RRF: Yu-Gi-Oh Season 1 Review

Yu-Gi-Oh is a popular series that's been going on for as long as Pokemon and has been a way for Konami to make more money. Despite the anime's purpose for selling cards the same way as Transformers and My Little Pony were orignally made to sell toys, Yu-Gi-Oh became one popular series. So I wanted to talk about it. I'll do a review for 1-5 seasons. I can't do Yu-Gi-Oh season 0 because some of the episodes are hard to find and most don't have good subs. And I will split some of the seasons into arcs like the Noah Arc and The KC Grand-Championship arc.So I'm going to do the much easier ones. And remember, the dub of Yu-Gi-Oh was done by good ole 4Kids TV. A company very well known for censoring anime and other frauds. So if i get something wrong that was in the Japanese version I apologize. So let's began!
Yugi is a highschool student who has three best friends named Joey Wheeler (Katsuya Jonouchi), Tristan Taylor (Hiroto Honda) and Tea Gardner (Anzu Mazaki). They're all passionate about the game Duel Monsters. Especially Yugi and Joey, who face off against each other in the first episode. However, Seto Kaiba, a rich teenage billionaire wants Yugi's Grandpa's rare Blue Eyes White Dragon. It's his favorite card and he's willing to get it no matter what. However, since the card is something Grandpa is attached to, he declines. Seto kidnaps grandpa and forces him to give up the card. Yugi gets a call about how Grandpa is doing so well and tries to rescue him. That's when the spirit of the Millennium Puzzle awakens and fights against Kaiba in a duel. He wins using Exodia and the Championship of Duel Monsters loses. This catches the attention of Maxmillion Pegasus (Pegasus J. Crawford) who challenges Yugi to a duel. he loses and his Grandpa's soul is captured. In order to save his grandfather, Yugi must win the Duelist Kingdom Tournament that Pegasus designed in order to save his grandfather.
The plot sounds ridiculous in some sense, a fight that centers around a children's card game. But the anime takes it seriously that sometimes it's hard not to get sucked into it. It's more than just a battle against good and evil. Sometimes Yugi has to fight against the spirit that lives inside of him. The spirit isn't bad, it wants to win and help. But is willing to do too much and ends up killing some people. That struggle made this anime much more enjoyable to watch. Plus you wonder if Yugi can truly win against impossible odds. There's times within this season that he doesn't win and has to deal with those consequences.
Now let's begin with the main character Yugi Moto. Yugi is a kind person who is willing to help out anyone who is endangered. He learns this from his friends and grandfather. He's not without flaws though. Sometimes he gets frustrated when he loses and depressed. He doesn't always have the self confidence he needs. And his internal battle with the spirit inside the puzzle proves it. Kaiba was going to threaten to kill himself if Yugi won in their second duel. The spirit calls out the attack but Yugi couldn't risk Kaiba's life and quit the duel. That internal struggle and the one he faces later on is what made Yugi a great character.
Joey Wheeler is also pretty good of a character. Yugi was someone he used to bully and tease a lot when they were in school. until Yugi saved them from a bigger bully. Joey realized what friendship meant and became Yugi's greatest friend. He also has divorced parents and a little sister he loves. Serenity Wheeler (Shizuka Kawai) is going to become blind and her family doesn't have enough to pay for the surgery. Joey wants to earn the money by competing in Duelist Kingdom and winning the prize money. He works hard and never gives up. Even though Kaiba beats him down in one duel. Yet what really made him compelling was his duel with Yugi. Both sides have something to prove and so much to lose in the duel. If Yugi doesn't win, he can't save Kaiba, Mokuba and his grandfather. While is Joey loses, his sister loses his eyesight.
Kaiba is Yugi's main rival throughout the anime and it all begins here. Even though Seto Kaiba is a cold and calculating man who will do anything to achieve his goals. Seto's commitment to his little brother Mokuba Kaiba is what makes him seem less hostile. He was willing to save his brother from Pegasus' evil henchmen, leave his company and even risk dying in order to save him. Sadly though he couldn't save his brother and ended up losing his soul just like Grandpa and Mokuba. So it would be up to Yugi in order to save all three of them.
Tea and Tristan are just there. They don't develop at all during the anime and are just there to be cheerleaders. They essentially exist to encourage Yugi and Joey.
Mai Valentine (Mai Kujaku) is a female competitor on the island who is prominent throughout the anime. In this season she's only there to be an antagonist towards the heroes but later on helps them out down the road. She's bossy and a show off but does learn about friendship.
