An Absurdly Deep Dive into the History of 4Kids | Part 16: Yu-Gi-Oh No! (2005/2006 cont.)

In October 2005, Yu-Gi-Oh! GX was brought into the fray to replace the void left from the original Yu-Gi-Oh! series as it was ending the same year. However, instead of premiering it on Kids WB or 4Kids TV, 4Kids opted to premiere the show on Cartoon Network (on the programming block, Miguzi, which was basically Toonami if it was less cool and held underwater) for some reason. I’m not complaining, I’m just confused. Not airing it on Kids WB I get a little, but why wouldn’t they want it premiered on 4Kids TV? It would take until September 1, 2007 until it would air in syndication on 4Kids TV.

4Kids hoped GX would breathe new life into the franchise with new characters, new cards and a more casual and fun atmosphere with the new series taking place at a dueling academy. The show did suffer from the typical 4Kidsisms, including story changes, dialogue changes, a lot of visual edits in regards to transitions and splitscreens to make it seem more fast-paced and ‘cool,’ but it wouldn’t really be much more changed than the original Yu-Gi-Oh!.

Unfortunately, in 2008, 4Kids would wind up canceling GX without ever airing (or dubbing?) the final episode of season three or the entirety of season four. This was reportedly due to the fact that Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds had started airing in Japan, 4Kids had already acquired the first season and wanted to focus on releasing that instead.

According to an email response someone got from 4Kids around the time of cancellation;

“Thank you for writing to us about your interest in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX. Because a lot of our resources are dedicated to dubbing and airing 5Ds, we will not be dubbing season four of GX for this season.

However, this does not mean that we won’t ever dub it, it just means that it is not on the schedule for the near future.

The 4Kids.tv webmaster”

Basically, how this can be interpreted now is that 4Kids didn’t want to lag behind. Considering their dubbing plate wasn’t really all that full at the time either (see: all the shows they lost at this point) they easily could have dubbed GX alongside 5Ds, but I can bet they just didn’t want to bother.

It was also suggested that, since the new wave of 5Ds-based TCG releases was coming and 5Ds would still be around a year or more before release in the States if they decided to finish GX first, they just decided to bump up 5Ds and save some money by ditching GX on the side of the highway.

Other rumors theorize that 4Kids didn’t like the new direction the show was taking in the final season. The show had gotten notably darker and stood in stark contrast to the much lighter casual show it had started out as. Judai/Jaden himself also suffered from a personality change, making him much more brooding and serious than his trademark happy-go-lucky self was in earlier seasons.

It didn’t help that reception for the final season and the tail end of season three in Japan wasn’t nearly as good as it had been, and it was mostly for that very same tonal shift. Ratings for GX also weren’t as good in the west. They weren’t particularly bad, but they seemed to have paled in comparison to the original show. Either fans of the original didn’t like the new cast/vibe/setting in comparison to the original show, they didn’t like the way 4Kids had presented it, particularly in making Jaden this ‘radical’ main character who shouted out “Get your game on!” whenever he started a duel, the fact that many of Yu-Gi-Oh!‘s original fans had aged out of the target demo and the new generation of the demo wasn’t hooking in much yet or the lingering decline of Yu-Gi-Oh! as a whole was keeping it from finding a large audience.

There’s another rumor that Konami and TV Tokyo pressured 4Kids to dub 5Ds in order to capitalize on the new TCG releases, which makes some sense, but it doesn’t answer the question of why they couldn’t have also dubbed and aired GX at the same time.

Also, according to an email exchange from 4K Media, which was the division of Konami that took control of Yu-Gi-Oh! when 4Kids lost the rights after they went bankrupt (and is not, in fact, basically 4Kids in disguise as some people seem to believe), Konami didn’t have any say in 4Kids dumping GX. They claimed that they didn’t even know why 4Kids stopped dubbing GX.

Really, the only one who would suffer for keeping GX out there is 4Kids because they were the ones who would have to devote time, money and other resources to the show. Konami probably did pressure them to dub 5Ds as soon as possible, but how much pressure, I don’t know, and I sincerely doubt they told them to drop GX since that would just be additional advertising, basically, for Yu-Gi-Oh! as a whole.

Despite 4Kids claiming they might dub the rest of the series some day, they never did. They also retained the international license for several years, so no one else could take over at the time. It’s possible Konami could now dub and release the final episode of season three and all of season four, but I sincerely doubt it. It’d be a lot of work and fuss for something that probably wouldn’t be profitable.

You could argue that they just didn’t want two new Yu-Gi-Oh! shows airing at the same time.

Only they totally had two Yu-Gi-Oh! shows airing at the same time.

As Yu-Gi-Oh GX was airing on Cartoon Network, 4Kids also premiered a brand-new Yu-Gi-Oh! show on 4Kids TV….one that 4Kids had made from scratch.

Yu-Gi-Oh Capsule Monsters was a show commissioned from Studio Gallop by 4Kids based on the game, Capsule Monsters – a game introduced in the original pre-soft-reboot version of the manga and in Season Zero, which never aired in America. Because the last time 4Kids commissioned their own Yu-Gi-Oh! feature just went over so well, Twix said sarcastically.

It’s possible that 4Kids was also basing this off of Yu-Gi-Oh! Capsule Monster Coliseum – a PS2 game that released two years prior. Capsule Monster Coliseum was not a successful game. While the very few reviews I can actually find on the game are somewhat positive, they all cite the high learning curve as a big negative, which is understandable considering it’s a game based on a game where even the writers had no idea how the actual hell it really worked.

I can’t even find any sales information on the title (best I could eek out is that it may have sold 220,000 units in America with 440,000 units overall, but I can’t be certain because the website on which I got this information has no information on the Japanese sales.

Basically, the game wasn’t a success. In fact, many extensive lists on Yu-Gi-Oh! video games frequently forget this title exists. People say the same about Dungeon Dice Monsters, but at least Dungeon Dice Monsters was actually explained and prominently featured in the main anime. I loved the Dungeon Dice Monsters GBA game.

