Yuugi is a somewhat frail young boy who happens to be a big fan of gaming of any kind. But when he solves an ancient egyptian puzzle he is granted all the powers of darkness. Now when confronted with danger and injustice, he transforms into a much darker and dangerous form, and proceeds to dish out the justice and punishment for those who so richly deserve it.
First of all, this series is a LOT different from "Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters". While the card game was certainly present in this series, it wasn't nearly as important.
There are a lot of changes from this to Duel Monsters. Mokuba's character is 100% different, Kaiba is somehow more of a jerk, Yugi is tinier and he gets beat up one per episode. And Yami challenges people to shadow games, which end in insanity or death.
The episodes are really predictable, for the most part. One of the main characters is picked on, Yami challenges them to a shadow game and wins, the episode ends. Even so,
it's fun to watch, because the bad guys always get what they deserve. And you get to see some real action as opposed to half an hour of children's card games. Also Joey crossdresses.
I would recommend this show to both fans and haters of Duel Monsters. If you liked the other series, you'll really like this one because it fills in a lot of missing information. If you hate the other series, then you'll probably like this because of the action and actual plot.
The art is okay and the sound track is nothing special (except for the song that plays when Yami is being awesome). I gave it a ten for enjoyment because...I LOVED this show. I'm such a geek, I know, but really, I had a lot of fun watching this. Hopefully you will too.
Heck, I've been a big player of Yu-Gi-Oh! since the game came out. I never wanted to get hooked on it but I did anyways. Basically, Yu-Gi-Oh is one of those many animes that big named companies makes money off of with collectable cards, toys, and what nots. But before we all came to know the Yu-Gi-Oh! that 4Kids TV showed us on the WB channel every morning, there was a series that started it all way before the Cards were the all so important factor of the show. This was the Original Yu-Gi-Oh thread, to many it's known as the Zero Season.
In Yu-Gi-Oh! we
meet young little Yugi Moto. Like in the show here he was introduced as a kind and loving friend to Tea (Anzu), Joey (Jonouchi), and Tristan (Honda). There is also another character that was forgotten to be shown as well, Miho Nosaka. Miho is another of Yugi's friends that usually hangs around Tristan or Tea.
Yugi finds the Millennium Puzzle in his families Game Store and decides to build it. The box says "who ever is able to complete this Puzzle will gain the powers of the Dark and one wish will come true". Yugi finishes the Puzzle and wishes for Friendship. Then the dark spirit, Yami, grants him this wish and protects Yugi's friends from dangerous Bullies, Gansters, Rich Snobs, and demented Criminals.
Unlike the Yu-Gi-Oh! you see on TV, this is way different then what I expected. Yami, which we all see as the super good guy is a crazy psycopathic killer in this series. Always playing mind games and then killing his opponent. He is some King of Games. This is one to check out.
Overview: That other Yugioh series, the one you probably didn't see.
First a little background,
If you grew up in the 1990s, you probably saw at least a few episodes of Yugioh, the anime about children playing a poor man's version of Magic the Gathering featuring holographic monsters and rules that seem to change every episode. Yugioh was localized in the US by the infamous and now thankfully defuct company 4kids. All dark plot points involving death and people getting sent to hell were removed, and replaced with references to the "shadow realm". This is similar to early US dubs of Dragonball Z where in every god
damned episode someone was getting sent to "another dimension". 4kids even made awkward edits where guns were photoshopped out and guards simply pointed at characters, although obviously they were supposed to be holding something. if you don't believe me, here is a sample:
Finally, the part where I actually review season zero:
However, even the "uncut" version without the overzealous editing of 4kids wasn't that dark. The Yugioh that was popular in the US was intentionally a kid friendly show. This could NEVER be said about the first Yugioh series, also known as season zero. Comparing season zero to the later Yugioh series would be almost like comparing Berserk to Pokemon. Season zero is deliciously dark and morbid, with the main character callously murdering people in nearly every episode. Even if you disliked Yugioh as a kid, season zero will make you chuckle. Card games aren't nearly as important in season zero, and Yami is portrayed as the king of all games in general, not just card games. Almost every episode he challenges some poor soul to a new twisted survival challenge and ends up killing them like fucking Jigsaw. This show is pretty dark and twisted for a shonen genre, but I personally find it hilarious. Watching it is like learning that there was an original version of Disney's Recess that was R rated and dark as hell. Wouldn't you want to at least watch a few episodes for a laugh? The art is mediocre and lacks the polish of the later series, but who doesn't love Kaiba's green hair? No seriously, he has fucking green hair! The soundtrack is actually quite good with an absolutely amazing opening theme by Field of View. The characters and plot are obviously a bit different, but I actually like this version a lot better. If you vaguely remember Yugioh, but won't watch it because, "that's just a baby show", I think season zero might have you laughing and applauding in no time!
Children's Card Games Saga Part I: A Long Time Ago In A Galaxy Far Away, Where Everyone Has Crazy Hair
Well, it's been a long time since I did a nostalgia review, and it took me so long to finish this series due to being unable to find synced audio and video versions of the show, I feel like I can be nostalgic about this show now. (Seriously, I had to quit watching this show for 6 months)
Anyway- so back in 1998, Yugioh was born. Not the 4Kids Yugioh I grew up watching in the early 2000s, but the version that nobody in the US ever
saw- what we know as Season 0. Though it sports the Yugioh name, this show and Yugioh Duel Monsters are almost nothing alike- though you can see where many of the ideas for Duel Monsters came from in this- an homage of sorts for the Japanese audience who did see this. This one, though, is not really a kid's show.
