Ahead of the eagerly awaited debut of Yu Yu Hakusho next week, the trailer is giving fans a taste of the groundbreaking visual effects that bring to life the intense battles between humans and demons, setting a new standard for live-action adaptations.
The five-episode series captures the essence of the original best-selling manga by incorporating supernatural elements in a way that appears realistic. This was made possible through the collaboration with Scanline VFX, known for their work on major Hollywood productions.
“To what extent CGI characters can be shown close-up depends on the distance from the camera, whether there’s dialogue, and the facial expression,” said visual effects director Tomofumi Akahane. “With Scanline VFX on board, we were able to reach higher than any other Japanese title and achieve a quality where the average viewer won’t be able to tell that CGI is actually CGI.”
The team made use of the latest performance capture technology, with 170 cameras filming the actors simultaneously in 360 degrees. This allows director Sho Tsukikawa to choose the best angle afterward as if moving a single camera, resulting in realistic CG character assets that seamlessly interact with the live-action elements.
Recreating battles between humans and demons
As the setting of Yu Yu Hakusho includes the Human World, the Demon World, and the Spirit World, the team had to create many of the demons from scratch. The battles between humans and demons were among the most difficult to recreate visually from the manga, especially the scenes with the Toguro Brothers—the Elder Toguro can distort his body, and the Younger Toguro can expand his muscles.
“The body size of the actors and the characters are different, so it was really hard to change the scale. It wasn’t just a matter of changing their height, we needed to ensure that the sight lines of the opponents were accurate,” said visual effects advisor Ryo Sakaguchi, who was the first Japanese visual producer to win a Scientific and Technical Award at the Oscars. The team ended up creating and printing 3D models of the Toguro Brothers, and attaching them to the actors for the shoot so that it was easier and more natural for those acting opposite them.
Moreover, as many of the actors were not used to working with CGI during shoots, the production team came up with various ideas to help the actors perform, including having a stunt person wear blue clothes and fight opposite the actor.
“How do actors imagine an enemy that isn’t actually in front of them?” asked action director Takahito Ouchi. “No matter how much you tell them that an enemy is there, they need to get fired up enough to make it seem like they are fighting. And that realism is born from the passion of the actors.”
The fate of the Human World lies in Yusuke’s hands. Watch ‘Yu Yu Hakusho’ on December 14, exclusively on Netflix