I honestly don’t know why Capsule Monsters was created. It was set near the end of the original series, but considering GX was premiering right as the original series was airing its final handful of episodes, it can’t be that they intended for it to be some bridge between the two. The Lost Media Wiki says it was made to promote the toys that 4Kids had made, but one of the links that they cite as a source, an ICv2 article, claims the exact opposite.

“The game will be drawn from the Season 5 12-episode story arc that will begin airing in the States in January 2006.”

And if that’s true then…why was the show created? Was it really just to try and get a new toy line for a property that was literally about to end off the ground? Were they really desperate to milk the series for content considering Pokemon was out the door and Yu-Gi-Oh! was left holding the bag? I guess they could have eventually launched a GX version, but considering GX was already airing, why not just start there?

It’s such an oddity. Capsule Monsters had little promotion, little fanfare, no official announcement as far as I saw, but still spawned its own tabletop game, which was very much unsuccessful. It was canceled after only releasing two starter sets and one booster pack. I honestly wouldn’t have even known there was a Capsule Monsters game if I hadn’t seen it once or twice in stores when I was a kid. Even the IMDB page for the anime has a pitiful one review to its name.

It really didn’t help that they made the game entirely different from the way it was played in the manga/Season Zero and the video game. The game 4Kids made up was just as confusing as the other versions. The game is so confusing that they felt the need to release two versions – one basic and one advanced.

It was also released oddly. The figure game was leaked in December of 2005 on Talkinsportsweb.com, then episodes of the show were airing early on January 30, 2006, without any announcement, on the Irish children’s channel, RTE. In TV listings, it was just noted as Yu-Gi-Oh!, meaning viewers thought they’d be seeing normal Yu-Gi-Oh!, but got Capsule Monsters instead, all seemingly without the knowledge of 4Kids and completely by accident on RTE’s part. RTE would continue accidentally airing these Capsule Monsters episodes until February 2, 2006 when they would shift back to GX and keep Capsule Monsters under wraps until August (Ireland was typically able to air 4Kids shows a tiny bit earlier than the US.)

Viewers were both confused and confused. Confused because there was absolutely no information on this show anywhere, nor any Japanese source material, but the evidence was right there on a LiveJournal post that it existed. Confused because the show just seemed so weird. It was still Yu-Gi-Oh!, the main cast was front and center, but it was focused on an entirely new game that, for some reason, involved what looked like arm cannons.

To make things even more confusing, the show was not presented as a spin-off. The reason I say this is because it has the exact same theme song as Yu-Gi-Oh!, just with a few different background clips and the words “Capsule Monsters” put underneath the title, as if this was a different arc of the Yu-Gi-Oh! series, not a spin-off. In addition, at the start of each episode, Yami would just say “Previously on Yu-Gi-Oh!” not “Capsule Monsters.

Some sources claim it’s a spin-off, others claim it’s just a new arc to the original series that aired some time in the middle of the final season. US TV listings at the time said “Yu-Gi-Oh! Capsule Monsters” which implies a different series, because a different arc would still be the same series. It’s incredibly confusing.

To make matters even worse…..this series comes off like a huge Pokemon rip-off. I don’t like to throw around that word much anymore, but, at its core, this was damn near plagiarism. They kept these monsters in ‘capsules,’ they could be released outside of ‘games’ and follow them around like fairly sentient (but non-verbal) animals, or they could use them as modes of transportation. They were also recalled and released with beams of light and frequently just battled other monsters with no gameplay enacted besides things like type advantages and whatnot. It was really watered down to just “Monster has a weakness against (x), so we have to do (x)”

They also didn’t have actual Capsule Monster games against other people. Capsule Monsters is supposed to be a rough off-shoot of chess, which is why one of the original names for the game in the manga was Capumon/Capsule Monsters Chess. The real world game follows roughly the same-ish format. However, in the anime, they were always just battling head to head against other wild monsters. A lot of the time, the ‘game’ came off like, well, Pokemon battles. You just command the monsters to attack and strategize based purely on certain advantages. You also collect them. And by “collect them” I mean, most of the time, they just sorta stumble upon the capsules and get monsters for free….A few times, though, they did get monsters after battling them first. And some of them just followed them for no reason, which doesn’t sound familiar at all, no sirree.

I think that’s the main reason they came up with that ‘arm cannon’ gimmick for the series when it’s not present in any form of the game, either in the video game, manga or Season Zero. If they didn’t have the arm cannon thing, they’d either have to throw the capsules or open them to release the monsters, and I can bet even 4Kids thought that imagery would probably be a bit too on-the-nose.

Oh and one of Joey’s monsters is the Baby Dragon….and he’d blow fire on Joey. Baby Dragon looks a lot like a mini-Charizard. You piece that together.

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Also, fun fact, the rough draft version of Pokemon was called Capsule Monsters, and that was in 1989. I’m not sure I believe the original game in the manga was inspired by/ripped off from Pokemon as Capsule Monsters. The Yu-Gi-Oh! manga originally came out in 1996, and the first Pokemon games were released in Japan in 1996, but the game in the manga and Season Zero is so different that I can’t say anything with any degree of certainty. It is definitely weird is all I’ll say, especially when you take the releases of the video games into consideration.

This specific anime version, however, I’m much more comfortable suspecting as a Pokemon rip-off, especially because 4Kids called for it. Since the completed game was leaked in December of 2005 and the announcement of the license agreement ending was in December of 2005, they likely didn’t know quite yet that they’d be losing Pokemon when they commissioned this series, so I won’t say this was some attempt to fill the void. Maybe it was more like general laziness and mooching off of it, like they were trying to fuse Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh! and make some sort of super mutant merchandise baby.

There was only one actual game against a real person in the entire series, (even though it was still just a normal battle) and THAT ended up coming off like a rip-off of the duel against Pegasus because one of the main issues in that battle was that Alexander, the main villain, could read Yami’s mind, allowing him to predict his moves and change his game plan accordingly. And Yami responded by confusing him with the Millennium Puzzle because his mind is literally a labyrinth.

One interesting aspect of the series was the fact that the players were able to merge with their monsters and basically partake in battles themselves. And by “players” I mean Yugi 99% of the time. Joey was able to do it once (With Red-Eyes Black Dragon – and it was pretty sick) and everyone else got wings on one occasion, that was about it. This was not only something the main series had done a few times before, but it was also something that felt very much akin to either Digimon Tamers and Biomerging or Digimon Frontier and Spirit Evolution.

