Review of Hakkenden: Eight Dogs of the East, Series 2

hakkenden-cover

Ian Wolf’s Review

“There are poisons that blind you, and poisons that open your eyes.” – August Strindberg.

Continuing on from where the previous collection ends, our heroes Shino Inuzuka (trapped in a never-aging 13-year-old body) and Sosuke Inukawa (who can shapeshift into a dog) are still tracking down the holders of the eight beads.

Among these people are Daikaku Inumura, a maker of dolls, who has designed a doll which to Shino looks disturbingly like the woman who in the past tried to murder him; and Shinobu Inue, a boy who at age 12 was spirited away and hasn’t aged in 10 years, making him 22. Shino also continues to battle against Ao, Sosuke’s ‘shadow’ who has taken Sosuke’s bead. This culminates with all eight bead holders finally uniting.

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As well as this, Shino ends up teaching some children and becomes friendly with a blind girl name Kaho, looks after a cat spirit, and has a re-encounter with Dosetsu Inuyama, the man followed constantly by a god-like snow spirit. Dosetsu is looking for his long-lost sister, who could well be a close friend of Shino’s.

Overall, this series has felt a bit lacklustre. There have been some interesting moments, mainly comedic ones such as the relationship between Dosetsu and the snow goddess, but overall there is nothing in the show that sustained enough interest to make it worth watching.

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The main problem is that this anime is an adaption of a manga that is still being written, which in turn is a loose adaptation of an epic 19th-century novel that is over 100 volumes long. The anime does finish slightly open-endedly, indicating that there could be plans to write more. Knowing that is enough to indicate that the story is not going to told in full and that you are going to be sold short in at least one respect.

The series thus feels rather disappointing and not worth the effort. The only real benefit of the Hakkenden anime is that it makes you want to read the original novel it is based on. The only problem is that it hasn’t been released in English, although the are reportedly plans to do so.

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Title: Hakkenden: Eight Dogs of the East, Series 2
Publisher: MVM Films
Genre: Fantasy, Supernatural
Studio: Studio Deen
Type: TV Series
Original vintage: 2013
Format: Blu-Ray and DVD (DVD version reviewed)
Language options: Japanese audio with English subtitles and English dub audio
Age rating: 15
Running time: 325 minutes

Score: 3/10

Hakkenden: Eight Dogs of the East Series 1 Review

Hakkenden cover

Ian Wolf’s Review

“Why attack God? He may be as miserable as we are.” – Erik Satie.

If you are familiar with Hakkenden: Eight Dogs of the East, then probably the first thing you might know about it is that it is an adaptation of a gigantic 19th century novel series written over a period of 30 years. After that, the second thing you might know about it is that this version is based on a manga, still currently being written, by Miyuki Abe, the creator of the controversy-ridden yaoi series Super Lovers (which in my opinion people rather overreacted to, but that’s a matter for a different review).

Five years prior to the story a village was attacked. Only three children survived: 13-year-old Shino Inuzuka, Sosuke Inukawa and Hamaji. They are saved by Rio Satomi, one of the Four Sacred Beast Houses who is able to control the spirit of a large wolf, and who also works for the Imperial Church that rules the land.

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Moving to the present, the three survivors are now taking shelter in a parish church, but things are not normal by any means. Shino’s arm now harbours a living sword named Murasame, who can turn into a crow and speak with humans. Because he lives in Shino’s body, Shino is now cursed and thus doesn’t age, meaning he is now an 18-year-old trapped in the body of a 13-year-old. Sosuke meanwhile has the power to shapeshift into a wolf. The Imperial Church learns that Shino is in possession of Murasame and wants him, but he refuses to hand himself in. Thus the Imperial Church kidnaps Hamaji, leading Shino and Sosuke to travel to the Imperial Capital to find her.

While in the city they meet Rio, who asks them to complete a task. Shino and Sosuke happen to be in possession of a sacred bead each. There are eight sacred beads in the world and Rio wants Shino and Sosuke to find all the bead holders for a reason he does not fully explain. However, they agree to the task partly to keep Hamaji safe, which she is, under the protection of Rio and his assistant Kaname Osaki, who has feelings for her.

