What They Say:
Long ago, when the pyramids were still young, Egyptian kings played a game of great and terrible power. These Shadow Games erupted into a war that threatened to destroy the entire world until a brave and resourceful Pharaoh locked the magic away, imprisoning it within the mystical Millennium Items.
Centuries later, a boy named Yugi Muto unlocks the secret of the Millennium Puzzle. Infused with ancient magical energies, he summons forth the spirit of the Pharaoh from eons ago, for destiny has chosen him to defend the world from the return of the Shadow Games.
Teamed with an eclectic group of loyal friends against an extraordinary array of formidable foes, Yugi and the Pharaoh together battle to defeat forces of unimaginable evil. They ultimately succeed and prevent the world from plunging into darkness forever.
With their mission complete, Yugi and the Pharaoh hold one final match against each other to determine whether Yugi is capable of standing alone without the Pharaoh s help. When the ritual duel of destiny ends with the Pharaoh s defeat, the magical Millennium Items are buried deep beneath the Egyptian sands and the Pharaoh s soul returns to whence it came.
And thus the story came to an end. Until now.
The stakes have never been higher; the rivalries never as fierce; the risks never so great. One wrong move one card short and it s game over for good. A decade in the making, Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions features new designs and an all-new story from the original creator of the global phenomenon, Kazuki Takahashi. His masterful tale features anime s most beloved characters in their long-awaited return: Yugi Muto, Seto Kaiba, and their faithful friends Joey Wheeler, Tristan Taylor Téa Gardner, and Bakura. It s the most highly anticipated re-YU-nion ever!
Being a movie was very happy it got the full treatment, as it gets a 5.1 Dolby release in English AND Japanese (considering how the dub does change lines quite a bit, definitely a plus experience) as well as standard 2.0 audio, it didn’t need any change in default settings and no issues as far as synching with the lip flaps in English – actually surprised how well the quality was as to my knowledge this is the first time the UK has received a Yu-Gi-Oh release with a Japanese audio as well so was pleasantly surprised. (Also hearing an updated version of that catchy as heck English opening of Yu-Gi-Oh on the menu brought back many memories combined with Eric Stuart (Kaiba) and Dan Green (Yugi/Atem) returning…)
Set on a standard 16:9 – 1.78:1 ratio on a single disc with wide screen format like a movie styling, the movie is incredibly vibrant and colourful with updated animation whilst the characters still look like they were back in the day just brighter and a little older – runs smoothly with no distortion and no issues with pausing either as no animation went glitch, no slowdown and no keep up issues with the subtitles so a movie like release in quality.
There was no packaging for this test release.
The menu is very basic, as mentioned there is a catchy update to the original Yu-Gi-Oh English opening in the background with images of Yami Yugi in main background, Kaiba to the right and Diva to the left with your selections below them with Play Feature, Scene Selection and Set-Up as your options – very standard, easily selectable both from main menu and back from the movie (with some delay in selection as per most DVD releases compared to Blu-Ray).
There are no extras with this release.
Ah Yu-Gi-Oh, one of the earliest series that was aired in the UK back when the anime bug started to kick in. After Pokemon, Digimon, Sailor Moon, DBZ and I think Cardcaptors; this was one of the earliest series to get a slot back on the old days of Sky One. Since then, not just the original Yu-Gi-Oh, but future series like GX and 5Ds have been released over here, but none have kept the original campy flair and enjoyment of the original, and this is proven as they got a new movie after so many years apart. Not only that, but they managed to grab some of the iconic dub cast as well as doing a rare Japanese track as never occurred in any of the series releases.
So it incorporates a bit of nostalgia by hearing Dan Green and Eric Stuart return to their roles as Yugi/Atem and Kaiba (with other cast from the original returning as well, including Joey’s, Bakuras, Teas and Mokuba’s VAs) – however in all honesty, the actual Yu-Gi-Oh series have never been that good, mostly a way to showcase the card game (to both pros and cons) and the show is really more known for its cheesy dialogue and the infamous abridged series. So how does an updated movie come about and does it bring anything back?
Well, I’m going with both remembering the dub and looking at the subtitles to see what is changed, and you can tell the dub goes back to its original work in terms of amping Kaiba’s ego which ironically helps for some funny moments, but interestingly the story really fuels the fire about Kaiba’s thoughts about the Pharaoah (to the point where you can easily interpret Kaiba’s feelings for him as something more – fanfiction and doujin will be rampant let’s be honest) and how far he will go to fight against the one person he considered a worthy rival, despite what he says otherwise…
We start off with Kaiba searching and trying to dig out the Millenium Puzzle with the aid of Kaiba-Corp. This has taken place about a year after Yugi defeated Atem and he returned back into the spirit of the puzzle to return as the Pharaoh – in the meantime, it appears his friends have gone back to school life – Yugi and Tea seem to have gotten a bit closer whilst she says to her friends she is going to the US for dance school, Joey is still a lovable idiot with his best friend Tristan, and Bakura suddenly has his own set of fangirls (dub change 1 I love: Must be the accent. Totally not biased as they gave Bakura a British accent…oh no…) – however Kaiba wishes to revive the Pharaoh as the one person he’s not been able to defeat. Yeah, we do feel this maybe a bit accessive using his wealth and technology to just reassemble the puzzle (won’t even discuss the space station) but hey, plot.
