What They Say:
After four seasons of searching for answers, Yugi finally uncovers the secrets of his ancient past! Through the magic of the three Egyptian God Cards, Yugi and his friends are suddenly transported 5,000 years back in time! Now they must battle the ultimate evil force to save the world from devastation, for if the past is destroyed…so is the future!
Set in 2.0 in English only, in terms of sound quality on the whole there is nothing majorly wrong with it – with no subtitle option (other than manually if you are doing it on a PC you can have captions in CAPS LOCK which are the subtitles), the audio is more than acceptable on the majority, however there is one major issue I noticed. If you pause it, during a part when there is a fade to black, sometimes when you unpause it, the sound actually vanishes – you have to go back a scene without pausing it for it to return. This is very noticeable and happened on almost every disc so this is a very annoying issue and also holds to another issue with the video quality as well…
Video wise, colours were fine and flashy, and no issues in terms of video to audio on a 16:9 – 1.78:1 aspect ratio though set NTSC style with top/bottom wide screen, no problem on the whole with the animation which in general is pretty standard (no huge CGI effects) but it is very colourful and holds up well considering the series is over a decade old – however, like in previous releases that when you pause, the animation kind of fades and scratches out, making it look blurry. Also again, there is a significant delay when the show fades to black which always happens once an episode – almost like it is loading the screen. With the audio issue mentioned above, this is a significant and eye-catching thing which can cause minor annoyances with the viewing.
There was no packing for this test release.
The menu is very basic – there are no selections for audio or extras (as there isn’t any) and it is actually hard to see the Play All selection at the top as the colouring isn’t as distinctive as the episode choice – also if like me at first you assumed that picking episode 1 meant you play all, when the episode finishes you return back to the menu screen which is something that has happened in a few releases so whilst annoying isn’t totally misun-derstanding. The images focus more on the Egyptian characters with Yami and Thief Bakura as the focus on the right hand side on a stone tablet background with hieroglyphics going up and down whilst the English theme song plays. Very basic but does its job.
There are no extras with this release.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
I do have a soft spot for Yu-Gi-Oh. The sheer ridiculousness of how card games are world savers combined with the incredible luck the protagonist always gets to win (as a YGO player, I can tell you the decks the main cast use would not work competitively without said insane luck) is your typical over the top series, but for some reason I can’t hate it. Just perhaps the fact the characters are so silly, fun or unrealistic (really Kaiba, how long before you realise this is all real?) it stands out in my head. However for 4 seasons, we’ve had basically takeovers, end of the word scenarios and filler arcs all revolving around if Yugi doesn’t win the final it could screw things over.
This is much of the same…yet not as much card games. No seriously…we have an actual plot which to the shows credit has been building up since Season 1 with easily my favourite villain character in Bakura, and the build up finally pays off here.
Unfortunately, you have to get through 2 filler arcs before you get to it.
Again to be fair, the first one isn’t too bad. It is pretty much a card game tournament hosted by Kaiba to try and get his company some good reputation after the Doma arc last season. He invites Yugi as the champion, and Joey and Rebecca as competitors for the right to face Yugi as the king of games – however something starts to go wrong early as someone hacks into Kaiba-Corp, locking guests inside where Yugi has to use a beginner deck to try and beat the expert system (which he does) but it becomes clear the hacker is somewhere in the tournament.
As the tournament begins, we actually get a fun duel between Joey and a mysterious old man, who is clearly Yugi’s grandpa – this is quite fun as he actually helped teach Joey back in Season 1 and of course as Yugi’s grandpa gave him some skills as well, yet throughout we’ve never seen him in a full duel so this was actually quite good, as we see that he has a very specific strategy and deck which he has managed to complete, however a case of the student becomes the master as Joey shows he has been learning and is able to defeat Solomon (whilst all the gang recognise him whilst Joey doesn’t – hey, he can’t have all the intelligence ^^).
