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Mad Manga Review 06 – YU-GI-OH! (MANGA) VOL. 04

Get ready to d-d-d-duel with this months special-edition, first ever reader review!

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The manga that inspired the hit card game!

The early volumes of Yu-Gi-Oh! offer a wide variety of content...

It’s time for another manga review, and as always you can have your chance to get your review published! Send in a manga review of maximum 900 words to competitions@madman.com.au with the subject line “MANGA REVIEW” and your review might get picked for the next month’s manga newsletter. Want to tell everyone how great a certain series is? Maybe you want everyone to know your deep hatred for a title instead? This is your chance! If your review is chosen you can win an awesome $20 voucher for the Madman store.

This month we’ve got our first reader submission! Thanks to Michael Sato for this great review! You’ve scored a $20 voucher (and the bragging rights with being the first fan review published!) Michael brings a touch of nostalgia with his review of Yu-Gi-Oh! Volume 04!

Tenth-grader Yugi always had his head in some game–until he solved the Millennium Puzzle, an Egyptian artifact containing the spirit of a master gambler from the age of the pharoahs! Possessed by the puzzle, Yugi becomes Yu-Gi-Oh, the King of Games, and challenges evildoers to the Shadow Games…weird games with high stakes and high risks!

When Yugi beat his classmate Kaiba at a simple game of Duel Monsters, he didn’t realize that Kaiba was Japan’s number-one gamer, heir to the Kaiba Corporation and a vengeful madman! Now Yugi and his friends must survive Kaiba’s “Death-T”! Standing between them and escape are the two Kaiba brothers, who have spent years and millions of dollars building the greatest Duel Monsters deck ever.

Whether you love it or hate it, most people are familiar with Yu-Gi-Oh! as “That cartoon where they play card games”, and it’s true, over the years Yu-Gi-Oh! has turned into a massive vehicle for selling cards. But it wasn’t always that way, especially with the series humble beginnings in popular manga magazine Shonen Jump. The card game “Duel Monsters” didn’t become a major part of the story until over a year into the series serialisation. Today, I will be reviewing the series fourth volume, as it features the series first ongoing story arc.

A basic summation of the premise up to this point is that Yugi Mutou is a pathetic young man constantly picked on by bullies, until the day when he completes an ancient Egyptian puzzle which allows the soul of an ancient Egyptian “King of Games” possess his body and take vengeance upon those who wrong our pitiable protagonist through a series of “Shadow Games”, most of which to this point are completely unrelated to Duel Monsters.

Volume 4 opens with a trip the the arcade, where Yugi falls victim to a punk who steals his Millenium Puzzle, leaving his best friend Katsuya Jonouchi (Known as Joey Wheeler in the dubbed anime) to take it back, being forced into a fist fight while holding a knife between his teeth in the kind of life and death showdown that you would rarely see in the edited version of the show.

Shortly after the puzzle is retrieved, Yu-Gi-Oh! starts its first ongoing story arc, when Yugi and Jonouchi are invited to the home of Seto Kaiba, who Yugi had previously subjected to a shadow game in volume 2, and are promptly challenged by his brother Mokuba to a game of “Russian Roulette Dinner”. This game involves spinning a table with several meals on it and eating what lands in front of you, with the risk of eating deadly poison. After Yugi successfully clears the game, Seto himself appears to invite Yugi to “Death-T”, an attraction at the theme park Kaiba Land built specifically for vengeance upon Yugi for beating him at a children’s card game. … And subsequently being sentenced to “experiencing death” in one of Dark Yugi’s penalty games, which was probably a bigger deal than losing the card game itself.

Yugi is coerced into participating in the attraction to prevent the torture of his kidnapped grandfather in a virtual reality box designed to recreate the penalty game Kaiba was sentenced to in his last appearance and is accompanied into Death-T by both Jonouchi and Hiroto Honda (Tristan Taylor in the anime dub), who just happened to be at Kaiba Land babysitting his nephew. Yugi’s love interest Anzu Mazaki (Téa Gardner in the anime dub) coincidentally has been hired as a guide to one of the attractions putting all four friends together as they take on Kaiba’s machinations.

The first game of Death-T puts Yugi and his friends into a game of laser tag against professional assassins with deadly lasers, the second game is a haunted house ride where you are administered a lethal shock if you scream capped off with a cage match against a chainsaw wielding mass murderer and the third game is a real life version of Tetris where Yugi and his friends must avoid being crushed by the falling blocks. I won’t give away the outcome of each game as seeing how they overcome each challenge is half the fun, but it is a rollicking ride the whole way through.

…The manga goes much deeper with these characters and their relations as well as much darker than the TV adaptation.

Viewers of the anime will see a few familiar scenes in this volume, as the first episode of the Yu-Gi-Oh! TV series took elements from volumes 2, 4 and 5 and heavily compressed them into a single episode before moving into volume 8’s Duelist Kingdom arc. However, Kazuki Takahashi’s original manga goes much deeper with these characters and their relations as well as much darker than the TV adaptation, especially after being edited by 4Kids Entertainment.

Even if you have little interest in card games, the early volumes of Yu-Gi-Oh! offer a wide variety of content including variations on game shows, dice games, karaoke, air hockey, jigsaw puzzles, tamagotchis, tabletop RPGs and more. Also, while the later card game oriented portions of the series are also enjoyable if card games are able to hold your interest, volume 7 can offer a satisfying conclusion if you decide not to continue onwards. All in all, Yu-Gi-Oh! is a classic of Shonen Jump and can likely provide a solid read even to those who may have been turned off by the anime either as a marketing tool or not having an uncut release.

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