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YU YU HAKUSHO #17 -- Watch & Learn

They really don't make 'em like they used to.

Every time I see this guy, I think Gohan's discolored his clothes in the wash.
Every time I see this guy, I think Gohan's discolored his clothes in the wash.

Silly Kuwabara. If there’s no body in sight - - if the big cat man doesn’t explode into a confetti of bones and guts - - then nobody’s dead. Of course, when you’ve essentially got Biff Tannen fighting the evilest spirits of the netherworld, you can’t really expect him to be comprehending the bigger picture.

What’s funny about watching this show now is that I’m seeing something that’s usually only viewed today through rose-tinted glasses. As it’s my first time seeing it, though, I’m not wearing such a choice in eye ware. So I don’t have any of that ever-so-distorting nostalgia for my teens which I really felt elevated shows like TRIGUN and UTENA onto lofty pedestals that weren’t quite warranted. Despite that, I’m finding that YU YU HAKUSHO definitely holds up, and I’m not entirely sure why I’m liking it so much more than the current crop of shonen.

Is it because this show comes from a purer era? From a time before this genre got too organized in its own conventions? Most times, such terms are uttered by fans of a niche who just haven’t ever gotten over what they enjoyed in middle or high school. Like I said, I have no such bias, and I’m continually impressed by how even the animation - - while still noticeably dated - - looks better than most cartoons you see stateside today. When it takes shortcuts in the rendering, those shortcuts still look better than the shortcuts taken, now.

I’m sure you lunatics must have a wealth of opinions about this. What does the difference come down to? Were animators more disciplined back then? Or did they simply work on less-reasonable and even-more-grueling production schedules? I feel like I’m grasping at something here, but I need some guidance to get a firm hold. Enlighten me!

Look up this episode, "Byakko's Lair" 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

shiro11on Jan. 13, 2012 at 6:27 a.m.

cel animation compared to digital maybe?

AgentJon Jan. 13, 2012 at 11:56 a.m.

The animation studio is Studio Pierrot (the same creators of Naruto and Bleach) and while they've always been well-regarded, I think they simply have too much on their plates now.

I took a quick skim of their Wikipedia page just now, and during Yu Yu Hakusho's run (1992-1995) it was one of only two projects they worked on in those four years. They had wrapped up two other projects the year it started and were able to focus entirely on Yu Yu until 1994, when they had a 50-episode show that ended a few weeks after Yu Yu.

These days, Pierrot not only has the two biggest names in anime to produce EVERY WEEK, but they also animate Beezlebub (who knows how long that run will be) EVERY WEEK and have frequently put out other shows alongside those two or three. That's not even including the Bleach and Naruto movies, which are seemingly semi-annual.

I was lucky enough to visit the studio in question a few years ago when I visited Japan (or at least, their MAIN studio), and it seemed then that they simply had too much on their hands. They can't spend the time on one individual show, one individual frame, that they used to. They may have a bigger staff, but that larger staff (I would wager) has fewer true artists than they did back in the Yu Yu days.

Maajinon Jan. 13, 2012 at 6:10 p.m.

Thank you for these, Tom!

It makes me really happy to see that my favorite shonen series is not my favorite just because I grew with it. And if my own opinion about the quality of the arcs mirrors yours, it gets so much better from where you are right now.

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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