With a turkey dinner and a cancelled flight or two behind me, I’m finally, actually back to catch up on these shows that ended however many years ago. I figure another “double whammy” is due today to make up for lost time, and while I’m juxtaposing the two shows like this, it’s hard not to compare and contrast. They’re totally different stories, of course, so there aren’t as many worthwhile discussion points to be found in comparing plots as there are in contrasting technique.
This is to say that, while I’m enjoying both series, I think YU YU HAKUSHO’s doing a better job of telling its story so far. The scope of its spooky sitcom shenanigans (seriously, this feels almost like RANMA ½ with ghost-hopping instead of gender-swapping) certainly isn’t as awesome as EUREKA SEVEN’s aerial mecha battles, but it’s been able to elicit much thicker suspense from it. As silly as sounds, simply dropping the sound out for twenty seconds while Keiko was rushing home to kiss Yusuke back to life added some genuine tension to this smaller-scale business.
This episode of EUREKA actually was an “up” one, but HAKUSHO’s found out how to keep its stakes high with each installment, either by threatening Yusuke with some terrible fate or by dangling the possibility of a drastic change in the premise. I thought they might’ve actually gotten past Yusuke’s quest to escape the afterlife last episode, but it looks like my guess was actually only just a little bit off.
Is this a worthwhile switchback turn? My first thought is that it cuts through a big chunk of superfluous back-and-forth and jumps right into all the rad ghost fighting stuff promised in the intro. I could easily picture an overly-long arc where Yusuke’s has to repeat the same challenge, over and over again, by collecting all the items the lil’ guy told him he’d have to gather. Along the way, we’d be teased, over and over again, about him possibly regaining his life. It could very easily beat around the bush.
On the other hand, the solving of this particular problem does feel like it came a lot quicker than I was maybe even ready for. It is a little perplexing to invest a whole episode to set up a long journey into the spirit world and a series of trials that are then tied up with our hero throwing an egg. Yusuke’s proving that he’s learned his lesson much sooner than anticipated does seem like some clever “third option” in the vein of Kirk "honorably cheating" to win the Kobyahis Maru test in STAR TREK… but I still think they could’ve rode it a little longer.
Now, about EUREKA… it just wouldn’t be an anime without at least one instance of borderline-inappropriate sexual tension between a plucky teen and his young adult minder. At least Renton and Talho are addressing it aloud. That’s at least healthier than how Shinji and Misato handled it in EVA.
Believe it or not, this was another solid character development episode for the show. Talho’s “bullying” of Renton actually winds up seeming sympathetic when she admits to doing it because Gekkostate’s men are ignoring her. And that, in turn, sets us up for a tidy sense of closure when we get to the reveal of who actually bought John Henry bracelet (or whatever it was.) I’m still enjoying how Gekkostate’s basically a bunch of kids trying to figure out what they’re doing as they go along (something I’m also trying to do, since the show hasn’t explained much of anything yet.) It’s almost like Renton’s some plucky junior intern on the set of an old school MTV show or something.
Watch this episode, "Vivid Bit” here and decide for yourself, then read my comments on the previous episode here.