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

「モンスター・ワールドRPG編」

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.

FAILnouchi

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.

GARnouchi
GARnouchi

Japanese
あい···
キースよお···
てめえ立つらしいがたつらしいがよ···
ケンカの腕ならオレも負けねえぜ

English
“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.

Terrible

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

「D・D・D編」

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…

DARK BAKURA IS STILL THE WORSE GM EVER

Japanese
この瞬間···
神官アクナディンは···
「闇の大神官」となった!!
闇魔道士のスキルを得ーーー
レベルアップ!!

English
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.

  2. @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.

  3. 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 🙂

  4. @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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