Plot: Evil sentient Tamagotchis!
Breakdown: So this story is really….strange, even for Season Zero. Today’s episode centers around digital keychain pets – more commonly known as Gigapets, Tamagotchi and Nanopets. They’re the latest craze in school. Everyone has them – even the Yu-Gi-Oh gang.
All this talk about the digital pets is truly nostalgic, and boy does it make me feel old. The rough pixel animations, the LCD screen, the 8-bit sounds. It’s just so….outdated. I can bet any kid watching this today would laugh at it. Granted, these pets are a little cooler than the ones we had in real life in that they, somehow, take on the characteristics and physical traits of their owners.
It’s actually even weirder than you might think. In the Yu-Gi-Oh world, they’ll soon develop a holographic system meant to create projections so real that you can feel air pressure and even smell them (And stand on them sometimes….) This technology is designed for use with a trading card game. And yet these little pixel-y games are popular in the same couple of years.
Originally, our very clear antagonist was a boy named Kujirada. Kujira means ‘whale’ and just guess why he’s named that. Yes, he’s fat. But he’s not just fat – he’s ridiculous in his design too. His face is about ten sizes too small for his head and he has ears that could easily cover his entire face.
In the anime, they add in that he’s also rich and literally throws money at any problem that he usually creates.
The manga chapter is actually pretty uneventful, so a lot of the anime episode is loaded with subplot and an extension of the original plot. Honda is bummed because Miho missed first period, and he shows extra grumpiness about it by going on about how much of a waste of time the digital pets are. He’s not going to waste time cleaning up digital pet poop when he is dedicated to cleaning up the real world. I’m not gonna say he doesn’t have a point, but he’s being a real ass about it. Digital pets are no more a ‘waste of time’ than any other game. It’s called fun, Honda.
Miho shows up before second period starts, and she explains that she missed first period because she was so busy taking care of her digital pet last night that she slept late. She’s been trying really hard to raise a good pet because the company that makes them is having a pet competition. The owner of the best pet will win a trip to Australia.
Miho shows her manipulative bitch ways again by oh so subtly wishing that someone could take care of her pet for her so she could win the trip without having to…ya know…do the work herself. Just like in that episode where she manipulated Honda into standing in line for an unreasonable amount of time so she could get some fancy watch.
They act like she’s an airhead, but she knows exactly what’s she’s doing to poor, pathetic Honda – especially when she mentions that the trip is for two. And, for God’s sake, Honda. You may be boring in the 2000 show, and you may have a similar patheti-sad puppy love for Shizuka there too, but this is just upsetting.
At this point, I really don’t know why Honda or Miho exist. I mentioned last time that I thought Honda having a past with Jonouchi was at least interesting, but the focus was still purely on Jonouchi and Yugi’s friendship above all else. You could’ve made it so Yugi used to be friends with Jonouchi at a young age, but then he fell in with a bad crowd when his parents started getting divorced and then he just turned into an asshole until he made up with Yugi.
Even in the 2000 anime, I find it hard to justify Honda’s presence. He doesn’t do anything on his own, and if his role is simply ‘Jonouchi’s good friend’ Yugi already takes that role in an exemplary fashion. Their friendship is legendary. Not saying Honda has no right to exist at all or that Jonouchi can’t have more than one friend, but he should’ve been a much more minor character if they weren’t going to bother trying to make him interesting.
Honda then has to be two-faced when Jonouchi calls him out for accepting the task by explaining that he suddenly realized the digital world and reality are the same….Uh huh.
He even takes the next day off at school so he can care for the digital pet. Also, Honda’s definitely not a pure puppy dog about this, because he clearly shouts that he’s thinking about having sex with Miho (Though feels he can’t as he and Miho aren’t married yet. He’s enjoying the thought of her in a swimsuit, though. Guess that will have to tide him over.)
At least Anzu kinda calls out Miho’s manipulation later, especially when she shows her hypocrisy in saying Kujirada is wrong for using pets other people have raised to win the contest….
