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Netflix’s Most Viral Action Anime Yet? Why ‘Yu Yu Hakusho’ is Gaining Newfound Popularity

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Netflix Breathes New Life into Beloved ’90s Anime Yu Yu Hakusho – Sparking a Global Resurgence

Decades after its initial release, the classic shōnen anime series Yu Yu Hakusho is finding viral popularity on Netflix – introducing the influential anime to a whole new generation.

The hugely popular Japanese manga written and illustrated by acclaimed artist Yoshihiro Togashi drops viewers into a world filled with supernatural monsters and teenage heroes. First published in 1990 in Shueisha’s Weekly Shōnen Jump magazine, Yu Yu Hakusho exploded in Japan, selling over 70 million tankōbon volumes to date. With tense battles, a deeply relatable hero-cum-antihero protagonist, pulse-quickening animation, and an iconic theme song, the series quickly has become a memorable part of anime fans’ childhoods across generations.

After years of relative quiet on the international stage, Yu Yu Hakusho is rising in popularity once again – this time on America’s largest streaming service. The series is currently trending in Netflix’s Top 10 rankings in multiple regions around the globe, sparking nostalgic chatter and memes across Gen Z dominated social platforms like TikTok and Twitter. So how exactly is this beloved ’90s action-fantasy series seeing a resurgence now, 33 years after the property first debuted?

What is Yu Yu Hakusho? A Primer On Netflix’s Newly Viral Anime

For the uninitiated, Yu Yu Hakusho follows protagonist Yusuke Urameshi – a young punk with a reputation for cutting class and getting into street fights. But Yusuke’s world is turned upside down when, in an uncharacteristic act of valor, he throws himself in front of a car to save a child who wandered into traffic. The seemingly heroic boy sacrifices himself to save the kid – only to be swiftly resurrected as a Spirit Detective tasked with investigating supernatural disturbances in the human realm.

As Yusuke reluctantly begins life as a misunderstood hero with unique ghost-channeling abilities, he teams up with a motley crew of fellow teenage misfits. This includes longtime rival Kuwabara, mysterious fox demon Kurama, and a hotheaded fire apparition named Hiei.

Together over 112 anime episodes and two films, they take on dangerous missions to track down demonic disturbances threatening humanity – facing off against crazed villains with staggering supernatural powers along the way. It’s a thrilling coming of age story filled with dark supernatural elements, pulse-pounding tournament showdowns, and no shortage of comedic moments.

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Why Yu Yu Hakusho is Seeing A Viral Resurgence on Netflix

So why now? What prompted the sudden virality for this property decades after its initial heyday? Netflix likely has a lot to do with the show’s newfound reach and word of mouth appeal. After all, the streamer provides convenient on-demand access to a new generation of anime fans globally – allowing nostalgic older viewers to revisit the series while exposing the decades old property to younger Netflix bingers.

But Netflix’s December 2022 release of the live-action Yu Yu Hakusho series, available to stream at netflix.com, likely played a huge part in reinvigorating interest in the IP as well. The ambitious adaptation aims to translate the supernatural action of the beloved manga panels to life – leaning heavily on bleeding-edge visual effects to realize the anime’s fantastical elements.

Early reactions to the glossy live-action attempt have been largely positive so far – garnering a respectable 71% Rotten Tomatoes critic score and notching a 77% audience score. And the fresh attempt succeeded in its most important goal: drawing attention back to the property that inspired it. Shortly after the live-action series landed on Netflix, Google Trends data showed that searches for “Yu Yu Hakusho anime” absolutely skyrocketed globally.

The Upside of Anime Trend Cycles

Of course, Yu Yu Hakusho is hardly the first anime series to experience a sudden resurgence years after first airing in Japan. In today’s social media driven entertainment landscape, nostalgic anime sees periodic resurgences in interest as posts highlighting beloved shows go viral on youth-skewing platforms.

Just look at the meteoric rise Demon Slayer saw in recent years, with its beautiful animation style and lovable Tanjiro catapulting the franchise into one of the highest grossing media properties on Earth. Or see the recent box office success of Jujutsu Kaisen 0, sparking renewed interest in a relatively under the radar manga property globally.

