Plot: Yugi and Téa are getting into a new game called Capsule Monsters – a spin-off (?) board game of Duel Monsters. Joey wins an all-expense paid trip to India and invites all of his friends to come along, but their plane suddenly crashes on a remote island. While everyone is okay, they’re stuck until help arrives. The group decides to explore the island while they wait, and they quickly stumble upon an unconscious man named Alex Brisbane. According to him, he was exploring a strange Egyptian-esque pyramid on the island with Yugi’s grandpa when he suddenly went missing.
Yugi and the others follow Alex into the pyramid to Solomon’s last location only to see a massive empty room with a strange map covering the floor. As he walks onto it, Joey vanishes in a flash of light. Realizing Yugi’s grandpa likely vanished the same way, Yugi, Téa and Tristan step on the map as well, following Joey and Solomon to find them and bring them home. Little do they realize that they’ve actually become trapped in the world of Capsule Monsters, and they’ll need to play the game in order to leave.
Breakdown: Ever since I did my 4Kids retrospective, I’ve wanted to completely review Capsule Monsters. I won’t be able to do an SDC on it since a Japanese version either doesn’t exist or simply isn’t available, so I thought I’d just do a simple episode-by-episode review on this…spin-off?….Season? Arc? I dunno. Whatever 4Kids intended for this to be.
The first episode starts with Yugi having a nightmare about Yami, who is clad in gold armor for some reason, fighting a giant shadow creature, who winds up consuming him. Yugi jolts out of bed and reveals that this is a recurring nightmare. He then notices the Puzzle glowing and acting strangely.
Yugi heads out, but then remembers that his grandpa is still gone after suddenly leaving for a ‘secret’ week-long trip. He should have been home that morning, but there’s been no sign of him. Does he not have a phone or anything?
After the theme song, we get such a dramatic reveal of Joey that I really thought this was indeed meant to be a spin-off moment. There’s no reason whatsoever to reveal him so dramatically when nothing is going on. However, no one else gets such a dramatic reveal so I dunno.
Joey partakes in a street contest for a prize of some sort.
Back at school, Téa and Yugi are playing Capsule Monsters, and Téa, being the mostly stereotypical girl character she is, doesn’t bother learning how to play and only wants to play cute monsters like Happy Lover. She duels the same way, basically, but at least she roughly knows how Duel Monsters works and gives a crap about it.
Téa: “I suppose that means your soldier guy is going to fight my flying guy?” Soldier gu—That’s Celtic Guardian. You know Celtic Guardian. You’ve seen that monster tons of times.
Tristan shows up followed soon after by a super excited Joey who explains that he won three tickets for a special trip for all of them…..All four of them. I guess it’s possible that he was showing off the tickets he was offering to the others and withholding his, but why would he do that?
As they walk along, Téa thinks to herself that she has a bad feeling about their trip because whenever they go places terrible and usually supernatural things tend to happen. Well, I mean….yeah, she has a point.
She’s snapped out of her concerns by the voice of Yami, and they oddly note his sudden appearance with a chime like “Oh who cares about all those supernatural threats that tend to follow us? I have my hunky pharaoh now!”
It’s only here, right before they’re about to get on the plane, that we learn this is a six-day trip to India. Before, all he said was they were “tickets to paradise” and literally all the tickets showed were vague images of fields with stone walls with a statue in the foreground.
As they’re flying, the plane starts shaking violently and the first thing Tristan says in response to this is;
“Hey! You messed up my photo, man!”
Either he has nerves of steel, or he’s an idiot.
Their engines fail, and the plane crashes into the water below. We cut to the group, sans the pilots, on shore. Joey complains he lost all of his stuff, but uh…..how? He has a backpack, and it looks like you can still access the plane no problem. Go back and get it? I guess it’s possible that it’s all waterlogged, but if that’s the case then how were all of their backpacks left dry? Why do they even have backpacks? It sounded they were planning on a vacation not a backpacking trip.
Téa says that the pilot, who is never shown again, sent out a distress signal, but it could be hours before they’re rescued. Joey and Tristan immediately decide to leave and wander in the unknown wilderness so their trip won’t be wasted. You guys are going on a six day trip. They said it would take a few hours to get rescued. I’m sure they’d still take you to your destination. Just stay still. But of course they don’t, and I guess it’s made okay because they point out how stupid they’re being.
They stumble upon a man in black robes passed out on the ground. They give him some water and help him out when Yugi notices a black bandanna fall out of his pocket that looks identical to his grandpa’s.
Shocked, the man, Dr. Alex Brisbane, reveals that he was on an expedition with Yugi’s grandpa in the area, but he went missing….I just realized Yugi flippantly went on a six-day trip to India right after he became suspicious because his grandpa hadn’t returned home yet. He DOES have an off-screen mom, and he had to have gone home and packed. Didn’t he learn any more about grandpa’s trip or anything during that time? Was the trip literally immediately after Joey won the tickets?