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So far Hakkenden has been OK. Part of the time the story does drag a bit, but when the action kicks in it does so in a lively way. There is plenty of blood spilt, whether it comes from sword, arrow, animal attack or demonic possession. Two of the most interesting characters are military policeman Genpachi Inuki and ex-soldier turned innkeeper Kobungo Inuta, who are also immortal demons. The plot, while at times a bit slow, does occasionally have its moments. One entertaining story follows a train passenger who is constantly accompanied by a “Snow Princess” who makes everything around him cold.

However, there is a major problem in that this story is based on a work that is so long. Currently, two series have been made of Hakkenden, but the manga is still being written. It is hard to imagine how the manga can conclude satisfactorily.

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Concerning the extras, there are two episode commentaries, and textless versions of the opening “God FATE” by Faylan and the superior ending “String of pain” by Tetsuya Kakihara.

The series is all right so far, but it is probably best to wait to see the second series before making a full and proper judgment.

Score: 6 / 10

Anime Quick Information

  • Title: Hakkenden: Eight Dogs of the East
  • UK Publisher: MVM Films
  • Genre: Fantasy, Supernatural
  • Studio: Studio Deen
  • Type: TV series
  • Year: 2013
  • Running time: 325 minutes

Platinum End Chapter 9 Review

Platinum End

Ian Wolf’s review

Platinum End © 2015 by Tsugumi Ohba, Takeshi Obata. SHUEISHA Inc.

“There’s an ‘A’ bomb in Wardour Street. They’ve called in the army, they’ve called in the police too.” – The Jam

The ninth chapter of Platinum End sees hero Mirai continue to worry about whether or not he should attempt to kill someone.

It begins with serial killer Misurin, under the influence of Metropoliman’s red arrow, dumping her latest victim on the top of a large tower. She attracts the attention of the media and the local police, but she is able to deal with them with her own red arrows. Nanato and Mirai finally decide it is time to act and stop them.

In order to do this, Nanato has used his background working for an apparel company to get both himself and Mirai outfits to do the job. Nanato has a gigantic suit that was designed for the defence force, while Mirai has a rather fashionable suit that was designed to be used in motorsports, complete with a facemask with which to disguise himself. They then fly off to the tower with Mirai still unsure about using his lethal white arrows to kill Metropoliman, secretly preferring to use his red arrows instead. When they get to the tower, Nanato confronts Misurin, but she has something prepared for him: a bomb.

This chapter appears to be mainly setup for what appears to be a big battle between Mirai and Metropoliman. There is plenty of action, but this is just the build-up for something much bigger.

Therefore it seems that the main reveal for this chapter is the new costume that Mirai is given. His all-in-one suit made out of a special material, complete with hood and mask, gives Mirai a kind of cyberpunk look to him.

Score: 7 / 10

Title: Platinum End
Original vintage: 2015
Mangaka: Tsugumi Ohba (story) Takeshi Obata (art)
Published by: Viz Media
Genre: Action, Death Game, Drama, Fantasy, Supernatural
Age rating: 18+
Length (page count): 68

Ping Pong: The Animation Review

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“Table tennis is like an atom. To the ignorant it is merely microscopic and insignificant in existence, but to the dedicated, it is intricate in design and the building block to everything we know.” – Matt Hetherington

The Rio Olympics is just around the corner, while Tokyo is hosting the games in 2020. Sport is thus on many people’s minds so it seems the right time for Anime Limited to release Ping Pong.

Now, as we all know, sports anime these days to tend to attract a certain fan base – namely fujoshi who will try to make the series gay. This is a lot harder to do with Ping Pong, partly because the series has actually been around a lot long than you might expect, way before this fad. Although the anime came out in 2014, the original manga was released in the mid-1990s and there was a live action film released in 2002. Thus, it came out before the “fujoshi sports” series we now know were created. However, even with the challenging artwork, as you watch there is the odd moment where things do turn in that direction.

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Ping Pong follows two students who became childhood friends after bonding over table tennis, but both have distinctive personalities. One is Makoto Tsukimoto, who is ironically nicknamed Smile because he seems emotionless. As a child he was often bullied and called a robot because of this. His friend is Yutaka Hoshino, nicknamed Peco, who is loud, joyful and something of a glutton. Together they play for the same school club.

