Netflix has finally broken the live-action anime curse this year with One Piece, and it is looking to do so again with the live-action Yu Yu Hakusho series. This new series is based on the beloved 90s manga/anime by Yoshihiro Togashi and is particularly exciting for Filipino anime fans. After all, many 90s kids grew up watching Ghost Fighter on Philippine TV.
Unlike One Piece which was a global effort, the Yu Yu Hakusho series from Netflix is mainly a Japanese production, though this makes sense considering that the anime is set in Japan. Another key difference is the length. Instead of being around 8-10 episodes, Yu Yu Hakusho is only five episodes long.
So, did Netflix pull off another excellent live-action anime adaptation? Well, this new series is definitely a fun and entertaining watch despite one key issue.
Yu Yu Hakusho on Fast Forward
If you’ve seen trailers for the show, chances are that you know that the fan-favorite villain Younger Toguro appears in this series. Given that the show only has five episodes, you may be wondering how the show pulls off its introduction in just a short time.
Well, without getting into spoiler territory, the series moves like it’s on fast-forward story-wise. That’s not to say that this is an entirely unfaithful adaptation. If anything, many moments in the live-action series should be familiar to long-time fans. It’s just that they happen much faster than expected.
For fans who want a more faithful adaptation that takes its time to set things up, they might get disappointed. Moreover, the fact that things flow incredibly fast means some of the character moments don’t land as strongly.
Still, the story isn’t bad. As someone who loves the original anime, it feels to me that the creators of this live-action series have a lot of love for the OG anime/manga as well. It’s not like there are Cowboy Bebop-level changes here which fans had a lot of problems with.
The show also works despite the fast pace because the characters are all portrayed well in both the story and thanks to the performances of the cast.
Team Urameshi Comes to Life, to Mostly Good Results
Yes, this series is still a faithful adaptation, at least when it comes to the characters. Aside from Team Urameshi (Yusuke, Kuwabara, Kurama, and Hiei), many beloved supporting characters are also here. These include the likes of Genkai, Botan, Koenma, and Keiko. Plus, iconic villains like Younger Toguro and his team are here.
The transition to live-action is often rough for characters. After all, it’s tough for any actor to portray a beloved anime character. Thankfully, the show’s cast does a great job bringing the Yu Yu Hakusho characters to life.
Pretty much everyone in the cast does a great job here in my opinion, including Yusuke and his teammates. I was even surprised by Younger Toguro which was brought to life quite well by his actor. This was a pleasant surprise as portraying Toguro is arguably the biggest challenge here, especially given how iconic he is.
For me though, the highlights of the cast were Kuwabara and Keiko. Kuwabara was portrayed incredibly well by his actor as he had many of my favorite moments from the series. Keiko was also given more to do here which is great as it adds an extra dimension to the show.
I’d also like to highlight Yusuke and Botan which was a combo I loved watching in the anime. In live-action, these two characters were also great to watch, though I wished we had more moments between the two.
Even though I wished there were more character moments, what the show definitely had a lot of were dynamic action sequences. These are no doubt the highlights of the series that make the series a must-see.
Excellent Action Scenes Make it a Must-Watch
The original Yu Yu Hakusho had a lot of memorable fights, though it’s fair to say that the fight scenes in the anime weren’t the most dynamic. This makes sense considering the limitations of TV anime at the time.
But with Netflix’s live-action series, Yu Yu Hakusho features lots of excellent action scenes that give viewers a lot of eye candy to delight in.
Again, I don’t want to spoil anything here, but I can say that the fights were well directed as the moves were easy to follow. The fights also have surprisingly good CGI, probably meaning that Netflix poured quite a bit of budget here. In fact, instead of a cheap-looking anime live-action adaptation, this series’ production value is closer to something like Alice in Borderland.
If I were to take a guess, the short episode length may have been made so that more care (and budget) could be put into the fight scenes. I’m not sure if everyone will love this decision, but I can say that because of the fights, this series offers an entertaining ride.
Finally, even outside of the fight scenes, this series looks impressive visually. The series’ sets and effects are top-tier for a Netflix series.
Yu Yu Hakusho Live-Action: Final Verdict
Thanks to great acting from its cast, great visuals, and excellent action scenes, the Netflix Yu Yu Hakusho live-action series offers an entertaining time for long-time series fans and those who are new to the series.
Of course, the incredibly short length of the series means the story can flow a bit too fast, not to mention that some of the character moments don’t land as strongly because of the fast pace.
Still, if you approach this as a fun action series, or as a Yu Yu Hakusho tribute (kind of like a Greatest Hits album), you’ll be rewarded with a show that’s a nice binge-watching option for the weekend.