Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters Review

Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters is a 2000 fantasy adventure Japanese animated series directed by Kunihisa Sugishima, starring Dan Green, Wayne Grayson, Amy Birnbaum, Greg Abbey, Megan Hollingshead, and Eric Stuart.  Based on the manga written by Kazuki Takahashi, the series revolves around a boy named Yugi Mutou who battles opponents in the Duel Monsters card game.


Positives:

  • Great, well-written characters
  • Awesome English dubbing
  • Great score
  • Interesting story
  • Awesome dialogue
  • Good art style

Negatives:

  • Useless characters

Plot: The show revolves around a young teen named Yugi Mutou and friends who engage in a game called Duel Monsters which is a card game where players summon mythical monsters and duel against each other.  The plot is pretty damn clever, though it’s hardly perfect.  The more the series progresses the more complex and interesting the duels become.  As great as the story, the duels are where it is.  Yugi experiences strong character development over the course of the series.  Loved the coming of age aspect of overcoming obstacles and having friends that believe in you.  What’s great is the twist that card game is derived from an ancient Egyptian background which Yami and several other characters’ past are tied to.  The series is separated into five main arcs and undoubtedly the best is the Battle City arc.  Much of the series’ mysteries surround the mysterious Millennium items which become more prevalent revealing more about the story’s Egyptian roots. (4 out of 5)

Characters: The are characters are well-written, presenting interesting backstories, rich personalities, and awesome themes.  Yugi Mutou is an alright character but Yami easily steals his scenes.  Seto Kaiba is a douchbag but is one of the deepest characters of the show.  He has that same cold, uncaring attitude much like characters such as Vegeta and Sasuke Uchiha.  Joey Wheeler is awesome and we see him become as proficient a duelist as Yami and Kaiba.  One of my favorite characters is Mai Valentine, who’s strong, beautiful, and a talented duelist.  She and Joey have this love interest throughout the series but it doesn’t go anywhere (unfortunately).  The supporting cast is made up of some of the most intriguing characters with characters such as Rex Raptor, Weevil Underwood, Mako Tsunami, Ishizu Ishtar, and Bandit Keith.  Even the antagonists are pretty memorable with interesting characteristics and  motivations that range from being the top Duelist, to world domination, to even total destruction. The more memorable ones are Maximillion Pegasus, Marik Ishtar, and even Dartz.  Unfortunately, the show is pitted with some pretty useless characters who get more screentime than they should.  These characters include Joey’s sister Serenity Wheeler, Tristan Taylor, Tea Gardner, Kaiba’s little brother Mokuba, and Yugi’s grandfather Solomon.  However, despite the useless characters who hurt the series rather than help it the majority of characters are awesome. (4 out of 5)

Animation Style: I don’t really care for Yugi’s hair but admittedly the series features some great character designs.  Seriously, check out characters like Mai Valentine, Seto Kaiba (Battle City Arc), Mako Tsunami, Bakura Ryou, and even Ishizu Ishtar.  The series was decent in its beginning but becomes more refined as it progresses.  The monster designs and card effects have great presentation. (3 out of 5)

Score: Loved the voice performances.  Very solid English dubbing.  Dan Green is phenomenal as Yugi and Yami. Eric Stuart and Wayne Grayson are great as Seto Kaiba and Joey Wheeler.  The opening sequences are good but nothing compares to the Battle City opening.  The music pretty diverse, sometimes sad and other times upbeat and epic. Thumbs up to Shinkichi Mitsumune.  (4 out of 5)

Writing: This show is an example of how an anime can be choppy in its beginning but becomes more refined as the series progresses.  Kunihisa Sugishima does a great job of taking the series in a different direction than the manga.  The dialogue is extremely well written.  There are a lot of filler episodes.  Some good, some bad.  The rules of the game in Duelist Kingdom are unrefined but when Battle City event happens that’s when the rules of the game shine.  The writing does feel light-hearted and made for kids in even the darkest of moments.  What makes the duels so interesting is how diverse they are, the various strategies employed, and all the various conditions when playing it. (4 out of 5)


The Verdict: In the end, Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters is an awesome anime.  It can be slow in its beginning and there are some useless characters, but the awesome writing, awesome characters, great English dubbing, awesome score, good animation, and great story gives Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters 4 out of 5.

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