coaster etc. as best they can since they’re spirits. At the end of the date, he tells her to tell Kenji off by yelling into the city, but she just yells out a note of thanks to Kenji because, if it wasn’t for him, she’d never have met Yusuke and had such a nice time.

She happily departs from this realm knowing that there are better people than Kenji who are probably waiting for her on the other side. If she can manage to find someone even half as nice as Yusuke, she’ll be happy forever.

Yusuke, while glad that the girl passed on with no regrets, is not as forgiving of Kenji. Somehow breaking the laws of appearing to humans, he’s able to speak to Kenji over the phone, acting like one of the girls he’s burned by his games and he also appears to him as a ghost to scare him. Botan ‘lets’ him just this once, but I really don’t understand how he’s doing this or why, if he’s able to appear to humans, he hasn’t been allowed to do so with his family or friends outside of dreams.

No matter, though. The jerk had it coming to him. It even looks like his current girlfriend isn’t too happy with him now. Not that she should have been from the very beginning, though. He talks about the girls he’s emotionally screwed around with, brags that she’s a new one just like the others and implies that he’s currently doing this to many other girls.

Chapter Six: Lonely Journey

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Yet another story never told in the anime. This one is about an old man who is close to death, so Botan and Yusuke are keeping an eye on him. He’s a bitter old man who doesn’t trust anyone and throws the kindness of others back in their faces, but he wasn’t always like that.

He used to be a very kind old man who loved spending time with his family, particularly his grandson, Shinji. However, his daughter/son and son/daughter-in-law along with Shinji died in a terrible car accident. His family fought him over the estate, so he became distrustful, got rid of most of the estate and closed himself off from others.

Botan and Yusuke spot a tanuki wandering around the old man’s house, and it’s confirmed that in this universe animals can see and interact with spirits. In addition, animals like foxes and tanuki can transform. This is a rather young tanuki, and it explains why it’s watching the old man.

When he was a little baby tanuki, he got his foot caught in a snap trap. The old man and Shinji freed the tanuki from the trap and patched him up, saving his foot and, ultimately, his life, so he wanted to repay them somehow. When he learns that Shinji has passed and the old man is close to death, the tanuki decides to transform into Shinji to keep him company on his dying days, but he can only do it at night.

The old man is very happy to have Shinji around, even if it’s only at night, and his last days (or nights) on earth are made so much better because of it. As the old man is reaching his end, his final request is for Shinji to stay with him until he goes. But the sun is rising, and the little tanuki’s time transformed is about to be up.

Surprisingly, the old man reveals that he’s known all along that ‘Shinji’ was actually the little Tanuki. He knew he was just trying to provide him with comfort, so he played along. He still wanted the little tanuki to stay with him until he passed, and the tanuki tearfully honored his final request.

The old man finally passed on to reunite with Shinji and the rest of his family, and the little tanuki went back off into the wild.

This story was pretty heartwarming and sweet. I won’t lie, I teared up a bit by the end, but….you notice how Botan and Yusuke had really nothing to do with the actual story? That’s a bit weird. They really were just reacting to what was going on and talking about it. They had no effect on the story whatsoever besides telling the tanuki about the old man’s family, and he could’ve figured that out on his own.

Chapter Seven: Promise

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(Episode 3 review and summary) The next chapter finally matches back up with the anime (or vice versa, I guess I should say) as they cover the story where Kuwabara needs to both stop fighting for a week and get at least a 50 on his next test in order to save his friend, Okubo’s, job.

The anime adapted this story pretty well. They didn’t really omit anything nor do I remember them including anything notable. There are some notes here and there that I don’t remember being in the anime, like the first scene being Yusuke visiting Keiko at school to see how she’s doing, and Yusuke explaining that he thinks his mom makes money to support them by….extorting a cop. Atsuko: Mother of the Fucking Year.