The boys then learn that a nearby school has brought in a Chinese player named Kong Wenge, a transfer student booted from the national team and desperate to return. Smile and Peco visit his school and meet him, where Kong plays and thrashes Peco to love, giving Peco’s confidence a knock. Meanwhile back at the club, the coach Jo Koizumi sees that Smile has great talent but lacks the drive to win. Thus Koizumi begins to train Smile personally.

They then take part in a major tournament, alongside Wong and the members of the elite Kaio school. These include Ryuichi “Dragon” Kazama, the greatest player around, and Manabu “Demon” Akuma, a childhood rival of Peco’s. In the tournament things begin to flesh out: Smile loses to Wong, but Smile’s potential as a robotic, ping pong winning machine is visible to Koizumi. Peco’s defeat to Akuma is so shocking to him that he loses interest in the sport and starts to slack off.

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As the story continues, we witness Smile’s training becoming more intense, slowly becoming seemingly unstoppable to those around him. Meanwhile Peco undergoes a great decline, one that almost kills him, before trying to redeem himself by attempting to train again at the possible cost of his health.

Let’s start by looking at the most obvious way this show stands out from the crowd: the artwork. If you are coming into this series expecting to see the usual pretty bishonen boys, you can forget it. Ping Pong’s animation is a lot rougher, harsher, manlier and aggressive. There are no cute curves, but instead it features sketchy lines. The ping pong balls are not drawn as perfect circles, but are either rather roughly drawn, bit-by-bit, or are computer-animated as perfect spheres. When you compare it to not just other sports anime but anime in general, it stands out. The animation looks a lot more expressive. It looks as if it has been done by someone who is saying to themselves: “It doesn’t need to look pretty – you just need passion.” We all like animation that looks neat, but something different is needed to stir things up a bit.

There is also evidence of this in the opening and closing sequences. The opening titles, which feature the loud, rocky “Tada Hitori” by Bakudan Johnny, features a range of animation styles in it. Some look relatively normal, but others look like they have been done in pencil. The end sequence, featuring the calmer music of Merengue’s “Bokura ni Tsuite”, features more pastel colours.

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If you are someone who is into the more fujoshi side of things though, there are some moments that still might attract you. There are little elements that still might suggest, even though there was no clear market at the time of its original creation, a slight whiff of the homoerotic. For starters, there are very few women in the series. The main female characters are the elderly Obaba, who runs the table tennis dojo where Peco first played Smile and who later trains Peco after his decline; and Yurie, who is in a troublesome relationship with Kazama. Also, there is an episode on Valentine’s Day where Smile is out doing his normal training, when Koizumi jokingly says that Smile should be his Valentine’s Day date. OK, the age gap is way too big so it feels totally dodgy, but there is a little bit of something there.

This collection has plenty of extras: two episode commentaries, episode previews, various Japanese and American trailers, textless opening and closing, TV shorts and promotional videos are included.

Ping Pong is a series that stands out from the crowd. It certainly deserves to be watched simply because it does something different.

Score: 9 / 10

  • Title: Ping Pong
  • UK Publisher: Anime Limited
  • Genre: Coming-of-age, Shonen, Sport
  • Studio: Tatsunoko Production
  • Type: TV series
  • Year: 2014
  • Running time: 275 minutes

Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin III – Dawn of Rebellion Review

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Ian Wolf’s Review

The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.” – Albert Camus

The third episode in the OVA series detailing the events prior to the original Mobile Suit Gundam series begins to show how one of anime’s greatest antagonists began to develop a more ruthless streak to his nature.

This instalment begins with a short summary of the events of the past two episodes. When the second episode ended Casval and Artesia Deikun, now living under the names Edouard and Sayla Mass, had learned of the death of their mother. The two have gone their separate ways, with Sayla remaining at her home and Edouard leaving Texas Colony in the company of Char Aznable, a man who looks almost identical to him. The only difference is the colour of their eyes.

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The duo are leaving Texas Colony to begin military training in Loum. On the way to the spaceship taking them there Edouard spots that people are spying on him, while Char is stopped at customs for carrying an antique gun. Edouard convinces Char to swap clothes with him to avoid his problem, meaning that it would be Edouard who misses the flight while Char can board. However, Edouard correctly predicts that Zabi allies are up to something: the spaceship explodes, killing Char, who the allies of Zabi believe wrongly to be Edouard. Edouard meanwhile takes up his friend’s identity, dons a pair of shades to disguise his eyes – claiming that his sight has been affected by cosmic rays – and begins his new life as “Char Aznable”.

