Cruelty and Class in Yu Yu Hakusho

Another trip back home, and another trip back to my old manga collection. When it comes to situations like this, I know I’ll get some analysis out of it, but I’m never quite sure what it will be. This time I was especially surprised, and I guess I can blame our very own Stinekey for that. A while ago, she wrote a very well thought out post on perceived poverty in geek media using Harry Potter as a jumping off point. The post has been in my head ever since, looming in the back of my mind as I go about my media consumption, but only now have I reached the point where I think I can bring up another point of discussion.

Sometimes life makes you pick a bad lot.

Sometimes life makes you pick a bad lot.

Poverty and lower socioeconomic situations in general just aren’t really portrayed in media unless it’s used as a prop—most commonly used in cop shows to show just how bad off someone was, or to show the struggle of one person while not at all going over the repercussions and struggles that they’ve faced (just that they’re less well-off than the other characters). Especially in terms of shonen manga, when your characters are going through the motions of gaining greater and greater amounts of power and, in some cases, doing thousands upon millions of dollars in property damage in efforts to save the Earth, bringing up the real-life repercussions of money can be a bit of an unwanted reality check. However, reading through the volumes of one of my all-time favorite series, Yu Yu Hakusho, I discovered that the series does a lot more to bring up the struggle of those in relative poverty than I would have expected it would have; though its approach is much more ‘in your face’ than Rowling’s was—which is refreshingly reflective of the series’s protagonist.

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