Also, there’s a little character blurb off to the side about Keiko and uh…..Ya know, I could write a whole post about how shafted girls are in this series (As much as I love Botan, she’s still just an assistant – as much I enjoy Keiko and Yusuke’s relationship, she gets to do fuck all over the course of the series and doesn’t have that deep of a personality – Atsuko’s a horrible mom – Yukina’s as literal of a damsel in distress as possible, complete with being locked in a tower, and certified love interest etc. The only really good female character in the series who fights and does important stuff is Genkai.) I had to pause and just sigh because her little character blurb said this:

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Yes…Keiko’s hobbies are….cooking….and cleaning…..There’s nothing wrong with enjoying cooking and cleaning, but, Keiko, for God’s sake, you’re really not helping the pseudo-sexist vibe this series gives off whenever women are involved nor are you making yourself any more interesting as a character.

Anyhoo, I’ve always really loved this story. It’s a very sweet example of how dedicated Kuwabara is to his friends and how much honor he has a person. It highlights the friendship between Yusuke and Kuwabara very well too. Beforehand, you really just think they had a mutual respect for each other and weren’t really friends, but this episode truly shows that their bond was a lot deeper than just fightin’ buddies.

Chapter Eight: A Short Lived Revival

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The final chapter of the volume does a bit more for Keiko’s character, but not so for Atsuko who, AGAIN, has left Yusuke all alone and even has the balls to say in a note to Keiko that Yusuke is ‘sleeping like the dead.’ What the unholy hell, Atsuko?

In this chapter, Yusuke is temporarily reunited with his body. Apparently, if his body doesn’t get some activity from his soul every month after being revived, then his body might actually die from the lack of energy.

Botan tells him to just sleep the entire time he’s in his body so he can more efficiently recharge his batteries and so he doesn’t accidentally interact with his mom or Keiko, which will break the terms of his revival and make it so he’s unable to come back.

Yusuke, of course, doesn’t listen to her advice and goes off in public anyway. Like in the anime, though in that case it was after he’s officially resurrected, he decides to stay under the radar for the most part. In the manga, he doesn’t slick back his hair, and that’s his only disguise. In the anime, he also puts on sunglasses.

Like in the anime, he bumps into a few people and is just happy they can see and feel him. Even when a couple of thugs try to mug him, he’s just happy that he’s alive and corporeal. These thugs are from Kasanegafuchi Junior High, whereas in the anime they were from Rugafuji Junior High.

The rest is altered from the anime, however.

Yusuke manages to scare off these thugs by nearly strangling one of them. The one who nearly got strangled is so pissed, he decides to take out his anger on one of Keiko’s friends, who accidentally bumped into him. He kicks her to the ground, and Keiko, not taking an iota of shit, slaps him across the face.

Kuwabara’s friends, sans Kuwabara because he’s actually off studying, confront them instead. Keiko’s friends manage to convince her to leave and let them handle it. However, almost as soon as they start to leave, Dai(Daisuke), the thugs’ leader, arrives and swiftly beats the snot out of Kuwabara’s gang.

Keiko turns around and demands he stop, smacking him in the back of the head with her bag when he ignores her. Dai grabs her face and threatens her. Meanwhile, Yusuke is off playing pachinko, completely unaware of what’s happening with Keiko. Even if he does learn about it, it would mean his certain death if she sees him.

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I’m actually quite astonished about how little the manga, so far, has been adapted in the anime. Only a week or two seems to go by after Yusuke’s body is revived when he’s finally brought back to life for good, but in the manga he’s been out for at least a month, given that he’s only learning of this body recharge thing now, and I have to imagine it’s way more than that – bear in mind the thing about it one minute being summer and the next it’s Christmas.

Do I fault the anime for omitting all of these stories?….Yes and no. I could’ve done without the story about Shota, for obvious reasons, and while the story with the old man was really sweet, it really had absolutely nothing to do with either the main plot or Yusuke or any main character. I’m on the fence about whether or not I’d like this cliffhanger plot with Keiko to have stayed. On one hand, it’s a bit of a badass moment for her, and she gets few in the course of the series, if any. On the other hand, the badassery leads her to be a damsel in distress – complete with impending rape implications….

I get that they probably wanted to rush Yusuke back to life so he could finally get into some Spirit Detective action, but I can’t deny that it would have been nice to at least see a couple more stories of him being a ghost and helping people or spirits out. I’m especially disappointed that we didn’t get that Christmas special. It could easily be altered to not be a Christmas special if the timing or whatever is an issue, and it was a very sweet story about an equally sweet girl. Plus, Yusuke’s being a big teddy bear in it, and that’s rare to see, even when he’s with Keiko.

