After overcoming Team Rokuyukai, Yusuke and his team attempt to battle through the further rounds of the tournament. They don’t have it as easy as they did before, with the team being pushed to its limit and the spectre of Toguro’s considerable power looming ever larger.
The Dastardly Dr Ichigaki
In the second round, Team Urameshi come up against the Dr Ichigaki Team. The Ichigaki Team easily overcame their opponents in the first round, and we get some added intrigue as we find out that the majority of their fighters are human, and not demons.
Yusuke, Genkai and Kuwabara have to go it alone, as the two weaker members of the Dr Ichigaki team intercept Hiei and Kurama away from the stadium to prevent them from participating. To make matters worse, Yusuke was unable to use his Spirit Gun due to fatigue from the battle with Chu.
We find out that the humans under Ichigaki’s control were students of the renowned master Mitamura, and that Dr Ichigaki had succeeded with an evil scheme to get his prised pupils under his control. The doctor is a detestable little demon, made even more so with his annoying cackle that he does every time he speaks.
I liked the fact that Kuwabara’s acute spirit sensitivity came into play again here, with him having the strange dreams, or memories, he received from the controlled Dr Ichigaki Team members. It is he who proves to be the catalyst to allow them to be freed from Ichigaki’s nefarious control, but only with the help of Genkai’s advanced Reihado-ken techniques.
The Strength of Champion
During these episodes we also get another glimpse at Toguro’s power, as he battles a whole team solo, resulting in him literally punching them all in two.
Not surprisingly, we discover that Toguro and his team were the victors at the last Dark Tournament, and therefore he’s certainly going to take some stopping. With Team Urameshi having a difficult time, it’s looking like a tall order that they will be able to overcome the mighty sunglasses-wearing monster and his team, the others that we haven’t seen much of yet at all. Who knows what frightening abilities they may possess?
Under the mask
Also in the midst of these episodes, we find out that Genkai has somehow mysteriously de-aged. Yusuke and Kuwabara notice that something is up when she speaks to them with the voice of a much younger woman, and the mask is partially removed during the fight with the Dr Ichigaki Team.
I’d say the reason she is younger is that she used her Reihado-ken techniques to make herself temporarily younger to better compete in the tournament. Perhaps there is more to this however, so we’ll have to wait and see.
Stacking the Odds
Due to Team Urameshi containing the human guests to the tournament, the odds are further stacked against them when our characters learn that they have to fight more battles to reach the final compared to most other teams.
These changes seem to be being made by another member of the Black Black Club, who also makes it so Team Urameshi have to battle their next opponents Team Masho immediately after defeating the Dr Ichigaki team.
Kurama takes on Gama in the first fight, being the only member of Team Urameshi in a fresh condition. I really didn’t like this fight, as Kurama was painted (no pun intended!) to be a cunning thief, so how he fell so easily for Gama’s trick before his death felt really stupid and out of character. Thankfully, Kurama was able to defeat the ice demon Toya that followed, but had to resort to a move of desperation to do so.
With Kurama unable to do anything against Bakken because of this, Yusuke once again has to step in. By this point, things have been made worse with Hiei with his injured arm and Genkai trapped in a cage of energy by the fake nurse Ruka, with Kuwabara still out of commission.
Yusuke easily defeats Bakken, in a fight that harked back to the one he had in the Genkai Tournament Arc against Kibano. Afterwards, he now has the powerful wind demon Jin to deal with.
Jin is another demon with a playful and benevolent attitude, similar to Chu and Rinku from Team Rokuyukai. Yusuke at the end of Episode 40, decides to gamble on using a powerful technique we have yet to see to try and become victorious. Will he succeed?
On some side notes, I found it weird how neither Genkai or Botan attempted to heal the other fighters with injuries, seeing as we have already seen them heal others during other parts of the series so far. Also, we get some news on the spirit egg from all the way back in Episode 4, that Koenma suggests will be able to help Yusuke in a big way soon.
A Moral Compass
A lot has been made so far in Yu Yu Hakusho about how demons don’t have any sort of morals, and live by a totally different code. Things start to change with these episodes however, in conjunction with what we saw from Chu and Rinku last time, as we see more demons with good intentions.
Team Masho are a team of famous ninjas in the demon realm, but have decided that they want to experience ‘light’ and want nothing more than to win the Dark Tournament so they can keep the island for themselves and experience some kind of peace and harmony on Earth. Or so it seems.
Koto, the tournament announcer also tries to interfere when Kurama is getting beat up by Bakken, and sticks up for Team Urameshi despite the ravenous crowd wanting them to perish.
With these episodes, I’m going to take this opportunity to say I’m pretty disappointed with Yu Yu Hakusho so far. The last bunch of episodes felt like the series was going to finally click into gear, but things begin to stall again here with the only development we really have to the overarching story being Genkai’s reveal.
From what I remember reading, The Dark Tournament Saga was created in Yoshihiro Togashi’s original manga because his editor advised him to take it in a different direction. The Spirit Detective Saga had issues that we have discussed, but I don’t think scaling back the story and making the series mostly fights was the right thing to do. I think the issue was that the early storylines just weren’t quite good enough.
Hopefully, we’ll have more actual plot development take place in the next bunch of episodes.
Are you enjoying Yu Yu Hakusho so far? Can Yusuke defeat Jin? Leave your thoughts down below.