I usually try to keep up with what kids are into...I just like to. While the Ninja Turtles may still outbeat everyone else, do I want to be some fogey who gripes all the time about it? I try to keep up with things, and so should you. Why make this guide? Because hey, if you want to stay hep with what kids are doing, you have to know the facts. Yu-Gi-Oh is currently the most popular thing amongst the youth, and you need to know what to say. If some 9-year-old came up to you and said, "So, how about that Thousand Eyes Restrict Relinquished?" what would you do? After reading this page and becoming thoroughly educated, you can say to him with confidence, "Yeah, that Thousand Eyes Restrict Relinquished is real groovy, man." So, let's start off with the most important thing you have to know:
The Card Game: Having origins in ancient Egypt and used by people who fought over ownership of the entire planet(supposedly here), the card game IS the show. In Japan the show is more than that, but here it's been changed so that people playing the game is pretty much all you see, so that kids will buy the cards. And no, I'm not going to explain the game to you here. Don't worry....after your 18th or 19th viewing of Yu-Gi-Oh you'll get it.
Keep in mind the monsters you see appearing in the arenas aren't really there. They're just hologram dramatizations of what the latest move a player made was. It'd be a pretty dull show if people just flipped the cards onto a table, right?
Millennium Items: Another thing supposedly from Egypt...in addition to the card game there are seven various things that have powers. Since every show needs a thing that has powers, here you are.
Yugi Moto: Whether you think Yugi is cool or not depends on which one of him you're talking about. Not many people on this show are cool. Neither Yugi nor any of his friends are, nor are most of the goofy villains. In fact, nobody was cool on Pokemon either; but that didn't seem to matter, and it apparently doesn't here. Yugi also has the same voice as Tracey from the Pokemon series, who was the Pokemon equivalent of JarJar. Nobody seems to care about that either.
However, Yugi's got a Millennium Item...in fact, the most important one, which has an Egyptian pharoah living inside, who also looks a lot like Yugi and takes control of Yugi whenever Yugi is in trouble. On the English version the pharoah is named Yami Yugi; but actually in the original he's got no name. So there are two of Yugi, the latter half being the sadist, but more on that later.
Woudln't it be interesting if Yugi had a sister named Mia?
Joey Wheeler: As the comic relief of the series, Joey's always saying and doing stupid teenage things. Oddly, they've got him in half the card battles that happen on this show. By all rights he should fail every single one, but he never does.
Tristan Taylor: Tristan...uh....well, there's not much that can be said about him....uh, he's there.
Tea Gardner: As far as main female characters go, Tea(Japanese name: Anzu) is one of the weakest. Misty is better than her. So was April O'Neal, and heck, even Teela if you can believe it. Tea's just not an appealing girl. She's just...average. Her eyes also have this creepy habit of being a different size in every scene, but that's just bad animation.
I think the most important thing about the main female point of view is that the viewer cares what happens to her. If Tea fell into a grinding machine at the Spam Factory while being chased by rabid Rottweilers, I wouldn't care. That's not good.
Seto Kaiba: Seto is supposed to be the mainstay villain, but he's not really a villainy guy. He doesn't have horns, he doesn't throw people into pits, he doesn't have legions of dimwitted minions to carry out his plans...he's just an egomaniac who's in charge of Kaiba Corporation, which he inherited when he overthrew his adopted stepfather. He's not even Lex Luthor bad, if that's what you're wondering. At least Lex secretly had men work on many plans to kill Superman; Seto does nothing about Yugi.
Mokuba Kaiba: Seto's little brother; this is where Seto seems even less like a villain, because he's always gushing about how much his brother means to him. It's odd to be sure.
Mai Valentine: As one of the only cool people on this show, Mai should go in place of Tea. I don't know if her middle name is "Bloody," but that would be interesting, wouldn't it? Mai started out as a jerk, but now she's less of a jerk and helps out Yugi at times. She and Joey also apparently have something going on, but since this is an anime, it will never go beyond coy comments. Japanese tend to like vague romantic tension better than actual romance.
Unfortunately, the last time we saw Mai, she was in a coma, and she was in a blimp with the other characters...and then the crew got off without her and the show forgot about the blimp. Am I sore about it? Yeah, kinda...
Bakura Somelastname: I wish someone on the show would explain where Bakura came from; he just kind of showed up and Yugi knew who he was. However, Bakura was probably introduced in the first season of this show, which was never translated out of Japan because Yami Yugi got a little too nuts. Bakura also has a Millennium Item but it sometimes possesses him; whoever's in this one isn't as "nice" as Yami Yugi.
Bandit Keith: Keith is supposed to be a stereotyped "American" by my guess. He talks with a deep voice, is muscular and wears a doo-rag on top of his head with the American Flag on it. During a big tournament on the show, where you needed this one card to get to the final rounds, Bandit Keith did his bandit schtick and stole Joey's card. It was never explained how Joey got in anyway, and the battle between him and Keith was never shown, probably because after losing, Keith hit the bottle pretty hard. Gulp, gulp, gulp...it was just all he could do. He is American, after all.
Update: Okay, they DID show the battle eventually, but his bottle in the flashback scene was replaced with a stack of cards. Yep, he was drinkin' cards. Which can't be good for you.
