February 29, 2024

Yu Yu Hakusho Review 2023 Tv Show Series Cast Crew Online

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Yu Yu Hakusho Review 2023 Tv Show Series Cast Crew Online

YuYu Hakusho is Netflix’s latest attempt at bringing a classic manga or anime to the realm of live-action, something that has resulted in unique adaptations of everything from Fullmetal Alchemist and Cowboy Bebop to One Piece and Rurouni Kenshin (as well as newer works like Zom 100, Alice in Borderland, and the unfairly maligned Death Note). While few have served as much more than gateways to their source material, some have managed to be as fun as flipping through the manga that inspired them. Akira Morii and Kazutaka Sakamoto’s take on Yoshihiro Togashi’s supernatural shonen manga is just that: The kind of delightful retelling that, however condensed, manages to capture the tone and characterization that makes the original so charming.

It grips the viewer from the very first scene, as the camera floats around the disembodied spirit of teenager Yusuke Urameshi (Takumi Kitamura) staring at his own corpse in shock and confusion. Yusuke dove in front of a truck to save a child from getting hit, and his journey into absurdity is only just beginning: Ushered into the spirit world, he’s informed by his guide, Botan (Kotone Furukawa), that his death was not accounted for by the forces who control the afterlife. Thus Yusuke is offered a second chance at life, as long as he agrees to investigate an infestation of demons in the human world under the hand of spirit world ruler Koenma (Keita Machida) – a premise the series launches into with gusto.

The demonic entities possessing the people around Yusuke come across as truly dangerous. It’s a testament to Shô Tsukikawa’s strong direction that every bit of violence is harrowingly presented and has a certain weight to it, even when it’s clearly computerized. The concept of the “live-action anime/manga” is an inherently dicey one, but the more we settle into a pattern of our blockbusters and television shows embracing an absurd amount of visual effects to realize images that originated in comic books and animation, the closer we come to being comfortable with that synthesis of what is “real” and what isn’t. The fights in YuYu Hakusho all have the playful choreography and visual expertise of a movie directed by Paul W.S. Anderson (Mortal Kombat and Resident Evil especially), and the mix of practical and digital effects results in some wonderfully grotesque character designs that would fit comfortably within his work too. The way demon bodies morph and shift is sometimes garish, but never unbelievable, and occasionally reminiscent of effects in the live-action adaptations of Parasyte, which comes as no surprise considering those movies and this series were both produced by Godzilla Minus One and Alice in Borderland studio Robot Communications.

What is surprising is how Tsukikawa leans into the humanity of YuYu Hakusho. It isn’t just in the way we’re allowed to sit with Yusuke’s friends and family – particularly Sei Shiraishi’s as-tender-as-she-is-funny Keiko – as they mourn his loss in the premiere, but the way certain characters and performers revel in the melodrama. Kitamura’s performance is more brooding than brash and serves as a great contrast to someone like his rival-turned-bestie (and the heart and soul of the series), Kazuma Kuwabara (Shûhei Uesugi). Though they both have more than enough comedic chops for the show’s physical gags (and all its hilarious dropkicks), it’s their navigation of Yusuke and Kuwabara’s relationship that stands out. Uesugi’s eyes are everything, even when Kuwabara’s face is caked in fake blood and scarring, staring with desperation and determination at Yusuke in hopes that he’ll be able to attain his greatness, stand alongside him, and, ideally, beat him in a fight too.

For all the excellent characterization of its core duo, Tatsurō Mishima’s scripting falters when it comes to expanding on the supporting figures, especially that of Yusuke’s spirit trainer, Genkai (Meiko Kaji), and the demons Kurama (Jun Shison) and Hiei (Kanata Hongo). Their colorful wigs and stylish outfits make them memorable, as do the show’s quieter, sincere moments when actors like Shison and the legendary Kaji (Lady Snowblood herself) get the chance to explain their histories. But those moments are too brief due to the pacing required of a five-episode series. Where manga protagonists typically increase in strength over an extended period of time and with extensive training and fighting, the physical and emotional growth of Yusuke in the live-action YuYu Hakusho happens all too quickly and exponentially over each episode. It’s harder to buy into the stakes of the situation when you know there’s no chance of failure; there’s always a power-up just a few minutes down the road.

While the premiere is a pitch-perfect, engrossing kick-off that most shows can only dream of, every subsequent episode tries to pack in too much. Characters like Botan and Koenma are pleasant in passing, but they’re little more than comic relief – reduced to bit parts that play out like Togashi’s winking throwaway panels in the manga. Even villains like the show’s big bads, the Toguro brothers, are less fully fleshed-out characters than they are relatively lifeless obstacles for Yusuke and Kuwabara to overcome.

These characters aren’t one-to-one correlations to their manga counterparts, but that isn’t the problem. In this new incarnation, their arcs are so condensed that none of the emotional heft lands: The younger Toguro brother and Genakai’s shared past is relegated to mere seconds of half-hearted exposition. It’s a tall order squeezing such a large ensemble and dozens of chapters worth of history into five episodes, but the weakness of most of the series’ supporting cast only emphasizes the richness of its two leads and how YuYu Hakusho is at its best when it hones in on what makes them special and fun to watch. With any luck, its creative team will get a chance to continue exploring Yusuke and Kuwabara with a second season that can dive into who its characters really are beyond all their punches and kicks.

YuYu Hakusho is more charming than an abridged version of any shonen manga has any right to be. Its commitment to engaging action and sincere melodrama, led by two talented performers as Yusuke and Kuwabara, are enough to outweigh how shallow the series can sometimes feel.

Yu Yu Hakusho Review 2023 Tv Show Series Cast Crew Online