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"Yu-Yu Hakusho: Old Rivals, New Problems", Same Excellence

ImageOkay, you know the drill. The gates of Hell are being opened by Sensui, former Spirit Detective. Since Yusuke Urameshi, current Spirit Detective, is charged with protecting the Earth realm, he’s going to have to stop him. Yusuke’s got formerly evil demons Hiei and Kurama, along with Sensui’s former ally Seaman, on his side in this fight. But even if the gang makes it past Gamemaster will they finally be able to face Sensui, or will they have to dispatch an old rival first?

Episodes included on this disc
Episode 83: “Game Over”
Episode 84: “Kurama’s Anger, Gourmet’s Guest”
Episode 85: “Spirit Detective Showdown”
Episode 86: “The Difference Maker”

Ah, Yu-Yu Hakusho, Dragon Ball‘s darker and more serious brother in the energy-blast-flinging anime pantheon. While Goku had to deal with villains threatening to blow up the planet, Yusuke’s got a much more sinister plan to stop: If he doesn’t prevent Sensui’s opening up of the literal gates of hell, demons will be unleashed upon the Earth, killing everyone in sight.

Yeah, just simply blowing up the planet doesn’t seem that bad now, does it?

In the last volume, the gang began to play against Gamemaster, a kid in Sensui’s gang that has complete mastery over video games. Hence, one supposes, the name “Gamemaster.” Pretty ingenious, eh? After all is said and done, Kurama faces off against the Master in a game of “Three Seven,” which is essential Tetris + Math. I don’t know anyone who liked Donkey Kong Jr. Math so I don’t see why Tetris Math would be any fun, but I digress.

Kurama comes to a startling conclusion during the game. As Gamemaster has taken on the persona of the final boss in the game, if he loses the game, he will die. Is Kurama capable of killing a little boy to save the Earth?

When the gang reaches Sensui, the final round looms even nearer. Gourmet, the man who can “eat” someone’s power and make it his own, reveals a startling secret… whether he wants to or not. It seems that he accidentally ate Elder Toguro, who apparantly doesn’t want to stay dead.

Yes, the older brother of the guy Yusuke’s been fighting intermittently throughout the series is back, and he’s in control of Gourmet. While the rest of the gang take cares of that freak, Yusuke prepares to take on Sensui.

At long last, the showdown arrives: Spirit Detective vs. Spirit Detective. Both get good hits in, with several twists along the way. Yusuke remembers his street fighter days and pulls a very unique technique on the evil martial artist. Meanwhile Sensui goes a little nuts. When his tone changes from subdued and serious to “you were acting like a little *****!”, you know something’s snapped in his gourd. Don’t worry soccer moms, he gets chastised for his “potty mouth.”

As usual, YYH brings up some interesting plot developments, especially with Kurama, Elder Toguro, and Sensui. Can Kurama kill? How the hell is Elder Toguro still alive? And just what’s going on in Sensui’s head? Luckily, my favorite animation studio (I really need to learn their name one day) also animates “The Difference Maker,” and boy, does it make a difference in quality. Regular Hakusho has good animation for it’s time, yes, but it’s too… standard. “Special Hakusho” by this studio has a slinkier, almost slapsticky, animation style that works very well for the series.

Extras are the standard character profiles, Yama’s Notebook (a guide to all the kanji), textless songs, and trailers. If you were expecting something else, I’m sorry, but this is how all the discs have been done.

How’s it work as a standalone disc? Not real good. You need to be immersed in the Sensui Saga to get what’s going on. For fans though, the episodes definitely are standard YYH excellence. If you’ve been buying it up to this point, I don’t see why you wouldn’t pick this disc up.

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