24 November 2006 | AlecWingerd
A good story butchered by 4Kids Censorship
Bear with me on this first, okay? I think Yugiô, or Yu-Gi-Oh, is great. It's fun to watch. The story can be engaging at times, and even the voices of the dub can be enjoyable from time to time as well...
...but then in comes snake in the grass 4Kids. It thwarts the nature and goals of the series' baddies and censures countless scenes out of the original version. It is true that you can expect nothing less from a broadcast for kids, but these guys have taken the renewal of this series to unpleasant heights. Where in Japan you saw once-up antagonists get drunk in a bar, enticing clothing, semi-revealed body parts, several cases of nudity, wicked tongue action from... you know who if you are a fan, and some mild harsh language, 4Kids removes scenes, dresses the 'Black Magician Girl' up in a dumb pair of pink trunks, digitally embellishes the 'horrors of combat', dumbs down some dialogue, digitally removes some female characters' cleavages and simply makes the entire experience of watching this a lot more bland.
I dare any of you to watch the very first dubbed episode, and then watch a dubbed episode from season two and three and you see how 4Kids struggled with this show. Where they started out using phrases like 'super awesome rare' and with a character representation about as shallow as those in Toddler oriented Nick Toons, they 'got their game on' in order to show a slightly more grown up struggle along the way. It is commendable that 4Kids have kept it from becoming a total farce, but that brings one to the real problem.
It is sometimes hard to confide in a series like Yu-gi-oh, because almost every single conflict from beginning to end plays out in a children's card game. Subliminal messages throughout the series, or at least the dub, entitle the gamer's philosophy, that is to say the 'Heart of the Cards'. Of course, if they were just playing a friendly game all the time, this premise and the continuous and sometimes absolutely nauseating friendship skits would all be meaningless. But then, after having wagered one's soul over a dozen time in perilous 'shadow games', these guys do need a philosophy to survive the onslaught of all these card games.
Many people already start to get me wrong here. I like this show, even the dub, but where it really sets off is in the last two seasons, where characters really start developing, and the world really starts turning. Where the still ever-present pep talks and friendship speeches blot out the ever-mounting stakes in the dub, the original version can be very touching at times, and some duels in this late stage of the show do seem very meaningful (My favorites: Both duels between Mou hitori no (Yami) Yugi vs. Raferu (Raphael)). And that is why I think it has the potential to be this good; because while being fully aware that good guy and bad guy are resolving their disputes by playing a children's card game, one can forget that they are actually playing a children's card game at times.
Of course, the card games are just the means to every end and the story does not necessarily revolve around the duels per se. The storyline of the ancient Pharaoh sealing himself and his memory away in order to stop (at first rather generic) evil, as well as some of the Egyptian themes within the series are quite engaging and interesting, although it must be admitted that after all the time that this mystery remains sealed (the first four seasons, in fact), its resolution can be really underwhelming. Also undeniable; the fourth season, where the cast takes on an ancient free mason like organization called Damu (Doom in the dub, I think) is one of the, if not the best and most introspective story arcs. It is a shame that it destroys the pace, and is the main reason why the conclusion is slightly underwhelming and detached.
Do yourself a favor. If you go and watch this series, watch the Japanese version. The dub is okay (I give it a 5 thumbs up out of 10), but the Japanese version is great (9 kawaiis out of 10). Plus, the Japanese soundtrack is much more better.