Director: Satoshi Kuwabara
Studio: Studio Gallop, Nihon Ad Systems
Audio: English, Japanese
Format: DVD, Blu-Ray
Number of discs: 1
Release Date: 29 May 2017
Run Time: 130 minutes
Licensed by: Manga UK
Duel Monsters is now a virtual reality card playing game, with origins going all the way back to Ancient Egypt and its Pharaohs. Champion Duellist Seto Kaiba longs for the day he can once again battle against and defeat his most challenging opponent: the Egyptian Pharaoh, Yami Yugi. The one obstacle standing in his way is that Yami is no longer part of this timeline/universe. Not only will this movie bring back the old cast of characters, including Yugi and the gang, but also another formidable opponent…
Almost twenty years since the anime began in 1998, this third movie in the franchise brings back the unforgettable original cast of Yugi, Seto, Joey, Tristan, Tea, Mokuba and Bakura. The film begins just as Yugi and his friends are nearing the end of high school, and they all start to look towards what they want to do with their futures. Multi-millionaire duellist Seto Kaiba has made significant advances in the card game, with his mind set on somehow battling against a much-loved character of the show: the spirit that lies in the millennium puzzle, and the entire focus of Season 1, Yami Yugi.
I got into Yu-Gi-Oh way back in the early 2000’s when it started being aired in Ireland, so I know these characters very well. Seeing them return for this (almost) 20th anniversary has been a special watch. The script was enjoyable, thankfully, which was something I was worried about when I heard the news of this feature film.
The characters certainly haven’t changed much, with perhaps only a year having passed since we last saw Yugi battling Yami. Seto is still the arrogant genius he always was, although is now more driven by the idea of defeating a past foe, a spirit of a long dead Pharaoh. Not only is Yami missed by the head of Kaiba Corp, but also by his friends. None more so than Yugi, who had a strong tie with Yami. Yugi lost a huge part of himself when Yami moved on after their duel. We also get a few new characters, with Diva being the villain. Diva has a sad past, suffering from the loss of his saviour. He allows vengeance to cloud his judgment, setting off down the path of revenge.
Diva’s retaliation is twisted, involving a false identity and psychic manipulation in order to get close to Yugi and his friends. Forming a false friendship, Diva picks off the friends one by one, until he corners Shadi’s killer. Many of you may remember Shadi from the early years of the show, as the spirit of the Guardian of the Egyptian Tombs and holder of the Millennium Key and Scales. Shadi acted as a father like mentor to Diva and the numerous other children the spirit saved from a life of hunger and neglect as street children. Throw in some duels, the return of the Dark Magician and Blue Eyes White Dragon cards, and the nostalgia returns. This story was certainly a little darker than what I recall, with a solid script and some very good character development.
This film was produced between a number of companies, including Studio Gallop (Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters) Nihon Ad Systems, Shueisha, TV Tokyo and Konami Digital Entertainment. It keeps with the old character designs of the show, but with a more clean-cut and refined look to the animation; a definite step up from that used back in 1998. The Dark Side Of Dimensions was directed by Satoshi Kuwabara, known as the acting director of Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal, the fourth Yu-Gi-Oh series and third spin off of the franchise. The scriptwriter and Executive Producer is none other than Yu-Gi-Oh creator Kazuki Takahashi, the manga artist and game creator behind the franchise. Both, along with the animation studio, have certainly upped the game for the show, bringing forth a fast-paced animated film, with a gripping plot and stunning animation. This new entry keeps true to the characters, providing some well needed character development and one last farewell to the Pharaoh.
Beginning back in 1996 as a manga serialization in Weekly Shonen Jump, the series gathered support from the fans before being picked up for an anime series back in 1998. First released as a heavily abridged version that took a large step back from the manga, it was never aired outside of Japan. The series that the rest of the world grew up with was released back in 2000. Staying a little truer to the manga, the anime focused more on the duelling and was made to promote the newly released Yu-Gi-Oh Trading Card Game, which is still going strong even today. The franchise continues unabated, with a new animated series named VRAINS currently running since May.
Even with a good script, flawless animation and the return of the old gang, there is an unfortunate lack of bonus features. With a franchise as big as this, they could have at least put in trailers for all the old seasons that have since been released in the UK/Ireland. Apart from this missed opportunity, I have no faults with the film or its release. Definitely worth buying and certainly rewatchable. So, go and grab your duel disk, your deck and credit card to buy this little beauty from Manga Entertainment UK.