Yu Yu Hakusho on Netflix Required Additional Time in The After Life

Khabar Lekh
5 Min Read

When Netflix’s One Piece debuted to largely positive reviews and fervor from fans, I had hope that the same attention to detail and care would be applied to its other adaptation of Yu Yu Hakusho, a seminal work in shonen anime. Now that the show was finally accessible, my optimism was terribly misguided.

Across a pitiful five-episode run, Netflix took one of the best action anime series, cut out its most heart-wrenching, emotionally charged scenes, and shoddily pieced them together with surprisingly good fight choreography.

Yu Yu Hakusho

Below are spoilers for Yu Yu Hakusho for this article.

The protagonist of Yu Yu Hakusho is Yusuke Urameshi, a misunderstood juvenile offender with iron fists and a golden heart. He loses his life one day preventing a small child from being struck by a truck. The lord of hell grants Yusuke another chance at life since no one would have thought that a nobody-do-well like him would give his life for a child. In return, Yusuke and a diverse group of human and demonic allies serve as spirit detectives, protecting the human world from the demon world’s criminal element.

The live-action series forgoes much of the essential plot and character development in favor of concentrating on a very loose adaptation of the Dark Tournament events, even though the anime devotes a significant amount of time to Yusuke and his allies investigating crimes as spirit detectives.

YYH’s premiere episode got off to a great start. No, I don’t mean that it opened with a modernized version of “Smile Bomb,” though the anime fans will no doubt be pleased to hear the iconic opening theme. Since Yusuke (Takumi Kitamura) has already passed away, the remainder of the episode focused on helping us comprehend the tragedy of this young man’s passing. Kitamura portrays Yusuke in a superb way. I’m aware that he will be compared to Justin Cook, the anime’s dubbing actor for Yusuke. Even though Kitamura lacks Cook’s biting sarcasm and abrasiveness, he nevertheless exudes Yusuke’s detached, dirtbag-like demeanor, which perfectly captures the essence of the character.

Yu Yu Hakusho

I was also taken aback by Yusuke’s adversary Kazuma Kuwabara (Shûhei Uesugi). Uesugi gave a flawless performance as this endlessly kind and devoted man who enjoys fighting. Once more, Uesugi’s voice performance falls short of Christopher Sabat’s, but he’s still the actor I adored the most.

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Late in the episode, a slightly romantic Kuwabara meets Yukina, an ice demon who has been kidnapped and held captive by mobsters because her tears yield extremely valuable gems. Without warning, Kuwabara develops feelings for her and alters his voice to sound like a refined gentleman in an attempt to win her over. He transitions from extremely informal, hyper-casual Japanese to extremely formal honorific language, which is represented quite well in the subtitles (kudos to the localization team for that). The scene that made me laugh aloud the most”he’s just like his anime counterpart fr fr”—was the best one in the show.

Yu Yu Hakusho

However, there was much to be desired in every other character. One of Yusuke’s demon allies, Kurama, and I fell in love in my teenage years, and I’m not ashamed to say that we still have feelings for each other today. However, my heart won’t let me acknowledge the Netflix version of him. With regard to his character or anyone else’s, the show did nothing.

I’m not sure what motivated Netflix to reduce the run of this show to just five roughly hour-long episodes, but the end result is a cast of characters that are bland, formless seat-fillers dressed like they’re in a high school production of a Yu Yu Hakusho episode.

It’s even more tragic that there’s no reason to care about the people fighting, because the fight scenes themselves were excellent action sequences. YYH avoided trying to recreate an anime fight in live action, which frequently ends up looking strange and awkward. Rather, it concentrated on presenting real, expertly choreographed, and professionally recorded fight scenes, which coincidentally featured a teenage girl and a seven-foot-tall oni. But Netflix’s terrible storyline compression took away our ability to get enthused about these excellent fights.


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