Yu Yu Hakusho Vol. #04 - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: N/A
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Extras Rating: C+
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: MVM Entertainment
  • MSRP: £14.99
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Yu Yu Hakusho

Yu Yu Hakusho Vol. #04

By Dani Moure     January 13, 2006
Release Date: December 05, 2005

Yu Yu Hakusho Vol. #04
© MVM Entertainment

What They Say
Yusuke returns from training with the great psychic Genkai, and not a moment too soon! Dreadful Makai Insects are invading his own city, part of a sinister scheme to flood the earth with demons!

Kuwabara, Kurama and Hiei join forces with the Spirit Detective as he dives into a forbidden demon city. Their target: four deadly creatures known as the Saint Beasts! This awkward alliance must learn to trust each other quickly as they battle their way toward Maze Castle and the Gate of Betrayal...

Episodes comprise:
13. Yusuke Vs. Rando: 99 Attacks
14. The Beasts of Maze Castle
15. Genbu, The Stone Beast

The Review!
Another volume of Yu Yu Hakusho arrives at long last and barely satisfies the craving for more...

I listened to the Japanese track for the most part for my main reviewing, and enjoyed the performances from the voice actors, particularly Yusuke and Kuwabara on this disc. The stereo mix is basic, as you'd expect for an old show, but I noticed no dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

I also sampled the disc in English for an episode, and the dub continues to be very entertaining, and one that I continue to think would be very well suited to TV. I noticed no technical problems with the portions I listened to.

As this is a FUNimation production, we also get dubbed openings and endings. And as they almost always are, these are really good. They're not particularly accurate to the original translations, but that's a lot more difficult with songs than it is regular dialogue. They do capture the spirit of the originals well though, and it's a practice I enjoy an awful lot so I'll always give kudos to FUNimation for being one of the few companies that still dubs their songs.

With this being an older show, it shows signs of age. I didn't notice any macroblocking or aliasing during regular playback, though the transfer isn't the sharpest (which seems more down to the relative age of the source materials), and there's a bit of grain throughout. Colours are quite well reproduced, and I didn't notice any instances of cross-colouration. Nevertheless, for a show made long before DVD was a consideration, the transfer comes across quite well.

We also get alternate angles for the openings and endings. This means that you can either watch the translated, English credits in the opening, or the original Japanese opening with kanji, and the same for the ending, depending on which language you select from the menu. Unfortunately, FUNimation don't credit the Japanese voice actors at all on the English translation angle, which is very annoying to say the least. Other than that, this is a practice I really like and would like to see many other studios adopt.

Subtitles are in a nice yellow font, as opposed to the white font used on the US discs, and I didn't notice any major grammatical or spelling errors.

No packaging was included as this was a check disc.

The menus are simple but functional, with the main menu screen sporting an image of Kurama down the left side, with the episode selections and sub-menu options, as well as the series logo and disc title on the right hand side. All the menus are static, and only the main menu has music playing (the ending theme in this case). The system is simple but functional, and does look quite nice and is fitting with the style of the rest of the packaging.

A major oversight that continues to be carried over from earlier discs is that Madman have only added a chapter stop after the episode title screen appears in each episode (just after a brief recap), and not one at the eyecatch, meaning the chapter for the meat of the episodes lasts almost twenty minutes. This is an annoying practice that I hope is corrected soon.

Extras are essentially the same as the last disc. More textless openings and endings, another lot of textual character profiles which are decent if short, and another set of brief translations for the character names. While it’s not a great selection, at least some effort is being made to put something on the discs.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After such a considerable wait (this volume's release was delayed a whopping five months due to a fire at MVM's DVD manufacturer), I thought I might have some trouble getting back in to Yu Yu Hakusho. Much to my (pleasant) surprise, I slipped right back in to the swing of things, and the battles with Yusuke, Kuwabara and co. proved more than enjoyable for me. My only problem with this disc is that with only three episodes, it's all over way too quickly and just as the next story arc gets underway, we have another wait for the next volume.

But it would be unfair to dwell on that too much, given their scheduling issues as fallout from the aforementioned fire, because the story is moved forward and is a blast to boot. The first episode picks up right where the last volume left off, with Yusuke fighting Rando in Genkai's tournament to decide who her successor is. Yusuke is exhausted following the battles he's just endured, and as much as he tries there's just little power in his shots, making him easy pickings for Rando, who even starts using Yusuke's special moves against him having merely seen them in the previous battles. But Yusuke's not a quitter, and with a bit of help from Kuwabara's spirit when he's thrown underwater and about to be eaten by some of Rando's hungry shark-like fish, he bounces back and throws everything he's got. It's still not quite enough, but Rando's a bit too cocky in his abilities and soon gets his comeuppance...

