Yu Yu Hakusho Vol. #31: Dreams of Power (of 32) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Thursday, June 23, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, June 21, 2005



What They Say
The most important and dangerous competition of all time is set to begin as the Demon World Tournament officially gets underway! Thousands of competitors from every corner of Demon World arrive to take their shot at becoming the next sole ruler.

Even with so much at stake, Yusuke Urameshi has never had such a large target on his back as each demon hopes to be the one to claim victory over Raizen’s descendant. As Hiei and Kurama step into the ring, each knows that they may be forced to do the unthinkable should they meet up with Yusuke in the ring!

Contains episodes 107-109.

The Review!
The tournament continues to whittle down the contestants and more and more of those we're familiar with fall under the power of those who've spent their lives in the Demon Realm.

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 we get another of one of the very few really good looking covers as this one features a nice pairing of Kurama in his Yoko form, which is full of whites and silvers, as well as a side shot of Hiei, which brings in plenty of contrasting blacks. The mixture of the two looks really good here and with the nicely illustrated background of the dead forest limbs in white and gray, it all complements itself nicely. 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. No insert was included in this release.

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)
As the series is on the verge of completion, the final set of battles are still underway and the various contestants continue to fight for the possibility of being the best of the best in the Demon Realm. Or at least a good number of them do as a lot of those we've gotten familiar with from the Dark Tournament are fighting in this contest in order to get their shot at Yusuke since he's driven them to such lengths in training. The tournament itself is definitely important enough but the chances of any of them being able to take down either Yomi or Mokuru is pretty slim.

There are a couple of very good fights here though only one of them goes forward in revealing anything new through flashbacks. The show kicks off with some of the remaining members of Kurama's group going through the motions with some of the various lower-tier Demon Realm fighters but then it shifts to Kurama finally going up against the good doctor who implanted the Jagan into Hiei. This is an exceptionally fun fight since we get to see Kurama go through his two different forms and deal with the reality of how his life has changed since he was Yoko Kurama all those years ago. Giving him the final chance to really let go and just go wild with his powers is a lot of fun to really see at last.

The battle that really helped move the storyline forward though is the one with Hiei and Mokuru. The two have been waiting to go at it for so long now since they got together during this arc and have had such a fun relationship with the banter, but getting down to the actual fight they just go all out with everything they've got. Even better, we get a much larger expansion on Mokuru's past. Seeing everything clearly this time in her evolution from simply being cast out to learning to fight, Mokuru's character gets fleshed out as much as any character can during a fight sequence and it's done as well as any that have been done this way throughout the series. It helps to heighten the stakes in the fight as well and Hiei's performance becomes all the more critical. If not for the drama of Kurama's fight before it and the longer ties to his humanity, this fight would have been the highlight here.

In Summary:
Building up to the ending of the series, the fights have moved up to the top level now as the former kings of the Demon Realm are getting their hands dirty with those we've followed for over a hundred episodes now. These are solid pieces and are much tighter than most of the previous fights since they're forced down to just one episode each with resolution. The shift back to Kurama and Hiei is welcome after the Yusuke material and the others who've come to fight as is the new glimpses into some of the characters we get. This is another solid volume in this arc which is quickly becoming my favorite for both its action and its concise nature.

Features
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, 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: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Yu Yu Hakusho