Mania Grade: A
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- Audio Rating: A+
- Video Rating: A-
- Packaging Rating: A
- Menus Rating: C-
- Extras Rating: D
- Age Rating: 16 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Central Park Media
- MSRP: 29.99
- Running time: 90
- Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Non-Anamorphic Widescreen
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Yu Yu Hakusho
Yu Yu Hakusho: The Movie
By Justin A. Swartz
November 30, 2002
Release Date: October 08, 2002
This is a great-looking disc. I remember watching this movie on VHS when it was originally released, and when I saw this on DVD I was blown away. This is a great authoring job from the guys and gals at Manga Corps. Despite two places where water spots blink on for the tiniest of seconds, this is a flawless transfer with vibrant and solid colors, with no color bleeding or other common DVD issues.
I've watched the movie in both of its versions, English and Japanese, and the Japanese is the superior track. This is not in terms of acting, and this is not my personal opinion as an Anime purist, which I'm not. The English side's music is extremely quiet, and the voices seem to clash with the sound effects often, making for a confusing experience. The Japanese is your best bet, with a perfect mix of all the sounds. There are a few moments of directionality, which came off pretty nice on only two wall-mounted speakers.
This has always been one of my favorite images from Yu Yu Hakusho, and it was great to see it on the disc cover. You've got the entire cast, plus the new member, against a great pose of Yusuke and the main villain, Yakumo, floating above him. The cover exudes action and the basic battle of good versus evil, or in this case the spirit versus the demon. The case is a clear one, which I really dig, and even thought it was one of those suicide ones that ADV usually uses, I haven't had any problems with taking the disc out. The credits for the movie, chapter listings, and voice cast are on the inside of the case, but I was surprised to see some of the English voice cast names missing. While this is a Manga Corps dub, the people are that missing did a better job then the ones that are credited. Go figure.
I'm not big on Anime DVD extras, but I'd like a few of them, thanks. There's a rather pointless and short ad for the Big Apple Anime Fest here (it lasts all of, I think, ten seconds), along with the standard image gallery (been there, done that, seen it done better than that) and a rather weird meet the cast section, which introduces you to the Yu Yu Hakusho boys and the new character, Hinageshi. The clips they chose to play with these parts don't match the characters at all, which is mostly why the grade for the extras is near the bottom...this feature I liked, but it could have been done a lot better with all of the lush images from the movie.
(This review may, and probably does, contain spoilers)
I was never a big fan of "fighting" Animes, especially since everyone points of Dragonball Z when you mention the genre'. When I saw Yu Yu Hakusho, I latched on to the characters and their quirks right away and haven't stopped loving them since. This is not your typical fighting Anime, since it has something that other shows lack: characters, really developed and likeable characters that you can find yourself in. The movie, while not having much in the way of development, carries the same like-ability and fun factor that the TV series possessed.
The plot, like most Anime movies based on a TV series, is pretty simple to follow. The Spirit World has been flooded, and in the havoc Koenma has entrusted Botan with some kind of power item, telling her that "they" mustn't get their hands on it, and that she is to take it to Yusuke. As typical, Yusuke is hanging out on the roof of his school when Botan finds him...beat up like she's gone three rounds with George Foreman's infomercials, that is.
Her condition leads Yusuke and Kuwabara to a shrine, where we get some great demon-fighting action and are introduced to what looks like a spirit guide trainee, Hinageshi. While Botan is recovering at Genkai's pad, Kurama shows up and informs everyone of the condition the Spirit World is in. According to Hinageshi, the guys chasing her earlier were demons of the Netherworld, a world that was banished many eons ago from the "Worldly Order of Worldly Things" because they tried to pick a fight with the Spirit World.
The movie then introduces, at the exact proper moment, the head bad guy: Yakumo, (former) King of the Netherworld. Yakumo and his three demon lackeys go out and prevent the YYH gang from restoring the Spirit World, and injuring all of them at the same time. This leads to a great moment of YYH history, and typical of the TV series, where the boys are faced with overcoming odds and powerful adversaries and don't transform into new modes or go about acquiring new powers, but jack up their determination, find strength within themselves, and go back out to get the job done.
There are some technical problems with the disc, from the standpoint of translation. The subtitles are easy to read and flow well, but the issues are many. The big glaring one is the translation of Kuwabara's name as "Kuwahara." This is repeated in the English dub also. If the front cover advertises that the series is on Cartoon Network, you would think that Manga Corps would have watched the show themselves since the years the movie was originally released and figured out that they had translated this wrong. The other issue I noticed is that when Kuwabara addresses Yusuke by his last name, Urameshi, they translated it as Yusuke, and in one instance even translated it as "Shoot!" There is only one other issue left, and that is the totally missed attack name on Hiei's part. When he fights Raiko between the two city buildings, he has a line that is translated as "Take this, hell-scum!" The actual line is one of his attack names that appears half-way through the series, roughly translated as the "Jaou En
While the movie's plot is semi-predictable, in reference to the fights with the Netherworld demons, it's a very enjoyable movie in more ways than one. Not only is the animation fluid and bold with the many colors that made the TV series so interesting to watch, and not only is the voice acting for the Japanese version right on-target, but the music is performed by the same man who did the score for the series, and all the familiar music I fell in love with is remixed bigger, better, and with a wicked electric guitar. There are some jazz-sounding horns and other brass instruments added to the mix, as well as an instrumental version of Kurama's image song from the movie, "Nightmare." This gave the movie a real old-school 80's feel, which only added to its charm.
Overall, the movie may seem simplistic to some and downright stupid to others, but for a good all-around movie that focuses on fun and action rather than intricate plot and characters that you spend months trying to figure out. Even for the non-YYH fan, this movie is a good way to pass the time if you need a break from your usual tastes. If you are already a YYH fan, the movie is a must-see, due to the combination of all the great elements.
(A comment on the English dub: I am not a dub hater by any means, but initially this dub will sound rather flat and forced in comparison to the Japanese version or even the Funimation dub of the TV series. After some repeated viewing, the dub has grown on me, but still has one nagging problem: the guys just can't yell and scream like the Japanese guys do. The standout performances, as ones that do honor to the Japanese originals, are Hideo Seaver and James Stanley, who play Kurama and Hiei respectively. While Hideo has that yelling problem, James does not, and both of them deliver dead-on performances that make me think twice about which language I want to watch the movie in. The other complaint about it is the cheerfulness of Elisa Wain as Hinageshi...the small one does have some serious moments, and she does know her stuff about the YYH worlds. Elisa makes her sound like a geeky valley girl, and that got on my nerves pretty quick.)
Admiral 19" Color TV, Panasonic DVDRV32K, White-Westinghouse 3-CD Shelf System