Friday, September 30, 2016

Yu-Gi-Oh! Volumes 31-38

This is it. The final story arc. The World of Memory, AKA Millennium World. Our journey as readers, as critics, as fans, and for some of us, as duelists ourselves is coming to a close. As the readers journey ends, so does that of the characters. These are the final seven volumes of the manga. Today is the day the Pharaoh regains his memories.
The volume starts off with the story of how Solomon Moto got ahold of The Millennium Puzzle. In three-thousand years, the tombs of the Valley of the Kings have been pillaged for every treasure within. Save for one.  One of a pharaoh whom nobody knows the name of. Solomon's guides rushes in and trips a button which activates the traps in the opening maze. Solomon figures out that the statues don't attack you if you walk with your left foot forward. Despite this advice, one of them gets skewered, and the other one pulls out a gun and shoots Solomon in the shoulder. This causes the second challenge to dump the other guy down into a pit.  The Pharaoh's soul helps Solomon to safety, and he gets the Millennium Puzzle from the tomb.
In the present day, Yugi can't get any sleep after Battle City, and spends some time looking at the God Cards. Solomon notices that he's up, and Yugi lets slip a mention of his other self. Solomon reveals that he basically knew this from the beginning, since he met the Pharaoh once in the tomb. The fate of the one chosen to hold the pharaoh's soul is to be tested endlessly.
Yugi has a conversation with the Pharaoh about the doubts he's got about getting his memories back, but they both come to terms with what might happen. Then a thief breaks into Yugi's room and steals the god-cards. Yugi chases after him, but Yami Bakura stops the bandit in his tracks, and gives them back to Yugi. Yugi is naturally perplexed by this, but he accepts them. Yami Bakura then gives him Pegasus's Millennium Eye as a peace-offering. When it comes down to the very end, Yami Bakura will give Yugi the Millennium Ring, and help him solve the puzzle of memories.
He explains that when all seven items are placed in the Tablet of Memories the door to the afterlife. Yugi knows that he's supposed to escort the Pharaoh's soul to the afterlife, and Yami Bakura offhandedly mentions that if he opens the door he can get rid of Yami Bakura for good. Yugi takes the Eye and the next day meets the gang at school before going to the museum afterwards. There they meet Bobasa, one of the guardians of the Millennium Items. Before the go to the slab to see if it has any reaction to the God Cards, Téa buys a metal cartouche pendant for the Pharaoh, telling him to carve his real name into it once he remembers it.
Yami shows the cards to the slab, and the Millennium Puzzle glows before he disappears, leaving Yugi behind on the floor. Bobasa suspects that the Pharaoh's soul is traveling the maze of his own memories, searching for the truth, attempting to remember his fate.
Yami wakes up within the Pharaoh's palace, alongside many who appear similar to those he knew in his life as Yami Yugi, and some he never met at all. His vizier, Siamun Moran looks like Grandpa Solomon, Shada as Shadi, Seto as Kaiba, Akhenadan as Kaiba's father, Isis as Ishizu with a touch of Téa, Mahado as... Well he basically just looks like The Dark Magician and Bakura, lord of thieves. You can guess who he's similar to.
Back in the museum, Bobasa uses The Millennium key to lead the gang into the room of the Pharaoh's mind, all except for Bakura, whose soul weighs heavy on the Millennium Scales. Yami Bakura goes off to sulk and plan something new while the others go into Yami's mind to figure out where he's at.
