While the debate around dubs vs subs in anime fandom is eternal, in quintessential series like Yu Yu Hakusho the performances of the dubbed voice actors lend themselves to some of the show's most humorous moments. Humor can often be dependent on cultural context, giving the localizers and actors working on dubs a difficult job. When it works like it does in Yu Yu Hakusho, the results can be incredible.
Throughout Yu Yu Hakusho's original dub, there are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments that still have fans rolling with laughter. When it comes to picking the funniest moments, it can be difficult to choose. However, one of the best things about Yu Yu Hakusho and its dub in particular is how each character gets their own moments to shine.
10 Not Gonna Ruin My Day
In episode 5, Yusuke's returns from the dead ready to help a friend, but his experiences left him able to sense the otherworldly. And he doesn't seem to be too aware of it, either. When he pops into a cafe to suss out some troublemakers from another school, he immediately notices horns growing out of the group leader's head. The intrinsic sarcasm that Justin Cook delivers many of Yusuke's lines coupled with the character's cavalier response make these few seconds a gem of a moment in the eyes of fans.
9 Beast Donut
This scene happens in the first arc where the main four protagonists fight together, during the battles of the Beasts of Maze Castle. To escape an especially precarious situation against the beast Byakko, Kuwabara uses his Spirit Sword to skewer his assailants so that they're unable to move quickly. However, these beasts that Byakko summoned consume energy. When they fight their way out of their restraints, Kuwabara is forced to flee to a circular outcropping nearby, which he keeps running around. Since his teammates and friends assume Kuwabara no longer has a plan, Hiei finally speaks up and asks if the others think Kuwabara knows he's running around in a circle. In the end, they discover that Kuwabara has used this layout to ensnare his opponents. This scene speaks to Kuwabara's quick-thinking more than anything, but also shows how quick his companions are to rib him.
8 The Right Team
Hiei is always quick to deliver a good insult and this instance where Team Urameshi travels aboard a boat filled with Dark Tournamant participants is no different. When Team Urameshi is asked for a combatant to step forward and represent them in a qualifying battle, it quickly becomes apparent that nominating the currently slumbering Yusuke is out of the question. Instead, the newer and more mysterious Masked Fighter silently accepts the challenge, which Kuwabara voices some concerns about. Hiei's solution to future problems is delivered by Chuck Huber in such a matter-of-fact and succinct way. Kuwabara rhetorically inquires about Hiei's childhood social life. Though his comment is particularly ironic when viewers learn about the tragedies of Hiei's past.
7 Group Photo at Dark Tournament
An exceptionally charming moment for fans of Yu Yu Hakusho happens when taking an iconic photo. The photograph above was technically taken during the show's Dark Tournament arc, though the actual scene is only visible to viewers who seek out the Yu Yu Hakusho OVAs. This moment, which only takes a minute's worth of screen time, involves the main character's attempt at a group photo. Some arguments ensue between Keiko and Yusuke, Kuwabara attempts and fails to assuage Yukina's fears about the camera sapping her soul, and Hiei, true to his nature, is present, but quick to refuse being in the photo. His dismissal doesn't deter Kurama and Yusuke from coaxing him into frame while his complaints fall on deaf ears. In spite of Hiei's more serious nature, he is often reluctantly drawn into the group's shenanigans to a certain degree. This playful moment is not only funny but a heartwarming reminder of how the character's relationships change each other as the show goes on.
6 Sword of the Darkness Flame
In an effort to combat the evolving techniques of his opponent, Kuro Momotarou, Hiei hesitantly relies on a method of fighting not too dissimilar to Kuwabara's Spirit Sword. By summoning the flames that he can harness and channeling that energy into his previously broken sword, Hiei is able to pierce Momotarou's near-impenetrable hide. Although this sequence is equally exciting from a viewer's standpoint, the distaste with which Hiei refers to and the begrudging use of the technique are humorous testaments to his at-odds relationship with Kuwabara. It's even more amusing to note Kuwabara response to his claims before and after the Sword of the Darkness Flame's use.
