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YU YU HAKUSHO #51 -- Watch & Learn

These two were a couple once?!?!

Wait, what? Genkai and Toguro were an item? Is that they’re hinting ever-so-gingerly in these flashbacks? That’s hilarious. It’s like finding out that your bitchy supervisor’s been hooking up with that asshole in human resources. And it gives a whole new undercurrent to this long-protracted feud (although she’s obviously going to be biting it next episode before they can ever explore all the hilarious permutations of awkward/bitter sexual tension between these two.)

Now that I’ve been made to look at this crotchety mentor and arch-nemesis in a much different light, I also ought to say it was funny to realize how and why I was looking at the losing team in this episode from a different angle, too. See, it doesn’t matter how you feel about combatants when they’re outside a fight. Whenever you put them inside a fight, you’re always going to be rooting for one side. There's, like, a science to it.

So, in this case, I was wincing about all the brutal humiliations leveled by Team Toguro upon the stink hadoken guy's team, even while I was keenly aware that I’d be shrieking for them to get squashed by Team Urameshi if they ever fought. An honorable bow’s due to the deceptively-simply plotting of this show, since it’s shown some real shrewd understanding of how to manipulate your sympathies.

On another note, watching the trio of fighters Old Toguro kills use their chi and “strobbing attacks" so matter-of-factly once again made me suspect that much of J-pop-culture must be drawing from some common, and specific, wellspring of inspiration.

I actually just found out that Ryu from STREET FIGHTER was based on the real life crazy karateka, Mas Oyama, who’d train in the mountains in seclusion for years, kill bulls with single punches and train in 100 man sparring sessions. His life was dramatized (and seriously embellished) in the 70’s in a manga called KARATE FANTATIC, and I’m thinking it must have influenced a whole generation of Japanese creators, since I’m noticing big parallels in big Mas' training methods and Yusuke’s.

Any of you more learned lunatics care to enlighten me further, here?

Look up this episode, "Arch-Rivals" 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

zaldaron April 27, 2012 at 12:08 a.m.

Chi and chi attacks are certainly part of Japanese culture...I don't THINK it ever went beyond the realm of folklore, but Karate and such does involve a lot of yelling...

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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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