Another fun one is Rebecca duelling against the Asian champion Vivian Wong, who clearly has a crush on Yugi to Rebecca (and Tea’s) annoyance – whilst Rebecca wins, the focus from earlier becomes obvious when Rex and Weevil infiltrate the tournament and face off against a duelist named Zigfriend, who defeats them in one turn. Ziegfried then plays Joey and it is pretty obvious that he is the hacker, who has some sort of history against Kaiba. Kaiba and Mokuba slowly begin to learn who he is and despite what he does, they don’t want to stop the tournament because of how much has already been screwed with to Kaiba’s reputation (Kaiba even saying he wouldn’t duel despite wanting to face Yugi) – they don’t drop the ball here as well as Ziegfried does defeat Joey – yet there is some focus on another character as well, as Rebecca faces against a young man named Leon who uses a fairytale deck. He seems to be having fun and his skills are superb, defeating Rebecca and seemingly wanting to face Yugi as a dream come true. However, you can tell the focus on him means there is something bigger involved…
Indeed, despite a slight pointless detour of Vivian duelling Yugi (because Solomon is a dirty old man) Kaiba finds out that Zigfried is using a false name and is in fact Zigfried von Schroder, a gaming company arch-rival who knew him as kids – Kaiba breaks his promise and duels Zigfried to see if he can stay in the tournament to face Leon – and whilst Kaiba wins and is forced out of the tournament, Zigfried gives Leon a card on the way out…
This is where it becomes interesting as Leon seems to change as he is now all bitter and angry about duelling Yugi – the reason is that Leon is also a Von Schroder. We learn of why his deck is fairy tales and why he was considered inferior to Zigfried, yet is almost forced to do what his brother wants and when playing the spell that Zigfried gave him which was an illegal card, Yugi and Leon team up to defeat it. A few strong moments and some fun ones, but in the end it was still a minor arc to fill the time.
That said, still far better than the next one.
This is basically an arc specifically done for the American audience – the Capsule Monsters arc, it was actually not even aired in Japan despite the studio animating the YGO anime, and to this day I’m not sure why it was commissioned because I never saw a game variant of this ever making it to the west – hence why I’m not mentioning much about it. The ‘plot’ as it were was that Joey ends up winning a trip to India, and the gang is allowed whilst Yugi’s grandpa is on a secret expedition…anyway, the plane crashes but they miracously end up where Solomon is at with the help of a colleague in Dr Brisbane, and they get to a giant map where they are transported to another word with devices on themselves, and ambushed by monsters a la the Doma arc. However, they can obtain stones which unleash monsters to help defeat them.
Long story short – Solomon is also here and joins them, and they have to play the game to escape the world. They gain new monsters, armour, almost like an RPG, passing quests and trials, somehow putting in historical figures like Alexander The Great in it(?) and it is revealed that Brisbane had deliberately trapped them in, leading them to battle Alexander (and a brief return of Shadi), they win and return home.
It really was just pointless filler, even more pointless when you know the history of the arc – hence why I didn’t give much review on this section because I gave it the amount of attention most audiences did, very little. However, as we get through disc 4 out of 7, we finally get the one true arc of Yu-Gi-Oh which makes up for it.
Throughout the series, the mystery of the Millenium Items has been…well, a mystery. Indeed, why is an ancient spirit hiding inside a little boy’s puzzle? There have been hints of what they are used for of course like the Eye, Key and Necklace, but how do they connect with the pharaoh? In Season 2 Ishizu showed that ancient tablets and hieroglyphics linked Duel Monsters to ancient Egypt and it was these which inspired Pegasus to create the game, yet how is the pharaoh so tied in with the game, his bonds with cards and these monsters?
Well, Bakura is running from his ancient spirit inside the Millenium Ring who wants to collect all the Millenium Items – in the meantime Yugi is fulfilling a promise of going to Egypt to help the pharaoh recover his memories. Of course, there is a comic relief hiccup as Rex and Weevil (who else) steal Yugi’s bag with the Millenium Items and Egyptian God cards. However, that is quickly stopped by Yami Bakura who reclaims the ring and send their souls to the Shadow Realm, returns the rest of the belongings to Yugi for some reason as he apparently needs all 7 for his plan to work whilst giving hints on how he needs to get his memory back. To add to this, he pays Kaiba a visit, via Mokuba blackmail and duels Kaiba shadow game style, and Bakura seems to actually about to win, but he abandons the duel when the sun rises, giving Kaiba the Millenium Eye and advises him to come to Egypt if he wants to learn of his ancient past. Kaiba, DESPITE all the shadows and what he has seen still refuses to believe but it does etch in the back of his mind..