5 Nerd Violence
Kurama is a fairly serious character, though there are many moments in Yu Yu Hakusho where fans can find him delivering hilarious one-liners that hint at his more mischievous nature. One such time can be found in Episode 68: Setting the Trap, where Kurama is approached by fellow students from his school in an attempt to make him join their team for a biology meet. These club members are quick to admit their intentions for getting Kurama to join, since he's popular with the girls and will increase both the popularity of their club and their social standing. He finds, however, that they're not taking no for an answer and John Burgmeier's delivery of the words "nerd violence" is his exasperated response to their excessive insistence. Thankfully, moments later, he's saved from having to continue dealing with his classmates due to the sudden appearance of Kuwabara.
4 Rock Paper Scissors
It's always fun to see a character that feels larger than life in a situation that's out of their element. Especially over something that seems so simple. Hiei, who is not only non-human but also an imposing fighter, betrays some of his ignorance in this specific interaction. When attempting to decide who should fight in the next battle of the Dark Tournament, Kurama suggests that Team Urameshi play Rock, Paper, Scissors. Hiei, having limited experience in the human realm, doesn't know what Rock, Paper, Scissors is and gets frustrated when Kuwabara comments on his lack of knowledge. Kurama patiently explains the rules, Hiei mentions dismissively that it's a simple game.
Kuwabara wins the first round and that should be that; however, perceptive and serious Hiei is swift to remark that Kuwabara delayed his choice a fraction of a second after Kurama and himself. This claim leads to them playing several more rounds until Kuwabara is ultimately the victor once more. Spirited moments like these sprinkled throughout the series make Yu Yu Hakusho a joy to watch again and again.
3 Minty Fresh Breath
Team Urameshi takes on the role of the crowd in this Dark Tournament scene, which involves the whole squad studying their opponents for the semifinals. Team Uraotogi proves to be an impressive force, eliminating their opponents quickly and leaving late arrivals Yusuke, Kuwabara, Botan, and the Masked Fighter with little to witness. Kuwabara remarks that he can't believe the match ended so quickly, all because he took some extra time to brush his teeth. Hiei swiftly acknowledges the presence of Yusuke's spirit beast Pu, and the ensuing scene where Yusuke and Kurama rib Hiei about one of his closely kept secrets makes for an amusing few minutes.
2 At Least One of Us Should Have Died
Yusuke and Jin have a lot of entertaining back-and-forths during their fight in the Dark Tournament, and it's little wonder they become friends afterward. After struggling with the Master of Wind for some time, Yusuke initiates a desperate attempt to land a powerful hit. He aims his Spirit Gun ability directly into the conjured tornadoes of a charging Jin, who is surprised but does not stop. The ensuing explosion leaves a small crater and sends Yusuke and Jin skyward. Once everyone recovers from the maneuver, but Jin is very much still in the fight, Yusuke exclaims his frustrations before hopping back into the fight.
1 The Mejiru Seal
The Mejiru Seal is a spirit detective device that is used to monitor the health of those who attach it to someone else. In Episode 70, this device is introduced by Botan, who explains how it works in a very comedic fashion. Mimicking something like an ad from the shopping network, Botan enlists Kuwabara's help in elaborating on the device's functionality. It's especially amusing that Kuwabara goes along with it so easily, posing relevant questions in spite of his initial "Oh, great, here we go" response. His monotonous tone as he carries on with the charade makes this moment particularly comical.
There are plenty of moments in the dubbed version of Yu Yu Hakusho that are worth remembering and looking back on fondly. These scenes speak to the show's ability to balance thrilling battles, dire stakes, and amusing micro-moments masterfully, which people can continue to enjoy long after the series has ended. Yu Yu Hakusho balanced many tones during its airing, and one tone it certainly nailed is humor.