The most damning aspect of the show, however, was that it was flatout boring. Most of the monsters in the show were ones we had already seen in the main series, and there were really no fun strategies or, ya know, GAMEPLAY to hook you in. It was just a watered down series of Pokemon battles.

One of the bigger issues some gaming anime have in properly advertising their real-world games is over-fantasizing it. If you can’t even remotely emulate what’s happening in the show in real-life, the real-life game seems very boring by comparison. Yu-Gi-Oh! may involve a lot of fantasy aspects, magic and drama and whatnot, but, at the end of the day, they play the game like everyone else in real life. Capsule Monsters doesn’t do that. They only barely touch upon the actual game in the first episode.

The aspect of Yami becoming a monster himself (or really just him in various suits of armor) was cool, but it would’ve been cooler if everyone else did it regularly. Or, outside of Joey, literally even once. Not to mention the aspect of Capsule Monsters kinda loses something if the main attraction isn’t really the Capsule Monsters but Yami as the Capsule Monsters.

It probably also wasn’t a good move to make the monsters so real but still keep in the aspect of them being able to pretty much die in any battle. I’m not kidding. Their monster companions die near the end – even the tiny cute ones. Imagine Pokemon if you were worried Pikachu would die in any battle.

In addition, the art and animation were clearly either rushed or suffered a case of budget-fever. I’d wager both.

Capsule Monsters aired for 12 episodes, which did contain a full arc, but it’s obvious that 4Kids intended to build something here, otherwise they wouldn’t have tried to launch a whole game on the title. I don’t know if they planned to make a full series themselves or if they hoped Japan would be so hyped on the idea that Konami would run with it and they could just bank off of their stuff. If they really were trying to build something here, why did they do such an awful job promoting this? Did they just give up before they even started?

To be fair, as far as I saw, Capsule Monsters actually didn’t do too bad for itself in ratings. However, it’s pretty clear that it wasn’t generating much word of mouth outside of ‘What the hell is this?’, and just as quickly as it came into fans’ lives, it vanished. They did rerun the show once on Toonzai in 2012, but that was it.

4Kids technically never released the series on DVD either. By that I mean that they released the series on DVD, but only after it had been recut into two movies. The first movie was released on May 23, 2006 while the second was released on September 12, 2006. 4Kids and Konami offered a full free screening of the first movie on Yugioh.com the day before the DVD was released.

Japan would never air this series, presumably because they didn’t want people to think it was canon. As the Lost Media Wiki explained, it’s even questionable if a Japanese version exists. The series is on Studio Gallop’s website, but it’s labeled as Yu-Gi-Oh! ALEX. As far as fans who actually know about it are concerned, they pretty much see the series as being entirely non-canon.

We’re almost rounding the corner into 2007, so we should probably cover the last development of 2006. The next subsidiary 4Kids launched – 4Sight Licensing Solutions. 4Kids had long since been a company aimed squarely at children, but since their scope was narrow and their business was going down, it was time to expand their horizons as much as possible. 4Sight would be geared towards licensing properties for older kids, tweens, teens and adults.

And….uh….eh….kinda? 4Sight licensed a lot of art, for use in apps, calendars, textiles, home décor, stationary etc. For instance, they licensed The Dog and Friends, which was a puppy photography series out of Japan by Artlist inc. that was known for their use of fish-eye lens. They also licensed the artwork of Japanese artist, Hokusai Katsushika, and they got at least three licenses for Pachanga art by Belen Mena. They handled the American Kennel Club license, which 4Kids had handled itself for many years before this, and Crufts, which is the UK version of the AKK basically. They had an agreement with Celestial Imports Ltd, which was largely centered on the Chicaloca brand fashion in Europe.

They got into other media a little. They released a fashion game based on the Chicaloca brand, which was released on mobile platforms and Facebook. It doesn’t seem like this game was very successful because there’s barely any information online about it. Searching for “Chicaloca game 4Sight” only brings up three pages of Google results, most of which are unrelated, and the ones that are related are just announcements for the game’s release.

Less than four months after 4Kids announced they had made a licensing agreement with Microsoft, 4Sight would reach a new multi-year agreement with Microsoft to “work in partnership with Microsoft’s Franchise Development team, exclusively handling all global brand development and merchandising deals for the XBox and XBox 360.” which, as far as I can see, really only amounted to handling the license to Viva Pinata – an XBox 360 game geared more towards kids as opposed to the more teen and adult audience XBox typically catered to, which is….kinda backwards given 4Kids’ intentions with 4Sight.

4Kids—err, excuse me, 4Sight created a cartoon series for the games (4Kids is credited for it practically everywhere), but as for anything else they did with Microsoft or XBox, that remains unclear. Besides mentioning Viva Pinata a few times in official documents and press releases, no other information regarding other Microsoft or XBox properties in relation to 4Kids/4Sight ever came up. They did have some 4Kids show-based games available on the XBox, but that’s not really the same.

As for Viva Pinata, I don’t remember a single lick of either the game or the cartoon, but both seemed to have enjoyed a good degree of success. The cartoon lasted for 91 episodes and three years. That’s pretty darn good. It also has very high ratings on IMDB, even if there are only five reviews.

It’s frustrating that there is such little information on 4Sight available, but I can only surmise that’s because they wound up not doing much with the subsidiary either because they didn’t really know what to do with it or they were afraid to actually enter waters geared towards older audiences. Even when I combed the financial reports for every year, the only mentions of 4Sight were just pointing out that it existed and was owned by 4Kids. I did find a supposedly insanely detailed business report online on 4Sight, but I could only access it if I paid $300, which, ahem…Lol.

4Sight would stay with 4Kids as a subsidiary until the absolute end of the company in 2017.