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We live in an age of hype cycles and viral meme culture now – where a popular TikTok or nostalgia laced Tweet is enough to introduce old classics to totally new demographics. And according to experts, that intermittent virality will only further boost interest in evergreen franchises like Yu Yu Hakusho for generations to come.

The series already boasted incredible longevity, airing between 1992 to 1995 in Japan and seeing English localization on North American airwaves by Cartoon Network shortly after. But in today’s media environment, aging anime can see major resurgences in popularity years after debuting thanks to digital distribution and social media word of mouth.

Just look at the crazy renewed obsession with Avatar: The Last Airbender recently. Nearly two decades after initially airing on Nickelodeon, the series found viral fame with Gen Z viewers who likely weren’t even alive during its first run. Now Aang and the gang are starring in Hollywood big budget Netflix remakes and video games.

Vintage Shonen Series Stands the Test of Time

Even stacked against modern hits, Yu Yu Hakusho remains one of most gripping, fan-favorite long running shonen series ever made – standing toe-to-toe with heavyweights like Dragon Ball Z, Naruto or One Piece any day of the week.

The series lays claim to a number of genre innovations as well. Compared to popular shonen protagonists of its era that tended to be upbeat, almost forcefully optimistic heroes, Yu Yu Hakusho broke the mold with Yusuke – a selfish smartass of a main character undergoing a subtle coming of age. And the incorporation of grueling martial arts tournaments packed with unique superhuman abilities certainly seem reminiscent of modern battle anime as well.

Author Togashi never shied away from heavy subject matter either. Yu Yu Hakusho tackles surprisingly philosophical themes for a manga marketed at young boys, exploring thought-provoking issues like morality, identity, honor, and what it means to leave a meaningful legacy. While contemporaries like Dragon Ball focused squarely on testing ever-increasing power levels, Yu Yu Hakusho offered a captivating subplot around Yusuke earning the chance at a second life – grappling with why he’s brought back and discovering who he wants to become on his renewed path forwards..

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Homages to Yu Yu Hakusho in Current Shonen Series

Modern shonen creators like Masashi Kishimoto (Naruto) and Gege Akutami (Jujutsu Kaisen) readily cite Togashi’s Yu Yu Hakusho as a key inspiration driving their own lively supernatural tales focused on glowing energy attacks and teen ninjas.

And it isn’t difficult to spot Yu Yu Hakusho’s DNA clearly on display across today’s shonen landscape. Series’ like My Hero Academia focus heavily on martials arts academies with competitive exam tournaments, clearly taking cues from Team Urameshi’s grueling contests on Hanging Neck Island.

Jujutsu Kaisen doubles down on ominous Curse spirits threatening humanity, echoing Yu Yu Hakusho’s creepy demonic presence creeping into cities. And even the Tournament of Power arc featured in the modern Dragon Ball series seems to lift concepts straight from the influential Dark Tournament showdowns that captivated kids in the 90s.

Yu Yu Hakusho Deserves a Spot on Every Anime Fan’s Watchlist

Across vibrant battles, infectious humor, and a punk rock attitude to demon fighting spirit detectives, Yu Yu Hakusho remains compulsively watchable even three decades later. Thanks to streaming exposure and the right nostalgic tweets going viral, Yusuke and friends are poised to resonate for years to come – inspiring future manga creators and racking up new young fans along the way.

So if you still haven’t carved out time for this crunchyroll essential series, do yourself a favor. Set aside a weekend, pour yourself some Ramune, and let Yu Yu Hakusho’s captivating coming of age story suck you in. And get ready – because if Togashi ever puts out that long awaited manga follow up, you’ll be seeing Team Urameshi trending worldwide all over again soon.

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Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a prolific author who provides commentary and analysis on business, finance, politics, sports, and current events on his website Opportuneist. With over a decade of experience in journalism and blogging, Mezhar aims to deliver well-researched insights and thought-provoking perspectives on important local and global issues in society.

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