Vampire Cthulhu's Memories of Yu-Gi-Oh!

Date: June 27th, 2021

My start in anime was nothing extraordinary for my generation or in general. It was Pokemon. Pokemon just exploded like a virus. Every kid got into it. I was around 5 years old. I liked the anime, games, toys, etc. But around the anime adaptation of the 3rd gen (Great game wise ftr) I just kinda dropped off. Misty and Brock were replaced. And....there really is no goal to Pokemon. There's not a focus, not a plot. Just very repetative. Episodic. It exists to pump episodes out. Not saying there's no effort in its writing but that's just me you know, I am very iffy about episodic.

Now if the anime adapted the games or the manga (Which is a slight lose adaptation of the games) you'd have my attention.

But anyway. There were other viral anime crazes. And keep in mind this was during a time before it was normalized in the US and other Western countries. Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball (and or Z?) were both huge henomenons. Dragon Ball I admittedly never really caught. But I can't say it looks like my cup of tea either way, then or now. If I ever change my mind I'll read the manga. Sailor Moon...I tried. Really gorgeous to look at but the battles were boring and formulatic. I don't wanna be attacked for not liking the sacred duo but as a kid that's just how I felt. It also didn't help that I rarely watched the channels they were on. Yet for some reason I watched Kids WB?

Now to get into the actual main subject. Subject: Yugioh. Another bit of a craze. As big as Pokemon, DB, and SM? Probably not. At this point more and more animes were popping up so it loses out probably from being later. But I'd still say this was part of the early wave of anime becoming nomalized. They were continuing to hit us while we were young. Yugioh is not exactly a kids series. But they butchered it a bit so it could be. But we are talking about me at 8 years old not ...how old I am now--I don't wanna think about it, fuck. At 8 years old I caught a glimpse of the show. "This looks stupid" is what I thought. I ended up sitting down and watching an episode anyway, repeatidly thinking dismissive thoughts in my head about it. It was the episode where the main characters are dealing with Bakura for the first time. Funny how the anime introduces him, he just kinda shows up like you're supposed to know who he is. And that's actually how the anime is too even if you watch all the prior eps. That's where season 0 and the manga come in. More on that later. I kept watching that episode and the gears started turning.

The atmosphere of that episode was very dark. Bakura himself was really intimidating by design alone. There was a sense of threat. For an 8 year old like me at that time, it was intense and ever since I was hooked. The series would continue to deliver on these qualities I appreciated so much. Even though 4kids combed over it a lot, they just couldn't completely remove the edge it inherently had. A favorite thing they liked to do is just replaced all death with the Shadow Realm. The Shadow Realm was a thing. But the "Shadow Realm saw blade" coming at your legs was in fact, actually just a saw blade. But even the original uncensored anime was a censored version of the manga. Yugioh was my entry into manga. Yes I was still around 8...maybe turning 9? I up volume 3, expecting more of what I was used to from the series. What I got was very different. It was the more episodic "story" prior to the Duelist Kingdom anime. And it was pretty edgy. If someone was bad you always knew.

It was more about death and intense injury then. Takei, the creator, was clearly inspired by Jojo's Bizarre Adventure. Jonouchi/Joey = Josuke, Yugi/Yami Yugi = Koichi, the art style, the blend of horror and fucked up mental/stratedgy battles, the episodic nature, everyone being fucking insane, etc. At this time he must not have really known where he wanted to take the series. Every mini story was about some sort of home brew game or Russian Roulette tier stuff. And I actually liked that. Whenever everyone took a liking to his Duel Monsters game Takei decided to fixate more on that more strictly though occasionally finding ways to throw in some variations here and there (Dungeon Dice Monsters) Sadly we never really got to see that part of Yugioh in the anime most people were familiar with. However there was an anime adaptation of the early stuff by Toei. It's not bad!! I haven't made time to watch all of it though. But it def has a super dated feel to it, which again, not bad. But I wouldn't have minded seeing the more modern Yugioh animation team take a shot at it.

