With One Piece able to rejuvenate the anticipation of anime fans in live-action series, Yu Yu Hakusho came through with its five live-action episodes. Being one of the most remarkable anime of its era, the live-action should do justice to the animation.
So, what do I think about the 1st season? First of all, kudos for inserting the opening song of the anime in the 1st episode 😉
Plus Point – VFX are Insane!
I was stunned by the quality of the VFX work in this live-action version of Yu Yu Hakusho. They are insane! Out of this world! The flawlessness of every editing is immaculate! Being a yokai anime is not really a simple task to be made into a live-action.
There are so many supernatural powers that if they were not skillfully edited, it would seem so cringy and lame. The same goes for the editing of the fighting scenes and stunts. From how the casts were thrown away and rolled over by a 3-ton lorry. To the blood spurts and burning bodies. OH. MY. GOD. They are surreal!
Thanks to the high quality of CGI and effects editing, the actions in it are perfect. Glueing our eyes on the screen whenever battles took place. Not kidding, I even thought I could enjoy my dinner while watching, oh I was such an idiot. I ended up letting my rice go cold that night.
I wouldn’t dare to guess the budget used by Netflix for this anime adaptation.
Minus Point – Shallow Emotions
To expect a live-action adaptation to cover every detail in the anime is absurd. While an anime is extensively written by a creator based on his/her imagination, a live-action has its limit, which is budget.
So, people will be very much forgiving on the cuts of unimportant scenes.
I am honestly disappointed with the ambience of the series. I get it that they only took the important scenes like how Yusuke is a delinquent but an angel at heart. How his death is considered a loss while he thought he was not loved. How he cherishes every friend that he has, and of course, his fighting abilities.
But frankly speaking, I don’t feel anything at all. The emotions of every scene are so shallow that you cannot grasp the feeling at all before the next scene jumps in.
For instance, in episode 1, we should be crying on the scene of Yusuke’s body in the coffin during the wake in his house. Especially during Kuwabara’s scene, crying in rage is what triggered people to love him and Yusuke’s friendship in the anime but it was not portrayed correctly in the live adaptation. Instead, it looked like a passing joke. It makes me wonder how the director approved of such a shallow scene.
Another scene is when Keiko is crying after the death of Yusuke and he wipes her tears off in his yokai form. How could an originally very heartbreaking scene, become a very cringy and lame scene? I am more in despair about the emotionless anime adaptation than Yusuke’s mother is in despair about her son’s death.
Minus Point – Awkward Actings
Apart from the four main characters, Koenma and the Toguro brothers, other casts are awkward with their acting and lines. Heck, even Yusuke is awkward sometimes. He was supposed to be blunt, not cold. That’s what makes Yu Yu Hakusho fun to watch because Yusuke is relatable. Always embarrassed to speak our true feelings, we end up saying something that might hurt people’s feelings.
People might say, “It is understandable since most of the actors had only mostly done anime voice-overs”. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work in live adaptation. The hesitant gestures and body movements are too obvious to be ignored. Making almost every scene other than the fight scenes become cringe. The cute Botan is not cute enough. The shy Yukina? More like emotionless Yukina. The funny Koenma? It’s more like the ridiculous Koenma.
The cast, crews and production team were so focused on perfecting the fighting scenes and special effects that they ignored the plot delivery. It results in boring and awkward episodes after the 2nd episode. One Piece may lack action impact, but it still has them alongside the emotional scenes. But Yu Yu Hakusho only has the actions.
The Stylists & Artists Could Do Better
Classic anime in the 90’s is known for its colour-coordinated characters. Hence you see each character is appointed to a colour. Yusuke is green, Kuwabara is blue. Kurama is red (and white), and Hiei is black. But it won’t work if the setting of the 90’s was not stressed on since the beginning. You won’t realise that they are in the 90s if I didn’t tell you that.
To top it off, what is with the styling? Especially the hairstyles? Kurama was THE Kurama – a 2D boy crush to a lot of people back then. Kuwabara was the delinquent with a scary look but a good heart. But in the live-action series, it seems the opposite.
Kuwabara stole all of the attention based on visuals alone. Meanwhile, Kurama has the tackiest red hair, especially when it is made into a ponytail, the hair looks so static. Hiei was supposed to be the bad boy (but actually a loving brother) but he looked like a zombie instead.
All in all, the visuals and stylings of the live adaptation did not do justice to the anime characters at all.
Director Shô Tsukikawa did very well on the action sequence and fight choreography. The CGI and special effects deserve standing ovations. I can only see better and better fighting scenes in the next season.
Is it too early for me to be furious about the other outcomes? It’s only the first season. No. People should be furious. We don’t want the second season to be this awkward as well.
Last but not least, I rate Netflix’s Yu Yu Hakusho 5/10, with 5 being the score for the actions and VFX.
I am afraid to wait for the second season now. It’s better to not have hope. Until then, MATA NEE~
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