Monday, January 19, 2015

Thank you for waking me up

Yu Yu Hakusho: Ghost Files is a Japanese anime that ran long ago in the early 1990s. The original manga it was adapted from was written by Yoshihiro Togashi and next to Dragon Ball is probably the most influential manga from that era.

For me, it is one of my favorite shows out of Japan. Though those of us in North America only got it a decade later, most of us saw past the fact that it was a decade old show (as the way it should be) and saw the material for what it was. A clever action adventure show with a focus on good against evil. Something that even Japan is having problems putting out these days.

The story starts as our hero, Yusuke Uremeshi is killed in a car accident. He dives in front of a speeding car to save a boy from being struck and in doing so dies an uncharacteristically heroic death. You see, everyone had written Yusuke off as a trouble-making punk with no love or passion for life. But something inside him made him do the unexpected, and it confuses pretty much everybody, including the bureaucrats who run the border between life and death. You see, the Spirit World is run by those who wish to help guide along the souls in the living world from point A to B in their lives, but in doing so tended to miss the eccentricities that make humans such a complex being.

Because of this, Yusuke wasn't "supposed" to die. Thus, Koenma, the son of the man in charge of the Spirit World finds a way to give Yusuke back the life he sacrificed.

What happens next is quite the wild ride, and the reason why Yu Yu Hakusho is considered a classic in its genre.

It is only through dying that Yusuke is able to see the world for what it is, and what lies below the surface. Japanese folklore demons are real, and Yusuke must use his new spiritual powers to stop them from wreaking havoc in the real world. At the same time he befriends a couple of these demons who have turned over a new leaf and are far more interested in doing the right thing as opposed to greedily engaging in their own interests. And yet again we meet humans who are not on the right side of the fence, who wish to watch the world burn, demon or not. All this to show that good and evil is far more than skin deep.

But despite the usage of "demons" (again, this is not in the supernatural sense, these are folklore demons from Japanese legend who have abilities of their own) the lines of good and evil are not by race but by the character of those propitiating the acts.

The story is of a coming of age of a teenage boy who sees the full scope of the world for the first time and is determined to make a positive change to save it from those who might have been more like he once was. Those who would prefer to tear it all down. In this way, we have the adventures of Yusuke Uremeshi, the Spirit Detective, the guardian of the balance between the two separate worlds. Where it ends up going is quite the adventure. I'll try to speak about it more in future entries.

Of course, it is an action show. There is a lot of martial arts action, battles of will, and violence. Blood is spilled and some sequences can be a bit much for some viewers, making this more acceptable for older teens and up. By then the themes would be more apparent, as well. Those with a love of the genre should enjoy Yu Yu Hakusho. It is a classic for a well deserved reason.

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