Yu Yu Hakusho Vol. #24: Old Rivals, New Problems - Mania.com

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  • 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: 24.98
  • Running time: 82
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Yu Yu Hakusho

Yu Yu Hakusho Vol. #24: Old Rivals, New Problems

By Chris Beveridge     June 20, 2004
Release Date: June 22, 2004

Yu Yu Hakusho Vol. #24: Old Rivals, New Problems
© FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.

What They Say
With mere moments to go before the tunnel between the Living World and the Demon World opens unleashing hordes of beast on an unsuspecting population, Yusuke's team push their way into Sensui's Lair. But what they find there shocks them beyond belief!

One of their most hated rivals has resurfaced in a most unusual display of terror and trickery. But has Kurama sensed this all along? And does the former bandit have the secret to defeated this old rival once and for all?

The Review!
This installment of Hakusho goes right to the heart of the matter and starts in on the fights that really matter in this arc.

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.

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 in the menus.

There's a gray border around the artwork on the front of the package here, and not straying from the past covers, it's a bit murky in general. The artwork used is pretty decent looking with a number of character headshots all focused around Koenma using his pacifier, which is an amusing little trick since it's got hardly anything to do with this volume. This artwork is about a volume too early. 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.

The menu layout maintains its letterbox feel but places text in the letterbox sections such as the volume title and selections along the bottom. Some static artwork from the show is through the center along with the name of the current arc. 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.

The extras are roughly the same kind as the previous volumes, 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 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 the like.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Chapter Black's been an interesting arc for the most part, but the last volume really threw me off in my interest in it since I didn't really care much at all for the Game master territory and arc. It just felt far too outlandish even for a series like this which excels in taking things and making them out and out strange.

Thankfully, that particular piece of story comes to a close with the first episode here and they even manage to make it a bit more involving than I thought they could. With the young Game master fully confident in his abilities, he essentially challenges Kurama to a round of what's essentially a variation of Tetris. The young lad is really excited about this next game since it's a good one and it's one that Sensui told him to save for the end so as to not tip his hand too early. But Kurama is fully aware of the circumstances of this game, which has a storyline attached to it wherein the loser's character ends up dead if he doesn't win. Kurama knows that the Territory being used will react to this and the two are set to what quickly becomes a death match. The change in attitude by the Game master after realizing what he's ended up in is interesting as well as the way Kurama changes as it progresses. The bulk of this mini arc has been very uninteresting, but it plays out very well in the end.

Of course, it wouldn't be a Hakusho storyline if it ended there so you know the group for the most part moves on to the next battle. While we've had a few volumes worth of this, it doesn't look to run the same length as the Dark Tournament storyline and before we know it our heroes have ended up in the central cavern where Sensui and his followers are holding Kuwabara captive. It's also the location where the demon tunnel will be opened up, so there's this nasty black vortex with all sorts of C-class Yokai aching to get through and adding their chorus of voices to the goings on here. The final meeting of the two groups provides two very well done pieces of combat animation here however. One is more character focused while the other is more action focused.

Kurama ends up tackling one of Sensui's followers and this turns into a very surprising situation as the enemy, the Gourmet follower, is much more than was let on before. Kurama's battle with him is initially quite quick and we're treated to a half-headless character wandering around (sans blood for the most part, thanks to the clean cut Kurama provides) until the thing inside of him pops up through the throat and takes full and obvious control of the situation. For Kurama, this is a very good battle due to the changes he's been going through during the progression of this arc and in dealing with the various Territories and their outright deadliness. The change is pretty pronounced for the most part, but that's part and parcel for a series of this nature instead of having it be more subtle.

Unlike the Dark Tournament, Yusuke gets to go up against his main villain rather early on all told, so his battle with Sensui, which has something like thirty minutes to be finished in before the tunnel opens and the world becomes under siege by the true nasties from that dimension. With this arc, it's a definite change over the course of the series to see just how Yusuke has evolved and changed when you take on the various things he's had to fight over time. From the earliest of arcs when he was trying to take down the likes of Kurama and Hiei up through Toguro, he's always been on the defensive and trying his tactics the best he could, but always with some amount of effort on his part. There was always the feel of a real struggle, particularly with Toguro.

With Sensui, as the two have their shared heritages as Spirit Detectives ? though as we see through flashbacks that Sensui had a far different upbringing as one ? there's a different sense between the fight here. While Yusuke is trying to stop him due to the tunnel, there's also a sense that he's trying to ensure that his job as a spirit detective isn't run through the mud so to speak by how Sensui is acting. There's a different and more personal feel to the way Yusuke is handling this when he eventually does get to it. Even better, once Yusuke and Sensui step up to the plate, we get some of the most fluid animation of this series yet once their fight gets underway. The difference in the fight style is pretty apparent and it's well served here. Whereas Yusuke once almost always wore his school uniform or a variant thereof, he's now down to a basic pair of jeans and a white t-shirt. Normally you wouldn't think otherwise, but in comparison to earlier episodes, the somewhat short and non-descript Yusuke from the first few episodes of the series has now taken on a bit more of a lanky feel, a looseness to his bodies stature, that is well accentuated by how he moves now, from the leaps and flips right through his general running movement. Yusuke's approach to Sensui is wholly different from past villains in some really interesting ways.

This set of episodes is a heck of a lot of fun and really moves the plot along; eliminating the usual drag you can feel during something of this nature. The animation is excellent as it gets into the meaty fight episodes and the characters are all acting just as expected and still growing nicely. This set of episodes also brings in a new ending song and animation, a rather reflective piece that's really good looking in the way it uses photographs to show some of the past and the cast members.

In Summary:
Chapter Black has had a slightly stilted feel in how its played out as we had really gotten used to the tournament style of the last major arc and the general methodology of the earlier episodes as well. This arc has been more fluid in nature and it's taken some adjustments to get into its groove. But with these episodes in the arc things are flowing smoothly and are definitely very engaging to watch. I'm still not big on tournament shows or general fighting oriented shows after seeing so many over the years, but Yu Yu Hakusho is just very well done and is pretty addictive.

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

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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