Within his memories, Yami finds his court presiding over the trial of a graverobber who tried to steal treasure from the tomb of his father. Shada finds a dark spirit within the mans soul, and Akhenaden uses his eye to look inside to see the true form of the monster. Seto then seals the dark monster into a stone slab to be taken away to the repository with all the other monsters. The man is then sentenced to seven years of hard labor, and Seto asks Mahado why he's not been able to detect all of the evildoers who have been showing up lately. Mahado explains that the Millennium Ring has been screwing him around with its detection powers. There are too many people with monsters, good and evil alike for the ring to keep track of all of them. Even the Millennium Necklace can't keep track of all the possible futures. Speaking of which, Isis picks up a guy with powerful magic approaching the palace on her future-sight and that future comes true when Bakura, king of thieves shows up with the treasures looted from the tomb of Yami's father. Including the mummified pharaoh himself. Bakura demands that the High Priests and the Pharaoh hand over the Millennium Items, but naturally they refuse. Kalim tries to measure the mans evil, but it makes the scales go haywire. Isis sees a dark future ahead, and Akhenam sees nothing but hatred and darkness within Bakura's soul. Shada tries to bring out the spirit attached to the mans soul, but the sealing slab cannot contain it. Seto tries to seal it up anyways, but the monster breaks free. Seto summons a monster to the palace to fend it off, but Diabound phases through the floor and destroys the summoning tablet. While the priests do battle with Bakura, Yami boldly steps out onto the battlefield and shoves the bandit out of his way to reclaim the body of his father.
Seto grapples Diabound with Battle Ox long enough for Mahado's Magus of Illusion to cast Spellbinding Circle and keep the beast from leaving.
Yami hands his fathers body to Siamun and summons Obelisk The Tormentor to tank Diabound's attack and save the priests. He uses Obelisk to blast Diabound, and Bakura barely escapes with his life. Meanwhile, Yugi and the gang look around through Yami's soul-room trying to find the door that leads them to where they need to be. Bobasa tells Yugi that his task is to find the true name of the Pharaoh, which is the key Yami Bakura needs to figure out how to unseal the power of the dark god Zorc Necrophades.
Back inside the World of Memories, Akhenamkhanen is being re-buried, and Seto and Akhenadan discuss strategies to find where Bakura is. If the Pharaoh hadn't intervened, they would all have been killed, so Seto and Akhenadan decide to round up as many criminals as they can and torture them until their hatred matches that of the pure hatred Bakura seems to have. Then again, I doubt that they can match the level of hatred brought on by the murder of all of their friends, family, acquaintances, and just general people in their vicinity. Seto hopes to create a monster to surpass the trio of gods.
After the break-in, Yami stations a load of troops near his fathers tomb to prevent another incursion from Bakura. Yami and his priests begin training to become stronger duelists and better strategists. Seto manages to overwhelm his opponents with a show of strength from sacrificing his team-mates allies. The Pharaoh decides to teach him a lesson about how to win without exposing weaknesses. Seto summons Duos, but Yami pulls out none other than Kuriboh. Seto tries to destroy the slab straight off, but the shattered stones spawn thousands of the little creatures. They surround Duos and detonate, winning Yami the duel.
Siamun and Mahado inform the Pharaoh that there are more traps added to his fathers tomb. Mahado leads a crew hauling a slab to the tomb, but notices his apprentice Mana hiding in a pot near the walkway. He tasks Siamun with watching her while he's guarding the tomb during reconstruction. Bakura takes the bait, and Yami's men seal the tomb behind him so Mahado can take the thief on and try to kill him outright.
Mahado unleashes the full power of his Magus of Illusion against Bakura's evolved Diabound. Diabound almost obliterates him, but he tanks the hit, and casts one last spell, fusing his own spirit with the Magus of Illusion. Creating the one, the only Dark Magician. He almost wipes Bakura and Diabound away with a Black Magic attack, but the evil within the bandit is too strong, and the thief steals the Millennium Ring for himself.
Meanwhile, Yugi and the gang manage to find their way into the memories beyond the doors. They try to make their way to the palace, but are repelled because Yami is very protective of his home and doesn't even know they're there. They then witness Seto and Shada hunting through the city, stationing troops and looking for criminals. They also find a maiden of blue eyes and pale skin being mobbed upon by a gang of ruffians. Seto notices this and steps in to save her. Shada doesn't even attempt to look inside her soul, but the Millennium Key finds a white dragon with power like no other within.
Nefarious ideas cross Seto's mind, but rather than placing the girl in prison he sticks her in the palace where she can rest.
When Seto and Shada get done canvassing the city, the priests reunite at the palace to report their finding. They're unable to confirm if Bakura died, nor can they figure out where the Millennium Ring is.
