First Impression – Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal

OH GOD THERE’S A PARASITE ON YOUR..oh wait, it’s just hair

It seems like ages ago when I used to rush home from karate to catch the latest episode of Yu-Gi-Oh!, horrendous dub  and all. It was one of my favourite things in life, to the point where I even had a deck and went around dueling people like a proper little tomboy. Fond memories.  Like Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh! has persisted for quite a long time now, so I like checking in every now and then and seeing how my old childhood hobby is faring.

Yuma is your average porcupine-head kid living in a future world. He has dreams of opening demon doors that grant powers in exchange for something important just like every other porcupine-head kid his age. He lives with his older sister and his lovely “BITCH YOU’D BETTER NOT LEAVE WITHOUT BREAKFAST” grandmother. His parents are out exploring the world, so they gave him a cheap dollar store necklace to remember them by. It’s a miracle he hasn’t pawned it for money to buy more Yu-Gi-Oh! cards.

On his way to school he runs into his skateboarding friend, Tetsuo, (He’s fat. Instant dislike.) and they race to school. From here on, enjoy more “POP FLYING!” puns that seem to translate really poorly into english than you can shake a stick at. Worst than DATTEBAYO, I assure you. Yuma spends the rest of his day crashing into cleaning robots, smashing into vaults during gymnastics or having everyone laugh at him as he nearly drowns. He’s not exactly the sharpest tool in the shed.

When school ends, the duelists come out to play Yu-Gi-Oh! on the school grounds. The only way to see the duels is to put on a D-Gazer to see the holograms, which makes sense. As Yuma and generic female sidekick (I know her name, but why acknowledge her presence more than I need to?) look for an opponent, they see Tetsuo getting his ass whooped by a guy named Shark. They bet their decks, so Shark rightfully takes what is his.

Yuma tries to get his friend’s deck back, even though he lost it out of his own stupidity, and just gets his necklace stomped by Shark. See? Dollar store, I tell you. They don’t make necklaces like they used to. Not only is his precious bling destroyed, but he agrees to bet his deck on a duel too. For some reason they decide to duel the next day instead of now, giving Yuma an entire day and night to sulk.

Where have I seen this before?

Tetsuo finds the missing part of his friend’s necklace before the duel and gives it to Yuma, since it seems impossible to dissuade him from going through with the suicidal duel. He may have zero talent whatsoever, but he’s convinced he can win! They summon their future-version duel disks and start the match. In case you’re a bit behind on the rules, you can summon one monster per turn in attack or defense position as well as set magic or trap cards in a facedown position to activate at any time. That’s all you need to know for now.

Yuma sends out his strongest monster in attack mode all confident-like only to have it be blown away by Shark’s powerful Big Jaws. He equips it with a one turn only attack boost to add insult to injury. Or rather, add A CYBORG SHARK WITH AIRPLANE WINGS to the show. Glorious. He sets down a magic/trap card and ends his turn. In a copycat play of Shark, Yuma sends out another monster and equips an attack boosting magic card so he can defeat Big Jaws, only to have it backfire when Shark flips over his trap card. Attack negated AND extra damage to Yuma’s life points. Yuma pitifully puts down a trap card and ends his turn.

Shark’s air guitar solo created a hurricane

Shark summons a Skull Kraken, a seemingly weak monster…but it has a special effect that destroys a magic or trap card on the field. Shark uses it to destroy the equip on Yuma’s Gagaga Magician (Yes. Gagaga. I DON’T KNOW, OKAY?) and weaken it enough for a powerful attack. Before he lays the hurt on Yuma he viciously taunts him to the point where he rips off his own necklace in frustration and is suddenly transported back to the dream world with the door.

Instead of backing away, Yuma agrees to open the door for power so he can win the duel. When he regains awareness, his opponent is the one being flooded with power – not him. Shark becomes possessed and summons an unheard of CGI dragon called Revise Dragon. Needless to say, it obliterates Lady Gagaga.  Just when it looks like Yuma signed up for the worst deal ever, we see just exactly what kind of power he got. A floating, naked fairy man. Not even a girl. Sucks to be you, mate.

The “Hair or Wild Animal” Game:

Hair or a blue octopus sitting on his head?

Hair or black and red spider?

Hair or sea slug?

Hair and a cap or Mr. Potato head’s nose and moustache? (I know that’s not an animal, shh…)


End Thoughts: Is it just me, or was that a carbon copy of the original Yu-Gi-Oh!? Yuma has parents who travel the world and leave him with a golden necklace and a grandparent to look after them. Yu-Gi-Oh! season 1 right there. Yuma gets his necklace broken to pieces only to have his friend find it later. Yep, that’s happened before too. The necklace unlocks some otherworldly being whose sole power happens to be winning at children’s card games, and I KNOW that’s happened before. Maybe after setting the whole thing on motorcycles they’re starting to run out of ideas on how to make kids steal money from their parents to buy their merchandise.

The plot isn’t the only place where the similarities lie. As the seasons progress, the hair just gets weirder and weirder. You’d be hard pressed to find a character with less than 2 different colours of hair (even the grandma!!). If you manage to find one, I guarantee you that their hair is poking out in enough directions to make enough shish kebabs to feed at least 5 people. It’s really hard to overlook the art style when all the characters apparently dress themselves in the dark, in a thrift store, before running through sprinklers of random paint colours. I could stand Yugi’s crazy hair and leather pants but this is way beyond tolerable for anyone’s retinas.

