'Bitin': 'Ghost Fighter' live-action delivers nostalgia feels

Kathleen A. Llemit - Philstar.com
'Bitin': 'Ghost Fighter' live-action delivers nostalgia feels
Toguro Brothers (left) and Yusuke Urameshi (right) in the live-action adaptation of "Yu Yu Hakusho."
Screengrab from Netflix YouTube

MANILA, Philippines — Netflix scored another hit live-action adaptation with the right amount of nostalgia with the release of "Yu Yu Hakusho" or more popularly known as "Ghost Fighter" in the Philippines last week. 

It has many '90s kids harkening back to the days when they would all rush home to catch the latest adventure of Eugene, Dennis, Vincent and Alfred as they battle the fiercest demons in the spirit world. 

Those were also the days when all kids in the class, whether girls or boys, would have "Ghost Fighter" teks cards (collectible playing cards). The boys, of course, would have it for playing, while the girls would play the cards as well and vie for the cards of Dennis (Kurama), Eugene (Yusuke) and the adult Jericho (Koenma) and put it in a photo album of their crushes. Those were the days when 2D (two-dimensional) crushes were all the rage. Well, they still are today in addition to K-pop idols. 

Released on the streaming platform last December 14, it remains the most watched/streamed series on Netflix Philippines at No. 1 as of this writing. It is an affirmation that after "One Piece" was released last August, "Yu Yu Hakusho" is the latest successful live-action adaptation of a manga/anime. 

Signs of the live-action getting nods from many fans began when the teaser/series announcement date was released a few weeks ago. Many fans caught a glimpse of a series that is darker in tone than the anime they watched decades ago. 

When "Yu Yu Hakusho" was finally released, it indeed went right into the action with less banter from Urameshi and Kuwabara and even Hiei. 

It is important to note that when the anime was shown in the Philippines in the 1990s with a Filipino dub, the characters had Western names: Eugene (Yusuke Urameshi), Alfred (Kuwabara ), Vincent (Hiei) and Dennis (Kurama). Ditto for the other characters: Jeremiah (Master Genkai), Botan (Charlene), Jenny (Keiko) and Jericho (Koenma). 

The five-episode series is a condensed adaptation of an anime so well-loved that it caused some disappointment with how many characters were left out. A crucial and memorable experience from watching the anime was noticeably nowhere to be seen in the adaptation.

This event was important because it slowly built the relationships of the four main characters and how they ended up fighting alongside each other from their initial fights against each other. This is also where immortal lines from the anime had spawned memes and unforgettable characters that many Batang '90s still remember to this day. 

There's a huge chance that most had last seen "Ghost Fighter" when it was released two decades ago but because of this particular event, they can easily recall or remember certain lines and characters to this day. 

Nevertheless, "Yu Yu Hakusho" is still a hit because it can be in the list of decent, if not best, anime/manga adaptations in a list that has many misses than hits. It can be in the same league as the live-action adaptation of the "Rurouni Kenshin" or "Samurai X" movies and "One Piece." 

Memes have been made right after its release, another affirmation that many have taken the time to watch the series. If it is not spared time by the general public, it would not be generating memes of the right kind. It would not have engagement at all, even about nostalgia. 

News if "Yu Yu Hakusho" would get a second, and hopefully, longer season has yet to be announced. If the show's second season will be greenlit, then the producers should not skip the one event that they missed out on. On hindsight, it may have been skipped due to budget constraints because mounting that event is CGI-heavy and will definitely exhaust the production cost given the huge casting it requires. 

For most anime fans of late, they may have been used to watching with the standard English subbed, Japanese dubbing, but the live-action "Ghost Fighter" is an exception for many Filipinos as it is a collective memory of a generation who grew up watching it in Filipino. 

Kudos to Netflix for finally deciding to make a Filipino dub, making the viewing experience truly nostalgic.

And now that one beloved '90s anime is generally favored, there are some ideas about adapting other '90s popular anime. How about "Flame of Recca" with all his dragons or a Kuwabara lookalike playing basketball (Sakuragi and Kuwabara can actually pass as twins) in "Slam Dunk"? The latter would undoubtedly be a hit in the Philippines because the country is a basketball-obsessed country. 

Whatever Netflix is brewing for its next live-action adaptation, it should be as good as "One Piece" and "Yu Yu Hakusho." For now, the second season of the latter is a very much welcome news. 

RELATED: '100% handa na': 'Ghost Fighter' live-action gets December release date

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