However, one day I found a rare Yu-gi-oh manga, volume 1 in a bookstore. I didn't buy it, of course, but I read a few pages just for curiosity, expecting to see more or less the same as the series I watched before. To my surprise, it had nothing to do with the series, and there wasn't even a card game on it! That was weird, but one thing I noted: somehow the Yami character was more similar to the one I remembered and imagine if compared to his mainstream version. I didn't read it entire, as I had to buy it first. So instead, I looked for it on google, and I discovered Yu-gi-oh wasn't based on the game, in fact it was only introduced later. I thought "why did they skipped it anyway? As long as I knew, it seemed good, why didn't they made it into a series?" But I was wrong: there was a series, known by the fans as "season 0", the one that came out years before. When I first watched, there wasn't subtitled version in my language, and many episodes had no subtitles on it, but I watched it anyway. It was fantastic! I was outstanded since the first pilot episode. It was weird, was creepy, was terrified, and yet, somehow I was driven into it. After I finished watching, I moved on again, watching it again only several years later.
Years later, I was about to finish high school and enetering the collage, and rewatched season 0 again, because it's a much sorter series. And therefore, something curious happened in my subconcious: as I starting "forgeting" the Duel Monster series, and season 0 was the one I saw more recently, they kinda "merged" together in my brain, so everytime I remember the DM series, I imagined the characters deeper, more complex, with better devoluped relationships and so on... I, unwittingly, created a "idealized" Duel Monster series of my Nostalgia, as if it was the best YGO series. But the worst was just about to come.
So recently, a big shocking revealing: a new Yu-gi-oh movie is about to come next year! In their trailer, they summerized all the franchise since the manga, and the all animated spin-offs starting in... Duel Monster series.... Wait, wait, wait, where's the f*&#ing season 0? Why didn't they even showed it to us? Why didn't they mentioned it in the retrospective? They can't just ignore it existed!
Soon after, the unthinkable happened: they starting actually reprise the show in the West. I watched the episodes I watched so many times before, and yet I felt so dumb. It wasn't as good as I rmembered. The characters were just stereotypes, the relationships were hollow, it was filled by a typical anime clichées, the card game were all over the place, and the duels were nothing but over-the-top exposition speakings. "Oh now" I hear some fans saying "it's the 4Kids version, you should watch the Japanese version instead, it's a Thousand times better!". So I did and... it was basecally the same. I don't care what people say: it was less sutpid, but still full of unbearable stuff. There was something wrong, those weren't the characters I remebered in my mind... Now I know why: as I said before, I was influented by their season 0 versions, so watched the other series felt like seeing a bad remake of a good movie. Even thought the characters had the same names and designs, they weren't as half as they could be, and a lot of thing were just messed up!
Now, let me explain: I don't hate Yu-gi-oh. I don't hate the game, I even admire people who are good at. And I don't hate the Duel Monsters version, I find a nice typical Japanese anime series. But here is my proplem: it's a typical anime, and there are little things that I would say make it so much diferente from other world wide beloved anime such as Dragon Ball, Naruto, Pokémon, One Pice. Those "top" series/comics that everyone know the troops, the clichees, the characters types, most typically Japanese culture elements. And if you like anime and all those stuff, there's no problem. really, there's nothing wrong with it! But anyone might agree this is not excactly for everybody. There are a lot of moral dilemas, questions and issues that, if you are neither Japanese (or Asian at least) or watch constaly anime in your daily basis (as those die hard Otakus), you probly won't understand, won't get it, won't be able to feels it in all of those complexities, might miss a lot of stuff. And I won't lie about: I miss all those stuff too. See, it's not "personal", it's just a thing...
This is when this series have a diferencial: you don't "feel" like watching a typical anime. Not that absolutly nothing remeber a japanese anime, far from that. But it has so many elements that don't exist ONLY in Japanese culture. Things like value, morals, sins, misfists, crime, justice, frienship, fear, love, decicions... Not that it doesn't exist in other anmes, it's just they are ususally not the main focus. Mostly is all about honor: a boy who wants to prove himself, to bring honor to his Family, to be the best at some competition, a woman who wants to show her feminilility as a weapon among warriors or a person who want to pass na collage entrece exam. The rest is mostly secondary. Also the pacing is dfferent: it's direct, with little exposition dialogue, , good drama building, characters and plot devolupment. We see very little multiple subplots, or scenes interrupted in the middle of the situation, obligating you to have no choice but continuing watching untill it's over. I don't know about other people, but whenever that happens in a animated series I'm watching, I mostly stop, since I have little patiente on paying attention on too many things going on. For me, the simplest, the best, and this series is a máster on simplicity, yet being great on it's own.
