Review by: Clive Owen
Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $29.98 US
Running Time: 195 minutes
Rating: TV PG
Release Date: Available Now
The Spirit Detective is back and while this adventure is short it is definitely a ride well worth taking.
Yu Yu Hakusho: Ghost Files is one of those iconic anime series that has a loyal fan following for a number of reasons so it came to no surprise when FUNimation brought us the recent re-release on Blu-ray. However, fans of the Spirit Detective know that the collection is not complete without the movie (technically there are two) or the OVA and Yu Yu Hakusho: Ghost Files, The Movie & Eizo Hakusho brings us both in a two-disc package.
As a huge fan, it’s great to find the movie and OVA in one package and you have to love the inclusion of Nightmare Hakusho, which I will get into in a minute. First, however, we should start with the main feature, which is the movie that clocks in about 25 minutes but what it lacks in running time it more than makes up for with a story that is just loads of fun to watch. It even reunites the English dub cast from past FUNimation releases of the series.
The lovely “grim reaper” known as Botan is in desperate need of Yusuke Urameshi’s help only to find the Spirit Detective and his once rival, Kuwabara, about to slug it out with an entire gang. Once she gets his attention, however, she gives him the news that – while sunbathing in a beach filled with demons – Koenma is kidnapped by a hideous giant named Garuga who makes a most unusual demand. If they want Koenma back in one piece, they should bring him the Gold Seal in the Valley of Magma by sundown.
Unfortunately, the Gold Seal is a tool that King Yama uses to pass judgment on the dead so – in the wrong hands – it could very well spell doom for the Demon Realm and the Living World. Once again, Yusuke gathers his allies that include Kurama, Hiei and Kuwabara to join him on a mission to save Koenma who comes to realize that Garuga isn’t the mastermind behind the kidnapping.
Meanwhile, Yusuke takes the Gold Seal to secure Koenma’s release only to run into other demons who can practically smell the seal on the Spirit Detective. So now Yusuke and the others have to deal with a new set of problems that make way for one seriously exciting and action-filled moments that lead up to a grand finale. Overall, this short film plays up the comedy and action in ways that make it seem like a really good filler episode from the series so trust me when I say that that movie alone is worth the price of admission.
Also included in the set is Nightmare Hakusho, an entertaining feature that has Yusuke having a bad dream involving a naked Master Genkai (yikes) only to wake up and find that he’s married to none other than Botan and this his bosses that are coming over their little love nest is none other than Kurama and Hiei. Things get even stranger when Yusuke wakes up yet again and find himself in the middle of a war with Kuwabara as a commanding officer.
The nightmare doesn’t stop there as more characters that show up like an evil Keiko and Shizuru pop up in the dream making this Inception-like feature a very unusual and very entertaining. It’s just great to see the Yu Yu Hakusho characters in such unusual setting and roles.
The second disc contains Eizou Hakusho, a sort of six-episode OVA that covers key moments in Yusuke and his friends’ lives such as the Dark Tournament, the battle with Sensui and finally the tournament in the Demon Realm in the final episodes of the series. The episodes are featured in their original Japanese language track but it’s still a blast to see this “best of” clips from the series’ key major events that begin with Yusuke taking on Chu in the Dark Tournament as Kuwabara, Hiei, Kurama and the Masked Fighter take on their opponents during the tournament.
The rest of this feature is composed of chapters starting with the Yusuke Chapter, Kurama Chapter, Kuwabara Chapter and the Hiei Chapter that look into these four characters’ best battles and personal moments. For example, the Kurama Chapter covers Kurama’s battles in the Demon Realm but also touch on his past as we see why he joined forces with one of the demon rulers.
There are even a number of extras included in the two-disc set such as the rarely seen Anti-Piracy clips with updated dialogue from the English voice cast that’s great to hear. One of the best extras comes in the form of the Opening & Closing Encyclopedia that basically inserts even rarer small scenes before or after the opening and closing animations. In one such scene, during the Dark Tournament, an interviewer finds Team Urameshi in a dark mood. Then, in yet another, Yusuke invites his friends to eat at his foot stand. My favorite is a scene between Hiei and Yukina that is something of a continuation of the final episode.
Without a doubt, The Movie and Eizou Hakusho collection for Yu Yu Hakusho: Ghost Files is strictly for the fans and turns out to be quite a worthwhile collection that should be in any Yu Yu Hakusho’s library. Sure, the movie is short but it’s the icing on a cake that fans will happily devour while Eizou Hakusho is the cherry on top. If you’re not familiar with the series, I suggest picking up the four season sets before even considering checking out this collection because it certainly doesn’t make room for introductions. If you are a fan, however, you cannot go wrong buying this one.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
In the movie, Botan goes to Yusuke for help after she hears of Koenma’s kidnapping by the hands of a giant while enjoying some fun in the sun. Once again, Yusuke gathers his friends to save Koenma and the Spirit Realm. In Nightmare Hakusho, Yusuke’s has a dream-within-a-dream nightmare and, in Eizou Hakusho, we witness Yusuke at his best during the Dark Tournament.
VIDEO QUALITY: B+
The movie as well as Nightmare Hakusho and Eizou Hakusho look just as good as they did back in the day, although this collection could have been even more awesome if it got the same Blu-ray treat as the recent high-def release.
AUDIO QUALITY: A
The original English dub voice cast is back for this release so you’ll find Justin Cook, Laura Bailey, Chuck Huber and Christopher Sabat reprising their roles along with other familiar voices. Even the original score can be found as well as the various opening and closing theme songs from the series as well. As for Eizou Hakusho, however, it’s in its original Japanese.
You can say that these two discs are made up of nothing but extras that accompany the main this that is the entire four season series. On top of the movie and Eizou Hakusho, there are FUNimation trailers, a vintage trailer for the series, the clean opening and closing theme songs as well as six Anti-Piracy clips with the original English dub cast. Then there’s Nightmare Hakusho and the Opening & Ending Encyclopedia that inserts rare and interesting scenes in-between each opening and closing animation.
Simply put, no Yu Yu Hakusho fan will want to be without this 2-disc collector’s item that is made up of short but worthwhile features. Sure, the movie is just as long as a typical episode but it a real blast to watch while the rest are extras that no fan of the series should miss. Now if FUNimation could get their hands on Yu Yu Hakusho the Movie: Poltergeist Report our collection would be truly complete.
Review copy provided by FUNimation Entertainment