Review: Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions [Blu-ray]

Release Date
Studio / Publisher
Gallop / Manga Entertainment
Audio / Subtitles
English 2.0, English 5.1, Japanese 2.0, Japanese 5.1 / English
Run Time
130 Minutes

Back in May 2011, Manga UK brought Yu-Gi-Oh! Bonds Beyond Time to theatrical screens across the UK. I, like many others, assumed this would be our final chance to see Yu-Gi-Oh! on the big screen over here. We had no idea that in late 2014 4K Media Inc. would leak news of a new movie due out in Japan in 2016, Yu-Gi-Oh! Dark Side of Dimensions. Manga UK gave this new movie a theatrical release on February 1st earlier this year, with some additional screenings on February 4th at select cinemas. Naturally, I returned to the same cinema I watched Bonds Beyond Time at for both of these screenings. And now, just three short months later, we’re approaching the Blu-ray and DVD release of this movie, and it’s before the US home media release once again.

Manga UK are releasing Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions in four configurations; standard Blu-ray, standard DVD, double pack Blu-ray, and double pack DVD. The standard editions include a Gold Rare Obelisk The Tormentor trading card, while the double packs include the Bonds Beyond Time movie, a title which has been out of print for the last couple years. It is not yet known whether the Bonds Beyond Time disc will be identical to May 2011’s release which included the dubbed movie in 2D and 3D alongside the Japanese version in 2D only.

Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions is a sequel to the series, taking place two years after Atem departed to the afterlife. Yugi and friends are nearing their graduation from high school, each of them soon to begin to embark upon their own path; Tea will be heading to America to continue pursuing her dream of being a dancer, Tristan will be working at his father’s factory, Yugi will be working at his Grandpa’s game shop while developing his own games, and Joey has no plans. Kaiba now has his own space station, and is funding an excavation of the Millennium Chamber in order to recover the Millennium Puzzle; he hopes to revive his rival, Atem, whose soul was once housed within it. While the usual main characters are prominent throughout this movie, there’s also two new characters that play a big part in the movie, classmate Aigami, and a loli voiced by Kana Hanazawa, Sera. Aigami is a classmate of Yugi’s, though none of the gang seems to recall when he actually joined their class.

The movie runs for two hours ten minutes, which may seem to be too long for a movie about children’s card games, but unlike previous Yu-Gi-Oh! movies that have used their runtimes to drag out the duels, this movie is far better paced with actual progression outside of duels being suitably spread throughout the movie. Although there’s the expected holographic duel between Kaiba and a virtual reconstruction of Atem early on, the movie really picks up when the pieces of the Millennium Puzzle are recovered by Kaiba’s excavation team, and the new “big bad” reveals themselves to him. From here, the movie deals with the new villain trying to defeat Yugi and his friends in order to prevent the resurrection of the pharaoh that Kaiba is desperately trying to bring about in order to sate his never-ending love for rivalry with him. To this end, the new villain even goes as far as attempting to kill Joey, somewhat implicitly in the dub, while explicitly in the subbed version.

It’s great to see the dubbed version not going so far as to hide everything entirely, though there are still a few instances throughout the movie where the dub changes lines giving an entirely different result. The dubbed version seems to be going for the whole “Friendship” thing once again, changing some scenes to further that message. For example, while Yugi plans to create a game solely to play with his close friends in the dub, he plans to enter a game into a German game competition and play it with his friends when he wins, in the subbed version. Annoyingly, the conclusion of the movie is less concluding of the movie in the English dub, with the exchange between Yugi and Kaiba that brings the movie proper to a close being a massive step forward in their relationship subbed, while just typical “Yugi and Kaiba being Yugi and Kaiba” dubbed.

Visually, this Blu-ray release is stunning, with both the 2D animation and the CG animation blending well. The Blu-ray contains one video track, the English video. This does, of course, mean that even when you listen to the Japanese audio tracks you are left with the English trading cards onscreen. Thankfully, this movie has a lot less onscreen trading cards throughout than the earlier movies. I think Manga made the right decision here, in dedicating the full BD50 to one video track, rather than including two separate video tracks and drastically decreasing the bitrate of the transfer. Seamless branching is always an option, but anime distributors never seem to take advantage of that, although it would quite clearly benefit most, if not all, anime releases. Another casualty of the choice to make this a true dual audio release is the Japanese credits audio; as the Japanese credits and English credits differ in length, the decision was made to replace the credits audio with the English audio in the Japanese audio tracks. This means you’re stuck with that same old Yu-Gi-Oh! theme rather than the new track created for the Japanese release.

Yu-Gi-Oh! Dark Side of Dimension may not be the fan-service filled movie we wanted, like Bonds Beyond Time was, but it is the movie that was needed to truly bring Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters to an end, allowing Yugi, his friends, and also ourselves to finally come to terms with Atem’s passing. This movie, while quite different to the series and manga that spawned it, plays well to the nostalgia crowd; the dub especially excels at this. Watching this movie for the first time is like bumping into an old friend you’ve all but forgotten and spending the short amount of time during which paths have been fated to cross reminiscing over days gone by. If you were never a fan of Yu-Gi-Oh!, this movie will likely do little for you, but if you have fond memories of watching it as a child you’re in for an emotional ride. The dub is thoroughly enjoyable with a great script that delivers some excellent funny lines, while staying mostly true to the Japanese version of the movie.

Manga’s release of Yu-Gi-Oh! Dark Side of Dimensions is one of their most impressive releases to date – before the US release, and dual audio in both stereo and surround sound. If you choose to watch it in English or Japanese, you’ll enjoy it, though you may find the Japanese version provides a more satisfying conclusion. I’ve already watched the Blu-ray twice, and I’m looking forward to rewatching it again soon; Bonds Beyond Time 3D used to be my favourite Manga UK release, but it’s now got some stiff competition. Unfortunately, there are no actual bonus features so to speak, but, in my opinion, the inclusion of the Japanese audio track, and in 5,1 at that, is more than satisfactory. And, of course, there’s the free children’s trading card.

Yu-Gi-Oh! Dark Side of Dimension may not be the pandering movie we wanted, like Bonds Beyond Time was, but it is the movie that was needed to truly bring an end to Yugi and Kaiba's story. The dub is better than ever, with a great script that delivers some excellent funny lines while staying mostly true to the Japanese version of the movie. Manga's release of Yu-Gi-Oh! Dark Side of Dimension is one of their most impressive releases to date - before the US release, and dual audio in both stereo and surround sound. I've already watched this Blu-ray twice, and I'm looking forward to re-watching it again soon.