Yu Yu Hakusho: Ghost Files – The Complete First Season (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 24, 2011 by  

The classic old school anime series “Yu Yu Hakusho” receives its Blu-ray release in America and all I can say is if old school anime looks this good on Blu-ray, I want more!  There is a reason why this series and its characters have topped many anime polls in Japan and in other countries… it’s that good!  If you are an old school anime fan or wanting a very fun and enjoyable anime series on Blu-ray, with 28-episodes for the first season release… “Yu Yu Hakusho: Ghost Files – The Complete First Season” is highly recommended

Image courtesy of © Yoshihiro Togashi 1990-1994

TITLE: Yu Yu Hakusho – The Complete First Season

DURATION: Episodes 1-28 (600 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (4×3, HD Native), Dolby TrueHD English 5.1, Dolby TrueHD Japanese 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment


Release Date: May 31, 2011


Original Story by Yoshihiro Togashi

Directed by Noriyuki Abe

Series Composition by Yukiyoshi Ohashi

Script by Hiroshi Hashimoto, Katsuyuki Sumisawa, Shikichi Ohashi, Sukehiro Tomita, Yukiyoshi Ohashi

Music by Yusuke Honma

Character Design by Mari Kitayama, Masaya Onishi, Minoru Yamazawa

Art Director: Shigenori Takada, Yuji Ikeda

Anime Production: Pierrot

Featuring the following voice talent:

Megumi Ogata/Christopher R. Sabat as Kurama

Nobuyuki Hiyama/Chuck Huber as Hiei

Nozomu Sasaki/Darren Pleavin as Yuusuke Urameshi

Shigeru Chiba/John Burgmeier as Kazuma Kuwabara

Hisako Kyouda/Linda Young as Genkai

Katsumi Suzuki/Bill Townsley as Toguro Ani

Mayumi Tanaka/Sean Teague as Koenma

Rokuro Naya/Robert McCollum as Sensui

Sanae Miyuki/Cynthia Cranz as Botan

Tomomichi Nishimura/Kent Williams as Jorge Saotome

Toshiyuki Morikawa/Christopher Bevins as Shishiwaka Maru

Yuri Amano as Keiko Yukimura

Ai Orikasa/Amber Cotton as Koto

Ai Orikasa as Shizuru Kuwabara

Akio Nojima as Inmaki

From cutting classes to brawling in the streets, Yusuke Urameshi is not your typical role model. In fact, this kid’s nothing more than a fourteen-year-old delinquent with a talent for trouble. But in a single selfless act Yusuke dies while saving another. For such noble sacrifice he is given a second chance at life, but it’s to be a life far different than the one left behind. Now a Spirit Detective, the young man must track down demons and humans alike who desire to rule over the three realms of reality.

Before there was “Bleach”, there was “Yu Yu Hakusho”, a popular manga series from 1990-1994 and a TV anime series form 1992-1995 written and illustrated by Yoshihiro Togashi.

In the US. the series was featured on “Shonen Jump” from 2003-2010 and the anime series was shown on the Cartoon Network.  The series has its share of a strong following worldwide as it is one of the few anime series that had been aired completely in Asia and Eastern Europe.

With the anime series, a total of 112 episodes were created, along with two films and several OVA’s but also including soundtracks, video games and other merchandise.

“Yu Yu Hakusho” is one of the most popular Japanese manga series as it has sold over 40 million copies in Japan and also a winner of the prestigious  Shogakukan Manga Award in 1993, also earning the Animage Anime Grand Prix prize for 1994 and 1995.  In 1993, it came second place to the immensely popular “Sailor Moon” series.  Even a decade after its anime debut, in 2001, “Yu Yu Hakusho” was still listed as #53 in Animage’s top 100 anime listing of 2001 and for TV Asahi’s web poll in 2006, was voted #15 as “Best Anime of All time” and the series would eventually become popular in several countries.

While the series has been released on DVD in America, “Yu Yu Hakusho” will now be released in HD for the first time on Blu-ray courtesy of FUNimation Entertainment in May 2011.  All 28 episodes from the first season will be featured on three Blu-ray discs (note: In Japan, episode 26 kicks off season 2).

“Yu Yu Hakusho” focuses on the character Yusuke Urameshi.  Yusuke is literally your street punk.  He has an alcoholic mother, no father and beats up other gang members, as well as missing school often.  But despite his brash attitude, deep inside, Yusuke is a good guy.  And people who believe in him is his childhood friend and classmate, Keiko Yukimura, who wants him to focus on his education and also wants to help him because she likes him.  The other person who wants to help him is Kazuma Kuwabara, also a street punk who has set a goal to one day beat Yusuke but usually, Kazuma is the person who ends up getting beaten  up.