Edouard, or Char as we should probably now call him, excels in his class to the annoyance of one classmate, Garma Zabi, heir to the Zabi throne and whose importance is clear to all; he clearly stands out in the class because of his purple hair which he keeps messing around with. However, the two do eventually become close after Char helps Garma during an exercise. Later on, an Earth Federation ship crashes into Zeon, sparking more riots and demands of independence from Earth. Char uses this as a chance to increase his power by getting Garma and their fellow cadets to launch an attack on a Federation Barracks.

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Among the positives of this episode are that we get to grips with the Char Aznable that most Gundam fans will now recognise. We see him wearing his trademark visor with the overhead strap for the first time. We also see some of the events which lead to the increasing tensions between Zeon and Earth. The end of the episode even features a segment concerning Amuro. In terms of negative points, we see very little of Sayla and some of the animation is of dubious quality. For example, when Char flicks away a flunky of Garma’s, the character seems to not move at all, and instead the other man is just shrunk to indicate how far backwards he has travelled.

However, as with the previous collections distributed by Anime Limited, the most impressive thing about this set is the amount of bonus material you get (although most of it is in Japanese). On the discs there is an audio commentary, trailers and video of the debut screening of the second episode. Elsewhere you also get the wonderfully illustrated presentation case, a book covering the storyboards, another book covering the cel art, a third booklet covering the episode, and one thing that was not mentioned when the OVA was released: a clipping of the actual film reel, containing four cels of footage from the episode (in my case it depicted Dozle). It is wonderful that we are able to get such impressive collector’s editions these days.

Score: 8 / 10

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Anime Quick Information

  • Title: Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin III – Dawn of Rebellion
  • UK Publisher: Bandai Visual Japan via Anime Limited
  • Genre: Action, Drama, Mecha, Military, Sci-fi
  • Studio: Sunrise
  • Type: OVA
  • Year: 2015
  • Running time: 68 minutes

Sword Art Online II – Part 4 Review

Sword Art Online cover

Ian Wolf’s Review

Warning: may contain spoilers.

“One must have a heart of stone not to read the death of Little Nell without laughing.” – Oscar Wilde

The end of the second TV series of Sword Art Online is one that certainly tries to get your tears flowing. Whether it does all depends on how sentimental you are.

With Asuna the main character in the “Mother’s Rosario” arc, the first episode of this arc sees her new friend Yukki introducing her to the Sleeping Knights guild. The guild is planning to disband in a few months, but before they depart they want to get their name on the Monument of Swordsmen, a black stone which back in the bad days of SAO listed the players and which ones had died. Now it lists the names of the first people to defeat the bosses on each level.

The problem is that they want to get the names of all six guild members on the monument, and the only way they can do it is to defeat the monster without the help of any other guilds. Asuna decides to assist them. After they leave for the night, Asuna finds herself forcefully disconnected by her mother, who is still annoyed by the amount of time she is playing her games and wants her to change schools. Asuna’s deadline for dealing with all her issues is coming up fast.

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Back in SAO, Asuna and the Sleeping Knights begin their mission and on the way there she spots members of another guild devoted to beating boss monsters. The Sleeping Knights fail at their first attempt, but Asuna correctly deduces that the other guild was spying on them and preparing to defeat the monster before them. They quickly return to the battle site, only to discover more guild members waiting for them. Yukki begins attacking them when the other guild’s reinforcments arrive. Luckily for Asuna, help arrives in the shape of Kirito and Yui who block their path, while Klein attacks from the rear. This gives Asuna time for her and friends to enter the boss room and complete their mission, but during the battle something odd happens: Yukki refers to Asuna as her “Big Sister”. Yukki does this again at the Monument of Swordsmen, and when Asuna points this out to her, Yukki logs off and runs away.