Also during this year came one of Al Kahn’s most infamous moments where he garnered quite a bit of backlash from the anime and manga fandom. In an ICv2 Graphic Novel Conference, Al Kahn was quoted as saying;

“I think manga is a problem because we’re in a culture that is not a reading culture. Kid’s today don’t read, they read less today. In every survey, we find that they’re watching more television, they’re on the Internet more, and that content, although being king, is very disposable. Because the way content gets put out now, it gets put out free. We’re streaming most of our shows. The reason why we’re streaming them is we want kids to watch them as much as they can, and get vested in the concept and go out and buy products. The products ain’t free. The content is going to be free. And manga in my mind is trying to put a square peg in a round hole in the U.S. It will never be a big deal here, for the kids that are in the computer or the Internet generation, because they’re not going to read. They haven’t read, and they’re not going to start now.”

To say his comments didn’t go over well is an understatement. According to some sources, people booed and hissed at several of his comments. I mean, I don’t really understand how you can go to a Graphic Novel Convention with over 125 panelists – in New York City – and then go on about how kids don’t read and manga is never going to be popular in America and not expect a bad reception, especially in 2006….ya know….when Harry Potter was exploding in popularity.

Reading rates for fun among children fluctuate quite a lot, and data about this specific query was unclear because of the way the studies were conducted and the fact that there were a surprisingly few amount of studies about it. Believe it or not, at least according to data in the decade in which he said this, children read for fun fairly often when they’re young, not as often when they’re teenagers, but then the rates increase again when they become adults. Reading rates among children for recreation did go down steadily as television and video games became more readily available and appealing (in addition to a variety of other factors we won’t explore here – including a noticeable discernment among the sexes.) but it wasn’t a drastic downturn, and upticks happened regularly for a variety of reasons, including reading online.

…..Oh and by the way, this comment would become especially weird in 2009 when 4Kids would become the licensing agent for WordWorld – a former PBS preschool show that promoted *drum roll* LITERACY.

And, of course, Al Kahn just saw this as little more than a money grab.

“WordWorld’s expertise in the creative and educational domains coupled with 4Kids Entertainment’s proven track record in developing entertainment brands is certain to produce exciting results – from a sales and innovation perspective.”

I also find it funny that one of the episodes of Kirby: Right Back at Ya! was shifted around to mooch off of the release of a new Harry Potter BOOK. Like, yeah, kids don’t read, but we also recognize that there’s a massively popular kids’ book series out now that we need to capitalize on.

As we can see now, he was obviously wrong as manga eventually did become incredibly popular in the west, among children as well, even if reading rates continue to fluctuate throughout the years. As recently as 2020, manga sales hit an all-time high.

He was also making these comments right next to many people who worked in the manga industry in America, including people from TokyoPop, Kodansha, and Viz Media. Al never dipped his toes into that world so he just sounded like someone who had no idea what he was talking about acting is if he was an authority on the matter.

It wasn’t just a commentary on how something like manga would never take off in the US – he was flat out saying kids these days were never interested in reading, they aren’t now and they never will be because of digital media, which is not true for a multitude of reasons. Like I said, you can definitely argue that children reading for fun wasn’t as common, but acting as if reading as a whole was dying among children was too outlandish of a claim.

To be completely fair, though, there was some validity in his statements. 2006 was a bad year for manga in Japan. Manga sales had been declining for over a decade at that point, and 2006 was the first year manga sales had dipped below ¥500bil. Print media as a whole was on the decline in Japan, and, basically, manga had just been as affected. Indeed, all commercial print media was down, and, yes, cell phones and digital media were a part of that decline (There were several reasons why both manga and anime were down in Japan at the time – such as two major financial crises for Japan preceding this, low birth rates and even their strict immigration practices.)

Japan was way ahead of us when it came to mobile technology, and they still are. The practice of spending time on your phone instead of reading a book while you’re on the bus or train was increasing. However, manga was available to consume digitally and had been for about three years at that point. It was a ¥9bil industry, and it was growing like wildfire. Consumers loved the low price point, the convenience and the discretion – considering enjoying manga, particularly hentai titles, was embarrassing in public, and reading on a cellphone allowed customers to read in public without having to worry too much about people seeing what they’re reading. The sales for manga this way, I believe, were not reported in the same manner as their print counterparts, so the manga industry was probably doing better than how it looked back then given the purely print numbers.

The fact that Al Kahn didn’t even bring up the concept of digital manga (he even speaks as though it’s not possible for manga to be digitized?) or even digital means of reading as a whole shows that he didn’t know much about what he was talking about, especially since he later comments on how, if you look at people in America, they’re all using MP3 players and cell phones while walking around, but, in Japan, everyone on the subway has a “3000 page manga.” I don’t know if he was exaggerating or being stupid. Most manga have around, I’ll say, between 150-300 pages. A 3000 page manga would be comically large. It is literally two and a half Bibles.

The digital age seemed like such a hindrance to reading in the eyes of older folks, but that wasn’t necessarily the case. The internet boom and the rise of mobile devices made it much easier for kids to learn how to read and gave them more access to different modes of reading – like ebooks, online articles, web comics and even video games.

And just to drive the point home – the American manga industry was doing very well, especially during the start of a major recession. In 2006, manga sales actually grew 22% from $7.5mil to $9.5mil, with sales jumping from $60mil in 2002 to at least $170mil in 2006, and roughly 44% of all graphic novels in bookstores and comic book stores were reported to be manga. Manga sales would see another rise by 10% in 2007. However, this would obviously go down sharply in 2008-2010 due to the worst of the financial crisis hitting as well as lack of big name titles being released and the closure of the Borders bookstore chain among several other factors, until they finally rebounded in 2013. The industry was also growing, albeit, admittedly, slowly. In fact, one of the ways the Japanese manga industry was helping ends meet was through international manga sales, particularly those in the US.

One of the other reasons his comments garnered backlash was because it made off like children were becoming illiterate and we should just….ya know….let them. There’s no profit in promoting reading to kids, so screw it. It really shines a bright light on why 4Kids does everything in their power to remove any and all text, no matter the language, from their shows. They think if they let kids see too many words their profit margins will go down or something. Obviously, basically outright saying “Don’t invest in books, manga or any other reading materials for American kids because kids here don’t read. Instead, let their brains rot and profit off of that.” is a hot take that will certainly not earn you any favors with pretty much damn near anyone in the anime industry, whether State-side or otherwise, considering basically all of them are tightly woven into the manga industry.

