Hello, everybody! This is a new segment in which I look at movies, anime, video games, whatever, And over-analyze and nitpick the shit out of them, because I’m a douchebag. In this review, I am taking on the one, the only, Yu-Gi-Oh Arc-V.
Back when Yu-Gi-Oh ZeXal was airing, many Yu-Gi-Oh “purists” had been decrying ZeXal, for many things, weak writing, weak protagonist, weak duels, weak female characters (okay, that last one is kind of justified, but still), and generally comparing it to other entries in the franchise, such as 5D’s, saying that “Yu-Gi-Oh was dead”, “They’re milking the franchise at this point”, etc. And first impressions of Arc-V were no better, seeing as how the first few PVs didn’t exactly inspire hope in the franchise.
However, that all changed when the show actually aired. The show was praised its realistic characters, Yuya and Yuzu in particular, introducing us to the plot as early as possible via characters like Yuto and Shun, and even the duels and duel mechanics were praised for not focusing on only one type of Summoning Mechanic, which is what spinoffs such as 5D’s and Zexal were guilty of doing.
Yuya was a protagonist with massive self-doubt issues, constantly doubting himself, and having to be picked up and shaped by people around him, wanting to realize his dream to be and Entertainment Duelist. Likewise, Yuzu wants to be a more serious duelist
Then on, as the first arc progressed, it showed off the side characters, like Gongenzaka, Sawatari, Dennis, Yuzu, Masumi, the latter two who were praised for being strong female duelists, that were written well, which was a common criticism of Zexal’s writing in particular, which were mostly leveled at the fact that they were mostly used as props who had crushes on main characters.
Now, before people go off on me, calling me an “SJW”, and the like, I’m just saying, these are the things that have been brought to attention by the public, and for good reason, too. Yu-Gi-Oh is a popular IP with a prominent female fanbase, and seeing strong female characters were a breath of fresh air to them, seeing as how both Masumi and Yuzu had their own goals apart from Yuya and other male characters.
Then came the Junior Youth championship arc, which shed some light on the overall plot of the show, which was that there were 4 dimensions in total, and the Fusion Dimension, which contained Duel Academy (a reference to Yu-Gi-Oh GX, the second series in the franchise), and they invaded Xyz Dimension, completely leveling Heartland, and shaking it to the very core. Yuya had been given a Superpowered Evil Mode, known at the time as Berserk Mode, and had been shown to have 3 other Counterparts in the respective dimensions, Yuto, Yugo, and Yuri. As similar, Yuzu also had the same Dimensional Counterparts, similar to Yuya.
When Yuzu disappears at the end of the first arc, the major players remaining from the JYC gather to take down the head behind this nefarious plot, Leo Akaba, Reiji Akaba (The Seto Kaiba of this series)’s father. The way that the series was unfolding, and the praise that it was getting, it seemed that Yu-Gi-Oh’s anime was about to make a big comeback in a big way.
THE DARK SIDE OF ANNIVERSARIES
At 2015’s Comic-Con, it was announced that, to celebrate Yu-Gi-Oh’s 20th anniversary (of the manga, not the anime, hence why BBT is kind of a mess to explain content-wise), they would be making a movie based on the ending of the original manga.
Well, we all know the WONDERFUL art and animation we got the last time a Yu-Gi-Oh Movie was commissioned when the series was going on, right?
Now, keep in mind, around this exact same time, the Yu-Gi-Oh Arc-V team announced that several past characters would be returning for Arc-V, Jack and Crow.
Now, one would think, in order to celebrate the MANGA’s anniversary, and give a definitive closing to the MANGA’s story, a movie would be enough, but the ANIME wants to celebrate the MANGA’s anniversary, by putting characters from the ANIME into their ANIME. Okay.
“But AAAAAAAAAAAAAAze, the GX, 5D’s, and ZEXAL continuities all had mangas! You should stop talking out of your ass, and enjoy the series for what it is!”
While it is true that those 3 DID have mangas, all 3 of them weren’t written by Kazuki Takahashi, and had radically different stories than their anime counterparts. Also, while Takahashi mainly SUPERVISED the spinoff manga, he never did any artwork on those series, so your point is kind of moot.
Anyway, back to the real problem! LEGACY CHARACTERS. Legacy Characters, in my opinion, are pretty hit or miss. In shows like JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, in particular Parts 2 & 3, Legacy Characters are used for the purpose of the plot, and advancing it. Hell, even the Big Bad of Part 3 is a Legacy Character! Now, granted, most of the Legacies don’t get a lot of screentime in that show, and when they do, they’re significantly nerfed, as not to take away from the main characters of that Part.