Bakura Ryou is a classmate of Yugi's who also owns a Millennium item known as the Millennium Ring. At first Bakura is friendly and nice but it soon turns out that an evil spirit controls him. Just like how the spirit inside of Yugi's Millennium Puzzle does the same thing. The difference being that the spirit inside of the Ring is causing havoc. Eventually, the spirit defeats him and Bakura returns to normal. Bakura really doesn't add much to their dynamic and only exists to spout out exposition.
Pegasus is the main villain and his best trait is his cocky attitude. You just wanted this smug guy to lose to Yugi because how his personality. Pegasus also owns the Millennium Eye, which can read into people's thoughts. It's pretty neat how Yugi and the spirit maneuver around this obstacle.
Negative Things:
Pegasus' motivation makes no sense to me. His goal is to resurrect his dead wife through Kaiba Corps technology and using the seven Millennium Items. How does that even work? Why didn't he just ask Yugi to borrow his Puzzle for a good cause? Why did he waste all that time and money for a necklace?
And why does Kaiba act like an idiot too? For someone who runs a big corporation, he sure does make some stupid decisions. Like leaving his little brother and company behind without considering that someone would try to take it. And that all happened because he lost a card game to Yugi. This just made his character feel pathetic. Then after Duelist Kingdom, he decides to test out the new VR software made by the same guys who stole his company. How can he instantly forgive the Big Five for stealing his company, kidnapping his brother and then decide to test out the equipment just because?
Sometimes the card game in Duel Monsters just doesn't make a lick of sense in this season. It's much better for the remainder but I guess no one knew how the game worked during the first season. Like how a monster card with no special ability can destroy a spell card or how they never summon multiple monsters in order to keep attacking and win the duel?
This one really bugs me though. Yugi faints during the duel against Pegasus so the spirit has to fight alone. Pegasus tries to read the spirit's mind in order to win but he can't see because the power of friendship. I'm not joking. How corny can you get that friendship blocks mind reading powers? It makes no sense at all!
Then some of the Japanese names changed. 4Kids did this with anime like Pokemon before but sometimes it made no sense. They go out of their way to change names Katsuya Jonouchi but leave in names like Yugi Moto? Yeah, cause Yugi is a regular name! Or how they change Rebecca Hopkins to Rebecca Hawkins. WHY? That's an English surname!
The animation is pretty good for an early 2000's anime. The character models have a unique design that stands out. Especially the eyes. And while I was watching it, I tried to draw Yugi's hair and it was so hard for me to draw. So kudos to the people who made the most ridiculous anime hairstyle ever.
Voice Acting: The voice acting is very hit or miss. I'm referring to the dub. The Japanese is pretty good. Yugi and the Spirit are really good, Tea's is on spot, Kaiba's voice actor was great and I loved Darren Dunstan as Pegasus. Originally, Tristan was voiced by Brian Zimmerman, Sam Rigel and Greg Abbey. Sam Rigel was not good for this voice. It sounded like he had a cold throughout the episode and Brian Zimmerman had a very tacky performance. Greg Abbey was great though and made Tristan sound so much better. He actually plays Yusei Fudo in Yu-Gi-Oh 5Ds too. Wayne Grayson as Joey Wheeler was hit or miss. I think it was of the directing than his performance but sometimes he sounded off key. Megan Hollingshead as Mai Valentine was my favorite voice though. She plays Shizune in Naruto and does a a superb choice. Everyone else sounded okay or really bad.
Fun Fact, the english voice actor of Yugi's grandpa is a woman. The more you know.
Added On Episodes:
A couple of episodes after Duelist Kingdom played. One was about Rebecca Hawkins and how she wanted her Blue Eyes White Dragon back that belonged to her grandfather. The episode exists in order to make a connection with her and Yugi. Then there's one about how stupid Seto Kaiba is trapped within his video game and he can't get out. So, Yugi, Joey and Mokuba go in to rescue him. It's corny and silly but it's pretty good. With this being the first time that Yugi and Kaiba had to work together for a common goal.
Then there's an episode that introduces Duke and that's about it. He's the creator of Dungeon Dice Monster which is Duel Monsters but with dice. The game is never mentioned again and really serves no purpose. Duke acts like a jerk, loses to Yugi and becomes friends with him.
Final Thoughts:
The first season isn't the best when you look back at it. The motivation and logic to some characters doesn't make sense, some of the characters are bland and sometimes the card game leaves you baffled. Most of this improves later on but it's still a problem. However, the main protagonist is likable, some of the card games are fun to watch, the goals that some characters do have make the direction easy to work with and it's a pretty good tournament arc among anime.


Did you watch Yu-Gi-Oh: The Abridged Series on YouTube?

According to that show, Seto fired his parents. - TwilightKitsune

I love YGOTAS. It's my favorite anime abridged series. Yeah, Seto also fired all his staff on Christmas lol. - RoseRedFlower