Plot: Jonouchi mysteriously goes missing. When his friends find him, he’s hanging out with a gang of thugs from Rintama High, lead by Jonouchi’s old partner in crime, Hirutani. Yugi and the others confront him about what he’s doing with these guys, but Jonouchi pretends he doesn’t know Yugi and his friends, and is even complacent when one of the gang socks Yugi in the stomach.
Yugi refuses to lose faith in his best friend, however, and believes there must be a good reason for his behavior. He’s right – Jonouchi was coerced into joining Hirutani’s gang by threatening to hurt his friends if he didn’t. Unable to keep a lid on his rage for too long after witnessing that thug hit Yugi, Jonouchi attacks the gang member. Having shown insubordination, Hirutani aims to ‘educate’ Jonouchi on who’s top dog. Can Yugi, Honda and Anzu save him from this gang before it’s too late?
Episode 9 Notes: This is a bit complicated. Season Zero never fully adapted the story that this arc is focusing on. However, they did take the first half of this arc and staple it onto the anime’s adaptation of Jonouchi’s second encounter with Hirutani, which is way down the line in the manga in chapters 48 and 49, and episode nine in Season Zero.
Namely, they realize that Jonouchi is absent, which is strange for him, go to his house to investigate and find his drunken pile of crap of a dad (The first and only time we ever see him, though we never see his face) yelling about Jonouchi being missing all night, not even realizing Honda, Yugi, Miho and Anzu are at the door. We learn that Honda and Jonouchi have known each other since middle school, longer than Anzu and Yugi have known him. His dad is a loud, obnoxious, possibly abusive drunk, which is why he doesn’t invite friends over to his house. Since his father mentioned Jonouchi never came home last night, Yugi, Honda, Anzu and Miho search all over town for him.
The anime also adapts the parts where Jonouchi initially joins up with Hirutani’s gang, Yugi tries to talk to Jonouchi, he pretends he doesn’t know him, one of the gang punches Yugi, but they add the yoyo aspect of the second story arc to it (For a second. They don’t even hit the guy with the yoyos.) They don’t put Jonouchi in the Rintama uniform as they do here (Which I’m okay with because, what, did he get a transfer overnight?) and they remove the fact that the Rintama gang were all smoking in the manga.
Also, they changed Hirutani’s design a little. His hair is meant to be blond, and he’s thinner in the manga. In the anime, he’s taller, bulkier and his hair is a murky blue/purple color.
They also adapt Jonouchi’s backstory with Hirutani, but they kinda had to in order for the second story to make sense.
In the manga, since Honda was basically Jonouchi Lite, he also used to brawl a lot in middle school, but he didn’t like Hirutani and his gang because they’d pick on weaklings a lot (Which actually creates a bit of a contradiction because the first time we met Honda in the manga he was helping Jonouchi pick on Yugi….I know the 2000 anime brushes this off by saying they were just trying to toughen Yugi up, but there’s absolutely no implication of that in the original manga chapter or the Season Zero first episode.)
Yugi has very strong faith in Jonouchi, however, so he proclaims that he hasn’t changed. Whereas Honda immediately chose to believe Yugi’s words and believe in Jonouchi in the manga, Honda denounces Jonouchi entirely and claims that he’s always been rotten and always will be in the anime. He then leaves and tells the others to not associate themselves with Jonouchi anymore.
Meanwhile, in an anime exclusive scene, Hirutani and his gang clash with the gang of some other school. He specifically sends out Jonouchi to fight alone since he stated that fights should be done with fists, not yoyos. Jonouchi actually does manage to fight off every single one of their gang, alone, and off-screen.
Later, Anzu, Miho and Yugi head to J’z (which is the same bar they visit in the manga) to see if they can spot Jonouchi, but Honda shows up wearing some pink band across his torso. He’s about to go into J’z to confront the gang and Jonouchi when the trio spots him and point out that he was lying about what he said earlier about Jonouchi….Why he said that at all, I don’t know. Does he not want to seem like he cares about Jonouchi?