I would be lying if I said I'm completely satisfied with the legacy Yugioh left behind. But mainly because of the circumstances of 4kids involvement. Yugioh is meme worthy naturally even without a bad dub. (FTR I adore the dub still to this day despite occasional cringe) but 4kids reduced this anime to a children's show. Along with Yugioh Abridged poking fun at it. Funny series btw. I think everyone is fairly endearing to Yugioh. It is a fun series and it's fun to make fun of. BUT it feels like people treat it as "that corny show I watched when I was 10 haha" and kinda disregard it. At least the general population. I think it still has a strong cult following that appreciate it on a deeper level and are more educated on it. But I suppose childhood nostalgia is better than it not being remembered at all. In recent years I have been trying to think more critically of Yugioh. Esp given how harsh I am to certain now animes these days. Like MHA. With it's mostly redundant cast. Wasted potential. Etc.

What exactly makes Yugioh so special or amazing? Character wise, everyone is actually pretty straight forward and simple. Maybe even one dimensial. There are layers to them all but most of it isn't anything extraordinary. This isn't high tier literature or meant to fuel essays (Ha.) But deep overly complex characters isn't always the requirement to being good. I mean some of the best films of all time don't spend an eternity trying to develop characters. I can give an easy example: The Thing. There's a pretty big cast. But do you ever really deeply know them? No. But they win you over with their charisma and chemisty. What kind of situation they deal with and the tone of how it is presented. Yugioh is all about heart and maybe over idealistic friendships. But hey it's fantasy lets pretend life is good. In writing this I do think it's kinda nice how it starts with a bully befriending his victim and trying to better himself. Joey really wasn't a nice guy to Yugi. The Duel Monsters anime didn't really do a good job showing how hard of a guy Jonouchi was/is. Probably one of the biggest crimes it did. Taking away the violent punk aspect away from him.

The rival dynamic was also entertaining. Namely Kaiba who would be a rival to both of them. Though it was one sided when it came to Jonouchi/Joey vs Kaiba but. Kaiba is an iconic character. He's like laughably dorky and way too extra about everything. Along with his own little tragic past for why he is that way. And then there's the star of course, Yugi. Sad boy who only wanted friends. He was idealistic and hopeful. Tries to see the best in everyone. That nature left him vulnerable which is where Yami Yugi came in. Someone who was confident with strong convictions. Regular Yugi was skilled at games but emotionally and physically he struggled. So he leans on his alter ego to carry him through everything. Sounds maybe flawed. That Yugi is being essentially overprotected. That gets addressed way later. As for the sides, most of them are just kinda there. There's subtle characterization in them. Anzu/Tea was a pretty cool female protag. She didn't take anyone's shit. But she was really compassionate. Hanging with a bunch of dudes that weirdly don't seem like they'd mesh with her but somehow they all make it work. She had her own love triangle shit and did a few goofy things but she gets a worse rep than she deserves. A lot of people who watched the shoe 15 years ago parrot that she was annoying with friendship speeches. They all do it though, hate to break it to ya. Anyway there's Tristan/Honda....maybe the weakest character of the main cast. No one's favorite. Similar past to Joey but unable to outshine him in a single way so he's sliightly redundant.

Is my writing getting even more sloppy than usual? Can you tell I'm getting tired. Of the secondaries, Bakura is probably the best/strongest. But underused. The best of him was in the manga and season 0 adaptation of it. He was an introverted nerd who really likes DnD. Or whatever Yugioh renamed it to. But he deals with alter ego shit too so he had to keep transferring around because anyone he befriended would get hurt. Bakura as he is though in Duel Monsters is kinda similar to Honda and Anzu where he's just kinda there. His purpose is to be around in case Yami Bakura wants to act up. Ok I'm just wanting to complain that he was underused. I need to start wrapping this up. Why did I talk about everyone again? While these characters aren't revolutionary. Their designs, personalities, and chemisty is enjoyable. I'm tired. Oh btw ....Egyptian reincarnations is a thing. Yugioh is weird. Ok yeah uhh wrapping this up. Maybe if I spent a week writing this it would be better. There's probably all kinds of things I could cover...

I have Yugioh to thank for a lot of things. I feel like it was one of the primary motivations in me wanting to draw. I think it helped peak my interest in sharp angular art. It helped introduce me to...funny enough, Europop music. Remember AMVs? I know Aqua for "Calling You" not "I'm A Barbie Girl". I got my first fictional character crushes through Yugioh. I remember wearing a corny silk collared shirt with Yami Yugi on it. I remember bringing my Yugioh cards to school every day. I remember 2 boys stealing them all. I remember the campus cop getting them back for me. I remember making my Nana take me to see the terrible Yugioh movie. I can't even imagine how miserable she was.