With Kirito’s help, Asuna finds out where Yukki is in real life: she is in hospital, attached to a “Medicuboid”, a medical full-dive machine. When Asuna sees Yukki in the real world, she comes to understand why the guild is disbanding: the guild members all met in a virtual hospice and Yukki herself is estimated to have three months to live as she is dying from AIDS. With this revelation Asuna tries to give Yukki the best time possible before she passes away, and Yukki in turn provides Asuna with the motivation she needs to confront her mother.

This main feature of this collection is the character of Yukki and the revelation that she has AIDS. It is a big shock to see an anime dealing with such a heavy subject – possibly the most frightening disease in the world. Not surprisingly, Yukki does die of her illness in the last episode, leading to a particularly notable final scene. Back in the virtual world Yukki gives Asuna her Original Sword Skill, the “Mother’s Rosario” in the arc title, and as she dies the rest of the Sleeping Knights, then Kirito and his friends, and then all the other players in the game turn up to pay their respects as Yukki passes away.

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Now, there are two ways you can look at this scene. You can be saddened and moved to tears as Yukki dies, leaving behind both her old and her new friends, and marvel at the huge and noble crowd that pays their respects to her, including other players she had defeated in the game; or, you can think that this is incredibly melodramatic and oversentimental.

Reki Kawahara, the original author of the books, is frequently criticised for being a poor writer. For example, if there is a baddie in Sword Art Online, they tend to always be the vilest person imaginable with no redeeming features, and often come across as borderline rapists. In the case of a dying character Kawahara not only gives the character an incurable illness, but the scariest illness in the world. In the UK, you cannot think of AIDS without thinking of John Hurt voicing an advert in which the word “AIDS” is carved into what looks like a gravestone.

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Plus, while it is arguably commendable that Kawahara is highlighting AIDS, the massive crowd near the end somewhat ruins it. When she is dying with Asuna it is sad; when her guild mate arrives it is sadder; when Kirito and his friends turn up you reach your emotional breaking point; when just about every other player in the game turns up you think: “Oh my God, it’s amazing to see so many people pay their respe… hang on… this is way too much!” This is the equivalent of Little Nell’s death scene being attended by every single customer The Old Curiosity Shop ever had. If Little Nell’s death made Oscar Wilde laugh, Yukki’s death would have had him rolling on the floor, wetting himself in hysterics.

In terms of extras, you have the guide book, textless opening and closing, web previews, and two Sword Art Offline previews.

Overall, the first half of this series has been good, but the endings of both the first arc and this final arc were frustrating. The good bits are balanced out by the bad. This is not the end of the series however. There is still one game written about in the novels that has yet to be adapted: UnderWorld, an AI simulation where time flows differently to that of the real world. Plus there is a fifth game that doesn’t appear in the books. This is Ordinal Scale, the subject of the forthcoming Sword Art Online movie to be released next year.

Score: 6 / 10

Anime Quick Information

  • Title: Sword Art Online II – Part 4
  • UK Publisher: Anime Ltd.
  • Genre: Action, Death Game, Drama, Fantasy, Sci-fi
  • Studio: A-1 Pictures
  • Type: TV series
  • Year: 2014
  • Running time: 120 minutes

Toppu GP Chapters 1 & 2 Review

Review of Toppu GP, Chapters 1 & 2

Toppu GP

Ian Wolf’s review

 “What I like about a bike is that if you get it wrong, you die. See what I mean? What’s good about that is that it sort of keeps me on my toes.” – Ross Noble

 If you came across Kosuke Fujishima’s Paradise Residence, recently released by Kodansha Comics a few weeks ago, you would have seen the splendid image of a schoolgirl riding the tiniest motorbike you could imagine. Fujishima’s latest work lets him delve further into this sport.

Of course, this being a sports manga, this does lead to one particular issue: namely the inevitable attempts by people to imagine that all the guys in the series are somehow gay. Does this happen in Toppu GP? Surprisingly, I think in one way it does, but let’s stick to the story for now.

The story starts with 18-year-old Toppu Uno, about to start a race which may see him become the world’s youngest ever MotoGP champion. Before it begins, he says to himself: “Big sis, I hope you’re watching.” From then on, the entire story is told in flashback, taking place seven years earlier. Toppu’s sister, Myne, is a top 250CC biker. Toppu watches her devotedly, and is even able to tell her laps times exactly without the need of a stopwatch, but he would rather not race. He would rather spend his time making Gundam models.

