Yu Yu Hakusho Complete Season 4 finds Yusuke and his band of misfits return in this final collection of episodes with a mixture of success.
Picking up from where the previous release finished up, Yusuke, Kuwabara, Hiei and Kurama continue their downward spiral against Seishiro’s array of allies to halt him in his quest to open up a doorway between the demon realm and the human realm. Following hearty defeats, the battle transcends the confines of the enemy hideout and climaxes in a dramatic battle in said demon realm with Dragon Ball Z-scale battles before concluding the Seishiro arc.
But there’s more – in the final arc, a trio of great powers in the demon realm are on the cusp of war and it’s up to Yusuke, Hiei and Kurama to investigate and conclude the proceedings, and by extension, Yu Yu Hakusho’s TV run.
Yu Yu Hakusho Complete Season 4 is clearly an amalgam of series’, with the split in content more a reflection on coordinating physical media rather than consolidating story arcs. It was very much the same with Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3, so it’s probably not worth going over too much. The result is a different pace as far as the physical package goes as you’re thrust straight into the Seishiro arc when you load up the first disc, but given Yu Yu Hakusho’s penchant for shounen anime battle chatter it’s not terribly disorienting.
Seeing the series conclude is a little conflicting. While the Seishiro arc’s conclusion has a few nice twists, its drop into Dragon Ball Z territory felt a little uninspired but there’s only so much escalation you can do I guess. Seishiro’s battle armour looked a bit naff too.
The final episodes for the Seishiro arc provided a nice coda before the final arc kicked in. While it had an interesting start it ultimately suffered from predictable padding and the characterisations of Yusuke and Kurama felt a little cold and without the energy I would have normally expected. Maybe it was the impact of Kuwabara getting very little screentime that reflected this change, but the initial setup felt like it took a little too long at times. The standout was the deep dive into Hiei’s past though which was really good.
The fact that we get yet another tournament arc in the final part of the series was probably the biggest issue. While it suits the narrative, after going through a massive tournament arc earlier it felt like treading ground that was way too familiar with characters that didn’t really add much to the broader story.
In short it felt a little tired, though in practice we did get some interesting battles towards the end of this part of the series. To its credit though, the final episode does a good job wrapping up a number of loose ends and features lots of Kuwabara which was great.
Reflecting on the entirety of Yu Yu Hakusho, I’ve really enjoyed the journey. While it could do with some judicious editing, the pacing and story arcs line up with typical shounen anime archetypes so it’s not like it did anything bad, but the focus on drawn-out, chitter-chatter fights and tournaments didn’t give the characters as much time to shine in more lightweight slice of life stuff. Yusuke’s role as a Spirit Detective was something of a missed opportunity I feel, but if you float it too hard that way you’re also likely to get a lot of filler episodes with no real focus on character development I guess.
Still, taken on the whole the core cast are great, and I really enjoyed the extra time we got with Koenma throughout this set (Jorge was good fun too!). The fluctuating animation quality was actually extremely charming, with the budget funding some spectacularly good fighting sequences. It’s very much a product of its time, and while some stuff has very much dated over the last 25 years, it was always incredibly earnest with a sense of energy that encouraged you to stick with the filler.
If you’ve made it through the third set there’s plenty here to make it worthwhile to sit through and see what Yusuke and co get up to.
For Yu Yu Hakusho Complete Season 4 we get a similar, solid result to the previous collections. The HD transfer is nice but suffers from some over-excited noise reduction at times and it’s frustrating that there’s still no Japanese ops/eds and the only credits relate to the work Funimation did on the release. In saying this I don’t want to disparage the work and effort that went into bringing Yu Yu Hakusho to the West, but in a world where seamless branching can flip between original Japanese or English video streams for the ops/eds it’s disappointing we can’t enjoy this in its original version. We do get some extra bonuses in this release though – for fans of the dub there’s a number of commentaries on the final disc and creditless ops/eds.
Yu Yu Hakusho Complete Season 4 is a decent send-off given the large episode count. While part of me wonders if there could have been more done with the show’s Spirit Detective angle rather than it’s constant fall into tournament-style fighting confrontation, on the whole this has proved to be a really fun series that ultimately wins on the strength of its characters rather than a world-shattering story. If you’ve made it through the previous seasons this is a worthwhile addition to your viewing habits.
A review copy was provided by Madman Entertainment to the author for the purpose of this review.