Title: Yu-Gi-Oh! vol 1 (of 38)
Author: Kazuki Takahashi
Suggested Retail Price (SRP): £4.99
Number of Pages: 208
Reviewed: 9th May 2004
Reviewer: Rich (Webmaster)
Most people will know Yugi Moto, the small
kid with bizarre hair, a penchant for card games and a smug adult alter ego.
However, those who know him through the anime series or card game may be more
than a little surprised if they read this manga.
Firstly, it’s very dark, and secondly Yugi doesn’t play the Duel Monsters
card game at all in the first volume, in fact, he doesn’t play any card
The manga starts off relatively innocuously – Yugi seems to be a normal
schoolkid (except for the hair, but considering everyone in Yu-Gi-Oh! has
a mad barnet I suppose that doesn’t count), he gets picked on in a jovial way by
his friends Jonouchi (Joey Wheeler in the USA) and Honda (aka. Tristan Taylor)
and stood up for by Anzu Mazaki (aka. Téa Gardner), and nothing really happens
to him. However, as is always the way in these things, not everything is normal
– he lives in a games shop with his more than slightly creepy grandfather and he
has an ancient Egyptian puzzle that if completed will grant the user a wish… and
the power of judgement over evil. Ho hum.
Of course Yugi completes the puzzle (I’m not really giving anything away here,
the thing might as well have IMPORTANT PLOT DEVICE written in large letters
across it) and from then on he unknowingly obtains the ability to change into a
confident and powerful alter ego who challenges anyone who wrongs his friends to
a ‘Shadow Game’ – a random contest with pretty shocking consequences for the
As mentioned this isn’t like the popular anime (although there is an earlier
series than the ones shown here that follows the manga more closely). For
starters when Yugi’s alter ego manifests itself he doesn’t suddenly age ten
years and double in height, Anzu looks a lot older than her animé counterpart,
Yugi borrows porn off of Jonouchi and most of the games don’t feature anything
really merchandisable. The biggest difference though is how dark this is.
The losers of the shadow games really do end up with some horrible things
happening to them, from simple humiliation to insanity and even death.
Obviously great pains are made to show that these people are nasty (boo, hiss)
but even so the punishments are extreme, and Yugi’s near sadistic pleasure in
dishing them out will come as a big shock to fans of the anime.
This aside though, Yu-Gi-Oh! is a bit of a mixed bag. The artwork is
good, the characters are likeable, there’s some good comedy and the games
themselves are often interesting and ingenious. The potential is there for a
manga that could match Ranma ½’s addictiveness but with an added edge,
but unfortunately what lets it down is there is no real sense of tension. Every
time Yugi challenges someone you are near certain he will win, he’s almost the
moral of the story, just acting as the villains comeuppance when they do
something bad. It’s a shame, given the infectiousness of the story, that this
is the case and, when Yugi does question himself later in the volume it’s too
late to rescue the plot from the repetitive situation it has ended up in.
In fairness though you will enjoy reading it, it’s certainly better than the
constant card game advert that makes up the series, and it is entertaining and
also quite funny. The main problem is that no-one Yugi has come up against yet
has really been powerful enough to trouble him and none of the enemies have
really been interesting characters. Although volume 1 manages to gloss over
this enough to make it still worth buying, you have to hope it is rectified in
Best Bit: When Yugi & Jonouchi go to
Worst Bit: When Yugi goes on about
people ‘trespassing on his soul’ for the 50th time.