Netflix’s “Yu Yu Hakusho” may satisfy anime or manga fans, but for those new to Yusuke’s spirit adventures, the live adaptation will be a head-scratching mess.
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“Yu Yu Hakusho” Plot Summary
Netflix’s “Yu Yu Hakusho” may satisfy fans of the manga or anime series, but for those new to Yusuke’s spirit adventures, the live adaptation will be a head-scratching mess. Netflix and media companies are getting wiser to adapt more anime series, but “Yu Yu Hakusho” moves at a breakneck speed to show off the sound and fury of its action with little explanation of what it all means.
“Yu Yu Hakusho” revolves around Yusuke Urameshi (Takumi Kitamura), a rebellious teen loner who looks out for those who need protection. Yusuke never seeks to help others, but he rises to the call if an emergency presents itself in front of him (like a classmate getting bullied). In one of these instances, Yusuke dies after saving a child from a car accident. But due to the mysterious circumstances surrounding Yusuke’s death, the too-cool-for-school teen is recruited by the spirit world to be a spirit detective.
As a dead man, Yusuke is greeted by Botan (Kotone Furukawa) and Koenma (Keita Machida). They inform Yusuke that he’s in the spirit world but that the demon world is infiltrating the human world. Demons are hunting and harming people, and Yusuke is tasked with putting an end to the demon invasion. While initially hesitant, Yusuke finally agrees to help the spirit world and human world when his longtime friend Keiko (Sei Shiraishi) is put in danger. In exchange for Keiko’s protection, Yusuke is resurrected as a spirit detective who has to hunt down yokai, demon spirits, in the human world.
In these 5 episodes, the Japanese live-adaptation focuses less on the detective work and more on Yusuke’s ability to kick ass. Perhaps this is true to the original source, but all of the CGI and punches in “Yu Yu Hakusho” make it indistinguishable from any other big-action product today. “Yu Yu Hakusho” sets up interesting characters like Kazuma (Shûhei Uesugi), Kurama (Jun Shison), and Hiei (Kanata Hongô), but the show cares more about getting the costume right than getting the character right.
“Yu Yu Hakusho” Review
Our Rating: Mixed (Stick Around)
Notable Performances, Moments, or Episodes
Episodes To Anticipate
Episode 1 creates intrigue and context with the different worlds and Yusuke’s role as a spirit detective. Episode 4 is the first time we see the core team come together and fight.
Great Introduction to “Yu Yu Hakusho” Concept
The first episode of “Yu Yu Hakusho” clearly sets up who Yusuke is, his relationship with and care for Keiko, his strength in a fight, and how his stubbornness can lead to his isolation and the world’s destruction. The story is intriguing, the storyworld it sets up is fascinating, and the pacing is well done to tease into the next episode. But all of this is a great promotion for the anime and manga rather than an endorsement of the live-action show.
Rushed Storytelling Sacrifices Character Development
The most disappointing part about “Yu Yu Hakusho” is how quickly it tries to tell its story instead of taking the time for the audience to learn about its characters. Covering 60 anime episodes in 5 live-action episodes, there is a lot the show has to explain. It tries to captivate viewers with action instead of the people within the action. We learn little about Keiko, Kazuma, Kurama, and Hiei, and we rarely see these characters bond or share a moment together. Television is meant for characters; otherwise, we just grow numb to the explosions and punches.
On The Fence
Budget Spent on Muddled Action and Not World Building
There is no doubt that “Yu Yu Hakusho” is an expensive show. The reliance on CGI and action in each episode emphasizes where the show’s priorities are. Unfortunately, whether it be due to the type of shots or time restraints on the show, the actors often look like they are cosplaying at a park. The action is also iffy at best when the scenes don’t take place in the dark, and when they do take place in the dark, the action is muddled. The action may be the focus, but it’s hard to tell what’s in focus.
Also Worth Mentioning
- “Yu Yu Hakusho” is rated TV-MA for mild profanity, smoking, and violence.
Who Is This For?
Fans of the manga or anime series might enjoy the Netflix live adaptation of “Yu Yu Hakusho.”
What I Hope To See
If “Yu Yu Hakusho” continues, I hope it takes more time developing the characters’ relationships with one another and more time explaining the rules and boundaries of the spirit world.
“Yu Yu Hakusho” General Information
As of this writing, there is no renewal yet.
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