(OWLS Post) Yu Yu Hakusho: Surviving the Dark Tournament

Hello everyone, it’s time for yet another owl’s post. This one is going to be a fun one too. Before that, I should introduce myself for all the possible new comers along the way. My name is Scott and welcome to my little blog called Mechanical Anime Reviews. I don’t always talk about mech series, but that is my favorite genre in anime. I also have Mecha March coming up soon. In regards toward anime genres, I love a lot of a shonen battle anime. I chose one of my favorites in this genre to write about this time. Let’s cover some OWLS business first though.

Since this is an OWLS post, I should mention what OWLS is about. OWLS is an acronym for Otaku Warriors for Liberty and Self Respect. More specifically, we are a group of otaku bloggers who promote acceptance of all individuals regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and disability. We emphasize the importance of respect, kindness, and tolerance to every human being. Each month has a different theme or prompt that each OWLS member handles with a focus on a different show and a different thinking process. It’s honestly a really neat group that more people need to join, even if we are getting more members all the time. Click here to learn more.

The following is this month’s prompt brought to you by the fantastic LynLynsays:

In honor of the 2018 Winter Olympics, this month’s topic will focus on the theme, “Competition” because the Olympics is where athletes from all countries join together to compete in sporting events. Through these events, we see how “competition” brings out the grit, the teamwork, and the competitive spirit within athletes. This month, we will be exploring anime and pop culture media that discusses the good and the bad when it comes to can teach us about ourselves and the world around us.

Yu Yu Hakusho is one big tournament

Yu Yu Hakusho
Watch it on Crunchyroll

Alright everyone, let’s talk about Yu Yu Hakusho Everyone. You have no idea who excited I am to talk about it. I could have talked about this show as a whole, because Yu Yu is a 90’s shonen tournament style anime. Only half of the arcs are official tournament arcs, but other arcs are still one on one style tournament fights. That pretty much leaves all of Yu Yu open for writing about this prompt. What makes the Dark Tournament special compared to the others you might ask? Well for one, it is Yu Yu’s longest arc. For another, all the side character and opponents are more complicated because they have more driving them forward then just being opponents. Yet another thing, our characters go through a more physical and mental transformation in this arc. Did I mention that this arc is insanely well animated for an early 90’s production as well? It’s all crazy.

If you haven’t watched Yu Yu Hakusho before, the following has a ton of spoilers for this show. Turn back now if you don’t want to know anything about this show going in. Everything past this point is your fault in reveals…

The Set Up

yusuke and kuwabara
Yusuke (green) and Kuwabara (blue)

The Dark Tournament began with the arc before it. To rush through it and talk about it’s ending part, our delinquent protagonist named Yusuke Urameshi and his best friend Kuwabara rush through a billionaire’s compound in order to save another person in their group’s sister. So they do all that beating up demons stuff that Yu Yu is famous for, find the sister, but they are left with the billionaire’s body guards the Toguro brothers. They are no match for the Toguros at all, but it looked like Yusuke and Kuwabara found a way to defeat both of them in the end. It turns out that was a scheme for the Toguro’s real boss to get money off of this poor billionaire that just lost everything.

The Toguro Brothers
Kuwa defeats the toguro brothers
Somehow, this defeat thing happens

One day, the elder Toguro showed up in front of Yusuke, threatened Yusuke by showing off more of his strength, and then threatens him and his other friends to take part in what is known as the Dark Tournament, or else everything that they hold dear will be wiped off the face of the Earth (or the demon realm). Enter some quick training arcs and these guys joining in to fight in the Dark Tournament with a mysterious guest that only Yusuke has an idea of who it is. (There needs to be five members in each group after all).

The Tournament Itself

Team Yurameshi
Team Urameshi: Left to Right: Kurama, Masked Fighter, you know that guy, Hiei, and that other guy I mentioned

As you would expect, even with the amount of training that each of our group members go through at the beginning of this arc, our five group members (the humans: Yusuke Urameshi and Kazuma Kuwabara, the demons: Hiei and Kurama, and the short, masked figure who later turns out to be Yusuke’s master Genkai) are still at the short end of the pool. The Toguro group are still leagues beyond their capabilities, but there are some other stronger opponents as well. So what do they have to do? Get stronger. Each match is a set up for our team to grow in power and skill. Stair Stepping you should say. Well, I guess that’s how it works for everyone in Team Yurameshi besides Genkai and Yusuke.

Yusuke and Genkai are special cases. All of that makes sense right, because one of them is the show’s main protagonist and the other one is his master. Genkai is already insanely strong. She’s a master after all. There are a couple clinchers here that add to her intrigue besides being an amazing older woman character. The first one is Genkai has a history with our main villain Toguro and the drama behind that is played out slowly as the tournament goes on. The other one is the transmission of Genkai’s power to Yusuke. Genkai’s power is thrown together in something called a spirit orb and eventually that is transferred over to Yusuke in a very painful fashion. This does lead to Genkai’s death when she faces Toguro outside of the tournament, but those things are going to happen anyway. Especially when it’s an arc about the student over coming the master’s debts by owning up to them himself. It’s a basic part of the heroes journey for the protagonist to lose their sword master along the way.

As you would expect, our group of the most unlikely heroes actually complete their journey. Each one of them, even Genkai, finding themselves as they go. They all were able to defeat greatest foes in their own unique ways and capabilities. There were some losses along the way, but everything else was worth it in the end for them.

The End Results of the Dark Tournament

At the end of the day, what did each of them gain? Abilities and power? Yeah, that’s kind of an obvious one. I mean, our protagonists gained those because they had to. In order to compete against their biggest rivals, they either had to get stronger or lose everything they hold dear. Including their families that have no idea they are fighting right now. I think that the biggest thing they learned was understanding themselves. Our hero crew could only grow abilities by understanding who they are as a person and knowing what they are capable of. By knowing themselves, they know what areas they need to focus on in order to grow as a person and as a fighter.

They also got an understanding of the word friendship along the way. Not only were they able to find out that they can trust each other to do their jobs and grow closer as a team. Yusuke, Kuwabara, Hiei, and Karuma have fought as a time before, but they haven’t going through the same hardships as the Dark Tournament. Let’s not forget about their opponents either. Each of them found someone they could relate to in this tournament on the other side of the pool. This is because their opponents were more then obstacles. They were people with their own personalities and motivations. It’s so wonderful. And you know what? You get to see a lot of their opponents in a later arc. It’s in a minor role, but they are still around. In the end, the hardships for team Urameshi were completely worth it because they all gained more from the Dark Tournament then they could imagine beforehand.

Thank you all for reading this post. If you like this one, please read Irina’s Post that came yesterday and Andrea’s post that comes out tomorrow. Also, if you want to read more then that, please click here to see who is involved with this blog tour.


  1. I never thought I’d read an intelligent article about YYH of all things, but I somehow did with this one. It has been a long time watching that anime. I never thought about character development in that way before.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t know about that, there is so much to say about this show on an intellectual level. It’s a pretty deep show for a battle shonen series.

      I honestly felt like I could keep going, but I had to reign myself in because of personal time limit for these posts.


  2. The Dark Tournament still stands the test of time. Such a great arc with some nice character growth and some real wow moments.

    One small correction: it’s Urameshi, not Yurameshi. His family name is a pun on urameshiya, something ghosts say along the lines of “boo” or “come with me to the other side”.

    Liked by 1 person

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