Yu Yu Hakusho Vol. #20: Terrible Truths (of 32) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Friday, January 23, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, January 20, 2004
What They Say
Spirit Detective Yusuke Urameshi discovered much about himself during the tumultuous Dark Tournament. After not only surviving, but winning the vile competition, Yusuke is ready for the return to normal life even if it means going back to the rigors of the daily grind.
But a new threat is preparing to continue the twisted dream of Sakyo and has begun the process of opening a tunnel between the Living and Demon Worlds! To make matters worse ordinary humans have suddenly acquired bizarre special powers.
With the Dark Tournament closed, the next arc starts up here and Chapter Black begins with things not quite the same as they were.
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 in the menus.
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 stormy night backdrop. The foreground pieces of the three new villains and Genkai continue the poor looking artwork used for the covers since they seem to be little more than captures from the show itself. 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 layout maintains its letterbox feel but places text in the letterbox sections such as the volume title and selections along the bottom. Some static artwork from the show is through the center along with the name of the current arc. 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 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 the new textless opening that I believe starts with this arc and the same ending as we’ve had before. 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.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the Dark Tournament, the series finds itself in a position where many other shows don’t manage to survive. With all the time spent on Yusuke becoming powerful enough mentally and physically to handle Toguro and his immense power, you end up with someone who can basically kick ass with the flick of an eyelash. The usual solution is to come up with bigger and stronger villains, which only degrades the initial arc and becomes fairly monotonous and predictable.
While there was some wrap-up at the end of the Tournament arc, we’re now seeing things back to normal. Yusuke is back at school, though he and Kuwabara do try to get out of it at times but Keiko continues to force them to go. Yusuke’s feeling empty, not necessarily tired or sluggish, but lacking in something that’s keeping him from feeling really alive. Kuwabara’s worse off as he seems to have lost his sense of detection of those from the spirit world, possibly due to the sword that he has. Kurama’s back at his own school and continuing to be the top student there without even trying while Hiei seems to be just hanging about the city, partially due to his still being under probation of the spirit realm court for his past offenses.
Now, as things go, you know it’s not going to be all quiet and casual for long. This is not a series that takes time to spend with characters lazing about. So it’s not long before a trio of guys, one of them the “second smartest student” at Kurama’s school, challenge Yusuke in an empty lot, only to be able to overtake him completely before he realizes it. As there’s something powerful afoot, Koenma Jr. has sent Botan back to Earth to bring Yusuke up to speed on it, but she doesn’t get to him in time, but she’s there when the “ransom” note arrives for her, Kuwabara, Hiei and Kurama to all go to a specific mansion to free Yusuke, if they dare.
With all of this happening fairly quickly, the bulk of the four episodes here really focuses on the challenges that get issued once the group enters the mansion. While the Dark Tournament focused on strategy and strength, the opening shot of this arc is designed to bring the mental side of the battle to the forefront, as the team is challenged to solve riddles to make their way through the mansion to where Yusuke is being held. This is done rather well, though there are some problems in how well it comes across in English due to word games and the like, but the original execution is very well done and engaging to watch. I loved the word game showdown between Kurama and Kaitou and how it was displayed on the screen as the letters disappeared. Some of it’s a bit campy, but overall it was much better than I expected and gives me some hope for this arc.
While there’s still a chance that this story arc could suffer the problems of a much too powerful lead character, the storyline so far has handled it well by not exactly de-powering him, but changing the situation he’s in. With the focus more on strategy and intelligence rather than outright combat in these first few episodes, it’s a welcome change of pace and hopefully indicates we’ll see more engaging encounters as Chapter Black progresses.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Yama's Notebook,Character Profiles,Textless Opening,Textless Ending
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.
Running time: 82
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Yu Yu Hakusho