The third season of Yu Yu Hakusho sees the end of the Dark Tournament and puts Yusuke on the path of solving a new case threatening all of humankind.
What They Say:
The Dark Tournament has come down to a final grudge match and Yusuke's full wrath is unleashed as a friend's blood stains the arena floor. But there will be no time for rest or recovery as kidnapping follows victory and further intrigue threatens the boundary between worlds. A tunnel is being carved, and when completed it will lay waste to the World of the Living. There are seven who seek an age of destruction and chaos, and hero must battle fallen hero.
Contains episodes 57-84.
What We Say:
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 Hiei on the front posing as if he is getting ready to use the Dragon of the Darkness Flame, 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. Happily, they have finally fixed the error from the first two seasons that listed each disc as containing 7 episodes. Season 3 accurately depicts the first and third discs as having 8 episodes each, and the second and fourth having 6.
The menus are basic, but functional. To the right of the screen is the same image of Yusuke from the front of the box. This is set to a montage of images of various characters as through a green 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)
Yu Yu Hakusho is a series that, through two seasons, has impressed me. I am not typically a fan of fighting/tournament anime, but Yu Yu Hakusho has great characters and an interesting plot, so I enjoyed the first two seasons more than I initially imagined. With half of the anime out of the way, I was then looking forward to seeing whether it could keep up over the last half. Season three did enough to convince me it could.
The first part of season three finally brings and end to the Dark Tournament, which has been going on since the latter stages of season one. With Genkai dead, team Urameshi is forced to use Koenma as their fifth member, who makes it clear that his strategy, should he be forced to fight, will be to run away and give up. This is balanced, however, by Team Toguro using Sakyo, who has no powers himself, as their fifth competitor. As expected, the outcome of the fight is dependent on the final battle between Yusuke and Younger Toguro. Younger Toguro is easily the strongest fighter Yusuke has ever had to face, and he is forced to tap new wells of power that he never knew he had in order to stand up to him.
When the Dark Palace tournament out of the way, Yusuke settles down for what he thinks will be some much needed R&R. When a group of punk kids from a rival school challenge him to a fight, he sees it as an easy way to blow off steam. However, he is soon trapped when he realizes too late that, while human, they have their own psychic abilities. With him captured, the rest are now forced to rescue him. As these things tend to happen, there are a few challenges that Kurama, Hiei, Botan, and Kuwabara have to pass in order to get to Yusuke.
After the Dark Tournament, these challenges are relatively easy. However, it becomes apparent that this was all just a test for the group to prepare them for the new threat coming to humanity. A human with tremendous powers has recruited six underlings to help him in his plot to dig a tunnel through barrier between the human and demon worlds. The current barrier between the realms acts as more of a filter, allowing demons ranked class B or lower in order to conserve enough energy to keep A and S class demons at bay. When Yusuke realizes that this means the Toguro Brothers were no more than B class demons, the seriousness of the situation becomes all too apparent.
The human in consideration is Shinobu Sensui: Koenma’s Spirit Detective prior to Yusuke. Sensui was unparalleled as a Spirit Detective, but he ultimately could not handle all of the degradation he was forced to witness in fulfilling his duties. Sensui then makes the decision that humanity has no right to continue to exist. They are too corrupt. He manages to recruit his helpers by using a contraband video from the Spirit Realm, known only as Chapter Black, which has the ability to turn humans insane by subjecting them to all of the horrors that humans have committed throughout history.
This season continues much of what I have liked about the previous seasons. In fact, once the Dark Tournament ended, I found that my overall interest perked up again. While the tunnel story arc settles once again into one on one battles, there are some interesting twists on the fighting concepts. In particular, the battle of wits/word game between Kurama and Yu Kaito has a fun variations on the whole fighting concept.
The other nice thing about this season, in particular, is that some more serious concepts begin to come into play. In particular, the idea of murder. Previously, all of the enemies have been demons, and so the justification for killing them is easy to make: all demons are evil and nonhuman, and therefore killing them is necessary.
However, the antagonists in the Chapter Black saga are all humans with varying psychic abilities. And because Sensui is moving at a very rapid pace to finish his plans, Yusuke and the others do not have the time to try and incapacitate the underlings. Instead, they have to come to grips with defeating them in any manner possible, and this includes killing them. While they easily make the decision that killing is the best way forward, dealing with that decision afterwards is always difficult.
Season three of Yu Yu Hakusho continues the fun that the first two seasons begin, and I only found it to get better when the Dark Tournament finally comes to a close, and the story moves onto the Chapter Black storyline. In particular, I like the dark shift that the plot has taken. Yu Yu Hakusho has always been a bit dark for a fighting anime, but Chapter Black makes it darker. Yu Yu Hakusho has always been a title that I have enjoyed but have been ambivalent towards seeing more; however with the Chapter Black saga, I am now interested to see where they go with the last season. Recommended.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Character Bios
Magnavox 37MF337B 37” LCD HDTV, Memorex MVD2042 Progressive Scan w/ DD/DTS (Component Connection), Durabrand HT3916 5.1 Surround Sound System