Franchise Rant: Possibly the worst MANGA anniversary out there (Yuu☆gi☆ou/“Yu-Gi-Oh!” King film)

Black Magician Girl Best M&W

Best M&W

Recent­ly, there’s been quite a few revivals of my favorite old school weeb Japan­ese fran­chis­es, most­ly con­nect­ed to spe­cial anniver­saries. To name a few, Card­cap­tor Saku­ra (North Amer­i­can license res­cued, new mer­chan­dise and art­work cel­e­brat­ing CLAM­P’s 25th anniver­sary), Digi­mon Adven­ture (upcom­ing Digi­mon Adven­ture tri.), Sailor Moon (Sailor Moon Crys­tal), Drag­on Ball (30th anniver­sary = var­i­ous good­ies), etc.

I’m in a pret­ty hap­py place right now — most of the anniver­saries are prov­ing to be sweet, but there’s one anniver­sary that I’m par­tic­u­lar­ly dis­sat­is­fied with. A shounen gam­bling man­ga series called, 遊☆戯☆王 Yuu☆gi☆ou by Taka­hashi Kazu­ki, oth­er­wise prob­a­bly trans­lat­ed as “The☆Game☆King” or “King☆of☆Games” (but non­sen­si­cal­ly ren­dered as “Yu-Gi-Oh!” in the west, which you’re all famil­iar with for being pop­u­lar snark bait) is receiv­ing rather shod­dy anniver­sary treat­ment, at least for the peo­ple who have actu­al­ly… well, read the orig­i­nal man­ga (all 36 vol­umes, not just the first seven).

Monster World RPG


This is arguably going to be the shit­ti­est anniver­sary com­ing up, because 1) they’re “remas­ter­ing” the “Duel Mon­sters” ani­me, which is a ter­ri­bly ani­mat­ed adap­ta­tion that dis­re­spects the man­ga in every way pos­si­ble and 2) they’re mak­ing a ter­ri­ble, ter­ri­bly redun­dant movie that prob­a­bly has noth­ing to do with the man­ga what­so­ev­er, which I’ll get into a bit.

Yuu­giou Duel Mon­sters was a (cheap­ly and lazi­ly ani­mat­ed) ear­ly 2000’s ani­me series (even, Toei’s One Piece, which has even more episodes, tend­ed to look bet­ter than it). “Remas­ter” prob­a­bly just means “crop the video and sat­u­rate the col­ors”… As Yuugi’s Black Magician/Jacob of Toon­zone told me on Twit­ter, they like­ly don’t have even the orig­i­nal gen­ga anymore.

As for why I dis­like the ani­me adap­ta­tion every­one in Muhri­ca’s most like­ly famil­iar with (through the ter­ri­ble 4Kids dub most like­ly, which turned into the west­’s snark bait exem­pli­fied by the admit­ted­ly fun­ny Abridged Series par­o­dy of the dub), there are so many things the ani­me did that slapped Taka­hashi Kazuk­i’s writ­ing in the face that I can’t list them all here with­out turn­ing this into its own web­page (I’ve actu­al­ly start­ed on a series of com­par­i­son posts between the man­ga and the Toei & NAS ani­me series in 2012, which I might get around to fin­ish­ing up arc-by-arc instead of episode-by-episode when I have the time next year).

The gist of it is: if an adap­ta­tion takes a con­tigu­ous, coher­ent source mate­r­i­al and turns it into a inco­her­ent mess in any way, I con­sid­er it dis­re­spect­ful. I don’t care for the DM ani­me aside from the music and voice act­ing. The man­ga was actu­al­ly — dare I say? — a great shounen with decent fore­shad­ow­ing and pac­ing, which the ani­me does­n’t have among oth­er things. Heck, in hind­sight, it’s a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent uni­verse. For one, the ani­me’s con­ti­nu­ity, includ­ing the spin-offs, com­plete­ly revolve around one card game (only 2 out of 7 arcs are focused on M&W (Mag­ic & Wiz­ards as Duel Mon­sters is known in the Japan­ese man­ga) in the manga).

And I con­sid­er it a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent uni­verse espe­cial­ly so when the ani­me went out of its way to dis­re­spect cer­tain char­ac­ters. Take Jonouchi, for instance:

DM ani­me: “Wannabe-badass” wimp that plays card games, hot­head­ed guy who clear­ly does­n’t know when he’s out­matched. Not shown to be very street-smart.