Bakura slips through the guards and gets to an inn, hands over a gold bracelet and demands to be fed. A group of opportunistic thugs notice the gold ring hanging from Bakura's neck and seek to steal it from him. Naturally he just kills them.
Seto and Akhenadan begin their mad-science experiments on the prisoners, while Bakura sneaks his way back into the Pharaoh's territory. He uses the power of the ring to hide himself in plain sight on his way to the Shrine of Wedju to steal the Millenium Eye from Akhenadan. Bakura summons Diabound (Who looks more like a mutated Obelisk as time goes on), and crucifies Akhenadan on a stone slab. He then infuses a piece of his evil within the Millennium Eye and flees. Bakura steals a horse and blasts his way out of the palace to cover his tracks. The Pharaoh mounts up and rides out himself, summoning up Slifer to back himself up. The gang camped outside the palace sees Yami pursuing Bakura on horseback and follow. Yami tries to blast Diabound away with Slifer's lightening strike, but the unholy fiend phases through the ground and bursts up beside him. Unphased, the Pharaoh directs Slifer to blast it again, the force of the attack coursing through Bakura and his monster alike.
Bakura adopts a new strategy, using Diabound to destroy buildings and kill citizens to distract Slifer from attacking him. The Pharaoh uses Slifer as a shield to keep his subjects safe from the blasts. He takes a chance, and manages to be fast enough to sling Slifer around and blast Diabound before wrappings its tail around the monster and taking the battle further into the air. Diabound manages to slip out of the way of his next attack, and hits Slifer with a devastating blow, leaving the Sky Dragon charred and barely able to fly. The Pharaoh pretends to hand over his Millennium Puzzle so he can distract Bakura long enough for Slifer to attack him, but Diabound phases out from the rock around him and attempts to attack. Fortunately, the priests show up and Seto chops one of Diabound's arms off with Duos. Diabound retreats into the sky, but the Pharaoh uses Slifer as bait to lure its attack out, and Seto attacks the source of the Spiral Wave. Unfortunately, he finds another monster in its place. The Pharaoh doesn't have much power left after tanking that attack, but Yugi and the gang finally catch up to him, and Yugi uses his own power to summon Ra, the Sun Dragon. Light pierces the darkness and Diabound is revealed. Bakura tries to make it attack with its stolen Thunder Force attack, but Seto deflects it with a strike from Duos's sword. Ra blazes in flame, and burns Diabound to ash, killing Bakura. Naturally, this pisses off the Spirit of the Millennium Ring to no end, because this wasn't what was supposed to happen, especially for events to proceed as he intended, so he runs time back to undo the last several minutes of events.
The gang tries to get back to The Pharaoh, but Yami Bakura stands in their way and challenges them to a duel. Joey decides to take the lead, and their duel begins.
Practically dead and on the verge of passing out, The Pharaoh runs down Bakura on his horse in a last-ditch attempt to finish things off, but Bakura smashes the stone bridge upon which he stands, and steals the Millennium Puzzle from his neck, leaving The Pharaoh to fall into a pit.
Flash-back to fifteen years prior to this ordeal. A foreign incursion has beaten the Egyptian army and Pharaoh Akhenamkhanen is informed that they have seven days before the forces reach the palace and take over the country. They know all but for sure that their enemy wishes to take a book of untold power from their hands. The Millennium Tome. The power within can rival that of the gods themselves, and whoever gets their hands on it can basically do what they wish. After one-hundred years, the translation has finally been finished. The shadow alchemy within details the creation of seven treasures to harness mysterious powers. It'll take seven days to complete the construction, so Akhenamkhanen entrusts his brother Akhenaden with the task. Akhenaden leaves his son Seto behind as he and the court magicians set off for the village of Kul Elna, a village made of nothing but criminals. It takes human sacrifices to create the treasures, ninety-nine human lives to create the seven Millennium Items. A little boy named Bakura witnesses the slaughter of all ninety-nine people, and is naturally scared out of his wits and scarred for life by this.
The court magicians forge the items, and Akhenaden makes a wish upon his new Millennium Eye, that his son Seto could become Pharaoh someday.
