Yu-Gi-Oh! (遊☆戯☆王 Yūgiō) is the first anime adaptation of the original Yu-Gi-Oh! manga produced by Toei animation. It started its 27 episode run on TV Asahi in the spring of 1998 and ended in autumn of the same year.
Yu-Gi-Oh! is based on the first 7 volumes of the original manga, although it does incorporate some elements from the later chapters, such as field advantage rules for the Duel Monsters card game that first appeared in the Duelist Kingdom arc of the manga.
This series has never been released outside of Asia, and is not likely to get a Western release anytime soon due to copyright issues. It is a common misconception that Toei's show is the missing 'first season' of its more famous NAS successor that 4Kids refused to air due to its excessive violence, but the show is neither excessively violent, nor connected to the Duel Monsters anime in any way.
Like the manga it was based on, Toei's Yu-Gi-Oh! series recounts the life of a shy game-obsessed high school freshmen Yugi Mutou from the day he solves the ancient Egyptian riddle called the Millennium Puzzle. Yugi spends his days with his grandfather and his tight-knight group of friends and goes out of his way to stay out of trouble. As luck would have it, trouble seems to find him no matter where he goes, and that's when his mysterious and daring alter-ego steps up to punish evildoers in his unique way. Dark Yugi deals with all sorts of troublemakers, from school bullies and jealous beauty queens to teenage millionaires and spooky watch-collectors, by challenging them to games and punishing their inevitable loss with traumatic hallucinations. Meanwhile, his host and his trusted friends Jonouchi, Anzu, Honda and Miho all deal with the troubles of high school life in their own ways. The overall mood of the story occasionally gets extremely dark. Domino, seemingly a peaceful town, is the home of many twisted individuals, but in the end, justice prevails and villains suffer befitting punishments for their misdeeds.
In the Toei's Yu-Gi-Oh!, everyday school life is everything but ordinary. Yugi is targeted by strangers and fellow students alike, Jonouchi has trouble with his former gang and torn up family, Honda's crush on Miho constantly puts him in the most unlikely sorts of dangers, and Anzu manages to end up in hostage situations at regular intervals. Dark Yugi aids all of them from the shadows and retreats upon making sure justice is served, leaving Yugi with no memories of his actions.
The Man From EgyptEdit
Yugi and his friends visit the Domino museum during an exhibition on Ancient Egypt. His Millennium Puzzle is at display, which leads to his encounter with a mysterious Egyptian who possesses a certain amount of knowledge about the nature of the Millennium Items and seeks to ensure they are placed in the right hands. However, the Egyptian does not know what the Millennium Puzzle's power is, and his quest to discover it puts both Yugi and his friends in mortal danger.
Shadi's introduction is one of the most faithful transitions from manga to anime in this show. Even though the anime version added Honda to the list of Shadi's puppets and featured Miho as part of Yugi's group, the course of both Games of Darkness remained almost the same.
The Four Game MastersEdit
The plotline dealing with the Four Game Masters, exceptional gamers hired by Seto Kaiba to challenge and defeat Yugi, is a filler arc not featured in the original manga. The Game Masters, in order of appearance, are:
- Count Ridley Sheldon, a doll collector and an expert at Duel Monsters who manages to beat Yugi using a school nurse as his mind puppet, but eventually ends up facing Dark Yugi who proves to be a much tougher opponent;
- Ryuichi Fuha, a young man who runs out of luck when he challenges Yugi to a brutal TV show type of memory game;
- Daimon, an elderly gentlemen in poor health who assists Kaiba in the name of their lost friendship; Daimon also plays Duel Monsters against Yugi.
- Aileen Rao, a popular dancer and a seasoned Rijinhai expert who uses Anzu's idolization of her to force Yugi into a game with high stakes;
Two of the Four Game Masters, Ryuichi Fuha and Aileen Rao, make a second appearance in the Death-T arc.
Main article: Death-T
Death-T is a manga arc adaptation depicting the events surrounding Kaiba's lust for vengeance, which results in the construction of a theme park housing severely dangerous attractions. Kaiba kidnaps Sugoroku Mutou in order to ensure Yugi's participation and takes delight in watching him and his friends struggle with the obstacles of the theme park appropriately named Death-T.
Monster World is another relatively-accurate manga adaptation and the final arc of the series. It focuses on the gentle high school student Ryo Bakura and his sadistic alter-ego residing in the Millennium Ring. Ryo is a big fan of tabletop RPGs, but has a fear of playing them with friends due to Dark Bakura's tendency to seal the souls of his fellow players into figurines. Yugi, Jonouchi, Honda, Anzu and Miho visit his apartment and insist on playing with him, oblivious to the danger they are placing themselves in, but Dark Yugi emerges in the nick of time to save the day.
Main Article: Yu-Gi-Oh! (Toei film)
After the success of the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime slowly faded after a relatively unsuccessful run, a resurrection was attempted: this Yu-Gi-Oh! movie goes alongside Toei's anime series, but features fresh revised character designs (Most noticeably Kaiba's hair being the right color) and higher quality animation.
Differences from MangaEdit
Toei's Yu-Gi-Oh! series is a very loose adaptation of the original manga. Manga chapters were rewritten to fit the length of an entire episode and many of the original games were either adapted or replaced entirely. The series also produced several filler episodes, while leaving a considerable amount of manga chapters unadapted. Instances of violence were toned down and several new characters and story arcs relating to the Duel Monsters card game were introduced. Miho Nosaka, who was a minor one-shot character, became part of the main cast and Seto Kaiba's role was expanded into that of the main antagonist, along with his four Game Masters who don't appear in the manga. The Death-T arc was rewritten to include these Game Masters and changed the details of Sugoroku Mutou's "penalty game," along with some other minor events. Ryo Bakura's and Shizuka Jonouchi's introductions were also rewritten to have them appear at an earlier point in the story.
The animation in Toei's Yu-Gi-Oh! ranged from decent to very lacking. Psychedelic colors and high contrast are the show's most memorable visual trademarks. The color palette and schemes used for some of the characters (most notably Seto Kaiba and his inexplicable green hair) are not in accordance with the manga art. The drawing style, too, is inconsistent and differs from episode to episode. The art style and animation quality would improve significantly for Toei's Yu-Gi-Oh! movie, which also revised some of the character designs.
Yu-Gi-Oh!'s score consists primarily of dark electronic tracks. The opening and ending themes Kawaita Sakebi (A Yell of Thirst) and Ashita Moshi Kimi Ga Kowaretemo (Even if Tomorrow Dies) remain popular fan-favorites, despite the show's relative obscurity.
Fate and ReferencesEdit
Due to its lack of success, the Toei series is almost never acknowledged by NAS, who have made every other Yu-Gi-Oh! anime. Often, Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters is considered the first Yu-Gi-Oh! anime. However, there have been several references to its existence in the NAS series. The most notable is the character in Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters of Noa Kaiba, who has bright green hair -- a clear reference to Seto Kaiba's strange green hair in the Toei series. Additionally, in Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters GX, Austin O'Brien looks at a database of the victims of Trueman. Within the database are many characters who only ever appeared in the manga, and two who only ever appeared in the Toei series: Risa Kagayama and Kaoruko Himekouji.