As they travel with Alex to help find Solomon, Yami tells Yugi that this all seems way too suspicious. They randomly win a trip, they randomly crash, they just so happen to stumble upon the last person to see Solomon before he went missing right in the area they ‘randomly’ crashed in – it’s all too weird. Very good point, Yami. Although it’s so obvious that you really wonder why no one else has gotten suspicious before now. I mean, yeah, weird things do tend to happen to them……I was going to continue, but then I started listing all of the weird things that happen to them in my head, and realized this is probably one of the easier things to accept.
They reach a pyramid, and Alex explains that they were exploring and analyzing this weird Egyptian pyramid that somehow is in India (I assume they’re in India) when Solomon went missing. According to him, this pyramid is the tomb of Alexander the Great who was briefly crowned a pharaoh in Egypt, which is why he supposedly has a pyramid, but the mystery is why the pyramid is in the middle of the jungle instead of in Egypt.
Alexander the Great was indeed a pharaoh, and the Egyptians even named Alexandria after him and hailed him as a god after he died. However, he was mummified and buried in a tomb in Alexandria. No one knows where exactly in Alexandria the tomb is as of now, but they’re fairly certain it’s in Alexandria because several people who claimed to have visited the pyramid in the past stated it was in Alexandria.
There was a recent report in 2021 claiming the tomb had been found in Siwa, Egypt, but it hasn’t been verified, and there hasn’t been any updates on that report as of this writing.
Anyway, is anyone going to ask why two professional archaeologists went in the middle of nowhere to investigate an incredibly fascinating out-of-place pyramid that they’re theorizing is the resting place of one of the most famous historical figures ever whose tomb is so mysterious that people have referred to it as the ‘Holy grail’ of archaeological discoveries, should it be found, and went to this place entirely alone and without proper emergency equipment or communication with emergency services?
No? Okay. Moving on.
Actually, while I’m at it, why did none of them go back to the plane and notify the pilots who have radios and stuff? Yugi’s grandpa is missing and possibly hurt or worse. Can someone please make an intelligent decision?
As they wander the halls of the pyramid, Joey accidentally sets off a spike trap that nearly kills him, and Alex, whose name totally isn’t suspicious, by the way, just ignore that, remembers to mention that there are deadly traps around every corner in this place. To avoid them, they have to hang from ledges 50 feet above more spikes and scoot across the chasm as well as crawl in tunnels.
Téa is only now getting suspicious, but not of anything I’ve mentioned. She gets suspicious because Alex seems to know an awful lot about a pyramid he’s only been in once before. Yes, the one thing that’s not all that suspicious is the thing she gets suspicious about.
They reach a fork in the path – one leading up and one leading down. Alex explains that he and Solomon, being the incredibly dumb people we’ve already established them as being, decided to split up at this point. Alex would explore upstairs while Solomon explored downstairs. It’s stupid enough to split up in an unexplored tomb in the middle of the jungle, but they already knew at this point that the place was covered in lethal traps. Why the hell did they split up?
Alex eventually reached a sealed door, so he went back, but Solomon wasn’t there. He took the path down and reached a dead end where only Solomon’s bandanna lay on the floor.
They’re all adamant that Solomon has to be there somewhere, so they all head downstairs. They reach a massive room with a giant map on the floor – a detail Alex omitted from his story. They all believe, for some reason, that the room is so big that Solomon probably got lost in it, so they head off to find him……*lip smack*….The room isn’t THAT big, guys. Is it big? Yes? Is it so big someone would get lost in it? No. There are no walls, and you can clearly see the other side of the room. It’s about as big as a hockey rink. Even if, for some reason and somehow, Solomon did get lost in this room, you’d be able to see him and vice versa.
Joey rushes off to find him, but the instant his feet hit the map on the floor, it glows and Joey is sucked into it. Yugi, Téa and Tristan run off to investigate what happened, only slightly weirded out by the fact that their friend just vanished in a magical floor. Again, though, given their lives at the moment, it’s understandable that this doesn’t surprise them much. They realize that there’s an odd pattern to the map. It’s a mixture of multiple environments such as mountains, jungles and deserts. Yugi thinks that it looks familiar somehow. Alex mentions that this tomb is also said to house some sort of game. Yugi believes that it now makes perfect sense why his grandpa would come on this trip – he loves games. I think him just being an archaeologist would justify him being here, but okay.
Yugi proclaims that he’s going to enter the floor map and find his grandpa and Joey. Téa and Tristan offer to go as well, but Yugi tries to convince them not to go.
Yugi: “Thanks a lot. But I’ve been leading you guys into danger week after week for way too long.” Haha, it’s funny because Yu-Gi-Oh! used to air weekly.
Also, it’s not really your place to act like this is purely your responsibility anymore, Yugi. Joey’s lost too. Besides, if anything, it’s your grandpa’s fault. He’s a very bad archaeologist.
When they jump into the map, they wind up back in the forest, but now they have weird contraptions on their arms and belts that look like they’re meant to hold things.
They also notice strange stone pods around them, and Yugi tells Yami that he thinks something might be inside.
