Yu Yu Hakusho Vol. #26: Born Anew (of 32) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Wednesday, October 13, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, October 05, 2004

What They Say
After watching their comrade fall at the hands of former Spirit Detective, Sensui, Kuwabara, Kurama, and Hiei charge into action seeking vengeance for their recently departed friend. As if losing Yusuke wasn't bad enough, King Yama's soldiers arrive to confiscate the body ensuring that it can never be revived!

Could it be true that there could be a way for Yusuke to be revived? King Yama's secret makes itself known in the flesh as the twice fallen warrior is born anew! Yusuke is back... but at what price?

The Review!
As the stakes continue to rise there are revelations given about just why some people are as strong as they are.

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. Like some of the recent covers, the character art doesn't look like it's coming from too many different sources or at least blends well together as the villains get the backdrop and our group of heroes gets a nicely detailed shot in front of them. 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)
With four more episodes, bringing the series up to ninety-four, Yu Yu Hakusho brings the Chapter Black saga to a close. This arc has probably been one of the best of the series so far but like previous arcs and arcs in most other fighting shows, you have to deal with the one big problem: How much can you continually pump up and enhance a particular character before it gets ridiculous and you're really struggling to find worthy or believable villains for him to face? With Chapter Black, I felt that the show really hit it stride but in a way hit the limit with Sensui in terms of a really powerful villain. Even with the talk of all the big powerful demons that are hidden deep inside the demon realm, they just didn't seem to be the same kind of threat that someone like Sensui is.

Through the first three episodes on this volume, the fights just get more and more violent and aggressive. Sensui, who is seemingly invincible while beyond the gate and fighting against Kurama, Hiei and Kuwabara who seem to have no effect regardless of how strong their attacks are, is simply waiting for the gate to open completely and for everything to go pouring out into the world. While he's figured Koenma would be the most he would have had to face in order to achieve his goals, Koenma's father ends up getting involved in the situation since things are getting so critical and there are some surprises revealed. Taking the eight most powerful warriors of the spirit realm, he's sent them down to actually close the gate and to kill any demons that try to come through. This doesn't seem to take into account Sensui himself since if they could have defeated Sensui easily then Koenma Jr. should have sent them down ages ago.

The elite of the elite aren't down on Earth at the gate just to stop that but there's also something more that they've come to do which is a surprise even to Koenma. Showing how far back into history that this revelation goes, to a time where the two realms weren't fully separated, we start to understand just why Yusuke is the way he is with his powers since he was first killed way back in episode one. While I don't think this came as a terribly surprising revelation as there were some ways it could have been guessed at and interpreted long ago, the revelation here is certainly a shocker to the characters and it sets into motion not only a struggle for Yusuke to remain alive but also to deal with his life now that he knows what he really is. The entire epilogue episode on this volume does a really good job of exploring the various characters that have been involved in this arc and showing how they've changed and moved on from it, something more series need to do.

In Summary:
Chapter Black has been a lot of fun though I think it started off somewhat weak with the trio of villains who were not quite villains but allies who in the end didn't contribute all that much. The continual increases in power and ability are par for the course with the final episodes of this show but it isn't as bad as it could be and it leads to a fairly satisfying conclusion for the ending. As it normal with tournament style shows like this we usually find that the journey is better than the ending and this isn't too far different, although we really liked the epilogue portion that settled things and laid some of the groundwork for the final set of episodes that are coming up. For those who've made it this far, there's great payoff in general and this series is definitely one of the more enjoyable fighting shows I've seen in the last ten years.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Yama's Notebook,Character Profiles,Textless Opening,Textless Ending

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, 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: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Yu Yu Hakusho