So when Egypt happens (and the return of Marik), we learn from something that happened 3 seasons ago (Bakura implementing some of his soul into the puzzle) finally comes into play – Yami Bakura travels into the past and begins controlling his ancient counterpart known as Thief Bakura for now, intending to change the past, ready to collect the Millenium Items in the past. And so it now all makes sense, just took a while to get there.
As much as I (and others) have mocked the fact that card games are the path to stopping evil, the fact they originated from a society of ancient magic and evil now makes sense, and the long winded plot of Bakura trying to get revenge on the Pharaoh as far back as his introduction in Season 1 during Duelist Kingdom starts to make sense – if you ignore the filler arcs and Season 4, it does actually work – you just have to have a good memory and be a big fan of the show. Anyway, the God cards vs. Bakura’s new best monster Diobound (introduced in the Kaiba duel hence why it was included and an excuse to have another card game) combined with some very familiar looking faces in the Egyptian line up give us more food for thought…
For example, Kaiba has denied anything to do with the past despite Ishizu, Bakura and Yami Yugi all showcasing otherwise – well here we see his Egyptian counterpart as a priest named Seto, who was an orphan but became a priest in the pharaoh’s court, and a wielder of the Millenium Rod. There is some actually good back-story with Seto involving who his father is, his relation with the Pharaoh and combined with a much more sympathetic story (a vision from Ishizu in Season 2 now makes sense when a white haired woman (Kisara) he rescues becomes much more integral to stopping Bakura than you’d expect). And when two of the Pharaoah’s contingent look very similar to two of Yami’s trademark monsters in Mahad and Mana (a.k.a. the Dark Magician/Dark Magician Girl) you slowly begin to unravel the pieces of the puzzle…
Two things however still remain unanswered – what is Thief Bakura’s plot and what is the significance of the Pharaoh’s real name? Well fortunately both of those are explained as well – along with Yugi’s role in all of this. Shadi makes his presence known as he leads Yugi and the gang into the Pharaoh’s memories, whilst Thief Bakura uses the kindness of the Pharaoh against him, and reveals that he is wishing to resurrect Zorc the Dark One, who the pharaoh had sealed in the past, Bakura is turning back time with his new powers to release him, but require all the Millenium Items to do so…
…and thus, the audience all go AHHHHHH as the significance of all the items (including ones only seen this season like the Millenium Scale) finally comes into play. Though the fact that he is the embodiment of evil just wanting to destroy the world makes you wonder why Bakura wants to do this, the fact that Zorc’s power is what is influencing the spirit of the Millenium Ring realises the corruption involved. And thus, needing to destroy Zorc and the evil spirits of Thief and Yami Bakura are now what is needed. This is also where Yami’s real name comes into play, as his name can actual seal away the darkness – however due to his loss of memories and the regular gang unable to translate the hieroglyphics (and the fact only certain people in this ancient world can see them – fortunately one of them is Mana, who is probably my fave character of the new bunch, leading to some fun interactions when Yugi realises the similarities between her and the Dark Magician Girl).