With the enemy closing in, the court magicians, led by the Pharaoh himself summon seven incredible monsters to fend off the encroaching army. And succeed.
Back in the first flashback, Seto goes to check out his mad-science experiments in the torture-chambers beneath the palace. Within is a battle royale, ten men enter, one man leaves. The will to live fuels the power of the monster attached to their soul, and the two men in the battlefield now have been fighting for thirty-four hours. Akhenaden orders that the girl who possesses the spirit of the Blue-Eyes White Dragon (Whose name is Kisara) be placed in the field against Seto's wishes to test the limits of her power. The two prisoners attack her, but she doesn't summon up her dragon, so Seto intervenes and kills one of them. Unfortunately, his attack cuts the chains on the arena, and he's left at the mercy of the dude who controls a giant spider. The spider tries to eat the two of them, but the White Dragon emerges from the unconscious Kisara, annihilating the monster spider with a single blast, punching through both it and the ceiling above straight into the clouds. Seto hauls himself and the girl back up to the ledge, and his fathers main mad scientist speculates that the dragon inside Kisara's soul actually is her soul. Akhenaden and his minion try to convince Seto to sacrifice the girl so he can wield the power of the dragon against Diabound.
The Pharaoh wakes up inside a cave with a dude in a metal mask looming over him. The mysterious figure tells him that a great battle is approaching before disappearing. Eventually, Isis's spirit monster finds him, and he reunites with his court.
Seto spends some time wondering what the hell is wrong with his father. You see, his father is normally a kind man, showing mercy to even the most ruthless of criminals. Now, he's saying that he should sacrifice an innocent woman to further his own goals. Seto contemplates further, and then decides to have Kisara moved to a different room without telling his father.
Since Bakura kept going on about Kul Elna, about what the Pharaoh did to him and his village (Akhenaden didn't tell his brother what they did to make the Items, and didn't tell his nephew either) The Pharaoh leads the priests to the ruins. The ghosts there and the Millennium Ring tip Bakura off to their arrival, and he begins to prepare.
Cut back to the gang, who's wonder what the hell happened to them, where Yami Bakura went, and why it's now morning. Bobasa figures this means The Pharaoh must have been unconscious for all of this. The ghosts of the village kill and possess soldiers and priests alike. As the spirits attempt to kill The Pharaoh, Mahado's spirit vacates its tablet of its own free will and banishes the ghosts from this plane. Bakura throws still more at him, but each and every one is vanquished. Frustrated, the bandit summons his own spirit, Diabound. The monster fires a bolt of magic at Mahado, but he redirects the blast into a pillar, causing it to fall towards the Tablet of Memories. Diabound catches it with its tail, but that's enough to slow it down. Mahado then blasts the creature in the face with his magic.
Once more, I have to complain about the cover. What the hell is up with The Dark Magician's color-scheme? It looks like the colorist based it more on Arkana's Dark Magician than Yugi's. Then again, he didn't have teal skin so I don't know what's going on here. At this point the Dark Magician's color-scheme was well established within the second animated series, so why wasn't it revised to actually fit the way it's supposed to look? Hell, it doesn't even look like the one color illustration I could find that doesn't use this color-scheme on the covers. The color-scheme of the Dark Magician has changed so much over the years that it's downright strange. The original design was a lighter blue with white highlights, natural skintones and a purple staff. Then there's the well-known version with the purple robes, real skin and green staff. Then there's the version within the book itself, which is black-and-white, certainly, but also has darker tanned skin as opposed to the pale teal of the cover.
Bakura summons another creature and Diabound vanishes into the stone. Shada summons the two-headed Jackal Warrior to find Diabound and succeeds. Mahado attempts to attack, but Diabound is already on the attack. Shada tackles the Pharaoh to the ground, and tanks the attack with his Jackal Warrior.
