A Look Back: Yu-Gi-Oh!

Maybe someday I’ll sit down and properly address how I view Yu-Gi-Oh! now versus how I did back when I was much younger. Having said that, I doubt I’ll ever revisit the series again, not because it was terrible or particularly bad in anyway, but rather due to my ever-growing list of things to do list stacking higher and higher as time goes on. And I would prefer to try and cut down that list than use that time to double up my hours spent watching an old show. Regardless, here’s what I wrote earlier this year:

(From previous blog, unedited)

Playing card games save the world, apparently. Or at least, that’s what I learned growing up watching Yu-Gi-Oh! Though, I wouldn’t say many arcs centered on someone trying to take over the world. Pegasus was a flamboyant multi-millionaire who loved to paint and swirl wine while spectating Yugi and “Kaiba-boy” duel. One of the more tragic figures in Yu-Gi-Oh!, I can vividly remember Pegasus having his eye replaced by the Millennium Eye. Which, while not that graphic, was pretty unsettling to watch as a kid.

Watching little Yugi turn into the Pharaoh was strange at first, but what made it even more jarring were the other’s reactions, or should I say non-reactions? They’re not surprised, not in the slightest. Which would be fine, if it were to be believed they already knew Yugi could transform like that. But they don’t ever pay any attention to it at all. There’s no concern that this transformation from one person to another could be in any way considered a little dangerous or disturbing. And even if Yugi’s friends knew and were all cool with him being possessed by a 5,000-year-old ancient Egyptian spirit (or whatever), why are all of Yugi’s opponents who have never seen this happen before also unperturbed by it? It may sound like this bothers me a lot, but it really doesn’t. It’s just odd that this goes unnoticed throughout the entire series (correct me if I’m wrong).

Following up the Yugi and friends dynamic, there isn’t much to go on in terms of feats or personality really. Tea likes Yugi, but then she actually likes the Pharaoh, and then back to liking Yugi, and so on. She only had two moments in the entire series where she did anything noteworthy. One, when she dueled Mai Valentine and won. And the second, was when she dueled the Penguin guy during Noah’s arc. But, the first moment she gets to shine is cheapened since we see Mai was clearly about to win but decided to surrender for some reason (heart of the cards, am I right?). And the second… Yeah, I’m blanking on the second time. Something to do with penguins and the arctic. She won, I guess? It’s all a blur.

Next, we have Joey and Tristan who have this weird relationship where they’re both best of friends who used to bully and beat the crap out of Yugi, but then became friends with Yugi? Then there’s Joey’s sister, Serenity, who is blind and is the whole reason Joey duels in season one – in order to win the prize money for her operation. Tristan becomes smitten with her and Joey disapproves. Then later Duke Devlin starts flirting with Serenity and it becomes a love triangle, kind of. The episode where Tristan and Duke fight on Kaiba’s blimp, fall off and are clinging to the edge for a few episodes was really uncomfortable for someone scared of falling from heights to watch.

I could go on and talk about all the wacky side characters, like Bandit Keith, Rex and Weevil and that weird skull-zombie kid. But I’d rather talk about the only character in the show who matters. Seto “Friggin” Kaiba! Easily the coolest character in the entire show, and another one who has a (sort of) tragic backstory. What I liked most about Kaiba in the second season was probably his new jacket. Oh, and he develops into less of a prick, which is nice too.

“Believe in the heart of the cards!” didn’t take long to become the series mantra. Nor did it take the internet that long after to turn it into a memetic joke. I will say I enjoyed the show for what it was, but I doubt I’d get into it if I started at this stage in my life. Again, it’s another show that’s premise, dialogue and characters are all ridiculous to some degree. Which, let’s face it is a large part of why we watched it in the first place. I will say the show did strike a chord with me a couple of times, like when Joey jumps into the ocean to rescue Yugi’s cards and Yugi jumps in to save Joey. Kaiba’s brotherly affection and selflessness for Mokuba gave me a sense of belonging to some degree. Marik’s abusive past was probably one of the first exposures I had to that side of the world. And I think the constant display of Egyptian culture, history and mythology (regardless of accuracy) had an effect on my intrigue into other cultures.

Final words. To be honest, I had no idea how much of an effect Yu-Gi-Oh has had on me over the years. I still don’t think it was too significant in forming who I am today, but I wouldn’t put it past the show to say it taught me some things. Anyway, those are my scrambled thoughts on Yu-Gi-Oh! Hope it wasn’t too boring.
~ Ace


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