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Yu Yu Hakusho

By Shamus
on Wednesday May 31, 2006
Filed under:


It’s time to admit what a fraud I am. I’ve been leading you all on, leaving you with the impression that I am a discriminating otaku with a taste for thoughtful, intelligent anime. It’s time to pull away the mask and admit that I’ve watched Yu Yu Hakusho. Specifically, I watched the 7-disc “Chapter Black” saga in just two sittings.

If Haibane Renmei is Masterpiece Theater, then Yu Yu Hakusho is Clown Midget Jello Wrestling. This is not top-shelf anime. It isn’t even bottom shelf. This is the sort of anime you take off the shelf and hide when friends come over so they don’t know you like it.

This is about the fourth time I’ve sat down to write about this series. Every time I try, it all comes out as a scathing review that tears the show apart and catalogues its many flaws. That isn’t really fair, since I couldn’t stop watching it.

The plot:

Yusuke Urameshi is a high school student who is also a “spirit detective”. He works for some people in “spirit world”, which is a heaven-ish sort of afterlife place. He’s called a detective, but he’s loud, profane, rude, and taken to punching things that annoy him, so he isn’t really much of a detective. The plot seems to be: Some powerful supernatural being threatens earth: Yusuke punches his way through his minions with much bravado and angst, and then faces the bad guy in a cataclysmic battle using energy blasts and intense shouting.

Why do I like this? I think I’ll cite Steven’s review of Dragonball Z:

OK, it’s trash. I know it’s trash. But it’s my kind of trash.

I couldn’t stop watching. At the end of one show it would really look like the team was screwed. How will they get out of this one? It strung me along to the end as the fighters stumbled from one frantic battle to the next.

It has all the classic cliche’s. The more desperate the situation, the stronger the heroes become. Foes love to tell the protagonists their super powers before a battle, making sure to mention their limitations, goals, how they got their powers, and what their weaknesses are. It’s disguised as trash talk, but it’s really just exposition delivered by yelling and / or maniacal laughter. Once the audience knows the rules, the combatants get to it and punch, kick, and energy-blast the ever-loving crap out of each other.

Admit it. You have a show you like as a guilty pleasure. A show you like even though you know better. C’mon. You know you do. What is it? Confess in the comments below. You’ll feel better, and so will I.

Comments (41)

  1. ubu roi says:

    DearS. There’s a show that panders to many a misogynistic fantasy…

  2. Kayle says:

    I admit to a fondness to “Smash Hit!” (http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=3451). It’s primarily a fanservice vehicle from M.O.E., but its based around producing an anime, and they really do show quite a few of the details. I have a weakness for shows which do a good job of showing the “behind the scenes” of some endeavor. (Another anime which I like and shows a lot of the process of making anime is “Animation Runner Kuromi” (http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=1146), but its much better animated, so I don’t feel any guilt over it.)

  3. “Clown Midget Jello Wrestling”… Boy, are you gonna get the Google hits now!

  4. HC says:

    I’ve seen Yu Yu Hakusho, and I have friends who still swear by it.

    Sure, there are series that I’m irrationally fond of – Irresponsible Captain Tylor, Hikaru no Go, several others. But ones that I can’t defend with a straight face? Bearing in mind that my greatest skill may lie in rationalization?

    Maybe Mezzo DSA…

  5. Pixy Misa says:

    Irresponsible Captain Tylor is great! Not so much the OVA, unfortunately, but the original TV series rocks.

  6. ARJ says:

    Hmm… I kind of liked Season 1 of Ninja Scroll, even though it would be more appropriately titled “Ninja of the Week.” I wouldn’t quite say it was a guilty pleasure though. I have watched & liked Yu Yu Hakusho back in my anime club days in university, but I haven’t seen it all the way through. It is an addictive-bubble-gum-for-the-brain type thing.

  7. Acksiom says:


    I’m not seeing the actual hatred of women here. Sexism, yes. Dom/sub fantasizing, absolutely. Bad-example criticism of women’s refusal to take responsibility for relationship initiatives, sure. Mockery of male abandonment of integrity in the pursuit of female sexuality, as usual.

    But actual hatred of women?

    Uh, no. Not seeing it. Would appreciate direct, objective examples, please. So could you please be specific about where the actual hatred of women is that you perceive existing in DearS?

  8. Acksiom says:

    Oh, and count me in as someone who is unashamedly fond of Irresponsible Captain Tylor. There’s far more philosophical depth to that show than it it usually credited as possessing.

    For one thing, virtually every supporting character, at one point or another, through having to deal with Tylor’s consistent metaphysics, is eventually forced into a moment of personal enlightenment wherein they are forced to take responsibility for deciding for themselves what their goals in life truly are.

    Enjoyably pulling that off, over and over again, in different ways with different characters, over 26 episodes, is no small beer, narratively and otherwise performatively speaking.

    Someday I’ve really got to get my hands on the source material for that show. I hear it’s outstanding, and even considered a classic of japanese literature in some circles.

  9. HC says:

    I look forward to doing the same, once I can read it properly. Incidentally, Acksiom, if you haven’t seen the ICT OAVs… DO!