But one day, as Yusuke leaves his high school, he sees a kid playing with a ball near the street.  Yusuke tells him to not play that ball because it’s dangerous and that he can end up getting killed if he plays ball in busy traffic.  And as the boy thinks that Yusuke is just wanting to play with him, the boy doesn’t listen to Yusuke’s warning and ends up kicking the ball towards the street and tries to get the ball during incoming traffic.

Seeing this, Yusuke saves the boy but ends up being hit by the car and getting killed.  Next thing you know, Yusuke is in the spirit world, floating around and watching people and seeing how they react to his dead body, but also getting to see people who actually, genuinely miss him.

Yusuke is suddenly approached by the grim reaper, Botan who is shocked that Yusuke is in the spirit world because his death was not supposed to happen.  So, there were no current plans to have him in Heaven or Hell.  But Koenma, the son of the spirit realm ruler King Enma tells Yusuke that because he was not destined to go to either Heaven or Hell, he has a chance to earn the right to be revived and return back home.  In fact, back on Earth, both Yusuke’s mother and Keiko realize that something is surprising in the fact that Yusuke is warm and not showing signs that he is actually dead, which gives the two hope that Yusuke may be alive.

But Yusuke learns that with good decisions that are used to help people, he may get a chance at life once again.

But also, being recognized by Koenma that perhaps Yusuke has a special purpose that is to be a spirit detective who can investigate supernatural phenomena in the human world and capture criminals dealing in underworld crime.

And through his adventures as a spirit detective, he will meet friends but also many foes.

The first season of “Yu Yu Hakusho” is broken down to three arcs.  The first arc deals with Yusuke’s death and what is needed to bring him back.  The second arc deals with Yusuke becoming a spirit detective and needing to find three artifacts and take on three demons (two who are Kurama and the other Heiei) and the third arc features Genkai’s fighting tournament.

“Yu Yu Hakusho: Ghost Files – The Complete First Season” focuses on the main characters:

  • Yusuke Urameshi – The main protagonist who was a street punk that is constantly fighting, ditching school and not doing much with his life.  But one day, he is killed when he is struck by a car while trying to save a young child who accidentally walked on to incoming traffic.  The episodes feature Yusuke in the spirit world and giving a second chance at life as a Spirit Detective and growing his powers which includes a Spirit Gun which he can shoot from his right index finger.
  • Kazuma Kuwabara – A person who sees himself as Yusuke’s rival and in some ways, Yusuke is a big inspiration to him because it makes him work harder and makes him become stronger.  He also has a strong sixth sense of detecting spirits and is able to create a spirit sword (which is unpredictable).
  • Kurama – A former fox demon thief who fused with the unborn child of Shiori Minamino and has made him care for humans.  When Yusuke saves him and his mother, he decides to help Yusuke.  He has the power to control plants and a rose.   Also, great at analyzing opponents.
  • Hiei – The son of an Ice Maiden who had sex with a male (Which is forbidden in their society).  He is driven by the thirst to kill those who cast him out to die.  His power is the Evil Eye (which grants him power to hypnotize, use telepathy and remote viewing) and is an expert with a Katana.
  • Keiko Yukimura – Yusuke’s childhood friend who has always cared for him but also tried to push him to put more into his studies.  She likes Yusuke a lot and is jealous when he sees him around Botan.
  • Botan – The grim reaper who takes the souls of the deceased to the underworld.    She is also the person who tries to guide Yusuke and joins him in human form occasionally.
  • Koenma – King Enma Jr., son of spirit realm ruler King Enma, who looks like a toddler with a pacifier in his mouth but he is 700 years old.  He is Yusuke’s boss and the person who hands him cases.
  • Genkai – An elderly woman who is a martial arts expert who takes Yusuke as a student.


“Yu Yu Hakusho: Ghost Files – The Complete First Season” is presented in 1080p High Definition (4:3 HD Native).    It’s important to note that this series is old.  This was not made during a time where anime was created in HD, nor was it created during a time when anime was created digitally.  This series is literally old school and previously to watching this series on Blu-ray, I pulled out my old VHS copy that I recorded from Japanese TV to see how it looked and then to see how it looks on Blu-ray.

And I was floored!

For one, I was expecting not the best considering that this anime series started airing back in 1992 and knowing how “Dragon Ball” and “Dragon Ball Z” looked, I was expecting dust, scratches and even faded colors.  Also, its a TV series, not a film or OVA, so for one, I was not expecting it to look anything like a modern anime series and two, I was not expecting it to see considerable damage.

