Yu Yu Hakusho Vol. #08: Dark Tournament (of 32) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, December 16, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, December 10, 2002
What They Say
Life for these teens refuses to settle down, as Spirit World makes a chilling discovery. The Toguro Brothers faked defeat during Yusuke’s last case, in an elaborate plan by the trillionaire Sakyou. Now Toguro will hit Yusuke with a terrible threat. Enter a vile competition run by the criminal world, or watch everyone he knows be hunted down and murdered!
The Black Tournament Begins
After two months of urgent training, Yusuke, Kuwabara, Kurama, Hiei, and a mysterious Masked Fighter board a rickety boat to Hanging-Neck Island, home of the Black Tournament. The competition attracts the most bloodthirsty demon fighters and double-crossing human gamblers that the world has ever seen. But first Yusuke’s crew must survive the boat ride. Only one team will reach the shore alive!
Team Urameshi is slated for the first fight against the Rokuyukai Team, an assembly of demon thugs with fanatic support from the lower-class apparitions. But Yusuke has been locked in deep slumber ever since his return from Genkai’s training, and now the team captain role falls on Kuwabara. With Spirit Sword drawn, he volunteers for the first match.
The Tournament episodes begin here, which to most people who know me will figure that the grade will start dropping like a rock any time now…
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. The track for this features a decent if pretty normal stereo mix. There’s little in the way of directionality and nothing going to the rear speakers at all. Most of the dialogue is center channel based but the music and most of the sound effects make use of the full left/right channels.
The transfer here looks pretty good with the masters here being in quite good condition. There’s hardly anything in the form of nicks or scratches or other print damage. Cross coloration is pretty minimal overall and everything looks good for colors and saturation. The animation itself doesn’t come off as striking since it’s mostly done in natural colors and nothing really vibrant. The openings and endings are done with alternate angles so you can see the translated versions or the original versions depending on the language you select.
There’s a gray border around the artwork on the front of the package here, with the four leads of the five member team that’s going to fight in the Dark Tournament here. This looks rather good considering how dark the cover is overall and the colors of their outfits set against it. The back cover provides a couple paragraphs worth of show summary and a couple of small animation shots. The episode numbers and titles are listed as well as the discs features and extras. The insert provides the artwork from the front without the border and larger, a very nice touch. The reverse side provides an episode summary for each one on the disc, going into more detail than the back cover.
The menus change here in the main menu rather drastically as it shifts to a widescreen sort of pan across character images fading in and out before settling on the menu selections. While it’s not bad, I was rather hoping they’d keep the entire series consistent with the style they had been using, which I rather liked in its simplicity and style. Access times are nice and fast and moving around is pretty logical, though the language selection area still strikes me as not being all that clear.
The extras here are roughly the same kind as the previous volume, which means some new text items and the like but also some of the same things we’ve seen already. The character profiles return again and we get another look at the textless opening and ending sequences. Yama’s notebook is the main place for new items, with more behind the name translations showing up. There’s also a behind the kanji piece, some on the super titles and more fighting techniques.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
While in the past and probably fairly recently as well, I’ve railed against typical fighting anime, most notably the number that come from video game to anime conversions, I’m finding myself not hating the way that Yu Yu Hakusho has been turning, especially now that it’s being very blunt in moving towards the tournament aspect of things. Typically, that would have me dropping things in a heartbeat, but there’s a lot more here that’s going to keep me interested.
Having dealt with Yukina, the group heads back home to get on with their lives until the next thing comes along. They’re not getting a long rest though, as their belief that they had killed the Toguro brothers is completely in error, as we see via a tape from a Spirit World agent that they were only slightly wounded and not dead. This shocks Yusuke and surprises the others, and it’s not long before Toguro catches up with Yusuke in the city and lays down the rules of things for him. As it turns out, there’s a “Dark Tournament” that’s held regularly where the Yokai all go and fight it out for big prizes. On occasion, some humans are invited to participate as well, usually ones that end up becoming overly involved in the affairs of the demon world. Yusuke and his group obviously fit in that category, so Toguro gives him two months to train after demonstrating to him just how underpowered Yusuke really is.
This completely changes Yusuke and he’s all for the Tournament. Everyone else falls into place with him as well, and all four set off for various training environments for the next two months. Yusuke goes off alone to meet up with Master Genkai to achieve a higher level of training. The training sessions aren’t gone into a lot of detail, and the two months pass fairly quickly, giving us the chance to just move right into the tournament itself.
The tournament once again feels like déjà vu for me as it’s continually obvious that Flame of Recca borrowed a lot from it when they worked on that series. Taking place on a remote island, complete with beautiful hotel accommodations and a massive tournament ground in a stadium, the wealthiest of humanity comes to watch the most violent of the Yokai pit themselves against each other in various teams to climb higher and higher in the tournament rankings. The tournament doesn’t get too far, but we do get into the first round with the cast, providing a look at some of the new skills some of them have.
What’s helping keep at least the opening rounds of the tournament interesting is how everyone is getting involved in it. While we have Team Urameshi on the ground itself and directly involved, they’ve also got their own little fanbase as Koenma Jr. changes his appearance to a normal adult male and comes to watch over his team, as well as a couple of his assistants. After Yusuke went missing, Botan found herself accosted by Keiko and Kuwabara’s sister to find out the truth, so those three are also there to observe and root for their friends. So there’s some fun little side threads going on with those characters as well.
I’m looking forward to seeing how things go here with the growth of the casts powers and whether they get completely out of proportion to what we’ve seen before or whether it’s a natural progression. There’s some really good moments early on and some amusing aspects to it as well, so I’m keen to see where it all goes.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Yama's Notebook,Textless Opening/Ending,Character Profiles
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.
Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
Running time: 62
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Yu Yu Hakusho