I usually hate the phrase “for the fans”, because “for the fans” is usually used as a cheap excuse for why one’s entertainment product will undoubtedly fail to reach or receive praise from a wide variety of people. In a sense, it’s saying the people who like it will like it, and the people who don’t, won’t. Why even try making something worthwhile? There’s a perfectly sustainable fanbase that will continue to support something so long as it remotely caters to them. Sure, this could work as a business model, but what does this say about the art? Are artists supposed to create only to please people? Is this the kind of cycle that inevitably transforms to a downward spiral, regurgitating the same market manufactured garbage to the same people that only look to entertainment as something to be enjoyed and nothing else? Not that there’s anything wrong with just having fun, but repeating the same kind of fun does grow to be tiresome.
I usually hate this idea of “for the fans”, but there can always be an exception. There is a sense in which I find “for the fans” to be…acceptable. Long running series often have certain concepts, certain rules, certain characters (I supposed I could’ve just said ‘certain things’ and covered all of that) that have already been established. Usually films need to explain ‘certain things’ in order for other ‘certain things’ to make sense. It’s not necessarily fair for a film to expect an indiscriminate audience to have prerequisite knowledge when heading into that theater. Still, life isn’t fair, and the exclusivity of knowledge is near non-existent on a consumer level, thanks to the world wide web. So it has become less unfair to expect such things from an audience. The kind of “for the fans” ideal that I find acceptable is one not where a creator makes excuses for their work and claims that it will be worthwhile for their “fans”, but one where a creator makes no excuses and expects that their work could only be understood by their fans.
So with that said, before I really start this review, I’d like to say that if you liked the original series, dubbed in English, you should absolutely watch this movie. It’ll probably just be horrendously stupid if you’re a newcomer, but if you’re even a slight fan, well then hot damn you’re in for some hilarious surprises. Like, it’ll still be stupid, but it’ll be the stupid you already know and love. A good kind of stupid. Hell, a great kind of stupid.
With characters that need no reintroduction, to rules that need no re-explanation, Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Dark Side of Dimensions dropped me right where I left off over a decade ago, hanging out with the gang after the events leading up to the pharaoh returning to where he belongs. Chilling in Domino city, we actually get to see these lovable goofballs in their everyday routines, something that wasn’t really ever present in the original series. Tea, Joey, Tristan, Yugi, Bakura, hell, even Duke Devlin makes an appearance (but strangely not Mai Valentine), and for the most part they’re all exactly as I had remembered them. Okay, Tea’s a little different, and her face/character model is a bit off.
What’s truly important however, is that Kaiba is back, and more obsessive about defeating the pharaoh than ever. With the pharaoh gone, Seto’s continued to build up Kaiba Corp and amass even greater fortunes, all while funding his personal side project of unearthing the pharaoh’s tomb and repairing the Millenium Puzzle. His corporation makes some crazy, completely impractical shit, but they get the job done and then some. Kaiba runs into some trouble however, as the villain of the movie with an extremely stupid name (his name is Diva, and it’s supposed to be taken seriously but all I can think of is Overwatch when they say his name) stops on by and snatches a piece of the puzzle.
Of course, not before he and Seto have a duel that’s as hollow as the projections from a duel disk. It’s funny because as a fan of the series and card game, I could tell you that the show never followed the actually rules. In this however, the fact that duels start with 8000 life points rather than 4000 made me think for a second that their duels might actually make sense. Nope, Diva manages to somehow attack, switch his monsters, attack, switch back, and attack again, like 4 times in one battle phase. Not to mention his monsters are bullshit to begin with, they take no damage, are never destroyed, and essentially render opponents’ monsters completely useless. That said, Kaiba pulls off summoning Obelisk the Tormentor with two monsters still on the field and wins the duel, which was pretty cool.
The plot of the entire movie is pretty basic, but also took us to some pretty fun places (like space). It’s mostly a mixture of absurd twists and complications, no real emotional drama besides perhaps the villain’s, and duels to settle it all. Just like the good old times. The opening and the climax are my favorite parts, as the opening sequence really shows you exactly what to expect from this movie, and the climax finishes giving to you. While a lot of what happened in the film may not have originally been planned to be funny, in execution and perhaps localization, Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Dark Side of Dimensions turned out to be one of the funniest movies I have ever seen.
I mean, I was straight wheezing in that theater, and it took all I had not to burst into tears. So now I’m going to spoil the moments that gave me the best laughs. Please go watch this movie if you are at all interested in Yu-Gi-Oh!. And thanks for reading.
Okay, so the opening scene is this grand zoom in on the Earth from the outer reaches of the galaxy. Once it reaches orbit, you start to see something floating outside the atmosphere. As the shot closes in, we can see it’s a Kaiba Corp space station. But that’s not even the best part. The shot changes to an overhead view of the station, and it’s in the shape of the initials “K.C.”. Not only that, later on in the movie we find out it’s not just a space station, but actually the end of a space elevator that connects all the way from the ground. Duke Devlin works in a mall now because apparently his game making business went under. That was more of a laugh in retrospect though. Then there’s the climax: Okay, so this starts off with Kaiba just taking over every monitor in the city (don’t worry, he owns it all) to announce his duel tournament, then stands in the middle of a four-way intersection to invite Yugi to the tournament, completely out of nowhere for Yugi. Everyone gathers at the stadium for Kaiba to first unveil his latest advancements in duel technology, and he does it in the most traumatically hilarious way possible. The event starts with jets flying overhead, but then one of them malfunctions and starts to spiral down toward the stadium. We get a shot of a panicking pilot and a horrified audience right before a Blue-Eyes White Dragon appear from the stage and blows up the plane with the pilot in it. Kaiba then goes on to announce that it was all just a demonstration of his newest hologram technology, tech so realistic that you just thought 9/11 might be happening all over again. Oh, and then the villain shows up and people start literally losing their heads as they’re sent to some alternate dimension, Kaiba mocks Yugi for playing fruit magician girls, and a just whole bunch of other shenanigans.
Let’s just say I had a really fun time, and also got the theater attendant to give me 6 promotional Obelisk the Tormentor cards.