Arc-V… it takes a different approach.
When showing off its Legacy Characters in the Synchro Dimension, at some point, the people writing this, well, the people writing this probably thought, “Wow, the characters we have now are kind of shit!” And the ARC-V OGs lose Left and Right to these characters of Yesteryear! Gongenzaka loses to Crow, Shun loses to Crow, hell, Jack even beats Yuya! I’m dead serious!
“BUT AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAZE, that last duel was an important duel for Yuya’s character arc! You’re just being salty that Yuya lost that duel, because Jack and Crow are there to flesh out the dimensions, you know-nothing cuck!”
Well, here’s the thing: there’s no real reason to incorporate Legacy Characters into this show! Yeah! I fucking said it!
The thing with the Legacy Characters is, they’re just there to remind us, the fans, that they were in another series, and that can work. In theory. But in hindsight, their entire existence is contrary to the story. If they created original characters BASED on these old characters, would it be lazy? Yes, yes it would. But it would be better than just slotting the characters in, rewriting their backstories a bit to erase any mention of that past series they were in (which, by the way, is more confusing than you think it is), and hope it all goes well from there.
Meanwhile, with Yuzu, after having an entire arc in which she learns Fusion Summoning from Sora, before he disappears, but that’s a whole fucking thing and a half, she shacks up with Yugo, Yuya’s Synchro counterpart, a skilled duelist with lots of Synchro monsters in his arsenal, and a skilled understanding of Synchro summoning, she stays with him, and does NOTHING. Well, she does get some duels in, so its not COMPLETELY nothing. But, what happened? We had an entire ARC, an ARC where she learned how to Fusion summon, and she’s living with a boy who can literally teach her how to Synchro summon, and she just forgets, I guess.
While Yuzu’s Arc is kind of forgotten, I did mention she gets to Duel in the Second Arc. 3 times, in fact. The first was in Episode 69 (nice) where she dueled Chojiro in a winning effort, then 8 episodes later, in Episode 77 (not nice), she BRUTALLY lost to Sergey, and 5 episodes later, in Episode 83, she duels mooks along with Sora, and wins, and that is the last duel she has in the series. Ever. With Mooks. Huh.
But the legacy characters, and the lack of Duels or a new Melodius Maestra Synchro it pales in comparison to one of the most disappointing Episodes of the entire series: Episode 92. The Preview gave the impression of something big happening, what was going to happen to the dimensions, why there were 4 Yuyas and Yuzus across the dimensions, what does Yuri’s Dragon do, what was going to happen?
The answer was… Nothing.
Absolutely nothing happened.
Well, we got the first glimpse of Starve Venom, and something related to the counterparts ALMOST happened, but..
The second Yuzu ran onto the scene, all the tension the viewers felt was immediately deflated like a balloon. We had no answers, only more questions, the long-awaited Yuri-Yugo duel was completely skipped because of circumstance, and everything just felt like it needed to get it out of the way, in order to keep fans patient. In this case, fans weren’t patient. They had waited an entire year to get answers. And for the writers to sweep it under the rug, was an insult to the fans’ expectations, and intelligence.
And that’s the biggest problem with the Synchro Arc as a whole! The arc lasted a whole year, with no end in sight! The formerly moderate pacing had slowed to a crawl, and they had gotten far and away from the Dimensional War for… another tournament arc. Great. And when the Dimensional War had reared its head again, it was tucked away, and given more focus on the Tournament Arc! Oh, and a subplot, with a retread of Satellite v. New Domino, and Michael Jean Roget, who actually wasn’t all that bad, except for the fact that he didn’t have anything to do with the main story at large.
But hey, how was the animation?
Well, it ranged from Good…
Also, there’s this:
And after they rescue Yuzu, who was kidnapped by Sergey, but it’s okay because she KICKED ROGET. And… SHE KICKED ROGET. WOMAYN! INDEPENDENCE! TUMBLR! Yuya and Yuzu get separated AGAIN, WTF?! This is the exact same situation we were in last year! What is going on?! And half the Lancers get split up, and Shun, Sawatari, Gongenzaka, and Yuya find themselves in the Xyz Dimension. And thus begins the most anticipated arc of the entire series.
LETDOWN CITY, BITCH
So, I want to bring up another character from another anime… uh… Ah! I got it! Izuku Midoriya, from My Hero Academia! (available for streaming on Crunchyroll and Funimation) Everybody who’s not a peruvian lesbian who loves Bleach loves this little guy, right? Well, I want all of you to imagine this type of situation with Izuku.
