Duel Academy, one of the most prestigious schools in Duel Monster's history. There students learn the fundamentals of becoming not just duelists, but large business owners.
Yuki Judai is a new student with only one thing on his mind, to become the next King Of Games. Judai meets several friends, teachers, and even enemies at the large Dueling school. There he'll have to face off against several different Dorms to become number one duelist. Slifer Red, Ra Yellow, and Obelisk Blue are the three dorms. Will Judai be able to pass all of them?
Based on Kazuki Takahashi's world famous anime and manga Yu-Gi-Oh!.
#1: "Borderline Battle" by JAM Project (eps 1-33) #2: "Wake Up Your Heart" by KENN with the NaBs (eps 34-104) #3: "The Sun" by Bite The Lung (eps 105-156) #4: "Endless Dream" by Hiroshi Kitadani (eps 157-180)
After watching the whole series in just two weeks or so, I will tell you how I felt about this series. I watched the orignal Japanese version, not the English dubbed version (although I've watched some on TV).
Yu-Gi-Oh! GX is a sequel of the original Yu-Gi-Oh! series as most would know. The game of Duel Monsters has gotten so popular that there are pro leagues as well as specialized schools to mainly train and teach students to become great duelists. It's an interesting setting and did intrigue me.
The story follows after a young boy named Yuki Judai, who just starts to attend an elite Duel
Monsters school called, "Duel Academia" The school is divided in three different classes, "Obelisk Blue", "Ra Yellow" and "Osiris Red" (the names should sound familiar for those who watched the original series). It is basically dividing students into their skill levels, Osiris Red being the lowest class, Ra Yellow in the middle and the Obelisk Blue, consisting of the school's best duelists.
The series starts off with a lighter tone, just following Judai and his life in school as he makes new friends. But as the story progresses, it does get deeper and more complex. I felt that there were quite a few story elements that seemed forced and didn't make sense, but it was watchable overall. Much like the original series, there's heavy emphasis on friendship. One thing that does get a little annoying is that duelists read their card effects every time they play it and it kind of gets tiresome, but I guess they can't help it since there will always be people who aren't familiar with the cards and their effects.
I wasn't super impressed with most of OP and ED songs, but soundtracks were quite good, although I would have liked a little more variety of music during duels. It's like when you hear a certain music starts to play, you know that our hero's pulling off an awesome combo to finish the duel!
Art wise, I felt that GX got a slight down grade from the original series. Not a big difference, but I never thought that GX had better animation or art quality. Not the worst, but not too impressive on most parts. However, I never expected it to be amazing since it is a 180 episode series afterall.
There are quite a bit of characters in GX and I felt that there were perhaps a little too many. Character developments are there, as it would be crazy to have a 180 episode series without character growths. Some character developments being more natural and subtle than others. The series inserts new characters here and there to keep it interesting, but it felt a bit crowded later on.
I mainly watched this because I play the card game myself. It will be much more enjoyable if you play the game. It does gets kind of repetitive, but that could be because I was having a marathon (almost). The TV series is very different from the manga, so give it a read! I personally like the overall feel of the manga more, because the manga has more mature feel to it.
Basically, this series is worth a watch for someone who:
- plays, or is interested in the card game
- wants to kill some time
- is looking for something to watch with his/her kid
In conclusion, Yu-Gi-Oh! GX was a decent series, but it was never at the level of the original Yu-Gi-Oh! series.
It's best to note that while the Yu-Gi-Oh! GX anime is not the worst anime in existence, it is far from the best. This series puts a couple of blemishes on the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise; in fact, when compared with the manga, it earns the same reaction you'll find from avid Tsukihime fans: "What anime?"
The premise of a dueling academy makes a lot of sense when you consider the fact that Yu-Gi-Oh! is about a children's card game. While the importance of a children's card game seems exaggerated in the viewers' eyes, you have to remember that in this animeverse, it -isn't-. Duel Monsters is the
most popular--and clearly the most influential--sport of the world. Plus, when you realize the Academia still has the required graduation classes (though you won't see them too much on-screen), you realize that the school is a typical high school--just one with a very specialized "Ivy Leage" program.
Still, while the premise doesn't have flaws, the way it was carried out does. The first half of season one made GX seem like a slice-of-life anime, which wouldn't be so much of a problem if the plot was at least consistent rather than having these separated one-shots. Then when GX actually started having substantial plots, it seemed like another series taking itself too seriously. A white hole in space sending proxies to bring about destruction? A deranged hermaphrodite demon seeking her lover? A force of darkness wishing to unify all existence in nothingness? Sorry NAS, not buying it. What probably made these plots worse was that they were arranged in a "What enemy will I face this school year?" fashion.
The art was average. It didn't thrill me, but it didn't disgust me either. No more to say on that. Now as for music, that was actually GX's best asset. The OPs and EDs weren't the best, but the OST soundtracks were. They did their job of accenting the situations quite smoothly. If an upbeat song came on, the situation was happy or comical. If a slow and sad song came on, the situation was depressing or dark. And if that one song that raised your spirits came on, you knew the protagonist of the duel was making his comeback.
NAS dropped the ball with its characters. Too many characters introduced at a time with too little development reserved for each one. Judai, the main character, was a Gary Stu that didn't get a background story until season three. The background wasn't even good either, turning out to be a contrived DM reincarnation rip-off with pathetically shallow "I need to grow up" development in season four that made him nothing more than an ass. And the other protagonists only got their little development in season one, and were shafted in season three with the appearance of the Academia champions.
