Yu Yu Hakusho Vol. #28: Three Kingdoms - 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: 62
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Yu Yu Hakusho

Yu Yu Hakusho Vol. #28: Three Kingdoms

By Chris Beveridge     December 21, 2004
Release Date: December 28, 2004

Yu Yu Hakusho Vol. #28: Three Kingdoms
© FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.

What They Say
The vast lands of Demon World are divided among three powerful Kings: Raizen, Mukuro, and Yomi. A tenuous peace exists among the three ruling factions, but the wheels of fate have set into motion events that threaten not only the peace in Demon World, but the very survival of Living World!

Yusuke reaches the throne room of his ancestor to find out more about himself and the mysterious Raizen. Yusuke’s first challenge is laid before him. But is he biting off more than he can chew?

The Review!
One of the best set of episodes of the series, both Yusuke and Kurama go to face some of their biggest challenges yet.

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 unlike a lot of other covers in the series, this is one of the best looking ones yet. The characters all look like they come from the same piece of art for once, aren't captures from the show and are actually very well colored and detailed. Providing a look at what is basically making up the two main trios of characters for the final arc, this cover does a great job of setting it all up. 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. No insert was included in this release.

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)
Going into the final arc of the series, there's always trepidation of sorts as to whether they're going to be able to really carry it off. Particularly with a fighting show like Yu Yu Hakusho because at some point you have a problem with the characters being so primed and ready for action and powerful that it gets silly in trying to come up with good challenging villains. When a series gets close to the end, sometimes the big end villains are just beyond belief and the characters hold little interest because they've almost become caricatures of themselves.

Hakusho looks like it's going to be a great ride though going by this set of episodes, which is purely another round of set-up for it. Yusuke's made his decision about going to the Demon Realm to confront his father as we saw in the past volume and even made the commitment to Keiko that he'd be back in three years. Since he's being allowed to go there by Yama's consent, though the extermination order is still open, he's being sent off by the high special class members of the Spirit Realm to ensure he goes there, especially since they aren't able to defeat him themselves. It's an interesting and amusing combination of people that send him off on his next journey.

And as we learned in the last volume, both Kurama and Hiei received requests to go the Demon Realm themselves for the other two Kings that are there. The basic understanding among all three of them is that there is a high chance they may be facing off with each other in the end and could control what happens in that realm, so the quiet looks and small nods to each other are interesting and some really good visual moments for all three of them. So with Yusuke heading off first, the next set of training and adventures gets going. With a lot of the first episode given over to Yusuke, the start of his journey is covered and his introduction to his father (who is listed as his father in the subtitles, though forefather may be more accurate as mentioned elsewhere in the script, but the lineage issue is one that's a matter of interpretation).

While Yusuke's story is always the center of the series, what really makes this volume work is that the next two episodes focus almost entirely on Hiei and starts going back to his core story, his origins and his real goals. His current mindset after all the battles he's waged has changed and the time he spends in the Demon Realm now only furthers it. The show does a good job of moving things forward by jumping at least six months ahead almost from the start and getting into the thick of things as the training goes forward and each of them is working through the realm that the respective King is lord of.

The time spent with Hiei works out really well and things that we've had hinted at or talked about in the barest of terms in earlier episodes now fully fleshed out. His origins are explained clearly and we get to see how he went over time from the newborn baby tossed into the world up through his getting the Jagan and eventually meeting with Yusuke in the early episodes of the series. If there's a downside to all the back story given to Hiei here it's that it's repeated in some parts a lot over the course of the two episodes that he gets. And I mean a lot. There's just so much good characterization going on here for Hiei as well as the brief time that Yusuke gets in the first episode that these stories are taking what we got at the beginning and worked through parts of throughout the series and are now bringing to their proper conclusions.

In Summary:
Though I've been told some of the episodes much farther back in the series are the best of the series, this is where I think it's reaching further than it has in presenting itself. The characters are now fully defined and they're making the real hard choices on their own and not as part of a group anymore, even a loose group like they have been in the tournaments. Standing on their own and going for their own goals now that are intertwined, Yu Yu Hakusho has taken so many of the plot elements from the entire series and is now wrapping it all together in one big sweet bundle of fun, and that's without anything of Kurama's tale being tackled yet. This final arc looks to be my favorite going by the set up so far.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Yama's Notebook,Character Profiles,Textless Opening,Textless Ending

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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