Kurama (蔵馬 Kurama?) is a fictional character in the anime and manga series YuYu Hakusho by Yoshihiro Togashi. In the human world, Kurama is also known as Shuichi Minamino (南野秀一 Minamino Shūichi?).
Kurama is first encountered in the series at the same time as Hiei. His ability is in manipulating plants, and he generally wields a whip created from a rose vine, complete with thorns. He is one of the wiser and more intelligent characters in the series.
Kurama's seiyū are Megumi Ogata for his human form, and Shigeru Nakahara as Yōko Kurama. As there are several US dubs done by different companies, Kurama has had three English voice actors: John Burgmeier in the FUNimation version, Sean Barker in the Media Blasters dub, and Hideo Seaver in U.S. Manga Corps' version.
Note that Kurama generally refers to Kurama in his human form, whereas Kurama in his fox demon form is usually referred to as Fox Demon Kurama or Yōko Kurama; the English-language manga uses “Fox Demon Kurama,” while the English anime uses “Yōko Kurama.”
Kurama is generally regarded as the most calm and level-headed member of the group. His analytical nature is present in battle where he prefers to study the strengths and weaknesses of his opponents before devising a strategy of his own.
He is protective of those he cares about and is often merciless to anyone that poses them a threat, a shift in his usually friendly manner. In many instances, Kurama has shown to be very self-sacrificing in the interests of the safety of his friends and family.
Yōko Kurama (妖狐 蔵馬 Yōko Kurama, literally “Spirit Fox Kurama”?, English manga “Fox Demon Kurama) was a cold hearted and ruthless Kitsune thief and the most feared bandit in Makai. He was considered to be an A-class apparition, more than 1,000 years old.
After being wounded by a bounty hunter while in his spirit fox form, Yōko Kurama sent his spirit into the human world where his spirit took refuge within an unborn child that had not yet gained a soul. It was from this point that Kurama made the transfer to a human body; he would recover his strength as the child developed.
Kurama planned to leave Ningenkai and his human mother, Shiori Minamino, to return to Makai after regaining his strength after an estimated ten years. However, sometime during or before the tenth year, act of selflessness from Shiori opened Kurama's eyes to pain he had caused his mother while growing up. Thus, he decided to continue living his human life as Shiori's son.
Spirit Detective Saga
Kurama is first introduced to the series with Hiei and Gōki. Together they had stolen three very powerful artifacts from Spirit World, which Yusuke has to retrieve as his first assignment as Spirit Detective.
Kurama stole the Forlorn Hope, a mirror that has the power to grant its user a wish during the full moon in exchange for their life. Upon meeting Kurama, Yusuke finds out that Kurama has no intention of using the mirror to cause harm, but only wishes to use its power to save his mother from an illness.
When using the mirror, much to Kurama's surprise and horror, Yusuke offers his own life to be taken instead so that Kurama can continue to live with his mother.
In the English version of the anime, the Forlorn Hope decides not to take either life due to the selflessness shown by Yusuke and Kurama, while still granting Kurama's wish. In the manga version, Yusuke splits the difference between him and Kurama so neither will die and Shiori will still live.
Kurama is also briefly seen in the Rescuing Yukina arc. Throughout the arc, he converses briefly with Koenma about Hiei's situation. Near the end, he heads toward the mansion in hopes of helping Yusuke, Kuwabara, and Botan out though it turns out not to be necessary. Instead he is seen hidden in the corner of the room in which Tarukane was located trying to convince Hiei that telling Yukina he was her brother would lead to her happiness
In the Dark Tournament Saga, Kurama and Hiei are forced to join Yusuke and Kuwabara to form Team Urameshi. Kurama's first opponent, Roto from Jolly Devil Six/Team Rokuyokai, threatened to end Shiori's life if Kurama attacked by signaling his stationed brother with a button. Kurama killed him by planting a Death Seed on Roto's body without him noticing.
