Yu Yu Hakusho Vol. #19: Tournament's End (of 32) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Tuesday, December 23, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, December 09, 2003



What They Say
With Yusuke’s life in his hands, Toguro begins to toy with the fallen Spirit Detective trying to anger him enough to power up to 100% power. Genkai takes over the body of Poo and gives Toguro the key to unlocking Yusuke’s hidden rage!

With his best friend lying cold on the arena floor, Yusuke feels a limitless surge of energy rush through his body. Laying it all on the line Yusuke delivers one final attack. When the smoke clears the crowd is shocked at what they see! Is this the end? Could it be possible that either fighter still stands? The Dark Tournament ends with the most explosive battle of all time!

The Review!
The last installment of the Dark Tournament saga brings the big battle one expects but then finally gets to the cop out that was telegraphed earlier.

Audio:
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.

Video:
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 in the menus.

Packaging:
There’s a gray border around the artwork on the front of the package here, and not straying from the past covers, it’s a bit murky in general. The art looks like a mixture of different pieces with the dark purple background showing Toguro against the dome as a backdrop while the front has headshots of the supporting fighters and a full shot of Yusuke in a yellow (?) outfit. 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.

Menu:
The menu 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.

Extras:
The extras are roughly the same kind as the previous volumes, 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 the like. A rather nice addition to this release is a ten minute interview with the character designer, Ms. Kitiyam, as done by the folks at Atari as part of their promotion of the Yu Yu Hakusho GBA game. Lots of shots of both the show and the game are used, but she brings some interesting points to light on the design and the characters popularity in Japan.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Twelve volumes in the making, the Dark Tournament saga finally comes to an end with the match-up that we’ve all been waiting for between Toguro and Yusuke. With this being the end of an arc, there are plenty of spoilers in the remainder of this content portion.

The final fight between the two spans only two of the four episodes here but it’s a solid fight sequence and overall pretty worthy of the build-up given to it since Toguro was first introduced. Toguro’s ready for the fight he’s been wanting for years now and goes to the full 100% power, as he tells us repeatedly, with his body changing drastically in some ways to reflect it. While he’s looked like a powerhouse in the past with the obscured muscles from the jacket, in this form he looks like an anime form of the Incredible Hulk, at one point complete with only torn pants in the form of shorts left on him.

Toguro’s boosted up, but Yusuke’s attempts to take him down barely even register against his body. With his mass and strength, the output level Yusuke uses against him isn’t up to the same level. Toguro continues to egg him on but realizes that the motivation just isn’t there yet for Yusuke. So in order to motivate him, he kills Kuwabara. While this sequence is sort of expected, it plays out better than it could by the way Kuwabara continues to prove that He Is The Man. When everyone’s ready to do an all out attack to help save him, he instead goes at Toguro by himself and faces his fate.

This is the trigger that Yusuke needed to completely unleash his powers, and it’s something that triggers back to what Genkai had told him when she was dying. We see the importance of friends again, something that Toguro tossed away in his past, in how Yusuke deals with the fight at hand. This is brought up just before Toguro goes after Kuwabara when the Puu creature flaps its purple self in front of Yusuke and takes on the voice and visage of Genkai and talks to him about the sacrifice of one being worth the lives of many.

I so did not need to see that.

With these episodes literally coming up to the halfway point in the series run, it’s somewhat obvious that Toguro does not win and that Yusuke and company does. The fight plays out wonderfully and continues to be one of the few fighting/tournament shows that I enjoy in its style and characters. There’s a lot of interesting bits presented in the end, such as what Sakyo’s up to and Koenma’s relationship with him as well as how Kuwabara’s sister deals with it. Never mind the actual destruction of the island they’re all on.

Hakusho then does one of the things that I really like – it takes two episodes to do a follow-up to everything and deal with the fallout and consequences. Rather than rushing it all into the final five minutes of one episode and kick off a new story arc, there’s a good amount of down time to let some reflecting in and dealing with the loose ends. The biggest loose end that initially seems to be cast aside is the prize of getting what you wished for. It’s talked about briefly and Yusuke makes a comment along the lines of “everyone knows what I’d wish for” and it’s left to the side for a bit.

Of course, it is obvious, and that’s to have Genkai back. So that’s what happens after a bit of time in the Spirit Realm where she confronts Toguro and the reasons why he’s done what he’s done (which reveals even more of his past to flesh things out) as well as some interesting conversations with Koenma. Unfortunately, this aspect of the series was spoiled form me some time ago which meant that back a few volumes when Genkai actually died, as well done as it was, it’s not something I could get overly excited about because it was telegraphed well enough that should Yusuke and team win, he’d wish her back to life. And that’s exactly what happened. So in some ways I do see this as a cop out, not that everyone’s wishes were really all that explicit to begin with really outside of Yusuke wanting to be stronger and some other casual bits for the others.

The last episode on the disc is also a touch strange with the animation. While the opening two episodes are much richer with their animation and color palette since they’re the “Big Episodes” of the series so far, the last one takes an interesting turn by becoming much more cartoony in the characters facial expressions and overall look. There’s plenty of intentional light moments and lots of sweatdrops, but it’s with this episode that a lot of the characters really take on that Studio Pierrot feel that it’s not had all that much of. It’s a bit jarring coming from the darker and dirtier episodes, but it does work well after a few minutes to help push the way the episode feels.

In Summary:
With the close of the Dark Tournament saga, we get a solid conclusion and only a few areas of “why’d they do that!” The series now faces the problem of having shown Yusuke at his absolute strongest and the limits of his body and now having to tell stories that will continue to challenge him. Since they made another fifty episodes or so after this, it’s obvious they did something right so I’m looking forward to seeing how they’ll deal with this problem, if at all. The Dark Tournament saga was very enjoyable and has some of the better fight sequences I’ve seen since Flame of Recca.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Yama's Notebook,Character Profiles,Textless Opening,Textless Ending,Interview with Ms. Kitiyama

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.



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