Liza Coppola, Vice President of Viz Media, responded by pointing out that Viz had recently partnered with the literacy campaign, Read for America, and stated that, “Manga is a great medium to bring kids back to reading.” Viz had seen a positive response from librarians and children from their manga, and they continue making partnerships for the sake of literacy campaigns to this day. Likewise, in June 2006, Tokyopop also launched a program with the LA Public Library using their manga to promote reading to kids and teens.

As a final note for this year, 4Kids also acquired the licensing rights to Futari wa Pretty Cure. However, they never seemingly recorded a dub for the series at all, presumably because Mew Mew Power hit a brick wall and Magical DoReMi didn’t take off well enough. They announced that they had the license to Precure and never said much about it again. They held onto the rights for about three years until the license was handed over to Ocean Productions so they could finally dub and release the show in English on Canada’s YTV.

All in all, 2006 was….not awful. It was down from 2005 with $71,787,000 in net revenues compared to $80,607,000 in 2005. Yu-Gi-Oh! was still noted as being their biggest contributing factor, though the show’s domestic broadcast returns were down, along with TMNT and Cabbage Patch Kids, despite the latter two recording lower revenue from last year. Revenue from Viva Pinata and Chaotic were noted as giving them a boost in that regard. However, they did end the year in the red with a net loss of $1,006,000 in comparison to 2005 with a net income of $5,069,000. Their stocks did enjoy a significant bump, though – seeing the first rise since 2002-2003.

Next – Part 17: 4Kids TV 2: The Kidsening

Previous – Part 15: The Chaotic Nature of Rumors


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AniManga Clash! Yu-Gi-Oh Season Zero Episode 11: The Rumored CapuMon’s New Arrival (Placeholder + Notes on Chapter 24)

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Plot: Miho is gifted a gacha machine from a college student named Warashibe, who has a crush on her. The machine is filled with Capsule Monsters – toys used to play the latest gaming craze of the same name. Warashibe is friends with Yugi since they play Capsule Monsters together, and he helped Warashibe set all of this up.

Miho is flattered, so she sends him a nice letter and a Capsule Monster, stating that she’s starting to get into the game too.

Problem is, Warashibe is a massive creeper. Even Yugi, one of the friendliest souls in the world, is put off by his overly dramatic and obsessive behavior both in regards to Capsule Monsters and Miho. He has a ‘secret base’ that is actually an old warehouse loaded with every Capsule Monster you could ever dream of, and he spends a lot of his time playing with them in the dark. He had a chance encounter with Miho a short while before and was so enamored with her that he dubbed her his Capsule Monster Goddess.

In another effort to win Miho over, Warashibe traps Yugi into helping him with a ploy. Yugi pretends to be an attacker threatening Miho and Warashibe fights him off. However, the plan fails. Miho freaks out at Warashibe’s advances and even yells that she knows really nothing about Capsule Monsters, much to Warashibe’s dismay.

The next day at school, Jonouchi, Anzu and Honda mock Warashibe for what he did. However, they don’t realize that he’s in the cafeteria with them in disguise listening to their every word. Seeing them as a threat to his and Miho’s relationship, Warashibe poisons Anzu, Jonouchi and Honda with glasses of raw water, giving them stomachaches.

A note in her locker leads Miho to the revelation that Warashibe was behind this. Pissed off, she grabs Yugi and they head to Warashibe’s secret base to chew him out. However, he posits a challenge – Miho will face him in one game of Capsule Monsters. If she wins, he’ll leave her alone forever. If she loses, she has to give herself over to him.

She accepts, and they start the game. Using a gacha machine, they select their Capsule Monsters. However, Miho’s picks are horrible. She has three level ones, the lowest level, one level two and a level four. Warashibe has two level fours and three level fives, the highest level you can use.

Miho doesn’t even get two turns into the game before she becomes frustrated at the one-sidedness and Warashibe’s attitude. Yugi accidentally knocks the gacha machine over and reveals a hidden mechanism designed to give Warashibe the best Capsule Monsters.

They try to run out of the building, but Warashibe uses a trap gate over the door to stop them. He also unveils a giant capsule in which he plans to keep Miho forever. The beam which is holding the gate crumbles, however, and knocks Miho out. Yami emerges from the dust holding Miho’s unconscious body and challenges Warashibe to a game himself.

Yami decides to use the Capsule Monsters that Miho used in their game instead of picking a better batch, and they’ll simply pick up where Miho left off, not clear the board and start a new game. He has also declared that this game will be a Shadow Game.

Warashibe accepts and the battle starts. Warashibe easily starts picking off all of Yami’s creatures one by one, and he’s quickly left with only one on the board. However, Yami points out that he was luring him into a trap. Warashibe has lined up all of his monsters into a diagonal line in front of Yami’s last creature, who, despite being a lowly level two, just so happens to have the ability to insta-kill any monster, even level fives, as long as they’re diagonal to it.

Yami activates the ability, destroying all of Warashibe’s monsters and winning the game. Yami reminds Warashibe that Capsule Monsters aren’t about collecting – they’re about battle and using even seeming disadvantageous creatures to their full potential to win.

Warashibe has a hissy fit about the loss, but Yami delivers his punishment game – locking Warashibe in a giant level one Capsule Monster capsule.

Back with a now recovered Anzu, Jonouchi and Honda, the group talks about what happened. Miho runs up yelling about the new Capsule Monster she got, but trips and falls, dropping a slue of Capsule Monsters everywhere.

Breakdown: Oh my god. Fuck this episode with a spork made of porcupine needles.

This episode is a perfect storm of annoyingness and bad writing decisions.

Miho being given the focus is already bad enough, but Warashibe is one of the creepiest yet lamest piece of shit antagonists I’ve ever seen. The guy tries to act all menacing while he sucks on a striped lollipop 24/7, sits at gacha machines for hours basically emptying them out to get the best Capsule Monsters, sits in the dark in his little den of Capsule Monsters just playing by himself somehow, and when he doesn’t get what he wants he collapses on the ground crying and has a tantrum.

Funnily enough, the subber pointed out during his last tantrum that his name translates to ‘Child.’

He also has a super-villain-esque trap set up in this warehouse and has that ridiculous life-sized Capsule Monster capsule that he plans on storing Miho in? What the actual hell?

