Yoko Kurama (妖狐蔵馬, lit. Yōko Kurama; in the English dub, Kurama the Yoko), also known as Shuichi Minamino (南野秀一, Minamino Shūichi translated as Southern Field and Excellence First, respectively), is the main protagonist in the anime/manga series of YuYu Hakusho. The word Yoko, despite being portrayed as a name in the dub, actually literally translates to "demon fox" in Japanese.

He is voiced by Megumi Ogata (Shūichi) and Shigeru Nakahara (Yoko) in the original Japanese version and John Burgmeier in the FUNimation English dub, Candice Moore also voiced Kurama in the Animax Asia also in English dub. He is voiced by David Hayter in Yu Yu Hakusho: The Movie and by Hideo Seaver in Yu Yu Hakusho the Movie: Poltergeist Report.  Kurama as a child in the FUNimation dub is voiced by Candice Moore.

Background

Kurama is a reincarnated Kitsune (A trickster fox-spirit). In his previous life he was "Yoko Kurama", leader of an infamous band of bandits in the Demon World. One day he was nearly killed by one of Spirit World's elite agents when his crew was caught in an attempted robbery of Spirit World ruler, King Enma. Yoko Kurama was gravily injured and could not make it back to Demon World, so he slipped down to human world to lose his pursuers, in an effort to both get a chance to recover and remain unnoticed even after he was recovered, Kurama broke down what was left of his physical form and converted it to raw energy to carry with his soul. Kurama sought out a newly pregnant human female, the one he happened upon first was named Shiori Minamino. Kurama possessed the fetus gestating inside Shiori to reconstitute as a new body. Once born the baby was named Shūichi. Though Shūichi was aware of his past life, he was still possessing a human brain and took a few years of infancy to become fully sentient. Shortly after growing out of his toddler stage, he was fully aware of who he was, where he was, what had happened, and how to sneak away, however, something happened in Shūichi's toddler years.

While trying to get some treats, Shūchi fell. Shiori saw Shūichi fall and went to save him. Shūichi was safe, although he notes he would have been fine either-way as his body was imbued with demonic properties at that point and a simple fall would have been nothing to him, but the fall had broken some plates which cut Shiori's arms as she caught him. Shiori experience major nerve damage but she was just grateful her son was safe. Seeing the selflessness of the woman who birthed him was a sobering experience for Kurama. He did not want to leave until she was recovered, but as the nerve damage stuck with her for well over a decade, Kurama spent that time growing attached to her, and viewing her as a traditional mother.

One night, Shūichi was contacted by a demon named Hiei. Hiei, was planning a theft of King Enma's vault while he was away and wanted a small efficient crew for the heist. In addition to a sadistic demon named Gōki as the muscle of the job, Hiei had managed to track down Kurama and wanted the great Yoko-Kurama, who had first-hand experience stealing from King Enma's vault in the past as his stealth expert. Kurama no longer had any desire for such a capper, until Hiei pointed out they would each take one treasure of their choice from the vault, on that list was the Forlorn Hope - a mystical hand-held mirror Kurama had great need of. On the condition he got to keep the mirror and neither Hiei or Gōki interfered in his or his mother's lives after the heist, Kurama agreed. Both Hiei and Gōki were happy with the terms and the heist was on.

Koenma - son of King Enma, had been put in charge of his father's palace and job while Enma was away. He was frantic to recover the artifacts stolen, but not wanting to admit such a theft occurred on his watch, Koenma did not call in his father's elite guards, instead assigning then newly christened Spirit Detective Yusuke Uramishi to the recovery. Yusuke first encounters Gōki, and manage to recover his artifact - The Orb of Baast, which could collect and store multiple human souls, Gōki had been using it to collect and eat the souls of children, which he considered a delicacy. After Gōki was killed, Kurama saw he might not get the chance to use the Forlorn Hope, and so decided to simply contact Yusuke himself. Upon randevúing with Yusuke, Kurama explained to him that the Forlorn Hope could grant a single wish, but only under the full moon, which is why Kurama had to wait to use it. Kurama said Yusuke would get the mirror without a fight if he just waited until after the full moon. When Yusuke inquired at what Kurama's wish would be, Kurama told Yusuke of his past. His human mother was very sick, no doctors were able to help her and she was at that time in the hospital in critical condition. Kurama intended to use the Forlorn Hope to cure her, but there was a price - the mirror would take in all the life-force of the user. By the time Kurama was done explaining, the full moon was out and Kurama invoked the mirror. Yusuke refused to allow Kurama to throw his life away and took the Forlorn Hope making the same wish but imploring the mirror to take him instead. The Forlorn Hope granted the wish, but neither was killed. The Forlorn hope had taken half the life out of Kurama and half the life out of Yusuke, leaving both in a weakened state, but not fully killing either - though the strain had cracked the mirror itself. Kurama went to see his mother but told Yusuke he would not forget what Yusuke had done for them.