While the outcome of this episode is pretty obvious from the get go (who would expect Yusuke to lose at such an early stage of the series?), it's once again the execution that makes the episode enjoyable. The writing is good, and while Yu Yu Hakusho is firmly entrenched as a fighting show, it doesn't quite hit the repetitiveness in the same episode as some other similar shows. Instead things are kept quite fresh as the attacks get bigger and better and the contestants throw everything they've got at each other over and over again because the fights are over before you've had enough of them. The characters also continue to be strong and Yusuke's fighting spirit is really on firm display in this episode. It's something that's been quite heavily pushed since the start of the series, for obvious reasons, and it comes across well. I really liked the resolution in how Rando ends up coming to his end as well. There was just something about seeing the cocky character bite off a bit more than he can chew that was quite satisfying.

With Genkai's tournament over, the second episode on the disc moves the story firmly on to the next arc. Yusuke has now completed his training and returns home, where he is quickly greeted by Keiko. The pair spend some time together, along with Kuwabara, but when they're about to go watch a movie Yusuke realises they are being followed. They get Keiko to go on ahead and check out their foes. Yusuke leads the charge to see them off with one of his new abilities, when Botan appears having tracked down the ringleader. It's time for Yusuke's next mission, to go face the four Saint Beasts who are trying to force Koenma to open a portal for them to come to earth. They're the ones who sent the creatures that inhabited the humans that were following Yusuke and Kuwabara earlier, and so Yusuke eventually agrees to go to their dwelling (with Kuwabara tagging along) for the sake of saving the world. When they get there the pair are joined by Kurama and Hiei, but the four of them soon face their first trial to enter Maze Castle: the gate of betrayal!

Another solid episode, this one managed to get a great balance between some quieter character moments and moving the plot forward. The scenes with Keiko, Kuwabara and Yusuke together provide some more personal interactions than we've seen in the past few fight-heavy episodes, and it proves a nice change of pace to kick things off. But it's soon all go when the plot kicks in, and this arc definitely piqued my interest right from this episode. While the premise obviously sets up another series of fights (after all, there are four beasts and by the end of the episode, there are four in Yusuke's party), it re-introduces Kurama and Hiei, two characters who I was looking forward to see popping up again after their previous appearances. They're both interesting characters and hopefully, like in the fights so far, we'll learn more about the characters as they do battle rather than just receiving an endless array of meandering battles.

The final episode on the disc sees the group attempting to overcome their first trial. As a floating eye demon explains, the gate of betrayal is designed so that each person trapped under the falling ceiling requires all their strength to hold it up. But with everyone holding it up, no one can break free, so someone must betray the others to get free and continue inside. With Yusuke having gained some new powers, he's able to put in extra power to allow Hiei to get free and stop the gate, but once Hiei is out it looks as though he might turn on his unlikely allies after all. But whether he does or not, what awaits them inside is the first of the four Beasts - Genbu, a giant demon made of stone.

With this episode, I really liked how the writers played off the conflicts with the characters in a believable way, as it looked as though Hiei really might betray the rest of them and it was quite feasible to boot. In the end you'd have expected what would happen, but it was still quite tense for a while as everyone was waiting to see what Hiei's next move would be. The fight with Kurama facing off against Genbu has some great action as well, and it's great to see how he slowly figures out Genbu's weakness and finally uses it against him.

In Summary:
Yu Yu Hakusho is a lot of fun and really manages to hold my interest with each new volume. While I wish we wouldn't have to wait quite so long between volumes, especially at three episodes per disc, it proves to be worth it. The new story that starts in this volume is really intriguing, and has me eager to see the next volume and how things start to play out. In a way it's a shame that the series is best known for it's action, because there's a great cast of interesting personalities within, and a good balance between character moments and the all out fight sequences as well. So while a lot of people will be put off, I'd definitely recommend giving Yu Yu

Japanese Language (2.0),English Language (2.0),English Subtitles,Textless Opening and Ending,Name Translations,Character Profiles

Review Equipment
Philips 28" Pure Flat Widescreen TV, Pioneer DV-464 code free DVD player, JVC gold-plated RGB SCART cable, standard stereo sound.


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