Not to mention that he likes to pepper in English words into his speech, and they’re always just pet names for Miho like ‘Baby’ ‘Sweetheart’ and ‘My darling.’ Plus, his creepy little smiley expression can go die in a hole.

YGOSZEP11SCREEN2

While I do commend Miho for stepping up during this episode, she’s also a complete dumbass for the entire run. Creepy college student she barely knows gifting her a gacha Capsule Monsters machine loaded with Capsule Monsters? Better write him what was basically a love letter and include a little gift for him so he’s lead on even more. Have physical evidence that would link him to the poisoning of your three friends? Better not call the cops and instead confront him yourself with your only defense being a four foot tall spiky haired game enthusiast who is so innocent his mind is literally a child’s playroom. Guy who is obsessed with Capsule Monsters, has a warehouse full of rare Capsule Monsters (that Miho’s currently in) and spends his days playing Capsule Monsters whenever he can? Meanwhile you admit that you know little to nothing of the game and have only started practicing by yourself a day ago? Better accept his Capsule Monsters challenge where the stakes involve you handing yourself over to him if you lose.

I thought they would pull a 180 on me. I thought they’d have Miho take Yami’s place in this Shadow Game and actually manage to impress everyone with how skilled she is, secretly being a Capsule Monsters nut or something. It would’ve been a good twist, a great (and much needed) moment for Miho and it would have added something to her character.

But nope.

She makes stupid moves, basically quits after two turns and then is knocked out, and Yami has to swoop in and save her ass. Then she becomes obsessed with Capsule Monsters for a quick end tag joke, but I guarantee this will never be brought up again. She ends the episode with no development or anything – she’s just ditz-ass Miho as usual.

What’s even worse is they kinda imply that Yami was just employing a strategy that Miho started – a brilliant but also completely luck based strategy that instantly won the game. I can’t believe for a minute that that would be the case. Even little Yugi pointed out that she was making bad moves, and it was never implied that she might have been up to something. Plus, if she really did have this brilliant strategy in mind, why did she quit after two moves? Even in her inner monologue, she admits that she has no idea what she’s doing.

I’m want to believe this is poor wording and that Yami was really taking advantage of a situation and monster that Miho didn’t realize she had….but I can’t.

The reason for this being the only actual AniManga Clash note I have for this episode. I mentioned in the review of chapter 24 that the Shadow Game part of that chapter was the only part adapted in Season Zero. And, yeah, it is. Just replace Warashibe with Mokuba, replace a weird love obsession motive with one of vengeance and remove Miho entirely and it’s the same game. He even cheated the same way and got the same punishment.

Remember how I mentioned that, in that chapter, they foreshadowed Yami’s strategy by having his bird monster off on its own while the other monsters were bunched up together? He was clearly planning that BS move from the very beginning.

Well…..Miho’s side of the field is set up the exact same way…..

YGOSZEP11SCREEN3

So even though she herself admits that she has no clue what the hell she’s doing, she still managed to think up and create this miracle winning opening formation and perfectly set up the BS win. Yami basically just noticed what she was planning and went through the motions, I guess. Miho’s an unwitting Capsule Monster prodigy.

OR, and here’s the more likely theory, the artists mirrored this game without it clicking in their minds that this opening formation was the perfect setup for Yami’s BS plan and didn’t realize what it would be implying to anyone paying attention.

This is another reason why it would have made more sense for Miho to take Yami’s place here. Have her hustle Warashibe and even trick Yugi. Act like the simple annoying moron she always is, but slowly reveal that she’s secretly a badass Capsule Monster player who has been playing in private for a long time. She just doesn’t tell anyone because it’s viewed as a game for younger children and she doesn’t want to get made fun of. She can even claim she told Warashibe that she didn’t know anything about Capsule Monsters because she thought he was creepy and wanted him to go away.

Then her opening formation would make perfect sense, and she’d be winning her own freedom instead of Yami doing it for her.

But again, nope. Just have her be a complete idiot who accepted a challenge that clearly wasn’t in her favor, even in spite of the rigged capsule selection.

And how, after all of that, is she suddenly obsessed with Capsule Monsters? I’d think if a guy stalked me, poisoned my friends, nearly kept me as a human Capsule Monster for his own sick enjoyment, and gambled my life on a rigged Capsule Monster game, the last game I’d ever want to play would be Capsule Monsters. But, nope nope nope. Miho does things just cuz.

Is this the last Miho-centric episode? Please say it is. They never do anything worthwhile with her and she’s like sandpaper on all of my senses, so why bother?

Go away, Miho.

Next time, Jonouchi tries to win big on a local game show, but certain people aren’t willing to let him get the prize money so easily.


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Yu-Gi-Oh! (Manga) Chapter 24 Review (AniManga Clash! Season Zero Placeholder)

Hey guys, who remembers that short Yu-Gi-Oh! Spin-off thinger – Capsule Monsters? I sure do!….Kinda!…I remember it existing. I remember watching some of it and being rather bored.

Fun fact: The Capsule Monsters anime, despite being based on an actual game in this old-ass version of the manga (No idea if it’s played the same way, though), wasn’t something the original anime creators wanted to make. In fact, the series never released in Japan.

Also, apparently, according to the Fandom Wiki anyway (I really question whether this is true), despite never once airing in Japan, there is a Japanese version of it. Why they dubbed it and never released it is beyond me.

Who was actually behind this spin-off no one asked for, no one paid much attention to and amounted to nothing but basically being a money sink? Why, who else but the donut bakers themselves, 4Kids?

Yup, 4Kids, for some inexplicable reason, ‘commissioned, produced and editedCapsule Monsters when Yu-Gi-Oh’s original run was reaching its final season. They also did the kinda skeevy thing of re-editing the series into a movie (Two movies, I guess, technically?) and treating it like it was a new movie based on the series. Because that’s never sketchy or annoying, especially when you’re dealing with something aimed towards kids.

At least they released the movie for free for one day on their website for some reason so some people could be made aware that it wasn’t new content….No idea why they did that, but they did.

I really have to review Capsule Monsters at some point, but back to the topic at hand….Uh…well, more Capsule Monsters.

