Locked in a battle to the death against the demon Rando it seems that Yusuke Urushima's life can't get any worse, however, there is an even more dangerous threat on the horizon. A powerful group of demons known as the Four Saint Beasts have hatched a scheme to take over the earth by using demonic insects that can possess human hosts, and Yusuke's home city is the first target! In order to prevent disaster a group must be sent into the demon realm to challenge the beasts, but with Yusuke limited skills and Kuwabara's recent serious injury is there any chance for humanity?
This volume sees the all out action of previous one continue without much of a pause for breath. It seems to be that the series is going to leap from one multi-episode fight to another, and this volume certainly follows that formula as the dangerous Rando is followed by the even more dangerous Saint Beast Genbu. However, as is always the case with these kinds of shows, he will have companions for these trials, and episode 14 brings back previous foes Hiei and Kurama as allies for Yusuke and Kuwabara. So it's predictable, but what matters is if it still has enough variety and strong enough characters to remain entertaining, and the simple answer is that it does.
Whilst you can be pretty much certain that Yusuke is going to win, the way he does is more inventive than the usual 'my fireball's bigger than yours' - for once it's not the winning that counts, it's the taking part. The re-introduction of Hiei and Kurama adds a bit of spice to proceedings too, as you aren't quite sure of Hiei's allegiances, and whilst Kuwabara seems to be taking the role of comic-relief he does provide a nice real-world balance to all the supernatural shenanigans. Simply put, the characters are interesting and have some depth to them. Action-wise this volume is superb, particularly when they really get to grips with Genbu in episode 15, and there is still a smattering of the humour that has made the series so enjoyable so far, but I do have a couple of gripes.
Firstly the emotion that really set the first two volumes of the series apart from the norm is mostly absent once more. Whilst Yusuke's 'will-they-won't-they' love interest Keiko does return, she does so only briefly and is soon relegated to the background. Although it must be said that this doesn't make the volume any less enjoyable it does remove the emotional human aspect that set the series apart from similar shows, and is something I hope makes a return in future volumes. The other problem I have is the reduction in episode count. Yep, this time round we get just three episodes for our money, a real disappointment considering the immense length of the series as a whole.
To be honest the reduction in episodes really affects the value for money of Yu Yu Hakusho vol 4. It is enjoyable and action packed, and there are no other series similar to it currently being released in the UK, but unless you have the cash to spare there are other anime series that are probably more demanding of your attention. If you are hankering after some fast paced supernatural action though you can't really go wrong with this.
A few more than you would normally get from such a long series - a couple of trailers, character profiles and name translations as well as clean opening and ending sequences. The character profiles are not that in depth and are also pretty much the same as the last volume, with only a couple of new ones added. The same is true of the name translations, which are intriguing but will take about a minute to read at most and are largely the same as volume 3. The clean opening and ending sequences have been on the previous three volumes too, which means that despite looking like a lot of material the actual new content in the extras section will take you about three minutes to get through.