As previously discussed, I’m picking YU YU HAKUSHO for one last go that'll take me to the end of the “Dark Tournament” saga. At this point, I can’t help but think about that one line from ALIEN3 and say that I’ve been covering this show for so long, I can hardly remember a time when I wasn’t covering it.
A nicer way of phrasing that is to say it’s good to be back, because the characters feel like old pals I’m finally getting to hang out with after one party or the other was on vacation. I’ve never been much a stickler for plot summary in these write-ups, so I’ll instead go on a little tangent to make my point more effectively.
Recently, I met a comics artist at a party who’d just recently come back from an extended sojourn in Japan where he tried to become the (possibly) first and only American creator to make his way in the manga business. He had a lot of interesting insights to offer (mainly about how the infamous production schedules of mangaka actually work out) but the most salient was his take on the secret of manga’s success. By his testimony, he was told again and again that character is of utmost importance in a comic. Not themes, not messages, not tones, not storytelling techniques… character.
Whether or not simple human interest is enough to make a story worthwhile is a topic for a much longer discussion. However, the simple point of his experience means that if you’re going to tell an extended serial - - like YU YU HAKUSHO - - then it’s really all a matter of crafting personalities that readers basically just want to hang out with every episode.
With that in my mind, I have a better understanding of why this show works, and why it continues to hold viewer’s imaginations. There’s not much of a mythos, there are no profound statements being made, and the combat isn’t even that innovative… but that’s all really irrelevant. All that matters is that this show does make you root for Team Urameshi while they're kicking ass, and whimper when they're getting their asses kicked... and it does feel like you’re hanging out with some friends after a vacation.
Look up this episode, "The Beginning of the End" and decide for yourself, then read my comments on the previous episode here.