Before Yugi can investigate further, they’re suddenly attacked by three monsters.
Yugi: “I recognize those things!” Yeah, you should. They’re Gokibore, some of the most common monsters in Duel Mons– “They’re from the Capsule Monsters board game!”
Uh, well…yes, that is accurate, I guess. They are in that game too.
*Kamakiriman appears* “That looks familiar too!”
Yeah, it’s a very basic insect card from Duel Monsters. You know, that game you incessantly play every single day of your life?
….Uhm…anyway, Téa and Tristan wind up getting separated from Yugi. They’re being chased by the Gokibore while Yugi gets chased by Kamakiriman. Téa and Tristan manage to escape the Gokibore by sliding into a very small cave that leads down a deep hole and lands them onto a beach. Behind them, they see that a Happy Lover and Thunder Kid have followed them, but they’re posing no threat. If anything, they seem very friendly to them. Téa recognizes Happy Lover from the Capsule Monsters game. I’ll accept this because, as far as I remember, despite Tea having a fairy themed deck, I’ve never seen her use or witness the use of a Happy Lover card.
Briefly back with Joey, who somehow got to the top of a cliff, he’s suddenly taken away by a giant crow-like monster I can’t really identify because I can’t see it very well.
Back with Yugi, he escapes the Kamakiriman by diving into the water, but it follows him when he reaches shore. Just as he’s about to be attacked, Yami shifts into action and jumps away, accidentally touching one of the weird pods. In response, it glows and reveals Celtic Guardian, who leaps into action against Kamakiriman.
Yami: “Why does this all seem so familiar?” Because it’s Celtic Guardian. He’s been in your Duel Monsters deck for age–
*flashback to Yugi and Téa playing Capsule Monsters*
Uh…..are you guys okay? You all collectively seem to have Duel Monsters amnesia. I mean, I get that he touched the capsule which summoned Celtic Guardian, but that is the only factor that would lead back to the board game. You can’t even argue for the map being strictly Capsule Monsters related because that’s just bumming off of Field Spells from Duel Monsters, particular in season one where Duelist Kingdom pre-made their field spells based off of the environment.
Also, I’d like to point out that this is the exact same shot they used earlier (the one I used as the header image), but the one they used in the flashback has an animation error where the capsule to the far right is on the wrong layer, so it looks like it’s floating beside the desk.
Once Celtic Guardian defeats Kamakiriman, he speaks to Yami, which is trippy as hell, and tells him that, for the duration of the game, he shall protect his new master, Yami/Yugi. In a glow of light, he’s sucked into the device on Yami’s arm, which then ejects a capsule just like the ones from the Capsule Monsters board game. This would have been a much more appropriate time to make that connection. Like, have them think this is all Duel Monsters related like normal but then when they see the capsule that’s when they say “No….this is….Capsule Monsters!” But, hey, I’m not the director.
With his new Capsule in hand, Yami proclaims that they’ve found themselves in the world of Capsule Monsters. Just to really drive it home that it’s Capsule Monsters, when they do a big zoom out, they overlay grid lines and Celtic Guard to make the area look like a game board.
And that was the first episode of Capsule Monsters…….it was bad.
The animation and art are noticeably jankier than the regular series is, and that’s already not that good. I kept getting distracted by how cheap it all looks. The story, which, again, is something you’d typically give leeway to anyway because it’s Yu-Gi-Oh!, is somehow even sloppier than the writing tends to be. No one is acting or thinking the way I’d think they would be or should be.
Téa is nervous about the trip before they even go, and for no other reason besides terrible shit just seems to follow them, but then she sees absolutely none of the major red flags raised by Alex. The one she does see is barely a red flag. Like “Hm, this archaeologist certainly does know a lot about this place he was researching and has explored before.”
Everyone has Duel Monsters amnesia, which, given how much of their lives revolve around that game, even if half of them don’t really play it, is really, really weird to the point where it’s kinda unsettling. It would be one thing if this was an entirely different game from the ground up. I wouldn’t be as preoccupied wondering why they’re not thinking of Duel Monsters. However, as far as I’ve seen, it’s just Duel Monsters in pods with a weird crystal involved.
In the manga, they had entirely different monsters than the Duel Monsters game so it felt more unique. This just feels like it’s piggy backing off of Duel Monsters.
What’s even worse is that they explain almost nothing about this new game besides you have to play strong monsters and you need to capture your opponent’s symbol thingy, if that ever comes into play. That is a pretty big sin for a gaming anime to commit. You can’t just throw your audience into this completely blind. They don’t even show them playing a full game. They just show Téa gushing about her cute monster while Yugi passively explains two facts about the game.
The only real hook I see from this series is that they have ‘real’ monsters in a ‘real’ environment, but that’s something they’ve already done before several times. Specifically, this feels awfully reminiscent of the Legendary Heroes and the Virtual World (Noah’s) arc. Hell, anytime they have a Shadow Game the monsters are technically real.
But let’s see how the story unfolds further next time.
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