Now, at the beginning of the series, Izuku can’t use One for All without damaging himself serverly, right? And after the Hideout Raid arc, Izuku develops One for All: Shoot Style, a fighting style in which he can use his Quirk without damaging himself. Now, with this information, imagine he goes to the next adversary, and PUNCHES HIM SQUARE IN THE FACE, shattering his arm in the process. He learned nothing from the previous arc.
That’s kind of what happened to Yuya, in a nutshell.
The entire point of the Friendship Cup was for Jack to teach Yuya that he was just imitating his father, and not using his own style of Dueling, similar to the Izuku similarity I just listed. When he first got his Quirk, Izuku was trying to hard to be like All Might, so much so he even named his attacks after All Might’s, such as Detroit Smash, Deleware Smash, etc., but later on, he got his own style, and he even got his own theme, showing that he’s coming into his own, and not imitating his favorite hero anymore. Yuya got this idea pounded into his head, took it to heart, and the second the next arc starts, HE FORGETS IT, AND DOES THE SAME DAMN THING. Hell, he can even use all 4 (at the time) Summoning Methods, and he doesn’t even do that! He just relies on Smile World and Pendulums! What a Gyp!
So, we’re in Heartland, the place everyone has wanted to see since Day 1, and the first person we see is Kaito, holy shit, did not expect to see him here! Being a Zexal mark in those days, I felt satisfied with the fact that he was coming back, but something was different about him… essentially, his entire character was “retooled” from his Zexal incarnation, which was a sympathetic character trying to heal his brother, save the world, and a badass who DIED ON THE FUCKING MOON, to an edgy loner who hates all outsiders, and will card anything that moves. Oh, and by the way, he beats Shun. Okay.
Also, they bring in two more legacy characters, yet they possibly are the worst represented Legacy Characters in the entire FRANCHISE. Everyone who wanted GX Characters to return got their wish, but in the form of Aster Phoenix and Alexis Rhodes. more on them later.
Now, smiling has always been a major theme in ARC-V, with the damned theme of the show being focused around making people smile with Dueling. And while it was a somewhat moderate deal in the first two seasons, in the Xyz Dimension, EVERYTHING is solved with smiles. Kaito is turned (offscreen, might I add) by smiles, Aster is turned by smiles, ALL OF ACADEMIA IS TURNED BY SMILES. And for what? A rushed ending? As a mattr of fact, yes! Because compared to the 46 WHOLE EPISODES they spent in the Synchro Dimension, dicking around with another tournament, which could have been cut out (the tournament, not the dimension, Tumblrcites), and by and large, very little would change. But no, there was no choice but to speed through the Xyz Dimension, and skewer multiple character motivations, and basically DESTROY the formerly sympathetic, and thought-provoking Aster Pheonix, and turning him into “GRR I HATE SMILES” Pre-Yuya defeat, and “Okay I’m good now LOL” Post-Yuya defeat. Hell, ALL OF ACADEMIA GOES THROUGH THIS!
“BUT AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAZE, what about the Tyler Sisters? You’ve gone all of Heartland without talking about them! They’re strong female villains, and you need to talk about them, you limp-dicked shit-licker!”
I mean, the Tyler Sisters are pretty threatening villains, and are strong female characters…
For 2 episodes.
After that, Grace (the White-haired one) is reduced to being nothing but fangirling over Yuya, and Gloria is kind of there.
We pander to the Tumblr crowd, unless we decide we don’t!
IS IT OVER YET?
So, now that Xyz is over and done with, we’ve got to go to Academia! But wait! We can’t just go there Day 1! What time is it?
The Pirate captain, The Sun and Moon Duelists, The Doktor, Rin and Ruri’s duels, the Parasites, THE MOTHERFUCKING BATTLE BEAST! Almost all of these duels didn’t need to happen in retrospect, and after they had happened, all the characters in those filler duels are never brought up again.
One thing that really pissed me off is the character of The Doktor, who had appeared over SO much episodes, looking to have a duel with the protagonists, and when the protags reach him, we’re ready to duel him, and…
…he gets turned into a card.
Why would you do that, why would you do any of that?
BECOME ONE… GIANT DISAPPOINTMENT.
