Yu Yu Hakusho Vol. #04 (Mania.com)

By:Eduardo M. Chavez
Review Date: Monday, July 12, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, June 01, 2004

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

What They Say
The legendary exorcist Genkai is about to pass on her explosive demon-smiting techniques to one student-and only one. Trouble is, one of the people battling for the honor is a demon in disguise: the sadistic Rando, who'd just love to turn Genkai's power against innocent human unless Yusuke can defeat him! Then, Yusuke and Kuwabara must stop a quartet of demonic criminals from plotting a supremely sinister attack on the mortal world. At the gates of a labyrinthine fortress swarming with monsters, demons, and supernatural fugitives, these two teenage punks don't stand a chance in Hell - unless they can call for backup...

The Review
Set up similar to Shueisha's original version, Viz has the four members Team Yusuke in their more popular battle stances. While I am glad they used the original art the color feels off to me for some reason. This image is framed in orange 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-gray to black background. The back cover has an action scene from this volume next to Viz's blurb. I have to say I feel that the dialogue 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. It's nowhere near as humorous or creative as the original, which had spirits inside the kanji for YuYu. There are some really nice notes and omake: production report, "If I could be reborn as anyone" segment. Print quality looks really good, so the issues I had in earlier volumes appear to have been taken care off.

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 facial expressions and the transition from regular to SD versions is very good. YuYu relies a bit on its sight gags and with some weird 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, varied 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 it's 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 helpful cultural notes, which were mainly placed in the panel gutters.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Genkai's games continue, and there are only eight contestants left. The stakes are high and for Yusuke, who is on an undercover mission, things are doubly dangerous. From this point on, the competition will consist of single elimination one-on-one matches. Depending on the competitor each match up could be to the death until only one remains. For Yusuke to succeed he must make it to the final and win it all. Easier said than done for a rookie spirit detective up against established tough guys from the exorcism trade and martial arts.

The Great Eight was set up to determine the best combination of strength and spiritual awareness. When dealing with great amounts of reiki (spirit energy) the body and one's sixth sense must be trained to work in conjunction. While physical strength can be utilized for speed and strategy. Most of Genkai's abilities are based on these techniques, thus testing the finalists in these fields should determine who best to succeed her. The final eight would have to fight in complete darkness to utilize reiki to its fullest. In an ideal situation combatants would rely heavily on either one to move on.
Under these conditions Yusuke has found himself as the underdog. Relying heavily on brute strength, speed and luck he has used basic elements of survival to stay in the game. The game has changed completely, thus for him to stay in contention he must try to capitalize on his opponent's weaknesses to have much of a chance. His traits may work well against bullies or nosy teachers, heck, they can make him some money when he needs it, but in the spirit world reiki and the ability to control it can be the difference between the life and the undead.

After the exciting quarterfinals, the semis and final were big letdowns. The results need not be explained in detail, as Togashi immediately moves Yusuke on to another assignment with the help of new found abilities he has worked on through Genkai's help. As in the anime, the spirit world never waits so within a matter of weeks Yusuke would now be sent off into the spirit realm to do some detective work. While not completely new to Yusuke, as he was undead for a good part of the start of the series, the underworld does not take well to humans. Some would say that certain forms of supernatural being would not be caught dead in some of the seedier parts. Yet, Yusuke and his new allies - Kuwabara, Hiei and Kurama - have been sent there to hunt down a gang of the most powerful monsters in "Demon City." The fate of humanity is on the line now, but Yusuke will have more than monsters to worry about from this point on. Now he has to keep an eye on his back, as he might be the target of one of his own teammates.

Street smarts and luck have worked so far Yusuke. What will they do for you now?

I am not sure why, but tournaments do not really translate well to manga. Watching tournaments on television is one thing - a match a day, you watch the best match-ups usually with the best competition out there, and the more dominant will often wins. In manga tournaments can have some of those factors, but programming is based entirely on the mangaka. Therefore, instead of seeing some prolonged high tension, high action battles we get to see two newcomers to the spirit battle arena. Yusuke and Kuwabara can only do so much with their reiki at this point, and to expect much more from them besides street smarts and tenacity is not realistic.
While the action quotient significantly increased, the drama dropped down to all time lows for YuYu, thus leaving me with the feeling that this series may not recover anytime soon. Early on Togashi-sensei focused so much on making Yusuke accessible, but now that he is there the action needs to be worked on and it's not very good. In many ways the reasoning is quite understandable, as Yusuke himself is not up to standard as a fighter, and with Togashi only presenting Yusuke's battles the action is mainly dodging and the occasional lucky attack. There is nothing wrong with poor action, but with that taking most of the attention the drama is not there to support it until it catches up. Maybe a little more of the action from other match-ups would have helped, but that was not often an option. And besides Kuwabara is even worse off than Yusuke at this point so there really isn't much to dig your teeth into.

I like that Togashi keeps this realism, but as a reader I did not feel entertained. Actually, I felt short changed for those chapters. This was a complete contrast to the tension and drama that was present in the final chapters where Yusuke, with new teammates, goes on a new mission into unknown territory. With factors like rivalries, betrayals, new friendships and strange alliances the whole feel of the series changes again with this "4 Legendary Beasts" arc. Results may be predictable (especially to those who have seen the anime already), but so far the pacing and mood has been quite good so there is still some intrigue left in this old story.

YuYu at its best can be a really engaging story of the growth and maturity of Yusuke. Its worse is often just chapter after chapter of supernatural fighting (which can be a mish-mash of magic, reiki control and martial arts). Because of Yusuke's personality, the kid really ends up growing through the experiences he picks up in each battle so there is no avoiding a fight here and there. Unfortunately, as seen in this volume, the action can slow things down, as Togashi feels through this aspect of his world. Things will eventually pick up (similar to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, another action title dealing with supernatural), but at this point Yusuke is still basically potential. Yet, with the work on his personality earlier there is a lot of upside. In the end, it is that potential of Yusuke that makes this series so enjoyable, so while this volume might have been filler Yusuke's personality almost assures a turn around soon. I just wish the wait were not so long.

Mania Grade: C+
Art Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B-
Text/Translatin Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: Viz Media
MSRP: 7.95
Pages: 190
ISBN: 1-59116-325-0
Size: Tall B6
Orientation: Right to Left