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YU YU HAKUSHO #16 -- Watch & Learn

Tony the Tiger's evil cousin finally shows his stripes.

I like to believe that&squot;s what "Part of a Balanced Breakfast" looks like in Japanese characters.
I like to believe that's what "Part of a Balanced Breakfast" looks like in Japanese characters.

This show’s intro made some long-in-advance promises, brother. I’ve wondered what Tony the Tiger’s evil, albino cousin’s deal was since the first episode. I even started to suspect he was just a generic monster they cooked up to give some spicy imagery to illustrate the theme song. Not so! Little did I know, I was basically see the first 16 episodes (or more?) boiled down into a two-minute music video.

See for yourself. See and understand…

Kuwabara’s spirit sword is another thing that was teased in that clip way ahead of its actual introduction. While the punk finds some seriously inventive ways to use that weapon in this episode (cat kabobs!) I found it terribly amusing that the crew cared so little about any accusations of it ripping off the light saber that they actually ripped the sound effect straight from STAR WARS. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard an anime pilfer directly from Ben Burtt’s work. I recall M.D.GEIST’s rather blatant theft of the X-Wing's sounds, right off the top of my head, and there are a bunch I’m forgetting at the moment.

Is it homage? Parody? Theft? I’ll leave that up to you.

Once again, I wonder if there’s a lot of allusions I’m missing here, because I think it’s so amusing how this mythos has been so loosely established so far. The Saint beasts and their realm are just sort of taken for granted and, while we do have Yusuke’s near-death experience there to explain his abilities, no explanation’s really been offered for why Kuwabara has these super powers. He just… does.

And that’s fine. Not every fantasy plot needs rolls and rolls of exposition. I just can’t help but smirk when I try - - and fail - - to recall the point where this show segued from simple suburban antics to sprawling gothic heroism.

Look up this episode, "Byakko, the White Tiger" and decide for yourself, then read my comments on the previous episode here.

Tom Pinchuk’s the writer of HYBRID BASTARDS! & UNIMAGINABLE. Order them on Amazon here & here. Follow him on Twitter: @tompinchuk

Vortextkon Jan. 11, 2012 at 8:36 a.m.
It's convoluted, but I think the basic sense is that Kuwabara has powers because he has spiritual awareness and as Genkai explained in her training arcade, it's not about muscle, it's about spirit power. He's always had a lot of "spirit power" without any way to use it until he got the sword. From then on you can kind of think of him as a spirit fountain, more than the sword it's just kind of flowing out of him. Much later when he's walking off a bad beating I think Hiei mentions it in passing that no human could survive that, his body is using his spirit power. So yeah, the force is with him and we just take it for granted that's why he's way better than a human. Cause a writer said so.
Mezmeroon Jan. 11, 2012 at 8:37 a.m.

Nothing quite like having a good old fashion boss rush in a shounen series. I remember having similar issues with the simplicity of Byakko's design but I got over it when I realized that these bosses are cribbing on the iconic four beasts from feng shui. They do the same kind of thing in shows like Fushigi Yugi but it was nowhere near as bad ass as this. My favorite boss rush of all time would be the Trial of 12 Houses from Saint Seiya which features all punches as opposed to spirit powers.

KingSolomonon Jan. 11, 2012 at 3:26 p.m.

Hey Kuwabara is the man! He is one of my favorite anime characters, plus as far as action characters go, I like his sword the best. He really grows into a decent character. Then agian i do have a soft spot the "comic relief" Charactes. And i would consider it a homage, him having a lightsaber and all.

crusader8463on Jan. 11, 2012 at 9:03 p.m.

I loved Kuwabara. Always made me sad that he didn't get to be a bigger role in the later episodes.

Maajinon Jan. 12, 2012 at 2:41 p.m.

Yeah, you've seen most of the spoilers in the opening already. All but one, I think. And this one won't show up until episode 43 or 44, which is pretty bizarre.

Dig Deeper into Yu Yu Hakusho

Yu Yu Hakusho follows the adventures of Yusuke Urameshi, a spirit detective, and his eclectic group of allies as they tackle various cases involving humans, demons, and their worlds.

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