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I constantly see reviewers praising this series saying that it is the best thing since sliced bread.I find this series to be highly overrated. I get irritated by forums that constantly whine and bitch about how "original" this series is compared to more modern day shonen with little to know explaination.
To begin with the characters feel wooden. Hiei is the biggest offender. I think of Hiei as a stray dog that only needs to take one punch to be housebroken. Seriously, he gets beaten once and then joins Team Yusuke and never commits any morally ambiguous action again. We later learn about his very convoluted back story that contradicts the logic of his first appearance. This is made even worse when you consider how easily Yusuke ( whose girlfriend Hiei abducted) and Kurama (who was stabbed by Hiei)seem to trust him implicitly.
Yusuke starts out fun and snarky but his character devolves into an adrenaline junkie as the series develops. In fact by the end of the story he turns into Goku from Dragonball Z, enjoying fighting but thinking everyone can be friends.
Kurama is also an interesting charcter at first but never grows in any direction, his character growth remaining stagnant throughout the story with several chances to have the spotlight focus on his struggles ignored. Didn't Kurama lose his humanity in full demon form? Not important. Kurama met his partner in crime from his previous life, did it really matter? Not really. Kurama sacrifices half his soul with Yusuke but niether are affected by this action. In fact, Kurama doesn't actually seem to be close to them in spite of risking his life for them. He feels more like a coworker who just happens to slay demons with the rest of the team rather than a friend.
I won't talk about Kuwabara because most people including the author don't care about him seeing as he doesn't get much screen time and is kicked out of the final arc; but I do feel he was the best developed.
The arcs range from decent to downright terrible. Many of the fights are downright slugfests with power ups scattered between punches. The series also contains some pretty poorly implemented plot twists like Sensui hating humanity because a few humans torture demons or an entire military coup happening offscreen!!! Honestly, if this was the best shonen had to offer I would quit manga altogether. What a disappointment!
When discussing series that change over time, it's fairly common to hear about series that improve significantly in spite of a weak start, or series that have a promising beginning, but gradually degrade in quality. Yu Yu Hakusho is an odd mix of both, as it takes a while for it to hit its stride- and it does so successfully- but it stumbles before reaching the finish line.
The plot involves a delinquent with a good heart named Yusuke Urameshi being killed in a car accident but being brought back to be a Spirit Detective and deal with underworld-related crimes. The "Detective" part is significantly more present in the early series, in which the focus is less on the fighting and more on Yusuke solving crimes and helping people as a ghost. Thankfully, the anime cuts this down and only animates the chapters that are actually important.
The fighting-based part of the series is the most enjoyable. The protagonists' powers are relatively simple but effective, and they tend to match nicely with those of their opponnts, making for entertaining battles. Many of the villains, especially the secondary ones from earlier on, don't have much in the way of personality or Character Development, but some of them prove quite interesting and memorable in spite of that. The plot is well done enough to provide real stakes and inspire viewers to hope that the heroes prevail.
Unfortunately, the series ends on a fairly weak note, introducing some interesting characters and concepts in the final arc but failing to develop them sufficiently, as well as a somewhat contrived ending to the penultimate arc. Again, the anime does help with this somewhat by showing the final battle and cutting down some of the later chapters (which, admittedly, do have their moments), but the ending's still lackluster.
All in all, Yu Yu Hakusho is worth your time as long as you're willing to give it a few episodes to truly get going, and don't mind or are willing to skip the disappointing ending.
Yu Yu Hakusho is still one of my favorite shonen series. It has a wide cast of characters, some of which are pretty decent, some of which are bloody scary, but all with very different personalities. The fighting rarely gets tedious, as most battles wrap up in an episode or two and always involve different strategies and tricks outside of simply "Beat the other guy to the ground."
The four main characters are all quite fun and while they are still the "good" guys, sometimes have moments of anti-heroism. Kurama and Hiei especially don't lose their demonic edge, and the nicest of the bunch is, ironically, the thuggish-looking Kuwabara. Very Togashi, it is.
What's really interesting to watch nowadays in relation to Yu Yu Hakusho is how it influential it's been in current-day series such as Naruto and Bleach. Certainly worth a viewing.
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