Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Yu-Gi-Oh! Volumes 7-12

As I mentioned in the previous article, this volume was my introduction to the Yu-Gi-Oh! comics. As far as an introduction to the series goes, this isn't half bad. It's all killer, and nothing even remotely resembling filler. Even by the high standards of filler in this series.
I won't be recapping the previous volumes of the series mostly to save time, so if you haven't read the last one, just scroll down a bit. Maybe click "Older Posts" if you have to.
The gang makes their way to Zorc's castle, but they find someone lying across their path. The young man tells them that bandits stole his treasure, a sword that can defeat Zorc. They tell him to take them into the forest, and run into a gaggle of powerful monsters.
Joey's character trips and falls, but Yugi tames a monster, Tristan kills another, and Téa nukes the rest with her characters magic.
The young man reveals himself to in fact be Zorc, and uses this surprise to take the first action. He uses this to steal Téa's soul and seal it inside the miniature of her character. Joey attempts to retaliate, but he fumbles and his soul is sealed inside his figure. Tristan tries to attack, but his character fails a courage test and loses the initiative. Bakura rolls a critical and Zorc steals his soul.
The only player left is Yugi, who now has to control everyone. Bakura challenges him to roll for his character, but Yugi tells him to seal his soul inside his characters miniature. Bakura is perplexed, but complies. He's about to claim his prize from Yugi, but instead of falling to the table, Yugi is sitting up straight. Confident. Dice between his fingers, a smirk on his face. Yami rolls the dice and makes Tristan attack Zorc, blowing off the dark lords hand. More monsters spawn from the severed hand, and Zorc retires to his castle, laughing. Joey cuts one monster in half, and Yugi tames the other.
Yami reveals that he knows how Bakura has been getting constant criticals, by spinning the dice on an axis that increases the chance of rolling a critical and tapping the table with his knee to direct the spinning die into another one with an undesirable result. The two agree to stop cheating the dice, and continue on with the game.
The party finds their way into Zorc's castle and fall prey to a trap. Yami solves it, but the trap and Zorc both manage to damage the party. Zorc attacks the tower they were trapped in, but the party managed to run out around behind him and attack. They pour everything into him, but they can't win. Bakura then takes a set of dice and seals a bit of his soul into them to control their results. He uses this to roll a crit in an attempt to wipe them out, but the math leaves them all with one HP left.
Bakura attempts to discern what happened and finds that his left hand has been working all on its own. The actual Ryo Bakura has been controlling this hand, and used this control to keep Zorc from killing the party.
Then Joey gouges out Zorc's eye, and we find that Yami Bakura apparently tied his soul a bit too closely to his in-game avatar. When the players manage to damage Zorc, it reduces Yami Bakura's control over his host-body.
A new round starts, and Téa tries to heal the party, but Zorc's initiative is tied with hers. They have to roll-off to see who goes first. Yami Bakura almost wins, but the dice fall against his favor, giving Téa the opportunity to max out the party's HP.
Yami Bakura finds that the dice he threw were regular dice, and when Zorc goes to attack, his left hand tosses out the brainwashed ones, causing Zorc to fumble and damage himself. Yami Bakura then impales his hosts hand on one of the towers spikes so he can stop it from sabotaging his plans.
This tips the gang off to the fact that this ain't Bakura, but in fact something possessing Bakura.
Yami and Yugi decide to try and use the beast-taming on Zorc and see what happens. Yugi's Beast-Tamer hand pulls the actual spirit of Bakura out of Zorc's stump.
Bakura uses his powers to weaken Zorc enough for Tristan to blast a hole in his side. Zorc then launches his final attack, but Bakura manages to block it with a magic-shield long enough to save the party.
One of Yugi's tamed monsters keeps Zorc's weak-point open long enough for Yugi to bust through it with his magic hand. Joey takes this chance to cut Zorc in half, but the dark lord still lives. It all comes down to one roll, the initiative.
