RRF: My Thoughts on Yu-Gi-Oh Zexal Episode 1

RoseRedFlower Inspired by ModernSpongeBobSucks and his reviews.
I wanted to do an episodic review of certain animes. I didn't know which one to pick so I used Wheel Decide to pick. Boy, this kind of sucks.
Before I go on I want to say these are my own thoughts on this series. This is just one persons opinion and I do not hold anything against you if your opinion is different. That being said, let's respect each other with different opinions.
A brief bit of information about this series. Yu-Gi-Oh Zexal was first aired on April 11, 2011 and is licensed in North America by Viz Media. Its genre is: action, adventure, science-fantasy, comedy. It was written by Shin Yoshida and is a shonen anime.
It's also the third spin off series of Yu-Gi-Oh.
My opinions on the other series, I'll be very general.
The original was corny and wasn't perfect but I thought it was fine. GX was a very big step down from the original. Generic characters, not as intense and the first season kind of ripped off the first book of Harry Potter. A step in the right direction for Yu-Gi-Oh 5ds. The story was more engaging, the characters were likable and I enjoyed the setting of the story. Now I am going to be focusing on the dubbed of Yu-Gi-Oh Zexal. I've seen the subbed version but at the moment I cannot read the English subtitles due to my lazy eye. The text isn't legible enough for me and I don't want to strain my eyes.

This is Episode 1 of Season 1 of Yu-Gi-Oh Zexal. The episode is titled in English: Go With the Flow Part 1.
The first episode begins with our lead character Yuma Tsukumo walking down a dark narrow path. I have no idea what this place is and I'm hyped by the intensity at the moment. He comes across a gate that is locked and a dark voice basically tells him. "With great power comes great responsibility." Yuma backs away and he falls off the narrow path. Only to reveal it was all just a dream.

What a weak opening. Right after that, it does the typical anime trope of being late for school. Yuma is raised by his grandmother Haru Tsukumo and his older sister Kari Tsukumo/ Akari Tsukumo. His mom and dad are missing. Yeah just like in the original Yu-Gi-Oh the names of the characters are different in the Japanese and English versions. I will put both versions up for reference but I will refer to them by their English names because it will be easier for me.

Yuma is running to school while eating a rice ball and his friend comes skating in. His name is Bronk Stone/Tetsuo Takeda and he challenges Yuma to a race. Bronk Stone by the way is voiced by the same man who brought us the English voice of Goku, Sean Schemmel. Sean is way too good for this show. Yuma accepts the challenge and they begin to race. Eventually Bronk catches Yuma off guard and kicks a robot over. Yuma trips on the robot and he's dropped all his duel cards. The litter robots circle him and believe that his cards are trash. Yuma disagrees strongly and tries to get them back. By the way, Yuma's English voice actor is the worse voice actor in the series. No disrespect to Eli James but by gosh that voice was grating to hear.

Eventually one of Yuma's childhood friends named Tori Meadows/ Kotori Mizuki is watching. Her nameless friend comments about how those litter bots think Yuma's cards are trash. That maybe he should get some new ones instead of those and Tori says nothing to defend Yuma. Yeah, not starting off promising.

Then we transfer to Yuma's Middle School where we seem him compete in all sorts of different things. Jumping over twenty vaulting boxes and hold his breath underwater for a lap. He lost both of them and get used to seeing Yuma failing people. Tori asks why does Yuma do the challenges and Yuma says it's good fun. And that if you want to be great, you have to take chances. He wants to be the greatest and with the key around his neck that his dad gave him, he will be. Does any of this sound familiar? No? Okay, let's wait later.

Next up is duel period at his school. There's already a problem now. There's a duel period at his school? Why? How does this help with your education? It would be more believable if it was a study hall and the kids used that time to duel.