In the manga, Anzu, Yugi and Honda go to J’z together, and Honda confronts one of the Rintama gang members leaving the bar.
The anime also adds in Honda explaining what the band means. When he was in middle school, they had a track meet. The band was used as a baton, basically, and Honda, in second place, passed it off to Jonouchi, who won them the meet. Ever since that day, they’ve been friends, and that band is a sign of their friendship. While Yugi and Miho love the story, Anzu says it sounds fishy.
Since the commercial break hits there and the rest of the episode is not really related to this arc, I’ll stop there for now and continue when we get to episode nine’s review.
Jonouchi has gone missing, and Yugi, Honda and Anzu are very concerned about him. They go to his house to see if he’s there, but only catch a glimpse of his irate drunk father lazing about on the couch. He throws a beer bottle at the door as it opens, complaining about Jonouchi being gone all night, not even realizing the three are at the door.
As the group investigates Jonouchi’s disappearance further, they spot a gang of thugs from Rintama High School beating on some guy. The gang from Rintama, particularly their leader, Hirutani, are known for being some of the most ruthless thugs in the area – Honda showing a particular distaste for them. They decide to move on, but then they notice Jonouchi with the thugs, wearing Rintama High’s uniform.
He pretends to not know the group and blows them off, which angers Honda. Yugi tries desperately to get him to come back, only to have one of the other thugs punch him in the face. Jonouchi and the Rintama gang then leave.
As Honda and Anzu tend to Yugi, Honda expresses his disappointment in Jonouchi for joining up with those jerks, especially his old partner in crime, Hirutani. But Yugi proclaims that he’s sure there’s a logical reason. He’d never believe Jonouchi would turn into someone so cruel. Honda happily agrees and they go off once more. They overhear the gang wanting to head to an American-style dive bar called J’z so they head there next.
They catch one of the gang members outside, and Honda threatens him into telling them what they’ve done to Jonouchi. The thug explains that Hirutani wants to expand his gang’s influence, and for that he needed Jonouchi. However, Jonouchi had been reformed, so Hirutani threatened him by saying he’d attack his friends from Domino High if he didn’t comply.
Meanwhile, Jonouchi finds he can’t restrain himself for long after the attack on Yugi, so he punches the gang member who delivered the punch and knocks him out cold. Hirutani likes Jonouchi’s spirit, but doesn’t accept his rebellious attitude. He calls on all of his thugs to beat the hell out of Jonouchi. He manages to stand his ground for only a few seconds before being felled. Hirutani then demands that they take him to the Execution Grounds.
Sooo….yeah, another group of people so evil they’re literal murderers without a care in the world.
They tie up Jonouchi in some warehouse or hangar and give him a thorough beating. Hirutani explains their relationship in middle school. Jonouchi was his underling, but he also called him his partner and they thought exactly the same way. However, as his underling, Hirutani made the mistake of not properly ‘educating’ Jonouchi, which I take to mean he never put him in his place to make him always remember that he was the underling, not an equal.
He plans to rectify that by having his whole gang relentlessly assault him with stun guns. Before they’re able to do so, however, Jonouchi manages to knock one of them out by kicking him in the head. This doesn’t stop the others from assaulting him, and Jonouchi’s eventually brought to a state of catatonia from all the shocks. But it’s still not enough for Hirutani. He commands his thugs to shock him until he dies.
Back with Honda, Anzu and Yugi, they rush into J’z only to find the place wrecked because of the fight. Only the gang member that Jonouchi knocked out is still in the room. They decide to split up and look for Jonouchi and the remaining gang members. Honda tells Yugi and Anzu to not confront the gang if they find them and get him first.
Yugi, left all alone worrying in the rain and seemingly able to sense Jonouchi crying out in pain at the stun guns, asks the Millennium Puzzle if it will show him where Jonouchi is. It hears his plea and shows him where to go. He finds Jonouchi in his near-death state and gets so upset at the sight he shifts into Yami.
