Today’s episode starts out with a dream the character of the week, Imori, is having about the Dragon Cards and the Shin Tsuen Fu (the jar that is sealed beneath the cards.) which I will explain later. The dream seems to show a Chinese emperor or other high-status figure trying to protect the ‘Senhai’ (I couldn’t find what that meant, and Google keeps confusing it with “senpai” but it’s referring to the Dragon Cards and the Shin Tsuen Fu jar. Sugoroku later refers to it as the Ryuuhai, so maybe there was a mistranslation there?) during travel when they’re attacked by a rogue militia. The jar falls, opens and a purple mist emanates from it, revealing a neon green dragon that attacks them all. Gotta say, out of all of the things I thought would come from a jar supposedly holding the embodiment of all darkness to balance the light of the world, I honestly never considered a neon green dragon…..
After the title card, we cut to the main group walking to school. Jonouchi kicks a small bag of garbage at the back of Honda’s head and then whines that he’s so bored with daily school life. He wants more excitement. Dude, we’re in episode 18 of Season Zero. How can you have experienced all the screwed up stuff you’ve gone through to this point and say you have a boring life?
He wants the world to be in terrible danger, and then he can save the world, turn it into a utopia and make Honda the janitor of the world. The group looks on like he’s an idiot, which they should in this instance, before quickly noticing Imori getting bullied. The bullies are forcing him into a game where they try to get coins into a pot by throwing them off the stairs. Whoever gets their coin in or gets closest wins 500 yen.
The first bully gets it in the pot, but it bounces out and lands closeby. It’s Imori’s turn, but Yugi steps up to take his place. Yugi easily flips the coin off of his thumb, onto the stairs, on the boxes below, bounces off a bush somehow and spins along the rim before landing in the pot. Obviously, the bullies whine that he cheated somehow. They try to force him to do it again only to have Jonouchi step in and assert that Yugi followed the rules so he doesn’t have to do it again. Honda steps up to the other bully, and they intimidate them into backing off and leaving.
Anzu compliments Yugi by saying such skills are to be expected from the grandson of a game shop owner. Imori laments that he’s not good at anything and wishes he could be like Yugi.
While Yugi is flattered, Jonouchi is instantly put off by the boy. He approaches Yugi covertly and quietly tells him to not get too close to Imori because he doesn’t like how dark and gloomy he is. In Jonouchi’s words, “He’s a wet blanket. If he gets too close, you’re sure to get moldy.”
While Yugi is in class, he finds a note from Imori thanking him for saving him. Imori tells him that, in order to thank him properly, he’d like to bring Yugi to his secret base.
Later, at Imori’s house, which is quite a nice mansion-esque place, Imori shows Yugi a secret passage in his floor to his cellar, which is his secret base. He likes spending time there because no one can bully him. He has a bunch of old games stacked in shelves on the walls and tells Yugi that his family heritage is loaded with people who treasure games. They spend a lot of time and money collecting and playing them. However, Yugi notices that all of the games on display are single-player games, so he wonders if his entire family had a problem making friends.
Imori asks if Yugi will be his friend, and he happily agrees, making Imori tear up. Apparently, Yugi is his absolute first friend ever. As a sign of their budding friendship, he decides to show Yugi his family’s rarest game – a completely unique heirloom even he’s never seen before. He leads Yugi deeper and deeper into the catacombs of the cellar until they reach a strange door. Even with both boys pushing on it, the door doesn’t budge. Suddenly, Yugi’s Puzzle starts glowing, and he realizes something mystical must be behind the door. After analyzing the door further, he realizes that the sections of the door act as a slider puzzle. When the puzzle is finished, it reveals an image of the dragon from before and opens, revealing the Dragon Cards and the Shin Tsuen Fu.
We cut to grandpa’s game shop which is where we finally (basically) intersect with the manga.
In the start of the manga chapter 46, Yugi, Jonouchi and Anzu are being shown an ancient Egyptian bullfrog game at the game shop before Imori shows up out of the blue to show Yugi’s grandpa his family’s ancient game to figure out what it really is. Sugoroku immediately realizes it’s the Dragon Cards and the Shin Tsuen Fu. According to grandpa, the Dragon Cards were used in ancient times to act as the final test of Feng Shui masters.
By the laws of yin and yang, the Dragon Cards and the Shin Tsuen Fu act as a vessel for all darkness (yang) while everything else in the environment act as light (yin). If the seal is removed from the cards and jar, the darkness will be unleashed and the balance of the world will fall into disarray.
In the anime, the scene is pretty much the same, but Jonouchi and Anzu aren’t there. Instead of yelling at Jonouchi to not open the seal, Sugoroku yells at Imori to not do the same. The game is called Ryuuhai or Dragon Block in the anime.
