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How does a kid's show centered around a trading card game build a long-lasting following as well as become the source material for one of the most successful internet parodies of all time (Yu-Gi-Oh: The Abridged Series)? Well, in the case of Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters it's pretty much impossible to give it a straightforward answer. However, that's also what makes exploring it so much fun. And, well, this is exactly what this little review series is about.
However, before we get on with the actual exploration, let's use this first entry to break down what makes this show such a fascinating entity to review and why the classic review format needs a bit of tuning in order to tackle it properly.
A Functioning Contradiction
You see, what we have here is essentially a glorious Frankestein monster made of a wide variety of highly contradictive elements that somehow end up coming together rather brilliantly. A show that is both ridiculously cheesy, yet unexpectedly endearing, clearly made for kids, yet full of dark themes and based on a pretty twisted source material. Its cast of characters—while little more than a bunch of stereotypes most of the time—are undeniably memorable and do have some genuienly great arcs.
Then there's also its rich and imaginative lore that, which on the one hand, seems to have been made up as the writers went along, yet is also clearly produced with an epic conclusion in mind. In fact, considering that it's all created (at least partially) to sell a trading card game, the Ancient Egyptian themed lore of this series—along with its many often random but highly entertaining subplots—rivals that of any of the biggest fantasy franchises out there in terms of layers and imagination.
The net result? A product that can be both loved as well as lovingly ridiculed. However, as said above, one that also offers us so much to explore, celebrate and have fun with. In other words, it's a widely inconsistent but eqaully fascinating pool of animated discovery. That, in turn, means that reviewing it does require a bit of a different approach from the classic format.
So, what exactly can one expect from this review series?
Now, the reason it's called an "Over-Analysis" of the show is simple. While originally concieved as a series of classic episode-by-episode reviews, where I simply offer my thoughts on the episode in question, it quickly became clear that in order to do that aforementioned wide spectrum of elements justice, one needs to apply a few modify spell cards and enhance the classic review format a tiny bit.
Therefore, while the meat of the series will of course be normal reviews, as we go over everything from the story, themes, and emotions to the more tehnical aspects (like the quailty of storytelling or animation for example), each entry will also be accompanied by these little trivia pools. For example, there are always going to be sections dedicated to interesting facts about the cards used during the episode, differences between the Japanese and the English version, a scoreboard counting down and keeping track of the show's recurring tropes or a favourite quote from the respective Abrgided Series parody episode. Of coruse, this is by no means a conclusive list (who knows what the show might throw at us).
Also, more on the subject of the brilliant Abrgided Series by Little Kuriboh, it will also be used here to borrow its structure in terms of how many episodes will be explored per entry (as it can vary depending on where the story is). So, with the Abrgided Series providing a fun little companion-piece to the show itself, this is hopefully also what this series can humbly aspire to as well.
But enough of that since—much like the characters in the show—I've already been babbling about it for way too long when I should simply be getting on with the main thing. So, let's do just that. It's time to D-D-D Duel!