Disney+ Supernatural Action Anime Doesn’t Start Until The Hero Is Already Dead

By Jacob VanGundy | Published

In the modern anime landscape where the isekai genre dominates, it’s not uncommon for a show to start with the death of the protagonist. Back when Yu Yu Hakusho first aired, however, it was a strange and unique premise, and unlike a modern isekai, his death didn’t mean being sent off to another world. Instead, the iconic 90s anime uses its dead protagonist to introduce supernatural elements into a mundane setting. 

Yu Yu Hakusho Is A Classic Anime

Yu Yu Hakusho follows Yusuke, a delinquent troublemaker who heroically dies by leaping into traffic to save a child’s life, his heroic action being enough for him to be granted a chance to prove his virtue by working as a spirit detective. The show follows his adventures as he battles malevolent spirits, teaming up with a growing cast of characters, including his school rival and a pair of demons. Its combination of supernatural action with Yusukue’s mundane life like school problems and his alcoholic mother stands out as unique compared to other action anime

A Supernatural Cast Of Characters

The show brings together a fantastic, diverse cast of memorable characters. Yusuke is a complex protagonist, brash and bold but with a surprisingly sensitive side. He’s joined by other human characters like his love interest Keiko and rival Kuwawbara, as well as supernatural allies like the fox demon Kurama, demonic criminal Hiei, and the guide for dead spirits Botan. 

Part Of Toonami

Yu Yu Hakusho was received well in both Japan and the United States, becoming a hit in both countries. In Japan, it was one of the most popular anime of the 1990s with popularity comparable to iconic shows like Sailor Moon. In the United States, it was part of the wave of anime appearing on Toonami and Adult Swim that helped popularize anime in the United States, airing alongside shows like Cowboy Bebop, Inuyasha, and Rurouni Kenshin. 

Franchise Includes Movies And Video Games

The legacy of Yu Yu Hakusho extends beyond the popularity of the anime and manga itself. Following up on the success of the anime it spawned two different anime movies, soundtrack CDs, and of course plenty of merchandise. It also brought about a wide variety of games from fighting games to tactical RPGs on everything from the PS2 to the original Game Boy. 

Netflix Live-Action Series

One of the highest-profile and most recent adaptations of Yu Yu Hakusho is the recent Netflix live-action version of the show. While many of Netflix’s attempts to adapt anime into live-action shows have been universally reviled, their Yu Yu Hakusho adaptation was received a bit better, getting mixed reactions from fans and critics, with a 78 percent among critics on rotten tomatoes and an 83 percent among fans. This much more positive response is because it was respectful of the original source material and a fairly faithful adaptation. 

An Iconic Must-See Series

Yu Yu Hakusho is one of the most iconic anime of the 90s, with a unique premise and an incredible cast of characters. It’s well worth watching for anime fans, especially for anyone who watched the Netflix adaptation without seeing the original first. It is available on Disney+ through the Hulu section, requiring both subscriptions.