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YU YU HAKUSHO #57 -- Watch & Learn

She looks so concerned... because we're nearly at the end!

All right… so I finally managed to get a hold of a copy of the Season 3. That means that, barring any unforeseen complications, we’re on a straight shot to the end of “the Dark Tournament,” at last. No more breaks. No more interruptions. No more substitutions. No remorse. We’re in it to win it, now, brother.

Truth be told, it’s hard to recall the back-and-forth specifics of Hiei’s match here. At this point, the fights are something close to mini-McGuffins. Their particulars don’t matter - - all that matters is that they’re escalating the challenges facing our gallant Team Urameshi. And I figure that’s another part of the show’s brilliance.

Oddly enough, it makes me think of Kurosawa’s classic samurai flick, THE HIDDEN FORTRESS (one of the movies that inspired the first STAR WARS, just so you know.) The likely-apocryphal story goes that Kurosawa would go into his writers’ room every afternoon, cook up a tough situation to put the characters in and then leave the writers alone for a few hours to figure out just how the characters would get out of the predicament. It’d go on like for a few days until, presumably, everybody realized that they’d filled the movie with as many predicaments as it could fit. HIDDEN FORTRESS ended up being a very episodic two-and-a-half hours, so the story at least sounds probable.

I feel like the creative process behind this plot - - be at the manga or anime stage - - had to be something similar. Every victory in the show has always been directly appended with the bad guys revealing some hitherto-unapparent detail that invalidates or disqualifies the win. It’s an effective way to have dozens of episodes of nigh-uninterrupted fighting while still maintaining a near-constant layer of tension on the heroes. There's some subtle method to this macho madness.

Look up this episode, "Beneath Bui's Armor" 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

Top8caton July 5, 2012 at 11:43 a.m.

Great to have you back on the series Tom, looking forward to reading your final thoughts on the Black Tournament

yoshimitz707on July 5, 2012 at 5:36 p.m.

Woo! The only reason I check this site is back!

vergiliuson July 5, 2012 at 9:32 p.m.

A lot of people's favorite part of the show is the Dark Tournament, but I don't really like it. When two characters fight, I always found myself wanting a bit more motivation on both sides. With a tournament structure, the answer to "why are we fighting?" Is almost always "because we're paired this round." Granted YYH does a good job of creating enough tension outside the ring that it kept me watching, but compare this to something like Trigun, for example, in how the fights are contextualized.

In later seasons of YYH, for example, the setup is Team Urameshi is storming a castle, and the bad guys are trying to stop them. Very straightforward, but much more interesting to me than "it's the quarterfinals."

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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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