After a busy week like the one I’ve had (and will continue to have until the week’s actually over), there’s really only one thing I want to do: sleep. However, in lieu of that, I wanted to find some fic that wasn’t overly long, since I doubted I would have been able to devote that much time to it, and something to help me wind down. I’m still not quite sure if I achieved the latter, but the nostalgic little piece of writing I ended up finding more than made up for any stress it happened to cause me.
One of my not-at-all-guilty pleasures is Yu Yu Hakusho. It remains, to this day, one of two anime series I’ve actually bought the entirety of, and the only series over fifty episodes that I would have no qualms about sitting down and marathoning at the drop of a hat. As most fans have come to accept, the final season wasn’t exactly stellar; however, it still gave us a satisfying ending where everyone was happy and easing into their new lives. Rosage’sBehind the Mirror, in that same vein, gives readers a glimpse into life after the series. But instead of focusing on the main four, it gives focus to a character who really deserved it: Yukina.
Watchers actually met Yukina in the first season of the show. From there, she became an easily forgettable side-character who was more “Hiei’s sister” or “Kuwabara’s’ crush” than an actual character of her own, only showing up to lament how she didn’t know who or where her brother was or to cheer on the other characters, and not much else. When the crew first meets her, Yukina is a captive of a terrible human, Tarukane, who tortures her as each tear she produces turns into a valuable gem (as is the way of all ice maidens). Not much is said about this after they free her, but that’s where Behind the Mirror really shines—Yukina gets a chance to cope with the trauma in her life and is not forced to deal with it alone.
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.
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.
At age eleven, I found myself with a case of acute appendicitis. I was hospitalized immediately and set up for same-day surgery within three hours, but just as my surgeon arrived, the Yu Yu Hakusho opening theme drifted through the prep room. Without missing a beat, eleven-year-old me asked, completely in earnest, “can we just wait thirty more minutes? It’s the Dark Tournament arc and this episode is really important!” Given the levity with which I had handled the whole medical emergency up to that point, everyone assumed I was joking. I was not joking.
Yu Yu Hakusho was a stellar fighting anime, following juvenile delinquent Yusuke Urameshi, who gains supernatural powers after being killed and resurrected. He and his mismatched team of human and demon cohorts go on to spend most of their time fighting baddies and after 112 episodes, Yusuke ends up the king of the underworld. It’s not as cool of a job as it sounds.
The 90’s were a simpler time, when everyone was in a boy band.
As a genderqueer person I’m fairly certain that my own experience with slash fanfiction differs somewhat from the norm. Only recently have I begun reflecting on how formative both writing and reading fanfiction was at a time in my life when I felt isolated and frustrated by my own seemingly incongruous feelings. Knowing now that there are a surprising number of people for whom the gender binary doesn’t hold true, I like to think that for some small portion of the fan community fanfiction has been an important tool for self-discovery, as it was for me.
Lycanthropy also serves as a metaphor for the inherent state of physical transition and transformation that is a defining part of puberty. For most able-bodied, non-chronically ill people, puberty is the first time we actively feel out of control of our bodies (potty training notwithstanding). The changes are sudden, violent, bizarre; simple changes in height are nothing compared to the fundamental, irreversible changes to the character and nature of our bodies that happen during puberty. It’s rooted in the same basis that makes all body horror so terrifying—the involuntary changing of and lack of control over the body.
This week, we are going to talk about another oldie-but-goodie, Yu Yu Hakusho. This series follows around Yusuke, a street punk, who gets hit by a car and dies. That’s page one. The rest of the series describes his journey back to life and his new-found supernatural abilities (which come from dying) and how he employs them to fight demons. Over the course of the series, Yusuke makes some friends.
This is an old Shonen Jump series that ended some time ago. If you read the manga, it’s very Katekyo Hitman Reborn: whacky beginning and then a lot of bad-ass fight scenes. For a great portion of time (which I will elaborate on next), the series is excellent. However, by the end, the author, Yoshihiro Togashi, and the editor get into a fight about what’s happening and Togashi decides to just end the series. The result is basically a cop-out. But excluding that, this series is fantastic.
So let’s go over my two favorite characters: Kurama and Hiei. Kurama is a smart boy who is also a fox demon thief turned good guy that specializes in fighting with plants. He’s got two forms: regular hot human guy student mode and fox demon thief mode. Both are awesome. Hiei is also a demon thief turned sort of good guy. Basically, he really doesn’t like people and doesn’t mind killing them. Hiei fights with a katana and uses demonic flames like a boss.
One thing in particular that I like about this series is it does tournament fighting really well. I know that all of us anime fans have read some sort of series that includes some sort of tournament that gets really boring, but the Dark Tournament in Yu Yu Hakusho doesn’t get boring. There is enough going on that the plot still moves and is exciting. Also I believe there is a Scottish guy. That may have only been the dub, but it’s still the only series I can think of that had a Scottish guy.
Along with Rurouni Kenshin, this is one of the series that got me into anime. If you have a really good memory, you might remember that they were on Toonami at the same time and were on back to back (hence I watched both). But this series is a classic; you always see at least one Kurama walking around the anime convention. So as an anime in general, it’s a must see or read (whichever you prefer).