In the beginning, I found a charming cheese to YuGiOh as a series. Having no recollection of it when it came out, I embarked on this journey via Netflix before transitioning to reviewing anime officially with Season 4. Now we’ve arrived at this day: the end of the original YuGiOh series on DVD in the UK. It has been a roller-coaster of emotions. From appreciation of the messages embedded within, to utter disdain about being told for the fortieth time what the Pot of Greed does. (We get it: it lets you draw two cards from your deck. Please stop). In that time, I’ve realised two things: I like the central group of characters in YuGiOh, but I don’t like YuGiOh overall. With that in mind, this is our full YuGiOh Season 5 review.
(Copy provided by Manga UK. May contain spoilers for the sake of in-depth review)
- 52 Episodes
- Three Arcs (Grand Championship, Capsule Monsters, Dawn of the Duel)
- No extras
- Dub Only (4Kids)
The season opens as if Season 4 didn’t happen (which is because it didn’t. It’s a trash pile of filler) with Yugi ONCE AGAIN getting dragged away from finding out about the Pharaoh’s past to participate in Kaiba Corp’s Grand Championship. Though some of the duels are engaging, it’s ultimately a distraction from the answers we’ve waited since Season 3 to find out. It focuses on a rival company’s grudge against the Kaiba family for beating them to the punch with the idea for Duel Monsters. The most grating issue with this mini-arc is the German accent-wielding Zigfried: antagonist of the arc. His (SPOILERS) younger brother Leon grew up with Zigfried and was shunned by the family in favour of him. Which might explain his American accent despite having lived his entire life with a German family. Oh 4Kids…. thank the Egyptian Gods you’re no longer the only game in town.
Following this, we are thrown in to the Capsule Monsters arc. Another awkward distraction from the content I wanted to see, featuring Yugi facing off against Alexander the Great for the right to be crowned the True King. I will say that this arc gets Tristran and Tea more involved the events, as it has mostly been Joey and Yugi until this point, and the Duel Monsters-to-life situation is fun at first. Still, it holds no weight over the actual journey of Yugi and the Pharaoh, and so I lost interest part-way through.
It takes until half-way through this season to reach the Dawn of the Duel arc, wherein the Pharaoh is transported in to his own mind to relive the events of his 5,000 year old past. It features the answers we’ve been waiting two seasons for. As a result, the arc itself suffers the fatigue induced by the previous season and a half of filler. If you’re a YuGiOh super-fan, you most likely won’t mind the filler content, but YuGiOh isn’t a good enough show in any field to warrant being interested in side-content. Yugi and the Pharaoh are the only engaging core characters as far as I’m concerned, so being dragged from his journey so often is frustrating as somebody that really wants to like this series, but can’t find enough redeeming features about it.
With the return of Bakura and the evil spirit possessing him, we have an antagonist that has weight once more. This season is actually a huge call-back to the strongest seasons of 1 and 3, with a heavy focus on the Egyptian lore and the return of the importance of the Millennium Items. Exploring the Pharaoh’s past, too, is actually surprisingly good. His court of vassals are familiar faces but their stories seem fleshed out in a way that YuGiOh – at least as an anime – never seemed to do for its other characters bar a select few (Pegasus and Marik, for instance). We also learn of the evil spirit’s past, explaining his disdain for the Pharaoh and obsession with the Millennium Items as well as their significance to the plot as a whole.
The major flaw in the Dawn of the Duel arc, for me, is the reveal of Bakura’s plan. It sort of invalidates Bakura as the antagonist. I guess it’s important to a lot of hardcore fans, so I’m trying not to spoil it, but the design is just awful. Considering this series has had more hits than misses with character design, it’s a shock to see the ultimate villain look so plain.
In an almost redeeming move, the final disc of this season features the strongest episodes in the entire series. It’s deep, meaningful and incorporates everything that’s genuinely good about the material. It’s also only meaningful because of the Dawn of the Duel arc’s set up, so major credit to it for that, even if it drags on a bit. The finale is heart-breaking and doesn’t outstay its welcome, leaving any person that might have connected with these characters a wreck in the best way.
The original YuGiOh series comes to an end with the Season 5 release. The season is hampered by distractions but finishes in the best possible way. The Dawn of the Duel arc has its highs and lows with great character exposition but a terrible final threat. Though the tugging of my heart-strings wants to rate this series a little higher, the first parts cannot be ignored and, coupled with the weaker moments of its final arc, make the majority of this season poor as a result. The strength in this season mostly stands with its final moments. So strong, in fact, that they managed to leave me with genuine nostalgia for the group we’ve gotten to know. I’ll miss YuGiOh, but I’m also glad to be done with it.
(Note: Screenshots unavailable due to HDCP protection and no streaming options).