Yu Yu Hakusho (Spirit Detective Saga) Season 1 Review
Yu Yu Hakusho is a 1992 anime series based on a manga that follows Yusuke Urameshi who after his death becomes a Spirit Detective and has to protect the world against threats of the supernatural kind. It is a very good show with an intriguing first season.
Now, the first season seems interesting for a couple of reasons. First, it instantly makes you riveted by its plot. And secondly, it seems as though this is only the beginning both in scope and in the quality of the writing. As I have yet to see the remaining seasons, I can’t confirm that but I am certain that it will only get better up from here which will be awesome as this first season is magnificent in and of itself.
It starts wonderfully. The first episode is one of the rare episodes that instantly made me interested in the show as TV series usually start slow and subpar. But this one started with a bang! It wonderfully set up its world and it perfectly introduces you to its characters, especially our main hero. I will go into each and every character later, but now I am going to briefly comment on goings-on in this season.
This Spirit Detective Saga is split into 25 episodes and in approximately three story arcs. It has some weaker episodes, but most of them are really good with the first couple and last couple of them being the standouts. The first episode starts great and it made me know the character from just that part. The second is also really entertaining and even intense while the third is definitely the worst of these first parts. It then introduces us to a couple of more characters that are evil at first and are going to soon become friends and although that seems like a typical anime stuff, it is done mostly well and not in a jarring manner. Now, the training was excellent and for me very entertaining, but the tournament is excellent and although it didn’t last for long, it was still great to watch. But especially the later fights are really well done.
Now, the last arc in which the crew has to save a girl held by a crime lord was the highlight in my opinion which was unexpected as I thought it was going to be mediocre at first. But it was very entertaining and the fights were much more interesting than before, albeit the enemies were less demanding. And it ends wonderfully thus perfectly wrapping up this season.
The fights here are well done. The approach in more gadgets and weapons than fighting abilities was somewhat unappealing to me at first, but I quickly got used to it and I like how each and every weapon and skill is extremely well utilized. And although their power explanation is done in a clichéd, childish anime manner, it is still sophisticated and complex in its number of weapons and their usage. I liked how it took the characters to use the brains and not just strength to defeat the villains and most of the fights were finished in a satisfying manner. The opponents of the first two arcs are much more difficult whereas the later ones were too easy to defeat, but were more interesting in their depiction.
The characters are excellently developed. Yusuke is a very good central character who is stubborn and very realistically depicted, but it is his relationship with Kuwabara that lends to many comic and fun times. Yes, Kuwabara can be annoying at first, but he is likable later on and the relationship between the two resembles ‘Naruto‘ and it may seem typical, but this is one of the first series that did that sort of thing and to a great effect as those two carry the whole season on their shoulders.
Genkai is so amusing as the elderly female martial arts expert and it is so great to have her be a female character and an old one. Such a refreshing and comedic approach. But that approach doesn’t always work. The best example is Koenma who should be in charge of the Spirit World, but is portrayed as just a toddler. And I understand its quirkiness, but that did not appeal to me as it was too childish and odd and his sequences are of the most annoying kind here.
Hiei is a memorable character and although his shift to the good side is expected and sudden, he still retained some of his mystery and toughness. And Kurama is also a solid character and although too feminine, he serves his purpose and has a great story arc earlier in the season. Botan is a fun character and serves well as Yusuke’s guide. She seemed like a typical brainless female character at the beginning, but she quickly proved me otherwise as she is charming and pretty, but also capable to defend herself and very smart. But Keiko is a typical forgettable character who is just there to be Yusuke’s love interest.
The animation is nothing spectacular, but I like the character design and especially their clothing and attention to detail in backgrounds and gadgets. And the action sequences are really well executed and always intriguing to watch. The show is also mostly very well paced with rarely a dull moment and with no fillers whatsoever which is refreshing. I like its friendship theme with the characters very well explored and all being very likable. The humor is also genuinely good with a lot of charmingly funny moments. The animation is not the standout, but the imagery and the designs are. And I have to talk about the score as I really like it, not just its sound effects and soundtrack throughout, but also the excellent closing credits and especially the opening which is so catchy and instantly recognizable. The show is not original, but is imaginative and the world building is quite good. And although it is never as good as ‘Dragon Ball‘, it still can be compared to it in its charming humor, memorable characters and a great adventurous tone which is quite an accomplishment.
Overall, the first season of Yu Yu Hakusho is an entertaining one with charming humor, a great plethora of interesting and all well developed characters, excellent relationships between the characters, solid villains, great designs and weapons, terrifically executed action sequences and overall good world building and a satisfying and involving storyline. It has its problems, but is mostly very entertaining and effervescent with a lot to offer.
Worst Episodes: Kuwabara: A Promise Between Men and The Search Begins.
Best Episodes: Surprised to be Dead, Koenma Appears and Lamenting Beauty.