The Puzzle didn’t react to the artifact in the manga like it does in the anime. Shockingly, grandpa and Imori both notice the Puzzle glowing in reaction to the artifact and just casually talk about it……Okay.
The next day, in the manga, after the group goes swimming at school, Yugi returns to his locker to discover that the Millennium Puzzle is missing. In its place is a note that tells Yugi his Puzzle has been stolen and, if he wants it back, he’ll have to meet the thief alone in classroom C otherwise he’ll lose his Puzzle forever.
When Yugi arrives, Imori is waiting for him with the Puzzle around his neck. He tells Yugi that he’s been watching him for some time. His grandfather left him a lot of books on games, and one of the passages explained the powers of the Millennium Puzzle, claiming that whoever solved the Puzzle would gain the power of the Game of Darkness and become the Shepherd of Darkness. When Yugi solved the Puzzle, Imori noticed that his life turned around. He got friends and elevated his social status. Ever since then, he has sworn to defeat the owner of the Puzzle and become the new Shepherd of Darkness.
He challenges Yugi to a Shadow Game with the Dragon Cards and breaks the seal on the container. After the darkness has been unleashed, he tells Yugi that, according to an ancient Chinese book, anyone who breaks the seal on the Dragon Cards has to partake in a game of darkness, otherwise the land will be cursed forever.
The only way to reseal the cards and tame the dragon inside is to sacrifice a soul.
Back in the anime, Imori walks home with the Ryuuhai while mulling over what Sugoroku told him. He’s cornered by the two bullies again, and the Dragon Block falls out of his hands when he trips, breaking the seal.
I gotta say, for something that could basically destroy the world when unsealed, this thing is ridiculously easy to unseal. In the dream sequence, it was opened the same way, by someone accidentally dropping it, but it’s only “sealed” by a rope that could easily be untied. The easy slider puzzle on the door of the room this thing was stored in was a better seal than rope – and that slider puzzle door is only in the anime. In the manga, this thing might as well be sealed by a warped tupperware lid.
When the bullies realize what he dropped was a game, they challenge him to a match and force him to bet money on the outcome.
After a cutaway, we see an island sink into the sea under a dark sky.
After the commercial break, Anzu informs Jonouchi that Mizuno, one of the guys who was bullying Imori, was found unconscious in the street last night and he’s been hospitalized. Miho talks about how her family was planning a trip to a beach only for them to cancel it once they caught news of the island sinking. Honda blames Jonouchi for Miho’s sadness because he wished for Japan to be destroyed, but Jonouchi says if his wishes came true, Honda would have died ages ago.
…..Someone tell me again why these two are friends.
Yugi looks over at Imori, and his demeanor has changed entirely. He’s got a more confident look on his face, and he’s even got his feet up on his desk. Imori takes Yugi aside and asks for his homework because he didn’t have time to do it last night and there’s no time to copy it now.
Jonouchi comes in, having followed them because he’s suspicious of Imori, and tells Yugi to not listen to Imori because he’s just being selfish. Yugi decides against giving Imori his homework, and Imori takes this as a sign of betrayal to their friendship.
We get the exact same scene with the swimming and Millennium Puzzle being taken with Imori using it as bait to get Yugi to face him in a game. The only difference is instead of Imori telling him to meet him in classroom C, he tells him to meet him at his secret base.
When he arrives at the base, we get pretty much the same pre-game scene as in the manga, but they omit most of the preamble about Imori watching him from afar, swearing to defeat him and becoming the new Shepherd of Darkness. Essentially, in the manga, Imori is almost blatantly a bad guy from the first time you see him whereas in the anime he seems like more or less a legitimately timid and well-meaning kid who just got corrupted by dark magic and perhaps his own dark desires of wanting to hold power over others after being bullied for so long.
In the manga, since the bullies don’t exist there, we don’t get any discussion about what happened to Mizuho like we do in Season Zero. It’s confirmed that he used Mizuho’s soul to reseal the Shin Tsuen Fu.
In the manga, the Dragon Cards are, well, cards, while they’re Mahjong-esque tiles in the anime, but other than that the game is kept basically the same. I’m still not certain why they changed them to tiles, but I feel like they maybe wanted to avoid having this feel too much like Duel Monsters.
The game is played by putting the deck (or box of tiles in the anime) into the center of the table. From the guidance of Feng Shui, energy collects in the mountains and flows into the land. The deck/box acts as the mountain and the table is the land. The deck is surrounded by five elemental powers – wood, fire, earth, metal and water.
