Yu Yu Hakusho Vol. 19
The Dark Tournament is finally drawing to a close. With over 30+ episodes of above average shounen action, it is good to see a mediocre arc end. The final battle of the Dark Tournament, Yusuke versus Toguro, is starting to heat up. With the death of Kuwabara, Yusuke's best friend, at the hands of Toguro, Yusuke becomes infuriated. Giving it everything he has, Yusuke and Toguro power up for one final attack. As soon as the smoke clears, only one is left standing.
The character development is focused on two people in this volume, Genkai and Toguro. We find out that Genkai and Toguro do not hate each other as much as many viewers may think, and in a way Toguro was trying to teach Yusuke. Toguro's motives were more selfish after all of his students at his school were killed by a bloodthirsty demon (this is the first time we see a picture of the demon) and Toguro was defeated by the demon. He wants revenge.
Toguro and Genkai, the former assistant master of Toguro's school, discover that the demon will be at a tournament, the Dark Tournament. They assemble a team of three people and enter the tournament, which shows how things have changed over the course of the Dark Tournament's years, since the requirement is now four people for a team. The team makes it to the finals and kills the demon, but they get to make a wish after their victory in the Dark Tournament. Toguro chooses to have an immortal demon body, since he has still a human one at this time. This disgusts Genkai, so they go their separate ways.
Fast-forward forty years. Genkai hosts a tournament in order to pass her powers on to a potential apprentice, Yusuke Urameshi. The young spirit detective, who has just gone through an ordeal to get his body back, enters the tournament with his best friend, Kuwabara. Yusuke doesn't want Genaki's power at that time, but he wants to catch the spirit demon, Rando. Yusuke fights Rando and emerges victorious in order to win the position of Genkai's apprentice. Soon after Yusuke finishes his training with Genkai, he has to rescue a girl named Yukina, an ice apparition, who is being held hostage. Kuwabara falls in love with Yukina and decides to help Yusuke out.
The Younger Toguro and the Elder Toguro are the two demons that Yusuke and Kuwabara must defeat in order to save Yukina. Kuwabara comes up with a plan to defeat the Toguros, and they successfully rescue Yukina. The Toguro brothers, however, were faking their deaths in order to test Yusuke and Kuwabara. The Younger Toguro, who secretly hates having a demon body that is immortal, hatches a plan of his own to teach Yusuke about fighting and to free himself from his torture. The Younger Toguro threatens to kill everyone who Yusuke loves if he does not enter the Dark Tournament. Yusuke goes through a lot of trials and tribulations to get to the finals, and thus defeat the members of the Toguro team.
Genkai and Toguro, who are in heaven at this time, get a lot of airtime in this volume to explain their past and why they are doing the things that they do. The Urameshi team becomes the winning team through establishing new allies that will help them in the future. Minor characters throughout this arc also experience some character development at one point or another. Every sixth episode of the Dark Tournament contains some useful character development. However, since shounen style action is still the main focus of this story arc, character development is not a crucial part of this series.
Funimation has done Yu Yu Hakusho fans a big favor by keeping the original Japanese music intact on both versions of the DVD (Dragon Ball GT anyone?). This volume and the previous volume have a different ending song by Hiro Takahashi Anbaransu na Kisu wo. This song is not as catchy as the previous two by Shite Mawatari, but it does have more of a jazzy feel. One of the good or bad things, considering how you look at it, is that Yu Yu Hakusho has the same opening throughout the whole series.
The voice actors continue to deliver a consistent performance by putting a lot of their emotion into the character's traits and personalities. When I was listening to Ai Orikasa, the Japanese voice actor of Kuwabara, I could see a distinct resemblance between him and Christopher R. Sabat. The main difference between the Japanese subtitles and the English dub is the use of explicative language.
The extras in this volume share some similar features with the previous Yu Yu Hakusho DVDs, with Funimation trailers, a Shonen Jump/Yu Yu Hakusho card demo trailer, Yama's Notebook, and clean opening and ending songs. One of the highlights of this volume is the ten-minute interview with Ms. Kitayama, the character designer for Yu Yu Hakusho. In the interview, Ms. Kitayama talks about the success of Yu Yu Hakusho in America and Japan, the themes that the main characters portray, and how she got the job. Sometimes, when she talks about Yusuke, Hiei, and Kurama, she forgets to mention Kuwabara.
This volume is one of the highlights of the Dark Tournament Arc. Genkai and Toguro have a lot of character development in the later episodes in this volume. Unfortunately, if shounen is not your style, you should probably stay far away from this volume. However, if you do enjoy shounen action, this series and DVD is for you, as Funimation changes to a four-episode DVD format and the Chapter Black arc draws near.