By circumstance, I opted to watch this episode with a random friend who’d never even heard of YU YU HAKUSHO before. I had some curiosity to see how he might react to a random episode when he hadn’t seen any of the 55 episodes that came before it. Unfortunately for the purposes of this column, the dude was actually able to pick up on the gist pretty quickly, with no amusing gaps of misunderstanding that make for a funny anecdote.
(Well, he did ask me what was up with Koenma’s pacifier, but that wasn’t as much a surprise, because I still don’t get why they’re still going with that gag.)
His most salient reaction? He was cringing over the gauntlet of limb-exploding punishment that Kurama’s put through in this fight. “Whoa, this is a violent show,” being his precise utterance on the subject. I suppose I’ve become numb to all that brutality over the course of these two seasons, because I’d lost sight of that fact a long time ago. It is actually a little surprising to see how much meanness this show was able to get away with, even while it was a regular block on Toonami.
Getting a little more perspective on it, I’ve always enjoyed how this show was something like the Pepsi to DRAGONBALL Z’s Coke. Or the Coke to its Pepsi - - whichever your prefer. There are plenty of similarities in tone, and DBZ’s certainly the more successful of the two, but it feels like the meaner alternative, for sure. If DBZ traces its inspiration from the whimsy of the first DRAGON BALL manga, then feels like its roots are in the imagination of some particularly knucklehead delinquent. Almost like if Dennis the Menace (the British one,) started getting into occultism when he got to high school.
Does that sound about right?
Look up this episode, "Yoko's Magic" and decide for yourself, then read my comments on the previous episode here.