Kazuma Kuwabara (桑原和真, Kuwabara Kazuma), more commonly known as Kuwabara by Yusuke, and Kurama, and simply "the fool" by Hiei. The only people who call him by his first name, Kazuma, are Shizuru and Yukina. He is a main character in the anime/manga series YuYu Hakusho.
Kuwabara's seiyū is Shigeru Chiba. His English voice actors are Christopher Sabat in the Funimation dub, Lex Lang in the Media Blasters dub (of the TV special), Cliff Lazenby in the US Manga Corps dub (of the Movie) and Russell Wait in the Animax dub. He is called Alfred in the Filipino dub of the anime. His name, Kazuma, meanspeace and truth.
Kuwabara is broad-shouldered with a defined muscular build. He is the tallest member of the team, standing at about six feet - making him very tall by Japanese standards, as this is considered well above average. He has thick reddish-orange hair that is combed up into a 1950's 'punk' pompadour style. He has an angular face with narrow gray eyes (Revealed in "The Cape of No Return" Episode 48) and high cheek bones and a slender pointed nose.
His overall appearance, as well as his dress sense, are likely an homage to the classic Japanese 'bad boy' mythology from the 1950's. While in school, he wears a light blue jump suit - in contrast with the dark blue ones worn by rest of the male students. In the anime, he wears his school uniform most of the time for the first few major parts of the story (in fact, for all of the first season and half of the second.) In the manga, he wore street clothes during Genkai's Tournament- including a baseball jersey inscribed with things like Motor Head
and Iron Fist
written on it. In several episodes, it can be seen that he preemptively binds his abs with bandages, much like a classic brawler. He also occasionally dons headbands, such as his "Fighting Headband of Love" when he set out to rescue Yukina.
Though initially appearing as just a rival to Yusuke, it becomes clear from the start that he deeply values the connection between them forged by the many fights they got into, which is evidenced by his refusal to accept Yusuke's death at the beginning of the series. Though neither he or Yusuke would admit it, there is an obvious emotional bond between them, akin to brothers. He and Yusuke always address each other by their last names- furthering the link to classic Japanese youth icons.
Kuwabara quickly forms an antagonistic relationship with Hiei from the onset after he insults him when they first meet. The mutual dislike continues well into the series. Hiei constantly regards him as useless and stupid while Kuwabara finds Hiei to be uncaring and snide. Despite this, Kuwabara later comments that he knows that deep down Hiei is a decent person (or a "good guy" as he put it in the anime). Conversely, Kuwabara gets along well with Kurama and the two appear to have a social friendship (Kuwabara is seen at the wedding of Kurama's human mother). He trains with both Kurama and Hiei in order to prepare for the Dark Tournament.
He is often seen being disciplined by his sister, Shizuru Kuwabara, though it's likely that she's doing this to toughen him up. She is usually seen insulting him at times when he does poorly in a fight, and is quick to physically reprimand him if she thinks he's getting out of line. She does allow a more caring and defensive side to show at times if she feels that his life is in real danger. It may in fact be because of his sister that he is much more curteous and respectful to women that men. One example can be seen when he borrows a text book from Keiko and bows in thanks. He's on friendly terms with Keiko, and is quick to defend her in Yusuke's place when he's not around. He is extremely loyal to his three friends Sawamura, Kirishima, and Okubo, even going so far as to endanger himself for their sake in one case. Kuwabara is extremely empathic to others and often puts himself in great danger to help them.
Throughout the series, Kuwabara's actions are driven by a number of things. One being his personal code of honor that drives him to fight for loyalty and justice. His actions are also linked heavily to his emotions, such as when he 'fought for love' while rescuing Yukina. His emotions and bonds also drive him to become stronger, such as his love for Yukina (from which he draws the power to defeat Reisho in the Dark Tournament) and his sense of fellowship to Yusuke. It was his grief over Yusuke that pushed him over the edge and allowed him to finally access his newest ability, the Jigen Tou.
He is a huge fan of the heavy metal group Megallica (an obvious reference to Metallica and rival band Megadeth) as well as Oingo Boingo. Despite his appearance, he has a soft spot for his cat Eiikichi. He briefly had an unrequited and unreciprocated crush on Botan. Later, he appeared to instantly fall in love with Yukina, who initially had no understanding of romance. Yukina is unaware of his feelings throughout the majority of the series since she is a Ice Maiden- a species that does not practice male/female relationships. She nonetheless cares for him, and expresses a great deal of concern when it comes to his safety. Towards the end of the series, it is stated that the two spend a lot of time together, with Kuwabara's father even making a brief appearance (in the manga) and inviting her to stay in the Kuwabara home upon meeting her.
Though Kuwabara is considered to be an idiot (especially by Hiei) and often shows several acts of stupidity, he seems to be actually much more intelligent than he lets on. His later battles often require using his head more, and while initially he never studied and got very low scores (4 and 52 on his chemistry tests), after studying to help Okubo keep his job, he is said to have found his "inner scholar" by Sawamura (in the manga), and was found attending classes and studying more (much to the shock of Keiko's friends). Despite his delinquency, (with much prodding from Shizuru to study) he was able to get accepted into the high school of his choice.
- His family name, Kuwabara, means "mulberry field". According to Chinese legend, mulberry trees cannot be struck by lightning. Saying "kuwabara" twice is supposed to ward off lightning bolts. It is also sometimes spoken as a means of warding off ghosts in Japan.
- In both the Japanese and English dub versions of the anime, Kuwabara's Spirit Sword, when activated, has a similar sound effect to the lightsaber weapon of the Star Wars franchise.
- Togashi came up with the character's name by combining the names of two professional baseball players. Coincidentally, a few baseball references were used in the series as well for Kuwabara. The manga version of the Genkai Tournament had Kuwabara wear street clothes, with a baseball jersey, as opposed to the anime where he wore his school uniform. Also Kuwabara had used his sword as a baseball bat on two occasions.
- Kuwabara, like his teammates, has some similarities to the character Leorio from Hunter x Hunter
- Both are the tallest members of their respective teams
- Both use bladed weapons in combat with Kuwabara using his Spirit sword and Leorio using a knife
- Kuwabara strives to get into the best school possible and become more intelligent while Leorio strives to become a doctor.
- Although they won't admit it, both are the weakest members of their teams.
- Both also get into humorous conflicts with the shortest members of their teams; Leorio with Killua and Kuwabara with Hiei.
- Both lost focus in later seasons