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Yu Yu Hakusho Release Date, Plot, Cast, Trailer And More Details

In 2020, Netflix confirmed that it was turning Yoshihiro Togashi's classic '90s manga "Yu Yu Hakusho" into a live-action series, which came as welcome news to fans of the franchise. While it's not on par with the long-running pirate manga "One Piece," which the streamer adapted to widespread acclaim in 2023, "Yu Yu Hakusho" is definitely an important property: With over 78 million copies in circulation, it's one of the most successful manga series of all time.

Even the anime adaptation — which came out in the '90s and received an English dub in the '00s, introducing teen protagonist Yusuke Urameshi to a whole new audience — remains highly regarded among anime viewers, with a MyAnimeList score of 8.46. Netflix will be hoping to capture the magic of both the manga and the anime with its live-action adaptation, but which story arcs will it cover? When is it coming out? And who has been cast as Yusuke Urameshi? For all those answers and more, read on.

When will Yu Yu Hakusho be released?

It's no surprise that Netflix took its time with its live-action version of "Yu Yu Hakusho," given the nature of the story and the passionate fanbase. The streamer recognized that it needed to put a lot of work into the series to get it right, but it didn't want audiences to grow tired, either. So, in November 2021, Netflix revealed that its live-action "Yu Yu Hakusho" series would be coming in December 2023.

We know what you're thinking: To announce a release window so far in advance seems a little like playing with fire. However, as of November 2023, the show is still scheduled to drop on Netflix in December. In fact, there's now an exact date that "Yu Yu Hakusho" fans can add to their diaries — the live-action "Yu Yu Hakusho" will be added to the streamer's library on December 14, 2023.

What is the plot of Yu Yu Hakusho?

In its synopsis of the show, Netflix describes "Yu Yu Hakusho" thusly: "After a selfless act costs him his life, teen delinquent Yusuke Urameshi is chosen as a Spirit Detective to investigate cases involving rogue Yokai." That's a basic summary of Yoshihiro Togashi's manga. Yusuke Urameshi is a ne'er-do-well who dies in an unexpected act of altruism, saving a young child from being hit by a car. In the afterlife, Yusuke learns that the Underworld doesn't quite know what to do with him, and so he is offered a deal — pass some tests, and he can return to Earth in his body as a paranormal detective of sorts.

Obviously, Yusuke passes this test, sparking a series of supernatural adventures that change his life forever. In addition to solving a few mystical mysteries, Yusuke and his allies become embroiled in a variety of conflicts, especially supernatural fighting tournaments. As the story continues, Yusuke's foes only become more fierce, and he must do everything he can to adapt to the new and strange world he now lives in.

The Netflix show will follow the same basic structure, with promotional material confirming that the two first arcs — the Spirit Detective Saga and the Dark Tournament Saga — will be covered at the very least. Hopefully, the story doesn't stray too far beyond that point: Some fans are concerned that the live-action show will try to cram too much into one season. "It seems like a lot of material is condensed to make this work," said @reeseseater12 on YouTube, while fellow user @larryc8224 added, "They definitely condensed a lot which worries me."

Who is starring in Yu Yu Hakusho?

Taking on the lead role of Yusuke Urameshi in Netflix's live-action "Yu Yu Hakusho" series is Takumi Kitamura, who is known for the likes of "Let Me Eat Your Pancreas" and "Tokyo Revengers." He's also the lead vocalist and guitarist of the J-rock band Dish, meaning he's often very busy. However, when the chance to play the lead in the live-action "Yu Yu Hakusho" series came along, Kitamura was happy to make room in his schedule. "The original work is a universal and unique masterpiece and a reason why Japan is so proud of its strong manga and anime culture," he told IGN. "I am happy to share the masterpiece of 'Yu Yu Hakusho' with the world and I hope we can create something people everywhere will enjoy."

Other main characters Kurama and Hiei are played by Jun Shison ("Teiichi: Battle of Supreme High") and Kanata Hongô ("Attack on Titan"), respectively. The rest of the cast is made up of Shûhei Uesugi as Kazuma Kuwabara, Sei Shiraishi as Keiko Yukimura, Kotone Furukawa as Botan, Ai Mikami as Yukina, Hiroya Shimizu as Karasu, and Gorô Inagaki as Sakyo. Ken'ichi Takitô and Gô Ayano are playing the Toguro brothers, while Keita Machida (known for his turn as the scrappy Daikichi Karube in "Alice in Borderland") and Meiko Kaji (famous for playing the titular assassin in the classic film "Lady Snowblood") will also feature as Koenma and Genkai.

Is there a trailer for Yu Yu Hakusho?

Netflix has dropped three teasers for "Yu Yu Hakusho" so far. The first teaser is very basic — it's just one long shot of Yusuke Urameshi's hand as he uses his Spirit Gun attack, his signature move. Despite being short, it was enough to get fans excited. The second teaser opens with Yusuke's death and goes on to explain the circumstances of his resurrection as a spirit detective. Koenma, a prince of the Spirit World with a magical pacifier, is shown explaining the deal to Yusuke, adding, "You'll be alive again, that's incentive enough." The third teaser also opens with Yusuke being run down while saving a child, but this time we linger for longer, watching him stand over his own body in disbelief. It's far more tear-jerking than the previous two teasers, concentrating on the emotional beats of the story.