    Or, more accurately, see one of them. There are a handful of ok OAVs, one truly bad one… and one that is just perfect. No other word will do. My only complaint is that you really need to see the series first, so its of little use in converting the heathen.

  10. Acksiom says:

    Thanks, yes, they’re On My List.

    Problem is, there’s just so much to watch. . .I have Tenchi In Tokyo out from the library currently, plus the AMG movie (both second-time rewatches), and then the second half of Gundam Seed scheduled for the two weeks after that. Plus I’d like to get up to speed on new fave Capeta, catch up with Bleach, and rewatch Uchuu No Stellvia at some point for a much-needed dose of positivist cheerfulness. Naruto may still be in Sucky Filler Hell, and therefore downgraded, but the climax of the Skypiea arc is coming soon on One Piece, as well as the series conclusion for Yakitate!! Japan silliness, and it seems (Fashionable Judo Girl) Yawara releases are being prioritized by L-E/F-B again. To say nothing of the upcoming wide-screen releases of AMG season 2.

    Oh, and I still haven’t finished watching Rozen Maiden, let alone started Rozen Maiden Traumend. Or Monster. Or Legend of the Galactic Heroes. And I may not be able to wait for the complete hi-quality release of Miyazaki’s early TV series Future Boy Conan.

    Literally so much anime, so little time. But on your recommendation, I’ll make an effort to check with and drop by my primary rental source in my local Japantown for the ICT OVAs.

  11. DrHeinous says:

    You know, I have Ubu’s DearS disks… I’ve been putting off watching them, figuring it for another silly romantic-triangle/harem comedy. I’m certainly more of an action/adventure person. But maybe I’ll have to watch it no.

  12. Astrid says:

    I know I shouldn’t, but I love that show, DBZ, and Naruto (though, in my defense, I liked them before they were popular). Sue me. =P

  13. tweaker says:

    I loved yu yu and am currently looking for another anime like it any suggestions?

  14. andrea says:

    forevern yu yu hakusho!!!

  15. kurama says:

    me gustaria k ubiera juegos de yuyu hakusho para gama cube

  16. Brianda says:

    Well , to be honest the first time that I just saw the comercial I thought it was horrible and that it was like Dragon ball or sonething like, after one day I didn’t have anything too see so I watched it, and I enjoy a lot and now I am big fan of this serie and I can tell that no one has to judge at first sight an anime serie!

  17. AJ says:

    wow..i loved this show when it was on adult swim however long ago..but where did it go and where can i get the dvd?

  18. My guilty pleasure is One Piece. But not the dub, please.

  19. Miako says:

    Like YuYuHashuko…

    Try Kenshin.
    Also try Hunter X Hunter.

    There are many series that are just plain -fun- — they seem to have a sort of magnetism in them, that shines through and says “watch me! watch me!”

    Like Fushigi Yuugi…

    Totally fluffy shows (shonen or shojo) that just seem, well, fun!

  20. Guy says:

    I like Hakusho, even though it isn’t very good analytically.
    …Busou Renkin also.
    …and Kenichi,
    Mezzo DSA,
    Samurai X,
    Macross 7,
    G Gundam,
    and practically every corny mecha released before (or after) Evangelion.

  21. Kyrianne says:

    OMG I love Yu Yu Hakusho! I don’t believe it’s trash, though. Maybe the Dark Tournament Saga gets a bit repetetive or whatever, but you gotta love this series. In fact, I proudly claim I’m a fan instead of hiding it away. XD

  22. Kyrianne says:

    Oh, right…Other anime/manga that are worth checking out:
    Death Note ~ FTW!

    …Another guilty pleasure, I suppose, is The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumaya. I don’t really know if I like it yet (I’ve only seen like the first 4 episodes) but the randomness is certain to make you laugh. Don’t worry if it doesn’t make sense; it’s not supposed to. XD

  23. Belovedofangels says:

    My guilty pleasure is the same as yours…Yu Yu Hakusho is actually the first anime I ever watched (videotaped from TV in Japan, no subtitles, and my friend translating the whole time). I forgot about it for a few years, and recently I’ve been addicted once more…
    I agree with quote you cited, “OK, it's trash. I know it's trash. But it's my kind of trash!” It’s the sofa you see your neighbor throwing out that you sneak in the back door and cover up with a sheet (so you can sit and watch Yu Yu Hakusho…ha)…
    …but I love it!!!

  24. shira-chan says:

    i thought yyh wasnt gd too, but after i watched it,
    i love it XD
    and proud to proclaim it too!!
    true, lotsa holes, but theres just smth that keeps you watching!!!!

  25. Megan says:

    I loved yu yu hakasho i really wished they didn’t take it off the air it was a assome anime show. Anybody agree?

  26. Dolita says:

    yeah, YuYu Hakusho is not critically great, but it’s entertaining. You know, the kind of popcorn movies that appear in cinema every now and then, but the good one. I definitely have seen worse anime, but as much as I love YYH, when being objective and critical, I must admit it has many flaws.

    Maybe people DO need some ‘light’ refreshment, and this is when YYH / Dragon Ball Z comes.

