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Yu Yu Hakusho Season 3 Steelbook Blu-ray Anime Review

10 min read
I continue to love that Funimation revisits this series and tries to find new ways to expose fans to it, such as these gorgeous steelbooks with the original artwork gracing the entire run.

Yusuke cannot live by Tournament alone.

What They Say:
Yu Yu Hakusho Season 3 Steelbook contains episodes 57-84 of the anime directed by Noriyuki Abe.

The Dark Tournament has come down to a final grudge match, and Yusuke unleashes his full wrath in a fight to the end. Worn out but victorious, he finds there’s no time for rest or recovery, when a new enemy threatens the boundary between worlds. A tunnel is being carved and once it’s completed, it will lay waste to the World of the Living. Up against former Spirit Realm Detective Shinobu Sensui, and the scourge of the Demon World, Yusuke must awaken a new, demonic power.

The Review:
The audio presentation for this release is pretty good as it has both the original Japanese and English in lossless form using the Dolby TrueHD codec. The original Japanese is in stereo and it has a very good feel to it. The English mix is in 5.1 and that gets bumped up to an average of 1.9 mbps and generally comes across a bit louder and with a bit more impact, but it’s not a show that’s going to have a significant upgrade over the stereo mix. The show came out nearly thirty years ago and was largely a center channel stereo mix so a 5.1 mix isn’t going to be all that impressive, but it’s definitely a welcome inclusion here. The show has a mix that’s definitely representative of its time and the dialogue comes across very well here overall while the sound effects and especially the music has a bit of a bump overall with a richer feeling.

Originally airing in 1992, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio in 1080p using the AVC codec. This release, being from film sources, is not an upscale but a native high definition release. The episodes for this set are spread across three discs with ten on the first two discs and eight on the third. The look of the show is very striking, especially if you were like me in picking up the thirty-odd discs that were put out for the original run on DVD when it was three or four episodes to a release. Everything here is brighter, sharper and clearer in so many surprising ways. The differences are very apparent as we’re now seeing the real and intended colors the show had in its source material, there’s no visible cross coloration or aliasing issues to it and outside of the expected noise/grain that comes from it being a film source, it’s very clean. The series is one that had a very murky and darkened look, even during the bright outdoor scenes, in past releases, but all of that is washed away here and we’re getting a look at what the show was originally intended to look like. This is the kind of transfer and release that old school fans hold out hope for with a lot of the series from the 90’s and before in that there is a significant upgrade in what can be done and FUNimation has finally been able to give this show the release it deserves.

With the last release for this series coming out back in 2011, wherein I say holy hell that’s been forever, the new editions for Yu Yu Hakusho lean into its classic status well as there are a lot of longtime fans out there. While the discs that we’re getting are repressings plus a new disc with the new extra on it, the packaging is slick. I love steelbooks and this one is really sweet as each of the case are getting the core cast of characters taking the stage and continues with this installment with Kazuma wielding his sword with a good bit of intensity about him. The shadowed element is great, I really love that it blends easily throughout all four cases, and that we get a bit of the spirit sword sliding into this one as well to provide a little contrast. The back of the case itself goes with an all-black background (as does the reverse side of the case) but we get a stripe of size through the middle here. This puts the core four guys together as with them powered up down the line some with costume changes and the kind of confidence that they’ve earned. The set comes with a partial wrap on it for the shrinkwrap and so that the back avoids scratches and that gives us a standard back “cover” with a look at the premise, extras, and technical information. Underneath that, however, we get a black envelope that comes with two heavy postcards that features the case artwork on it, just with a white background. They’re fantastic and very framable. .

The menus for this release are definitely kept simple but it has a nice lead-in to things where it uses the animation of Botan from the start of the opening sequence flying in. In this rendition of it, the background is kept black while the animation itself is done in various moving shades of green. That ends up becoming the whole screen itself with lots of green motions playing out while to the left a black block surfaces along the middle of the side that has the basic text for the menu navigation. This also doubles as the pop-up menu which is a surprise, though welcome, as it’s a decent size and its location is not where menu designers typically have pop-up menus come up. The three discs are all the same with the third disc just having an extra selection for the extras submenu, so it’s quick and simple to use and very effective.