Yami Bakura and Yami Yugi roll off, and they score the same, but Ryo Bakura uses the part of his soul sealed in the dice to shatter them. This gives Yami Yugi the chance to order Téa to blast Zork with all she's got. This cinches the victory for them, and Yami Bakura slumps to the desk. Yami Yugi then uses Cleric-Bakura's powers to transfer his soul back into his own body, and everyone Yami Bakura had sealed in his miniatures is freed.
If you don't know anything about the series, you pretty much have no idea how important this volume is to the overarching story. Everything used in this volume (And in the chapters from the last volume that started this arc) is used by Yami Bakura later on in the series. This is how you introduce your main villain. Hell, this is how you write a main villain. You make him the heroes problem, but you also give a decent climax to their first encounter. You keep bringing him back so he's actually doing things in the story, but prevent the heroes from having any permanent method of killing or defeating him. Make him out to be a threat, but keep his goals mysterious. Then, at the very end, pay off his plans and explore his goals without merely dumping it all upon the heroes and readers at once.
The only thing I can really complain about in this volume is once again, the placement of the chapters. The first two chapters of the arc really should have been moved from the end of the last volume to the start of this one to maximize the impact of the arc.
Volume eight brings back the Duel Monsters card game as the international subtitle of "Duelist" would suggest.
A package arrives for Yugi, but he doesn't open it for a while because he's thinking about how he wants to try and go head to head with Kaiba in a tournament.
Speaking of tournaments though, Yugi and the gang have been following the Japanese Duel Monsters championship tournament. It comes down to Weevil Underwood and Rex Raptor. Raptor whips out some powerful dinosaurs, but Weevil uses some clever maneuvering to power up his insects and win the match.
Maximilian J. Pegasus, the president of Industrial Illusions and the creator of Duel Monsters presents Weevil the trophy. He also announces the world Duel Monsters championship at Duelist Kingdom.
Yugi opens the package and finds within a glove, two star-shaped chips and an 8mm VHS tape. (God I feel old now) Yugi finds a recording or Pegasus on the tape, and it challenges him to a game of Duel Monsters. The tape predicts the cards Yugi is going to use, and Yugi begins to suspect that this might be a Shadow Game.
Yugi picks a card, and realizes that he didn't even think when he did it. He places the card face-down and asks the others there what the card was. Most of them guess correctly, as does Pegasus. From this,Yugi guesses that Pegasus was actually inserting frames into the video to influence what Yugi would play. Yugi reveals his card was in fact The Dark Magician, and destroys Pegasus's monster. Pegasus reveals that he knew this as well and starts a countdown timer to finish the duel. Yugi almost finishes the duel, but the timer runs out. In order to coerce Yugi into coming to Duelist Kingdom, Pegasus traps Solomon's soul in the VHS tape, and reveals that he holds another Millennium Item, The Millennium Eye.
The next day at school, Bakura sees the gang being all glum and wonders what's going on. He then sees Solomon trapped in the cam-corder, and they start talking about Pegasus's Millennium item. Bakura mentions that his Millennium Ring came from an antique shop in Egypt, and they figure Pegasus might know more about the items.
On his way home, Yugi finds an envelope stuck on the door to the game-store. Within he finds Duel Monsters cards, one with a date and time on it, one with a location, one with the rules, a blank card, and a card with treasure on it.
A mysterious tape comes for Joey, but it's a message from his little sister, Serenity. When his parents divorced, his mother took his sister and his father took him. Serenity is going blind, and has been moving in that direction her whole life. Neither Joey nor anyone in his family has the money to afford the surgery that would fix her vision, but Yugi gives Joey the treasure card and one of his two star-chips. That way they can both enter, and Joey can try to get the prize-money.
They spend the next week training to be better duelists, and come time to set sail, they board. There, they find Weevil Underwood and Rex Raptor boarding the ship as well. They also run into Mai  Valentine.