The gang notices Yami outside and go punch him in the face, knocking him to the ground next to the thug who was knocked out by Jonouchi.
When he stands up, Yami proclaims that it’s now his turn. He challenges the group to a game. He claims that he’s surrounded the group with land mines, but they seemingly can’t see them. If they can find the switch for the land mines, they win and they can kill Yami if they want. If they lose, they’ll suffer the penalty game and be at the mercy of the land mines.
One of the thugs doesn’t want to play Yami’s game and just wants to shock him with his stun gun, but Hirutani stops him in a panic. He seemingly realizes Yami’s game. He lured them outside where it’s pouring rain. They’re all soaked and so is the ground. If they use their stun guns, they’ll all get a massive shock.
Seemingly having found the trigger, Hirutani declares himself the winner, but Yami just smirks and says he lost. He points to the actual trigger – the unconscious thug Jonouchi knocked out. While he was on the ground after being punched, Yami propped up the thug’s arm with a metal bar and put the stun gun in his hand…seemingly being triggered this whole time I suppose (I’d imagine the battery would die fairly quickly).
The thug is waking up, meaning he’ll soon knock his arm off the bar and put the active stun gun into the water. Hirutani and his gang look on in terror as the thug wakes up, the stun gun hits the water and they’re all electrocuted……and….disintegrated? They literally go from them being shocked to Yugi tending to Jonouchi, and Honda and Anzu reuniting with them. No bodies on the floor or anything, they’re all just gone.
However, as I already mentioned earlier, Hirutani and his gang returns, soooo….I dunno where they went at all.
Yugi and Jonouchi have a very touching reunion, though. You could really feel the emotion jump right off the page – it was so sweet.
I am going to nitpick the Shadow Game a little here. While the basic concept is good, the fact that they used stun guns really damages it, in my opinion. They act like stun guns have such massive voltage or amperage that there’s no doubt they’d all be seriously injured or killed if they were shocked by a stun gun hitting water, but that’s really not the case.
As far as my research led me, if a stun gun was used on someone who was wet, it might amplify the effects a little, but that’s about it. If you shock a body of water with a taser and you’re standing in it, there’s a chance you’d feel tingly, but, again, that’s about it. You certainly wouldn’t get such a massive jolt of electricity that you’d severely injure or kill yourself, even though stun guns, by default, have the risk of death simply due to heart issues.
What electricity it is dispersing through the nodes would be dissipated over the wide area, so the effects would be minimal. This isn’t like lightning striking a lake you’re swimming in where it might seek you out as an outlet and you’d get a lot of the shock, if you’re close enough, or like a downed power line sitting in a puddle – it’s a taser in the rain.
I would usually just chalk things up to typical Yu-Gi-Oh exaggeration, but this one felt like one of those times I had to go investigate since the entire Shadow Game was dependent on it. I did like the little detail that Yami was standing on a tire that entire time, though.
Overall, despite some odd details in the Shadow Game, this was a great two-parter. It gave strong focus to Yugi, Jonouchi and even Honda, which is welcome since this entire time he’s been little more than a goofy brutish side character. It’s cool to see his dedication to Jonouchi is on the same level as the Honda we get in the 2000 anime.
Jonouchi was willing to suffer for his friends, and Yugi showed that he’d never give up on Jonouchi. He’s a true friend, and he deserved the benefit of the doubt.
I feel really bad that Jonouchi has such a bad home life, but at least he has real friends now to help him through.
I do feel awkward that four chapters worth of manga, two different Jonouchi arcs, are mushed into one episode of Season Zero, however. They don’t technically do a bad job combining the two, but I’d much rather the series have adapted both stories separately instead of taking the first half of this arc and the second half of the other arc and making one episode.
Because this wasn’t fully adapted, I don’t feel comfortable giving this comparison round to either version, but if I was forced to make an unofficial call, I’d give it to the manga just because they kept both stories fully intact.
Next time, we talk about the first filler the anime has that has no manga basis.
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