I know for a lot of anime fans, Yu-Gi-Oh! is never too far from people’s minds. Although, for me, the series was a huge part of my childhood and I just left it there. I played the card game for a few years after but once I left my primary school days behind me, I forgot about the series for a while. However, Yu-Gi-Oh! is what drove my love for anime and card games later in life. Because of my attachment to this game from my childhood days, I still hang on to my pitiful collection of Yu-Gi-Oh! cards, eagerly awaiting the day when I can use them again.
Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters
In my experience, Yu-Gi-Oh! was many people’s first introduction to anime. It certainly was for me. But, did you know it wasn’t the first instalment in the series?
The Yu-Gi-Oh! television series we know and love was made in the year 2000. It seems like it was longer ago. In Japan, the series was called Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters and was the second adaption of the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga. However, for us, Duel Monsters was the first series released outside of Japan. The show ran for 224 episodes and the English version was released here in 2001. It ran until 2006. It is hard to credit it has only been ten years since the final episode aired.
A lot of the names from the Japanese series were changed in the English version to make them more suitable for children. This was because most of the original names were related to violence, religion and death. Dialogue and elements of the plot also had to be altered in the American version due to the offensive content found in the Japanese version. This could include reducing the violence or amount of blood in a scene and changing some of the monsters designs because of their relation to the occult or sexual themes. However, you can spot continuity errors throughout the series due to this tampering.
The series was animated by Studio Gallop and was based on the manga written by Kazuki Takahashi. Although the anime series is far different to the manga, with the card-game element focused on far more than in the manga series.
The series follows a young boy named Yugi Mutou. He is a player in the Duel Monsters card game. Using the cards, he duels other players. While searching for the ancient Egyptian Millenium Puzzle, he is fused with Pharaoh – a mysterious spirit who cannot remember anything about his past. Not even his real name. Along with Pharaoh and his friends, Yugi defeats several enemies in the search for various Millenium items. Meanwhile, he learns more about Pharaoh. Pharaoh possess Yugi when playing the card game, turning into a far colder and more confident version of Yugi.
The story is also driven forward by Yugi’s rival, Kaibo. Kaibo is constantly trying to defeat him in Duel Monsters. Although he could arguably be called an anti-hero, since he often helps Yugi and his friends. But only if the act would benefit himself.
Yu-Gi-Oh! spawned four different spin-offs from the original series. These included: Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s, Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal and Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc-V. None were as good as Duel Monsters or could possibly hold such a special place in my childhood.
For me, Pharaoh was one of my favourite characters in the series, although that might not be overly
surprising. His bond with Yugi is unique and his character receives great development, becoming something far greater than a split personality. More than that, Pharaoh’s mysterious history drove my interest in Egyptian history and mythology growing up.
The mystery surrounding the character even holds to me now. Looking back on the series, it is one of the things I think on most often. His character is far more intricate than meets the eye and the final ever episode of the series left me in tears.
Because of the success of the series, the card game became hugely popular. In my own primary school, we would constantly hold mini tournaments during our breaks. Any time someone became the new champion, I can remember how envious I was. The game spawned many entertaining sequences in my own childhood that I will never forget.
To conclude, if anyone has managed to avoid this series until now, I would highly recommend looking into it! The show is colourful and cheerful and is incredibly entertaining to watch. A remastered version has recently been released in Japan so hopefully it won’t be too long until it reaches us. So if you are a fan of anime or card games, you should seriously give this show a watch!
Doing a little of this, a little of that. If you see me holding a camera, run!