At the start of the game, each player draws six cards/blocks from the deck/box. There is one symbol on each card/block that is representative of one of the elements. Each card also has different levels ranging from one to five, but this detail is missing from the anime version. If you get three of the same element and level, you can summon a dragon. Whoever summons the two most powerful dragons in the end is the winner.
In the anime, they also add in a real world map with bases. Each player gets to decide where the opponent’s base will be.
Each player takes turn drawing cards/tiles. When you draw a card/tile, you have to discard one. The strategy comes in taking note of what cards the other has discarded. You can determine what they’re not summoning by what they’re throwing out and what they’re likely summoning by deducing what’s left to summon.
The way the dragons are more powerful than the others (IE what if you have a level four dragon going up against another level four dragon?) is by the typical elemental advantages. Fire beats metal, metal beats wood, wood beats earth, earth beats water and water beats fire. While they don’t mention it at this point, the elements also work in tandem with each other and offer support.
After Yugi and Imori summon their first pair of dragons, two Water Dragons, level three and four for Imori, and Fire (level five) and Metal (Level unknown) Dragons for Yugi, Yugi explains that the Water Dragons will only be made more powerful by the Metal Dragon. By how much, I don’t know. His other dragon is Fire, so even though it’s level five it’s at too much of a disadvantage.
Yugi is, shockingly, defeated, and his soul is consumed by the Shin Tsuen Fu. Before his body goes limp, he’s able to touch the Millennium Puzzle, which summons Yami into his body. Yami challenges Imori to a match with the same bet conditions – whoever loses sacrifices their soul.
In the anime, Yugi summons two Fire Dragons. Imori, however, has two Water Dragons. Yugi’s dragons are slain, and they suddenly feel tremors in the earth. The purpose of the map and the bases is revealed – whenever one of them loses a battle, the real-life location of their bases will be hit with a natural calamity. Imori chose Tokyo for Yugi, and now some of the (unoccupied, I presume) land in the forest is disappearing as a result. That’s why that island sank when Mizuno was defeated.
The loser’s soul also gets taken by the Shin Tsuen Fu. Yugi lost, so he has to sacrifice his soul, but, just as in the manga, he’s able to barely manage to touch the Puzzle before passing out. Yami takes over and asks for a rematch in order to get Yugi’s soul back – however that works. Imori agrees and reveals that it takes at least three months for the jar to fully consume a soul, so getting Yugi back is still possible.
This time, he chooses Imori’s base location. He chooses the ocean so no real damage will occur. Imori chooses Tokyo once again for Yami.
They draw their cards, and I seriously feel like Imori’s cheating in the manga. Their hands weren’t fully revealed in the match with Yugi, but in the match with Yami it shows that Yami has Earth 4, Wood 1, Water 2, Metal 5, Wood 5 and Fire 2 while Imori has two Water 5s, Fire 4, Wood 5, Water 4 and Metal 4.
After some draws and discards, Imori deduces that Yami is trying to summon a Metal 5 and an Earth 4, but Imori is planning on summoning Water and Wood Dragons to take them out. He has enough to summon a Water 5.
Yami discards a Wood Dragon card, and Imori reveals that you can actually take cards from the discard pile to summon dragons if you want. Yami basically gave him the last card he needed. Yami finishes his hand as well and summons, as Imori predicted, a Metal 5 and an Earth 4 while Imori summons a Water 5 and a Wood 5.
Imori believes he has the game in the bag, especially when he reveals that Water Dragons have the special ability to instantly destroy a Metal Dragon, which, pardon my French, but you’re a cheating sack of shit, Imori.
So Water is specifically powerful against Fire, but it also has the ability to instantly destroy Metal Dragons? Didn’t Yugi say that Metal Dragons power up Water dragons? That’s not the same. I’d expect it to be a case of like Water Dragons get one more level when an enemy has a Metal Dragon because rust or something.
Yami uses his Earth Dragon’s special ability, which is to create earthquakes, to negate the Water Dragon’s special ability and protect the Metal Dragon.
I guess I won’t argue that this could happen given that Earth is strong against Water, but I am just so confused. How did Yami even know of these effects? Even if he can see the helpful-ish diagram that the manga uses, which I don’t think he can, I think it’s just a graphic for our sake, how would he know of these special effects? He just knows certain elements support others.
I’m going to try really hard to summarize what happens next. Imori reveals that his Wood Dragon is powering up by feeding on the water of the Water Dragon. He attacks the Earth Dragon, sucking up the water that he absorbed with the earthquake attack. Apparently, this means that the Earth Dragon is incapacitated. Imori launches another attack on the Metal Dragon from his Water Dragon, but it survives the attack because, apparently, the Wood Dragon took too much of the Water Dragon’s power after absorbing some of its water. The Metal Dragon, despite taking some damage, is able to attack the Wood Dragon and destroy it. However, the Metal Dragon dies in the process for some reason, and also, for some reason, him doing this revives the Earth Dragon.
