Monday, January 20, 2014

Shinobu Sensui - An Unconventional Idea of Brilliance

Following up my post analyzing the complicated situation of Naruto's main antagonist Obito Uchiha, I thought it would be a fun idea to continue on with the topic but change directions in the character. This time, I will be analyzing Shinobu Sensui, the main antagonist of Yoshiro Togashi's series Yu Yu Hakusho.

Sensui, much like Obito, is known to be a very diverse character with conflicting opinions from the anime/manga community. It seems as though a vast majority of the people who have seen/read Yu Yu Hakusho tend to under appreciate Sensui's character. Whether this is intentional or not, I think it is clear that Sensui is at least the most interesting antagonist of the series. I think Sensui's role in the series is heavily overshadowed by the villain and arc that succeeded his own. I believe a vast majority of people think of the Dark Tournament and Toguro to be the high points of the story. However, this was just the tip of the iceberg for Togashi's series. He followed up this arc with one of a much grander scale. Here, we are introduced to Shinobu Sensui, Yusuke's predecessor to the title of humanity's Spirit Detective. Sesnui's plan is to open a tunnel to Demon World which will in turn, bring destruction to the Human Realm. Simple enough right? Well, this is just the start to what Togashi had planned for Sensui.

Sensui provides one of the most bone chilling on screen introductions I have ever seen and has yet to be topped as far as making a statement with an introduction. While Yusuke's group is on a scouting mission trying to discover the source of the vastly growing epidemic of humans gaining psychic powers as well as a correlation with the growing number of demon entities being present in the human world, they happen to discover a human whom has the ability to read people's minds. Yusuke easily defeats the inferior human and forces him to help in their search to find who it is that is digging a tunnel to demon world. It is at this time he takes an eraser through the skull that Yusuke is able to lock eyes on Sensui who has one of the most twisted looks on his face before he disappears through the crowd of bystanders.

After this, Yusuke duels Sensui and his subordinates several times before they are finally able to come face to face in a one on one confrontation. During this fight, everything we have seen and learned throughout this arc about Sensui and his plans is completely tossed right out the window. Yoshihiro Togashi, being the masterful author that he is, completely hits the readers/viewers from left field with curve ball after curve ball after curve ball. Sensui, being scarred from his final case as a Spirit Detective before going rouge, has been left emotionally unstable and unable to cope with the harsh reality he has come to know. This has driven him to split off his personality across seven different beings, thus being revealed to have multiple personalities disorder. Yusuke only faces three of the seven personalities but ultimately ends up fighting the main personality.

Sensui's plan of trying to destroy human world is also flipped as the arc goes on. We come to find out that Sensui's ultimate goal with, in truth, to travel to Demon World to attempt to find the meaning to his life. Sensui wanted to see the world through the Demon's eyes to find peace within himself for all the Demons he had slain throughout his life. Sensui is ultimately defeated by Yusuke, who was being possessed by Raizen, and is able to come to terms with the life he had live. Sensui, after already having his character completely unraveled and twisted throughout the arc, is revealed by Itsuki to have been terminally ill and would've died in a few months had he not been killed by Yusuke. Sensui ultimately dies and his body is taken away by his lover, Itsuki, where they will spend eternity together in the dimensions between worlds.

I believe that people don't appreciate Sensui's complex character enough. Whether it be a dislike for his ideals, his changing character, his personality or because he was one of the only antagonists to be written as a homosexual, people just haven't seemed to be able to connect to Sensui the way they were able to Toguro. Maybe the fact that Sensui's motives and character changed so drastically as the arc went on made it difficult for people to identify with him. For me, Sensui is, and most likely always will be, my favorite villain of all time (yes Hisoka is an antagonist and my favorite all time character, but Sensui is a better villain in the truest context of the term). Sensui had it all, he was: interesting, charismatic, charming, eloquent, well spoken, badass, powerful, original, an idealist and overall, brilliant.


  1. Well written. He's definitely a one of a kind villain and one of my favorites. This arc was one that made you think and although many concede that Sensui is one of the best villains in anime/manga, many people tend to like the straightforward fighting in the Dark Tournament. This is why DBZ is so popular.

    I like that they left his identity open to interpretation some and I like how he outsmarted the foes and revealed his curve ball later. Shame Togashi had him lose the way he did. I would have liked it if the antagonist had won in this case instead of Deus ex Machina. After all Sensui was right in the end as the Spirit World was corrupt and brainwash demons to wreak havoc on earth.

  2. Thanks for the article! Very well-written and enjoyable.