Yu Yu Hakusho Vol. #11: Fairplay (of 32) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Friday, May 02, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, March 04, 2003

What They Say
The battle with Team Ichigaki has Yusuke Urameshi's team licking their wounds heading into the third round of the Dark Tournament. Up next for Team Urameshi... Team Masho. But when Team Masho unveils their true identities and desires, Yusuke quickly learns why this group is so feared in the Demon underworld.

As if facing off with the horrific Team Masho is not enough, a bold move by the team's owner renders two of Yusuke's fighters useless for the battle! Learning the hard way, Yusuke realizes that the vile tournament committee will do whatever it takes for the Spirit Detective to perish in the ring of battle!

The Review!
Round two ends and round three kicks into gear right away, providing no rest for the characters nor the viewer!

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, which provides a look at the next group of characters that Urameshi must take on. 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 menu here retains the widescreen feel as well as the match-progress boxes to contain the selections while they use the imagery underneath of the arena itself and the crowds watching it. 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. 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)
With the second round done, Team Urameshi gets a severe kick in the beanbag by being forced to go right into round three and take on the next team, Team Masho.

Team Masho is an intriguing group as we get some of their history from Kurama, as he explains them to be the kind of dark mysterious ultra ninja group that really hides in the shadows and pulls off some of the more dastardly things in history. The fear level implied by the name and history gets backed up nicely as we get introduced to their members one by one. The first one being a blue skinned demon named Gama, a creature who uses his own blood as ink to pain on his body to provide him with more skills, but also can be used against others to kill them.

Before the fight can even begin though, the Head Office of the Tournament messes with things even more. Bringing into a play an extremely attractive human looking nurse, Ruka arrives on the field and takes Hiei and Mask to her small pavilion for a check-up before the match can begin. After a quick look, she deems both of them unfit for the match and places them in a barrier that keeps them from participating. Of course, this goes over poorly, especially since you have the highly damaged Kuwabara laying to the side and being tended to by Botan.

Just more cheating by the manage of Team Masho is likely, in his anything to win mode. So only Kurama and Yusuke are left to take on five fresh fighters. The battles play out well early on here, with Kurama going up against Gama and playing quite well against Gama’s style and methods. Kurama even ends up going up against a few more players on Team Masho as the rules start breaking down. This batch of episodes really lets Kurama and his abilities and ingenuity shine while keeping everyone else frustrated over how it’s going.

Though there’s only three episodes, it plays out nicely here and keeps a certain series of events nicely contained. The fight sequences are great, the villains are fun and the Urameshi Team characters really stand out nicely here. With the addition of the supporting cast of women in the stands, we’re really enjoying this series. There’s just a certain flair to the style that we really like, whereas we normally dislike fighting/tournament series. Yu Yu Hakusho just has that certain something that keeps me on the edge of my seat as each fight plays out. These episodes were particularly good in doing that as they eliminated much of the team right out of the gate and upped the stakes.

This is a hell of a lot of fun and probably being missed by a lot of people.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Character Profiles,Textless Opening,Textless Endings,Yama's Notebook

Review Equipment
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.
MSRP: 24.95
Running time: 62
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Yu Yu Hakusho