Yu Yu Hakusho Vol. #29: Bandits and Kings - 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: 24.95
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Yu Yu Hakusho

Yu Yu Hakusho Vol. #29: Bandits and Kings

By Chris Beveridge     April 08, 2005
Release Date: February 22, 2005

Yu Yu Hakusho Vol. #29: Bandits and Kings
© FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.

What They Say
More than one thousand years ago, the legendary bandit Yoko Kurama freely roamed the dark wilderness of Demon World. With a loyal band of thieves at his side, Yoko lived his life as he saw fit, answering to no one.

But now it is Kurama who is at the mercy of Yomi, his former right hand man. Why has Yomi summoned Kurama to his throne? And what are the details of their incredible past?

The Review!
The final arc really starts to heat up as we get past Kurama's arrival in the Demon Realm as events start to change everything.

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 it reverts back to how the majority of the covers have looked which isn't all that good as it feels like too many disparate pieces of artwork are brought together to showcase the kings of the realms and those who've aligned themselves with them. 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)
With this final arc being the shortest of all of them, or at least far shorter than the last couple, Yu Yu Hakusho almost feels like it's moving at a breakneck pace with how the story is progressing and things are falling into place. We've had some minor setup at the beginning of the arc and then it moved into telling the tales of Yusuke and Hiei as they returned to the Demon Realm and began their training as they tried to understand the dynamics of the kingdoms that they ended up in.

This volume with only three episodes is a rather good one in the same sense as the last couple as it lets Kurama take center stage for a couple of episodes before going into the arc of tying it all together so that we can bring the series to a conclusion. Kurama's known that he's had to return to the Demon Realm since Yusuke left and that the entire setup of the three kings in balance was going to crumble soon. He intended for it to be far shorter than what it turns out to be though when not long after his return to the kingdom Yomi built he learns that his human parents are being held hostage in order for him to support Yomi in his venture. Kurama likely expected this though he shows some surprise but it allows him the opportunity to get closer to Yomi again after a thousand years and to set into motion the plans that you get the feeling everyone agreed to much earlier.

Kurama's time is spent in a couple of ways while in the Demon Realm. One of them is that we get to see flashbacks to when he was Yoko and Yomi was his second in command as the two lived as powerful and near-legendary thieves that were keen on building their own empire. The only way to achieve real power in the Demon Realm was to acquire what's need through theft and consolidate it so the two managed to make quite the name for themselves. But we also see the beginning of the fall in their relationship and then Yoko's own desire to move out of the life he came into so that he could become human. Yomi instead took the lead after realizing his own mistakes and worked towards building his kingdom which eventually provided the balance with Raizen and Mokuru's kingdoms and has them in the situation they're now in.

The other side to Kurama's tale is with his ascent as a valued aid to Yomi he's naturally created some enemies among the existing people sucking up to Yomi as they lack knowledge of just how close those two are (and aren't) from over a thousand years ago. Kurama's siding with Yomi on handling the coming crumbling of empires has him coming up with a plan that Yomi knew only Kurama could and it involves something surprising. He claims he can get six people that are extremely powerful from the human realm, each over 100,000 points, and within a few months have them fully trained up and ready to serve in defense and offense of Yomi's kingdom. This sets into motion some fun stuff as we see the training and who all is involved in it but it also causes dissent in the ranks under Yomi as the Demon Realm has become surprisingly stagnant in its power structure for hundreds of years now.

All of Kurama's stories lead into the eventual change in the dynamic though as Raizen is ready to fall. This brings the attention back on Yusuke and we finally learn more of the past from Raizen about why he is the way he is about eating humans and his life in general, which of course is all due to a woman. A bit cliché but it works nice enough for this storyline. With it being a given from nearly the beginning of this arc that Raizen would fall and simply whither away, it's no surprise when he does so and the other kingdoms begin their own plans to ensure their own survival, though now with the three friends each on a different side and working on their own agenda.

In Summary:
The change in pacing for this arc from others is making it all the more enjoyable but at the same time bittersweet as there's only nine more episodes left after this before it's all done and over with. The characters have changed and come quite far from when we first met them and while there were visible changes before with their powers, the way it's all elevated now it's also their confidence level that's become fun to watch since they have the strength to really back it up. I'm probably enjoying this arc more than anything else in the series though I do miss terribly the supporting cast that's been set to the side for this.

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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