Another addition to the anime version is a new character called Haiyama. He’s a very shy and lonely boy who reminds Yugi a lot of himself before he made friends with the others. Yugi’s worried about him since he’s very reserved and seems to be paying off Kujirada for something in private. He tries to make friends with him and tells him he can always talk with him whenever he wants. Yugi also gives Haiyama a spare digital pet he has in order for him to join in on the fun.
I said that Kujirada was originally the obvious main antagonist of the manga chapter of which this episode’s story derived from because, in the anime version, while he is the antagonist for a while, it’s eventually revealed that the main enemy all along was Haiyama.
But before we get to Haiyama, let’s talk about Kujirada’s role in the manga. Originally, he was just a big brute who used his limited edition ‘hidden character’ pet (and you know it’s limited edition because it has a star on it) to bully the pets of Jonouchi and Yugi through the linking capability (They call it dating/mating, but it’s really just linking) Outside of the star, nothing else makes the pet special besides that it has a longer life span than other pets.
Apparently, all digital pets die after 20 days, which is reasonable considering, from what I’ve read, the average lifespan of a real-life digital pet was around 12 days with the maximum being 25 days. Apparently, the world record is 89 days, which kinda confuses me because these pets are designed to die by old age, so I have no clue how they managed to work around that to keep one alive for 89 days, but that’s cool anyway.
When Kujirada went home, he realized his pet had become sentient and evil. The pet demanded more food, but he wasn’t satisfied with the pittance that the game itself offered so he demanded to be fed other people’s pets.
The next day at school, Kujirada fed his pet Jonouchi and Anzu’s pets. His pet was was about to eat Yugi’s pet, Yuu-2, but it suddenly evolved (thanks to the data exchange from Jonouchi’s pet from earlier) and just…kicked the evil sentient digital pet’s ass and….that’s it. The end.
You see what I meant by this chapter being strange? Yugi never turns into Yami, there’s no shadow game nor is there any explanation as to why and how this digital pet became sentient and evil, and after his pet is defeated, Kujirada just walks away literally going ‘Oh well, at least I can sleep now.’ The chapter ends with Yugi watching Yuu-2 eating because he knows he’ll vanish the next day due to the life span limit.
What is even this story?
In the anime, as I mentioned before, Kujirada is super rich now. They make it a point a few times to say he used to be a kind kid but then his family fell into money and he suddenly became a massive asshole. He smashes the window to some shop selling an incredibly rare golden digital pet device for 50,000 yen (Around 500 USD) and takes it from the display, then he rains a bunch of cash on the owner to cover the cost of the pet and the window….He could’ve just walked in and bought the thing, but this is Season Zero where 99% of people who aren’t the main characters are cartoonishly evil super villains.
Also, there’s no reason this dude is so happy right now. Kujirada said that was enough money to cover the pet and the damage, meaning he’s breaking even right now. Plus, he has the headache of having to cover the window, clean up all the broken glass, looking bad in front of customers and having to get a repair service down to replace the window….
The pet is apparently not sentient or evil in this version, it’s just a monster because its owner is a dick. And it’s only eating pets because that will make it more impressive, which will make Kujirada a shoe-in to win the contest.
In the anime, before Kujirada’s pet, DevilMaster can try to eat Yuu-2, Honda shows up with Miho’s new and improved pet that he’s been slaving over called Ichigo. Since he’s been so attentive of the pet, it adopts Honda’s traits and becomes a cleaning fiend. Honda challenges DevilMaster with it and I don’t understand why he’s doing this.
He’s just spent two straight days tirelessly raising this thing for Miho, the girl he’s obsessed with and would do anything for. Why would he see pets being destroyed by Kujirada’s pet and then openly declare a challenge to him with Miho’s pet? Even if he didn’t have a thing for her, he’s still risking her pet on a gamble.
…..Honda actually wins.
He has trained Ichigo to be the ultimate beautification club member, and it eliminates all trash. DevilMaster’s evilness, I guess, makes it constitute as trash, so it was deleted. I actually don’t care about this change because, in all honesty, it’s not much better or worse than what the manga gave us.
Later, Kujirada supposedly kidnaps Miho and writes a ransom note to Honda telling him to meet him in a warehouse. When Honda arrives, however, he finds Kujirada unconscious with his back covered in whiplashes. Out from the shadows emerges Haiyama, who looks 1000% different than he did in the last scene he was in. His eyes are now crazy and about 500x bigger than they were before, his mouth is equally enlarged, and his hair went from black and blunt to purple and spiky. He actually reminds me of a weird version of Weevil.
