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YU YU HAKUSHO #52 -- Watch & Learn

Look at this evil bastard. Look at him.

It’s hard not to call a plot twist when the title goes on and spells it out. I was still thoroughly surprised by this episode, though, because there’s another twist that even the savviest genre fan couldn’t have called. True, they did let the cat out of the bag (as it were) about Genkai and Toguro’s past relationship in the previous episode, but actually seeing it explicated here is a whole other, head-spinning matter.

Of all the comparisons I’ve drawn between this show and the pop cultural traditions of things like video games and pro wrestling, it’s a legitimate trip to see it handle a “revelation of love lost” like this with the visual vocabulary of a kung fu flick. You’re getting the familiar reveal of there being history between the mentor and the bad guy, only this time, they happened to be hooking up, as well.

And I do emphasize the “visual vocabulary” of a kung fu flick, because this was another episode where you can tell the animators were excited about the material and wanted to make the storytelling more impressive than usual. There’s rack-focusing, cross-dissolving, some pretty inventive use of the multi-plane and a whole host of other tricks to make this toon look more filmic - - specifically 70’s chop socky filmic. Believe it or not, there's some style to senseless fighting.

I honestly wasn’t that impressed with Toguro when he first showed up in that rescue mission arc. Now that the show’s steadily piled up a little more mythology behind his grotesque muscles and evil designer shades, I’m really starting to appreciate the dude’s villainy in the ever-elusive “love to hate him” way. Hell, even as I’m hating his guts after Genkai’s murder, I was actually rooting for him a little when he backhands Yusuke through a couple dozen trees. That's a proper heel, now.

Look up this episode, "The Death of Genkai" 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

AgentJon April 27, 2012 at 10:19 a.m.

Yeah, with the title card... Why in the world would the production team call the episode that?

Top8caton April 27, 2012 at 12:01 p.m.

I would assume that want the viewer to focus more on the subtleties and plot then just Genkai kicking the bucket...thats just my guess at least

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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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