Fandom: Yû Yû Hakusho
Contains SPOILERS for the full series, and the full manga. And a shoutout to all my Y/K peeps. Word. ^^
Yûsuke is the “#1 delinquent” at Sarayashiki Middle School, and the protagonist of the series, due to his getting run over by a car trying to save the life of a little boy, and many spiritual tests to come back to life. He is crass, hot-headed, sarcastic, rude, and an aficionado of beer, cigarettes, porn, and pachinko. But underneath all of this is a genuine concern for his friends and teammates, and genuine bravery in the face of danger. Yûsuke also uses his acquired street smarts in his job as a Reikai Tantei (“Spirit Detective”), which gives him a tactical advantage in fighting that his less-than-average book smarts (and the fact that he could care less about books) wouldn’t have predicted.
Yûsuke is also the descendant and the son (via genetic atavism) of the powerful demon lord Raizen, but we don’t know this until the second time he dies at the hands of Sensui, and comes back as a powerful demonkin.
Keiko is the only childhood friend of Yûsuke. Unlike him, she is a straight-A student who puts her concern for others, especially Yûsuke, out in the open where other people can see it…usually in the form of a slap when Yûsuke tries to do something perverted or stupid to her. She doesn’t really care about Yûsuke’s origins as the bastard son of an alcoholic mother, nor his identity as a street punk, or later his demon lineage. She was the first person to see past that and truly get to know him.
Like Sensui and Itsuki in my last essay, I could just bypass all of this and just say, “Oh, it’s canon”. But I won’t, because the character dynamics are very interesting.
In the beginning, they’re just friends. However, Sayaka, a spirit girl who Yûsuke rescues to take up to Reikai, spies Keiko, and starts comparing herself with her:
(From the English manga, chapter 12)
Sayaka: Who do you think is prettier, Yuusuke? Huh?
Yûsuke (“irresponsible idiot”): Why, no contest, you are.
Yûsuke: You’re a bright shiny spirit. She’s just a girl. There’s no comparison.
Sayaka: Aww, but she is pretty. In her way, y’know…not like ME, but better than average.
Yûsuke: Are you kidding? This is her lecture face, which is the only one I ever saw. “Hey Yûsuke! Get your butt to school!”
Botan: Yûsuke! Don’t dig yourself in too deep! (To Sayaka) He’s a boy, Sayaka. Mushy stuff embarrasses him. He actually likes Keiko a lot
Yûsuke: Will you shut yer yap?!?
Botan: You’re saying I’m wrong, huh?
Sayaka then decides to test Yûsuke on how much Keiko is “worthy” of him. She quite obviously passes, cleaning Yûsuke up, and then kissing him. Someone throws a homemade bomb into the Urameshi residence, and it sets the place on fire. Who else rescues Yuusuke’s body (which he needs to come back to life) but Keiko? There and then she proves she’s the perfect person for him.
But that’s not all. There are many more Yûsuke/Keiko moments throughout the series. I will now give some of the most important.
When Yûsuke finally has to be resurrected, the only way to do it is to pass reiki through the lips, and he has to contact three people he cares about through dreams. His mother, being who she is, doesn’t do it, and his friend/rival, Kuwabara, is too damn chicken to kiss Yûsuke. That leaves Keiko...but she’s in the hospital visiting her sick mother. Fortunately, just in the nick of time, Keiko comes over to the Urameshi residence and gives Yûsuke the kiss of life.
Suzaku, leader of the four beasts in Maze Castle, kidnaps Keiko in order to provide Yûsuke with bait to fight him (well, actually, he kidnapped Yûsuke and showed him how Keiko was struggling to fight his minions). Seeing how Keiko was getting hurt, Yûsuke powered up and defeated Suzaku.
During the Ankoku Bujusukai (“Dark Tournament”), there are many examples of Yûsuke/Keiko. One is when Yûsuke pinches Keiko’s rear; she slaps him, he complains how much it hurts, and then she tells him to do his best, giving him a mock “rei-gun” and saying, “Bang.”. Yûsuke gives her a thumbs-up. The second one is the flashback beneath the tree…we see them during their childhood, arguing and fighting, and then, Yûsuke’s head drifts off towards Keiko’s body (he’s extremely exhausted from Genkai’s test). The third and last tournament scene is when Keiko becomes so worried about Yûsuke defeating Toguro-otôto that she faints. When Yûsuke is finished fighting, he tries to slap her into consciousness. She wakes up and slaps him back, hard.
After the fight with Sensui, Yûsuke comes out of the cave at Irima, looking quite different than he did before because of his being in tôshin form (with the long hair and the tattoos). The only person to recognize him at first was…Keiko. She leaps onto him, crying and yelling, “Yûsuke!” Then the other members see how Yûsuke has changed.
And the very final, and critical piece of evidence…Yûsuke goes to Makai, and promises Keiko he’ll marry her in three years. At the very end of the series, we see that Yûsuke has kept his promise, and there’s a very pretty scene of the two of them on the beach, kissing, with the waves washing over them.
Why Pair Them Up?
I think of Yûsuke and Keiko as the nicely romantic duo of Yû Yû, as opposed to the mindfuck of Sensui/Itsuki, and the difficulties of Toguro/Genkai. However, they’re not perfect, as you can see by Keiko’s constant slapping and reprimanding. Her job is to keep Yûsuke in line; she’s the rock upon which he rests. If Keiko were not around, Yûsuke would be a totally different person, a person with a reckless life which would be going nowhere (not to mention probably dead). If Yûsuke were not around, Keiko’s life would be boring, and she would never get out of being “stiff”. In other words, they complement each other, but yet are normal enough together to be believable.
I also think of Keiko as wearing the pants in this relationship, and that’s the kind of het pairings I tend to go for. She can send him falling over with a simple slap, and reprimand him when he does something wrong. However, because of all of Yûsuke’s differences (his demon heritage, his street-punk cred), she also has to be tolerant and loving of him, no matter what dangers their relationship will face. (For example, it is one of my beliefs that Yûsuke’s sexuality post-atavism is very different from what it was pre-atavism [because of demons’ being “omnisexual” in human terms], and Keiko will have to give him elbow room for his attraction to other males…I also see her becoming very accepting, to the point of her being with other females to adopt the demon way of living. So, I think that in the future, they’ll be swingers. Togashi’s couples always have some dark side to them…)
In short, they are made for one another, each giving the other qualities that the other wouldn’t necessarily have themselves.
Intertwined- The YusuKei FL.
Depth of Hearts- A Yûsuke/Keiko shrine. Not complete, but very good nonetheless. The only shrine out there for the pairing.
Faith- A shrine for Yukimura Keiko.
Spirit Gun The best Yûsuke shrine out there!
This took me a long while to find, since good YusuKei fanfiction is pretty rare compared to Yûsuke/Another Guy and Yûsuke/Mary Sue. >D
Secrets by Shandy- A nice little BDSM PWP, giving insight into how this pairing might work.
School Rumors by dropsofgleam- A very good fic, done from the perspective of Keiko’s friends, on how they see her boyfriend.
The Right Triangle by Kuwa-chan. A realistic look at how Yusuke and Keiko might get together, with the help of Kuwabara and a math book.
You Promised by bobbissimo- A sweet, yet dysfunctional, vignette. (I warned you canonical Togashi pairings were all screwed up in the end!)