  27. AlphabetFish says:


    Yes, it’s childish, repetitive, and it ran hopelessly out of ideas years ago, but I still adore it! Oh, and I love Dragon Ball too.

    When it comes to deep, meaningful entertainment, I turn to novels.

  28. kaley says:

    yu-yu hakusho is one of my favorite shows. i dont like many shows only a few like inuyasha,bleach,death note,naruto,trinty blood,blood plus,and full metal alchemist.

  29. dragracing666 says:

    I like yu yu hakusho.

  30. Maria says:

    As a loyal Yu Yu Hakusho fan, I’m deeply offended that you would call it ‘trash’. It’s one of the very few anime shows that I actually think is worth watching. True, it has a few flaws but surely there aren’t enough to call it bad.

    I admit it. I’m obsessed with the show. I own every DVD, made two sites dedicated to Hiei and Kurama, watched the movies they made of it and suscribe to Lanipator, creator of the YYH Abridged Series. I’ve even bookmarked more than 30 Yu Yu Hakusho-related sites. I also own a Hiei keychain and draw Hiei repeatedly.

    But Yu Yu Hakusho is NOT the only anime I watch. I enjoy Rurouni Kenshin too.

  31. CSol says:

    Yu Yu Hakusho what can i say about that show…. hmm.
    I’ll tell u what i have to say.

    It was my second MANGA after DBZ,DB and DBGT.
    I never finished watching the entire series and couldn’t find a place to buy the mangas but it’s something i’d really want to finish watching.
    I love Kuwabara hes such an idiot.

    Other mangas i’ve liked are Naruto,Bleach, Seto no Hanayome. hayate no Gotoku,Death note and Case Closed!


  32. Master Rah says:

    Dude, you gotta be kidding me. Yu Yu Hakusho is better than that other anime that’s rated a 5 star,but hey that’s just my opinion. It’s okay you think it’s trash. I don’t. I think this is a top notch anime that you wouldn’t want to hide from people. Same goes with DBZ. Unless those people hate anime then you shouldn’t be hiding it. This show is an absolute classic.

  33. MikeSSJ says:

    As far as shounen action-anime are concerned, you don’t get much better than Yu Yu Hakusho and One Piece – for their genre, they’re top-notch, easily.

    Not to mention that Yu Yu’s dub is one of the best dubs I’ve ever seen (or heard, actually) – it’s one of the few truly outstanding ones.
    Sadly, the English dub of One Piece is horrible, and the censorship and story-changes that came along with it make it a nightmare to watch for anyone who’s seen the original >_>

  34. The Lone Duck says:

    Way late on the response, but I’d say Urusei Yatsura. Even when I was into anime, my anime friends made fun of me for it. What can I say, I find that show hilarious.

  35. Katrani Merack says:

    Hah. I loved YuYu when it was on. i’ve recently found my library has the manga and have been reading it.

    The first anime I remember watching was DBZ. I loved it, but hated Dragonball. I loved Sailor Moon, too, and Cardcaptor Sakura, but I can’t watch the dubbed versions anymore. SO MUCH EDITING!

    Right now I’m in love with Full Metal Alchemist (*huggles Aaron Dismuke), Bleach, and Death Note. I liked DN before it became popular.

    I’ve read Karin/Chibi Vampire, Cain’s Saga, Canon, and a couple of others, but haven’t bothered watching the animes. Mostly because I’m scared they’ll be messed up.

    I’ve seen the Hellsing anime and the first two parts of the OVA. I have fond memories of the anime, even though it gave me nightmares. I was ten when my brother first told me to watch it. XD Sicne, I’ve started reading the manga. Which is REALLY a lot scarier. No woonder they changed the anime.

    I’ve read and watched Kenshin, but it’s been so long since I saw it that I can’t really comment on the quality of the anime. And I’ve sort of-kind of been watching Maburaho. That show is just plain weird, but cool. Sort of like Karin only more adult. Hah.

    I’ve read Fruits Basket all the way through, but can’t stand the anime. Really, is it that hard to go on a season break or something for a few months? Gr. I’ve seen Chrono (Chrno?) Crusade, and loved it. Still need to get around to reading it. And I’ve read Red River. It’s predictable after a point, but there aren’t many series like it and I haven’t bothered to see if there’s an anime yet.

    That’s basically my full list right now. Hah.

  36. Lizzy says:

    Ah, this is a trip down nostalga road. Compared with the other anime series I grew up with (DBZ, Sailor moon, and Tenchi Muyo) Yu Yu Hakusho is definately my favorite. And of course, being teenage girls, my friends and I would argue over who’s cuter, Kurama or Hiei

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  38. Gilf says:

    I dunno if it really is guilty, since I’m always straightforward about what I like, even if I’m embarrassed by it, but the show that -does- embarrass me to like is Sgt. Frog. The manga was amazing, and the anime, while not being as good, really translated in a way that appealed to me, but would take someone with a lot of foreknowledge of anime conventions and cliches to really ‘get’.

  39. jesmer says:

    heres my yuyu hakusho series on utube pls support it tnx :)

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