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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Yu-Gi-Oh!: Heart of the Cards (Vol. 1)
Yu-Gi-Oh!: Heart of the Cards (Vol. 1)
FUNimation // Unrated // September 24, 2002
List Price: $19.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Earl Cressey | posted October 2, 2002 | E-mail the Author
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If I had to guess the three hottest properties in anime now, I'd go with Pokemon, Dragon Ball Z, and Yu-Gi-Oh!. Sharing much of the same merchandising strategy as those other two series, Yu-Gi-Oh! has video games, collectible card games, clothing, and, of course, an animated TV series. Originally released in Japan, Yu-Gi-Oh! appeared first as a more teenager/adult oriented series and when it concluded, the series was remade to appeal more to children. It's the latter series that has arrived here, and presented on this DVD are the first three episodes:

Episode 1: Heart of the Cards
Episode 2: The Gauntlet's Thrown
Episode 3: Journey to the Duelist Kingdom

Yami Yugi enjoys playing the Duel Monsters card game with his friends at school and gets loads of playing tips from his grandfather, who runs a game shop. To impress his friends, Yugi takes them all to see his grandfather's most treasured card, 'Blue Eyes, White Dragon,' which is one of four known to exist. However, Seto Kaiba is determined to get the card and challenges Yugi's grandfather to a duel. After being badly beaten, he passes his deck to Yugi, who using the power of the millennium puzzle and the faith in his deck, is able to defeat Kaiba. This brings him to the attention of Maximillion Pegasus, 'creator' of Duel Monsters, who captures his grandfather's soul to lure Yugi to the Duelist Kingdom. Now, with his friends in tow, Yugi sets out to free him.

More so than Pokemon or Dragon Ball Z, Yu-Gi-Oh! feels more like a twenty minute commercial than anything else, as the characters all play the card game and duel with each other often. The episodes take time to explain how the cards work and often give stats and strategies. The millennium puzzle was also a bit weird, as it basically grants Yugi the power of puberty – he gets taller and his voice gets deeper. While I didn't find the series completely devoid of entertainment, I can't see watching it again in the foreseeable future.

Video:
Yu-Gi-Oh! is presented in 1.33:1 full frame. The transfer is fine throughout, despite some minor grain. Some slight aliasing is also evident in a couple scenes. Colors are mostly bright throughout, though occasionally appear a tad faded.

Audio:
Yu-Gi-Oh! is presented in Dolby 2.0 Stereo in English or Spanish. The stereo track is fairly average, with a few instances of subtle directionality. Dialogue is crisp and clean throughout with no distortion. Optional subtitles in English are included.

Extras:
Extras include character bios, monster stats, the Yu-Gi-Oh! Rap, and trailers for other FUNimation releases.

Summary:
Younger anime enthusiasts, such as those weaned on Pokemon might enjoy Yu-Gi-Oh!, though older audiences will probably find it less entertaining. Fans might want to consider adding this disc to their collection, but an average audiovisual presentation, no original language option, and some sparse extras don't do much to encourage a purchase.

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