Yugioh 5Ds Manga – Review

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Yugioh ds volume

There we have it. Five years and nine months, and the Yu-Gi-Oh 5Ds Manga has come to a close. With some nice, shiny cards, too. And they’re very good, too.
I’ve been collecting this series since it came out here in merry old England, just when I started getting back into Yu-Gi-Oh. While I initially bought it as a form of amusement, expecting unnecessary dramatics and Jack shouting at everything that looks at him in a funny way, and make no mistake, both of these were present and fittingly amusing, I found myself drawn into the series, and towards the end actually began physically pining for volume 9 to come out so that I could conclude the series. And it’s only now, several months after volume 9 was released in England, did it occur to me to write a review about it. So here we are, I present my review on the series, and in my own way, a little tribute to Masahiro Hikokubo, a man I feel must have given the artist absolute hell with all his wacky ideas, and Masashi Sato, a man I connect with on an almost spiritual level through clumsiness and misadventures.
Jack leaves Yusei(Credit: www.yugioh.wikia.com)
Let’s start with the most vital part to a Yu-Gi-Oh series; the duels themselves. Are they intense? Gripping? Do they contain twist after endless twist as characters bring out monsters of increasingly ridiculous size and power to which you can’t help but laugh out loud as some of them seem so unbelievably impossible to beat?

Oh yes. Very much so.
Among Yu-Gi-Oh Manga, I find that 5Ds stands out more than most as the sheer variety of the decks and strategies is a delight to read every single time. It’s not like GX, where Jaden’s key to victory is inevitably Elemental Hero Terra Firma. Yeah, we get it, Jaden, it’s an impressive monster, now let’s see a little more expansion on that extra deck, shall we? (To be fair, however, this problem in the GX Manga is only present in volume 1, but it still slows the pacing down quite a bit). While this particular series was obviously going to revolve around synchro summoning, there are still refreshing tricks, turns and surprises to the special summons that keep the readers entertained, along with a much more expansive extra deck, and a lot more options for Yusei than there were for Jaden. Besides, who doesn’t like Synchro monsters?
Queen of Queens(Credit: www.yugioh.wikia.com)
Ah yes, we must also address the elephant in the room. As everyone who has watched LittleKuriboh’s interpretations of Yu-Gi-Oh 5Ds knows, the element of including motorbikes into the mix is, while awesome and certainly adds to the excitement of normally standstill dueling, completely baffling. The Manga, obviously, also uses this element, and I’m not going to try and convince you that the series has justified their need any more than the anime has, but if we ignore the barely concealed attempt to appeal to a larger audience and just go along with it, it’s still as fun as it is in the anime, and considering that Masashi Sato actually states in his mini-comics that he had to memorise the details of every single Duel runner, you can’t help but give the poor man credit. He did a good job.

And the scripts for the duels themselves are fantastic as well. Trust no one. They’re always hiding some form of ace up their sleeve. Even if by any and all means, there seems to be no possible way to take back the game (JACK JACK JACK JACK JACK). Does this make the duels predictable and boring at all? Not in the slightest. Admittedly, I dearly wanted to see the conclusion of a certain duel involving Crow, but for the majority of it, I was aching to see the next duel. And besides, towards the end, the duels become so over the top, there are times where you won’t be able to help but burst out laughing. 10,000 attack AND indestructible?! Come on!
Crow VS Yusei(Credit: www.yugioh.wikia.com)
Are there any bad points? Hmm…the main problem for me was a duel with Crow ending up unfulfilled. Ignoring the fact that it was Crow, a big favourite due to his awesome Blackwings and general goofiness, leaving a duel unfinished (Quite an important one, no less, as it revolves around him winning a certain card) seemed very…how should I describe this? Rough draft like. As if they had a script idea, failed to complete it, and accidentally left it in there. No other duel involving a main character is left incomplete like this (Except Kalin in volume 2, but that was an exception as his character setup was intended to be mysterious, so we only saw the end, where it was clear he had thrashed his opponent), and while some duels we only see glances of, because they only involve minor characters we’re not as bothered. So that’s one of my negative points towards the dueling in this series. Any others?

Hmm…to be honest, no, none that I can think of. After all, this is still Yu-Gi-Oh. Duels taking up three chapters worth and over-complicated dueling explanations are what you pay for, and they work for some of us, me included. Personally, I love those complex card descriptions, as long as they’re not explaining something like Negate attack. Also, with some of the Manga exclusive cards (“Gathering Light”, for example, a card that had it even be hinted at being sold to the public would have been slapped onto the ban list quicker than a Performapal), they’re kind of necessary, and your jaw may be at risk of dropping as you realise how many turns that character’s been waiting to pull that card out (KALIN KALIN KALIN). So on the whole, the duels are definitely worth reading.
Dark Highlander(Credit: www.yugioh.wikia.com)
Now what about the art style itself? Heavens know I’m no prude in my preferability to art styles, and besides, Yu-Gi-Oh is famous for being unconventional with its three colour anti-gravity hairstyles and suspiciously leathery body clenching outfits.

