Yusuke Urameshi is your average thug, but one day, he sees a kid about to get hit by a car and saves him. Unfortunately, the car kills him instead. Impressed by his heroic deed, the afterlife gives him a second shot at life, but only if he becomes a Spirit Detective and keeps all the demons and other supernatural beings from destroying the human world.
Yu Yu Hakusho is one of those series that is rapidly aging, but still holds a fond place in the hearts of many anime fans because it was such a staple series in the 90’s anime scene. If you are looking for a little nostalgia or just want to get back to the action roots of your anime obsession, these anime recommendations will help you get there.
For Fans of Humans in Spiritual Worlds
Ichigo Kurosaki is an average high schooler, except for the ability to see ghosts. One night, his family is attacked by a Hollow, a corrupt spirit that devours souls, and he a Soul Reaper named Rukia fights it. However, in the process, Rukia is injured, forcing her to share her powers with Ichigo in order to survive. From there Ichigo must face down with Hollows and other Soul Reapers alike, not yet knowing what powerful enemies lurk out in the universe and what devastating powers lie within himself.
You don’t have to make such a huge leap to see the similarities in these series since they start in a very similar way. Essentially a normal human finds his way into the spirit world through circumstance and ends up getting various Shinigami/Spirit Detective powers that makes their stay in the spirit world’s business a lengthy one. However, both shows also start heading one way in the beginning and by the end, well, they end up somewhere completely different. Of course, Yu Yu Hakusho is vastly superior in terms of keeping its plot on task.
Death City is home to a famous technical academy and ran by Lord Death himself. At this academy, meisters train with their human weapons in order to evolve them into Death Scythes to be wielded by the Grim Reaper, Lord Death. Only by consuming 99 evils souls and the soul of one witch will a weapon be able to evolve. This is the story of several students of the academy as they try to grow stronger and protect Death City in the process.
While some of the characters in Soul Eater look pretty human, it is pretty clear that they are not, which makes it innately different than Yu Yu Hakusho in the beginning. However, as Yu Yu Hakusho goes on, you find more and more similarities between them. Essentially both shows follow the various devious going-on’s in the spiritual world and the main characters end up having to try and fix them. However, while Soul Eater seems a bit disjointed at times, Yu Yu Hakusho presents a more cohesive series.
Ushio and Tora
Ushio Aotsuki doesn’t share his eccentric priest father’s beliefs in youkai. However, on a fateful trip to the basement, he encounters a menacing youkai impaled by a spear. This youkai, Tora, begs him to set him free, but Ushio doesn’t give in. However, after a youkai outbreak threatens the lives of those dear to him, he is given no choice. Now Ushio must get Tora to work with him, threatening to seal him with the spear to keep him in check.
What is Yusuke if not a thug that has to keep demons (and Kuwabara) in line, right? That is what Ushio and Tora is about too. Ushio has to keep Tora in toe and also use him as a battle partner, much like how Yusuke uses the non-human members of his team, though they are much more autonomous.
For Fans of Traditional Shounen Battle Anime
Hunter x Hunter
Twelve-year-old Gon Freecss is determined to become a world-class Hunter, a skilled individual that perform all manner of dangerous tasks, in order to find out what happened to his father. However, Gon finds that the path to achieving his goals is more challenging than he could have ever imagined, but in order to overcome it, Gon recruits some powerful friends.
Well, you know, Hunter x Hunter was made by the same guy that made Yu Yu Hakusho. The key difference is that he finished the Yu Yu Hakusho manga without a so many hiatuses. (Sorry, HxH fans, as a Berserk manga fan I feel your pain.) Anyway, while the characters in Hunter x Hunter aren’t quite as thug-ish, both series follow a crew of characters that end up getting in constant fights and find themselves pulled into a deeper conflict.
Goku is living a peaceful life with his wife and son, however when a mysterious alien crashes to Earth and claims to be Goku’s brother, his peaceful life will come to an end. Learning he is one of the last members of the Saiyan race, alien thugs that conquer planets for another alien overlord, Goku and his friends must defend the Earth from a continuous onslaught of enemies.
This comparison is easy. Both series are about a group of fighters that constantly have to save the world. Sometimes they fight in tournaments, sometimes they fight in villain lairs, and sometimes they fight on other planets (okay, that one is just for DBZ, I suppose). Regardless, they are almost exclusively about fighting and very little else.
Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple
After years of reading self-improvement books, “weak legs” Kenichi finally works up the courage to join the karate club. Unfortunately, his school bully challenges him, intent on literally kicking him out. While all hope seemed lost, new classmate Miu invites him to her dojo for training. While he was able to defeat the bully, his new strength attracted the attention of a powerful group of students, and in order to overcome them, he must train in many martial arts styles.
Really the only difference between these two is a supernatural element and the fact that Yusuke only has one style of fighting. While Kenichi isn’t a thug like Yusuke, he sure gets into a lot of street fights like one because of his newfound fighting prowess. The key similarity here is that, while they lack that supernatural link, you get to see a lot of different styles of fighting.
For Fans of Thug Characters
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure
In 1868, English nobleman George Joestar had his life saved by Dario Brando. When Dario passes away, George repays the favor he owed by taking in Dario’s son, Dio. However, unsatisfied with his life, Dio soon moves to take control of the Joestar house with the help of an Aztec stone mask that grants him supernatural powers. In his quest to destroy George and his son Jonathan, it sets off a chain of events that will echo through the decades, including half a century later when Jonathan’s grandson, Joseph, discovers his family’s legacy.
While Jojo has characters that are a little more muscled than the thugs in Yu Yu Hakusho, both shows have a similar plot of the main characters having to defend their town from demons. However, Jojo has more of a globe-trotting, time-spanning plot while Yu Yu Hakusho is more centralized to one set of characters. Regardless, both shows have some of the best fights in anime and a lot of good chest beating.
Ishiyama High is a school full of delinquents, but they have one rule: Don’t cross Tatsumi Oga, the strongest fighter in school. One day, Oga is sitting by a riverbank when he encounters a floating man that splits down the middle to reveal a baby inside. This baby turns out to be Kaiser de Emperana Beelzebub IV, the son of the Demon Lord. It turns out raising the future lord of the underworld is more trouble than you’d think.
Think of Beelzebub as an anime series about if Yusuke had to take care of Koenma in the real world. While it lacks some of the flashiness in the fights that Yu Yu Hakusho has, the show has a lot of similar characters and a newer animation that makes it a little more pleasing to watch.
Mido Ban and Amano Ginji are the Get Backers. Their job? Well, it’s to get back whatever was stolen from you with a 100 percent success rate. However, even though they are good at their jobs, they are terminally broke, forcing them to take even more dangerous jobs.
Both the Get Backers and Yusuke have the same job – clean up other people’s messes. Although most of the jobs Yusuke gets assigned have slightly higher implications if he fails. Regardless, if you like sassy, all-nonsense and violence characters, it doesn’t matter if the settings are different because those characters make the series feel the same.
Did we miss any other good anime recommendations for Yu Yu Hakusho? Then let us know in the comments section below, yeah?