Haiyama reveals that Kujirada was his real-life pet this whole time. Like they feed digital pets to make them stronger, he ‘fed’ the weak-willed Kujirada loads of money to make him stronger. Haiyama’s abuse is what made Kujirada have such a change in character from the kind, timid boy he supposedly was before.
Also, apparently, before Haiyama got to him, Kujirada wasn’t overweight at all. I don’t know if they’re making some sort of symbolism here in regards to the fact he was ‘feeding’ Kujirada a lot of money, and he overdid it, which made him fat. (Also, it seems to have changed his hair color too?)
Yugi arrives, having followed Haiyama because he was worried about him coming across Kujirada again. Haiyama throws the digital pet Yugi gave him on Kujirada’s back and calls Yugi a fool before whipping him aside. Honda tries to fight him, dodging his whip strikes, but his all-nighter starts getting to him so he just passes out.
Haiyama reveals the real reason he called Honda there – he wants Honda as his newest pet. Kujirada has proven a failure since he couldn’t even win at a digital pet game. Honda’s ‘feed’ will be…I guess….holding Miho captive and stripping her in front of him? What the hell?
Yugi transforms into Yami who challenges Haiyama to a shadow game.
There’s nothing to compare here since the manga chapter didn’t have a shadow game, but the shadow game is, more or less, exactly the same as Yuu-2’s battle against Kujirada’s pet in the manga. Yuu-2 evolves because of the data exchange with Jounouchi’s pet from earlier and he wins. Here, it’s a little unfair, at least by logic in the writing, because Haiyama has clearly not been using that digital pet so Yuu-2 would obviously be, by default, stronger than Haiyama’s pet.
At the end of the match, Haiyama’s pet “eats” him, but it’s soon revealed that it was just an illusion and Haiyama is freaking out on the floor.
The last scene of the episode shows Miho and Honda passed out on the floor and Miho says ‘Let’s go to Australia…Mama’….So yeah, Miho wasn’t even going to go to Australia with Honda in the end if she won – after all of that. Manipulative. Bitch.
While this story as a whole is pretty strange, I will say this much – the anime is much better than the manga in this circumstance. The manga just feels so incomplete. Why was the digital pet sentient? Why was it evil? I guess it could’ve just been because Kujirada was evil, but that still doesn’t explain its sentience. How was the evil sentient pet defeated by a regular digital pet without any interference by the Millennium Puzzle? Why was there no shadow game? Why did Yami not appear? Why did Kujirada just give up after his pet was defeated? It’s a confusing mess.
The anime shifting focus to Honda and Miho while introducing a new antagonist in Haiyama was actually quite genius to help extend the episode. While I disagree with Honda bending over backwards for Miho and I hate Miho more with every new episode, their story did create an interesting new structure to expound upon what was there.
Haiyama was actually a pretty interesting antagonist. I was a little shocked to see that this little timid kid was managing to control such a huge brute like Kujirada, and his influence was so powerful he drastically changed Kujirada’s personality and basically turned him into a monster. I think the visible transformation of Haiyama into evil super villain Haiyama was a bit much though. The huge whip did not help. It would’ve been a bit more intimidating if he kept his regular design and mannerisms because there is certainly something very haunting about someone who seems innocent and reserved turning into a psychopath.
The shadow game was a little short and uninteresting, but hey….at least the anime had one. Although, maybe I should take points off anyway because the shadow game was really just the match Yugi had with Kujirada just with an added bit where he gets ‘eaten’ in the end.
I should also bring up that this episode certainly has a Digimon vibe to it. However, I’m not entirely certain I can say it had any influence on the story in the manga. Digimon as a brand started out in 1997. Yu-Gi-Oh’s manga run originally started in 1996, but the volume that contains this chapter was released in mid-1997. It’s a little too close for me to say it had any influence on this story, but it’s kinda interesting to think about.
Next time, we got some anime-exclusive stuff going down. Kaiba sends his Shitennou after Yugi for revenge.
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