Yu Yu Hakusho: King Urameshi

Vandemar

imageYu Yu Hakusho: Bandits and Kings was my debut review, so reviewing the next installment, King Urameshi, was kind of exciting. The end of Bandits and Kings left a number of plots up in the air and it turns out that King Urameshi is where it all comes crashing down. Once again, plot twists, betrayals, and backstabbings run rampant and, once again, it’s an absolute delight to watch.

To set the stage, the death of Raizen tossed the Demon Realms into chaos. Yomi blackmailed Kurama into his service with a softly-spoken threat about an unfortunately timed plane crash. In the meantime, careful political schemes started to bear fruit and characters who spent three episodes traveling were just starting to get into place. Bandits and Kings was the middle of the chess game. King Urameshi is the endgame, at least for this particular political arc.

Early in Episode 104, Every Demon for Himself, demon-king Yomi murmurs, “This is about to get interesting.” While we smirk along, it turns out to be an Understatement of the Year award winner. Yusuke arrives at Yomi’s palace and offers the demon a present that just might assure peace. The present marks the beginning of a tournament for control of the Demon Realm, which brings funny looking demons and fighters from all over to join the regulars in preparing for the tournament.

The Preliminaries in episode 105 starts the early stages of the Demon Realm Unification Tournament. Fighting is a must in this episode, and watching the various characters show off their powers is quite a treat.

Episode 106 continues the tournament with the foreshadowed Battle of Father and Son. Yomi and his son Shura are assigned to the same block of fighters and, as such, must do battle to see who moves on to the next stage. This episode is essentially one long action sequence and, as one would expect in combat between demons, it’s over the top. People fly all around, punches connect with ground-furrowing force, and jumpkicks come screaming in from jetliner altitudes.

Animation and sound hold up to the previous installments and all the fight scenes give the animators a chance to show off. Combat is fluid and graceful and there is a lot of color in every scene, but very muted and subdued. The music, too, is subtle, underlining a scene and enhancing it without overwhelming the action on a screen. All the strange and bizarre demons make for some interesting visuals, and Yu Yu Hakusho routinely has some of the oddest, like the giant bug used as a vehicle and the character who fights with deadly yo yos. Yes, yo yos. The on-disc extras were the usual cool character profiles and language options, nothing overwhelming, but a nice set of features to round out a disc.

imageYu Yu Hakusho, at least by this point in the series, moves in slow, elegant strokes, painting a plot over time instead of hurling everything at the wall and seeing what sticks. It moves with stately, elegant grace, which is deceptive, as double-crosses and deceptions slam home with the force of a freight train. This is certainly not for viewers who lack patience, considering the epic, Machiavellian-style political maneuvering and backstabbing may take some time to come to a head. As much as I enjoyed it, I’d hesitate to recommend it to everyone, as it takes a certain type of person to find revenge as entertaining as things blowing up. If you, like me, are that kind of person, put this one right next to Bandits and Kings.

Technical/Extras: 8
A solid 8 for the good-looking animation and music. The extras are nice, but there’s nothing overwhelmingly awesome.

Entertainment : 8
Another solid 8. This is entertaining if you’ve seen the previous ones, but obviously, nobody should start 100 episodes in. Pretty good stuff overall, though.

Overall: 8.0

Episodes: 104 Every Demon For Himself, 105 The Preliminaries, 106 The Battle of Father and Son

DVD Extras: Character Profiles, Textless Songs, Japanese and English Languages, English Subtitles, Scene Selection, Trailers, Uncut Episodes

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