Their father, who works as Myne’s mechanic and is also an inspiring novelist, manages to persuade Toppu to ride a bike too, even though he has never ridden one before. However, after some instruction, he takes to the course, with Myne motivating him more by saying that if he can complete five laps of the track and come out first, she will buy him another model. Can he come out on top at the end of his very first race?

Kodansha released the first two chapters together, which considering the pacing of the plot makes sense as you do have Toppu’s first race told over the course of both of them. There is a fair amount to enjoy, such as the relationship between the three main characters, and there is some humour thrown into the mix as well when we find out what happens at the end of the race. The artwork however does look slightly wrong in some places. For example, at times it looks as if  people’s dark trousers are blending in with the bike tyres.

But there is plenty to keep the reader interested, primarily due to the use of the flashback. We know that something has happened to Toppu’s sister. The first and most obvious conclusion is that Myne has been in some form of motorbike accident, cutting short her career or perhaps even killing her, but we don’t know for sure yet. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.

But as it is a sports series, we do end up back at the same issue: whether the fujoshi and fudanshi will somehow find an angle that will turn this somewhat innocent series into having those homosexual overtones. When you first read it, it seems like there won’t be any. After all, the only regular characters so far have all come from the same family, and the only possible relationship would be between father and son, wrong in all sorts of ways.

Then I realised something. Something that not only makes this series one for the fujoshi community, but one that could arguably make it more gay than possibly any of the other sports series around: leathers! Every single person on the circuit is dressed in protective suits, made out of possibly the kinkiest, most stereotypically homosexual material around. What this manga now gives us is a reason for the more fetishistic cosplayers to experiment a bit. Safe to say, we can probably expect to see some big shiny helmets coming soon.

The third chapter comes out on 24th June.

Score: 8 / 10

Title: Toppu GP
Original vintage: 2016
Mangaka: Kosuke Fujishima
Published by: Kodansha Comics
Genre: Action, Coming-of-Age, Drama, Sport
Age rating: 13+
Material length: 57

 

TOPPU GP © Kosuke Fujishima/ Kodansha Ltd.

Yu-Gi-Oh! Season 5 Review

Yu-Gi-Oh! 5 

Yu Gi Oh cover

Ian Wolf’s Review

Warning: may contain spoilers

“Well, as L. P. Hartley said: ‘The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there.’ That was the opening of The Go-Between, which was a book. For anyone listing to a repeat of this show sometime in the near-future, a book was a kind of multi-layered Kindle thing.” – John Lloyd

In this final collection of the anime series whose original manga spawned the world’s biggest trading card game, there are many things worthy to note, but for me the most surprising thing is that – after having to go through quite a lot of stuff that has been poor – at the end of it all, I am glad to have watched it.

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This fifth collection is split over three story arcs. The first, “Grand Championship” begins with Mokuba inviting Yugi, Joey and Rebecca to take part in the Kiba Corp. Grand Championship, which will see 16 of the world’s best Duel Monsters players take part in a knock-out tournament, where the winner will face the current world champion, who is Yugi. They all agree, so they and their friends travel to the venue, a new theme park constructed by the Kiba brothers, but things soon go wrong as it seems that one of the competitors is keen to sabotage the contest. Seto Kiba, who is too busy organising the event to take part in it, soon believes he has tracked down the culprit: the Germanic Zigfried Lloyd, who is actually taking part in the contest under a false name, and whose accent seems to be a cross between Maximillion Pegasus and a rejected extra from ‘Allo ‘Allo!

The second arc is more interesting, mainly because it never aired in Japan, even though it was animated by the same people. The “Capsule Monsters” arc begins with Yugi’s grandfather away on archaeological trip. Meanwhile Joey wins tickets to travel to India, so he, Yugi, Tristan and Tea come along for the trip. However, their small plane crash lands in the middle of the jungle. Everyone survives, and the gang bump into a man named Dr. Alex Brisbane, an archaeologist who was working with Yugi’s grandfather, who has mysteriously disappeared. Alex leads the gang to a pyramid that they were both excavating, and while inside it they come across a room with a strange map-like floor. When they step on it, they fall through the floor and into a fantasy world, with strange devices on their arms and belts with cylindrical holsters on them. As they journey through this land, they touch strange rocks that free monsters that contain creatures from Duel Monsters. They are able to capture these monsters in capsules and journey through the land in order to return home, guided by a masked man who claims to be Alexander the Great – who unlike Zigfried, doesn’t have an accent, even though we definitely know where he comes from. Even if they don’t know what a Macedonian accent sounds like, Greek would have probably done. Either do all the accents, or none of them.