The basic extras included on this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences which can be found only on the third disc. The show also comes with a fourth disc that has a new extra made for this set with a video commentary for the 63rd episode that brings together Christopher Sabat and Justin Cook. It’s amusing with Sabat saying that it’s probably been fifteen years since he’s seen the show and the two, playing Kazuma and Yusuke respectively, have quite the history with Funimation and each other to make for a fun commentary as they’re definitely at ease and talk about the show pretty lovingly.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Yu Yu Hakusho in the previous set was one that was both really fun and difficult to get through at the same time. The show introduced us to the Dark Tournament and worked through it for the whole thing, while still not finishing out even though it ran for nearly thirty episodes. It’s a great tournament overall with its creativity of characters and that it spent the time really going through things, but at the same time it just runs for so long that it can be a hard slog at times. With this set, the Dark Tournament does come to a close but it takes the first ten episodes here, the first disc worth in the set, to bring it all to a conclusion.

That disc brings us the finals, which covers a fair bit of ground in those ten episodes, and gets us to the inevitable fight between Yusuke and Toguro. But it has to deal with other fights first and it actually works through them in fairly quick order in a way that is rather fun. Hiei’s growth in the series has been mostly in regards to his powers and he makes some serious progress here with what he’s capable of, though his fight is fairly short when you get down to the past ones he’s been involved in. Still, seeing him make this kind of progress and have a fairly tense fight that has him getting to a whole other level with his ability. While he can’t take down Toguro, he’s definitely become so much more than he started out to be.

That’s basically something to be said of everyone in the group but the one that won me over the most in the past arcs and this one is Kuawabara. The guy just has such a fun personality about him and an incredible persistence that you can’t help but to root for him. He’s also got a skill that’s continually letting him experiment in grow, though he doesn’t realize it until it happens each time. With what he’s done with his reiki sword, he really takes it up a few levels here when he goes against the elder Toguro brother and has such a strong push against him that you practically yell out in support. And his own actual support group with people like his sister and Yukina only make him more interesting with how they nudge him along in very different ways.

Even though it’s just a third of this set, the Dark Tournament is a huge part of this series and the real evolution of Yusuke. He’s been intent to go against Toguro for so long now, so desiring of power to match him so he can be his equal but show a different way of doing it, that getting to that part of the arc is just very well done. Yusuke’s youth is definitely a factor in it, but Genkai adds a lot with what she’s taught him and having Koenma in his corner as well helps beyond measure. But it does come down to Yusuke himself and the fight is one of the more exciting ones of the series because of just how into it both of them get. And it really lets Yusuke cut loose in a big way unlike what he’s done before, showing the fruits of what he did with Genkai during the training and when she passed on power to him.

Unlike some shows that would have a bit of a break or even some filler before going into the next arc, Yu Yu Hakusho leaps right into the next. It’s more Earth based here though, but it has much bigger implications as it progresses through the set. With a little bit of time having passed, Yusuke and the others have settled back into their routines but not much has really got them going at the moment. That starts to change when a threat to all three worlds arises, though it takes some time to get there as there are challenges to be had first. For Yusuke, it’s to realize that the thrill of the challenge is what drives him as he’s spinning his wheels after the Dark Tournament. The worst off from the Tournament is Kuwabara who has had his spiritual power go dormant on him, leaving him feeling a bit on the outside and just trying to enjoy his life as he can.

While the threat takes some time to be realized here, there are some neat changes as we learn that the world is changing because of events unfolding in the city they’re in where normal people are now starting to gain some powers called Territories. They offer up a different kind of challenge for the group since it’s a mixture of physical and intellectual problems to deal with and even Yusuke gets taken out of the picture a bit so others take center stage. And even better in my mind is that Kuwabara becomes a key player in it even though he hasn’t a clue why since he’s so non-powered at this point. What I really liked here though is the introduction of a previous Spirit Detective, something that’s been completely ignored in the overall series mythos, and that has Sensui coming across as a really interesting character with potential and a distinct look as well that really draws you in to see what he’s up to.

In Summary:
There’s a lot to like with this set when you get down to the two main storylines presented here. With the Dark Tournament, we get a solid conclusion and some ramifications from it and some real growth. With the follow up story, it shows us the characters in a different light and avoids the tournament aspect, though there are still challenges to be had. It ups the ante from a story involving the competitive nature, with some danger in what the prizes are, to a threat to the very fabric of existence itself and an expansion of how the various realms are and just how powered some of these demons are. The characters are what makes it work though as Yusuke continues to work well, but as much of a focus as he is, it’s still an ensemble cast. This set lets everyone shine in different ways and has some neat ties between the cast and the two arcs that unfold here. It reminds me why I enjoy this series even when it works things like too much tournament material. And I continue to love that Funimation revisits this series and tries to find new ways to expose fans to it, such as these gorgeous steelbooks with the original artwork gracing the entire run.

Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing

Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: A
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-

Released By: Funimation
Release Date: January 7th, 2020
MSRP: $49.98
Running Time: 7000 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Review Equipment:
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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