a.k.a. Poltergeist Report
a.k.a. Ghost Files
Urameshi Yusuke was a no-good street punk who would have amounted to nothing in life… until the day his life was cut short. After sacrificing himself to save a little boy, Yusuke is given the opportunity to right the wrongs of his previous life. Now, as a Reikai Tantei (a sort of spirit detective), Yusuke is sent on missions to rid the Earth of yukai, whether he wants to or not. Along the way, he runs into some people he would call allies, and a whole lot more he would call enemies.
summary by Ender
Highs: Some brutal fight scenes; solid, likeable characters
Lows: Too much drudgery; gets formulaic
Before Togashi Yoshihiro made Hunter X Hunter, he created another wildly popular manga-turned-anime. Yu Yu Hakusho was one of the few shounen series that was able to hold its own against the then huge Dragonball Z juggernaut. Although it never reached the same level as in terms of popularity, Yu Yu Hakusho won where it counts: in the realm of white-knuckled entertainment.
One of the best things this show did for itself was place a high school delinquent as the main character. Yusuke is not the typical shounen hero, and his friends are not the typical shounen supporting cast. Rather than taking the Kenshiro/Son Goku route and turning them into the “saviors of the week,” Yusuke and company are punks and bandits through-and-through. They’re just guys itching for a fight and won’t stop until they find it. Some of these battles can be down-right brutal. Knives, roses, fishhooks, dice, energy swords and a whole ton of martial arts (some real, some utter nonsense) all get thrown into the pot. These are the type of moves and sucker punches you’d expect (or wouldn’t) from this set of barbarians.
Of course, the fights can only go on for so long, and 112 episodes is a lot to ask for a casual viewer. By later episodes, no matter how much I liked the characters and the increasingly demented fights, I found my hand would linger closer and closer to the fast-forward button. By the second arc of the series, everything falls to the old shounen anime cliché of “ladder fights,” where the character has to fight his way to the top only to face the big boss in order to truly win. It’s almost hypocritical to claim that the fights are the best part of the series, yet these boss brawls are among the most boring. The investment that was spent on these characters gets lost as their powers grow from interesting to insane; one character using a potentially self-destructive move and survives it… three times! It’s the age-old convention of story-padding, and it really takes away a good chunk of the fun.
At its best, this show is a fun exercise in anti-heroes beating the ever-living tar out of one another. At its worst, it’s a daunting slow-burn of a slug-fest. If you buy into the characters early, Yu Yu Hakusho will keep you entertained for a very long time. However, the moment you feel your attention waning, give it a rest and come back later. Sometimes these things are best left in small doses, no matter how good or bad.