Yu Yu Hakusho Vol. #22: Dark Indulgence (of 32) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Tuesday, January 25, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, March 16, 2004



What They Say
Long before Yusuke Urameshi perished and returned to Living World, Shinobu Sensui held court as Earth's Spirit Detective. Sensui was the prime example of humanity and goodness, diligently serving those he swore to protect.

But everything changed one horrific night thanks to mankind's despicable behavior and a mysterious video tape called Chapter Black. Just what is revealed on the video? And why is Koenma so afraid of its power?

The Review!
While Kuwabara struggles with being the latest target and having no powers available to him, we also get to learn the important details of what made Sensui fall.

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. Keeping things to the first couple of episodes, the cover artwork gives Kuwabara the center stage as he protects his friends but unfortunately spoils what he's able to do while protecting them here which is a real shame. 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 the hunt now on as the Seven, or at least the remaining six of them, start to go after Urameshi and his friends, things settle into a couple of episodes that focus on one particular battle before it shifts to bringing more of them into play while giving us some much needed background on just what's going on.

The first couple of episodes on this volume are really good and were particularly enjoyable for me since they kept the focus on Kuwabara and continued to push why he's such a solid character and the more reliable one of the bunch as well as pushing him towards what his bigger destiny is going to be. Since he's been without his powers since the Dark Tournament, he's been grappling with that issue and not liking how ineffective he feels. So when he's finally just hanging out with his friends that aren't related to any of the demon world stuff, he's finally starting to feel halfway decent about things only to have it all shot to hell by the arrival of one of the Seven.

A younger lad with the amusing name of Seamen, he's a troubled youth whose had things bad no matter what, picked on for no apparent reason in school, bullied in general and always feeling weak, Sensui used all of this to teach him that life will always be like that and that he has to be the cruel one to be one of the good guys. He's had such a poor opinion of people for so long now that he was easy to sway over fully to the side of destroying all of humanity and letting things just fall where they may so he follows Sensui without a problem.

Seaman's confrontation with Kuwabara is well done, given a setting late at night in the darkened streets of the city with a downpour going on. With his friends quickly captured and Kuwabara getting weaker and weaker from being smacked around by the water demons that Seaman is able to create, it's one of those instances where the hero is quickly pushed to the edge and beaten down pretty hard and senseless. Kuwabara's continual struggle against this kind of thing plays well here as does his lack of intelligence in knowing when to stay down so it doesn't take long before he ends up in even worse danger by getting sucked into one of the water demon creatures himself. All of this plays out well enough so that Seaman gets an obvious surprise but it also starts moving Kuwabara towards realizing just what he really is all about.

Balancing all of this we get some really good material where we start to learn just what it was that turned Sensui from a spirit detective into what he's become now, as well as what his plans are. With Koenma Jr. finally coming back into play and meeting with everyone on Earth, he reveals some of what he knows about Sensui's past, including the most telling moment when he stumbled across a particular Feast that a group of humans were participating in with some captured demons. This Feast is so vile that at the time it didn't even seem like something that the demons would do that it turned Sensui against his own race. Combined with other things going on at the same time, it pushed him out of the spirit detective position and he basically went to ground for the next ten years or so.

With Koenma Jr. giving the details, we're at least spared of the stereotypical scene of the villain extolling his awful past sometime in the future though I'm sure it'll come up again with some slight differences based on perceptions and goals, but this is a nice way of doing things for a change. With the new information under their belt though it doesn't take long for Sensui and his remaining followers to start things up again while their master plan continues apace. Located deep inside the earth just outside of town, the tunnel has been growing for weeks now and within just a few days it'll be wide enough that any class demon will finally be able to cross the line from demon world to the human world and humanity will be destroyed in a wave of violence. The setup is mostly out of the way now and the stakes are being laid out on the table and the really good material is just about to hit.

In Summary:
While the revelations about Sensui are some of the better parts of this volume, it's all the Kuwabara stuff that just makes it a completely great set of episodes. With his destiny becoming clearer to those around him, though he himself continues to be oblivious, it's fun to see the change in his character since the beginning and how he's grown both in powers and in character itself. This is a solid set-up volume that gets things ready for most of the remainder of the Chapter Black saga and is just good stuff all around.

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: 82
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Yu Yu Hakusho