Yu-Gi-Oh! season zero is the origin of the highly popular franchise about hot dudes with ridicules hair playing card games instead of forming a boy band. And it sucks! I can totally understand why Konami went to all of the trouble to make sure this thing would be forgotten. It is just embarrassing.
What we have here is a show about a geeky kid with too much hair gel and little to no testosterone coming to terms with his schizophrenia. Every episode Yuugi gets the living shit beaten out of him by cartoony evil assholes; then he passes out and his alter ego ... I mean the evil spirit of an Egyptian pharaoh … takes over and proceed to torture, mind break, or out right kill his opponents by the means of various forms of games and gambling in which rules matter not next to the sheer ability to make up bullshit on the spot. Yu-Gi-Oh season 0 is dark, violent, retarded, and takes it self really seriously. In short it is comedy gold for the first half. After that point the novelty wears off, Atem becomes less hardcore, the card games get introduced, and you are stuck with a very mediocre shounen about the power of friendship and the acceptance of split personalities.
We also get extremely dated animation and a hideous color pallet and character designs. Even for its time this show looked dated and ugly. Also why is everything so bright? Why the hell does Kaiba have neon green hair? I kid you not, this actually was painful to look at and I had to lower the brightness level on few occasions for it to get manageable. Still I guess you can consider it part of the Yu-Gi-Oh experience.
As for characters; Yuugi is annoying. I’m sorry but that kid just whines and whines like he is getting raped by his Summoned Skull whenever he’s on screen. I never felt any sympathy for him and laughed every time he was getting punched, kicked or beaten which happened many; many times. I could actually relate to the bullies. Who in their right mind would walk around with such a ridiculous hairdo and expect not to get taken advantage off?! Atem on the other hand is the evil entity inside Yugi’s body; who is just a psychopath. Whenever he was on screen he would start talking in a lower voice with a tone which just screamed he was insane. It provided a nice contrast between the two completely different characters. Also it was funny as fuck!
The other characters are … let’s see; either evil assholes or crazy maniacs who are just bad for the sake of being bad! In fact at this point in the Yu-Gi-Oh multiverse every adult seems to be a crazy maniac who plots to either murder or rob you at every given occasion! I say it is a good representation of the real world.
Oh yeah, we also have Yuugi’s friends and Kaiba. Yuugi’s friends consist of two former jackasses who got their hearts changed in episode one cause the power of friendship happened after witnessing how Yugi got beaten to a pulp for their sake; and two chicks, of which one of them, Miho; is filler added for the girl demographic to relate to; which is kinda hard because she is an imbecile. I’m not being harsh here, she just is. The other chick Anzu on the other hand has giant tits … and is a decent character, huh? Yeah, she has her dreams and motivations, isn’t a stereotypical useless cheerleader thrown there just for fan-service, and can use her head and fists. Don’t worry, they make sure to fix that in the following Duel Monsters.
As for Kaiba … he is a megalomaniac psychopath who apparently can’t think of using anything else other than his Blue Eyes White Dragon. He is so hardcore that despite having all the cash, cards and power in the world can’t seem to get over his defeat in a children’s card game by Atem, and has a strange homoerotic obsession with him. In fact Kaiba wants to be noticed so badly by Atem that he proceeds to send incompetent henchman to challenge him in various life threatening games. Yeah, it is as stupid and boring as it sounds. Guess any universe which solves its world problems and conflicts with the power of card games is mentally handicapped to some extent.
So, watch the first half of this if you want something "so bad it's good" to laugh at. Then ditch it when it gets old for the far superior second season, aka Duel Monsters.