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read our reviews of Yu Yu Hakusho
- Ghost Files
volumes 1 and 2

Yu Yu Hakusho Ghost Files volume 4

December 2005 SITE MAP   SEARCH

Yu Yu Hakusho - Ghost Files
volume 3: A New Apprentice
volume 4: The Gate Of Betrayal

director: Noriyuki Abe

163 minutes (12) 2004
MVM DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 6/10
reviewed by Jonathan McCalmont
Having accepted his role as a spirit detective Yusuke is given a new assignment, to infiltrate a competition to become the apprentice of a powerful psychic master. A demon capable of taking on human form is competing in the hope of gaining even more powers. While waiting outside, Yusuke runs into his old school rival Kuwabara. Kuwabara also has impressive psychic powers and the two fall into a good-natured rivalry which threats and posturing simply cannot hide. As the tournament starts they compete against a host of colourful characters until a victor is decided and the demon is unmasked and defeated.

Unfortunately, the stories are clearly not of a fixed number of episodes. As a result volume three has four episodes of the 'Apprentice' storyline and volume four has the last one as well as two of the next story, where Yusuke and Kuwabara travel to the spirit realm in the hope of preventing a plague of supernatural insects from attacking the mortal realm. Why volume four only has three episodes when the storyline is not finished is not clear, especially when it retails at the same price as volume three despite being half an hour shorter. Given that most comedy DVDs boast six half-hour episodes would it really have been that difficult to put all five episodes of the Apprentice story on volume three? Seeing as volumes three and four are different lengths, clearly MVM aren't too bothered about all DVDs being the same length. The distribution of episodes seems designed less to please the fans and more to compel people who bought volume three to buy volume four. This is unfortunate and incredibly short-sighted. Given that Yu Yu Hashuko runs to over 100 episodes, you would think that MVM would be more careful not to alienate fans, especially given that in each 25-minute episode you have to put up with a long credit sequence at the beginning and end or each episode as well as the spoilers of an 'in the next episode' bit.

These issues aside, this is fairly decent and inoffensive anime. The characters are colourful if not deep and the action is brisk if not groundbreaking or particularly ambitious. The plots are simple and tick over nicely, allowing you to discover more and more of the animated world. This is no different to the anime that was being pumped out 20 years ago. It's perfectly fine and seems aimed mainly at teenagers.

On the plus side, even the dubbed voice acting is entertaining. Kuwabara sounds like a complete dimwit and Yusuke positively oozes ill will and cynicism. The design of the supporting characters is also nicely handled. While many of the main characters seem slightly dull in their monochromatic suits, the designers cut loose nicely on the demons and produce some memorable magical powers. There's even a moment of postmodern fun when as the characters chat while waiting for the tournament to begin you can see characters from Streetfighter 2 in the background (but none of them ever re-appear, suggesting that they're nowhere near as good as our heroes).

On the down side, the animation and art is rarely exceptional and it all looks decidedly past it and old-fashioned. I'm pushing 30 now and this isn't any better than the anime I used to watch as a child. Similarly, the stories and ideas are all rather old hat.

In conclusion, this is perfectly serviceable anime with no pretence to be anything other than a bit of fun for the kids. It's not pretty enough or clever enough to make it worth most grown-ups attention, and the cost to content and episode bundling policies should also serve to alienate the more demanding anime fans, but despite this the series are perfectly watchable and pleasantly entertaining.

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