|Name:||Yu-Gi-Oh! (遊☆戯☆王 Yuu*Gi*Ou, lit. "Game King"), Yuugiou|
|Creator:||Kazuki TAKAHASHI (高橋 和希) ♂|
Duel Monsters Anime: 2000-2004
|Medium:||Manga, Anime, TCG|
|Country of Origin:||Japan|
|External Links:||Duel Monsters official site (J)|
Anime official site (E)
Manga official site (E)
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
Yu-Gi-Oh! is a manga and anime shounen series, mostly intended for a child audience but with an older fan following that tends toward a certain degree of self-mockery, amidst the shipping and canon debates.
Yu-Gi-Oh began in 1996 as a Japanese manga by Kazuki Takahashi, published in Weekly Shounen Jump, ending in 2004 with 38 volumes. In 1998 the first 7 volumes were adapted into a single-season 27-episode anime by Toei Animation (sometimes referred to as "Season Zero" -- erroneously so, as the show is a separate series from the later Duel Monsters anime). In 2000 the manga, starting with volume 8, was adapted by TV Tokyo into Yu-Gi-Oh: Duel Monsters, which ended in 2004 with 224 episodes. The anime in particular was created as a marketing ploy to sell the Yu-Gi-Oh card game.
In 2001, 4Kids Entertainment began releasing an edited English dub of Duel Monsters under the name "Yu-Gi-Oh!"; this version aired on Kids WB in the United States, and is the version most familiar to American fans. VIZ Media published a mostly unedited version of the manga, several chapters at a time, in the US version of Shounen Jump; the series was also collected into tankoubon equivalent to the Japanese volumes.
Though the main Yu-Gi-Oh series has ended, there are multiple ongoing spin-offs, including the manga Yu-Gi-Oh! R, the anime and manga Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, and Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds. There are also multiple video games and movies, and of course the extensive trading card game franchise that the Duel Monsters anime series is based on.
Yu-Gi-Oh is the story of a teenage boy, Yuugi Mutou (Yugi Moto in the English dub), who solves the ancient Egyptian Millennium Puzzle and releases the spirit of an ancient pharaoh imprisoned in the puzzle. The spirit (nameless at first, but dubbed Yami ['darkness'] by fandom) joins with Yuugi, sometimes possessing his body, to challenge and and teach lessons to wrong-doers in the form of 'punishment games'. The first few volumes of the manga are darker in tone and feature a wide variety of games and punishments, some fairly twisted. The later volumes focus on the Duel Monsters card game and follow the basic format of most shounen fighting/tournament series, with Yuugi and his circle of allies facing various super-powered foes and defeating them, but with semi-magic card games in place of physical battles.
Western YGO fandom can be a little tricky to navigate. Like most animanga fandoms, it encompasses the contradictions of fans familiar with different canonical sources, though in YGO it's more confusing than most, because of the difference in sources. The Japanese anime is already a substantial deviation from the original manga (there are a couple season-long filler arcs as well as alterations in plot and character histories) and the English 4Kids dub censored more, as well as Americanizing the series. Many fans may have only had contact with one source, though English fanfic is written for all incarnations of the series.
YGO has a fairly active Japanese fandom as well, with webpages and doujinshi; like most Japanese fandoms, it doesn't intersect much with the English-speaking side, save for the occasional doujinshi scanlation or fanart site rec. As with many anime/manga fandoms, Japanese fanworks are appropriated for use as graphics in LiveJournal icons, site layouts, and other uses in English fandom, often without permission -- this contentious practice is strongly frowned upon by some, but staunchly defended by others.
Yu-Gi-Oh as a series came about at a time when English-speaking fandom was transitioning from dedicated websites, message boards and mailing lists to a consolidated presence on LiveJournal. Early English YGO fandom could be found on multiple off-LJ websites; from the earliest days of the fandom Fanfiction.net has been an important hub for fanfic activities. One of the most famous independent sites was Janime.net (now defunct), run by a Thai fan who provided summaries and translated series content into English long before the official versions were released. The site hosted fanart and fanfic and a popular forum. Another well-known site during this early period was Kyokou Geemu (also defunct), a dedicated YGO fanfic archive with a well-trafficked and lively community message board. KG started life as a hand-coded archive, but transitioned to use of the eFiction software later in the site's life as better technology became available. Kokoro no Naka, in its heyday a hugely extensive archive of series screenshots, multimedia, fanworks and general information, was another important site of the early era still extant today.