Kurama then faced Gama and Toya, of Shadow Channelers/Team Masho. Gama magically chained Kurama's arms and legs by using paint made with his own blood, immobilizing him. Kurama killed Gama with his Rose Whip wrapped around his hair, but not before Gama used the last of his strength to seal Kurama's yōki (demon energy) within his body with the blood spilling from his dying body. Due to this, Kurama was planted a Death Seed into his own body during his fight with Toya in order to access its power to defeat his opponent. This move caused Kurama to slip into unconciousness.
As he was still standing unconscious, he was forced to face a third opponent named Bakken. Bakken inflicted heavy blows on Kurama, nearly killing him. He was stopped by Yusuke, who was ready to shoot Bakken with his spirit gun, and his boss, who ordered him to stop. His boss pointed out that if he continued, Yusuke would kill him. Instead of finishing Kurama, he knocked him out of the ring, and prepared for a fight with Yusuke.
Later in the tournament, when fighting Uraurashima, Kurama was turned into his fox form with The Reverse Treasure Box (Reverse Magic Box in English Manga, Idun Box in the English Dub). It was meant to send him back to an embryonic state, but actually forced him back into his previous form as Yōko Kurama, King of Thieves. He transforms back into Shuichi when Shishiwakamaru breaks the barrier that held in the smoke from the Box.
The last opponent Kurama faces in this tournament is Karasu. Karasu had an obsessive desire to kill Kurama, saying that taking away the things he likes gives him a thrill like pondering unanswerable questions. Kurama becomes desperate to know what caused his transformation into Yōko Kurama during his fight with Uraurashima, because he knows that he cannot defeat Karasu while in his human form. Suzuki gives Kurama the potion made from the Fruit of the Past Life (debatably from either Spirit World or Demon World, depending upon whether the source is the English or Japanese version) that he used to make the Idun Box, telling him he is unsure of its effects in this concentrated form. After testing it, Kurama finds out that it will make him transform into Yōko, but only for fifteen minutes.
Kurama takes some of the potion before his battle with Karasu, but its effect does not take place right away, and Kurama is badly injured. Finally, just before Karasu inflicts a lethal blow on Kurama, the transformation happens. Yōko is able to trap Karasu in his Ojigi Plant, and believes to have defeated him. But Karasu is still alive. Unfortunately for Kurama, the effects of the potion wear off before the fifteen minutes are up. After being almost blown to bits, Kurama decides to sacrifice himself to kill Karasu. As he releases a blood sucking plant on Karasu, he gives the last of his life energy and, therefore, intends to die. Surprisingly, Kurama does not die. He realizes that each time he takes the potion, the effect does not last as long because he gains some of his demon strength back, enabling him to survive. After this fight Kurama only needs to feel extreme emotions such as hatred or anger to revert back to Yōko Kurama.
After Yusuke was kidnapped, Kurama fought against Yū Kaito, a fellow student from the same private school that he attended in a word game. After Kurama's suspicions confirmed that Genkai was behind the kidnapping, Kaito revealed that although he agreed to Genkai's plan, he went after Kurama seriously to prove that just once he could beat Kurama at his own game. Kurama then fought against Shinobu Sensui (Dark Angel) and his six companions alongside Yusuke, Hiei, Kuwabara, Genkai, and his other friends.
He also transforms in this Saga, when Yusuke takes a fatal hit on purpose. Yusuke dies to evoke the emotional power needed for Kuwabara to call upon his Dimension Sword and rescue himself, Hiei, and Kurama from Itsuki's Dimensional Trap - as well as to give them the boost they would need to stand a chance against Sensui and close the gate between the Human World and Demon World. During the battle with Sensui, Kurama's anger over the death of Yusuke propels him once again to A-class levels, transforming his body to that of his former self in the process. When he transforms, he gains all the powers endowed to Yōko Kurama, but retains the mind of Kurama, the human/demon hybrid.