There is a lot going on and trying to cover everything is hard – but will go as best as can be, so Kaiba also gets involved and travels to the past, and sees that Kisara is in fact the spirit of the Blue-Eyes White Dragon where even he has trouble believing these are just holograms and gets involved with fighting Bakura and Zorc whilst Yugi still search for the Pharaoh’s real name – however thanks to some trickery through the Bakura group, it leads to Zorc being resurrected, who can destroy Ancient Egypt…which in turn also affects the present time. This leads to one final Shadow Game, between Yami Bakura…and regular Yugi. This is actually quite big as regular Yugi we’ve only seen teaming with the Pharaoh, and regular Yugi has a very different deck to the one we’ve seen Yugi usually play with, so can he defeat Bakura who was always very good as a duelist…
Well, he does but that was also a backup plan as the defeated Spirit now is absorbed by Zorc who was being held off by Kaiba. Cue moment of awesome as lifelong rivals Kaiba and the Pharaoh team up and the Pharaoh becomes the Black Luster Soldier/Blue Eyes Ultimate Dragon combo to fight Zorc, with the rest of the gang now along with Yugi knowing the Pharaoh’s true name. With this, the power of the Egyptian Gods is fused together to become invincible to defeat Zorc. With this the Pharoah relinquishes his title to Seto, and the Pharaoh, now known as Atem returns to the present with the intent to seal the Millenium Items – however he needs to be defeated in battle. And of course, in this scenario, it has to be a duel – so the final battle is Atem vs. Yugi. If Atem wins, he remains in the present day – if he loses, he returns to Ancient Egypt…
Wow. I never thought Yu-Gi-Oh would amaze me outside of the ‘so bad it’s good’ territory. I always consider it a guilty pleasure with the card games, however the third arc whilst it does have a few duels (including the big one between Atem and Yugi) for the most part it is a gradual telling of a past story which is trying to be changed by a spirit being manipulated – and it actually make sense why duel monsters exists (there’s a brief moment after the Atem/Yugi duel where we see Pegasus reflect on why he created duel monsters and why Yugi was so important to everyone he met) – combined with the past people, both reincarnations of current characters (even Yugi’s grandpa!) and of the cards themselves (the three most well known in fact with the two magicians and the Blue Eyes White Dragon) – the complexity of the Bakura character (there are basically three Bakura’s during this arc) and the fact that every little thing he did since Season 1 actually did lead to this big arc is actually well thought out. The history of the Pharaoh and his horror that his world could be destroyed yet not remember who his old friends and comrades were heart-breaking (though there is some fun ship tease with him and Mana), yet the fact Yugi and his friends do come through for him is also touching.
The only minor thing is that it meant pretty much most of the cast were sidelined for this arc – Joey, Tristan, Tea, even Kaiba until near the end was pretty much a non-factor, heck, Yugi was for a lot of it until the duel with Bakura. That said, the complexity of the past characters (one person I didn’t mention is Aknadin, who has history with both Seto and Atem but his role in releasing Zorc has some complex back-story when you realise who he is in relation to Seto/Atem) combined with seeing the previous incarnations of the cast (Seto being the most prevalent) gives us a new look at this cast and how this plot has been subtly unravelling since Season 1.
I think if this arc was released on its own, it would have got a higher grade than it does. Unfortunately, the initial two arcs beforehand do weaken it. The first arc, isn’t bad to be fair, it is just what you expect out of Yu-Gi-Oh with the duelling tournament, which has a little complexity with the two brothers arc. The Capsule Monsters arc literally didn’t need to exist – it was pointless, nothing really developed as a game or with the characters, and didn’t even have the fun factor of what lucky card will they draw part, it really didn’t belong. The third arc however is worth the purchase if you’ve managed to stick with YGO all this time – Bakura is the best villain of the show and he gets to shine here, combined with all the history, present vs. past, all the reincarnations, the ultimate evil, the duel monsters actually living, it is a word I never would have described Yu-Gi-Oh being.
If this had been the final arc only, it would have got a B+. Sadly, the initial two arcs (especially the Capsule Monsters arc) do lower it down based on being pretty weak filler. That said, you could easily skip it (though you may enjoy them) to get to the Zorc arc, and be astounded that a card game anime becomes this. Plot worthy, good battles, great characters development, the history of the game all coming into play and just how long it got there, but in the end, it was worth it.
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: C+
Video Grade: C+
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: N/A
Released By: Manga Entertainment UK
Release Date: June 6th, 2016
Running Time: 1125 minutes
Video Encoding: NTSC
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 – 1.78:1
Playstation 4, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.