I brought up the anime because, even when that aired, I didn’t really understand how the game was played nor did I feel very compelled to learn because the anime, to my recollection, was quite boring.

Capsule Monsters, otherwise known as Capsule Monster Chess/Capmon in the manga (sometimes) is Mokuba’s niche game in the manga. I could’ve sworn he was also a player of the game in the anime. I would have bet a substantial amount of money on that….but he’s not. Mokuba not only isn’t an avid Capsule Monster player in the Capsule Monsters anime – he’s not even in the anime. Poor Mokuba. Were you too busy being kidnapped to be in the anime?

What of the first depiction of Capsule Monsters in the manga? Let’s find out.

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The manga actually explains fairly well how this version of the game is played. Capsule Monsters are dispensed in gashapon machines, which I just learned are supposed to be called ‘blind boxes’ in America, but I have never once heard that ever. They’re also called ‘gacha’ machines, and if you play pretty much any MMO or mobile game in existence, that word awakens something visceral in you.

Yugi explains how the game is played, for the most part. The capsules all have one number between one and five on them – this indicates their attack power. Within the capsules are….the uh…well, the monsters, of course. Each player unleashes five monsters onto an 8×8 game board, of which there are 50 different types. This game area mimics the planet of ganastar….I’m not sure why that matters, but okay.

All of the monsters stay within the capsules when they’re setting the game up, so each side starts the game mostly blind to the monsters the opponent is playing, outside of their attack strength. Monsters all have their own ranges, types of attacks and effects, so strategy comes into play when moving the pieces and battling the monsters. Whoever destroys all of the opponent’s monsters wins.

Yugi’s in line to get some capsules when, in typical Yu-Gi-Oh manga fashion, he comes across an asshole. This asshole kid cuts in front of him in line then says Yugi’s too old to play the game, being in high school. This game is equated to chess and yet it’s aimed squarely at middle school and younger?

He lets Yugi get his capsules eventually, but Yugi’s money gets lost in the machine. He, strangely, loses his shit and starts swearing at the machine, shaking it violently. Bit of an OOC moment for him. I know he’s passionate about games, but he’s never one to have a temper like that. The old man who owns the candy store that the machines are in starts screaming at him.

Suddenly, Mokuba Kaiba makes his debut appearance, looking just as frightening and creepy as you’d expect in this manga’s art. Apparently he’s such a Capsule Monsters baller that the other kids go silent in his presence. Like Seto is a champion in Duel Monsters, Mokuba is a champion in Capsule Monsters.

So, did you guys forget that you’re reading Yu-Gi-Oh’s early manga days? You did? Oh, let me remind you by showing you this scene where Mokuba, the small child, orders these small child children of the kid nature to attack Yugi. They have a taser………..a switchblade……………..And….I’m not kidding…..A fucking Uzi.

What kind of world does this manga take place in?! Not even the chapter with an actual murderer involved a fucking UZI.

Mokuba wants to fight for his big brother’s honor, so he’s kidnapping Yugi and taking the candy shop’s gashapon machine (After throwing the owner a stack of money to pay for it.)

They bring Yugi to their secret base, which is just a warehouse, so they can play. Beforehand, though, Mokuba’s little goons try to intimidate him some more, saying stuff like he’s wimpy and they’ll burn down his house. Ya know, typical schoolyard stuff.

They cross the line when they try to touch Yugi’s Puzzle, however, because, under threat of smashing it and trying to grab it from him, Yugi instantly shifts to Yami, who flips his shit and screams at them to let go of his Puzzle. Wow, both of you are quite touchy today.

The goons are shocked at this change, but, surprisingly, Mokuba’s not because apparently Seto told him about Yugi’s ability to transform. *shrug*

Mokuba says he stole the gashapon machine to make the capsule picks completely blind so he wouldn’t have an unfair advantage using his own capsules…..then he reveals in inner monologue that he rigged the machine, paid off the candy shop owner before Yugi even got there, and rigged the machine to give him the better capsules anyway.

Also, again with making the Kaibas cheaters. Granted, in the 2000 anime, the one and only time you see Mokuba duel, against Yugi, he cheats by trying to steal some of Yugi’s star chips in the middle of the duel, but that was in desperation to keep Kaiba Corp from being sold to Pegasus.

Yugi’s capsules result in attack strengths of 1-1-1-2-4 while Mokuba’s are 4-4-5-5-5….I think anyone with a single brain cell could have deduced that Mokuba rigged the machine just on this result alone without him immediately telling us, but okay.

Before they start, Mokuba lays a bet down. Now, you’d imagine that, considering he’s playing for his older brother’s honor, his wager would be something like Yugi would have to kiss Kaiba’s feet or give him all of his Duel Monster cards or something, right?

……His wager is, if he wins, he’ll CUT OFF ONE OF YUGI’S FINGERS! He’s even holding a folding knife as he says it. What the hell is wrong with this manga?!

Yugi says, if he wins, Mokuba will suffer a penalty game.

Anyway, as expected, even though they laid out the rules at the beginning, much like with the part with Duel Monsters, they just pretty much do whatever without explaining anything. Like, what determines which piece moves how far and when? Why do formations matter all that much if you can move freely? If attack level is all that matters in battles, then doesn’t that mean the match can be decided before they even get on the board? If monsters have effects or abilities, like Duel Monster cards, where is this information held? In some sort of book or something? Because there’s no text on the capsules or in them.

Yami gets pummeled, only managing to kill one of Mokuba’s creatures on a stalemated attack, meaning he had to sacrifice his most powerful creature for that.

He’s down to his last monster, and it seems all is lost until, luck of all lucks, Yugi reveals that he was luring all of Mokuba’s monsters into a diagonal line. His last monster, which is level two, just so happens to have the ability to literally insta-kill any monster with its attack, even if it’s level five. And it shoots this ability in a diagonal pattern, meaning all of Mokuba’s monsters are defeated in one shot.

If you think this situation stinks at all, it’s because Yugi totally pulled this win out of his ass.

