The release of the third season of Manga Entertainment’s Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters, known as just Yu-Gi-Oh! in the UK, is finally upon us. Once again, the show is presented in a 7 disc set that features only the 4Kids dub of the show. With the subbed version of Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters having only recently been made available on streaming services, and at a slow pace at that, it’s doubtful we’ll see a subtitled home media release any time soon, if at all.
The Battle City Finals rages to its ultimate climax! As Yugi’s pals succumb one-by-one to the dreaded magic of the Shadow Realm, Yugi and his remaining friends must travel to the ultimate dueling arena for the showdown of the millennium against the nefarious Marik! It’s time to duel! However, on their journey, a mysterious child named Noah kidnaps and traps Yugi and friends in a virtual world! Who is this mysterious Noah, and why does he know so much about Kaiba’s past? Can Yugi escape from the virtual world in time to stop Marik before his friends are lost forever in the Shadow Realm? – Manga Entertainment
The first half of this season consists of some poor filler, which is a disappointment, but even at its worst, Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters is still vastly superior to Yu-Gi-Oh! ZeXal. Yugi and his friends are transported to a digital universe where they have to defeat the Big 5 in order to retain their bodies and escape back to reality. The second half of the season consists of the remainder of the Battle City tournament finals. The final four duelists, Yugi, Joey, Kaiba, and Marik, duel to become champion. The majority of this season consists of multi-part episodes, with only 5 of 47 being standalones. This, of course, means many duels take place over several episodes, but this is where Yu-Gi-Oh! really shines, managing to make a children’s card game so intense in each of the duels.
The video is about as good as can be expected for an early 2000s anime; the video is incredibly soft and does not look ideal when watched on a large TV. Colours are unfortunately muddied, despite being a digitally painted series, though this may be a side effect of the upscaling process when using modern playback equipment. The series is presented in its original 4:3 aspect ratio, which is much appreciated, as older series should always be experienced as the directors originally intended.
The dub track is provided as a 2.0 Dolby Digital offering. While far from the perfect dub, being one of the many butcherings produced by 4Kids, it is the form in which many will have been introduced to Yu-Gi-Oh! and nostalgia will fuel sales for this title. The release is a PAL conversion, and it is quite noticeable when characters talk; Dan Green’s portrayal is tarnished by the decision to release this title as a PAL DVD. Being a continuation of a release began before Manga were willing to release NTSC DVDs, this is somewhat understandable. For anyone that has only experienced this show through UK broadcast television, they will already have been subjected to this PAL speedup. It is unfortunate that, unlike Manga’s excellent Yu-Gi-Oh! Bonds Beyond Time 3D release from 2011, this title doesn’t contain the subtitled version of the anime, but due to the cuts and changes made to the show by 4Kids, alongside redesigned cards to meet western broadcast standards, a separate release entirely would likely be needed to facilitate a release of a subbed version. Hopefully, Manga bring us the subbed version at some point in the future, but until then Crunchyroll remains an option
The release contains no extras, which is unfortunate, but understandable, as there is little in the way of extras that could have been included, being a dub-only release of a show that finished around a decade ago.
Unfortunately, this season is let down by the first half; the anime original filler arc involving Noah is possible the least interesting part of the entirety of the series. This is compounded by the advent of a certain popular Yu-Gi-Oh! parody series. Despite being a dub-only offering, it will be perfect for most, with Dan Green's portrayal of Yugi likely being all they know. This release is really geared towards nostalgia sales.