With the Dark Tournament going strong, those looking for a good tournament fighting title need look no further than this season.
What They Say
Survival is the order of the day as Yusuke and his allies face off against the worst that the Demon World has to offer. Locked into a competition set up by the criminal underground, more than the fighters' lives are on the line as the Dark Tournament unfolds round by brutal round. Pain and suffering are redefined, a demon from the past is reawakened, and the mysterious masked fighter will step forth. Their situation is worse than grim as the Tournament Finals are set to begin.
Contains episodes 29-56.
For this viewing, I listened to the English dub, which is offered in 2.0 stereo. The Japanese track is also available in 2.0. For the most part, the mix is pretty basic, with little directionality. The different audio tracks sound distinct, but much of it sounded muffled. In particular, dialogue seemed to be muted more so than the music or effects.
The video for Yu Yu Hakusho is a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, the transfer is pretty flawless, with no real technical problems to speak of. On the other, this is definitely a title that shows its age. The coloring is dull at times, and the lining is indistinct. In particular, when the show shifts into the dark, stormy atmosphere that signifies the presence of a demon, objects tend to become a bit hazy. It is definitely a transfer that could have used some touching up.
The packaging for this set is pretty nice. The four discs come in two double-sided thinpaks. Each thinpak has an image of a number of the characters on the front with an episode listing on the back. The box itself has Kuwabara on the front posing with his Spirit Sword, while the back has the season summary along with technical details. All of this is set to an earth-tone motif of greens and tans. For an anime set, it is a fairly subdued color scheme, and provides a nice change of pace. As an aside, it should be noted that the episode listing shows that each disc has seven episodes, when really the set is in an 8-6-8-6 format. In other words, episode 36 is on the first disc and episode 50 is on the third, rather than the second and fourth like the cases depict.
The menus are basic, but functional. To the right of the screen is a picture of one of the characters; this differs from disc to disc. This is set to a montage of images of various characters as through a color filter. The selections are to the left of the picture in white, with the highlight in bright green. This does actually show up well over the dimmer green of the background. The bottom of the screen has a black bar, with the disc number and title listed. Submenus follow a similar pattern. There is not a whole lot of pizzazz to the menus, but they match the color scheme of the outer packaging, so they fit well.
There is not a whole lot of extra content, at least in terms of diversity of content. There are no extras on the first and third discs, but the second and fourth have clean openings and character bios. The character bios are pretty inclusive, though, as it seems that just about every character, no matter how minor, got a write up. Overall, though, they are not that interesting once you get past the main characters, but it is a bit impressive that they went to such detail.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As the first season of Yu Yu Hakusho ended, Toguro had threatened Yusuke and his friends to enter the Demon Realm’s Dark Tournament. Toguro, looking for somebody to fight who can push him to his limits for the first time ever and thinks Yusuke might just be the one. If Yusuke does not enter the tournament, Toguro says he will kill him and the rest of his group. Of course, Toguro is certain he will kill them in the tournament anyway. The only way Yusuke, Kurama, Hiei, and Kuwabara, and the mysterious masked fighter can survive is to not only enter the tournament, but to win it as well.
As this season starts, Kuwabara is already in the first fight of the tournament for Team Urameshi and is struggling. Being the weakest member of the team, Kuwabara is determined to prove his worth, but thanks to a miscalculation, he ultimately loses the fight. Soon, however, it proves pointless, as the rest of the group finish their opponents off, and the team moves on through the tournament.
This proves to be somewhat of a pattern for the later rounds. Everybody except Kuwabara upholds his/her part of the bargain. Their path through the tournament is made more difficult by a hostile crowd, and by a completely partisan rules committee who make it as difficult as possible for Yusuke and his team to advance. Still, they manage to move on no matter how long the odds are.
Team Urameshi struggle in just about every round, making intense training session between each round a must so that they are in peak condition. Yusuke in particular grows power in each round so that each time he enters the ring, his strength catches his opponents by surprise. After the quarter finals, Yusuke goes on a training mission with the masked fighter, who reveals herself as Genkai and announces that Yusuke is finally ready to inherit her full power.
At the same time, Team Toguro keep advancing as well, but they make things look much easier. Toguro by himself is more than enough to easily beat any team, but he does allow his teammates to get some exercise. And since he is the bodyguard of the tournament organizer, Sakyo, he does not run into the same roadblocks that Team Urameshi does.
This season of Yu Yu Hakusho is completely centered on the Dark Tournament. This story arc begins with a few episodes left in season one and continues on into season three. As such, there are a lot of fairly typical shonen fight scenes in these twenty eight episodes. I am usually not a big fan of tournament fighters, however I have always like the premise of Yu Yu Hakusho, and so it makes the fighting in it a little more interesting as well. The interaction between the spirit, demon, and human realms makes for some intriguing dichotomies in both the plot development and character development.
In particular, there is also quite a bit of character development in these episodes as well. This season sees a lot of loose ends from season one start to get wrapped up, such as Genkai’s origins, who Toguro is, and even why Yusuke looks to possibly the strongest human fighter in history. It is quite neat to see character elements that were introduced very early on start to pay off in terms of plot development. This series has some of the best developed characters I have seen in a tournament fighter, and I would be remiss if I did not mention that Koto, the smartass demon-fox-girl announcer, is one of my favorites. I can see some people finding her annoying, but I found her adorable bloodlust to be very amusing.
Of course, being a tournament fighter, that makes this have a very select audience. As I said before, this entire season concerns itself with the Dark Tournament, and while there are non-fighting scenes, an easy majority is spent in battle. While fans of other shonen titles like Dragon Ball Z or Shaman King would find a lot to like here, people who avoid those titles should probably avoid this one too. Yu Yu Hakusho is probably my favorite title of this ilk, but it really does not do anything well enough to convert non-fans.
Season two of Yu Yu Hakusho is the very epitome of the phrase ‘tournament fighter.’ This season picks during the Dark Tournament that started in season one and does not work its way all the way through it. As such, there is a lot of typical shonen fighting action in these episodes. While I am not a huge fan of shonen fighters, I am finding this fairly enjoyable, but I am not sure that would translate to every non fan. If fighters are not your thing, I would probably go find something else to watch. If you do like fighters, though, this is about as good as it gets. Mildly recommended.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles
Magnavox 37MF337B 37” LCD HDTV, Memorex MVD2042 Progressive Scan w/ DD/DTS (Component Connection), Durabrand HT3916 5.1 Surround Sound System