No, seriously – there is plot. We see two sides of a young man – one at Yugi’s school named Aigami, who Joey saves from some bullies – but then later you see him trap these same bullies in another dimension with a cube – this side is his real side named Diva who you learn later was a student/child saved by Shadi – one of the original masters of the tomb that held the millennium items. Diva challenges Seto Kaiba to give up the puzzle, however Kaiba’s will (translation: ego) is too strong to be sucked into his dimensions, so of course, to challenge him for the puzzle, we get a game of Yu-Gi-Oh! However, this is done by Dimension summoning, allowing anyone to play any monster card at any point, though it leads to some great powerful monsters in CGI (including Obelisk appears somehow), Diva eventually runs away to fight another day as he manages to steal two pieces of the puzzle. He keeps one and gives the other to his sister Sera, a girl who suffered as he did back in Egypt. Unlike him though, she realises he is going too far and instead, finds Yugi and gives him the piece…
After a few silly moments (like Joey having to put on a dog costume for work – a humorous re-tread to the original series), ‘Aigami’ begins to be friends with Yugi’s group via a bit of mind altering, in particular Bakura. This is because he believes Bakura (or in this case Yami Bakura) killed Shadi – his item, the Quantum Cube, transports him to another dimension but Bakura explains it was the spirit of the Millenium Ring using his body and not Bakura himself – which is proven when one of Diva’s minions is taken over by the ring and Diva is conflicted now in what he is fighting for…
But forget plot and back-story, we need card games! Kaiba practically abducts Diva and then confronts Yugi, knowing the two of them have the pieces he needs to hopefully resurrect the pharaoh. The two duel as Yugi wishes to rescue Bakura, which leads in Aigami being defeated, leading Kaiba to duel Yugi. It appears Yugi is going to win, and also reveals even after the puzzle is completed, the spirit of Atem is long gone, nearly bringing Kaiba into shock/tears level. However, before Yugi can win, Diva returns but with the powers of the evil Millenium Ring to duel with both Kaiba and Yugi to take the puzzle. In short, Kaiba sacrifices himself so that Yugi can resurrect Atem to stop Diva…which is does, albeit quickly and briefly so sadly there is no long reunion with the Pharaoh.
However, the final scenes are interesting as Tea goes off to New York as dreams are being followed…and the final scene is Kaiba using his technology in combination with the Quantum Cube…to actually travel TO THE AFTERLIFE to face off against Atem…which it then cuts to black.
There isn’t much we can say about the movie that can’t be said about the original series, except upping the ante with Kaiba. There is a scene earlier in the movie where Kaiba actually creates a virtual Atem (dub change hilarity 2: creating the image of Atem up until his ‘perfectly coiffed hair’ adds more to his obsession…) and the movie pretty much is all about trying to bring him back *ironically when he does, there are no words from Atem – Dan Green only uses his Atem voice with the hologram* – Yugi himself isn’t actually in it that much until the end – there are a few minor things with his friendships (and perhaps a bit more on the Yugi/Tea ship) but it was basically Kaiba’s ego at its most awesome.
The new character, Aigami/Diva, does seem to have some good back-story as we see some flashbacks of him and Sera as a child and having Shadi as a mentor saving them from slavery but you feel that this is very similar to Marik, just without the advantage of having a multi-episode arc. Thinking it was Bakura’s fault is a good twist considering how Yami Bakura was involved in the death of Shadi, but it does ask a few questions compared to the original series (as there was no Yami Bakura inhabiting the ring, the ring itself is now just the catalyst of evil). Granted as it is a two hour movie they couldn’t get everything in back-story wise, and the usual joke of it being about a children’s card game isn’t as heavy here (though focus on Kaiba’s new technology isn’t much better) but in the end, it does lead to 4 duels in the two hour movie.
So yep, the movie is pretty silly – however in that is its charm. Kaiba’s ego and utter need in wanting to bring back the Pharaoh screams like he has lost his only friend. Indeed, the ending feels almost like a together in death scenario as we don’t know if he got back from the afterlife (barring another movie/series in the works) and it feels like he made peace with Yugi himself at the end. He definitely has all the big moments (in fandom, Kaiba was pretty much the most popular character outside of Atem) and the movie is almost a testament to Kaiba’s ego and how he is a badass with it, definitely helped with the English version playing it up full tilt.
There are of course, issues though. The villain as mentioned isn’t the strongest and whilst they play up the past and his issues with Bakura it pretty much becomes a footnote and only used as a way for Yugi to get into the action. Aigami’s sister, Sera, is pretty much a wasted character and her only purpose is to make sure Yugi gets into said action. All of Yugi’s friends are hardly used – especially strange considering the whole joke about the bonds of friendship in the original series is still intact with Tea about to leave for the US – Joey in particularly is only in it for a few jokes and his few moments don’t lead to any significant journey within the plot.
However, it is the classic YGO with gorgeous animation and CGI combined with the blast of nostalgia if you watched the original dub – this combined with Kaiba been a show stealer makes it at least a nosy for YGO fans. If you’ve not seen the original series, no point as it is spoilers aplenty, but if you have, then this is definitely the guiltiest of pleasures.
YGO: The Dark Side of Dimensions is a glory movie to those who were a fan of the original Yu-Gi-Oh. Whilst the Japanese release is still great, watching it in English gives pleasant and smirking memories to Eric Stuart enjoying being an egotistical man of power like Kaiba, and he turns that up tenfold. His pretty much love/hate relationship with the Pharaoh is at his peak, almost to obsession levels, and the movie is pretty much about that, but adds in a villain who had a past link with the Pharaoh just so you get to see duels again. Ironically Yugi and his friends are mostly put to the side which can be disappointing especially as Atem is also not in it much and the ending would raise questions, but I can’t help but enjoy this piece of nostalgia updated for modern times.
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: A
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: N/A
Released By: Manga Entertainment UK
Release Date: May 29th, 2017
Running Time: 130 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Playstation 4, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.