Man­ga: GAR. Badass bro, who was a for­mer gang­ster and pro­fi­cient at fight­ing. Street-smart. How­ev­er, he tries to medi­ate his con­flicts though play­ing games (some­thing he starts out not being good at) to chal­lenge him­self and bet­ter him­self as a person.



“Hey, Keith.
You seem to be good at cards…
but if it’s a brawl, I won’t lose.”

Con­sid­er­ing it’s the 20th anniver­sary of the man­ga (not the NAS ani­me, nor the Toei ani­me, nor any ani­me), an entire remake that fol­lows the man­ga more faith­ful­ly like Sailor Moon Crys­tal (and does­n’t skip/alter shit) would be more appropriate.


lol wow *hand­core!!!* hand ges­ture-thingy, Arc‑V card backing

As for the movie:

In the past Dark Yūgi and Kai­ba have clashed many times!! Dark Yūgi, who resides in Yūgi Mutō’s body, and Kai­ba will have a duel that bets their prides and accepts each oth­er’s mutu­al expe­ri­ence.” — Plot of the movie, accord­ing to ANN.

That’s some NAS-tier plot right there. Dark Yuu­gi and Kai­ba set­tle their dif­fer­ences… again? Was­n’t that the point of their final Bat­tle City game? This report­ed­ly takes place after “the orig­i­nal series” (a.k.a. the ani­me adap­ta­tion, which is not the orig­i­nal, sor­ry NAS), but Dark Yuugi/Pharaoh Atem is sup­posed to be in the after­life, so in order to make sense of this “plot” at all… it clear­ly has to be intend­ed to take part in the mid­dle of the series. Which is, again, still redun­dant. Kai­ba isn’t even that impor­tant in the man­ga aside from Death‑T and the only two M&W‑focused arcs in the man­ga. Jonouchi is con­sid­ered the deuter­ag­o­nist of the man­ga, which is pret­ty clear espe­cial­ly when it’s con­firmed by Taka­hashi Kazu­ki him­self. If they real­ly need to do a M&W (Duel Mon­sters)-relat­ed plot, why not ani­mate the unseen duel Dark Yuu­gi and Jonouchi had between the Bat­tle City and Mem­o­ry World RPG arc?

Man­ga-wise, I can’t real­ly see this plot hap­pen­ing, since that Kai­ba seemed pret­ty con­tent to just leave his final defeat dur­ing Bat­tle City at that and focus on ful­fill­ing his dream of trav­el­ing the world to cre­ate a bunch of Kai­ba Land amuse­ment parks for orphaned chil­dren rather than ago­niz­ing over try­ing to be the best

I’d rather they faith­ful­ly ani­mate a the­atri­cal ver­sion of the Death‑T arc. Or the man­ga ver­sion of the Drag­ons, Dice & Dun­geons arc. Or the man­ga’s ver­sion of the Shad­ow RPG arc, only this time include every­thing Taka­hashi Kazu­ki orig­i­nal­ly intend­ed to put into the RPG before he was rushed to end the series. That would be a treat to fans who have read the pure, orig­i­nal Yuu­giou sto­ry. If they don’t at least call it “Mag­ic & Wiz­ards” in the actu­al movie… damn. lol

Dragons, Dice & Dungeons arc


Like, I don’t mind if you pre­fer the DM series. Or pre­fer the spin-offs. Like what you like, I might have some sort of opin­ion regard­ing your tastes, but what­ev­er. But this is the man­ga’s anniver­sary, and what they’re plan­ning to cel­e­brate it with is pret­ty under­whelm­ing and near insult­ing. It’s lit­er­al­ly all relat­ed to the Duel Mon­sters ani­me by NAS, which is a rad­i­cal­ly dif­fer­ent story/universe to the orig­i­nal 36-vol­ume man­ga by Taka­hashi Kazu­ki. That ani­me already HAD its anniver­sary with that time-trav­el crossover movie or what­ev­er. As a fan of the man­ga, I sort of have the right to be slight­ly bothered.