The parts that were actually adapted were done well, and the anime’s changes were mostly made for the better, especially that wake scene. There were some snippets of information here and there that were lost, but it was nothing too bad.

I’m actually at a bit of a loss as to how to determine a winner here. Only about half of the manga so far, if that, was adapted to anime form. I don’t feel like the side-stories that were lost were so vital that it should damage the anime’s score too much, but I also feel like we simply got more out of the manga.

I want to say ‘Tie’ here, but…

Winner: Manga

I’m mostly giving this round to the manga because I think they really should have explored more stories while Yusuke was a ghost in the anime, and I think they did some of the adapted stuff just a tiny bit better – by a barely noticeable margin. The anime did the wake better, but the manga did the brief reunion with Keiko better as well as several other quieter moments with her.


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SSBS – Yu Yu Hakusho Episode 5: Yusuke’s Back

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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 get what needs to get 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 off 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)

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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)

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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.

Rating: 9/10

Next time, we get introduced to everyone favorite demons – Kurama and Hiei!…and some other third dude!


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SSBS – Yu Yu Hakusho Episode 4: Requirements for Lovers

SSBS - YYH EP4

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 (Darn that dry hot weather) 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….

*sigh*

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, she 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.

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.

Rating: 7.5/10

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?

.Previous episode


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SSBS – Yu Yu Hakusho Episode 3: Kuwabara – A Promise Between Men

SSBS - YYH EP 3

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 his 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 got to focus much 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.

Rating: 10/10

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?

…Previous Episode

SSBS – Yu Yu Hakusho Episode 2: Koenma Appears

SSBS YYH EP2

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 inside of the massive castle 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?

Rating: 8/10

Next Episode, Kuwabara is cinnamon roll and he deserves the world.

….Previous Episode

SSBS – Yu Yu Hakusho Episode 1: Surprised to be Dead

snsbs yu yu hakusho 1

Plot: Yusuke Urameshi is a punk. He frequently skips class, doesn’t try in school, gets into street fights all the time and has run-ins with basically every type of authority figure that exists.

His home life is no better with a drunk lazy mom who seems to pay him no mind at all while loafing about the house. He does have friends, the model student Keiko and the fellow street punk Kuwabara, but they seem to have just as poor of a view on Yusuke as everyone else does.

One day, Yusuke sacrifices his life to save the life of a little boy by pushing him out of the way of a speeding car and getting hit in the process. Yusuke appears near his body as a ghost and is quickly greeted by a flying girl on a boat oar named Botan.

She is a shinigami or grim reaper, but she’s not greeting Yusuke to take him to the afterlife, she’s there to give him one more chance to live. He was not set to die that day and no one in the other world believed Yusuke would ever risk his life to save a child, one that would’ve, ironically, not have died or even been hit anyway. So Yusuke is getting a second chance to live due to the error.

Yusuke, however, is not sure he wants to return to his life since he believes everyone dislikes him and everything seems to dump more crap on him. In an effort to get him to see the true value of his life, Botan gives him some time to think about the decision.

In the meantime, Yusuke visits his wake and sees how utterly devastated most of the guests are from his mother to Keiko and even to Kuwabara and one of his teachers. He even sees the grief of the mother of the little boy he saved.

After visiting his wake and taking everything into consideration, Yusuke meets with Botan again to agree to her offer, and Botan starts setting everything up to bring him back to life.

Breakdown: This has been my favorite pilot episode to an anime for a long long time. It is just so wonderfully written, so heartbreaking and so gripping that you can’t help but care for each character, even Yusuke, deeply from the get-go.

It’s also a shining example of how English dubs can really be just fantastic. There’s so much passion and emotion put into their line-reads here that it is just one of my favorite dub jobs ever.

The only negative I really have about it is the fact that two of Yusuke’s teachers really seem like they’re over the top. I mean, one has a character design that just screams ‘weasel,’ the other looks like a serial killer and they’re both such complete assholes that they’re at Yusuke’s wake being thankful that he’s dead and even making jokes about how he probably died on accident while trying to steal the boy’s lunch money.

