Title: YuGiOh: The Dark Side of Dimensions
Written by: Kazuki Takahashi
Based on: YuGiOh! Duel Monsters
For those of us who grew up watching Saturday morning cartoons on Kids WB 18, the name Yugioh or Duel Monsters is usually accompanied by a thick wave of nostalgia. The series erupted from a cartoon about teenagers saving the world by playing card games into a real life card tournament phenomena complete with toys and pop culture wear.
The Yugioh cartoon series is accompanied by several spin offs as well as films based off of the characters from the show, though all films feature the same characters that started off the entire story for everyone in the first series.
Yugioh: The Dark Side of Dimension, directed by Satoshi Kuwabara and distributed Toei Company, revisits those old fan favorite characters one last time in the movie that is marketed towards children but serves to fulfill the nostalgia inside of every young adult that found themselves with stacks of Duel Monsters cards and sits as a somewhat satisfying send off to this group of friends once morel.
Since the first series’ conclusion in 2004, the animation has taken a major leap forward with a crisp, new detailed animation style that mirrors the style of modern day anime in the last two years with vibrate colors and dramatically detailed actions.
While the directing of an animation film is often hard to direct, YuGiOh: DSOD did have a few narrative holes that were never formally addressed but implied through intercut scenes with lesser characters when they are banished to another realm by the main villain of the series.
The movie gives YuGiOh fans a snapshot into the life of the characters after that final episode of the first series, showing them all as aged up and working towards their goals that don’t involve the trading card game that brought them through peril. The animation of the world setting and the details went into how far technology in the YuGiOh world has advanced.
The film released in select theatres across the United States back in January of 2017 with limited edition cards offered to every ticket sold, prompting the idea that the film franchise is nothing but a poor attempt to continue marketing the trading cards to new and old audiences by offering exclusives.
The film opens with the former arch rival of the spirit of the first series, who[SPOILERS] moved on to the afterlife after losing a duel with his former partner and proving to his friend that his purpose has been fulfilled, searching for a way to revive the dead Pharaoh and challenge him once more. Yugi Motou, who was the main protagonist of the cartoon series, settles more into a supporting role now that he has been adjusting to life without the spirit inhabiting his body and learning what it is he wants to do with his life with high school graduation every coming. Seto Kaiba, Yugi’s longtime rival, continues to advance his company but uses most of his new technology to try and resurrect his real rival, the spirit who used Yugi’s body to defeat him time and time again. Meanwhile, a boy with mysterious ties to Egypt and the spirit Atem has been banishing the souls of mortals away into alternate dimensions in his quest in attempt to secure his magic powers and foil all plans of resurrecting the Pharaoh by disrupting the two rivals.
While the film was entertaining and some of the charm from the original series still lives on in the new style, the storytelling was sloppy in some parts. Much of the backstory for the villain’s motivation as well as the character’s developments are quickly done, with some of the villain’s powers like wiping memories never fully explained. The film attempts to set up a cohesive story and take its time through the elements, but rushes through the last forty minutes to advance to a dramatic duel between Yugi and Kaiba as if to parallel the same duel that started the entire 2000’s anime series in the first place.
While the film still surpasses its counterparts, it falls in line with other anime that rely on games to defeat evil versus fighting and violence.
The music and coloring of the film gave the card games and characters drama, but was not overly memorable until the final twenty minutes of the film where nostalgic music from the original show as well as late character cameos played a large part with emotion.
The film is the perfect storybook close on a series that gave a lot to several people raised on card games and Japanese pop culture. The characters have since evolved in the mind of their creator since we last saw them in the prior movie and even before that in the finale in 2004.
Card games are still saving the Earth that Yugi and his friends live in inevitably, it’s just not something they’re being forced into as much.