On the ship, Yugi has a conversation with Weevil about the tournament, and about rumors that the second edition of Duel Monsters rules will be unveiled during this tournament. Later on they start discussing card strategies, and Weevil mentions that he's heard rumors Yugi used Exodia to defeat Kaiba. He then asks to see the cards, and tosses them off the side of the boat. Joey leaps off the side of the boat to get the cards, but he only finds two of them. Yugi becomes so angry that he transforms, and declares that Weevil will be his first target.
At Duelist Kingdom, Pegasus introduces the rules of the tournament. Take your star-chips, bet them on the outcome of a duel with your opponent and whoever wins gets the chips. Get ten star-chips, you enter the finals of the tournament to see who gets to take on Pegasus. After two days, whoever doesn't have ten chips gets eliminated and sent home. If you lose all your star-chips before then, you also get sent home. After the tournament starts, Yugi and the gang run into Weevil. Weevil lures them to a dueling box in the woods. Yugi stakes his life and his star-chip against Weevil's two so he can knock him out of the tournament early.
Here we learn about the new additions to the game, field-power bonuses. That's why Pegasus held the tournament on the island, because it's got a varied selection of biomes and landscapes.
Weevil manages to get the upper-hand for a while until Yugi baits him into activating his Mirror Force Trap-card, and destroys all of his own monsters. Weevil then plays his trump card, a cocoon that will transform into the ultimate great moth, but Yugi burns away the field with Burning Land. This removes the defense bonus it gets, destroying the cocoon. However, the monster within hatches prematurely, and begins to attack. Yugi then uses Polymerization to combine Curse of Dragon and Gaia: The Fierce Knight into Gaia: The Dragon Champion. However, the moth has a poison effect that will reduce a monsters attack points over time. Yugi uses Magic Mist to negate the effect, but the moth still blows Gaia away. Meanwhile, Yugi calls on The Summoned Skull to electrocute the great moth, and defeats Weevil. Yugi takes his star-chips and gives Joey Weevil's glove.
Joey gets challenged by Mai, and they both bet a single star-chip on the duel. Mai feigns being psychic to psyche out her opponents, which honestly isn't that much of a stretch in this series.
The decision to divide the series into three (Yu-Gi-Oh!DuelistMillennium World) for the international market is one I do not approve of. There's literally no reason for it. It's not like the second animated series was known as Yu-Gi-Oh! Duelist outside of Japan. We're not looking at a Dragon Ball Z case where the comics were one ongoing thing and the animated series got split into two accidentally in planning, and then the second got insanely popular outside Japan. The first series wasn't all that popular inside Japan for gods sake.
Joey is distracted by Mai's sleight of hand, enough for her to knock out a good chunk of his life-points. Yugi gives Joey a tiny hint, and while he despairs for a bit over the meaning of it, he smells the perfume on Mai's cards. This helps him concentrate, and he gets his strategy together to beat Mai with Baby Dragon and Time Wizard. Time Wizard throws the clock forward, aging the harpies to weakness and the dragon to strength. He uses the dragon to blow the harpies away and with the duel.
In the next chapter, the gang runs into Mako Tsunami, who shares some of his fish with them. Then he challenges Yugi to a duel. Mako's side of the field is ocean, Yugi's is land. Mako uses the water to hide his monsters until they attack. Yugi tries to electrify the water, but Mako uses his Jellyfish monster to soak it all up. Yugi tries to counter, but Mako floods the entire field with water, leaving two small islands. Yugi plays his Stone Soldier, and uses it to destroy the moon he used to amplify his wolf earlier in the game. This screws with the tides, giving Yugi back his half of the field. He then summons Curse of Dragon and uses Burning Land to vaporize the rest of the water, and beats Mako.
Next chapter, we find that some kid has been stealing star-chips and cards from other duelists. Pegasus's men inform him of the situation and we find out that the thief was a prisoner of Pegasus.
