The anime adaptation consisting of 112 television episodes was directed by Noriyuki Abe and co-produced by Fuji Television, Yomiko Advertising, and Studio Pierrot. The television series originally aired on Japan's Fuji Television network from October 10, 1992 to January 7, 1995. It was later licensed in North America by Funimation Entertainment in 2001.
Yu Yu Hakusho follows Yusuke Urameshi, a street-brawling delinquent who, in an uncharacteristic act of altruism, is hit by a car and killed in an attempt to save a young boy by pushing him out of the way. His ghost is greeted by Botan, a woman who introduces herself as the pilot of the River Styx, who ferries souls to the "Underworld" where they may be judged for the afterlife. Botan informs Yusuke that his act had caught even the Underworld by surprise and that there was not yet a place made for him in either heaven or hell. Thus Koenma, son of the Underworld's ruler King Enma, offers Yusuke a chance to return to his body through a series of tests.Yusuke succeeds with the help of his friends Keiko Yukimura and Kazuma Kuwabara. After returning to life, Koenma grants Yusuke the title of "Underworld Detective", charging him with investigating supernatural activity within the human world. Soon Yusuke is off on his first case, retrieving three treasures stolen from the Underworld by a gang of demons: Hiei, Kurama and Goki.Yusuke collects the three treasures with the aid of his new technique, the "Rei Gun", a shot of aura energy fired mentally from his index finger. He then travels to the mountains in search of the aged, female martial artist master Genkai. Together with his rival Kuwabara, Yusuke fights through a tournament organized by Genkai to find her successor. Yusuke uses the competition as a cover to search for Rando, a demon who steals the techniques of martial arts masters and kills them. Yusuke defeats Rando in the final round of the tournament and trains with Genkai for several months, gaining more mastery over his aura. Yusuke is then sent to Maze Castle in the Underworld where Kuwabara and the newly reformed Kurama and Hiei assist him in defeating the Four Beasts, a quartet of demons attempting to blackmail Koenma into removing the barrier keeping them out of the human world.
Yusuke's next case sends him on a rescue mission, where he meets Toguro, a human turned into the strongest of demons. In order to test his strength, Toguro invites Yusuke to the "Dark Tournament", an event put on by corrupt, rich humans in which teams of demons, and occasionally humans, fight fierce battles for the chance to receive any wish they desire. Team Urameshi, consisting of Yusuke, Kuwabara, Kurama, Hiei and a disguised Genkai, traverse through the strenuous early rounds to face Team Toguro in the finals and win the tournament. They learn that Team Toguro's owner, Sakyo, was attempting to win in order to create a large hole from the human world to the "Demon Plane", a third world occupied solely by countless demons. With his loss, Sakyo destroys the tournament arena, killing himself in the process.
After the tournament, Yusuke returns home, but has little time to rest as he is challenged to a fight by three teenagers possessing superhuman powers and who end up taking the detective hostage. Kuwabara and the others rescue him and learn that the whole scenario was a test put on by Genkai. It is disclosed that Shinobu Sensui, Yusuke's predecessor as Underworld Detective, has recruited six other powerful beings to help him take over where Sakyo left off, opening a hole to the Demon Plane in order to cause genocide of the human race. Yusuke and his friends challenge and defeat Sensui's associates one-by-one, culminating in a final battle between the two detectives. Sensui kills Yusuke then retreats into the newly opened portal to the Demon Plane. Yusuke is reborn as a partial demon, discovering that his ancestor passed down a recessive gene that would hide until an heir with sufficient power surfaced, when his demonic lineage would be revealed.Yusuke travels to the Demon Plane and defeats Sensui with the aid of the spirit of his ancestor who takes control of Yusuke's body to finish the fight.
As they return to the human world, Yusuke is stripped of his detective title as King Enma orders he be captured and executed in fear that Yusuke's demon blood could cause him to go on a rampage in the human world. Yusuke, unsettled at having been controlled by his ancestor Raizen, accepts an offer by Raizen's followers to return to the Demon Plane. Raizen, desiring a successor to his territory, is on the brink of dying of starvation, a death that would topple the delicate political balance of the three ruling powers of the Demon Plane. Hiei and Kurama are summoned by the other two rulers, Mukuro and Yomi, respectively, to prepare for an inevitable war. The three protagonists train in the realm for one year, during which time Raizen dies and Yusuke inherits his territory. Yusuke takes initiative and proposes a fighting tournament to name the true ruler of the Demon Plane, which is agreed upon by Mukuro and Yomi. During the tournament, Yusuke and Yomi meet in the second elimination round where Yusuke is defeated and knocked unconscious. Yusuke awakens days later to find that the tournament has ended and that a similar competition is to be held every so often to determine the Demon Plane's ruler. Yusuke stays in the Demon Plane for a while longer, but eventually returns to the human world to be with Keiko.