So, we’re in the endgame, Yuri’s carded Alexis, which, good on you, Tumblr! You had a female Legacy Character, and she only had one major duel, in which she lost! Round of a-fucking-pplause! Yuri’s carded Yusho, Yuya’s going batshit, Yugo’s been defeated in a duel that mostly took place offscreen, and Yuya and Yuri have a duel, in which the dimensions are at stake, because whoever wins, Zarc will revive. Who is Zarc? Well, read this excerpt from Yugipedia.
“Zarc was a resident of the Original Dimension. He was a Duelist who claimed to be able to hear the voices of Duel Monsters and connect his heart with them. Due to this, he was very skilled in Dueling and quickly gained the advantage on the field, soon becoming an undefeated Duel champion and widely known as a superstar in the newly conceived ARC System. Zarc once accidentally severely injured one of his opponents, and was horrified by his actions. Despite this, the audience kept cheering for him, and Zarc began to change, giving in to the audience’s greater selfish demand for more violent and exciting Duels. Zarc’s Dueling became more violent; at first, he simply wanted to answer his fans’ expectations, however as he continued to Duel more and more ruthlessly, Zarc himself became obsessed with becoming the strongest.
Zarc eventually became World Duel Champion, and he asked his audience if they wanted more. When they replied that they did, he Summoned his four dragons to destroy everything in his path. Feeling that his dragons were also not yet satisfied with their battles and seeking to attain the strongest power, Zarc fused himself with his four dragons, becoming a single Duel Monster that people feared as the terrifying Supreme King Z-ARC. After Zarc’s declaration of destruction, the armed military was unable to stop his continuous attacks on the world, and eventually he was only able to be opposed by other Duelists who collaborated with the military to stop him, but none were able to come close to matching his newly fused powers and were wiped away along with the opposing military forces.
As Zarc destroyed the city, he was confronted by Ray Akaba, who used four cards to defeat him, which angered him and he vowed to become one again before his dragons separated from him. The result of their battle divided the Original Dimension into Four Dimensions while Zarc’s soul split into four, reviving in each of the dimensions as Yuya Sakaki (Standard), Yuto (Xyz), Yugo (Synchro), and Yuri (Fusion).”Yugipedia
So, now that we were getting some plot development, and a clear endgame, when Yuya won, and he became Zarc, people were hyped for it. The fans had waited so long, for something akin to plot development. Bring on Zarc!
Someone drew this, thought it was okay, and didn’t think twice, because they needed to sell cards. Never mind the fact that they had a design for Zarc already they could use, but something tells me that they wanted to get this out of the way, ASAP.
But hey, hey, it’s not the design of the character that counts (except in Hentai), it’s the motivations behind them that truly matter. So, does Zarc have a good motivation to be evil?
His whole backstory of sliding into the dark side is, “Oh noes! My monster hurt somebody! Well, the people loved it, guess I’m a villain now!” It’s so laughable, because, people (and I mean a person) bitches about Zamasu being a terrible villain, but at least he has a SENSIBLE reasoning for being evil! Zarc is just barebones bullshit, and it needs to fucking stop!
So the next few episodes are Zarc stomping people left and right. Aster, Gongenzaka, Sora, Sawatari, Crow, JACK ATLAS, Kaito (his only loss in this series), Shun, hell, even REIJI ends up losing to his goblin-looking ass! But wait! It gets better! Because guess how the duel actually ends?
Actually, pretty good! Yuya ends up fighting against Zarc, and one-by-one, the other Yu-boys end up fighting against Zarc, and they each fall, before Yuya is still standing. Yuya ends up using his own brand of Entertainment Dueling, making Zarc see dueling as a means of entertainment, he turns good, the Dimensions reunite, and the Dragon Boys and Bracelet Girls live with their respective families, and ceremonial duel, The End.
So, all four of the Bracelet girls are dissolved into ARC-V, Leo Akaba’s tool to revive his lost daughter, Ray Akaba, and while Reira, Reiji’s (adopted) little brother, who had received significant amount of development in the Synchro Dimension, suddenly becomes important, as he is able to see and hear Ray, because of a retcon about how he is able to see spirits, FUSES WITH RAY, DEFEATS ZARC THE EXACT SAME WAY AS LAST TIME, YUYA BREAKS ZARC’S CONTROL, USES ANOTHER GODDAMNED SMILE CARD TO FINISH OFF ZARC, REIRA ENDS UP SEALING FUCKING ZARC INSIDE OF HER/HIM, AND THAT IS HOW ZARC IS FUCKING DEFEATED.