While Kuwabara makes the most impacting scene here, you really have to appreciate the subtleties of Yusuke’s mom’s short scene. She’s just sitting on the floor not saying a word or even showing any real emotion for much of the scenes, almost like she really didn’t care, and then suddenly she just says Yusuke’s name and bursts into sobs.

Even the short scene with the little boy and his mother was very well done. It reflected the kid’s inability to really process the death of Yusuke and the gravity that the entire situation had on the mother. She’s both incredibly happy that her boy is alive yet devastated that another kid had to die to save him.

I will say that, while this is just an amazing opening episode, they don’t delve at all into the actual plot of the entire series yet, that being Yusuke eventually becoming a spirit detective and this show becoming essentially a tournament fighter.

The main characters were all very well-established from the start, the atmosphere was great and this really does seem like a pretty original story.

The art basks in that lovely ’90sness that makes me smile, and while the animation isn’t amazing it’s still pretty damn nice for its time, the music is wonderful and the OP and ED for this season stay very near and dear to my heart.

This was a great way to start off this awesome show, and I definitely look forward to going over this series again.

Rating: 10/10

Next episode, Yusuke is brought to the spirit world to meet Koenma, ruler of the spirit world, in order to get him started on the task that he will need to complete in order to be brought back to life.

30DAC – Day 23: Favorite Attack Someone has Used in an Anime

Seed of the Death Plant – This move is horrifying. Kurama only needs a quick opening to shoot his seed into the opponents body…

Oh grow up!

And…that’s it. He wins. You die. That’s not the worst part. You die…from having a huge flower bush grow inside of you incredibly quickly and then burst out of your body like a bunch of xenomorphs.

Couldn’t find clear screenshots from the show, so here’s the manga version.

The only downside is that it does take a little bit of time to take root and feed from Kurama’s energy in order to bloom once Kurama wills it, so it’s not a quick end, but he’s definitely strong enough to hold his own for a few minutes against any opponent while it grows, so it’s just insanely scary. You could be dead and not even know it. And it’s never been shown if there’s a way to stop it. I’d guess removing it would be the most logical choice, but that not only requires detecting it or learning about it but also figuring out where on the body it was planted, precisely, and then getting the balls to dig it out of your own body somehow. And like I said, it doesn’t take that long to make the plant bloom, so you have to do all that within just a few minutes.

The best part of it is, the enemy is damn pretty when he dies. And you don’t even need to buy flowers for the funeral. It’s so cost-efficient.

30DAC – Day 10: Favorite Fighter Anime

I’m taking the meaning of this prompt as like brawl fighting, tournaments a theme etc. I was torn between two shows for this. Yu Yu Hakusho and Dragonball.

While I do truly love Dragonball, I can’t deny that Yu Yu Hakusho just has slightly more to offer in terms of interesting characters and cool powers. I didn’t include DBZ in this because, while I do like that show too, it gets monotonous after time, and the battles are drawn out too much.

Yu Yu Hakusho centers around a boy named Yusuke Urameshi who died while trying to save a kid from getting hit by a car. He’s brought back to life by a shinigami named Botan and Koenma, ruler of the spirit world, though technically a prince, under the condition that he become a spirit detective, a person with immense spiritual powers who solves cases for the spirit world typically involving demons.

He is quickly joined by his best friend/rival Kuwabara, who had heightened spirit awareness far before Yusuke, Hiei, a fire apparition and Kurama, a reincarnated fox demon.

While the animation isn’t fantastic, the fights are incredible and many of them are very memorable. My personal favorite is the Dark Tournament arc because not only do we showcase the main group’s powers, but we also get introduced to all sorts of different demons and abilities that constantly change up the battle. There’s a couple other tournament arcs, but I find the Dark Tournament more diverse and interesting.

Plus, it introduced us to Jin and he’s just awesome.

The characters are really memorable, even if Hiei really gives off a Vegeta vibe, only without the rivalry with the main character, and the storylines, while not being insanely original, are also memorable and well-written.

It’s just an overall great fighting anime that I’d be glad to recommend to anyone.