|Director/Artist|| Kunihisa Sugishima|
Hatsuki Tsuji (GX)
|Made By||Studio Gallop|
|Episode Length||24 Minutes|
|# of Eps/Volumes||Ongoing|
Sum it up in a Sentence
Yu-Gi-Oh!, or YGO, is effectively split into two main branches now:
Yu-Gi-Oh: A secret treasure unlocks the spirit of a 5,000 year-old Pharaoh, sharing a body and mind with a teenage boy. With no clear knowledge of who he was or what he did, the Pharaoh must vanquish foes from his past and a few miscellaneous villains, all the while finding out more about his history and coincidentally saving the world through playing cards now available at your local Wal-Mart.
Yu-Gi-Oh GX: Set after the conclusion of the above series, GX is a continuation with a completely new set of characters in the not-so-distant future of the same universe, solving new conflicts but still mostly playing card games each episode.
The original Toei series lasts a few scant episodes. The Duel Monsters series spans five seasons, each with somewhere between 40 to 50 episodes apiece. GX is ongoing, the dub is in it's second season at the time of this posting.
The short-lived, un-licensed, un-dubbed, crudely animated Toei series is more accurate to Kazuki Takahashi's original manga, in that it features a scrawny high schooler who gets into all sorts of trouble but is rescued by the shadowy spirit that dwells within his Millennium Puzzle. While many of the characters are at first glance the same as the other shows (and some characters that appear here are never seen again), there's the occasional dark or mature theme in this series that feels 'OMGSOEDGY' compared to the later series which aims at that 5-12 demographic. Typical plots include the spirit of Yugi's puzzle getting into some gamble with another character that he has to win to save the day. Sometimes it's something involving flammable liquids and lighters, or maybe some russian roulette, but there's an episode or two with an early incarnation of the card dueling game played in the later series. The game was simply there as a plot device, however, and there was originally no intention of creating a marketing phenomenon until...
Duel Monsters (USA series)
This is the series that was licensed by 4Kids and runs on various cable channels today. At first it vaguely tries to maintain some level of continuity with the first few episodes of the Toei series, but then goes and hits the History Reset Button over-writing later episodes a number of times, so the Toei series is definitely NOT required viewing to understand this one.
This series tells the story of Yugi Muto and friends fighting villainy with the assistance of Yugi's ancient alter-ego. Yugi's unusual predicament is because of the Millennium Puzzle, the miniature gold pyramid he wears with a chain like a necklace. There's other Millennium Items in the world, too. Some of them also contain the spirits of characters from ancient times, while others grant supernatural powers. Quite a few of them have landed in the hands of unscrupulous people.
The start of the series features Yugi as an underdog in a card tournament to save his grandpa, whose soul was sealed away by eccentric frillionaire Maximillion Pegasus (remember those supernatural powers I mentioned in the above paragraph?) Yugi starts off with nothing but a deck of cards, the few friends who take pity on him, and the mysterious Pharaoh (commonly referred to as Yami) who sees the monsters in the cards as the spirits of mythical beasts from ancient Egypt. Over time he will befriend a cast of both cameo and semi-regular characters, some more enjoyable than others. Things get a bit more complicated when Seto Kaiba, another pompous rich guy with the pissed-off lone wolf attitude, establishes himself as Yugi's rival from the first episode. Kaiba wants a piece of Pegasus himself due to Pegasus' nefarious ways of trying to merge Kaiba's company into his own. Winding down, there's some sub-adventures that include a virtual reality system gone haywire, an American girl who will show up later, and Yugi being goaded into a new board game that uses monsters from the main card game as characters.
The second season matures the show, as some (but not all) rules from the actual card game are adopted, and the plot about Egypt and the Pharaoh's past is fleshed out a little. Heavily considered to be the real meat and bones of this series, the second season revolves around the Egyptian God Cards, a trio of overpowered cards (not allowed for play in the real-life game) that are YGO's equivalent of the Death Star. New villain Marik and his gang of hooded bandits are a better foil for Yugi than Pegasus. Other recurring characters are more often pawns in the battle between Yugi, Marik, and Kaiba. The season ends rather unexpectedly.