Okay, that is one of the stupidest, convoluted endings to a final boss I have ever seen in an anime, and that is saying a lot! Like, say what you want about Don Thousand, Z-ONE, Yubel and Zorc, those guys actually had a lot of buildup, and a satisfying finish to them which didn’t involve stomping most of the cast! Zarc was just lazy idiotic bullshit, which showed how much they gave up by the end. Okay.
THE FUN IS OVER. GO HOME.
With the defeat of Zarc, we had 8 episodes left in the entire series, so what do we do? Go back to the Junior Youth Championship- motherfu-
Now when the V-Jump scans were released, people were curious. Was this some Infinite Tsukuyomi-type shit? Is this Yuya’s fever dream?
No, it was real.
And there was a reason for it. Reira had been reborn as a baby… somehow, with a new set of genitals, and Zarc’s spirit inside her.
Okay, stop right there. This entire plot makes no sense then, does it? Zarc is a part of Yuya. Without Zarc, there is no Yuya. Without Yuya, Zarc cannot have his spirit inside Reira. IT’s almost as if this was made so people could BUY MORE CARDS.
Anyway, Reiji sends Yuya through a trip across dimensions to duel the Lancers, in order to get Reira to smile with his dueling…
So, one by one, Yuya battles the Lancers that are still around, Gongenzaka, Sawatari, Moon Shadow, Shun, Dennis (in what was actually an entertaining duel), and JACK ATLAS… again. For the 3rd time this series…
I’m fucking done with this, so let’s get it over with.
So Yuya and Reiji have their duel, Yuya pulls out two new Dragons, and a brand new Pendulum monster! Reiji pulls out 3 new extra deck monsters of his own! And…
In the end, Yuya wins, Reira smiles, and it’s a feel good moment for all, except everyone watching, because we had to witness 8 episodes of card games for the sake of making a baby smile.
There are no words. How can someone think that this is acceptable? I- I feel like I’ve been violated, stripped of my dignity! Well, let’s just analyze this ending.
- The end of the duel was LITERALLY Action Card spam.
- The fact that they had to duel to get a baby to smile, as opposed to literally anything else, is one of the idiotic YGO things I’ve seen.
- Killing off 6 whole characters for no damned reason, other than reasons, even though they have a sizeable fanbase overseas, as well as in their home nation. Plus, everyone is happy with this, even Shun, despite the fact that his best friend and sister are dead forever.
- Leo Akaba, the main antagonist for 95% of the story, kidnapped 4 teen-aged girls, got off completely scot-free, and is considered a good guy, who feels remorse for his actions, even though this whole plot started because he couldn’t let go. Fuck. Off.
As a matter of fact, I’d like to show you this:
This image here is the Japanese’s opinion on Yu-Gi-Oh Arc-V, via NicoNico Douga. Now, NicoNico isn’t an appropriate estimation of the Japanese, but hear me out, here. While there were some offenders, such as Episode 19, and the aformentioned 92, this chart shows that after the Xyz Dimension, they were done being hospitalic. And that’s not all, because by the series end, Arc-V had the top 10 of the lowest NicoNico ratings of ALL TIME, a record that was kept until Kemono Friends broke it, in 2019. Don’t think I’m right? Well, just look at the replies to this Tweet by the series’ director, Katsumi Ono:
In the end, Yuzu finally came back, without the fire she had in Season 1, and Yuya rushes off to face his father in his next duel, saying “The Fun has only just begun!” But for a lot of fans, the fun ended ages ago.
I don’t think that there’s a show that’s betrayed its fans more than Yu-Gi-Oh Arc-V. It’s like if you go to a fancy restaurant, and they entice you with a mouth-watering appetizer, and gets you going with a interesting-looking main course, which tastes mostly shit, but ends up tasting nice at the time you swallow it, to a TERRIBLE looking dessert which ends up leaving a bad taste in your mouth for the rest the night, no matter how much mouthwash you use.
Even with the presentation of its early episodes, with its treatment of female characters, character motivations, duel structure, and the Dimensional War, which in retrospect, was more of a Dimensional Skirmish, it ended up being an RPG in which no matter how you play, you’ll always end up getting the bad ending.
I know I skipped over a bunch of things, but I don’t completely HATE Arc-V. I love certain duels, and characters, and I liked it at the time, because it was a substitute for Zexal. But after how it ended up becoming, I weep for Arc-V, because it should have been so much better than it was. Had it been handled by competent writers, I might have loved it. But they had the ball rolling, and the world was watching, but then they dropped it, and every time they tried to pick it up, more and more people left, until no one was there anymore.