Review by: Clive Owen
Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $44.98 US (Blu-ray)
Running Time: 600 minutes
Rating: TV PG
Release Date: Available Now
The Spirit Detective is back and shining more brightly on HD.
You just have to love FUNimation’s new Anime Classics line and even more so when they’re presented on Blu-ray as we can see from the high-definition release of Season One of Yu Yu Hakusho: Ghost Files … a true anime classic series that makes a smooth transition to Blu-ray and thus making it the perfect opportunity to introduce it to a new crowd of anime fans.
Then again, Yu Yu Hakusho is one of those rare classics of the Dragon Ball variety that are timeless so all generations could enjoy it so it makes perfect sense to bring it on Blu-ray. You see, Season One begins – interestingly enough – with the death of the hero of this story.
We meet Yusuke Urameshi, a young troublemaker who rarely comes to class in his junior high, likes brawling – especially against his chief rival, a big guy named Kuwabara – and defying his school by not wearing the standard blue uniform. Despite being a juvenile delinquent, though, Yusuke has a heart of gold that becomes evident when he encounters a child playing with a ball too close to traffic. When the ball rolls out into traffic, the little boys runs out to get it as a car comes speeding towards him. So Yusuke does what nobody would expect him to do … he saves the boy but sacrifices his life.
However, this is not the end of his story as Yusuke finds himself floating over his body and it is then that he meets an attractive female Grim Reaper named Botan who tells Yusuke that his brave act has won over the son of the Spirit King Yama. The toddler-like Koenma makes the dead boy a very interesting offer that would allow him to get a second chance at life. Yusuke doesn’t want a second chance until he realizes that people will actually miss him such as his childhood friend, Keiko, as well as his alcoholic mother. Even Kuwabara weeps during Yusuke’s wake.
Getting his body back actually turns out to be a challenge that keeps the first part of the series very exhilarating and fun to watch as Yusuke comes to realize that there are people in his life that do care about him deeply but the story really gets started once Yusuke is back in his body for good. Yusuke is then entrusted with a special duty as a Spirit Detective protecting the world of the living against demons and other supernatural threats. He even gets some nifty powers such as his Spirit Gun (a power that has him direct a Spirit Energy blast from his finger as if it were a gun).
Yusuke quickly finds himself protecting the living world from criminals from the Spirit Realm as he takes on a three-man group who has stolen artifacts important to Koenma. Strangely enough, Yusuke finds an interesting ally in Kuwabara and Botan lends a hand as well as the trio take down the criminals. Among the three thieves are the red-haired Karama and the three-eyed Hiei who actually turn out to be likeable characters and, a little later, become Yusuke’s allies as well. In fact, he even befriends them to the point that they aid Yusuke on two very important missions.
The first mission has Yusuke and his companions that still include Kuwabara (who is not only a great fighter but also has the ability to sense the supernatural) against a group of foes stronger than any Yusuke has gone up against. It’s good that he won a fighting competition that earned him the right to train with a powerful old woman named Genkai. As each of his companions takes on an opponent, Yusuke fight their leader who threatens the life of the girl who has strong feelings for him.
In anther mission, Yusuke and the others are put on a search-and-rescue mission to find a Snow Princess named Yukina who was taken by a human gangster who knows that her tears turn into precious gems he plans on selling. What turns out to be a rescue mission turns into a fighting tournament as Yusuke and his friends go up against the powerful Toguro Brothers and their gang of demons. It is during this mission that the Toguro Brothers reveal that they’ve been working for somebody else … a person with ties to a fighting tournament called the Dark Martial Arts Competition.
When Toguro, who shows us that he’s more powerful than he originally let on during his first battle with Yusuke, threatens the young Spirit Detective that he would kill everyone he loves if he doesn’t enter the tournament, Yusuke accepts the offer. Getting some training from Genkai again and gather his team to join a tournament composed of demon fighters from all over. This is definitely a great setup for Season Two of the series.
Season One of Yu Yu Hakusho: Ghost Files is an impressive and epic series that definitely should be seen on Blu-ray and damn does it look amazing in high-definition. Sure, we’ve seen the series released before but it just doesn’t compare to the quality of this set. As far as the series is concerned, Yu Yu Hakusho is a true anime classic in every sense and one you will definitely want to see again and again. It really is that good.
BLU-RAY REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Yusuke is a juvenile delinquent with a talent for fighting and slacking off but, when he dies saving a little boy, he is given a second chance at life by the sexy grim reaper named Botan. Regaining his body back, Yusuke then becomes a Spirit Detective to defend the living world. While carrying out his duties, though, Yusuke and his once rivals soon become involved in various battles that lead up to a fighting tournament.
VIDEO QUALITY: A+
FUNimation has released the series before and it looked good but there’s no denying how truly amazing this series looks on Blu-ray. In fact, it looks even better than it did when it first came out so this is certainly the best way to watch this classic.
AUDIO QUALITY: A
The original Japanese voice cast is where its at if you want to really enjoy the series but that doesn’t mean the English dub cast isn’t bad at all. The soundtrack is a bit on the dated side but you have to admit it makes the fighting scenes even more exciting. Even the opening and closing theme songs are great.
Sadly, there are no audio commentary tracks or other extras aside from the textless opening and closing theme songs and a few FUNimation trailers.
Yu Yu Hakusho is one of those series that deserves to be on Blu-ray and believe me when I say that Season One of this brawling action series will leave you wanting more. This series delivers on every front and by the end of the first episode you will definitely be a fan so if you’ve never seen the series you really do not want to miss this Blu-ray release.
Review copy provided by FUNimation Entertainment