Eight months have passed since the last volume of Yu Yu Hakusho. Eight long months. With this much of a gap you would be forgiven for forgetting what the hell was going on, so just to refresh your memory...
Delinquent schoolboy Yusuke Urameshii died saving a child from being run over and because of his shock good deed was given a new chance of life. With the aid of the perky spirit guide Botan he returned to life and became a 'spirit detective', under the command of Koenma (the son of the lord of the underworld). His latent spirit powers are beginning to awaken after a mission to recover stolen artefacts from demonic thieves, and after he defeated the dangerous demon Rando ageing martial arts master Genkai has taken him on as her pupil. However, before he is able to do much training he is dispatched to the spirit world to defeat the evil 'four beasts', who are using demon insects to control human minds in an attempt to take over our world. Yusuke is joined in his mission by Kuwabara, a classmate with a very strong spiritual sensitivity, and two former enemies turned allies, the powerful demons Kurama and Hiei. After successfully entering the enemy fortress, negotiating the castle's labyrinth and defeating the first of the four beasts, our intrepid party now has to face the deadly beast Byakko. Even if they can defeat him there are two more beasts to go, and things in the human world are getting particularly dangerous, under this pressure can Kuwabara take down this huge opponent?
Yu Yu Hakusho has always been on the cusp of turning into a string of overlong fight scenes in a similar way to the epic Dragonball Z, and in this volume it does. From start to finish these three episodes are solid action. There's a smattering of comedy and a dramatic twist which sees the leader of the four beasts send his servants to hunt down Yusuke's love interest Keiko, but other than that it's fighting all the way. At the start of the series Yu Yu Hakusho had a surprising amount of drama, tension and emotion and this set it apart from other similar series. However, this is largely forgotten whilst the characters get into the nitty gritty of beating the crap our of their colourful opponents.
Action-wise this Yu Yu Hakusho vol 5 is great, Kuwabara is one of my favourite characters in the series so it's great to see him taking centre stage against the powerful Byakko. There's a nice sense of tension in the fights because of the ever growing problem back in the real world, and the series plays this up well by having Botan report her attempts at combating the insects to Yusuke. Despite Kuwabara's efforts though it's Hiei who's the show stealer in this volume, weighing in with an impressive display of prowess to stop things getting too predictable. There's not a lot of plot development in this volume but, in the same way as Dragonball Z, it's just so damn enjoyable.
You can't help but be drawn into the battles, they have enough variety to stay interesting and because of the quality and emotional depth of the series' early volumes you care about the characters. It's because of this that Yu Yu Hakusho is so easy to like and fun to watch, but there are problems. These straightforward action series are not to everyone's taste, some viewers want more depth and character development and there is little of either in this volume. There are only three episodes on the disc once again, which is unforgivable for such a long series unless the balance is redressed by a host of extras, but no such luck here. The biggest problem though is the wait.
Having to wait eight months for the next volume will no doubt have caused many of the series' fans to look to other titles to plug the gap, and now they may have to choose which series to carry on with. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, but with just three episodes for the admittedly cut-down price of £14.99 and not a lot of depth, Yu Yu Hakusho vol 5 will really test that old adage. The disc is great fun, and there are few series available here in a similar style. If you buy it then I doubt you will be disappointed unless you are expecting depth and intrigue, but there are better titles available.
Nearly identical to volume 4, with a couple of different characters added to the profile and name translation lists being the only difference. Other than that it's clean opening and ending sequences again and a repeat of 80% of the info in the name translations and profiles. And that's it.