The shod­di­ness is under­stand­able because the one pro­vid­ing the “trib­utes” is Nihon Ad Sys­tems (two anniver­saries in close prox­im­i­ty to each oth­er = more $$, qual­i­ty and effort not required), but… it’s still a cheap under­whelm­ing anniver­sary for the fans that actu­al­ly… enjoyed the sto­ry it’s cel­e­brat­ing regard­less of how much it makes sense on a mar­ket­ing stand­point. My point is, yes, it makes sense, but the oppo­site (mak­ing an actu­al trib­ute to the man­ga and not your own crap) makes just as much sense. Death‑T, one of the arcs from the man­ga, was Yugi vs. Kai­ba too… with a twist to it which peo­ple have nev­er seen before. It’s both nos­tal­gic and some­thing new to expe­ri­ence, mak­ing the movie seem like less of a cheap cash-in that’s doing some­thing they already did before. I don’t see how it’s any less profitable…



In an instant…
Priest Akhenaden becomes the High Priest of Darkness!!
He gains the skills of a Black Magus and Lev­els Up!

One of the things I liked about the Yuu­giou man­ga was that, despite the M&W card game turn­ing out to have a par­tic­u­lar­ly impor­tant role in the plot (that being the con­cept of the play­ers being wiz­ards and some of the mon­sters being direct­ly inspired by the bat­tles between the pharaoh/priests and Zorc Necrophades), the oth­er games are treat­ed as equal­ly impor­tant bat­tles. For exam­ple, the final bat­tle with the main antag­o­nist was a TRPG rather than M&W, which the pre­vi­ous RPG arc (from vol­umes 6–7) was revealed to be a warm-up for. They call it an RPG in the ani­me, but let’s face it, it was main­ly Ancient Egypt­ian psue­do-card bat­tles (with actu­al card games thrown into the mix), and the first RPG arc with Dark Baku­ra nev­er hap­pened in the anime.

NAS had an obses­sion with Duel Mon­sters/M&W because the ani­me was sole­ly a pure adver­tise­ment for Kon­a­mi. In the man­ga, Taka­hashi Kazu­ki made it the main game dur­ing the super-long Bat­tle City arc because the read­ers hap­pened to like that game (Duelist King­dom does­n’t count because they played one mini-game in that arc and also switched games right after), but the ani­me was clear­ly out to turn every­thing toyet­ic by mak­ing it the sole dri­ving gim­mick of the ani­me. The Drag­ons, Dice & Dun­geons arc, the arc after Man­ga!Duelist King­dom, was turned into the DM-relat­ed Dun­geon Dice Mon­sters *filler* in the ani­me because it orig­i­nal­ly had noth­ing to do with Duel Mon­sters in the man­ga. And in the man­ga, the reg­u­lar Yuu­gi had his chance to shine in this arc dur­ing the man­ga’s DDD match, mark­ing a moment that cements that he absolute­ly 100% is des­tined and ‑deserves- to be the ves­sel for the Game King.

Last Zorc

That’s right, he’s the Game King. As in, king of more than one game. I under­stand that NAS’s job is to adver­tise the OCG for Kon­a­mi, but it would­n’t hurt for them to at least try to do the man­ga “prop­er­ly” for the anniver­sary. In fact, one of my favorite arcs of the man­ga involves oth­er games + the card game as the final bat­tle (Death‑T), so that could eas­i­ly have its appeal to both audi­ences if they adapt­ed that into a movie.

The spin-offs are an ani­me-orig­i­nal thing so it makes sense that the lega­cy series treat the ani­me uni­verse as the ulti­mate thing. In fact, in terms of the spin-offs, even though I don’t like them under the title of “Game King”, their man­ga ver­sions are con­sis­tent­ly great indi­vid­ual series about the Duel Monsters/M&W game and the ani­me series aren’t that bad as toyet­ic ani­me — they’re cer­tain­ly bet­ter than Bakuten Shoot Bey­blade, and cer­tain­ly on-par with Card­fight!! Van­guard. But in terms of the orig­i­nal ORIGINAL Yuu­giou… it start­ed AS A SHOUNEN JUMP MANGA, from which the ani­me devi­at­ed from great­ly. Treat­ing the ani­me as the ulti­mate ver­sion of that par­tic­u­lar por­tion series is quite backwards.