The Pharaoh orders Mahado the blast holes into the ceiling, allowing sunlight into the room and revealing Diabound's location. Mahado blasts him with a thousand magic hits, almost winning, but Bakura calls on the spirits of the dead and powers up himself and his monster. Diabound flings Mahado across the room into a pillar. Shada tries to summon another monster, but Bakura's skeletal turtle blasts, and knocks him silly. The bandit takes the key from his body and sends a final blast at Mahado, but Mana flies into the fray to rescue her master. The rest of the priests arrive to back up The Pharaoh, and they gank Diabound, to no avail. Kalim uses his Millennium Scales to fuse Seto's Duos and his own Cursed Dragon to form the Drake Knight, and Mana recharges Mahado's magic with her own since she can't fight on her own just yet. Mahado uses this energy to double the power of the Drake Knight, but Diabound fires off two beams to counter the one from the Knight. Seto uses the Drake's sword to block the blast, and Kalim blasts through the ghost shield with another attack. Unfortunately, Bakura hits him with a blast from the turtle and stuns him long enough for the ghosts to bring him the Millennium Scales. Still, Mahado flies through the hole in the shield and hits Diabound with a concentrated burst of Black Magic. Bakura tries to put the Millennium Items he's gathered into the tablet, but he dies before he can do so. Akhenaden, possessed by the piece of Bakura's soul sealed within his Millennium Eye stops time, allowing him to gather the remaining Millennium Items. The only ones who can still move are Akhenaden, Yami Bakura, Joey, Bobasa, Tristan, Téa, and Yugi.
Back in the city, Yugi and the gang notice that time has stopped, about how the people look like... The figurines from Bakura's game back in Volume 7. Yugi looks straight up in the world and sees none other than his own Millennium Puzzle suspended in the sky. This is when the whole thing is revealed as none other than one massive Shadow Game, the ultimate Shadow RPG.
When Yami brandished the three God Cards in front of the slab, he found himself transported to a secret room within the museum. After all, Ryo Bakura's father owns the place, he knows it like the back of his own hand. The diorama the game is played within was made by Bakura himself, originally used as part of an old display, but created in anticipation of this final encounter. Bakura has stuck the unconcious bodies of Yugi, Joey, Téa and Tristan's unconscious bodies into sarcophagus's across the room.
Back within the game, Akhenaden places all seven items within the Tablet of Memories, and opens up the gate to free Zorc Necrophades. Akhenaden makes a deal with Zorc and becomes his high-priest.
Bobasa begins to glow, and transforms into Hasan, the spirit of the Tablet of Memories. Since Zorc has been freed once again, he decides now is definitely the time to lead the gang to the location of The Pharaoh's name. They fly to The Valley of the Kings (Because this is part dream part Shadow Game, there are rules that have to be enforced, but anything that isn't specified goes.) and check out his tomb.
Meanwhile, Bakura tries to use Zorc to blow away The Pharaoh and his priests. Yami tries to counter via roleplaying, but Zorc forces Akhenaden to finish the attack. Hasan intercepts the attack, and runs the clock out on the time-freeze.
Within the tomb, Yugi and the gang find all the traps frozen in time, and a Duel Monsters card from Yami Bakura's deck on the ground.
Zorc tries to kill The Pharaoh and his priests once again, but Mahado redirects the attack since time is flowing properly again.
The gang manage to escape the traps, and encounters Yami Bakura. Yugi duels with him so they can pass. Yugi tries out a new deck he's been working on, and through a combination of misdirection, brute force and perseverance manages to overwhelm the Spirit of the Millennium Ring. Yugi and the gang rush to the end of the tomb and find The Pharaoh's true name written in hieroglyphs. They can't read them, so the memorize them and leave as quickly as they can.
Angered by this, Bakura activates the last of Zorc's special powers, a natural disaster.
The Priests face-off with Zorc. Mahado's attack hits Zorc straight on, but Zorc kills Shada. Akhenaden and Seto square off, but the father bests the son, and Akhenaden summons an army of the dead to protect Zorc. Siamun retrieves the Millennium Key, and summons up Exodia to face off with the dark god.
Meanwhile, Akhenaden transports Seto back to the palace, and Seto rushes in to rescue Kisara. Disappointed in his son, Akhenaden hits Kisara with a bolt of magic.