At the start of the series, Yusuke is a teenage delinquent. He later changes into an almost altruistic defender of the Human World, along with Kuwabara, Kurama, and Hiei. He even revolutionizes the Demon World by preventing a war between Yomi and Mukuro after Raizen's death and overturning the previous system of separate countries in Demon World by founding the Demon World Tournament in which the winner becomes the one ruler of the Demon World.
Yusuke has black hair, usually slicked back with gel, and usually wears a green school uniform. Yusuke is short tempered, impulsive, and likes to intimidate those who are afraid of him. Underneath his bold, cocky attitude, he has a joking, and kind nature. Keiko Yukimura, one of his childhood friends (and later love interest), is one of the very few who knows Yusuke is actually very kind, and she sympathizes with his problems in life.
Yusuke's signature move is the Spirit-Gun, he concentrates his Spirit Energy into his right index finger and releases it as a projectile. After channeling his energy, he pulls the trigger in his mind when he wants to fire the "bullet." The Spirit-Gun blast can range in size from a small shot, to a full-sized cannon blast, to a near atomic-explosion, as demonstrated in the demon world tournament.
Kazuma, more commonly known as Kuwabara, is one of the main protagonists of the series. He is the tallest member of the team, standing at about six feet - making him very tall by Japanese standards, as this is considered well above average. He has thick reddish-orange hair that is combed up into a 1950's 'punk' pompadour style. He wears his light blue school uniform most of the time.
Kuwabara is the self-proclaimed second-toughest kid at Sarayashiki Junior High School, and he is always trying to usurp Yusuke's position as the toughest. He claims to have never lost a fight until he met Yusuke. He leads a gang consisting of himself, Kirishima, Okubo, and Komada.
Kuwabara develops a minor crush on Botan when he first meets her, but later harbors intense feelings for the ice apparition Yukina, but is unaware that she's Hiei's twin sister. The Spirit Sword is Kuwabara's signature attack, where he creates a sword comprised only of his Spirit Energy. Its strength depends on how much energy Kuwabara focuses into it. He can also increase the length of the Spirit Sword at will.
Kurama is a demon and one of the main protagonists of the series, is the most calculating, cunning and analytical member of the main characters and perhaps in the whole series. He is able to carefully look past his feelings and see the real situation at hand. He is extremely perceptive, able to quickly recognize the patterns and mistakes that his opponents make, which gives him an edge. In battle, while his preference is to concoct strategies based on deduction of his opponents' fighting abilities and style, his natural battle instincts are also highly tuned.
His care for his friends and family are the backbone of his fighting drive, as he would sacrifice just about anything to protect them. Kurama has a very kind heart, and several villains in the series will use this ploy against him in order to beat him.
In his human form, Kurama has long red hair, with two long forelocks on either shoulder and the rest on his back. While in this form, he often wears his school uniform consisting of matching pink slacks and a jacket with gold trim. While in his demon-fox form, he has prominent silver fox-ears, as well as a silver tail and long flowing silver hair. He wears a white sleeveless yukata (that resembles a toga). Kurama employs a wide variety of plants as weapons, including the Rose Whip.
Hiei is a demon and one of the main protagonists of the series, he has spiky black hair and he wears a white headband that conceals his Jagan Eye, which is placed in the center of his forehead. He wears a long black cloak-like jacket and black pants. He has a rather cynical and even misanthropic view of the world around him, often belittling and mocking humans and their emotions and the significance they place on friendship and life. And while he is relatively taciturn, he occasionally squabbles with and insults his teammates, especially Kuwabara. It is obvious that deep down he holds a certain amount of respect and kinship for his teammates, but seems to be closest to Kurama and Yusuke.
Hiei employs his super speed and technical mastery of his sword in battle. Hiei also uses his demon energy to lure the flames of Demon World to him, creating a dragon made of black flames, called Dragon of the Darkness Flame. The dragon cannot be controlled, unless the user is capable of absorbing it.
- Justin Cook - Yusuke Urameshi
- Christopher R. Sabat - Kazuma Kuwabara
- John Burgmeier - Kurama
- Chuck Huber - Hiei
- Main Article: List of Yu Yu Hakusho episodes
Yu Yu Hakusho consists of 112 episodes that the North American English dub producer, Funimation Entertainment, separated into four "seasons", each composing their own story arc, which they refer to as "sagas".
The Yu Yu Hakusho franchise also spawned two animated films and a series of original video animations (OVAs).
Yu Yu Hakusho premiered in Japan from October 10, 1992 to December 17, 1994, on Fuji Television in Japan.
In North America, the episodes aired from February 23, 2002 to April 1, 2006, on Cartoon Network. Initially, the episodes were shown on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim programming block from February 2002 to March 2003, and switched to Cartoon Network's Toonami programming block until January 2005. In October 2005 the series was aired early on Saturday mornings on Cartoon Network, and the final 24 episodes were finally aired.
In 2012, one episode of Yu Yu Hakusho also aired as part of Adult Swim's Toonami April Fools Event.