The biggest manga event of the year…and boy was it disappointing

Over 15 years ago Yugi Moto and his pals first burst onto our screen and fought off admirable and exciting foes like Maximilian Pegasus, Yami Marik and supporters of the Seal of the Orichalcos and its ruler the Great Leviathan. Now the gang face a different fight: to  remain relevant nearly two decades on. Yu-Gi-Oh: The Dark Side of Dimensions sees the return of some fan favourite characters, crazy supernatural baddies and most of all badass duels.

It is sad to point out that the film itself generally felt like it wasn’t needed at all. The series  ended with our characters having well-rounded arcs and the show came to a natural end. A few subsequent films and spin-off series were nice although some felt about as unnecessary as this film. Set one year after Yugi and Atem parted ways and the Millennium Puzzle had been laid to rest. Nevertheless, on its 20th anniversary Konami felt it was time to resurrect its prized heifer for one final milking. In a world where unnecessarily sequels rule supreme this one continued the saddening trend of using people’s nostalgia to make an easy buck. It was done with Pokemon. It was done with Star Wars. It was done with Robocop. Now it’s the turn of Yugi and gang to get another outing to make a quick buck. Although it was nice to see returning characters and to watch intense duels it just didn’t feel the same as before. Maybe it was old age? Maybe it was the difference in animation? Maybe I’ve moved on? But my Yu-Gi-Oh just didn’t feel the same and it really showed.

Despite being a year after the events of the TV show, the gang were only just graduating in this film. But what stuck out as odd about them was Yugi’s height. For someone so small in the series, who constantly was ridiculed for his height and went through a number of years not growing, Yugi was insanely taller than in previous instalments. Yes, maybe he did finally grow? But if they want to build on fans nostalgia then they really need to get things right. Similarly, but probably more noticeable was the change in the monsters. Dark Magician, one of the show’s most famous monsters looked entirely different to his TV incarnation. The show has shown us other variations of him before but Yugi’s always stayed the same. Combine that with the look of Gaia the fierce Knight, Celtic Guardian, Blue Eyes White Dragon and so many other fan favourite cards just looked so different, even though it has only been a year. Now yes, the card roster as massively increased with all new decks and types, monsters, traps, spells and summoning methods, but you’re telling me that in a whole year, the looks of monsters who we’ve not seen change ever since their masters have had them, have changed appearance?  It was just a way for the game’s developers to sell newer card variants and that is saddening consider you’ve given away so much money to this franchise over the years.

The call backs and references were a welcome sight. The references to other millennium items and previous battles and victories really were a delight to see on the big screen. This was supposed to be a film for the fans and that really showed. By having the main villain corrupted by the spirit of the Millennium Ring was a nice touch and felt like the old TV series continuing on again, rather than inventing some new bad item to destroy like the Pyramid of Light did.

It felt like this was an idea for a new series using the old characters but the producers decided to cram it into a two-hour long duel fest. It did drag on for ages and ages and it really bored me at times, even during the duels which the series never actually did which was quite surprising. A new series with all the returning characters would be odd but honestly would be better than the garbage they call Yu-Gi-Oh these days. It ended well with the characters getting the end to their stories they deserved like Seto Kaiba and Tea.

The main thing the film the film did correctly was by not allowing Atem, aka the Pharaoh, to speak. His reappearance after his departure in the last episode seemed somewhat fitting to the film and he didn’t feel as shoe horned into the plot as the rest of the characters did. The movie treated the series king with respect which is often difficult for sequels or remakes of the modern era to do.

It was a welcome return for Yugi, Joey, Kaiba, Bakura and all the other recurring characters and the ending seemed somewhat of a fitting tribute of thank you. The film itself wasn’t needed as such despite the series’ milestone birthday but it was surprising to see it return. Of course, there will be a card set that’ll run alongside the film’s release featuring the horrendously overpowered Cubic monsters and Dimension Trap cards seen in the film but I’m sure they’ll be more welcomed into the card franchise that some of the other recent additions like the god awful Pendulum summoning mechanic. Yu-Gi-Oh! is a franchise that has millions of fans who squealed in delight throughout this movie. The fact this was released, despite its flaws, despite its tedious plot, despite its lack of some fan favourite character and despite the fact that Yugi is too tall and none of the monsters look how they’re supposed to, this was a movie release worth celebrating if you’re a fan of the franchise…even if it was horribly disappointing.

Would I recommend this movie?Yes – BUT only if you are a fan of the franchise or want to relive your long-lost childhood love for a card game Anime. If not don’t waste your time.

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