Siamun uses Exodia to obliterate the entirety of Zorc's undead minions. He then attacks Zorc directly, but the dark god cuts The Forbidden One in half, killing Siamun in the process. Zorc blasts everyone else, almost to the point of death, but Yugi and the gang arrive just in time. Yugi summons his Dark Magician, who takes the form of Mahado and Joey summons his Red-Eyes Black Dragon. They both hit Zorc straight on, but their attacks don't phase him. Zorc fires off a blast that destroys the Red-Eyes and threatens to kill every last one of them, but Hasan tanks the blast himself, and his mask peels away to reveal that he's actually Shadi.
Unable to think of anything else to do, the gang decide to take the memory of The Pharaoh's name and try to burn it onto the cartouche pendent that was brought into this world alongside everything else from the modern world. Seeing the glyphs upon the cartouche, The Pharaoh remembers his true name. Atem.
Atem then summons Ra, Slifer and Obelisk to bear against the brunt of Zorc's attack. He then unites them into the creator god of light, Horakhty.
Horakhty annihilates Zorc with one blow. The gang leave the game, but the memories keep playing out. Despite having rescued Kisara, Seto's father killed her with one shot of evil magic. He places her body in front of a slab so he may preserve her soul. Akhenaden commits suicide, and does something to possess his son to attack Atem as he walks back from the scene of the battle. Possibly Bakura did something to the Millennium Rod with his power, or maybe Zorc sealed a bit of his soul withing the rod himself.
Anyways, the possessed Seto challenges Atem to a duel for the title of Pharaoh. Within Seto's mind, he struggles with the spirit of Zorc for control of his body, and Atem's words manage to keep Seto from attacking. The carving of the dragon vanishes from the slb, and Kisara's spirit appears within Seto's mind to banish the last vestiges of Zorc to the afterlife.
As Atem's memories end here, he asks that Seto take over the mantle of Pharaoh. He hands Seto the Millennium Puzzle as he fades away back to the present-day.
Back in the real-world, Bakura is unconcious, and Joey takes the Millennium Ring from the now-destroyed diorama.
A month later in modern-day Egypt, Yugi and the gang meet up with Marik and his family, who have pulled some strings for them so they can get into Atem's tomb in the Valley of the Kings. On the ship to the tomb, Marik informs them of the Rite of the Duel, something mentioned on the wall inside Atem's tomb. In order for Atem to travel to the afterlife, Yugi has to beat him in a duel. So, the two of them build their decks in preparation for their final duel. Nobody really wants to see this happen, but it's Yugi's duty to do so.
It basically goes like this. Yugi and Atem have to square off. Yugi wins, Atem gets to go to the afterlife and Yugi completes the journey he's been on since the beginning of the series. If Atem wins, he stays around.
They place the Millennium Items within the Tablet of Memories, and Yugi's shadow splits into two before Yugi himself splits into two.
Atem puts up a valiant fight, summoning Slifer and Obelisk, but he's unable to counter Yugi's strategy, and Yugi wins the duel. The door opens, and Atem marches to the afterlife. After he crosses the threshold, and the Tablet of Memories shatters, and the Millennium Items fall into the void.
The afterword says how this isn't a story of a great pharaoh, and to some extent I believe it. This has been a story about characters more than anything. The development of the main cast over the course of this series has been incredible. In fact, I'd argue that Yugi's development over the course of the series is one of the greatest character arcs in fiction. It's a long, slow development over the course of almost forty volumes, and it works out to a ridiculous extent in the end. Yugi went from timid, shrinking and shy to a confident duelist. The line between Atem and Yugi, which has been blurry at the best of times over the course of this amazing series becomes almost non-existent by the end. To the extent that I would say that Atem never really left, that there was never really any divide in the first place. The entire ending duel is symbolic of Yugi's coming of age, of him finally crossing the threshold into true self-confidence. I wouldn't go into psychotic break territory, but let's break this down from a character perspective. Seto Kaiba was basically the same as his ancient counterpart even without his Millennium Rod. Ryo Bakura was at-heart a good person with an evil spirit within him, while Atem never did anything that Yugi didn't want to. Atem basically did what Yugi didn't have the courage to do. He punished those who needed it, he took revenge on those who wronged the innocent. He did what a pharaoh does. He took command, he formed his court, and he waged war on his enemies.
