Yu Yu Hakusho Vol. #01 (Mania.com)

By:Eduardo M. Chavez
Review Date: Friday, July 09, 2004
Release Date: Thursday, May 01, 2003

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Togashi Yoshiro
Translated by:Lillian Olsen
Adapted by:

What They Say
Yusuke Urameshi was a tough teen delinquent until one selfless act changed his life... by ending it. When he died saving a little kid from a speeding car, the afterlife didn't know what to do with him, so it gave him a second chance at life. Now, Yusuke is a ghost with a mission, performing good deeds at the behest of Botan, the spirit guide of the dead, and Koenma, her pacifier-sucking boss from the "other side." But what strange things await him on the borderline between life and death?

The Review
Set up similar to Shueisha's original version, VIZ has a large ghost of Yususke a while Keiko stares of into space in front of him. While I am glad they used the original art it looks a little green heavy compared to the originals but its pretty nice. This is framed around VIZ's Shonen Jump GN cover layout with large volume number on the right bottom corner and the mangaka to the left on a blue-grey to black background. The back cover has another ghoulish Yusuke next to VIZ's blurb. I have to say I feel that the dialouge bubble stating that Shonen Jump is the world's most popular manga is a little tacky for my taste.

Logo Check!! (2003 Megs)... The logo used by VIZ is okay. Its nowhere near as humorous or creative as the original which had spirits inside the kanji for YuYu.

Their are some really nice notes and omake: production report, "If I could be reincarnated as anyone" segment. For some reason the contents page notes that there are Japanese Culutre notes on page 200 but instead there were only DragonBall and YuYu merchandise ads. Print quality looks really good but a couple pages on my GN are a little light (ie: 198).

The art of YuYu is really interesting. Most of the character designs for supporting characters tend to have more detail than those of main characters, but overall facial expressions and the transition from regular to SD versions are very good. YuYu relies a bit on its sight gags and with some wierd faces making funny faces you really get a good share of laughs from the art as well as the writing.
Backgrounds can be pretty detailed at times which really helps out the already complex but easy to follow layout. Lots out of panel characters, veried panel sizes and interesting perspective made for a fun experience.

SFX are all overlaid. Personally I do not like this technique as I feel as if I am not getting all of the art that was there. Luckily things are done in a tasteful manner so its not a total loss. Most signs are overlaid. This manga is right to left, so no problems here.

VIZ does a solid job with the translation. I thought this would be tough translation because of the comedy but it really flows very well and doesn't really seem to be far off original content. Yuusuke's name is shortened to Yusuke, everyone else seems to be fine (so far). They provide a decent amount of cultural notes in the gutters. The others are on page 200 which for some reason or another is an ad for DragonBall Manga Boxsets.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
You would think that 14 year-old delinquent Urameshi Yusuke would be hanging out at the pachinko parlor or maybe in some lot fighting other yanki-wannabes or or washing restrooms for school punishment, instead of wasting his time worrying about the safety of some random kid on the street. You would think he would ignore the potential danger like everyone else that passed by this scene. Unfortunately, Yusuke did not. And he paid for it dearly... with his life.
At the very start of this volume we see Yuusuke having an out of body experience. Pretty wierd start for your protragonist but there he is watching the rest of the world freak out over his now dead body. What's he supposed to do now? He knows he hasn't been a saint recently, so its probably off to the depths of hell with him. Who knows it might be fun? But is this really it? Was 14 years of reckless behavior all there was to Yusuke? Would really make for a short manga.

So when Yusuke meets Botan, the guide of the dead, you know he was surprised when he was told that death was not waiting for him. That's right his death was not even expected by the forces that control life and death. He is now in limbo. But there is an option for him to join the living again. Its not going to be easy, obviously, but its a chance that will only come once in a lifetime (wait??? a deadtime??)
But would Yusuke want to come back?

Botan read off a long list of his finer traits: crude, violent, impatient, theif, stupid, reckless 14 year-old who fights, smokes, extorts, gambles.... In Botan's words "No loss to anyone, obviously." But after a bit soul searching and a few visits to some close acquaintences Yususe realises that it wasn't so bad after all and some people out there might actually care. While that might have pumped up Yusuke's ego a bit it also showed a bit of heart on his part.

From this point on Yusuke has to go through his trails to determine if his soul is worth bringing back. He is introduced to King Enma, Jr. (Koenma) who is in charge of the afterlife in the interm for his father the Great King Enma. (Enma, in buddhism, is king of the dead. He judges whether or not you go to hell.) While his looks might be comical, this "being" is quite powerful and at the moment he is the only one that can really help Yusuke.

The challenge is to raise an egg. Inside will grow a being based on the spiritual energy given from Yusuke. If the egg is fed with evil energy it will hatch and the beast inside will be monstrous and could potentially finish Yusuke off instantly; on the other hand if the egg gets good energy it will grow up into something not as dangerous. All of this is not explained to Yusuke, of course. So its really up to him and how he goes about his business in limbo that will determine if he will pass or not.

The rest of the volume has Yusuke caught up in the slice of life affairs of others stuck in spiritual limbo. These spirits or people have issues that they cannot resolve easily by themselves. So with the help or unwelcome involvment of Yusuke things tend to work out for the good, even though Yusuke usually has to embarass himself in the process. While most of these are episodic they bring out different aspects of Yusuke's personality. You get to know him pretty well by the end of the volume, and I found myself pretty attracted to his wierd but generally fun personality.

YuYu in my opinion is one of the better action comedies I have read. But what makes this first volume special is that it stands well without the action. Here we get a whole volume of Yuusuke and Botan hanging out, working on getting Yuusuke back into his human body. They really are just taking on some of the issues of everyday life: loneliness, old age, losing loved ones, sacrifice. And through all of them Yuusuke goes through each situation with a little naivity and a lot of delinquent attitude. Yuusuke cares a lot but he never forgets he is a punk. By given the reader some time with just Yusuke and slowly introducing those characters that will be supporting him in the near future, one can really create an attachment to Yusuke and his antics.

For those looking for a very funny comedy that has a good amount of character growth from the start, this might be for you. Yes, the start of YuYu does not have the action that most people know it for but its very entertaining from the get go. For those looking for more action and less comedy you might want to pass. This is a great shonen title. Most characters are teens and they good around, punk up and have trouble with emotions and romance. So Togashi has them fumble around with those issues with comedy. But don't worry the action will be good soon enough, you'll just have to go through some good laughs to get there.

To me this first volume sets up what YuYu is really about. You get to see the growth of Yuusuke from potential hopeless punk to spirit detective. You see how he cares about others and usually tends to defend those weaker than he is. At the same time you see his attitude and his touchness even though half the time he may be over his head. Entertaining, funny and with some interesting art YuYu is a steal at $7.95 and is possibly the only Shonen Jump title that I fully recommend.

Mania Grade: A-
Art Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B
Text/Translatin Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: Viz Media
MSRP: 7.95
Pages: 200
ISBN: 1-56931-904-9
Size: Tall B6
Orientation: Right to Left