Yu Yu Hakusho Nearly Didn't Feature Hiei As a Main Character

Like so many other shonen franchises, Yu Yu Hakusho saw a number of enemies becoming allies when it came to the adventures of the spirit detectives. Perhaps the most popular to join Yusuke Urameshi, the protagonist who died and was reborn as a warrior fighting the supernatural, is Hiei, the pint-sized demon. Thanks to information released at the "Puzzle Exhibition" honoring creator Togashi Yoshihiro, it would seem that Hiei was never originally set to be an ally to humanity if the creator had stuck to his original plan.

Yusuke Urameshi was first joined by his fellow student Kuwabara, who would gain supernatural powers of his own, though this would give him mastery over a "spirit sword" rather than a "spirit gun". On one of their first missions as spirit detectives, they would come into contact with both Hiei and Kurama, who were originally demons fighting against the spirit detectives. The Yu Yu Hakusho anime would put Hiei's quick motion to good use, with Studio Pierrot bringing to life his sword attacks along with the powerful technique that he learned during the Dark Tournament Arc, Dragon of the Darkness Flame. Hiei was voiced by Chuck Huber in the original anime, returning for the recent 2023 OVA special. 

(Photo: Pierrot)

What Were The Original Plans For Hiei?

As explained in the new Togashi Exhibition, Hiei was originally planned to just be a villain that would trouble Yusuke Urameshi. It was only thanks to Togashi's editor at the time that Hiei was given a larger role, as the editor suggested that the master of the Dragon of the Darkness Flame would work better as a member of the spirit detectives. Hiei is in good company when it comes to shonen villains that became heroes, with the likes of Dragon Ball's Vegeta, Naruto's Gaara, and Bleach's Soul Society being a few prime examples.

At the "Puzzle Exhibition," it was confirmed that Hiei was the most popular Yu Yu Hakusho character. Here's how the art exhibit broke down the poll itself as well as the decision regarding Hiei: "Hiei topped the character popularity polls conducted twice during the series. Initially, Kurama was drawn was a conscious effort o create a popular character and Hiei was not even planned to be a part of the group. Hieie was only put in the group after an editor pointed out that he should be, but he eventually grew to become a beloved character with top-ranking popularity."

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