When Yusuke went to confront Hiei, with the final artifact, the Shadow Sword - which could turn humans into low-level demon minions, Kurama saves Yusuke at the last minute, blocking Hiei's attack. Yusuke using the distraction to finish off Hiei, recovers the last artifact and gets both remaining thieves to Spirit World custody. Yusuke spoke out for Kurama, telling them he had turned over a new leaf and had only committed the recent theft due to his mother's life being at stake.

Koenma got Kurama medical attention and assigned him as an assistant to Yusuke, as a form of work-release program. Hiei was made a similar offer if he agreed to become a Spirit World asset. While Hiei was quite resistant but ultimately took the offer as his best option, Kurama gladly agreed to help Yusuke from then on. The two were needed to help thwart a black-mailing scheme by some sealed demons known as the Four Saint Beasts, who had acquired an artifact that could summon minor demons that rendered humans as zombies and were demanding their release in exchange for calling off the plague. After the crisis Hiei was returned to lock-up, though would escape but Kurama was allowed to go; Koenma cautioned Kurama that just because he would face no jail time did not mean Spirit World wouldn't be keeping a close eye on him.

Ever since Yusuke offered his life to save Kurama's mother, Kurama has considered Yusuke an ally, and been ready to help him, his help against the Four Saint Beasts, proving it to Yusuke.


Appearance

In his human form, Kurama has bright green eyes, as well as long vibrant red hair, with two long forelocks on either While in his demon-fox form, he has slanted golden eyes, prominent silver fox-ears, as well as a silver tail and long flowing silver hair. He wears a white sleeveless yukata (that resembles a toga), along with matching martial arts pants and shoes.shoulder and the rest on his back. While in this form, he is occasionally mistaken for a female because of his long hair and delicate features. He often wears his school uniform matching pink slacks and a jacket with gold trim. Towards the end of Season One, he is seen wearing a white martial arts outfit with a purple trim and a sash tied around his waist. He stopped wearing it midway through the 2nd season (presumably because it was ruined in his fights against the first two members of Team Masho). For the remainder of the series, he often wears a light-colored Chinese-style battle outfit with yellow plane and blue trim.  He is also seen in a flashback in the Three Kings Saga, a flashback of him meeting Hiei, where he has short hair.   He also wears a dark blue school uniform. 

In Poltergeist Report Movie, Kurama was seen shirtless. He is has a lean built with well sculpted chest, biceps, and shoulders, but the bandages cover most of his torso.

Powers and Abilities

Kurama was a trickster spirit and a master thief, and as such he is one of, if not the most intelligent of Yusuke's allies, with the possible exception of Yusuke's teacher, Genkai, who is substantially wiser than even Kurama, if not quite as book smart. Kurama is highly creative, twisting all possible scenarios in his head until he finds a solution to any given problem - both conceptual problems and immediate dangers. Kurama is far sturdier than most humans, as he has long since infused his human body with demonic properties, but he still the physically weakest of Yusuke and his allies. As a demon, Yoko Kuram was a fan of decadence, in his life as Shūichi he took on botany as a hobby; As a result of this, Kurama has developed a fondness for flowers, and uses various plants to manifest his powers. Kurama transfers his demonic energy into seeds to make them grow in mere seconds and with various dangerous mutations. Just as Kurama transferred himself to a human fetus, he channels his demonic essence into the seeds, causing them to mutate in a similar fashion to his human body. Kurama's weapon of choice is a rose, which once enhanced by his demonic essence transforms into a Rose Whip, it's thorns sharp, strong and poisoned. Kurama knows a variant of herbal alchemy and can concoct minor curatives to heal wounds. Kurama's herbal cures do not instantaneously heal, and speaks of them more like using various plants as high quality first-aid-kits.

Trivia

  • His English Voice Actor, John Burgmeier is best known for voicing as Shigure Sohma from Fruits Basket series, Tenshinhan from Dragon Ball series, Dorochet from Fullmetal Alchemist series and River Zastory from Black Cat.
  • Kurama was Megumi Ogata (best known as Yukito Tsukishiro)'s debut role that launched her voice acting career and has been one of her favorite characters that she loves voicing.
  • Yoko Kurama is the name of the original, silver-haired fox demon. After he was wounded by being chased, he put his spirit into the newly born human baby, Shuichi Minamino. It is at this point, and later through aging, that Kurama's psyche is in control. A theme throughout the series is his acceptance as a human being & his balancing of the two personalities. He can switch between both bodies almost at will after the Dark Tournament saga. Even though he is commonly seen in his human form (Minamino), he is referred to as Kurama.
  • He is called Dennis in the Filipino dub of the anime. 
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