Mokuba may be a cheat, but he’s still a Capsule Monsters champion. Even if he cheated in those championships (We don’t know that, but he cheated here and it’s suggested that Seto cheated in his championships, so it’s not a far cry to say Mokuba did too) he definitely knows the game well enough to play the part. He’s making observations about strategy and formation as if he’s a veteran, so he has to be pretty skilled. All of the monsters get revealed at the start of the game, meaning he had to know what that monster was and what ability it had, so he should have been very careful to not do anything dumb like line up literally all of his monsters in a perfect diagonal line right in front of him.

How does this low-level creature have such an awesome ability anyway? If it’s a simple straight diagonal line of insta-kill damage, he could kill a monster from the other side of the board if he aimed carefully. And it insta-kills even the strongest monsters, too?

Granted, they did set this up visually. As you’ll note in the first shot of the game board when they’re done setting up, the bird thing that has this ability is off on its own, further back than his other four creatures, which were meant to cut off Mokuba’s creatures on the way there and set up this line.

The problem is, though, he gambled a hell of a lot here. I know the Heart of the Cards thing has basically become a meme by now, but come on – this isn’t even Duel Monsters. Is there a Heart of the Capsules? The luck in play here is insane. What if Mokuba caught on to his game and avoided the diagonal line? What if he sent one monster off to approach from directly ahead or off to either side? Or what if he spread out his monsters even a tiny bit more? If he didn’t get all of those monsters in one shot, he definitely would have lost. And Yami never once seemed the slightest bit concerned that his plan wouldn’t work. He was sporting a cocky smirk the whole time like his plan was foolproof when it was about as airtight as a moth’s nylon stocking.

I feel like this is the manga version of the duel with Seto in Season Zero where Seto just pulled a sudden ‘It’s a draw lol’ card out of nowhere at the last minute, right as he was about to lose.

Anyhoo, Yami sentences Mokuba to a penalty game, which is being trapped in an illusion of being sealed in a Capsule Monster capsule (and it has a level one mark on it – nice shade, Yami.) But before it’s closed, Mokuba teases that this isn’t over. Seto is setting up for his revenge against Yugi with something called Death T.

Also, this chapter ends with a pretty cool illustration of a little dice game you can play to try and beat Kaiba. I might try it for myself sometime. It’s a neat little addition.

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So, uh, this chapter was pretty messed up, wouldn’t ya say? Uzis and switchblades and threatening to cut off people’s fingers – all brought to you by elementary school students. Fun fun.

The story is alright. I still think that ending was complete bullshit, but it’s not like this series is a stranger to bullshit wins. Mokuba’s a friggin’ psychopath in this version, and I can’t really tell if I love that or hate it. In the 2000 anime, he’s kinda Seto’s morality pet more or less, but, on his own, he’s really not all that interesting. He’s basically Tristan just with more of a purpose (behind the scenes anyway) and 10000% more kidnappings. He’s a nice little kid with a good sense of justice and very strong loyalty to Seto, and he’s very forgiving, but he’s just not that interesting.

Can I even say this version of Mokuba is more interesting, though? Because he’s just a nutcase. There’s nothing likable about this future mob boss besides his desire to avenge his brother’s honor, and that’s kinda watered down by the fact that he doesn’t even try to face Yugi/Yami properly before cheating. The little prick cheated before he even MET Yugi.

I actually like the concept of Capsule Monsters here, even if I’m still kinda confused about it. I hope it becomes a little clearer when we revisit the game later (at least in Season Zero. We might revisit it again in the manga, I’m not sure. The manga and anime will stray away from each other quite a bit in the future.) I’m not holding my breath though, because even the Wiki page for it says some concepts are just flatout poorly explained, like abilities.

I thought I remembered Capsule Monster toys being a thing when I was younger and turns out I was right. It was very shortlived, obviously, and didn’t get a lot of distribution in stores, but apparently they pushed it enough for me to remember it being in my local Walmart for probably a month before it faded in obscurity.

Also, it seems like this version of the game is played differently from both the manga and anime versions.

Not only that, but apparently there was a video game version of Capsule Monsters made for the Playstation in 1998 called Yu-Gi-Oh! Monster Capsule: Breed and Battle that was only released in Japan. Golly, a video game released in 1998 where you collect monsters in small balls and raise them to help them evolve into stronger monsters that you will use to battle other monsters. How did that not immediately take off?

To my surprise, there was another video game that came out in 2004 based on Capsule Monsters for the PS2 titled Yu-Gi-Oh! Capsule Monster Coliseum. I had followed the Yu-Gi-Oh video games pretty well when I was a kid, but I didn’t have much money to buy many of them, and I never once remembered seeing this game in stores. Maybe I did – the box art is just the slightest bit familiar – but, again, they didn’t seem to push this game very well. I remember them pushing the Dungeon Dice Monsters game, and I bought that, but the Capsule Monsters game is a blur at best.

Also, it’s weird that they spelled ‘coliseum’ like that, isn’t it? You don’t typically see it spelled that way. It’s usually spelled ‘Colosseum.’ Ya know….like, uh, hm what’s a good example?…..Uhm….Oh, how about Pokemon Colosseum….the game that was also released in 2004?

I’m just poking fun at the Pokemon connection, really, because Capsule Monsters does seem like a fun game and honestly isn’t a ripoff of Pokemon, given the board game aspect and chess-like strategies. I just think it doesn’t do a good job of explaining how different it is out the gate. You hear ‘capsule monsters’ and see that the blurb is just ‘collect, raise and battle monsters in small balls’ and you can’t help but think ‘Pokemon rip-off.’

And, to be completely fair….the concept name of Pokemon was literally Capsule Monsters, so they’re kinda asking for it.

I think if it had taken off more I would’ve gotten into it. Maybe not so much because I was spending enough money on Yu-Gi-Oh cards without buying packs of small toys that probably cost even more. It just seems like, no matter how much they tried, they couldn’t get this game off the ground. They really hit their stride with Yu-Gi-Oh/Duel Monsters, but I think you could still make something great with Capsule Monsters. It’s a shame, really. Seems like a missed opportunity. Maybe the timing wasn’t right or something.

Final Notes: This episode is only extremely lightly referenced in episode 11, and that’s because the Capsule Monsters game played there is basically a mirror of the one played here. Literally everything else is different, including there being a different opponent.

Next time…..


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