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My Little Over-Analysis of 'Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters' - Part 5: Our First Proper Duel

by Art-Peeter Roosve 4 years ago in review
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In this series of episodes, Yugi shows Pegasus just what a polite visitor he is and commences in some on-the-house pest control for his host.

'Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters' [Credit: 4Kids Entertainment]

So, we're finally here! Not just in the Duelist Kingdom, but at a point where the show settles into it's trademark rhythm of huge multi episode duels separated with some breathers from time to time. Furthermore, this is also the beginning of the first season's "Pokemon phase," as the next couple of episodes are simply about the gang hiking around Pegasus' island, meeting the foe of the day, beating them in a duel and maybe learning a lesson or two in the process (although Yugi and Joey do have a bit more profound motivations than "catching them all").

Now, multi episode duels such as this do call for a slightly altered review format, as it's essentially more about reviewing a dramatized card game as opposed to a drama with some card games in it. Luckily, as the show is rather brilliant at progressing the plot not just around but also within the duels, there's still plenty of story to be found here. So, lets get right into it and start another little over-analysis of Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters.

The Story Leading up to the Duel: Greetings from Your Host!

'Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters' [Credit: 4Kids Entertainment]

As is the case with any legitimate sport's event (and make no mistake, Duel Monsters card game is most definitely a very serious sport), there are of course the formalities to get over with before the competiton can begin. Like, for example, an opening speech from the host of the Tournament—Pegasus.

Now, as one listens Pegaus' speech, it's a bit hard to overlook the sheer stupidity of throwing this huge and expensive tournament just so he could steal a necklace from a small boy. However—even when setting aside the fact that Pegasus needs to beat Yugi in a shadow game to truly become the owner of his Millenium Puzzle—throwing this lavish tournament still makes perfect sense. Simply put, for a shrewd businessman with an ego to match, it's something the guy would probably do anyway. The fact that he can also use it to further his own private agenda just makes it all the more sweeter for good ol' Maximillion.

Stupid or not, we don't get to ponder on it for too long however, as Weevil wastes no time in luring the gang into his supposed trap to get the show's first proper duel underway.

The Duel: Your Average 'Yu-Gi-Oh' Affair

'Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters' [Credit: 4Kids Entertainment]

When I say proper, I mean that it's the first time when it's really all about the duel itself rather than using it for setting stuff up. That, in turn, also makes it something of a standard setter going forward. A role which it fills rather well, as it features pretty much all the elements that define your average duel:

  • It has its own little gimmick in form of Weevil's insect themed deck and the field power bonuses
  • It follows the ever reliable structure of having Yugi spend most of the duel on a bit of a backfoot only to pull of a masterstroke at the end (this time by showing why you really shouldn't want to run into Summoned Skull during mist)
  • It's filled with tons of banter and inner monologues (including amongst the one's observing the duel)

Now, strategy wise, it is of course still fairly basic. However, some of the complexities of the game are starting to shine through, as Yugi and Weevil go back and forth with some nice spell and trap card combinations. As for the aforementioned field power bonus gimmick, it perfectly encapsulates the first season's more imaginative take on the actual rules of the Yu-Gi-Oh! card game. Granted, this approach does mean that these early duels tend to lack the complexity and tension of the later ones. Yet, they do capture one's imagination perhaps even better.

The Themes and Story Within the Duel: Overconfidence vs. Self Belief

'Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters' [Credit: 4Kids Entertainment]

With this duel being essentially a means to get the ball rolling for the Duelist Kingdom tournament, there isn't too much here in way of themes and story. Having said that, it does do a good job of firmly establishing the character of Atem. Granted, there are still quite a few episodes to go until the show's characters themselves fully acknowledge it, but seeing the trademark confidence and cool of "Yugi''s sexy alter ego", leaves little room for doubt that Yugi and Atem are indeed two very different individuals. They just happen to share a body.

Furthermore, the duel also draws a clear line between over-confidence and self-belief. You see, while Weevil constantly gloats about his supposed superiority, Yugi (or Atem) quietly just gets on with the job only allowing himself a laugh when he had played Weevil into corner. In other words, while too much confidence can indeed be the cause of one's downfall, you still need a fair amount of it if you're to have any shot at reaching your goals.

The Higlight of the Duel

'Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters' [Credit: 4Kids Entertainment]

Plenty of great moments, but it has got to go to Atem's laugh just when Weevil though he has gotten him beaten. Outside of perfectly encapsulating Atem's utterly confident character, it's just a memorable and brilliantly presented moment both in terms of timing and delivery.