Anyways, Yuma puts on his duel gazer like everyone else has. With it, he can see the holographic images of duel monsters flying around and crashing through the school building. Now there's another problem. Why do these people have duel gazers? The duel gazers only cover one eye and are supposed to help you see a duel happening. But the pervious Yu-Gi-Oh series established you could see the images just fine without putting on those tacky things. Isn't it distracting to duel with just one eye? Or is it both? The anime never explains. What happens when you don't put one on? Do you not see anything? If you lost one or couldn't afford one, does that mean you can't duel? I never thought I would question the logic of a sci-fi show about a children's card game but Yu-Gi-Oh Zexal proved me wrong.

Anyways, Yuma is eager to see who he will duel next and Tori teases him that he will lose. Because Yuma is a terrible duelist. I will also get back to that later.

Then his friend Bronk is dueling Shark, he's kind of the school bully. Seriously, they just stick it in there like a needle about what type of archetype Shark is. Way to establish your characters as clich├ęs first Yu-Gi-Oh Zexal. Bronk loses to Shark and Shark takes away Bronk's deck. Yuma demands that Shark returns it but Shark said it was part of the agreement he made with Bronk. Bronk said it's true but he had to because...Shark called him a chicken.


How old are you Bronk? Six? No, you're thirteen. You're smart enough to know not to accept a challenge just because someone named called you...a chicken. Seriously? Who calls someone a chicken as an insult anymore? Yuma then challenge Shark to a duel in order to get Bronk's deck back. Two unnamed side bullies of Shark say that Yuma is no match for him. However, Yuma then calls Shark a chicken. Seriously, what's with all this reference to poultry? Shark then questions Yuma if he knew about the last person who called him a chicken. Yuma said something bad but Shark says that he doesn't know because it's never happened before. Wow...the dialogue is just terrible. You think 4K Media would have learned but they sure didn't learn how write dialogue.

Yuma is still insistent on dueling Shark but Shark wants something valuable if he wins. He snatches Yuma's golden key necklace and Yuma is held back by the two nameless bullies. Again, Tori just watches. Shark breaks the key in half and throws a piece of it far away. Yuma tries to attack Shark but Bronk holds him back. Shark accepts Yuma's challenge and if Yuma loses, he will also have to forfeit over his deck to Shark. Shark and his bully cronies leave Yuma, Bronk and Tori.

Yuma has the same dream from before and it leads to the same thing as before: nothing. Next scene!

At school, Yuma has lost his confidence because Shark broke part golden key and doesn't want to do any challenges. At the end of Yuma's miserable day Bronk comes to try and convince Yuma not to battle. Shark made it all the way to the Nationals and Yuma sucks at dueling. He would only be wasting his efforts. Okay, he didn't say that but that's basically what it means. Yuma says he won't back down because he wants to win Bronk's deck back and teach Shark that he can't keep picking on people. Bronk decides to not even bother and just gives Yuma back his missing key piece Shark broke. Does it sound familiar yet? Well let's keep going.

So it's the next day and Shark and Yuma are ready to face each other in a duel. I won't be too specific about the dueling because this review would take too long but boy were Yuma's friends right about Yuma not knowing how to duel. Not only did he not ask Bronk (who has previously dueled Shark) about how Shark's deck works but he doesn't even have a strategy going in. I know when you plan, the plan doesn't always work but that's why you create a plan and then multiple back up plans. Yuma does not know this.

Eventually, Shark is winning and asks if Yuma really think he could have won. Yuma starts doubting himself but says that he feels the flow and that nothing can you stop you when you're feeling it. He says 'feeling the flow' a lot so I'm guessing this is the Yu-Gi-Oh GX equivalent of 'get your game on'.

Then suddenly, Yuma's key glows and he is somehow back at that creepy gate. It restates that with great power comes come responsibility and that Yuma must accept this. Yuma's key somehow magically fixes itself (he didn't fix when Bronk gave it to him) into the gate's slot and the door opens. After bright flashing colors surround him along with more weird things happening Yuma see's that Shark has summoned Number 17: Leviathan Dragon. The Number Card has somehow the power to corrupt souls and has corrupted Shark. Eventually, Yuma see's Astral. A naked glowing alien who tells him to rise up and fight.

