What They Say:
The final round of Kaiba’s Battle City Duel Monster Tournament is set to commence. The four remaining finalists, Yugi, Kaiba, Marik and Joey, take off to Kaiba Corp Island to crown the tournament champion. Before the dueling can begin, Kaiba Kraft Three is lead off-course in a hostile takeover by a young villain named Noah, who with the help of his henchmen, the Big Five, traps Yugi, Kaiba and the gang in a virtual reality world where anything goes! Captured, Yugi and his friends must each duel against a different member of the Big Five. If they win, they are free to go. But if they lose, their minds will be trapped forever in this virtual prison, while the Big Five escape into the “real world” using the bodies of their victims.
The audio is the bare bones – it’s only in an English dub and also only in Stereo 2.0 format, meaning that it’s basically the infamous 4Kids Release with the various changes and chopping done to various scenes. The audio itself isn’t a problem as the sound is fine and there are no glitches, but as it’s quite literally the only option and it’s not even a top level option with a 5.1 release, you are literally stuck with what you got, especially as there is NO SUBTITLE OPTIONS AT ALL. Of course as there is only one track you may understand why, but most releases also offer subtitles releases for the hard of hearing – meaning this is a very bare bones release which means if you can’t hear it, you’re stuck.
Again, like above – the video is fine. 4:3 Full Screen effect – it’s very clear and colorful – I can’t compare it to any distortion as there are no subtitles or another language track I could compare it to but it flowed through fine with the colorful scenes, but again – because there are no subtitles for the hard of hearing it makes it hard to recommend as a basic necessary component to any release isn’t included on the release. As far as the show is concerned, the video is fine, definitely watchable, no slowdown or watermarks so in that respect, it’s a decent release.
The packaging is quite good – on the front it has the famous YGO logo (with Shounen Jump in tiny letters) with a colorful shot of the three god cards above panels of Kaiba, Marik, Yugi and Joey on an Egyptian hieroglyphic background. It’s definitely eye catching and great to draw in fans of the show/game. The back has the description with four small panels of pictures from the show (mainly the Noah arc) – overall a nice packaging presentation.
The menu is once again, very bare bones. Up until the final disc, it has two options, which is play all and episodes – with the episode selection not having a scene selection option. All the discs have menus of various duel monsters, god cards and the main characters (Disc 7 basically is the packaging on the DVD now on your TV screen) in colorful ensembles on the Egyptian backgrounds. The final disc has selections for DVD-Rom Weblinks and Previews/Trailers – it’s straight forward and easy to navigate, but very basic.
The only extras are found on the final disc, which are basically a link to the website www.4kidstv.com, showcasing games and the official YGO website and previews for YGO Grand Championship, YGO GX and the final chapter of YGO: Dawn Of The Duel, along with TMNT: Fast Forward.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
I honestly can’t remember how long I’ve put this off. A quick story, I got this in a care package along with a lot of other US Releases through a backlog – I managed to get through the US releases along with my own UK Release reviews…and honestly forgot about this one. It wasn’t until a spot check by Chris that this was still outstanding and I realized I had it. However, I kept putting it off just to a combination of real life, UK Releases and just…well…it’s Yu-Gi-Oh. 4Kids Version.
However, finally it is done and is it worth it? Er…
This is taken during the Marik arc, which from memory was basically during a duel monsters tournament main antagonist Seto Kaiba set in Domino City, and taking hold one of the 3 God Cards given to him by Ishizu Ishtar. Also owning a God Card at this point are his main rival and protagonist Yugi Moto, and the villain Marik Ishtar. However, as we get to the final four of the tournament at the Battle City finals, the group are captured by a mysterious boy named Noah, who we actually find out by something that YGO has rarely of…a plot…is actually part of the Kaiba family and basically wants to claim Kaiba Corp for himself. To do this, he enlists the help of some former Kaiba stooges, named the Big Five, who somehow have been reprogrammed into computer images and their minds are now being used in a virtual reality world. Noah’s plan basically is forcing the main gang into his virtual world, and the Big Five will face them in duels to try and take control of their bodies because their physical bodies have been…er…actually that’s never really explained.
However, as you’d expect – the main shtick is the fact that to get the bodies of Yugi, Kaiba et al, and the Big Five have to defeat them in duels. This brings up of course the usual joke that everything has to be solved via a children’s card game. Saving the world, bringing yourself back to life, it’s done by the card game. So for the majority of episodes, we basically get the Big Five each battling a member of the group with most of them losing (bar one – Tristan actually gets turned into a robot monkey when one of the Big Five takes his body), interspaced with some actual character back-story for Kaiba and how Noah links with his past. This part was actually quite interesting, because it showcases both Seto and Mokuba’s feelings of the past, with Mokuba in particular realizing what he feels about his brother, how he lost his smile after being taught the ropes by his foster father Gozuboru. It’s a rare break from the card games, and actually makes the audience feel a bit of Mokuba and wonder what Noah’s take on this is, because he has basically lived in Seto’s shadow, and also of how Seto used to be quite a nice kid, but how he was influence by corporate world and turned into the guy he all know and love/hate.
