Thursday, December 14, 2023

Yu Yu Hakusho - Episode 1

Episode 1
A giant sinkhole linking the human and demon worlds emerges in the middle of the city within the property of rich casino mogul Sakyo (Goro Inagaki). Roundworm monsters fly out and infect random individuals including a driver who ends up running his truck into a pedestrian road. Cocky 17-year-old troublemaker Yusuke Urameshi (Takumi Kitamura) leaps in front of the vehicle without hesitation, saving a little boy before getting dragged to his death. His selfless act is seen as an anomaly by the spirit world, where his spirit guide Botan (Kotone Furukawa) takes him to meet her boss Koenma (Keita Machida), who offers him a deal to give his life back in exchange for being a spirit detective. Initially reluctant, he agrees in order to save his childhood friend Keiko (Sei Shiraishi) who rushes into his burning house to save his newly revived body. He succeeds in his first mission, that of saving a classmate infected with the Roundworm monster, a feat too simple compared to the challenges that lie ahead.

Netflix obviously splurged on this one. We are not talking about the colorful wigs that never really translate well from manga to anime to live action. We are talking about those well-choreographed fight scenes and the VFX. Whether the fight choreography is all practical stunts with a dash of CGI or the exact opposite, we really couldn’t care less because they look so damn awesome. As for the special effects, kudos to the team for the alluring look of the spirit world, not to mention the believable VFX as far as the monsters are concerned, for which we also have to thank the costume and make-up department, perhaps. The first episode is the longest of the five at 55 minutes and succeeds in establishing the premise. How they will squeeze in one or two seasons of the anime in just 5 episodes is anybody’s guess at this point. Best observation yet: whoever is responsible made it a point to pay homage to the original, just like how the opening theme of the anime is playing on the radio of the infected driver’s truck. Sugoi, indeed.

“Long ago, the human world and demon world were connected. Humans who wandered into the demon world fell victim to Yokai, while Yokai crept into the human world to prey on humans. Later on, the spirit world drew a boundary between the two worlds, separating the human world from the demon world. Or at least, that was the plan.”

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