Well, “Yu Yu Hakusho” had none of that.  The colors were vibrant, there was no massive dust or scratches on the print, if anything, this series looked absolutely awesome on Blu-ray, not bad for a 20-year-old anime series!

Granted, hardcore Blu-ray fans should not expect anything close to modern anime HD series but for those who grew up watching anime a long time ago, especially who have a familiarity with “Yu Yu Hakusho” will be happy to see how awesome this anime series looks on Blu-ray and even be excited to know the unlimited possibilities of hopefully seeing more classic titles on Blu-ray.  If old school anime looks this good on Blu-ray, I can’t wait what’s coming next!


“Yu Yu Hakusho: Ghost Files – The Complete First Season” is presented in Dolby TrueHD English 5.1 and Dolby TrueHD Japanese 2.0.   While, the English lossless soundtrack features more ambient and more punch when it comes to the action sequences and the music soundtrack, the Japanese stereo lossless soundtrack is quite clear and may not have the same punch, but if you have a modern receiver that is capable of playing stereo on all channels, for me, that was my preference.

But I also watched the series with the English dub soundtrack and similar to “Dragon Ball Z” and other anime series, I felt that FUNimation Entertainment did a fine job with casting for this series!   From capturing Yusuke’s bad boy attitude, Kurama’s calm and collected attitude but also Kazuma’s dorkiness, it was well-acted and another TV anime series with very good English dubbing.

Subtitles are in English.


“Yu Yu Hakusho: Ghost Files – The Complete First Season” comes with the following special features:

  • Textless Opening and Ending Themes
  • Trailers – Funimation Entertainment Trailers


“Yu Yu Hakushi: Ghost Files – The Complete First Season” comes with a slip cover case.

I couldn’t stop smiling when I first received “Yu Yu Hakusho” and played it on Blu-ray.  And that is because of three reasons.

One, is the fact that that “Yu Yu Hakusho”, a series that I watched when it first aired in Japan is finally being released in the US ala HD, the second is because the picture quality of this classic anime series was much better than I expected and this leads to third, classic anime series on Blu-ray in the US!

Why is that a big deal for me?  It’s because the potential of seeing classic anime series such as “Sailor Moon” (all versions), “Dragon Ball”, “Urusei Yatsura”, “Rurouni Kenshin”, “Gatchaman”, “Irresponsible Captain Tailor”, “Patlabor”, any classic anime series that was once released in the US, you name it… series from the ’70s up to the ’90s, if these were to be released on Blu-ray and look as good as “Yu Yu Hakusho” does…  this would be the ultimate for old school anime fans.

Granted, it makes it a lot easier for FUNimation Entertainment to release this series on Blu-ray since they had dubbed it and they have aired on Cartoon Network at one time.  But “Yu Yu Hakusho” was for me, what an anime series like “Bleach” is for anime fans today.

Cool characters, protagonist who tend to often get in trouble in school, taking things on in the spirit world and along the way, meeting more characters and just being an all-out enjoyable anime series.  I can easily remember how popular this series was, even remembering going to an anime con back in 1995 and going against some of the anime industry leaders of today (back then, they were just regular otaku) in a video fighting game battle of “Yu Yu Hakusho” ala 3DO in a hotel room.

Back in the early ’90s, “Yu Yu Hakusho” was seen as cool.  Teenagers taking on  evil demons…and it is an interesting juxtaposition if compared to “Bleach”.  While not having as many characters as “Bleach”, the series still managed to be fun and entertaining as it focused on character development, battles and also supernatural topics.

I personally love the fact that FUNimation Entertainment has released this series and while newer anime fans who can’t stand old school anime, especially during the years of hand-drawn anime on cels vs. computerized digital animation, I can only hope that they give this anime series a try.  It’s one heck of a classic that manages to stand the test of time quite well and from when I first watched in my late teens, it’s still was fun to watch in my late ’30s and having watched countless anime series since then.

While the Blu-ray release may not contain any special features, you are getting 28-episodes on three Blu-ray discs for a pretty solid price.  Compare that when this series was released on DVD for the first time in the US and how expensive it was.

“Yu Yu Hakusho” is a character driven series that is easy to follow and if you stick with it on a long run, you’ll find this series to be quite entertaining and fun!  There is a reason why this series and its characters were voted on top of many anime polls in Japan and in other countries, it’s that good!

I can only hope this is the beginning for more classic anime on Blu-ray and I can’t wait for more “Yu Yu Hakusho” to be released on Blu-ray!

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