As per usual, the dialogue is cheesy to the extreme and harps about never giving up every chance it can get. If it’s not preaching morals to kids, it’s using some lame “pop flying” catch phrase. Or both. I wish they’d stop this POWER OF FRIENDSHIP nonsense and get on with the real duels, which I actually enjoy. As a huge tactics game fangirl, I love watching intense duels, which are essentially battles of wit. Of course, that might go out the window with this random summoning of No.17 after getting possessed dealio. You’re even going to rob me of engaging duels?! I really hope they just kept it simple for a first duel to explain the rules to newcomers and that in the future they’ll do less yammering and more quality dueling. I might even watch a few more episodes for the sake of seeing if there are any worthwhile duels (if I can survive how camp and corny this is…an entirely different story). Just please…don’t make all the monsters say their name like Pokemon. OH GOD PLEASE.


A neuroscience graduate, black belt, and all-around nerd. You'll either find me in my lab or curled up in my rilakkuma kigurumi watching anime.
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20 Responses to “First Impression – Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal”

  1. anaaga says:

    Haaa so this is the reason why


    • Overcooled says:

      Sometimes I like to try and be “creative” XD I definitely learned a lot about sea slugs!

  2. Elyon says:

    I swear they just get weirder and weirder with their character designs every time~

    • Overcooled says:

      I could more or less stand Yu-Gi-Oh! up to Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s because Yuusei had relatively cool hair, but oh god, Yuma…I’m sorry, but I cannot unsee your hair as spider legs popping out from your skull.

  3. Sebz says:

    I actually like that it’s so much closer to Duel Monsters (and that the otherworldly being is voiced by Miyu Irino <333)

    Hairstyles do become more and more flamboyant with each Yu-Gi-Oh! installment, but what really matters is THE HEART OF TH—no wait, FRIENDSHIP!

    *on high because of watching ZEXAL simultaneously with Duel Monsters*

    • Overcooled says:

      I can’t even tell if I prefer this to cardgames on motorcycles(!) or not. All I know is I have the urge to marathon the first season of the original now. SUCH GOOD, CHEESY MEMORIES.

  4. amado says:

    the only yu gi oh for me was the original one. yugi was at least not a naive and silly kid. plus it looks much more serious than the later generations.

  5. Reika says:

    I lost it at Lady Gagaga.
    I WOULD watch it, just because it has YGO in its name, but, Yuma, THAT hair. And the fact that he’s not cute just ruins everything /: I’ll just stick with GX and 5D’s (at least the hair was cool)

    • Overcooled says:

      I like Yu-Gi-Oh!, but I don’t think I can handle having to look at Yuma’s hair for that long. Ugh, why must they insist on crazy hair for everyone?

  6. Bass says:

    Why is it that the character designs always fall so low the longer a franchise is? This happened in Digimon, Beyblade and now Yu gi-oh.

    Seriously, they really should look into getting proper designers so they can draw the older demographic into the game again “OTL

    • Overcooled says:

      Agreed…They just simply run out of ideas so they go without whatever the hell they can think of. I used to love Beyblades and Digimon but wouldn’t even think of touching the later seasons now…

      Come on marketing people, get to work on promoting more stuff to our generation!

  7. umi_no_mizu says:

    Yu-gi-oh! duel monsters was the embodiment of epic-win-fun-awesomeness for me a child… to the point where I re-watched the entire series subbed a while back. Yuugi and yami no Yuugi were epic T__T

    I have yet to like any yu-gi-oh protagonist since and this series will be no exception…

    • Overcooled says:

      It really was the backbone of my childhood XD I still have my deck…lol. I’ve always wanted to re-marathon it subbed (especially since I love all of the seiyuu. SO GOOD.) but never got past watching the first season of Duel Monsters. I need to watch the Battle city ark…THE MORE I REPLY TO COMMENTS, THE MORE I WANT TO DO THIS.

      No one beats Yugi. No one!

  8. Moni Chan says:

    ahahahaha each generation has its fails and falls. card games on motorcyles, kuriboh haired jaiden. it all comes down to this

    • Overcooled says:

      I am still waiting for card games on a plane. It’ll be the new hit season, just you wait.

      • Dabeer says:

        But they did have that, remember? The one duel between Seto and that evil dude in the horrible dragon/final arc of the original yugioh. As a side note, I actually loved Yusei and Duel Runners, XD

  9. HikariKame says:

    I loved your review! Strangely enough, I also loved Zexal. Although the initial plot points are just like DM, it reminded me more of GX, except that it was actually funny. GX just seemed like it half-assed a lot of things, while Zexal just said, screw it, and decided to make me laugh.

    I love sarcastic spirit and protag who can’t play but is teaching me how to play at end of every episode. Definitely will be following this series.

    PS: You noticed the gay fairy man too?! =D It wasn’t just me!!!

    • Overcooled says:

      Aww, thank you! I’m a huge Yu-Gi-Oh! fan, but I never really watched past episode 1 of Zexal. It didn’t seem as good as the past ones… I guess if the elf fairy dude is more sarcastic, that works a bit better though.

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