Note: Review copy supplied by Manga Entertainment
Title: Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie: Pyramid of Light
Anime Studio: 4Kids Entertainment / Studio Gallop
Publisher: Manga Entertainment
Genre: Family / Fantasy / Action
Released: October 8th 2018
Running Time: 90 mins
Extras: None on discs provided
Digitally remastered dubbed version of the first theatrical outing for Yu-Gi-Oh! from 2004. After the conclusion of the Battle City Tournament, deep below the sands of Egypt, an ancient evil has awakened. Anubis, who was defeated centuries ago by Yugi’s mysterious alter ego – the ancient Pharaoh – has returned for revenge. Wielding the power of the Eighth Millennium Item, Anubis is determined to destroy Yugi and take over the world…
Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie: Pyramid Of Light is the first Yu-Gi-Oh! movie, landing two years after the cessation of the Duel Monsters anime run. It also holds the dubious honour of being the lowest ranked animated film on Metacritic right up until the release of 2017’s The Emoji Movie. But is it really as bad as that would indicate? Well, that will depend on what you’re expecting with the film.
Pyramid of Light was clearly set up as a crowd pleaser for pre-existing fans of the franchise, with plenty of familiar characters and cards making appearances throughout the film. For me, that was by far the biggest selling point though. This was a chance to revisit the Yu-Gi-Oh! world, complete with the dub voice cast.
In that regard, the film is more than proficient too. In particular, it was great seeing Dan Green (Yugi) and Eric Stuart (Keiba) squaring off again. And the cards themselves were as fun as ever, with all sorts of wild creatures and attacks blasting their way through the action sequences. As an extra surprise, the cards actually looked like their real-life counterparts too, while the Western release of the series edited them.
From a story standpoint, everything is pretty much what you’d expect from the franchise. Many years ago, a pharaoh imprisoned the lord of the dead, Anubis, after he tried to destroy the world via the Shadow Games. In the modern day, he is set free and sets about seeking revenge and concluding his plan. It’s simple, it fits within the universe, and that’s all you can really ask for. The animation is also fine. It’s a step above the series and, while not on par with some of the masterpieces that have come since, this re-mastered release does a great job of showing off the best that it has to offer. The soundtrack is good fun too, featuring a nice mix of tracks that fit well enough with the action on screen.
So, why does the film have a such a poor reputation? Well, if you aren’t a fan of the series or the card game, it really isn’t going to change your mind. Given that so much of the film is given over to the climactic card battles too, that isn’t something that will sit well with those who aren’t sold on the mechanics of the game itself. And boy do they ramp up the idea of card interactions with traps and sacrificial summons. If it never interested you to begin with, you’ll struggle to get on board here.
There’s also the issue that, despite being set between the third and fourth season of the anime, to take it as canon would lead to some plot inconsistencies in the world lore. Some of the card draws are rather convenient too, even if you do ‘trust in the heart of the cards’. There’s also the issue of whether you’re a purist or not. Here, the dubbed release giving rise to all the usual suspects, including name changes and a shorter running time. The script is also different in terms of content, though given that the film was released in the USA first (and was produced by 4Kids), you could argue that it’s the Japanese release making changes this time.
Overall, Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie: Pyramid of Light is an interesting beast. It’s not perfect by any means, but it clearly knows what it wants to be: a simple story featuring some much loved characters. If you’re a fan of the franchise with fond memories of the dub, then there should be plenty for you to enjoy here. The animation is smooth, the action is frantic, and the whole thing is generally fun and easy to watch. 3.5 out of 5.
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