Manga Mondays: Yu-Gi-Oh! GX

yugioh gx2

The never-ending saga continues.

Yu-Gi-Oh! GX follows Judai Yuki and friends as they study at the Duel Academy, a boarding school for learning Duel Monsters. There’s also some weird things going on with Spirit Monsters (Judai has a Winged Kuriboh) and some ancient Egypt-related things that made no sense.

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Winged Kuriboh Spirit Monster

The thing about this series was, if it was just a school drama with Duel Monsters it would have been excellent. But then the Egyptian mythology stuff had to get forced into the series and down the reader’s throat in order to try and relate it back to the original series. I’ve read Yu-Gi-Oh! GX twice; the first was for the hell of it and the second so I could have a clear memory of it to review it. I still have no idea what is going on with the Egyptian stuff. This series did not need an ancient Egypt connection, in my opinion; the Duel Monsters connection is strong enough to tie it to the Yu-Gi-Oh franchise. I actually quite liked the idea of Spirit Monsters and feel that it had a lot of potential, until it got severely overshadowed by the what-the-fuckery of everything else that was going on. The series was interesting and flowed rather smoothly until Mackenzie and Reggie (the bad guys who started all the random and irrelevant shadowy Egypt things) were introduced. The Egypt stuff was a forced attempt to connect back to the original series that failed.

But like I said, the series is generally really great and I enjoyed reading it. My favorite part (and I think a very crucial one as well) is that Judai is so different from any character in the original series. You have your Kaiba-ish character, Manjome, who resembles Kaiba personality-wise and has a somewhat similar deck, and a Yugi-ish character, Sho, who has a similar deck, personality, and physical appearance to the original protagonist. By making the protagonist, Judai, unique in all aspects, it makes Yu-Gi-Oh! GX more capable of standing on its own.

I love Asuka though. She’s such a strong character, a strong duelist, and they rarely draw attention to the fact that she’s a girl, which I think is a good thing. There was one small and quite ridiculous story arc, however, where there was a contest to see who the prettiest girl was, but she blatantly turned down the prize because she thought it was stupid, and that appearances were less important than Duel Monsters talent. I think she’s a great duelist and a great character, especially when you take into consideration that the original Yu-Gi-Oh! didn’t have any real strong female characters, who adds a lot to the depth of the story.

If you liked the original Yu-Gi-Oh!, then you should definitely read this. If you didn’t love the original, you’re better off passing this sucker up. And if you hated Yu-Gi-Oh!, you obviously shouldn’t read its sequel/spinoff. Hopefully this post satisfied you, because it may be a while until we have the best thing ever, a.k.a. card games on motorcycles; I have to get my hands on more than four pages of the material.

And I'm not going to stop potting Kaiba pictures any time soon, in case you were wondering.

And I’m not going to stop putting Kaiba pictures up any time soon, in case you were wondering.

Manga Mondays: Yu-Gi-Oh! Millennium World

yugioh mw2Dear all aspiring manga writers,

This is how you write an ending to a series.

Kindest regards,

I cannot say enough about this part of the series. It’s a joy to read. It perfectly sums up the events of the entire series up to this point.

Yu-Gi-Oh! Millennium World follows Yugi and friends as they get teleported into a world inside the Millennium Puzzle as Yami Yugi attempts to reclaim his identity and his name. But an old foe comes back to make trouble and thwart Yugi’s plans.

I loved this series in general, but these volumes sealed the deal. I know it seems like I’m repeating myself by saying it’s perfect, but I’m honestly trying not to reveal too much so that you can read it.

One of the things lacking from some of the previous Yu-Gi-Oh! series was character growth, specifically from Yugi. Yugi spent this entire series being somewhat whiny and unsure of himself; he believed Yami Yugi, his other self, was more like his better half. In Millennium World, Yugi finally becomes more of his own character without being dependent on those around him in one way or another.

yugioh mw3I also love the mind games involved in this part of the series. Everyone is playing some sort of mind game with everyone else, and while there is a lot going on at different points (especially in the middle), no piece of the puzzle is competing against another. Rather everything fits together quite nicely.

In short, it’s flippin’ fabulous. I cannot say enough nice things. Honestly, I think this might be the only manga series that I’ve cried over. Go read it. You should want to read it.

Oh, My Pop Culture Deity: The Gods Do My Bidding!

I’ve got too much Yu-Gi-Oh! on the brain, you guys. It’s seriously impacting my life. So if you do not have any great love for the series, this post is not for you. Sorry for not being sorry about it. But if you aren’t running away, stay put! This post is going places. Possibly spoilery places. Continue reading

Manga Mondays: Yu-Gi-Oh! R

YuGiOhR1Oh Yu-Gi-Oh! R, what a blatant attempt to earn money.

Yu-Gi-Oh! R takes place after Yu-Gi-Oh! Duelist but was written years after Yugi’s adventures were done and other spinoffs with different protagonists had taken off. Yu-Gi-Oh! R begins with Anzu getting kidnapped by Pegasus’s adopted son, Yako Tenma. Yugi and the gang then have to fight through Kaiba Corporation (which has also been taken over by Tenma) against an evil God Card in order to get Anzu back.

In short, it’s not very good. When it was released, it was a pleasant and nostalgic five volumes with our old favorite characters. After reading it through a couple of times, the nostalgia wears off and you discover it’s not really that great. The plot reminds me of a lot of the filler from the anime, which is not a compliment.

