Yu Yu Hakusho has been on my radar of series to watch for a very long time. As a kid, I had heard about it and its similarities to Dragon Ball which I still adore, and was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of an episode on a trip to the United States in about 2002 or so.
Despite thoroughly enjoying that initial taste, it has taken me almost 20 years to get around to finally experiencing it, so here we are.
After watching the first episode, I share the common opinion that I’ve seen from others that this is one of the best first episodes to any anime. Most fictional stories will either start gently with their first chapter or episode, introducing you to the characters and the general premise. Others will throw you into the deep end, hoping that you will pick up the story as it goes along. Yu Yu Hakusho is an example of a story that manages to do both with its opening caper, striking a great balance.
Yusuke Urameshi is an interesting protagonist but is the definition of a young man with a chip on his shoulder. He’s a kid with a bad reputation who is feared by many of his peers. However, his deed of stepping in to ‘save’ the young boy from the speeding car and the fact that the kind Keiko is so willing to be friends with him, shows that he is a person with a good heart, and allows us as the audience to like and respect him just enough. We also see that his home life isn’t the best, being brought up by his single mother with a relaxed attitude and a love of alcohol.
Killing your main character off right at the start is a bold move to make, but clearly a correct one from series creator Yoshihiro Togashi. It’s rare that a first episode is able to deliver such emotion, but that is just what we get here, with how it affects the people who were in Yusuke’s life.
One of my favourite parts of the episode was when Yusuke’s principal Takenaka came to mourn his death. Upon realising this, Yusuke saw that his principal wasn’t someone just out to annoy him, and instead someone who cared about the wellbeing and lives of his students. This was one of many strong lessons Yusuke seemed to learn after his demise.
Episode 2 involves Yusuke embarking on a quest to regain his body, having been given the opportunity by Yama, or Koenma, the name he appears to prefer going by. The fact that there is a Yama in this, creates another similarity to Dragon Ball with their use of Buddhist mythology. This kind of makes me wonder if Yu Yu Hakusho is going to be an approximation of Dragon Ball Z if that franchise had never strayed into sci-fi from its more mythical and mystical roots.
Back on to the episode, and Yusuke succeeds in preventing his body from being cremated, thanks to a little help from Keiko and his use of Kuwabara’s body. Also, what kind of creature will hatch from the mysterious egg that Yusuke obtained from Koenma?
Well, this was definitely a great start for Yu Yu Hakusho. The first episode really was one of the best openings to an anime I have seen. The second episode wasn’t quite as memorable, and was akin to what you would normally see for the first few episodes of an anime. This episode still had some wonderful and silly moments however, like Kuwabara suddenly coming to from Yusuke’s possession while holding Keiko.
It’ll certainly be interesting to see how Yusuke’s adventure continues from here.
What did you make of Yu Yu Hakusho, and have you already seen the series previously? Leave your comments down below.