Yu Yu Hakusho Vol. #05: Beasts of Maze Castle - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: C

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
  • MSRP: 24.95
  • Running time: 62
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Yu Yu Hakusho

Yu Yu Hakusho Vol. #05: Beasts of Maze Castle

By Chris Beveridge     October 10, 2002
Release Date: October 08, 2002


Yu Yu Hakusho Vol. #05: Beasts of Maze Castle
© FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.


What They Say
Contains:
Byakko, the White Tiger
One of Yusuke’s teammates has been badly injured, and Kuwabara insists on fighting the next enemy all by himself—revealing his amazingly improved Spirit Sword! Before the bickering group can disagree, a ferocious roar slices through the castle. Byakko, the second Saint Beast, is waiting!

Byakko’s Lair
After a harrowing fight on a collapsing bridge, Byakko is seemingly defeated. But as soon as the Spirit Detective team enters the castle’s next wing, a fearsome tiger roar bids Kuwabara to round two—in Byakko’s secret lair. Can this Beast be beaten once and for all, in a room of molten lava?

Seiryu, the Blue Dragon
Two of the four Saint Beasts are dead—or so Yusuke and his team believe! But in the chamber of Seiryu, a Beast who can trap his enemies in ice, an unexpected guest arrives. How can two Beasts in one room be stopped? And why is Hiei, a cold-hearted rogue, suddenly beset with emotion?

The Review!
The series continues to move along much like the previous volume, but the shift to the three episode really makes things hurt here, as you can start to feel the drag.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. The track for this features a decent if pretty normal stereo mix. There’s little in the way of directionality and nothing going to the rear speakers at all. Most of the dialogue is center channel based but the music and most of the sound effects make use of the full left/right channels.

Video:
The transfer here looks pretty good with the masters here being in quite good condition. There’s hardly anything in the form of nicks or scratches or other print damage. Cross coloration is pretty minimal overall and everything looks good for colors and saturation. The animation itself doesn’t come off as striking since it’s mostly done in natural colors and nothing really vibrant. The openings and endings are done with alternate angles so you can see the translated versions or the original versions depending on the language you select.

Packaging:
There’s a gray border around the artwork on the front of Yusuke and his three targets for these episodes that becomes the basis of the back cover as well. The front cover has the main heroes of the new arc here, with the artwork for them all seemingly coming from the same source and not a capture, so it looks much more vibrant and consistent. The back cover provides a couple paragraphs worth of show summary and a couple of small animation shots. The episode numbers and titles are listed as well as the discs features and extras. The insert provides the artwork from the front without the border and larger, a very nice touch. The reverse side provides an episode summary for each one on the disc, going into more detail than the back cover.

Menus:
The menus are nice and simple and feature some good bits of animation with the backgrounds moving around to give it a polished and professional feel. These are quite nicely done. Access times are nice and fast and moving around is pretty logical, though the language selection area still strikes me as not being all that clear.

Extras:
The extras here are roughly the same kind as the previous volume, which means some new text items and the like but also some of the same things we’ve seen already. The character profiles return again and we get another look at the textless opening and ending sequences. Yama’s notebook is the main place for new items, with more behind the name translations showing up. There’s also a behind the kanji piece, some on the super titles and more fighting techniques.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With this volume, the series moves into the mid to late teen episodes, and the storyline of the bugs invading the city continues. Though that aspect of the plot makes up about maybe three minutes of the entire presentation here. The main focus continues to be on the foursome of our male heroes as they battle the Four Holy Beasts.

And unfortunately, it’s starting to drag some. After a quick recap showing how Kurama defeated the first of the Holy Beasts, the group moves on to encounter their next one, the cat-based Byakko. Byakko’s a fairly interesting villain, as his main ability (beyond being just plain tough to kill) is the absorption of reiki from his opponents. This goes over rather badly for Kuwabara, who decides he’ll be the one to take him down. Kuwabara continues to be the main reason to watch these episodes, as his character development has been the best. To help him grow into someone able to deal with the kinds of villains that they’re facing, he’s managed to learn some new tricks and master his reiki-sword ability. The main new trick is that he’s able to manipulate the size of it, changing it from a dagger to a sword or even up to a spear.

So we get two episodes of him battling it out with Byakko, as they go back and forth in thinking Byakko is defeated and then having him resurface only to be more dangerous. Kuwabara is insistent on doing all of this himself, though Yusuke does want to help him out a number of times, believing him to be too underpowered to deal with the Holy Beasts. But, true to the premise of the show, each battle and incident only makes Kuwabara stronger, and he holds his own and shows some tricks along the way. I’ve tried listening to the dub, which is good for the most part, but the Japanese voice actor for Kuwabara cannot be equaled in English, mostly just due to the little vocalizations and the various pitches that the Japanese language have. I simply don’t find the character as interesting in English as I do in Japanese.

The third Holy Beast makes an appearance in the final episode, as well as a clean-up of the first two, but things move pretty swiftly here giving hope of a quicker resolution to this arc in the next volume. Yusuke and the others really have little part in these episodes, as it’s heavily focused on Kuwabara and then on Hiei as he deals with Seiryu. The downside continues to be the dragged out feel, though I know it’s not really dragging too much. A large part of it is just the fear and familiarity with its similarities to Dragonball Z in having endless battles.

What made the earlier episodes more enjoyable than these was the cast and how they interacted with each other. I liked the way they all played off of each other, but none of that is here because things are focused on the individuals, and then often just one or two at a stretch. While not bad, they’re not up to the same level as the first half dozen episodes.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Yama's Notebook,Character Profiles,Textless Opening/Ending


Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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