Maximillian Pegasus(or just "Pegasus"): He was the villain for an entire season of Yu-Gi-Oh; crooning threats in this stupid voice. He's got a Millennium Item too; in fact it took the place of his left eye, so now he can see into people's minds. He uses this power to cheat on the card games because anything else would be too easy.
Pegasus drank a lot of fruit juice and ate a lot of steak while watching Yugi on a fuzzy TV monitor. He never gained any weight from doing this for an entire season, even though the "grape juice" was probably wine in Japan...No, wait, it wasn't wine...it was transmission fluid! Look what this show is trying to get your kids to drink!!
Pegasus is now dead, but 4Kids Productions didn't like that and changed it to "Pegasus is ill" in the dub, and added groans from his lifeless body. He passed away when Bakura came into his main office, all possessed again, and stole his Millennium Eye, and losing that apparently killed him.
Marik Ishtar: Marik is the main Second Season Villain. There are two version of Marik: Evil Marik, and Eviler Marik. Every time he shows up in a room, about 75% of the dialogue in the area goes to him, in which he crows about how evil he is and how he will send you into eternal despair and doom. I guess now we know who "Lemony Snicket" is.
Noa: Noa is the Third Season Villain. The second season's plot wasn't even finished yet when Noa stepped on the scene and sucked everyone into his virtual world. The problem Noa's got is, he has no choice but to live there...his body is destroyed and his brain is wired to a big supercomputer. He kidnapped everyone to get revenge on Seto Kaiba, because...as dramatically revealed later in the season...Noa is the REAL SON of Kaiba's stepfather!! And Kaiba has his company! Well, who wouldn't be bitter?
Weevil: YAGH, doesn't any kid find this person as annoying as I do? I think I had to go to school with several people like Weevil and they all frequently wiped their noses with that *FNSNSNRRRRK* noise, ate rotten Jello, and left their retainers on the cafeteria table next to you whenever you ate. Weevil is no doubt one of these people, and they have to still be around in real life...so I don't think any kid likes this idiot.
Yugi's Grandpa: Kind of like Yugi only old.
The Shadow Realm: There is no such thing as the Shadow Realm. This is something 4Kids Productions made up when they translated this show. Every time you hear someone mention "the Shadow Realm," 4Kids is trying to cover something up.
See, the problem is, Yu-Gi-Oh is a show for teenagers in Japan. They brought it over here and thought, "Hey, we can make a show for kids out of it, because it has so many cool-looking monster designs, and we know monsters work." But trying to edit a teenage show into a kiddie show means you have to make a lot of changes. You already know what they did with Pegasus, because they're afraid to mention people can die, but there's a lot more. Once you actually know what was going on in some of these shows, you will find 4Kids' idea of replacement dialogue hilarious.
Someone mentioned there was an upcoming Yu-Gi-Oh episode where Yugi and this stupid clown thing person were in a duel, but the clown had rigged the hologram arena so that both parties were chained to the floor, and the loser would get his legs sawed off by a whirling sawblade that crept closer as you lost points. He said he doubted they'd have this episode in there, even though nobody really gets their legs cut off(the clown narrowly escapes his fate after losing). Well, normally in a Y-7 adventure show you can have danger, you just can't have extreme harm...and if this show were Batman, the saw scene would have made it in without a problem. But not with 4Kids.
As it turned out, they did run the episode, but they put glowing blue paint over the saw and the clown said instead, "This Dark Energy Disk will send the loser to the SHADOW REALM!!! AH HA HA HA HAAA!!!"
No, I'm not kidding. And I could still tell it was a saw.
The Heart of the Cards: Yugi is always babbling about this. He thinks the game itself has an actual heart and that if he puts enough faith into his deck, he'll never lose. And of course he never does. This is one of the lamest, most groan-inducing things in the show. I sincerely hope this wasn't part of the Japanese version.
Yugi is Perfect: Yugi is perfect. Yugi can never do anything wrong. His alter-ego, that's another story(and not one the Amerikans will allow), but there is one episode where Joey loses a bet and has to dress in a dog suit and bark for this one guy for a week. Yugi is so outraged, he challenges the guy to a duel and bets his whole title as King of Games on it, all over a dog costume. Eh, I guess it's noble, but couldn't he let this one slide? He's been in worse situations.
Can I attack it?
You sure can. I've never seen a show that leaves itself so wide-open in a while. Just about everything I've heard fanatics have to make up about the Smurfs or Pokemon to attack them; is included in this show free of charge. The monsters look "evil," the people look "evil," the music sounds "evil", and then if that's not enough material for you to work with(although normally it is), you can find the original Japanese version for teens and pull something from there easily. But really, parents don't have much to worry about. The dubbers have santitized it so much, it couldn't corrupt a fly.
Can I enjoy it?
It's possible. While most of the things I've described to you sound lame-o, the show has a good thing going for it in the card battles themselves. They're unpredictable and take quite a bit of smarts to finish. All too often the show will cut to an ad or end for the day with Yugi(or Joey, sigh)in what looks like an impossible position to triumph over. Of course, you know they'll win(they always do), but the question of HOW exactly they will keeps you coming back. It's never the same resolution twice, and props to whoever dateless Japanese dude came up with the intricacies of this game. This is one thing it does well, as opposed to Pokemon, whose battles are just "Thing, attack the other thing with a thing-a-bolt!!!"