 

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Saving the best till last, the final arc, “Dawn of the Duel”, is not just the best arc of the collection, but probably the best of the whole series. Yugi, with all the Millennium Items and the three Egyptian God cards, plans to travel to Egypt to finally solve the mystery of the Pharaoh’s past. The night before he and the gang travel though, Yugi is burgled by Rex and Weevil, but they are in turn stopped by the evilly possessed Bakura, who takes back some of the items including the Millennium Ring and leaves the rest to Yugi. Bakura then tries to kidnap Mokuba, and has a duel with Seto which he quits before the end, leaving Seto the Millennium Eye and telling him to travel to Egypt too.

When Yugi and the gang arrive in Egypt they meet up with old friends, including Marek, who lead them to the Pharaoh’s tomb, with Bakura not far behind. Shadi, the guard of the Millennium Items, tells Yugi to hold up the Egyptian God cards to an old tablet depicting him. When he does, the Pharaoh’s spirit leaves him and returns to Ancient Egypt, where he finds himself having to relieve history; working with servants including a high priest who looks like and is named Seto, and having to deal with the original Bakura, who has also travelled back in time. In the past, he came from a village that was destroyed by the Pharaoh’s father, who created the Millennium Items, and wants revenge by enveloping the world in darkness. Yugi and his friends meanwhile, with Shadi’s help, enter the Pharaoh’s mind using the Millennium Key, and begin a journey that sees them travel to the past too. Soon afterwards, Kiba also arrives at the tomb, and using the Eye also travels back, where he learns about the origins of the Blue-Eyes White Dragon. While in the past, Yugi has to try and find the source that helped the Pharaoh save Ancient Egypt previously, namely the Pharaoh’s real name.

Yu Gi Oh 3

Finally, after all this, it is discovered how the Pharaoh can finally be laid to rest after 5,000 years trapped in the Millennium Puzzle: he must lose a duel against a worthy opponent. The series thus ends with one final duel against the Pharaoh’s toughest opponent, the person to whom he taught everything: Yugi.

Having reviewed all five seasons of the series, certain things have kept recurring and annoying me. The fact there are no extras at all, no subtitles, poorly placed scene selections, dodgy accents in the voice acting, characters overreacting to things that make the situations more unrealistic, and so on. More stuff came up in this collection, such as the addition of a US age rating at the top left-hand corner of the scene at the start of and during the second half of the episodes as of the “Capsule Monsters” arc onwards. It is not surprising perhaps, that I did end up thinking that it was better to watch Yu-Gi-Oh! while playing a drinking game, which I did again, drinking beer when certain key-words and phrases were uttered. I won’t list the full results this time around, save to say that terms such as “Millennium”, “Egyptian God” and “Dark Magician” are good ones to go for.

However, I’m still glad I watched this series. This is partly due to the final arc, where everything starts to fall into place concerning the Millennium Items and the Pharaoh’s past. For once, we can ignore the whole trading card game for the majority of the story, and even when it does come up, it is interesting as Yugi is forced to duel on his own, without the Pharaoh’s help. The final arc is surprisingly moving, in particular the final showdown between Yugi and the Pharaoh, as you witness how the series ends. Whether it is a happy or sad ending depends on how you react to the main characters.

Yu-Gi-Oh! is a series that has many faults, but when it stops being about the game itself, and you focus on the characters, in particular the friendships between the central gang, in a strange way, it seems worth it. At times joyous, at times sad, at times ridiculous, it is still understandable that this anime has had the unexpected impact that it had.

Score: 6 / 10

Anime Quick Information 

  • Title: Yu-Gi-Oh! 5
  • UK Publisher: Manga Entertainment
  • Genre: Action, Adventure, Gaming, Fantasy
  • Studio: Studio Gallop
  • Type: TV series
  • Year: 2000
  • Running time: 17 hours, 20 minutes
  • Classification: PG