It’s now just a face-off between the Water Dragon and the Earth Dragon. The Earth Dragon has an advantage over the Water Dragon because the Earth Dragon, again, absorbs the water with its gorges. Imori loses, and, since the jar can only hold one soul at a time, Yugi’s soul is ejected and returned to his body while Imori is left as a soulless husk.
Nope, not kidding. Imori’s just gone forever now. You basically just witnessed a child murder.
In the anime, the game goes a bit different. Instead of summoning Fire and Metal Dragons, Yugi summons two Fire Dragons while Imori summons two Water Dragons. This type matchup obviously results in Yugi losing and his soul being sacrificed to the jar.
When Yami is up, the game goes the same again, only they manage to depict the match in such a way that it’s not so confusing. Mostly because they don’t say anything about special abilities and instead just point out that their dragons support each other, allowing them to survive their attacks. The one time it’s really confusing is when they don’t explain why the Water Dragon’s attack didn’t manage to kill the Metal Dragon. One line of “The Water Dragon’s too weak from supporting the Wood Dragon to finish it off!” would have sufficed.
They show that a giant crevice did open up in the real ocean when Yami defeated the Water Dragon, which was promptly closed up….somehow. I’d think a massive crack in the ocean floor or something would cause more severe and lasting effects, but I’m not an oceanologist.
The rest of the story kinda doesn’t make sense because 1) they added the aspect of the bully getting his soul taken and 2) they basically wimp out on ‘killing’ Imori.
When Imori’s soul is taken in the anime, Yugi’s soul is ejected and returned. However, Imori never explained that this would happen if he won. He never stated the fact that only one soul can be in the jar at one time like the manga does. In addition, this wouldn’t have made sense anyway. If only one soul can be in the jar at any given time and it takes three months for a soul to be consumed in the jar, then what happened to Mizuno’s soul? Did it get returned when Yugi’s soul was taken? Because they never showed that.
Imori is only unconscious for a minute after his soul is taken in the anime. He wakes up not having remembered anything of what happened after the seal was broken the first time and being his normal, timid and kind self again. Yami explains that the jar took Imori’s ‘haughty’ heart and left normal Imori alone. Somehow….Imori had two souls because….he was friendless, lonely and bitter? That’s such a cop out.
Granted, they made Imori so sympathetic in this version that it’s hard for me to complain too much about the poor kid not being a soulless husk for all eternity, but it just seems so lame that their excuse is that he had two souls when he basically just had a dark section of one soul.
The episode ends with Imori and Yami sealing away the Dragon Block for good. Then we get a short snippet of Sugoroku’s speech about how some ancient games and artifacts are best left alone because they could be dangerous…uhm, yeah. Thanks for that?
This episode was………Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm……an improvement on the manga version. I think making Imori more sympathetic was a good move and having more backstory for him with Yugi and his friends was also a good decision. I just don’t really agree with all the decisions they made in the episode like not fully explaining how Yami won, not explaining if Mizuno got his soul back, randomly adding the map thing (Souls aren’t enough of a bargaining chip? Also, it affected nothing), and making such a piss-poor explanation as to why Imori got to keep his soul.
If Jonouchi’s intuition is anything to go by, Imori wasn’t that influenced by the Dragon Block. He had bad mojo before the seal was broken, so it’s not like you can say the jar created this other soul within him. It takes souls – why would it create a new one in Imori? Unless the logic really is that having bitterness and dark feelings in your heart, even if you’re a relatively harmless and kind person otherwise, can create an entirely different soul in your body, which is just….no.
What I find funny about this is that it reminds me so much of when Yami mind crushed Kaiba and sent his evilness to the Shadow Realm in the 2000 anime dub, and 4Kids passed off his evil half as a separate entity that looked nothing like him.
Was sending manga!Imori’s soul to be locked away forever too much? Maybe. Imori was just a kid, but he did have the power to basically destroy the world in the palm of his hand, and he didn’t give a crap when he used it for his own gain. It’s actually kinda odd that the anime made Imori even worse than in the manga by adding the aspect of them destroying parts of the world when they lost. If they didn’t basically hand-wave Imori’s evil side, it definitely would have negated any sympathy he garnered in the first half of the episode. They were lucky they got off so easily with just a sunk uninhabited island and some empty chunks of land in Tokyo disappearing. He was hoping the entire city of Tokyo would crumble with Yami’s loss.
Next episode seems like it will be a weird jumble. It seems pretty Miho focused, which, yaywhoohoofun, but it’s also the introduction of Bakura. This is not mirrored from the manga, so we’ll see what’s up.
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