The kid then ambushes Yugi and bets him five star chips. Yugi beats him down to the wire, killing each and every one of his monsters. The kid tries to flee with all the sta-chips, but Yugi grabs his hand and yanks the bandanna off his face. Revealing the kid to be none other than Mokuba Kaiba. Mokuba reveals that Pegasus is trying to take over the Kaiba Corporation with help from The Big Five. Pegasus gets their support if he can beat the guy who put the CEO in a coma. Yugi and the gang convince Mokuba that Yugi can beat Pegasus and he's about to give him his star-chips back when The Hair Guy shows up to try and bust them for cheating. Yugi challenges him to a duel so he can get his star-chips back, but Hair Guy redirects him to a puppet-master who's working a Kaiba marionette. And using Kaiba's deck. Yugi beats one of his monsters, but the puppet-master pulls out one of Kaiba's Blue-Eyes White Dragons. He uses this to annihilate Yugi's Curse of Dragon and halve his life-points. Yugi uses his Magical Hats to conceal his Dark Magician, and his Spellbinding Circle. He uses the trap to seal up the Blue-Eyes and decrease its' attack points to where the Dark Magician can destroy it. Then the ventriloquist plays the second Blue-Eyes and attempts to attack Yugi, but at that moment Seto Kaiba finishes rebuilding the puzzle of his soul and wakes up. This causes the second Blue-Eyes to stop obeying the puppet-master and self-destruct. This gives Yugi enough time to formulate a strategy. Yugi baits the ventriloquist into attacking and activating his trap-card Mirror Force, but he chains another trap card Negate Trap. After that, Yugi uses Monster Reborn to bring back one of Kaiba's Blue-Eyes White Dragons, and uses the power of The Mystical Elf to boost his Blue-Eyes' attack to take out the last one on the puppet-masters side, and reduce his life-points to zero. Yugi then imposes a penalty-game on the ventriloquist where his puppets are his masters instead of the other way around.
Meanwhile, what does Seto Kaiba do? He gets his briefcase with his gear and flies himself off to Pegasus's island. Muscles atrophied? Bones weak from disuse? Screw it. His little brother has been kidnapped and his business partner is trying to screw him out of his life's work. Seto Kaiba's got things to do, and health issues ain't gonna stop him.
Mai tricks Rex into fighting for her, and she makes him fight Joey.
Joey draws Baby Dragon and Time Wizard right off the bat, but Rex smashes the Baby Dragon as soon as it's played. Joey keeps trying to use the field to his advantage, but Rex just powers his monsters up and keeps blasting him. Yugi tries to give him advice, but Yami councils against it. Joey finally pulls out The Flame Swordsman and starts cutting up Raptor's dinosaurs.
I like the diversity of content within this volume. There's the payoff to the cliffhanger the previous volume ended on, the encounter with Mako, the run-in with Mokuba, the duel against the ventriloquist, the return of Kaiba, and the start of Joey's showdown with Rex. It doesn't linger on any one thing for too long, while also giving each idea enough breathing room to be explored or set up something for later, as well as advancing the plot forward with each successive chapter.
Joey keeps up his offense until Rex finally draws one of the other iconic cards in the series, The Red-Eyes Black Dragon. Breaking with tradition, it's actually got red eyes and a black body, unlike the Blue-Eyes White Dragon. With that blue body and white eyes.
Rex uses the Red-Eyes to kill the Flame Swordsman. He then challenges Joey to up the ante and bet his Time Wizard against his Red-Eyes. In-universe it's worth a few hundred thousand yen (A few thousand USD) so naturally Joey accepts. Joey activates the Time Wizards Time Roulette, and it ages the Red-Eyes to death, leaving Joey's one remaining monster to wipe out Rex's remaining life-points. Joey gets the Red-Eyes and Rex's star-chips.
