Review by: Eduardo Zacarias
Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $44.98 US (Blu-ray)
Running Time: 620 minutes
Rating: TV PG
Release Date: Available Now
Now this is how you do the ending of a great anime series.
Without a doubt, Yu Yu Hakusho has every right to be called a true timeless classic of epic proportions. We’re talking about an anime series that hooked you in almost immediately and kept you invested in its story up until the final satisfying moments of the very last episode. The Complete Fourth Season of Yu Yu Hakusho: Ghost Files is the perfect way to end a series that never really ceases to surprise or keep you wanting more. Thrust me when I say that this is Yu Yu Hakusho’s finest moments.
Since his death and rebirth as a Spirit Detective, Yusuke Urameshi has seen his share of battles including participation in one of the biggest fighting tournaments. Now, he and his friends are fighting to save the world from its destruction by the hands of an ex-Spirit Detective whose emotional breakdown during the job has made him empathize with the demons. Having kidnapped Kuwabara in an effort to help him open the tunnel to the Demon Realm, Shinobu Sensui and his remaining followers try to keep Yusuke and the others from interfering with the ritual.
As Kurama, Hiei and Kuwabara are swallowed by a Dark Soul that is being controlled by Sensui’s most loyal follower, Itsuki the Yaminade. Meanwhile, Yusuke takes on Sensui in a one-on-one fight that turns ugly when Yusuke discovers a startling secret about Sensui that turns him into an even deadlier foe. In fact, Sensui manages to do more than just give Yusuke the beating of his life. Let’s just say, that when Yusuke does recover from said beating that everything for the young Spirit Detective will change in a big way.
The change in Yusuke does manage to turn things around as the battle goes from riveting to powerfully poignant. It is Koenma who tries desperately to get Sensui to put an end to his plan by dying alongside Sensui because the young prince feels he failed the ex-Spirit Detective. However, it is Yusuke who finally puts a stop to Sensui but – in the end – has put himself and Koenma on King Yama’s hit list and even sends the Special Defense Squad to kill Yusuke and arrest Koenma. Of course, the Special Defense Squad doesn’t carry out the order for fear of Yusuke’s new power and respect for Koenma, but the pair end up fugitives.
With the threat of the Demon Realm letting loose hungry demons on the living world now over, life somewhat returns to normal for all of them including Sensui’s remaining followers who find themselves still alive and willing to make positive changes in their lives. Even Kuwabara decides to take school seriously and study. Unfortunately for Yusuke, he doesn’t feel that his life will ever be back to normal. He wants to understand his true blood lineage that was responsible for the change within him during the battle with Sensui and he seems lost.
It takes advice from Master Genkai and a recommendation that he go see a woman named Kuroko that closely mirrors Yusuke in an interesting way. Just as he is getting enlightenment from their conversation, three mysterious visitors from the Demon Realm confront Yusuke. One of them tell them of three demon lords who have ruled for centuries but are now locked in an internal struggle to be ruler after they discover that one of them – the demon lord Raizen – is dying because he refuses to devour human flesh.
Oh yeah, Raizen also happens to be connected to Yusuke in a very intriguing way that makes the boy face the mystery of who his parents really are and why he has the power of a demon. Yusuke accepts an invitation to travel to the Demon Realm – his second trip seeing as he visited it during the battle with Sensui. Unfortunately, his stay would take him away from his friends and Keiko (who in this season, reveals what she really feels for Yusuke) for approximately 3 years.
Yusuke travels to the Demon Realm and has an audience with the demon Raizen who tells him of their familial roots and what is at stake if either the demon Yomi or Mukuro are to take power. Meanwhile, Yomi manages to recruit Kurama and the mysterious Mukuro recruits Hiei. Just as things are starting to look like a civil war is about to break out forcing Yusuke to face off against his friends Kurama and Hiei, the demon king Raizen meets his fate.
Suddenly, Yusuke is thrust into the role of leader and as he takes Raizen’s followers into a meeting with Yomi who Yusuke discovers is not only blind but overwhelmingly powerful. Instead of taking the Demon Realm into a civil war, Yusuke proposes a fighting tournament where the winner will – no questions asked – become ruler of this world. Yomi accepts as does Mukuro as Yusuke realizes that he might find himself in a position where he will get to fight his friends, Kurama and Hiei.
We learn more about Mukuro and Yomi before and during the fighting tournament, which makes them seem less as villains and more like tragic figures that are each motivated by different things other than just power. Interestingly enough, there’s even a surprising reason why Yomi picked Kurama to be his second-in-command or why Mukuro wanted Hiei on her team. Even the tournament itself has a number of highlights especially since some familiar characters from the Dark Tournament show up.
The outcome of the tournament is one of the biggest surprises, especially the much-anticipated brawl between Yusuke and Yomi in the finals. Of course, things don’t end the way we expect them to but – in the final episode – we get just the right closure. Really, you couldn’t ask for a better ending to a series filled with action and surprises. In fact, I would even go as far as saying that Season Four is one of the best seasons of this series.
On top of the great episodes and a satisfying ending, this fourth season set comes with a number of extra material that makes up for the lack of them in the previous Blu-ray season sets.
The Complete Fourth Season of Yu Yu Hakusho is the spectacular finale that few anime series manage to pull off and thus makes this the show’s finest moments. A lot happens in this collection of episodes that even if you’ve seen it before it still manages to get the same reaction again and, believe me, you will find yourself remembering why you fell in love with this series in the first place. This is definitely a Must Have for any anime fan.
BLU-RAY REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Yusuke and his companions finally reach Sensui who is minutes from opening the tunnel to the Demon Realm as they not only battle against the ex-Spirit Detective but also learn a startling secret about him. The brutal battle ends the threat to the world of the living but marks the beginning of new problems for Yusuke who discovers the truth about himself and his bloodline. Now, Yusuke finds himself in the ultimate competition of his life as the fate of another world rests in his hands.
VIDEO QUALITY: A+
Without a doubt, these Blu-ray editions of Yu Yu Hakusho are the best way to enjoy this classic so if you have a Blu-ray player you should really not be without this set among your library.
AUDIO QUALITY: A
In my opinion, this fourth season is where Justin Cook and Robert McCollum truly shine as Yusuke and Sensui as their performance is nothing short of brilliant. The rest of the cast is also at the top of their game in both the original Japanese and English dub. On top of that, the new closing theme song is a nice change of pace.
This final edition gets all the extras that go beyond just a few FUNimation trailers or the clean opening and closing theme songs. The second disc includes audio commentary track for Episode 99 with Justin Cook (Director and voice of Yusuke) and Mixing Engineer Andrew Tipps discussing this 2011 audio remix. The third disc comes with a look at the Yu Yu Hakusho Trading Card Game with Justin Cook himself (which explains “The Dark One” playing card included in this release as well as how to play the game) and an outtakes featurette for Episode 111 and 6 different audio commentary tracks.
The commentary tracks cover Episodes 108, 110, 111 and 112 with the Episode 108 commentary track reuniting Jerry Jewell (voice of Jin), Peter Weber (voice of Shigure) and Justin Cook. The rest are 2003 commentary tracks with the leading cast, supporting cast, the show’s writer as well as a “Memoirs of Yu Yu Hakusho” commentary for Episode 112 with Justin Cook who takes us through his memories of doing the last episode.
One of the strongest entries and not to mention the best finale to a show this epic, The Complete Fourth Season of Yu Yu Hakusho delivers quite punch that you will feel long after the final episode. Exciting, emotional and absolutely thrilling, you cannot ask for a better finish to a show that never ceases to be exhilarating even if this is the third time watching it.
Review copy provided by FUNimation Entertainment