Today's Card Trivia

'Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters' [Credit: 4Kids Entertainment]

  • Feral Imp: Not much to say about this one other than just how mischievously cute that green little creature comes across. It most probably has something to do with the card's description: "A playful little fiend that lurks in the dark, waiting to attack an unwary enemy." Simply adorable.
  • Mirror Force: A classic trap cards in terms of catching the enemy unaware, it's also the only card to appear in every Yu-Gi-Oh! anime series
  • Hercules Beetle: This name sake for the Roman hero is based on the Hercules beetle, which is one of the longest extant species of beetle in the world as well as one the largest flying insects.
  • Killer Needle: This is the only monster in the dub with the word "Killer" in its name instead of having it censored. Now, they did change its name from "Killer Bee" to "Killer Needle," most likely to avoid association with the real-life insect (maybe because they were afraid of a lawsuit from the killer bee community).
  • Great Moth: Good news for Weevil, it's a developed version of the Larvae Moth. Bad news for Weevil, it's also an underdeveloped version of the Perfectly Ultimate Great Moth, whose emergence Yugi managed to avoid.
  • Gaia the Dragon Champion: This card was the first Fusion Monster to be Summoned during the series as well as being the first Fusion Monster to be Summoned by Yugi. Interestingly, this card is a WIND monster, while its Fusion Materials are EARTH and DARK monsters.

[Credit: Kazuki Takahashi]

  • Polymerization: In chemistry, polymerization is the process of fusing two or more molecular units into larger chains of units called polymers.
  • Gaia the Fierce Knight: In Greek mythology, Gaia is the personification of the Earth and one of the Greek primordial deities. Now what's all that got to do with an angry knight on an even angrier horse beats me.
  • Kuriboh: Last but not least, we've also introduced to one of the weakest monsters in the entire game. In fact, Kuriboh's apparent weakness is such that in chapter 131 of the manga, even Pegasus was shocked that anyone would use it in their deck. It is also the Japanese name for the Super Mario Bros. enemy known as "Goomba" in the International region and apparently Kazuki Takahashi's third favourite monster.

Lore Trivia of the Day: The Rules in the Duelist Kingdom

'Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters' [Credit: 4Kids Entertainment]/ via

As the first season's rules are quite different from the rules of the actual game, let's just quickly sum them up.
  • Each oponent has 2000 Life Points as opposed to 8000
  • Tributes are not required for Level 5 or higher monsters
  • Players can not attack each other directly.
  • Monsters are given field power bonuses if their attribute matches the location of the dueling arena, hence Weevil's choice of an arena situated in insect infested woods

Changes in the Dub

'Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters' [Credit: 4Kids Entertainment]

  • In the Japanese version, when Weevil challenges Yugi to a duel, Yugi accepts, the Millennium Puzzle flashes and Atem appears. In the Dub, the whole transformation sequence is added. Because why not.
  • In the Japanese version, Weevil was granted sole knowledge of the Duelist Kingdom's rules because he won the Regionals. In the English version, Weevil stole the rulebook. Because it's not like he wasn't (We)evil enough already.
  • In the Japanese version, Yugi refers to the duel between him and Weevil as a "live or die match" as he is betting his card deck, which is referred to as his "life as a duelist." In dub, all references or words implying dying are of course omitted and Yugi simply bets his only star chip and his grandfather's deck.
  • In the English dub, "Hercules Beetle" is shown to have 1200 Attack Points on its card when Weevil holds it up. However, when its Attack Points are shown by the counter, they are then correctly displayed as 1500. This may be due to the fact that it could have been edited directly from "Killer Needle", which actually has 1200 Attack Points.
  • In the dub, when Yugi stands over a sniveling Weevil, he tells him he won his duels by lying and cheating, but a true champion plays with honor. Japanese Yugi, however, wonders loudly who would have thought that the first one to be sent home would be the all-Japan champion.
  • Continuing with the theme established in the previous episode, when Mai makes her appearance at the beginning of the episode, a shot of her breasts is cut from the dub.

'Yu-Gi-Oh: The Abridged Series' Quote of the Day

'Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters' [Credit: 4Kids Entertainment]

Mai: You guys are wasting your time. Yugi doesn't stand a chance. He's not nearly experienced enough.Tea [angrily]: Compared to friendship and compassion, experience is meaningless!

As a famous Sith Lord once said: "The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the friendship." Or something like that. It was definitely an f-word in the end of that sentence.

Keeping The Score

'Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters' [Credit: 4Kids Entertainment]

  • Number of major duels in the show: 3
  • Number of major friendship speeches: 1 (show's overall count: 4)
  • Monologues on the heart of the cards: 1 (show's overall count: 3)
  • Yugi's overall victory count: 3
  • Yugi's overall losing count: 1
  • Weevil's overall victory count: 1
  • Weevil's overall losing count: 1
  • Main character drawing just the right card at the last second trope: 1 (show's overall count 2)
Sources: Yu-Gi-Oh! Wikia, WikipediaAlso read: My Little Over-Analysis of 'Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters' Part 4: Episode 3 "Journey to the Duelist Kingdom"

About the author

Art-Peeter Roosve

So, to put it simply (and slightly cheesily) I'm fascinated with life. And, well, writing about films, TV shows, video games, music, travelling, philosophy and Formula 1 among other is a fun way to explore it.

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