Yu Yu Hakusho: Season Three on Blu-ray
by Jef Burnham
Now available from Funimation Entertainment.
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Read our review of Season Two on Blu-ray here.
The stakes are higher than ever for Spirit Detective Yusuke Urameshi and his cohorts in this cross-section of episodes from the brilliant, character-driven fighter, Yu Yu Hakusho. Based on the manga by incomparable Yoshihiro Togashi, Yu Yu Hakusho is easily the most addictive animes you’re likely to encounter. Collecting episodes 57-84, this Blu-ray collection, along with its predecessors, is an absolutely essential upgrade from Funimation’s previous DVD releases of the series. Picking up where the last set left off, Season Three opens with Team Urameshi in the midst of their showdown against Team Toguro in the finals of the Dark Tournament.
The first ten episodes of this set comprise the remainder of the Dark Tournament Saga. The subsequent 18 find Urameshi and the gang facing their greatest challenge yet in the Chapter Black Sage, in which they discover that Yusuke’s Spirit Detective predecessor, Shinobu Sensui, is attepting to break down the barrier between the Demon Realm and Earth. The energy released by this rift allows average humans to tap into their spirit energy and Yusuke’s team is forced to recruit a small faction of these inexperienced humans with newly discovered powers in order to defeat Sensui and his six deadly cohorts. Of course, as with the previous sets, this set leaves off right in the middle of the action, leaving off ten episodes before Chapter Black’s conclusion.
This set contains 28 of the most exciting episodes of Yu Yu Hakusho, for the conclusion of the Dark Tournament, which fulfills on its promise of a final battle between Yusuke and Younger Toguro is epic indeed, and the Chapter Black Saga is one of the very best runs of the series. There’s more at stake for the characters, and the expanded cast of the Chapter Black Sage boasts an impressively diverse array of powers. Moreover, Kuwabara (my favorite!) plays an an absolutely essential role in the episodes collected here, proving himself to be every bit the integral member of Team Urameshi I always knew him to be.
The packaging of the Hakusho Blu-rays is incredibly classier, with black and gold borders showcasing the cover art from the previous releases. And again, any title honored as an Anime Classic by Funimation is surely deserving of an aesthetic upgrade for collectors. The returning cover art here features Hiei, manipulating the Dragon of the Darkness Flame. Unfortunately, whereas the aesthetic upgrade of the first two sets was greatly bolstered by the green and orange highlights carried over from the previous DVD release, the dark blue highlights of Season Three are tragically lost in the black borders.
The obviously painstaking restoration of the series, presented here 1080p HD, is absolutely breath-taking for those familiar with the series. The picture is so clean, the colors so vibrant, and the lines so crisp, that you might even think it was completely new animation if you didn’t know any better. As I said in my review of Season Two, Funimation’s Blu-ray releases of Yu Yu Hakusho outshines the Blu-ray transfers even of Funimation’s own Dragon Ball Z Kai— and by leaps and bounds no less. For anyone interested in the animation technique as I am, you’ll find that the HD transfer of Hakusho provides such a clear image of the animation that many of the animators’ techniques become obvious where previous SD transfers had covered up the nuances of the cels, editing, etc. Additionally, the series here features a totally new audio 5.1 audio mix of the English dub that is better synched with the animation.
Jef Burnham is a writer and educator living in Chicago, Illinois. While waging war on mankind from a glass booth in the parking lot of a grocery store, Jef managed to earn a degree in Film & Video from Columbia College Chicago, and is now the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com.
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