The Yugioh (yes, I’ll spell it that way for comfort) anime is connected to a few nostalgic memories for me personally. I still think it’s a bit ironic that I started playing the card game before even hearing about the anime or the manga. So, despite it being an anime partially made to sell a rather expensive card game (in the long run), is it still worth it to watch it?
The first episode deals with the grandfather of the protagonist, Yugi Moto, being kidnapped through a TV because Maximilian Pegasus engaged the alter ego of Yugi Moto in a children’s card game. The mysterious, unnamed person seems to reside in the Millennium Puzzle, which only Yugi Moto was capable of solving and who has been wearing it ever since. Yugi is not aware when his alter ego takes over, usually in critical situations or duels.
Anyway. Pegasus steals the soul of Yugi’s grandfather, so Yugi and his friends, that never seem to stop making speeches about friendship (looking at you Tea, please put some tape over her mouth… and everyone else too except Kaiba), take up the invitation of Pegasus to duelist kingdom, where the strongest duelists of the Duel Monsters card game, which Pegasus created based on ancient Egyptian tablets, go to earn a fortune or for their own personal reasons. Can Yugi free his grandfather and- okay yes he does. I’ll jump the boat here but please skip the first arc. If you want to watch the Yugioh anime, then please look up a list with all the filler episode in the anime, skip all the filler episodes and start with episode 40. You will save yourself an entire arc where you’ll be forced to hear hours of friendship speeches and watching hours of a card game with barely any rules.
The second arc fares much better, once the game gets some actual rules and while the friendship speeches never really stop, it is much more bearable because believe it or not, but this series actually has an interesting story that moves with a slow pace so that you can take time to understand what is happening in the story and the duels. Could the pacing be better? Of course, but I enjoyed it for what it is and it’s a good story if you just turn off your brain and watch an unusually engaging plot with quite a lot of lore, together with an entertaining card game of course. Would I recommend watching this for the story? Yes I would, but if you tend to think about the logic of the story or expect protagonists that don’t pull something out of their butt in every duel at the last second, then it’s definitely not for you.
Visually, the anime looks mediocre for its time with some scenes that look better (usually in duels with Yugi or Kaiba in focus) and some scenes that look terrible (usually everything that has to do with Joey’s expressions).
You might have noticed, that I use the translated names. That’s because I did watch the series in English (for this review) as well as Japanese (years ago but I tuned in to confirm myself) and Jonouchi is too annoying to write. However, I would recommend the Japanese voice acting here. Not because it’s significantly better than the English dub (though it does feature not as many voices where you want to rip your ears out, though it does eventually get better in the English dub) but because of the infamous 4Kids editing. Look up YouTube if you want to see for yourself. However, while a bit of the story was rewritten in the English dub by 4Kids, which is barely acceptable in a re-edit for a specific market, you still can watch the English dub if you dislike the English subtitles. The soundtrack is also completely different in each language. Do I have a personal favourite? Actually no, while I think the sheer quality of the soundtrack is better in Japanese, the English dub features some tracks which have more impact on specific scenes. Both soundtracks are good and some of the tracks are magnificent.
So, could you watch Yugioh? Only under the condition that you skip all the filler and start with the aftermath of the first season, you will do yourself a favor, despite not knowing at first what is going on. Luckily, the series often mentions past events and has flashbacks when needed, so you shouldn’t be at a loss in the long run. Personally, I would recommend the Japanese version because there isn’t half-assed censorship in there, but watching the English dub is also possible.
6 (for the Japanese version)
Take a Look
4 (for the 4Kids version, however ONLY due to the censorship and some annoying voices)