The True Companions of the original manga

Pret­ty much all I’m going to enjoy for this par­tic­u­lar anniver­sary are the mem­o­ries of read­ing through every issue of the man­ga, and being per­plexed as to why it’s treat­ed as any more of a joke than oth­er shounen series by the mass­es. Per­haps the ani­me, most­ly the Eng­lish dub, is to blame.

4 thoughts on “Franchise Rant: Possibly the worst MANGA anniversary out there (Yuu☆gi☆ou/“Yu-Gi-Oh!” King film)

  1. I am also a fan of the orig­i­nal manga.

    Where did you get those sweet redrawn art­works of the char­ac­ters used in this post?

    Drawn by Kazu­ki Taka­hashi himself?
    Was there a poster/data book released for the anniversary? 

    Do tell because the art­works look awesome.

    1. @Wassauce: The art­works were updat­ed cov­er arts for the bunkoban edi­tion of the man­ga and are also found in an art­book by Taka­hashi Kazu­ki, most­ly cen­tered on the man­ga, and was released a few years ago.
      From what I hear, Udon is plan­ning on pub­lish­ing an Eng­lish trans­la­tion of it lat­er in May.

  2. Alright here dude. Take a deep breath and stop tak­ing shit so seri­ous­ly. As an avid YuGiOh fan, who has read all the man­ga and watched the ani­me. I don’t share the same views as you, I find that while the ani­ma­tion did alter some things. This show was aimed at chil­dren, and since it’s demo­graph­ic was chil­dren, they could­n’t put some things into the show from the man­ga. Main­ly, they could­n’t put any­thing from vol­umes 1–7 of Yugioh (not duelist, but the old school man­ga where Yami Yugi is evil) into a show at all. If you real­ly dig into Yu-Gi-Oh his­to­ry, their is an ani­me cen­tered around the first sev­en vol­umes, but it was so mature that they nev­er dubbed it. So if you’re look­ing for when they refer to the game as “mag­ic and Wiz­ards” (which was only in the last two vol­umes of the old man­ga) that’s where you will find it. Many refer to it as “sea­son 0” if you’d like to google it. But oth­er­wise the fran­chise has done great, the ani­me adap­tion took in every­thing they could that was­n’t too mature for kids. And as for the 20th anniver­sary, if you aren’t aware Taka­hashi wrote the new movie so I don’t think they are dis­re­spect­ing him at all. Maybe try to be more opti­mistic about the 20th anniver­sary of the yugioh FRANCHISE. The man­ga isn’t the only thing turn­ing twen­ty, the whole damn con­cept. Maybe try to enjoy the new mer­chan­dise and cards com­ing, like Taka­hashi is 🙂

    1. @Shizuka:

      Alright here dude. Take a deep breath and stop tak­ing shit so seriously.

      This is an ani­me blog. A space where I freely express my per­son­al views about Japan­ese enter­tain­ment. It’s my pre­rog­a­tive to write it in a seri­ous way, just as any oth­er per­son would about a hob­by they real­ly like. Would you like me to pol­ish your thought police badge?

      This show was aimed at chil­dren, and since it’s demo­graph­ic was chil­dren, they couldn’t put some things into the show from the manga. 

      The man­ga and ani­me are both aimed at young boys. They are shounen. The only dif­fer­ence is that the ani­me was going for a dif­fer­ent atmos­phere, going for a toyet­ic ani­me-vibe com­pet­i­tive with the likes of some­thing like Bakuten Suu­to Bey­blade. The spin-offs took this and ran with it on overclock. 

      FYI, Death Note is aimed at the same demo­graph­ic as Yuu­giou. They were seri­al­ized in the same week­ly mag­a­zine. And both the ani­me and man­ga of Death Note got away with a lot worse and the series is younger than Yuu­giou is, mean­ing they dealt with new­er harsh­er Japan­ese cen­sor­ship stan­dards. While ani­me has plen­ty of cen­sor­ship com­ing from a man­ga source, this is still Japan, not Amer­i­ca. The cen­sor­ship isn’t the same type of soc­cer mom strict you’re think­ing of.

