Yu Yu Hakusho Vol. #21: The Seven (of 32) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Sunday, February 15, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, February 17, 2004



What They Say
With intense hatred for all humanity in his heart, Sensui searches for the person that has the ability needed to aide him in opening the tunnel between Living World and Demon World. Without the aid of a psychic, the tunnel cannot be completed.

Yusuke's last hope in uncovering the truth behind the tunnel rests with Murota, a human blessed with the ability to read minds. But when Murota is attacked and in need of medical attention, Yusuke finds more at the hospital than he could have ever expected.

The Review!
With the setup given in the last volume, the group heads off to try and get a handle on the situation.

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 main image is a bit amusing since it shows off the leads from Yusuke's side along with Koenma, which is five people. Now, even knowing that the title of ?The Seven? is in reference to the villains it just comes across as a bad way to do up a cover since it just looks silly. 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 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.

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 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 the like.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With Master Genkai back on the side of all things good and the revelations that Yusuke and friends were being put through something of a test to ensure that they could handle what's coming up, the general feeling among the newly enlarged group is of mild friendship. Yusuke isn't one to hold grudges, often since those he hates are obliterated, so he works with the three new kids who have their unique abilities about them.

While Genkai has gone over some of the basics of what to expect, Yusuke wants the full report from Koenma Jr. so he knows what he's up against. This gets really interesting since Koenma Jr. has information that's not shared lightly with anyone but is required to really know what they're up again. With the tunnel that's connecting the Human Realm and the Demon Realm, there initially isn't too much concern because only a select group can get through. The Spirit Realm, thought to be pretty all-powerful previously, is revealed to control barely anything in the demon realm. That realm is layered so deeply that there are hundreds of layers to it, but the spirit realm has control over barely half of the top most layer.

Deep down in the pits below, there are classes of demons that are ranked as A class and S class, with the S class demons being the ultimate things that are immensely old and powerful. To give Yusuke reference, Toguro was a good but not quite top tier B class demon. Things aren't as grim as they seem at first though. Koenma Jr. also reveals that there is a massive barrier of sorts that protects the Human Realm from the Demon Realm, which helps keep down what can pass through. While a wide range of B class demons can get through, the A and S class creatures are kept from going across the barrier. But as the barrier weakens, more and more powerful creatures are able to make the pass. And that's going to happen soon.

Now armed with information, the group brings in a new player, someone their aged called Murota. Like the other new guys, he's gained strange powers since the opening of the tunnel and the arrival of many of the lower form creatures from the Demon Realm. His ability is that of mind reading, which makes him particularly useful in trying to find those that are causing all of this to happen. Much to Yusuke's surprise, their first fishing expedition at a busy intersection with Murota scanning thoughts leads them to one of those causing the trouble. His aura is so intense that even Yusuke knows not to interfere. But before he can react at all, someone from an immense distance away flicks part of a rubber eraser at Murota that nearly kills him after striking him in the forehead.

Taking Murota to the hospital, they're able to try and figure out what just happened since they knew enough not to get into a fight. Murota reveals some of the thoughts he crossed, about how the Seven that have come are going to kill everyone and fill the world with dead bodies. The intense bloodlust is almost too much for the guy, but he's able to rattle off the names of the Seven, most of them being something their powers probably relate to. But it's a little too late to reveal that one of them is named the Doctor, as some of the demon bugs that the group can see have shown up in the hospital and infected Murota and Yana. Their skin turns a sickly green and their bodies grow cold as the virus spreads throughout their bodies.

This sets the stage for the first encounter with one of the Seven on a mostly one on one basis as the group splits up and searches the hospital for the Doctor that's not really a doctor there. The change in dynamic as opposed to the tournament manages to work well, though their first opponent isn't anywhere near as powerful as many of those that they fought in the Tournament. The imbalance in power is made up nicely though by the Doctors ability to take down people so quickly with his demon bugs and the way he's managed to utilize people who happen to just be in the area. And with everyone working together at the same time, there's a pleasant change in how the fights go since it's not a forced one on one experience.

In Summary:
While the Seven don't seem too terribly impressive by the first look of the Doctor, you know they always offer up their weakest warrior first just to get a handle on the enemy. Yusuke and company are definitely taking things seriously, expect poor spirit deprived Kuwabara, and there's some great tension during the hospital sequences here. The show also has turned decidedly bloodier now in these episodes since regular humans are aplenty, and they get ripped up several times. The darker elements are welcome, though it was somewhat surprising considering how long the show has been going that they'd start bringing more of that in. The new arc continues to shape up nicely and keeps us interested.

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

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