The new characters aren’t well written. They pose almost no challenge to Yugi and company both on a gaming strength level and on a depth of character level. Yako Tenma is just extremely flat character-wise. He was like a poor man’s Marik Ishtar.

yugiohr2And the duels are so, so boring. Let me explain how almost every duel went: bad guy establishes awesome combo; Yugi draws perfect card to defeat combo; Yugi wins. And while that was how it went in the original manga, the original made some attempt to have a usual selection of cards that Yugi just combined in different ways. In this new series, it seemed like Yugi was pulling random cards out of his arse. The “miracle-ness” of winning was just much more blatantly done in Yu-Gi-Oh! R and it made reading the duels unenjoyable.

I guess the thing with Yu-Gi-Oh! R is that the original series was so good that this throwback just seemed half-assed. I believe that when it was released, the writers admitted straight up that the fans wanted another story with Yugi and this is what they did. Compared to other series in the entire world, this isn’t that bad. But when you compare it to other parts of the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise, it kinda stinks.

Nonviolent Battle: Super or Not Very Effective?

Since I’ve been going through everything that is Yu-Gi-Oh! to write more manga posts for you guys, I decided to look at the concept of different kinds of non-traditional battles and whether or not they properly illustrate the conflict and move the plot forward.

Probably the best and one of the most well-known examples of non-traditional combat is “Riddles in the Dark” in The Hobbit. What makes this such an easy example to understand is that they literally go from pointing weapons at one another to throwing riddles. Out of all of the examples I’m using here, this is the one I would consider closest to actual combat. The thing with non-traditional combat is that it still there still needs to be some sort of contest, and here it is a battle of the brains. “Riddles in the Dark” is both entertaining and dramatic, while still moving the plot of the story forward. So it’s a successful example.

battle 2So let’s get on with Yu-Gi-Oh! since you already knew I was going to bring it up. Card games instead of swords. Does it work? I’d say yes. The key thing about Yu-Gi-Oh! is that they aren’t just doing what they do for shits and giggles. There is always another, larger plot arc that motivated the characters to “do battle”. For example, Yugi went to Duelist Kingdom to get his Grandpa’s soul back. The characters still have motivations outside of the game. If you took away the cards, there would still be a story, which I think means it was successful replacement for fighting with weapons.

battle 1Hikaru no Go falls short in exactly that sense. What would happen if no one played Go? Absolutely nothing. There would be no story. And while I adore Hikaru no Go, if you don’t understand the game then you are shit out of luck, at least when reading the manga. I don’t know what the anime is like, but I suppose it’s possible that it did things differently. Granted, Hikaru no Go is more of a slice-of-life story than the extraordinariness that is Yu-Gi-Oh! But when all the conflict is conducted through a game that is never entirely explained, I don’t think that it is an entirely effective device for plot movement. So while we know there is conflict, it comes at the cost of a substantial plot.

There has to be a balance between the conflict itself and the motivation for that conflict—swing too close to conflict itself and you lose your story. I couldn’t think of any examples that didn’t put too much emphasis on story because with story usually comes some sort of conflict. Why would you write a story without a conflict? It’s like a sandwich without stuff between the two pieces of bread; it’s totally pointless. And really sad. So give your stories conflict in any way you see fit. Violent, non-violent, it matters not. Both can be effective. But make sure that whatever you chose doesn’t take away from the story.

Manga Mondays: Yu-Gi-Oh! Duelist

Yami_yugi2Yu-Gi-Oh! Duelist by Kazuki Takahashi is the manga version of the anime everyone either loves or loves to hate, so I’m not going to waste your time explaining the plot all that much. Y’all should be a little familiar with it at least. This part of the series takes place after my previous Manga Monday.

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Fanfiction Fridays: No Strings Attached by Out-Of-Control-Authoress

So what I bring you today is a series of epic proportions. No Strings Attached and its sequel, Blood Bound, is a crossover fic between Harry Potter and, no joke, Yu-Gi-Oh. Yes, you read that correctly. You’ll be even more surprised to hear that it doesn’t suck and that it has a unique twist in it to get the characters sent to Hogwarts, unlike all the other Yu-Gi-Oh and Harry Potter crossovers. Or just about anything that’s a Harry Potter crossover, for that matter.

Now, one thing I should mention that bothers me in a lot of crossover stories, and that this story does too, is that many authors don’t realize that there’s a time difference between Harry Potter and other stories. While I’m pretty sure the Yu-Gi-Oh series takes place in the early 2000s, The Philosopher’s Stone begins in the year 1991, meaning that Voldemort kind of dies before the turn of the century. I know that this is just reading into things way too much, but this is the reason that keeps me from reading too many crossovers. I get very particular about the year. I even raged during that one Fanfiction Follies about Ginny getting together with an original female character, because it takes place during her fifth year, which would be 1996, and the characters read Twilight, which came out in 2005.

It just really bugs me to no end.

Thankfully, though, Out-Of-Control-Authoress’s works are done well in enough other areas that I can forgive her story for this slight, especially considering that, as I’ve said, she wrote a Harry Potter/Yu-Gi-Oh crossover that doesn’t suck, which is certainly a near-impossible feat in and of itself.

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