He encountered Tsukihito Amanuma (Game Master) and was forced to kill him during a video game competition. After that, he fought Sadao Makihara (Gourmet), cutting his head off to confirm that Elder Toguro was controlling his body. Kurama defeats Toguro by trapping him in one of his plants for eternity.
Shiori Minamino is later re-married to Hatanaka, the president at a company where Shiori works, between the events of the Chapter Black and Three Kings saga. Kurama also gains a new stepbrother, coincidentally named Shuichi (whose name was changed to Kokoda in the English Dub).
Saga of the 3 three kings
Kurama is forced to re-live his past as he's called to Yomi's side. Yomi is Yōko Kurama's old partner-in-crime. A thousand years ago, Yomi was sent on a raid, but it was a set-up. Yōko had arranged for an assassin to kill Yomi. “Life is greater than the reward,” were the only things the assassin spoke during the fight. In the fight, the assassin makes Yomi blind instead of killing him. Meeting again after a thousand years, Kurama is forced to advise Yomi, who has threatened to kill his mother and step-father. Kurama predicts that in half a year, every second in command in the three realms will have been replaced. Promising to return with strong fighters, Kurama returns to the Human World and calls for a group of old friends and former opponents from the Dark Tournament; Rinku, Chu, Jin, Toya, Shishiwakamaru and Suzuki. They train under Genkai in her temple and become a very strong team, even stronger than Yomi's entire army. Kurama then brings his new team to Yomi. Yomi is so impressed that he removes his second in command and appoints Kurama instead. Enraged by this, he attacks Kurama and tries to kill him. In response, Kurama turns into Yōko and kills the former general with ease.
Kurama's internal struggles become more apparent during this part of the series. He holds three personalities: Kurama (with Yusuke and the others), Yōko Kurama, and Shuichi Minamino. At this point, Yōko is close to the surface of Shuichi's mind, where he is usually more of a pseudo-personality rather than a driving force. He seems to want to live the life he lost when the bounty hunter shot him, so in moments of duress or battle, Shuichi or Kurama (who retained the A-class powers after Sensui was defeated), would transform into Yōko Kurama and his ruthless personality would return (now at an S-class level).
After the death of Raizen, Yusuke comes to Yomi's territory with a proposition; a new tournament which will determine the ruler of whole Makai. Yomi accepts and the tournament begins. Kurama's team qualifies easily in the preliminary round but after that the team faces stronger opponents and each member is defeated one by one. Then, Kurama fights Shigure, “The Demon Surgeon.” During a fierce battle he manages to defeat Shigure and destroy his Ring Sword. Unable to accept this, Shigure commits suicide. Kurama is qualified to the next round but is unable to continue fighting due to severe injuries.
After his fight with Shigure, he decides to not look to the past for answers to the future and so leaves his Yōko side where it belongs–therefore living as only Kurama and Shuichi Minamino (although there have been numerous purely-fan-made speculations that when Shuichi Minamino dies he will return to his Yōko life in the Makai/Demon World). With loyalty to his human mother and support of his friends, he is able to make the choice to stop living as something he's not, anymore. After the end of the Makai/Demon World Tournament, Kurama goes back to the Human World and gets a job at his stepfather's company. He lives like a normal human being from then on alongside Yusuke, Kuwabara, and his other friends–except for Hiei, perhaps, as it is implied in one of the Jaganshi's last lines of the anime (Japanese version) that he visits the Ningenkai/Human World–possibly frequently, since all of his 'friends' live there.
In Poltergeist Report, we are introduced to Kurama's old friend and partner named Kurobue (his name is changed to “Kuronue” in the English dub). Kuronue was Yōko's right hand man and went with Yōko on many of his thieving expeditions.
However, on one of these expeditions, Kurama and Kuronue robbed a house that, unbeknownst to them, was filled with traps. Kuronue sacrificed his life when he attempted to recover a pendant that was precious to him. He then ordered Yoko to flee, before he too was killed.
