We've seen various preview clips online over the last twelve months, and finally, we've come to the full release of Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions. There's been tons of talk about the movie, but I was in the unique position of seeing the film at the US premiere in New York City days before its weekend, nationwide release!
The movie was great, but the big-time premiere experience was just as good.The Premiere
I took a day off from my regular job to prepare for a trip into Manhattan. I knew I was going to be wearing a jacket and tie, but my main concern was whether to wear black sneakers or dress shoes. I opted for sneakers which was the optimal choice since there was a fair amount of walking to be had between where I'd eventually park and the location of the theater.
I got to the theater and checked in, and after I signed the proper releases, I was handed a sealed pack containing a single Obelisk the Tormentor with alternate art and gold foil! I traveled upstairs to where the Red Carpet event was happening, and upon getting up there I saw former World Championship competitor and fellow event coverage writer Mike Kohanim in attendance. We chatted for a bit and spoke with a few Yu-Gi-Oh! fans and players.
We spoke about the just-released text of Sea Monster of Thesius and how good that card is going to be – very good, by the by – and one of the players asked me the familiar question of "how do you get to where you are," to which the answer is "start judging. Do locals, then do Regionals and get experience."
Mike and I spent a little bit of time talking to the voice actors in attendance that we were familiar with. We saw Greg Abbey, the voice of Yusei Fudo from 5D's and Tristan Taylor from the original series; Darren Dunstan, the voice of Maximillan Pegasus; Erica Shroeder, the voice of Mai Valentine and other characters throughout Yu-Gi-Oh's different eras; and of course Eric Stuart, the voice of Seto Kaiba, and Dan Green, the voice of Yugi Moto.
I spent almost no time talking to the voice actors because they were talking to other voice actors and fans who have never seen them in person. I definitely didn't not talk to the voice actors due to crippling shyness or anything. It tooootally had nothing to do with my inability to interrupt conversations with obviously busy celebrities because who the heck am I actually.
After getting popcorn and soda, everyone shuffled into their assigned seats, where we had a few words from two of the producers of the movie, as well as Dan Green and Eric Stuart.
Then the movie happened. You can scroll down for my full review of it. Afterwards, there was a VIP after party with, as you'd expect, VIP's. That included myself, Mike, and three other judges from the NYC area: brothers Asher and Max Roberts, and former Worlds competitor Jarel Winston!
At the after party, we saw a display of Yu-Gi-Oh products like Yu-Gi-Oh Monopoly, apparel, lunch boxes and T-shirts. Before everyone broke off into socializing, there was a small address from some 4KMedia employees, then from some members of the Japanese production team, and then to almost everyone's surprise, we learned that The Creator of Yu-Gi-Oh – Kazuki Takahashi – was also in attendance and gave a short statement to the crowd!
That was a huge moment for me personally since Kazuki Takahashi doesn't make public appearances very often, especially not in the United States. So this was an especially unique opportunity to speak to The Creator of a franchise that I've been a fan of for over 15 years. So, of course, I proceeded to not do that because he was swamped by a whole bunch of other people and there were some kids in attendance that wanted to speak to him and he seemed way more receptive to kids than to a 34-year-old dude who's trying to check a thing off his bucket list.
… Anyway. Let's talk about the film!The Movie Itself
The main plot introduces the chief antagonist, Aigami, whose origin and motivation feels like a natural extension of known Yu-Gi-Oh! lore. Without getting into specifics, Aigami's involvement in the story doesn't feel artificially tacked on or conveniently added for the sake of creating conflict. He's a natural enemy in the same way that Marik was; completely believable and even somewhat sympathetic… to a point.
That's a huge contrast to, let's say, Paradox from Bonds Beyond Time, whose appearance technically fit into and advanced plot in the 5D's animated series, but felt more like a way to contrive a fan-service situation that allowed three different protagonists to be in the same place and time. Aigami's definitely not Paradox in this respect.
The real draw of the movie is the duels. We've seen part of Yugi versus Kaiba from the live re-enactment at the 2016 TCG World Championship, and that's just one of many duels you'll see in this movie. Duels in the Dark Side of Dimensions start at 8000 LP (!) and use the classic "draw on the first turn" rule that was in effect for the entirety of the series. Monster ATK/DEF Pop-Ups, LP displays and card images all appear in English.
One thing that fans may have a split opinion about is the exposition of cards in the on-screen duels. A bunch of cards don't have effects explained and a lot of cards have bare-bones explanation. For instance, Yugi plays Dark Horizon to Special Summon Dark Magician, and his dialogue was "I may have taken damage, but that allows me to Summon my dear friend, Dark Magician!"
Now, if you read the text for Dark Horizon, you would see that the monster Summoned is any Spellcaster from the deck, and its ATK is less than or equal to the damage, but that's not reflected in the dialogue as you'd normally expect it to be. TV episodes have a tendency to explain cards in detail, going into exactly how cards work AND what changes they're causing to the field.
In the Dark Side of Dimensions, nearly every spoken card effect is truncated to only include "how is this affecting the game," leaving out "how does this card work." The asides from spectators that would usually act as exposition for the viewer are also completely gone from the script, so the action goes by a lot quicker than you might expect. I'd highly recommend checking out the cards from the The Dark Side of Dimensions Movie Pack just so you don't fall behind while trying to keep up with the pace of the game.
And my personal favorite part of the movie is Seto Kaiba. Imagine the Seto Kaiba you remember from the original series, and turn the dial to 11: that's Seto Kaiba in The Dark Side of Dimensions. There's arrogance, and then there's Seto freaking Kaiba levels of arrogance. This movie has Seto freaking Kaiba just dunking on everyone and their brothers and I'm super in favor of it.
KAIBA CORP HAS A SATELLITE WITH A PERMANENT SPACE ELEVATOR GOING UP TO IT. THAT DEFIES MODERN PHYSICS BUT SETO KAIBA DOESN'T GIVE A FLIP AND DID IT ANYWAY. BECAUSE HE'S SETO KAIBA.
Fanboying aside, the movie clocks in at around 120 minutes. This is a full-length film and it's certainly worthy of every second spent. There's some slow-down for backstory, but the pace is good and it goes by quicker than you think.Conclusions
Joe is a Yu-Gi-Oh! judge and player from Long Island, New York. You can read his non-TCG writings over at http://crazdgamer.com and view his video-game related streams at http://twitch.tv/crazdgamer. He plays Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist using only story decks because attacking into Mirror Force is apparently entertaining for viewers.