"A Children's Card Game"
While the Yu-Gi-Oh manga, like most Shounen Jump series, was nominally aimed at boys but more generally appropriate for all audiences, the Duel Monsters anime was targeted specifically at children, toning down some of the darker elements of the manga's plot in favor of promoting the trading card game. Perhaps because of this obvious merchandising, as well as the low production values of the series, Yu-Gi-Oh has a poor reputation among most "serious" anime fans, who tend to consider it about on par with Pokémon, only not as cute, and it tends to be rated poorly on most anime review sites, when it's reviewed at all.
While the series has its defenders, quite a few fans are aware that their show is somewhat less than fantastic. Some admit to liking YGO with embarrassment, and rather than argue with detractors, many fans will cheerfully agree, and often be first in line to mock the show for its many flaws, even as they enjoy it for the weirdly addictive crack and characters.
Sub vs Dub
The original Japanese Duel Monsters anime and the American 4Kids dub are substantially different, mostly because the dub aired on network TV. Not only was the show "Americanized" to a certain extent, with changes to some character and card names, but some of what is considered child-appropriate in Japan is not allowed on American kids' cartoons, and thus the scripts and the animation were censored. In the fandom, as is often the case, there is friction on occasion between "purists" and dub-fans, though these debates are less contentious than in some anime fandoms because relatively few English-speaking fans have seen the original version. 4Kids only released a few sub DVDs, and few fan-sub groups picked up any of the series, so it was only available on Japanese DVDs (without subtitles) and on sets of cheap East Asian bootleg DVDs (with the usual uneven and occasionally inadvertently hysterical English translations.) Thus, many English-speaking fans have only seen the dub.
The Yu-Jyo YGO Episode Guide provides detailed episode summaries of both the Japanese and the 4Kids dub, painstakingly chronicling all the cuts, changes, and censoring made between the two versions, complete with screencaps.
The Viz translation of the manga, on the other hand, is generally faithful to the original, preserving the original names and art and accurately translating the dialogue.
While some fans use slashes or x's to denote pairings, a more recent (post-2003) and popular phenomenon in the fandom is the use of ship names. The ship list on Yuugioushipping has some 529 ship names (though some of these may include multiple names for the same ship, as there is not fandom-wide consensus.)
For more, see Yu-Gi-Oh!/Shipping
"Play the Damn Card, Already"
In the present day, like most of English-speaking fandom, the majority of (female) Yu-Gi-Oh fans have packed up and moved to LiveJournal -- and the biggest and most active YGO community on LJ is almost certainly Play the Damn Card, Already!. "Play the Damn Card, Already" was founded at the beginning of 2004 for fans who "love Yu-Gi-Oh, but are sick of being wise and sensible and relevant on all the normal communities" (User info, accessed January 2009). The posts include almost any sort of fandom participation, not limited to fanfic, icons and macros, essays, translations, and crack. While there is serious discussion on occasion, the general tone is good-natured mocking of the series and sometimes the fandom.
Yu-Gi-Oh: The Abridged Series
In July 2006 Little Kuriboh posted to Play the Damn Card the first episode of Yu-Gi-Oh: The Abridged Series, a parody fandub of the first episode of Yu-Gi-Oh: Duel Monsters voiced entirely by LittleKuriboh imitating the English dub actors. Within a few episodes, YGO! Abridged exploded into a minor internet phenomenon, inspiring a host of Abridged versions of other shows and leading to constant troubles with YouTube.com for copyright violations.
- "A 224 episode long commercial for a card game. Do you really have the time and patience to sit through all that?" --Tim Jones review on T.H.E.M (accessed 1/2009)
- "I can't believe I sat through a whole hour of Yu-Gi-Oh (out of a lack of anything better to do with my life)." immicolia: Saturday morning cartoons.... haven't done this in a while... posted May 21st, 2005 (accessed 1/2009)
- "immicolia has been getting into YGO, too. Does this sudden influx of respectable authors mean that I can quit feeling ashamed of my gargantuan folder full of fics and fanart?" --keelieinblack in comments to xparrot: Oh! Dear, posted Jun. 28th, 2005 (accessed 1/2009)