The release of the fourth season of Manga Entertainment’s Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters, known as just Yu-Gi-Oh! in the UK, is finally upon us. This time, the season is brought to us as a 6 disc set that still only features the 4Kids dub of the show. However, this season sees a change compared to the first three seasons that Manga released in that it is an NTSC release. The previous season were PAL conversions, whilst this uses the same masters as Cinedigm’s US release.
After the conclusion of the Battle City Finals, chaos erupts once again! The three Egyptian God Cards are stolen! A terrifying new villain emerges! And as if things couldn’t get any worse, real monsters begin to appear around the world, terrorizing the population! Are these strange events connected, and can they be resolved?! Yugi and the gang better find out… before the planet faces total destruction! – Manga Entertainment
Yu-Gi-Oh! Season 4 contains episodes 145 through 184, so 40 episodes in total. Sadly, this entire season is made up of filler, though, it happens to be some of my favourite filler, as it encompasses the Waking the Dragons arc. This arc, which features a new enemy, Dartz, and the magic of the Orichalcos stones focuses on using said stones to bring chaos to the world. This is pretty generic stuff, but it’s enjoyable watching the protagonists continue to fight fairly against what is patently cheating on the villain’s part – 10 monsters on their side of the field, seriously? The Seal of Orichalcos card is popular enough that the card finally saw a release, and was featured in the Yu-Gi-Oh Legendary Collection 3 – Yugi’s World release in 2012.
The video quality is still 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. However, colours tend to seem less muddied than season 3 did, though I’m not sure if this is due to the source itself being less so, or the lack of a PAL conversion. Character designs fluctuate a little, but that is to be expected of a long-running series with different directors working on episodes. 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. Although my blu-ray player neglected to find any subtitle tracks, the laptop was able to utilise a closed captioning track as can be seen in the left-most image below.
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 decision by Manga to release this in NTSC means that Dan Green’s excellent voicework sounds as it should this time around. Despite this, some may be confused by the change, as UK broadcasts have always been sped up for PAL. When reviewing season three last year, I didn’t think Manga would be open to switching to NTSC partway through the release of a show, but thankfully they have done so. Sadly, however, it does not seem the first three seasons will see a re-release in NTSC format for continuity. 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.
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.
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, and with a new movie due out this month in Japan, next year worldwide, fans will want to refresh their memories.