WARNING: Contains spoilers to Season 1.
In reviewing the first collection of Yu Yu Hakusho, I commented that the series is very much a battle anime with some added supernatural elements added into the mix. The battle element is very much the focus of this second collection, as it is entirely taken up by a fighting tournament story, which is not concluded by the time the collection ends.
The series continues with the “Dark Tournament”, a contest normally between different yokai to determine who is the strongest of all. However, Spirit Realm Detective Yusuke Urameshi has entered the tournament alongside his four companions: his classmate Kazuma Kuwabara, their trainer Genkai (albeit wearing a mask, meaning Yusuke is the only one who knows her identity) and their yokai allies who are working off their punishments – plant-manipulating fox yokai Kurama, and the three-eyed Hiei.
Not surprisingly, they are the underdogs, given that almost everyone watching the tournament is a yokai who happily wants to see the humans and the rebellious yokai get killed. The only other individuals rooting for Yusuke’s team are his supernatural boss Koenma, spiritual ferrywoman Botan, Yusuke’s love interest Keiko Yukimura, Kuwabara’s sister Shizuru, and the ice maiden Yukina, who is actually the twin sister of Hiei although he wants to prevent her from finding this out.
As the various battles to the death unfold, Yusuke undergoes his final training with Genkai, while their main rivalry forms against Team Toguro, consisting of (among others) two brothers that Yusuke and the gang have previously fought, but who have such great strength that they were somewhat powerless against them. Now Yusuke wants to take them on again, and the stakes become much greater when we learn that the younger, more violent Toguro brother had a relationship with Genkai dating back fifty years ago. This results in Genkai and Toguro having their own private fight outside of the tournament, leading to dire consequences for all concerned.
As mentioned, just about all of this collection is a series of various battles, and as a result this bunch of episodes does feel a tad monotonous at times. There are occasionally some moments of significant plot development however, such as Genkai giving Yusuke his final trial, and Kurama being able to build up his strength to release his true fox-like self. There are other moments of interest too in some of the battles. Having already fought someone who uses yo-yos as weapons, which is something later used by Killua in Hunter x Hunter, both series being made by Yoshihiro Togashi, another fighter is revealed to be a clown who uses playing cards as weapons, who feels like an early draft of Hisoka.
There are some problems with production in this collection from Funimation. Once again, there is a fourth disc in this collection which contains a single 13-minute extra about the design of the series. You also get textless opening and closing themes. The opening is the same as before, “Smile Bomb” by Matsuko Mawatari, while the ending is a new piece, “Sayonara bye bye” by the same performer.
However, the worst issue is the titles given to some of the episodes. I will remove the most offending part myself, but I will say that Episode 52 in the collection is called: “The Death of [SPOILER]”. That’s like giving Jane Eyre the title The First Mrs. Rochester is in the Attic. The Japanese title is a little less spoiler-filled, going with: “[SPOILER] Falls!” leaving the manner of the exact “fall” open to interpretation as it doesn’t necessarily imply death, just a loss, but the title cannot be avoided if are watching it.
This collection ends with the opening rounds of the Dark Tournaments Grand Final, so hopefully we will be able to move onto some fresh content in the third collection.