Artwork and Animation: 4
The art is very 90s, and fairly low budget at that. Honestly, it's kind of ugly to watch, but I mean, what has Toei ever made that was very visually appealing in the first place? They're not exactly the paragon of animation quality. The quality drops noticeably in the last 3 episodes- even with the chibi stuff they were using to mask how rough it looked.
Never fear- Yugi's physics breaking hairstyle/head parasite is always in great form, as is Jounouchi/Joey's... hair... thing.
Basically, this show looks like a Phillips CD-I game.
Sound and Voice Acting: 4
No complaints about the voice acting, other than Yukana, the voice of Miho, is annoying as heck. Sorry C2- but you sound like a live hamster being put through a meat grinder combined with screeching children.
Now, what IS odious about the sound is the uber-recycled generic porno style hip hop muzak that plays in the background of scene setting and as insert music. You hear that, this 80s dance synth cut, and these two "spooky" sounding clips that loop every 3 seconds approximately 46 times each per episode. I think including the OP and ED, there were a total of maybe 6 pieces of music used in the show. Re-re-re-re repetitive.
It's just a shame that Dan Green never got to dub this Yugi.
The same kids we know and love, but with the addition of Miho, and a few changes in personality:
Yugi gets beat up like once every other episode, and close to the end of the series actually gets his azz beat in an arcade by a guy that knows Hokuto Shin Ken! ATATATATA and everything! He's pretty much a pathetic woobie, but he makes up for it by being caring and determined to help people, I guess? *mumbles something about Heart of the Cards*
Yami Yugi on the other hand, either drives someone insane by breaking their mind with magic, sends them to the hospital due to the dangerous game they play (and lose), or just straight up kills them! He takes absolutely no crap in this series, and is keeping the mental health facilities and hospitals full of patients.
Jounouchi/Joey and Honda/Tristan are basically the same in this series- ruffian goons who torture Yugi in the beginning, befriend him, and then never leave his side except to be screwups for the sake of comedy. Jounouchi does beat the snot out of quite a few people in the show though. Honda's sole character trait is that he's absolutely infatuated with the airheaded dimwit Miho, who pays him absolutely no attention.
The biggest difference in character from Yugioh '98 to Duel Monsters is Anzu/Tea though. In DM, she's just a useless side character who takes the role of cheerleader and annoyance, but in '98, she's a legitimately likable and useful leading lady. She has a lot more self assertiveness and confidence in this series, and makes herself useful throughout. There's also a romance subplot, that, while it doesn't go much of anywhere, it still adds another facet to a character I think everyone at the least didn't care about, and at most outright hated in Duel Monsters.
Lastly, there's Miho- the blue haired, flirtatious, greedy, and vapid ditz who exists solely to balance out the Dude:Chick ratio in the series and be incredibly irritating. (I'm told she appears in literally one chapter in the manga, so her inclusion in the show is a mystery to everyone, including the writers.)
Where the Duel Monsters show was created basically as a gigantic advertisement for Children's Card Games™, Yugioh 1998 follows the mid-90s manga of the same name, with most of the same characters we came to know in Duel Monsters.
The main difference in the show is that Yami Yugi- the ancient king of games whose soul resides in the Millennium Puzzle pendant that Yugi wears- is not only proficient at Children's Card Games™ (AKA Duel Monsters), but essentially any and all games of chance. The show is almost entirely episodic, with two arcs coming at the very end, but in each episode, Yugi manages to find himself in trouble with someone or another, and then talks them into playing a game of chance- whether it's playing cards, riddles and word games, or more often, games involving life and death. The show has quite a bit of violence, including Yami Yugi driving people insane/sending them to the hospital, and includes actual weapon wielding baddies, including guns.
The second to last arc of the show even has Yugi and friends playing a game called "Death T", which is just a ripoff of "The Running Man" game show (from the 1987 Arnie classic!) put on by Kaiba! He has them placed in a giant arena and forced to fight through different stages, including Lazer Tag with actual electricity, a riddle game where the gang nearly gets crushed by a spiked steamroller, another where blocks fall from the ceiling tetris style, and games against the Kaiba Brothers.
There are a lot of setpieces and ideas used again later in Duel Monsters viewers will recognize like Kaibaland/ battle city duels and Capsule Monsters (Dungeon Dice Monsters). Many of the monsters from the other, non Duel Monsters games played in the show also make appearances later as Yugioh cards.
Yami Bakura and Yami Yugi play a Dungeons and Dragons game where the gang's bodies transform into their game figures (in Duel Monsters, their favorite cards) and they have to play to keep their souls.
There's also a virtual reality duel, and a mirror of Yugi and Kaiba's duel from the beginning of DM. Oh, and soul stealing. A lot of soul stealing.
Enjoyment and Overall: 8, 6
I enjoyed a lot of the dated references in Yugioh- (Tamagotchis FTW!) and general 90s-ness of the show. It was also cool to see Yami Yugi in a totally different form- making people go crazy/sending them to hell/etc and the inclusion of guns, violence, and the threat of violence, like with the bomber in the theme park who actually followed through and blew up both a building and two parts of a ride!
I enjoyed watching this little departure from the Yugioh I loved as a kid. It's definitely a fun little extra for someone who doesn't want to slog through 200 something episodes of Duel Monsters, but still feel like they're going on another adventure with the gang. (GX/5Ds/Zexal don't exist. That's schlock for another day.)
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