Over the course of this series, the flair that defines the blurry line between Atem and Yugi became less and less confined to the Pharaoh. Aside from his hair, Yugi has a rather sedate, relaxed, raggedy appearance at the beginning of the series. At the end, he's got the same slick classy flair to him that Atem did when he took over. His suit is pressed, his hair is straight and jacket has that little cape-like flare-out towards the bottom. All he's missing are the ankhs on the wrists, two of the blonde spikes and the eye of Horus on his forehead. He was a world-class champion gamer before he finished the Millennium Puzzle, and all on his own, all he needed was the courage to use it in the big-leagues. Plus, since Atem and Yugi share a body and memories, Yugi has all of the memories Atem regained when he finished the Shadow RPG. I think I've made it perfectly clear that I don't think Atem ever left, I think he and Yugi became one entity. Not necessarily with the same crazy powers as before, but considering Kaiba was able to create real monsters and drive people insane without once touching a Millennium Item, the ancient powers aren't exactly necessary anymore.
One criticism I have for this arc, or rather the translation of it is the gratuitous use of Egyptian words in place of the English ones that have sufficed so far. It makes the translation seem a bit more roughshod than it should. Speaking of translation, every now and again there's a word missing, or the numerous times Maximilian J. Pegasus is referred to as Pegasus J. Crawford for some reason. How does this work? Why is the localization editor not able to keep this stuff straight? This is the eighth edition reprint for gods sake, they had a good nine+ years and eight+ opportunities to fix this. These should have been fixed at any of those opportunities. I have to say, if they bring the bunkoban edition to the states and they have all the same errors I will be very disappoint.
Then there's the cover. I'm not entirely certain where the art on this cover came from, but it's similar to that of the Tankoban covers from Japan. A painted art-style that clashes entirely with the style of the comic. Not to say that it's entirely bad (God knows I'm no fan of Alex Ross) but it would fit more as a standalone painting than as the cover to this final volume.
All in all, having read through this series for a third time while writing these reviews, it holds up incredibly well. The artwork is perfect from panel to panel. The writing is incredible, and aside from a couple of rough chapters towards the beginning of the series, it flows incredibly well. The placement of mini-arcs within the TPB's can be a bit questionable, especially in the Duelist Kingdom and Battle City arcs, but that's almost entirely rectified come the World of Memory arc. Cliffhangers are placed perfectly, almost ridiculously so.
Overall, all in all, I had so much fun reading this series. It made me laugh, cheer, and cry. Sometimes within the same volume. Sometimes even within the same chapter. I was afraid upon my second and even my third re-readings that I would notice something that would make the whole series fall apart, something that would make me hate it, but I just loved it more. After reading some horrible Marvel and DC comics in the last decade, it's nice to have a comic that not only holds up over time, but could take on anything from either one of them right now (Even DC, and DC has been great lately) and win. Not just win, but dominate. Compare the art in these thirty-eight volumes to anything Marvel has put out lately. They lose hands down. There's more texture, more depth, more personality, more expression, more character and more tone to it than almost every comics I've read from the Big Two (DC mainly in New52 era) in the last ten years. And this series is entirely devoid of color!

In the end, I give Yu-Gi-Oh! 10.1*. Happy birthday to one of my favorite series of all time, and to one of the greatest. This has been a hell of a month for me, both online and off. I know I'm about an hour and a half too late for this to actually be within the month of September, but it's still September 30th in some places in the world and I've never been one to give up in the long-run.
Next year we'll be delving much further into the franchise, and actually looking further into the history of the series. Hopefully I'll have less stuff on my plate next year and will be able to get all of the content for the second History of Yu-Gi-Oh! written and scheduled before September. If you want to try and ensure that will happen that way, please donate to my Patreon. I'd like to make this my full-time job if I can, and it would mean that I could get more work done with less stress.