animefringe february 2003 / reviews

Yu Yu Hakusho Vol.7: Rescue Yukina!
Format: bilingual DVD, 3 eps., 82 min.
Production: FUNimation / Yoshihiro Togashi / Shueisha / Pierrot
Comments: A short story arc that starts and finishes on this DVD, Save Yukina is fun DVD that ends with a sense of closure.
Animefringe Reviews:
Yu Yu Hakusho Vol.7: Rescue Yukina!

Picking up where (currently) the television run of Yu Yu Hakusho has left off, "Rescue Yukina" starts (and ends) a new story arc for the series. This disc is one of FUNimation's better releases, for a number of reasons.

This disc starts on episode 22, shortly after junior high student Yusuke Uremeshi has defeated the evil supernatural Saint Beasts. With that Spirit World issue taken care of, Yusuke and classmate Kuwabara have taken a breather. Their break seems short-lived when Iei delivers Yusuke a video tape from Koenma, the boss-man of the Spirit world.

Evidently, the snow princes Yukina has been captured by a wealthy crime boss, who is selling her tears on the black market. Koenma instructs Yusuke, Botan, and Kuwabara to save Yukina (though Kuwabara, falling in love at first sight with Yukina, needs little prodding). In his excitement, Kuwabara misses an important part of Koenma's tape; Yukina is the younger sister of Iei. Iei isn't told of the situation; since he is a demon, if he kills a human for any reason, it will mean he will have to be punished. Despite this, Iei has some inkling of the situation and quietly follows Yusuke and the others.

The wealthy crime magnate has hired two powerful bodyguards, the Toguro Brothers, to protect him and his investment. Thus, Yusuke, Kuwabara, and Botan have to battle their way through demons of all sorts to the Toguro brothers in order to save the Yukina. The four episodes tend to concentrate on the human members of the cast, especially Kuwabara. However, both Iei and Kurama make appearances and Koenma steals a few scenes in his office in the Spirit World. However, this DVD focuses in on Yusuke and Kuwabara and introduces the Toguro Brothers, who remain important.

Visually, this disc is a mixed bag. The DVD is much sharper than the TV broadcast. However, that doesn't change the fact that the series is from 1992 and looks a little dull when compared with more recent anime. The show is inescapably old; while it stands up well to other anime TV series of the time (Dragonball Z for example), it still looks a little old (especially when compared with movies and OAV's from the early 1990s). I, personally, don't care for the character design of the series, and in some short scenes during the disc's four episodes, the drawings look a little funky.

The audio is standard, nothing revolutionary but not bad either. The DVD contains both the Japanese language program (with full opening and closing sequences, with the Japanese music) and the English language dub. The Japanese language track is pretty solid (and is of course the standard by which to judge the English track). The English track is nothing spectacular, but isn't completely awful either (though Kuwabara sounds terribly stupid and Koenma's voice simply isn't up to par). All in all, Yu Yu Hakusho's English track is leaps and bounds over both FUNimation's Dragonball Z and Lupin III dub jobs, but isn't up to the voice acting standards of, say, Viz's Ranma 1/2.

The series itself is action-packed and fast paced. A martial arts series where the protagonist, Yusuke, is a detective for the Spirit World, Yu Yu Hakusho mixes the blow-by-blow excitement with a wry sense of humor. Though both FUNimation's Dragonball Z and Yu Yu Hakusho are well known for their action, and though the two series are comparable, Hakusho doesn't have the slower exposition and filler episodes that Dragonball Z is known for.

As for the editing, the series seems intact. One episode in this story arc has Yusuke feel up a supposedly female demon, only to find out "she" is a he. Despite Cartoon Network's move towards more liberal programming, through Toonami and Adult Swim, I can't see this being broadcast uncut on the network.

Technically, this DVD is excellent. It has two sets of subtitles, one closer to the English language track and one for fans who want a more Japanese experience. Among the extras on the disc are explanations of kanji and Japanese names, a remarkable boon for the Japanese language enthusiast, as well as fans of the show itself. Other extras include clean opening and closings, and character profiles, but the kanji explanations are easily the best extra on the disc. Additionally, the DVD's menus are striking without being overwhelming and the chapter selection is well thought out (and plentiful).

"Rescue Yukina" is an extremely satisfying disc for those familiar with Yu Yu Hakusho's basic premise. Since the story arc finishes on this one disc, it is possible to watch the entire thing and end with closure, making it the ultimate way to rope in new fans. Both series' fans and occasional viewers who enjoy the show will enjoy this disc.