If the teasers were there to whet the appetite, then the first official trailer was the feast. It opens with a bloody massacre, showing the Yokai (the demons that Yusuke will have to fight) up close. Some are huge, and some are terrifyingly fast — which makes it that much cooler when they're split in two with swords. We also get to see Yusuke partake in some intense training (he almost impales his face after Genkai, his mentor, dodges an attack) and there's a stunning shot of Kurama using his signature red rose in battle. It's an action-packed trailer that makes the stakes of the story crystal clear ("The fate of the human world is in your hands," Koenma tells Yusuke) and really hypes up the show.

Who is directing Yu Yu Hakusho?

Netflix's live-action "Yu Yu Hakusho" series is directed by Shô Tsukikawa, who knows the show's leading man, Takumi Kitamura, from their time working together on 2017's "Let Me Eat Your Pancreas," a live-action adaptation of Yoru Sumino's web novel of the same name. It's about a girl with pancreatic cancer. "Although the title may sound a bit horrible, it in fact tells a very moving story of romance between a high-school boy and girl," Tsukikawa said at the Busan International Film Festival (via Yonhap News Agency).

A box office hit in Japan, "Let Me Eat Your Pancreas" was a calling card for Tsukikawa, and he's been busy since. He's helmed several movies in the past few years, including "My Little Monster," "My Teacher, My Love," and "You Shine in the Moonlight." And, while he's known more for movies, Tsukikawa has also worked in TV on several occasions — he most recently took charge of six episodes of the romantic drama series "And Live" in 2019.

While Tsukikawa was skeptical about the idea of a live-action "Yu Yu Hakusho" series to begin with, he soon came around to the idea. "After being presented with the producer's vision and possibilities with Netflix, my expectations grew and I found myself burning with passion to make this project come to life," Tsukikawa told IGN. "More than anything, I think the appeal of 'Yu Yu Hakusho' comes from its characters, which is why I wanted to highlight the appealing relationships and battles in 'Yu Yu Hakusho.'"

Netflix's Yu Yu Hakusho boasts 'trailblazing visual effects'

Netflix has described the visual effects created for "Yu Yu Hakusho" as "trailblazing," and there's been a lot of hype around how good the show will look. Fans reacted well to what they saw in the first trailer ("So far the visuals are nice and fights look fun," said YouTube user @larryc8224), which ends with Yusuke Urameshi using his Spirit Gun attack to quite literally melt the face of a foe. The effects have been created by the renowned VFX house Scanline, which has brought several DC movies to life (including "Joker," "The Batman," "Black Adam," and "The Flash") and has also worked on a number of other Netflix shows (such as "Shadow and Bone," "Cowboy Bebop," and "Stranger Things").

The action sequences showcased in the first "Yu Yu Hakusho" trailer are as stunning as anything you'll see in a Hollywood blockbuster. The creators achieved this using a mixture of CGI and motion capture technology, with 170 cameras used to film the actors from every conceivable angle during battles. The show will boast "plenty of action scenes," director Shô Tsukikawa confirmed during his IGN interview. "The visual effects we use are quite advanced, as we utilize cutting-edge technology, aimed for the best quality we can achieve," Tsukikawa said. "Just like when I first heard about this adaptation, there may be people out there who feel it's an impossible undertaking, but no matter how many ways I express how I feel, I believe the work will speak for itself and prove it's possible."

Where to watch the Yu Yu Hakusho anime

Animated by Pierrot (the studio known for the likes of "Naruto," "Bleach," "Tokyo Ghoul," and "Black Clover"), the "Yu Yu Hakusho" anime ran from 1992 to 1994 in Japan, with a whopping 112 episodes airing during that time. If you want to watch them before the live-action show debuts on Netflix, you've got a few options. All the episodes are available to stream on Crunchyroll, with English subtitles and a dubbed English version available. The first season (which covers the Spirit Detective Saga) is free for everyone, but if you want to watch the rest, then you'll need one of the streamer's premium packages. These come in three tiers: Fan, Mega Fan, and Ultimate Fan. They are priced at $7.99 a month, $9.99 a month, and $14.99 a month, respectively, with the amount of perks increasing the more you pay.

Crunchyroll isn't the only place you can stream the "Yu Yu Hakusho" anime. You can view it for free on Tubi TV if you don't mind watching the original Japanese version with English subtitles. Funimation also has the show, and it's the same situation as Crunchyroll: The first season is free, but you'll need to subscribe to the streamer's Premium Plus service for the rest, which costs $9.99 a month (there's also a free trial). Hulu is also an option, but it only has the first two seasons at the time of this writing. Packages start at $7.99 a month, though that's with ads. If you want an ad-free experience, you'll need to fork out an extra 10 bucks a month. Both packages offer a free trial before you have to commit.