The third season (subtitled "Enter the Shadow Realm" in the US) is half-filler, and half the conclusion of season two. The fourth season (subtitled "Waking the Dragons" in the US) is total filler about a trip to America and the legend of Atlantis. The fifth season (subtitled "Dawn of the Duel") is even more filler for the first half, followed by the final confrontation with the big bad boss of evil who has been lurking in & out of the action through the past few seasons. All the mysteries haunting the show over the course of several seasons are answered, the end.
What do you do when your manga has ended, you've ended the program after several story arcs of filler, and you've still got a card game to sell? Why, you create a spin-off series, of course! Set at a further point of time in the same universe, GX has a completely new cast of characters competing in a Duel Academy that Kaiba opened up sometime after the end of the previous series. As of this post it's currently running in both the US and Japan.
Although some characters such as Yugi, Kaiba, Pegasus, and even one of the Egyptian Gods shows up in individual episodes as cameo characters, the series is very far detached from the original and has been met by audiences outside the targeted children's demographic as a fairly boring and soulless continuation.
Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie: Pyramid of Light, or just Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie commissioned by 4Kids solely for the US to further capitalize on the Yu-Gi-Oh! marketing phenomenon. Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie falls between season three and four of Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters, and is fairly unremarkable aside from Kaiba showing a more vicious streak than normal.
Yu-Gi-Oh! Capsule Monsters was a twelve episode spin-off series also commissioned by 4Kids. In America, it has been re-edited into two movies released direct to DVD. It takes place during Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters, and features the main characters in an alternate world where the monsters from the anime are real. This series has little to do with the card game and likely has more to do with the fact that a lot of fans didn't like GX and wanted to see the old characters again.
If You Liked This, You Might Like...
Yu-Gi-Oh! is an easy show to dismiss and hate. It’s unarguable that one of the show’s major intentions is to motivate you enough to drag your ass up to Walmart and buy one of the $4 packs or many other tins and special editions. Characters in the TV show are putting their souls on the line as they dramatically shout out the effects of cards and taunt each other with strategies each and every episode. Yes, Yu-Gi-Oh! is a silly show made even worse with terrible dubbing but there is a hidden appeal deep within.
First of all, the original show, before the card game became a major factor, is decent enough. It’s essentially a new story each episode that hinges around a character with demonic powers or an evil scheme whom eventually challenges Yugi to some sort of game, usually with the lives of his friends on the line. It’s rarely a card game in this series though and more often than not some sort of mind puzzle. The stories range from somewhat clever to just bizarre that don’t actually make any real sense. It’s usually interesting enough but usually not something to write home about.
I suppose Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters is the meat and potatoes of the series and the show everyone thinks of when they hear the name of this anime. First of all, the series does have a tiny bit of depth. It’s very Japanese in its storytelling though in that you’re going to have to look over the logistical errors of the show in order to appreciate the concepts and ideals they’re trying to show to convey about friendship and believing in yourself and all that nice stuff. That’s not to say that the show still isn’t ridiculous though and you do kind of have to get sucked into the entire way of thinking everyone has. With the proper mindset though the show does have some decent mindless drama. Sure the duels can drag on for a bit but the characters are still fun to watch provided that you’re watching with the Japanese version, which also has some better backing music as well. If you’re familiar with the actual card game sold in stores it can also be moderately interesting to watch some of the duels play out as well. Especially more later on in the series they’ll occasionally pull off some interesting card combos provided you understand what the cards were beforehand.
Duel Monsters is imperative to watch in its Japanese version to actually enjoy. The dub is funny to watch exactly once on television to make fun of how overdramatic all the voices are and to laugh at the show’s sillyness but it does cut out the majority of character motivation and anything interesting in anyone’s monologues. No, it’s not some dark and creepy show in Japanese but they still made it much more bland in America.
