It’s at moments like this that I develop such a swelling gratitude for kind people with the good sense to episodes off with quick recaps. Christmas break was only a couple weeks. but I had the damnedst trouble trying to remember where Yusuke and his gang of hooligans, demons and animal spirits were when I last watched me some YU YU HAKUSHO. Thanks to the recap, the re-acquaintance period was as brief as a gasp and as smooth as a whisper.
One thing I didn’t forget, of course, was how this show’s so endearingly plotted like a video game - - a fact reaffirmed by the happenings in this episode. If packing no less than two mini-boss battles into 22 minutes wasn’t enough to verify that, they even went so far as to include a vulnerable spot that pulses and glows at a rate commiserate to inflicted damage. Toss in the fact that these saints’ lair looks like a lost dungeon of CASTLEVANIA and that the titular Genbu looks like a jacked-up rogue Pokemon (with a caption to properly introduce him, no less,) and I felt an overwhelming reflex to grope for an instruction manual.
Not that I’m objecting to any of this. As I’ve said, many times there’s a simple enjoyment to be found in the procedural quality to a “fight” show like this. More importantly, the team’s adhering to some disciplines of storytelling that bring out some serious tension and suspense out of even the most seemingly-straightforward scenario. I knew Hiei would have to stay with Yusuke’s crew (lest the intro’s promise be broken,) but I nevertheless believed, during that key and crucial moment, that he might actually betray everybody to that eye monster. If anything, this show’s continued to be a demonstration in how complexity can be all well and good, but it still always comes down to the telling of a story.
Look up this episode, "Genbu, the Stone Beast" and decide for yourself, then read my comments on the previous episode here.