Yu Yu Hakusho Vol. #23: Dangerous Games (of 32) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Sunday, May 16, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, May 04, 2004

What They Say
Yusuke Urameshi has his hands full as he tracks down Shinobu Sensui, the evil mastermind behind the opening of the tunnel between Demon World and Living World. Sensui has kidnapped Kuwabara believing that he holds the key to completing the tunnel.

But before reaching Kuwabara, Yusuke must first dodge his way past Sniper's incredible barrage of dangerous projectiles. Only then will Yusuke's team reach the territory of the Gamemaster, a villain who can manipulate reality into a very dangerous game.

The Review!
Now that Kuwabara has been captured and the reasons for his being targeted revealed, the group has to make some hard decisions about what to do next.

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 central image is again of split teams and the heavy male nature of the show as we get both some of the good guys and bad guys here in action poses. 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 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)
After the events of the last volume, the group is pretty much in various stages of shambles for lack of a better word. While Yusuke has done his best to pummel Sensui and his group, they still managed to have kidnapped Kuwabara for his special powers that nobody really realized he had. Yusuke's problems got a bit worse as well after his dealings with Sniper and the fact that he's got target points all over his body now, something that'll make it even easier for him to become a target.

While Yusuke is off chasing Sniper and the others, everyone else is dealing with the fallout from the attack. Benten and the kid she was guarding have suffered pretty badly from the last round and the room they were in was hit pretty hard. When Genkai and the others catch up to her they find that she's in really bad shape from the bookcase falling on top of her after the attack. Keiko's arrival not to long afterwards only brings more bad news as she's found Shizuru outside and she's completely bloodied up from Kuwabara's kidnapping. Genkai's able to heal most everyone and get them back to some proper semblance of normality, but everyone's pretty weakened after the fight and unsure how to proceed, especially since Yusuke isn't there.

But as the weight of what they've been told about Kuwabara and his abilities to reach through and break the dimensional barrier with his psychic barrier, it becomes clear that they have to act soon. Koenma Jr heads back to the spirit world to begin preparations for such an eventuality as the breakdown will lead to an untold amount of demons reaching through to the human world. Everyone else is getting things ready to catch up to Yusuke when he's able to contact them about where he's found their hideout or something else.

Yusuke ends up in pure fight mode for a good part of the remainder of the volume. His back and forth with Sniper is rather fun to watch since there's an element of Yusuke being toyed with by him. There's even a really amusing and fun sequence between Yusuke and Hiei where Yusuke is challenged on his power and motivation levels. All told, it's an interesting way to bring Hiei properly back into the fold for this arc and to get things moving closer to everyone coming back together after their time together in the last tournament arc.

This all leads into the next set of controlled fights where they're dealing with the villain named the Gamemaster. Essentially, everyone gets thrust into playing out video games but with deadly repercussions, from tennis to more. With everyone together, it takes on an amusingly strange and sometimes surreal tone as the characters get involved in this strange video game competition, complete with costumes. The supporting cast gets to have some amusing roles as they deal with the strange situation the city is facing as it continues to be invaded by low level demons as well. Overall, everyone gets some good screen time here and the ensemble nature of the series is really coming through well while still giving Yusuke the attention he needs.

In Summary:
The Chapter Black arc continues to be interesting but so far it's a mix of what's enjoyable and what isn't. I'm liking what I'm seeing with Sensui, Sniper and the others and the way they actively go after their goals but I'm not caring too much for some of the other villains that have been sent into the fray just yet. It's not feeling as evenly balanced as it was during the arc with Toguro, but it's still early yet. Yusuke's team of heroes continues to grow but it's still the core characters that I like the best and thankfully they still get most of the limelight.

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: 24.98
Running time: 82
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Yu Yu Hakusho