Sadly, this isn’t enough to really take away that the majority of the focus is on the duels. There are some moments in between (like Tristan and Duke trying to basically fight each other over Joey’s sister Serenity) but it’s basically what you’d expect. The duels are mostly predictable if fun if you’re a fan – also the majority of the cast get to duel, including people like Tea, Tristan and even Serenity which was unexpected, so at least the cast does get fleshed out a bit, and the virtual world and some of the traps laid out are actually quite intelligent (like when Yugi is searching for Tea) but the fact they use a new system called the Deck Master, it’s basically YGO’s deus ex machina and leads to some really ridiculous rules allowing the good guys to mostly win – it’s almost as bad as the fact that the duels traps and draws always seem to be the cards each team wants exactly – combined with the insane amount of unnecessary flashbacks (which were obviously put in by 4Kids to stretch out the episodes as they have cut out certain parts) make this quite a chore to get through.
The conclusion of the Noah arc with Noah’s origins revealed is actually decent, but again leads to a duel between first him and Kaiba, then him and Yugi in a near impossible situation…which of course Yugi wins. The reveal of Gozaboro Kaiba with his plans to virtualize the entire world to create a digital kingdom was an interesting twist, but sadly was again not given enough focus. And it’s so obvious that Noah’s sacrifice meant he died but again 4Kids try to cleverly change it…it’s not fooling anyone so there are definite annoyances in the arc. However, the second part of the season is the return of the Battle City tournament, with Marik bringing himself back in with his quest to rid the world of Yami (Yugi’s other half), Yugi needing to stop him, Joey needing to defeat him to save Mai (the only character I genuinely like in the series and because of what happened to her last season, is barely in it) and Kaiba…wants to win for his own ego.
It ends up being Joey vs. Marik in the semis and then Yugi vs. Kaiba. Again, the duels are a bit more interesting due to Joey being much more dependant and his focus in trying to save Mai, even when Marik tries to kill…er hurt him…he’s tough enough to withstand and is pretty much cheated out of victory. Yugi/Kaiba has been done before, but here it brings up the Ancient Egyptian past that both had despite Kaiba through the entire saga refusing to believe the fairytales as he calls them. In the end, Yugi does win and then Joey after dueling Kaiba makes him have a slight change of heart to help out Yugi despite him not believing the end of the world stuff.
It ends up being Marik/Yugi in the final – and with some flashbacks on Mariks’ past, the return of Odion and Ishizu (with Marik’s good half being used as well to try and stop the evil self) – it ends as you’d expect, with the good Marik eventually surrendering and…alls well that ends well. Yes, the whole Battle Tower exploding, Mai/Serenity tricking Joey at the end was funny, and all of them saying their goodbyes (with a pointless last episode which was basically a flashback ep with Tea/Serenity remembering everything that happened) – it wraps up semi-nicely.
To be honest, I didn’t hate this as much as I expected to. Sure, the duels take up 70% of the time which are great for YGO fans, but for those with passive or no interest to the game, it’s basically just trying to hold your interest. However it seems that YGO does just enough to incorporate a bit of plot throughout – and here, it has two arcs with the Noah arc and Marik arc basically giving development to the Kaibas and their past, and at least fleshes out everyone because they all get a chance to shine on the duelist stage at one point. The Marik part is a bit anticlimactic because it was very predictable, but the flashbacks to the past and also Yami/Kaiba’s reincarnations in Ancient Egypt were actually quite good.
Sadly, it’s not enough especially in this bare bones release with a cut/hack dub, no Japanese track and bare minimum menu interaction. There are enough moments to make it watchable, but with 47 episodes on there and only a few where they are worth watching, there are decent moments here and there but the obvious annoyances combined with the poor job done to the show makes it a chore to go through. Next time Chris gets a backlog, I’ll be careful what I’m ticking…
YGO: Season 3 isn’t totally without merits. There is some back-story for the Kaibas, and two arcs at least fleshes out the characters enough so whilst Yugi, Joey, Seto, Noah and Marik are the main focus, at least everyone’s favorite will get a look in. The duels however take too much of the time, with predictable endings and some very silly loopholes to make sure the good guys win, and whilst there are moments of interest, with the way it’s set up, it’s only going to really hold good for huge YGO fans.
English 2.0 Language, Link to www.4kidstv.com, games and Official YGO website – preview for YGO Grand Championship, YGO GX and the final chapter of YGO: Dawn Of The Duel – TMNT: Fast Forward
Content Grade: C
Audio Grade: C
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: C+
Extras Grade: C-
Released By: 4Kids TV (Funimation Prod)
Release Date: July 29th, 2008
Running Time: 1034 minutes
Video Encoding: 480oi/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33.1
Playstation3, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.