That's the first episode. And I normally don't curse but boy was that s***.

I was astounded by how bad this episode was. Not only in lack of effort with storytelling, a major pile of cliches and not nearly as impressive animation but the laziness caught me off guard.

Why is this just a sloppy rehashing of the original Yu-Gi-Oh? Here's what they both have in only the very first episode.
- Both have a main character with a magical artifact that hangs around their neck. Millennium Puzzle and the Key.
- Both main characters have a girl who sticks up for them all the time. Like Tea did for Yugi in Season 0 and Tori cheering on Yuma once.
- Both are bullied by a character who will later be friends with the character. Joey Wheeler/ Jounouchi Katsuya and Shark.
-That same bully damages the magical item. Joey steals a piece from the puzzle and throws it away. Shark destroys a piece of the key and throws it away.
- A mysterious being with amnesia comes in and helps. Atem and Astral.

Five rip offs in one episode! How can anyone be that lazy in storytelling? Also the complaints I have are new to the series. A major drawback is the characters. From episode 1 I can already tell I'm not going to like Yuma. Not only is his voice more annoying than Gilbert Godfrey but he couldn't duel if his life depended on it. What kind of person who wants to be the greatest duelist in the world, later in the series doesn't know how to use Monster Reborn? It's in the title of the card! That and he shouts out his plan to his opponent Shark and forgets that they're in the middle of a duel right now! How stupid could you get?

Tori is looking really similar to Tea Gardner/Anzu Mazaki and that's scary. I didn't care for Tea in the original Yu-Gi-Oh. She was there to be a character on the sidelines and never develop. Tori is starting to resemble that because she's directly ripped off from Tea. Yet she never really supports Yuma. She's criticize him and he rightfully deserves that. But when his key is being destroyed or someone from her school comments on how Yuma's duel cards are trash, she doesn't say anything? What kind of shallow twisted friend is she? Bronk is just there to develop the plot. He's not very interesting which is a shame because I love Sean Schemmel. Yet he's completely wasted playing this character. Shark is voiced by Gary Mack. I have nothing against Gary Mack but man does his voice just suck. Plus Shark is a shameless cardboard character version of Joey Wheeler and a little bit of Seto Kaiba.

Fun fact: Kristi Reed, the ADR director for Bang Zoom, mentioned that ADK had contracted them to do an English dub of YGO Zexal during the lawsuit with 4Kids. They completed 26 episodes (with two more in production) before the project was shut down when 4Kids got the license to the show.
The Bang Zoom dub was still edited, and still had replaced music, but featured a more accurate script, and the folks at Bang Zoom got the original animation files and were able to reanimate lip flaps if needed. It featured Johnny Yong Bosch as Yuma, Vic Mignogna as Shark, Cassandra Lee Morris as Tori, Liam O'Brien as Astral, Sam Riegel as Kite, and Richard Cansino as Bronk.
Kristi talks about the project quite extensively here, and a clip of this dub is shown at the beginning: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=3xPs0pM-Pq4

That would have been much better compared to the mediocre voice acting in this dubbed version. So yeah as far as first episodes go, it sucked. I think you can guess by now why. Is it the worst episode? No. But I have found the worst episode in the entire Yu-Gi-Oh series and it's in this version.
Until next time! :D


Huh, I remember reading this review. I must say, I appreciate the analysis you gave of the first episode of Zexal. Man, I remember when I was younger, I was totally obsessed with this anime installment in the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise. Nowadays, I can understand a lot of things that Zexal did wrong and how it pales in comparison to its predecessors. I don't pay attention to the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise these days anymore since I'm more interested in other franchises like Fate and Pokemon. As for what I think of Zexal now, I agree that the English dub was incredibly bad especially in regards to Yuma's English voice actor. I would say that the series only got better with the introduction of the Arclight family or whoever they're called and the Barians. Other than that, this isn't really a series I would look fondly back on as much I used to as a kid. - ModernSpongeBobSucks