Apparently Pegasus didn't provide the duelists with housing and food, so the gang has to borrow stuff from Mai, and in exchange Bakura prepares dinner.
Mai gets Téa to talk to Yugi. While the two of them are talking, Mai is ambushed by one of the player-killers, PaniK. He out-duels her and tries to take all her star-chips, but Yugi shows up and challenges him. PaniK threatens to choke him out if he loses or tries to run, but naturally Yugi's got some Millennium Magic up his sleeve in the event that he wins.
PaniK plays the Castle of Dark Illusion to conceal his monsters. Yugi sets up his defenses, and then decides to attack to see if his Winged Dragon's attack can illuminate the darkness with its flames, and it can. Yugi uses this information to set up his plan, and his defense to psych PaniK out. PaniK tries to use his Reaper of Cards to destroy Yugi's trump card, but Yugi triggers Spellbinding Circle and freezes it. This lets him use Swords of Revealing Light to negate the Castle Of Dark Illusions effect, but PakiK plays Yellow Luster Shield to boost his monsters defense.
Yugi fuses Gaia: The Fierce Night with Curse of Dragon to make Gaia: The Dragon Champion, and launches them towards The Castle of Dark Illusion with Catapult Turtle. This causes the castles flotation right to be destroyed, and when The Swords of Revealing Light are gone, the castle falls and destroys all of PaniK's monsters.
Pegasus's goons try to assassinate Kaiba, but he tosses them out of the helicopter and flies it to Duelist Kingdom.
Meanwhile, Bakura's Millennium Ring has started glowing, and one of the needles has started pointing towards the castle. Then Kaiba shows up in his helicopter. Yugi gives him his deck back, and Joey challenges him to a duel for what he did to them at Death-T. Kaiba accepts, and uses that duel to test out his Duel-Disk prototype.  He beats Joey and heads off to Pegasus's castle to rescue his brother and probably attempt to kill Pegasus.
This volume features gameplay mechanics that appear to have been an attempt to turn Duel Monsters into a tactical RPG. I don't have any real problem with that, but it's a shame we never saw any of those mechanics in the real-life version of the game. It'd add a lot more cool strategy.
A trio of duelists abduct Joey. They work for the former United States Champion, "Bandit" Keith Howard, and force him to duel one of them, a creepy kid named Bonz.
Yugi takes out a bunch of Bonz's monsters, but he brings them back with Call of The Haunted, which makes the zombies. Since they're in an underground tomb, zombies all get a field-power bonus. Joey tries to take down the zombies, but they keep coming back with more power. Joey manages to pull out the Time Wizard, but it hits a skull on Time Roulette and destroys itself and Joey's Flame Swordsman. Joey manages to keep defending, but Bonz pulls out monster after monster to boost up his offense. Meanwhile, Yugi uses The Millennium Puzzle to find Joey again, and the gang tracks them through the cave.
Joey finally gets his Red-Eyes out, and wipes out the Pumpking Bonz was using to power up his monsters. And since it was played as undead, Call of the Haunted couldn't bring it back. However, the Dragon Zombie manages to wipe out the Red-Eyes and knock Joey down below 200 Life Points. Fortunately, Joey manages to draw Sword and Shield, which lets him wipe out Bonz's life points with one attack from his last monster.
Yugi and the gang find Joey, but Keith and his goons blockade them inside the cave. So they have to follow Bakura's Millennium Ring to try and get out. Keith then beats up his henchmen and take their star-chips so he can get into Pegasus's castle.
The gang winds up in a maze, at the end of which they find The Paradox Brothers, who challenge Yugi and Joey to a tag-duel. A tag-duel that becomes a labyrinth tag-duel. The rules are as follows; Attack-mode monsters can advance spaces in the labyrinth based on their level.