Another thing I want to point out is about how it is even better than the manga it is based on. Not that there is anything wrong with it, it's a surprisely good comic book for someone who was starting, but it wasn't entirely perfect: Kazuki Takahashi has Always been good at a lot of thing on writing, drawing, designing, characters devoluping, but one thing he isn't good at, and even he die hard fans have to admit: he isn't good at writing female characters. In the comics, Tea/Anzu is a typical anime/manga girl as we see in most Japanese intended-for-boys stuff. Most of her thinking and ideas don't correspond to actual female thought, but to how guys sees and thinks (or wish they were) how women think/behave. If you're a guy Reading this, you'll propbaly see no problem, but if you're a chick, you'll the flaws. In the series, even when they aren't "perect", there are plenty of Strong, well build female chracters, either good or bad. Even Miho Nosaka, the charcter everybody complains about as beaing annoying, loud and overacting, she gained my heart and I starting liking her by the end of the series. Not only her: nearly all females in the first Yu-gi-oh comics shows to be this way. Another problem that most people don't see is all about the villains: most of them are just one dimention, mean spirited, plain bullies, either that or evil possed, crimnals. We barely see they reasons of point of view. I the season Zero, however, even when most are bullys, specially during the begining, they somehow maneged to devolup the villains but much better, sowing their reasons, stories, what motivates them, and even, in some cases, their redemption, which is fantastic.
The series also focuses mostly entire in their characters, their relationships, their devoluping, and how they grow as a person. Not thet the other series don't have that, specially in Japanese dub, but this is not the main focus as it should be. For me, again the siple the best, and when you have good characters and relationships, the rest follows through by their own. I'm not saying the characters in DM aren't good, but their are more "generic", cookie cut types as we see in most animes/mangas. In season Zero, they are a little diferente and unique. Not thet there aren't chacters like them in other fcitons, but rearely they are done this well. The most surprising aspect of this is is that only in recente years those aspects became relevants in modern fiction, specially in TV shows meant for kids:
As we can see, only NOW they are trying doing things season 0 already done several years ago. Ironically, that was probably the reason it didn't succeded back then: people back those days aren't ready for this kind of fiction. They expected more action, more stuff happening, epic battles, over the top reactions, and more of the products they were trying to sell (in Yu-gi-oh's case, oblvously the cards). When the little boys were watching this series, they were expecting seeing more duels on it. Since it happened very little, and they weren't the main focus of the story, so they were desapointed. Yugi was not the typical anime protagonista, and I probably know the reason why: this series is surprisely neutral gendered, compared to the Duel Monsters, which is clearly made for boys. So yugi representes somehow both males and females in terms of audience self indentifications. Man, even I remeber to indentified myself with him, and it's very rare for me indentifieng with amel characters. Even the balance of three guys/two chicks unlike the main group in the YGO DM three guys/one girls shows how they wanted this to be more neutral, so more avaliable for a wider audience. Even older audiences can watcing this better than younger, since I like it better and better each years goes by, while the other YGO seires and continuities, I always feel like "oh, I'm getting too old for this...". It is surprisely timeless and gets better and better over time. Even through the animation doen't age well, it's more unique, and "animasish" and a little more "cartoony". But it has its own style on it, compared to the other series which are more a "generic" anime style. And it's plot has some much potential, I'm so sad about how it all restriect to a card-game related franchise, each had so many possibilities.
I only hope someday in the near future, someone having the idea to bring back this series, remasteriese it and perhaps, who know!, even continues it. It would be so great. Until there, I have to content myself with the Yu-gi-oh theatrical movie next year. I hope at least this one, as having Kazuki Takashi as the producer, designer, writer and co-director, it will have more of the "season zero" on it.
'cause I'm sick of this card games series it became over the years!