One of the Netherworld Gods impersonated Kuronue and accused Kurama that he had betrayed him. During their second encounter, Kurama knew that this Kuronue was a fake, because the fake threw the pendant that was precious to Kuronue and attacked Kurama from behind; both things the real Kuronue would never do. Kurama was able to use part of a bamboo plant to kill the fake Kuronue in the same way his friend died.
Weapons and Attacks
Kurama's special ability is that he can turn plants into deadly weapons by manipulating his youki into that plant. Kurama has complete control over any Human Realm plant and has some control over Demon Realm plants. However Yoko Kurama has complete control over Demon Realm Plants and has more power than regular Kurama. The strength of Kurama's moves depends on how much yoki Kurama uses. This is a list of Kurama's known moves from the show. *Rose Whip/Bara Shibenjin (ローズ ウイップ/薔薇棘鞭刃 Rose Thorny Whip-blade?): With this technique, Kurama uses his yōki to grow a rose from its seed state to its flowering state and then into a long thorny whip. With Kurama's skill the Rose Whip is truly a deadly weapon. The Rose Whip is so deadly it can cut even through steel. This weapon was first introduced during Kurama's battle against Genbu of the Four Beasts. This is Kurama's most common weapon. *Kagon Retsuzanshi (華厳裂斬枝 Splendid Limb-Severing?) or Rose Whiplash in the English Dub: Kurama uses this technique against Genbu of the Four Beasts, severely slashing in multiple directions with his whip to break apart Genbu's body. This is his primary attack with his whip, particularly when he's going in for the kill. *Fūka Enbu Jin in the Japanese version, 'Rose Whip Thorn Wheel in the English Dub, or Petal Whirlwind in the English Manga: This is an offensive move, using the petals of a single flower, which looks somewhat like a carnation, as flying kunai and ripping the opponents to shreds. There is also the “Wind Petal Waltz Configuration” or “Petals and Thorns” in the English dub. This is a defensive technique seen when Kurama fights against Karasu. Kurama uses it to buy time before he transforms into Yoko Kurama under the effect of the potion he took. It is essentially a whirlwind of rose petals hovering around him and if the opponent/attacker gets within a certain range the petals attack and rip them to shreds. *Shimaneki Sō (死招き草 Deathbringer Weed?) or Seed of the Death Plant in the English dub and “Deadly vetch” in the Viz translation: This is a small seed which once planted on his opponent's body, Kurama can manipulate his yoki and after it had enough time to take root the Shimaneki can kill the victim. This attack was only used in the Dark Tournament Saga and was first used against Roto of the Jolly Devil Six/Team Rokuyukai who threatened to kill Kurama's human mother Shiori with a messenger Yokai if he attacked him. Kurama was skillfully able to plant the Shimaneki on Roto and fought Roto long enough for the seed to take root. During his match against Toya (Touya) of the Team Mashotsukai/Team Masho/Shadow Channelers with his yoki sealed away from a curse brought on from his previous match Kurama was forced to place the seed in his body to use the yoki in his body and was able to use the Shimaneki as a sword-like weapon to render Touya unconscious. *Shoku Yō Shokubutsu (食妖植物 Devourer Demon Plant?) or Death Tree in the English Dub: Used by Yoko Kurama during his match against Reverse Urashima/Ura Urashima of Team Uratogi/Fractured Fairy Tales in the Dark Tournament. This is a giant redwood carnivorous tree with an acidic saliva that strikes anything that moves. Yoko Kurama used this to force Ura to tell him the secret of the Reverse Treasure Box. This would have worked if Ura hadn't been killed by his teammate Shishiwakamaru for trying to give away their secrets. *Makai Ojigi Sō (魔界オジギ草 Demon Realm Bow Weed?) or Ojigi Plant in the English Dub: Used during his match against Karasu this is where Yoko Kurama was able to use this plant to counter Karasu's bombs. This deadly plant is from South America where it responds to movements or flammables by closing its leaves around its prey and crushes it to death. Although this plant managed to bind Karasu, he was able to create an explosion from within destroying this plant. *Kyūketsu Shokubutsu (吸血植物 Bloodsucking Plant?)