Yugi plays Beaver Warrior and advances into the Labyrinth, but Para merges Shadow Ghoul with the labyrinth and kills it. The brothers bolster their defenses with trap-doors and a tank, but Yugi and Joey slay the wall-shadow, allowing them to proceed mostly unhindered. At least until Para readjusts the labyrinth and cuts Yugi's monsters off from Joey's. Joey then springs the trap-door monster, and one of his creatures gets eaten by a spider. Yugi then shuffles the monsters around with Magical Boxes, killing the spider and allowing The Dark Magician to blast the tank away.
Para and Dox begin to assemble The Gate Guardian, while Dox plays a Dungeon Worm to weed out the rest of the monsters. So Yugi plays Magical Hats to protect The Dark Magician and The Flame Swordsman. After the first attack, Joey uses The Flame Swordsman to incinerate the Dungeon Worm. Dox then manages to find the last card to summon The Gate Guardian. The Guardian tries to attack The Flame Swordsman, but Yugi activates Mirror Force, and uses it to kill one of the brothers monsters. They also find out that the Gate Guardian can defend itself with the various powers it's got. It then floods the labyrinth, killing The Flame Swordsman. This gives Yugi the opportunity to pull out the Summoned Skull, and use that to electrify the water. This, combined with the Spellbinding Circle, allows him to kill one of the component monsters. While Para manages to dispel the Circle, but Joey pulls out the Red-Eyes Black Dragon and Yugi fuses it with the Summoned Skull, creating the Black Skull Dragon.
Reading through the volumes of this arc, you can tell Takahashi wanted to write more than just a simple card-game. I don't blame him, it makes the chapters more interesting to have all of this placement strategy and random chance included in the game. If Yu-Gi-Oh! were actually played like this it would probably be a more interesting game. I for one would love to be able to play gimmick duels like the ones sometimes featured in the series.
Yugi marches his Dark Magician through the maze to the exit and uses Shift to send the Black Skull Dragon to the end of the maze, they blast away what's left of The Gate Guardian with it, win the duel, and get the star-chips they need to enter Pegasus's castle. Yugi then outsmarts the brothers key puzzle and they leave the room.
Meanwhile, Pegasus tells Kaiba that if he wants his brother back he has to beat Yugi. He gives Kaiba five star-chips, and tells him to bet them against Yugi. Kaiba confronts Yugi on the steps leading to Pegasus's castle.
Kaiba challenges him to a duel with the new duel-discs, and Yugi accepts. During the duel, Kaiba reveals the purpose of the Duel Discs. To interfere with and weaken Pegasus's psychic powers.
Kaiba uses the Crush Card Virus to weaken Yugi's deck, and gives him time to summon all three of his Blue-Eyes and use Polymerization to create The Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon!
Yugi uses Kuriboh and Multiply as a shield. Yugi then uses Living Arrow to target the Ultimate Dragon with a polymerization of his own, and fuses it with Mammoth Graveyard. The incompatible monsters begin rotting each other from the inside out. Yugi then starts cutting off its heads with The Celtic Guardian.
Despairing over the idea of not being able to save his brother, Kaiba threatens to walk off the side of the castle. Yami is about to call his bluff, but Yugi doesn't want to take the risk, and the two of them clash, eventually leaving Yugi weakened, unable and unwilling to order his monsters to attack. Leaving him open to Kaiba's attack.
At the time these chapters were published, the idea of a fusion-monster was clearly very new. I get the core idea behind most of the fusions so-far, combine elements of the two monsters and give it a power boost or drain depending on their compatibility. The idea of being able to take any monster and combine it with anything else is great. It'd be a lot of fun to just screw around with different combinations and see what works. However, that ain't how it works in real life. You've got to have very specific fusion-cards in order for them to be playable. Which kind of ruins the mechanics of fusion-monsters as they're laid down in the series in the first place. I'll get into that a bit more when I finally cover the card-game.

Alright, we've hit close to the 1/3 mark, but we've still got twenty-six volumes to go! Tune in this Sunday for the next part in this series!
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