But hold on. Was I about to say “…But…” something? No, I wasn’t. Again here, I find, the 5Ds Manga surpasses its predecessors, and while I realise that liking the style of a Manga or not is an extremely personal point and can vary from person to person, the style for the 5Ds series seems so much more appealing than the others. They really capture the tension in the duels and all the monsters are stunning to look at. The screen tones in the Beelze and Beelzeus scenes for example create an otherworldly and cursed feel to the monsters, whereas the sudden contrast of Yusei’s completely unexplained ability to see people’s pasts creates almost a complete freeze in the action. All of the characters look excellent, though there are less glamorous moments, which I shall cover, and oh my goodness me, those scenes involving shadow miasma possessed people. Black scleras? Demonic expressions? Skin crumbling? Oh yes yes yes, these are some scary moments, and they all look absolutely wonderful. What’s not to love?
Shadow Kalin
(Credit: www.yugioh.wikia.com)
Are there bad moments with the artwork? I’d be lying if I said no, because there’s one key moment that quite frankly ruined the whole thing, and that is the cover of volume 6.
Yugioh 5ds volume 6
(Credit: www.yugioh.wikia.com)
Just…why? Why would you make Yusei look like he’s auditioning for a new Sailor Moon? It’s such a bizarre and frankly uncharacteristic change from the usually stern, serious Yusei we all know. What’s all the more unfortunate about this piece of art is that the other two elements of the piece are perfectly fine. Akiza looks as graceful as ever and Sect looks as evil as we want him to be, so why must Yusei start going all gooey eyed and doing what appears to be a rendition of Act 5, scene 1 from Hamlet? I realise that they wanted to show a more caring side to Yusei involving his relationship with Sect, but I don’t think they pulled it off with that cover, and it’s the one stain I shall hold against the cover pages of the books.

Any more complaints? Yes. Unfortunately, these also involve the cover pieces of books, namely volumes one and four, and on both of these, Jack is the main culprit for my displeasure. On both of these covers, Jack appears to have a slightly…shall we say confused evil expression? This is nit-picking, I realise, but something about Jack’s face, usually the mouth, disappoints me on these covers. However, it is good to see the artist improve on this as the series develops. Further editions show no such error.
Any more? Well, there’s that one moment in volume 1 with Yusei running towards the machine temple. The leg position doesn’t look very good to me, but aside from that, no more complaints. On the whole, it’s a good style, and improvements can be clearly seen.
Ish Kiq Goodwin(Credit: www.yugioh.wikia.com)
So what about the story? The Yu-Gi-Oh Manga spin offs have, I’ve noticed, been accredited far more than the actual anime themselves. This one is no exception, and I feel that the reason the Manga are mostly classed as being better is generally because the authors are given the freedom to tweak some of the characters and make them slightly less…well, irritating, shall we say? For starters, the insufferable Tank, Blitz and Nervin are completely absent from the Manga and replaced with the Manga original, Sect Ijuin; a far more endearing and interesting character than those brain dead dullards. Sect, as fans know, becomes pretty vital later on (Emphasis on that part, ladies and gentlemen), and his character development as well as his interactions with the rest of the cast was interesting to see and explore. Maybe I’m a sucker for the whole falling to darkness and conquering it through effort plot device, but to me, Sect was an effective character to put in there, and his dueling, despite being a novice, was interesting to watch as well. The inclusion of Ish, one of my favourite characters, was absolutely fantastic as well. She was the epitome of motherly and yet had the amusing little quirks that you sometimes find on such characters, such as her being awful at what Rex called “Typical girl stuff” like cooking and cleaning. I don’t know, something about those little additions to a character make all the difference to me.

Now obviously the main focus on the story is the typical tournament event, and it’s well played out in the series. Taking the relatively same idea as the star chips from the original Yu-Gi-Oh, it’s a quick and entertaining storyline with some fantastic duels.
Any complaints? Well, normally, I would voice concerns over likelihood, cheesiness and unnecessary dramatics, but…come on, it’s Yu-Gi-Oh. You read it for the duels.
Void Ogre Dragon(Credit: www.yugioh.wikia.com)
So what’s my conclusion on this series? Well first things first; don’t take it too seriously. This is still, at the end of the day, a Manga about card games on Motorcycles, and is meant to be ridiculously over the top. If you just read it to have fun, however, I’m confident that you’ll find yourself enjoying the story greatly, as as Yu-Gi-Oh stories go, this one has some hidden meanings and sweet messages behind it, and the duels are great fun to read. Ignore that really, really cheesy mountain climbing symbolism at the end, and you’ll finish this series fully satisfied with its climax.

But damn it, what happened in that last duel with Crow?!?

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