First off, it's in the opinion of over 90% of the people in ADTRW that this series is crap. I'm just pointing this out so that sixty people don't edit this Wiki just to add "no it sux." YGO is definitely not something you talk about with pride. This series is mostly known to Goons for it's home-made YouTube satire, which spawned a fairly lengthy thread in GBS. That's kind of a shame, since it's less mind-numbing then some stuff I've had anime "fanboys" suggest I watch, even if it's more corny.
More than anything, watching YGO requires a suspension of disbelief, or simple acceptance that a lot of historically inaccurate and nonsensical stuff is about to occur and you don't plan to pick bones with it. A kid transforms and his eyes look different and his voice is way deeper and nobody notices for the whole first season? Referring to constant blind luck as a "heart of the cards"? Don't question it, just go with the flow. Next to that, it requires you are comfortable in knowing that you are being sold a card game. Even if you never intend to buy a pack of cards (I never did), YGO is very easy to pick up as a guilty pleasure.
The individual episodes aren't the best written, with characters endlessly explaining their strategies to their opponents like Bond villains, and a fairly regular reliance on drawing the right card at the right time to completely turn everyone's fortunes around in a few seconds. That said, it is somewhat enjoyable that the characters have a fairly consistent deck of cards that they use against each other and against Opponent of the Week. Although none of the deepest or cheapest strategies in the real game are explored here, there's some fairly clever villain strategies used, and it's neat to see how a recurring character uses the same cards he's held onto for 40-some episodes to get out of THIS entanglement. It's almost like Pokemon meets MacGuyver, in a way. Battles (and the major ones can stretch across 4 or 5 episodes) can be enjoyable to watch just to see how they stack the odds in one person's favor and then, without writing themselves into a corner, come up with a solution.
4Kids' dub suffers from lousy casting and some amateur voice work, from Yami's DRAMATIC SHOUTING to Pegasus' ultra-flaming homofag voice, however in an MST3K sort of way it's actually enjoyable. Again, you have to not expect quality and be willing to shut your brain off. The comically goofy choices in casting makes the dub the superior version in my mind. The Japanese version lacks the over-the-top musical drama during battles (God Cards appear with theme songs that sound like a Final Fantasy choir number) and wacky voice acting. Instead, you have more professional Japanese voices delivering the same dialog. And if you're going to say that you'll take over the world with your newly-completed card deck, you might as well say it with an ultra-campy delivery.
Unfortunately to get all the introductions to the game, the characters, etc you have to watch the lackluster first season, which can be almost painful to watch with the card game rules stretched and broken as far as they can go. But if you can slog through the 38 episodes that make up the first season (39-47 are filler) and get half-way through the second season, you'll then be justified in figuring whether you hate it or like it. If you're immediately and completely turned off by the very beginning, well, just do yourself a favor and don't waste your time.
GX, though, should be avoided like the plague.
This is, at its core, a sports anime like Prince of Tennis or Hajime no Ippo. Players have contests in games with specific rules and specific techniques that they can use, and it generally follows all the unwritted rules of the sports genre. It's just that it's a game instead of a sport; kind of like Hikaru no Go. Characters generally remain pretty static, the relationships between them don't change much; all of the focus tends to stay on the games between the characters and how they play out. The first season they pretty much make up rules and violate them as they please, but after that they actually hammer things out a bit, and it makes the show a lot more consistent and more enjoyable for it. That is, we get more actual strategies rather than "Here's a random new rule you've never heard of but it shifts the battle in my favor!".
As the series progresses, it also becomes more fantasy oriented, with characters scrambling to gain powerful magical artifacts. Eventually they even set the show way back in ancient Egypt, and we get to see the inspiration behind the card game: magical duels involving summoned monsters and real spells. With actual, life-threatening consequences. Overall, it's a pretty cheesy show in general, but it's actually not much worse than you typical Shonen Jump fare. If you like those shows, you might want to give this a try. I'd suggest just jumping in about 50 or 100 episodes in; it's not like you're missing any crucial character development, or anything.