What’s it about ?
Adaptation of that shonen manga featuring a children’s card game… Wait, no. Initially, the manga featured a variety of games, and the 1998 anime series reflected that ; it’s only later on that the “Duel Monsters” cardgame took center stage, and this sequel increased that emphasis even more.
I’m breaking my rule on sequels to give this one a full review, due to its cultural relevance. I mean, I’ve seen enough parody abridged versions of this that it would be silly not to try and have a proper look at it.
Yugi, our kid protagonist with absurd hair, is really fond of this Duel Monsters cardgame ; it helps that his grampa runs a shop selling it and gave him some rather rare cards. There’s no explanation whatsoever for why Yugi gets a transformation sequence that makes him look much meaner and kick more ass at the game halfway through. Or why he’s got this Mind Crush psychic attack to deal with villains once he’s won against them.
He has a few friends : Jonouchi, who is at least shown playing the game early on (although after that he does nothing but cheer on Yugi) ; Honda, who contributes nothing ; and Anzu, who as a girl gets to make a speech about friendship.
Seto Kaiba, one of their classmates, is definitely Not A Friend : he wants to steal and destroy Yuki’s grampa’s super-super-rare card so that himself will be the only player to own any. Also, he owns a massive corporation that gives him access to goons to back him up, and he’s a technological genius who’s designed a holographic system that makes card battles slightly less boring to watch.
For someone who initially looks like a major deal, Kaiba is defeated quite early on ; a new villain with a fancy monocle makes a cameo at the end.
Okay-ish, I guess ; the soundtrack makes a game attempts at instilling a bit of atmosphere and tension early on, but nothing can make the card battles entertaining once they’ve started.
So, yeah. There’s no getting around the fact that Duel Monsters is a very boring game, especially as the rules had yet to be solidified and balanced by any kind of physical release ; it’s basically a very boring game of
Kamoulox Calvinball where each turn is basically “see the new attack I’m pulling out of my ass damaging you !” It’s immediately tedious, and a chore to watch.
What’s more striking is the total absence of any explanation of Yugi’s status quo. I know it because of popculture osmosis (and having watched a good chunk of Abridged Series), but you’d think re-establishing the “possessed by a Pharaoh’s spirit” setup would have been a priority for this sequel. Ahah, no, the new viewer is left without any clue to this stuff, aside from Yugi’s bizarre super-powers. That’s a puzzling exposition failure.
Since watching paint dry is more entertaining than any Duel Monsters match, I think I’ll keep to the Abridged Series, thank you.