(Vampire Plant in VIZ Media Dub): A blood sucking Demon Realm plant that also was used against Karasu in the Team Toguro Match. When Yoko Kurama reverted back to Kurama and with his youki running low, Kurama deliberately placed a Shimaneki seed on Karasu's chest knowing that he would find it so it would expose his blood. Kurama intended to sacrifice himself in this kamikaze attack to kill Karasu who thought that Kurama could only control Human Realm plants. Kurama was narrowly able to survive by using this technique. *Janenju (邪念樹 Tree of Depravity?) or Sinning Tree in the English Dub: This plant was used by Kurama in the Chapter Black Saga in the fight against Gourmet aka Sadao Makihara. Knowing that Elder Toguro was now in control of Gourmet's body, Kurama placed this seed on his Rose Whip, which was planted on Gourmet's body when Kurama decapitated him. The tree would send its victim their worst fears until they die, but since Elder Toguro was incapable of dying, it would prey on him forever. *Juryō Yōzan Ken (樹霊妖斬拳 Wood Spirit Demon Beheading Technique?) or The Binding Fist of the Demonic Vine in the English Dub: Used by Yoko Kurama during his battle against Shinobu Sensui. This is where by growing the Rose Whip around his arm, Yoko Kurama can use the vines as a sword-based weapon. *Okunenju Ueki (Okunenju Trees) or Okunenju Roots in the English Dub: Used during Kurama's battle against Shigure in the Three Kings Saga to show that using Yoko Kurama was not his ace card. Kurama is able to grow this tree in order to surround the fighting arena and the roots were able to render Shigure's ring sword useless. It resembles cherry trees probably related to Kurama's memories of climbing the cherry tree in his front yard as a child. *Bamboo Plant: Not officially named, this plant was used in Yu Yu Hakusho: Poltergeist Report to kill a Netherworld God that had impersonated Kurobue, an old friend of Yōko Kurama. Its tips are extremely sharp, piercing the body as it grows. Kurobue was also killed by a similar attack, which makes the death of the Netherworld God quite similar to Kurobue's actual death.
Other than the plants that Kurama regularly uses, there are some plants that he uses in special cases. *Akaru Zassou (Akaru Weed) or Lamp Weed in the English Dub: These weeds were used as markers by Kurama to help identify their way for traveling the maze-like Irma Cave (Demon Door's Cave in the English Dub) in the Chapter Black Saga. Kurama planted a few of these just before their encounter with Game master aka Tsukihito Amanuma. Koenma was later able to use these to help him move in the cave for the part of the way when he was one his way to join up with the others to see Sensui. *Fuyouka no Makai Shokubutsu (浮葉科の魔界植物 Floating Leaves from Demon Realm Plant?) or Leaf of a Plant in the English Dub: doubling as a glider, this plant is where Yoko Kurama placed this on his back to sprout butterfly-like plant membranes that serve as 'wings' (if only visually) to help him, Hiei and Kuwabara, level their descent after falling in midair from the portal to Makai (Demon World) during their pursuit of Sensui to avenge Yusuke Urameshi's death. This description of the 'butterfly wings' may be perhaps taken from the English dub version where Kuwabara looks up and says–“A fox, a butterfly–what can't you turn into??”
- Kurama's human name translates in two parts: the given (Shūichi) means “excellence first”, while the surname (Minamino) means “Southern Field” and is also very close to the name of a famous Japanese warrior (Yoshitsune Minamoto). To this day, the surname is only allowed to families of nobility or higher social standing. *Kurama appears in the game Jump Ultimate Stars for the Nintendo DS as a playable character *In the Chapter Black Saga, in Volume 14 Chapter 9, Kurama tells Yusuke that he can read lips. *In the original Yu Yu Hakusho manga, Kurama had black hair instead of red hair.