Still, I found myself enjoying the series while watching it. Much of the bashing GX gets is in hindsight, when the fans start looking back and realize the flaws they overlooked when they first watched it. In the end, the GX anime turned out to be run by a group of people who had no idea what direction they wanted to take the show in; they would rather insert any random and unnecessary bit of occult history and symbolism if it made viewers think they were actually putting any thought into the series. (And let me tell you, GX is riddled with occult stuff if you know how and where to find it.)
I suggest that rather than watching this anime you read Kazuki Takahashi and Naoyuki Kageyama's manga adaptation.
Yu☆Gi☆Oh!: Duel Monsters GX is oftenly known as the weakest Yu☆Gi☆Oh! series aside from Zexal, which in my honest opinion is under rating it a lot. The show may have it's flaws but it's actually an outstanding experience for anyone who looks for long running shows with great characters, funny interactions between them and entertaining story since it begins until it ends.
The show features a lot of one shot episodes and characters thrown in the "filler" category, which is the first point in trashtalking the show. When the story begins it takes a bit long to get into the first arc so the first 30
or so episodes are the ones that introduce you to the show's premise and characters that stay for the longest, which I found alright since they take all of it's time to be properly introduced in a completely non-boring way. Aside from them, there are a bunch of one shot characters that stand in the bad side for silly yet entertaining reasons that never try to hard to be serious but still is pretty fun to watch. It's an original anime so the fillers will still be considered originals and skipping them will just take out from the experience the enjoyment they give. Even the one shot characters are likeable with many ways they have to express themselves, so no one feels the same as the last one as it goes on. They even come back in a later second season episode which actually give them the credit they deserve and it's a nice touch from the staff to not forget about them.
Speaking of characters, during the show each one of the main bunch have their own proper development and mini arcs too, so they are not there just to support the main character (as it was in the original Duel Monsters series) but to acomplish their own goals and make a better experience out of it and in the end you'll just can't help but feel happy for how everything went for them (and miss them like I do...).
The second main criticism the series get is regarding the first two main arcs of the story. While it's certainly true that the plot gets impactful and more interesting the last two arcs where "shit hits the fan". The first half tries something completely different as it goes in a light-hearted (with serious moments) slice of life perspective (in a school where people learn to play card games to do something with their lives related to card games, as silly as it sounds it's pretty cool). It takes it's time to build up the world it presents and success because coming back to the point of the characters and their interactions it will always feel fresh and fun to watch.
I consider a mistake to watch GX skipping the first half just because the second half is more serious, if it's done like that anyone who starts from season 3 onwards won't feel empathy for the characters, which are the show's strongest point in the experience of the story, so from the get go if you don't like them this animation is not for you and most importantly you will for sure miss a lot of crazy shit during seaons 1 and 2 that'll make you think the writers were in drugs during production.
The actual plot though it's not perfect since at some point it foreshadows a lot of stuff that is never explained or brought back again later on, leaving a lot to think about without any answers, but looking for the silliest or serious outcomes will actually feel good.
Production values-wise is the most solid of all the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise, the designs for characters, monsters, environment and even duel disks are pretty interesting and the animation lacks mistakes in it (QUALITY). The soundtrack is also likeable since every background music fits perfectly the moment they play, the voice acting and dialogues in the japanese version is also excellent since every character feels natural with their voice actors representing them.
Regarding the duels, well, it's Yu-Gi-Oh! so it's a standard so liking and understanding the card game is the first step to like or dislike GX.
Opening and Ending songs are also good. In my opinion openings 3 and ending 4 are the best.
Overall it really is an enjoyable experience and it's a shame that we will probably never see something GX related again (;_;)
So if you like Yu-Gi-Oh! and card games animeys to begin with give GX a shot, it might feel like a hit or miss but if it hits you, you'll feel an eternal void inside of you the moment you see the last minutes of the show and try to move on by watching something else (the cycle of anime).
The tightrope between absurdity and existentialism. The setting is not what it appears to be.
The series has remained fascinating to me for many years, despite its status as a tie-in to a trading card game. The expectations going in are low, but the show dazzled me as a younger man for its surprising depth of character writing and the journey of the characters. GX is absurd, but also unafraid to go to dark places. It's about growing up, the meaning of games, the pain of adolescence, and the Jungian shadow.
Judai is at first an annoying main character. Blithe, casually arrogant, undisciplined. But there is also
an innocence to him that is in equal measure endearing and disturbing. There is something "off" about him, and as we learn more of his past in the later seasons, it all starts to make sense. His character is a microcosm for the series as a whole - boyish playfulness and youthful exuberance masking inner darkness, shadows bubbling madly beneath the surface. Minute by minute, the youthful ideals are stripped away and the child is thrust into adulthood.
The side characters suffer from the problem most shonen side characters do - lack of plot important battles and victories. But what they lack in those they make up for with strong character arcs. Manjoume is a great twist on the usual "shonen rival" archetype, Shou is a similarly unique take on the "insecure shy best friend" cliche, Ryo and the "aloof big brother". All of them deconstruct the usual templates. The character writing is pound for pound superior to Yugioh Duel Monsters, and that is a FACT.
The technical aspects of the show are fine. The animation is generally good, with peaks and valleys seen in all long running series. Japanese soundtrack is decent, Sad Duel is a great track. The openings and endings are very good, except for the first OP and ED, which are booty in my opinion. 99% is both melancholy and hopeful, Precious Time Glory Days is a rousing anthem.
The dub is hilarious, and cheesy enough to capture the more absurd elements of the show. It surpasses cringe and leaps headlong into meme territory. It fails utterly at the serious moments though, and the sub is overall the superior product by leaps and bounds.
This series stands apart from Yugioh Duel Monsters, there is a serious argument to be made for it being better. Those who call it a knockoff are ignorant and fail (or refuse to) see the series' merits. The depth is there - choose to see it! I will defend this series any day any time.
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