      Main­ly, they couldn’t put any­thing from vol­umes 1–7 of Yugioh (not duelist, but the old school man­ga where Yami Yugi is evil) into a show at all. If you real­ly dig into Yu-Gi-Oh his­to­ry, their is an ani­me cen­tered around the first sev­en vol­umes, but it was so mature that they nev­er dubbed it. So if you’re look­ing for when they refer to the game as “mag­ic and Wiz­ards” (which was only in the last two vol­umes of the old man­ga) that’s where you will find it. Many refer to it as “sea­son 0” if you’d like to google it. 

      Okay. First off, Dark Yuu­gi is not “evil” in the first man­ga vol­umes. He was pun­ish­ing bad guys with very ques­tion­able meth­ods. It’s a gray area, but he was­n’t evil, and as extreme as some of the pun­ish­ments were, most of the antag­o­nists had it com­ing. And if Dark Yuu­gi giv­ing Penal­ty Games was so hard­core they could­n’t put it into the ani­me, they would have skipped over Duelist King­dom too because he does­n’t pull the plug on his Pun­ish­er shtick until after that arc. But they did­n’t, they just cen­sored it. Which they could have eas­i­ly done with any oth­er chap­ter. The only rea­son they skipped over the first sev­en vol­umes is because every oth­er vol­ume had more cards, and thus can eas­i­ly mar­ket the game they’re try­ing to sell. It’s as easy as that. Any­one who has read the entire man­ga knows that the lat­er chap­ters aren’t any less “mature” than it was ear­li­er. Unless you some­how think vol­ume 7 onward = ani­me = 4Kids.

      Sec­ond, yes I am aware of the Toei ani­me, I fuck­ing men­tioned it off­hand in the post. (But evi­dent­ly it’s not like any­one gen­uine­ly reads what I write rofl Skim and reply, rinse and repeat) FYI, it was also toned down if not more than the NAS ani­me. No, it was def­i­nite­ly worse. It’s lit­er­al­ly every prob­lem I have with the NAS ani­me and more, they skipped dozens of chap­ters, rearranged events, and alter things to the point where (what should be) bits of cru­cial char­ac­ter devel­op­ment are made to look like Yuu­giou had its start in LSD. It’s a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent adap­ta­tion done by a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent com­pa­ny that has noth­ing to do with the NAS ani­me (call­ing it sea­son zero is asi­nine), its mediocre exis­tence does­n’t auto­mat­i­cal­ly give the NAS ani­me an A‑OK for what they did wrong (skipping/rewriting/merging chapters). 

      Fur­ther­more, no, it was not called Mag­ic & Wiz­ards in that ani­me, that ani­me is where the name Duel Mon­sters comes from. Mag­ic & Wiz­ards is the name of the card game in the Japan­ese ver­sion (a.k.a. the orig­i­nal print­ing with the author’s direct inten­tions) of the man­ga. Any instance where they call in Duel Mon­sters in the man­ga you read is just Viz Media being shrills at trans­la­tion and local­iza­tion. Yuu­giou was not three man­ga series, Mai’s last name isn’t Shi­ranui like the Mai in King of Fight­ers, peo­ple stick mid­dle fin­gers not fists, Ban­dit Kei­th curs­es, Yuu­gi is not dia­bet­ic, etc.

      And as for the 20th anniver­sary, if you aren’t aware Taka­hashi wrote the new movie so I don’t think they are dis­re­spect­ing him at all. Maybe try to be more opti­mistic about the 20th anniver­sary of the yugioh FRANCHISE.

      Try look­ing at the date of the post. 2000 frikkin’ 14. I did not know at that time that Taka­hashi was writ­ing the movie, I was just assum­ing that NAS was being NAS. I’m very much look­ing for­ward to the movie nowa­days, espe­cial­ly after see­ing the trail­ers. I just did­n’t make a fol­low-up post about it because I bare­ly have any time.

      Maybe try to enjoy the new mer­chan­dise and cards com­ing, like Taka­hashi is
      >Taka­hashi being up-to-date with the card game

      Dur­ing the lat­er part of the 5D’s era, Taka­hashi had admit­ted he had­n’t kept up with the game when he saw Itou Aki­ra (his assis­tant and artist of Yuu­giou R) and Kageya­ma Naoyu­ki (author of the GX man­ga) play the game. He found it com­plex. I doubt it’s any dif­fer­ent now.

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