Yu Yu Hakusho
Volume 5 - The Beasts of Maze Castle

Starring (voice - English): Justin Cook, John Burgmeier, Chuck Huber and Christopher Sabat
RRP: 14.99
Certificate: 12
Available 07 August 2005

Yusuke is your average troubled teenage delinquent, always getting into trouble at school and looking like he's going nowhere fast, that is, until he unexpectedly saves the life of a child who is just about to be killed by a car. This is so out of character for him even the spirit world is surprised that he would make such a sacrifice. He is given a chance to live again, but this time as a spirit detective, whose job it is to hunt down demons for return to the underworld...

Yu Yu Hakusho (1992-1995) was a very successful franchise running to one hundred and twenty-two episodes and nineteen volumes of manga as well as a computer game. So, at three episodes a disc this would take a small fortune to complete. Once again the disc contains only three episodes, from sixteen to eighteen. Due to its age the animation is a lot cruder, with simpler backdrops and not as much detail in the character realisation, though character design remains distinctive.

Following on from the previous disc we open up with episode sixteen: Byakko, The White Tiger. The gang is still trapped in the castle having conquered the stone beast, but the fight has cost them. Kurama can no longer fight, which as these things go is a real shame, as a counterattack is launched. Amidst the carnage the castle begins to fall apart, the gang escapes only to find that they have jumped out of the frying pan into a fire called Byakko. The gang face off against this new adversary but do they have the reserves of stamina and courage to survive? Hint: this is episode 16 of 25 in this story arc.

Episode seventeen: Byakko's Lair and what do you know the gang is still holding its own with Kuwabara's spirit sword giving the old beast run for his money. Having initially vanquished his opponent Kuwabra is somewhat despondent to discover that Byakko is far from dead and challenges him to a head to head in what looks a lot like a room stolen from a platform game, strange that.

Episode Eighteen and there are only two Beasts left to defeat. The gang move deeper into the castle until they come to a room full of doors, one through which they discover Seiryu. Before things can kick off an injured Byakko returns only to be finished off by Seiryu - well what's a boy to do in the face of such villainy except kick arse, and blow me down out of nowhere another fight starts. Who would have thought?

Audio remains the same as the previous disc, the usual English or Japanese stereo mixes, with subtitles and the print is clear and bright. Under the extras we find Character Profiles; Textless Opening/Closing; credits and the inevitable name translations.

The story doesn't really improve with age, but then this is a show aimed squarely at kids who like to see the 'fight of the week' type show. It's bright, it's garish and not much deeper than a paddling pool.

Charles Packer

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