(Obligatory image for the mobile crowd. Remember, BUY BLACKWINGS.)
I know Yu-Gi-Oh has been a frequent source of drama for this subreddit lately, and this post is absolutely inspired by the recent works of misterbadguy159
covering the card game side of the drama. This post is admittedly more of a compilation than a proper post as many of the sources and claims in this post are going to link back to posts made by misterbadguy159
and others that have long since done the work breaking down the myths covered here today. With that being said:
Yu-Gi-Oh, King of Recap Games:
For those out of the loop, Yu-Gi-Oh is a manga series written by Kazuki Takahashi that ran from September 14, 1996 to March 8, 2004, totalling 343 chapters. In the story, protagonist Yugi Mutou (Yugi Moto in the localisations) discovers an ancient artifact that contains a dark spirit within who takes residence in Yugi's soul. The spirit takes over whenever Yugi is in danger, challenging criminals and thugs with deadly games of chance wherein he punishes them with ironic punishments. Later on, it's discovered that the spirit is the remnant of an Egyptian Pharoah who lived thousands of years in the past called Atem.
After about seven volumes, Takahashi created a one-off card game called Duel Monsters, which saw immediate popularity with the fans. After it and villain Seto Kaiba were brought back several times, the card game became a reality in 1999, coming to the West in 2002.
After a 1998 anime adaptation by Toei, Studio Gallop, alongside Nihon Ad Systems, would make an anime covering much of the manga following the introduction of Kaiba and the Duel Monsters game (alongside several filler arcs done to either shill new cards or buy Takahashi time to wrap up the current arc in the manga). This series, also known as Duel Monsters,
ran from 2000 to 2004, and is nowadays seen as one of the most iconic pieces of children's media for the Late 90s-Early Noughts generation alongside Power Rangers, Digimon and Pokemon. This was helped by an English dub done by 4Kids Entertainment, who made some dubious changes to the source material in their efforts to localise it, but nowadays the dub is seen as a bit ironically iconic due to the wonders of meme culture. Yu-Gi-Oh became a merchandising powerhouse, with all sorts of additional merchandise- tie in games, shirts, board games, and even anti-weed PSA.
Three movies have since been made for Duel Monsters- one set during the show called Pyramid of Light, one crossover called Bonds Beyond Time that has Yugi team up with the other two protagonists as part of the 10th anniversary of the anime, and Dark Side of Dimensions, a 2016 epilogue movie that saw Kaiba and his eternal quest for the saltiest runback in history as he tries to go to the Egyptian afterlife to challenge the Pharoah to a rematch.
Gallop's tenure with Yugioh would last long beyond the adventures of Yugi and his friends. In 2004 they began releasing Yugioh GX,
a series set ten years after Duel Monsters and following Judai/Jaden Yuki, a hot-headed, cute, eager and charming kid who eventually goes on to commit a small act of genocide.
GX would also get a dub by 4Kids, but they would stop dubbing it at the end of the third season, leaving the fourth and final season undubbed to this day. Funnily enough that means in the dubbed continuity, Jaden is straight-up dead until the Bonds Beyond Time movie brings him back, and you're just expected to know "Oh there was a fourth season where Jaden came back from the dead." GX is actually pretty good, to be honest. The dub is funny and by the third season they lean on the absurdity of the premise with a lot of meta commentary jokes... oh and a mammoth voiced by Goku's voice actor doing an Arnie impression.
Man the mid-2000s were great.
After GX came the subject of today's post in 2008, the third series in the Yugioh anime lineup, the one with the motorcycles, Yugioh 5D's.
Going Fast Makes Me Feel Alive, My Premise Beats, In Hyperdrive
Set in the far-flung future of Neo-Domino City, 5D's follows Yusei Fudo (the first protagonist to keep his name the same in English), a member of the underclass who lives on an island called Satelite where Neo-Domino sends its trash. Yusei prior to the series built a Duel Runner- a motorcycle that can play Duel Monsters at the same time- only to have it stolen by his friend Jack Atlas, who is now the "Master of Faster" in Neo-Domino. Jack also stole Yusei's ace monster, Stardust Dragon. Yusei, having built a new Duel Runner, plans to break into Neo-Domino and get revenge on Jack for betraying him.
During his revenge quest, Yusei and Jack discover marks on their arms that resemble a dragon, marking them as Signers: people who can access the power of a cosmic entity called the Crimson Dragon. While Yusei is sent to prison for breaking into Neo-Domino, a shadowy figure named Rex Goodwin plans to unite the Signers so that they can combat an enemy that has been brewing for centuries. Yusei manages to get out of jail and after committing some more breaking and entering to get his Duel Runner back, comes across the twins Lua and Ruka- with Ruka being the third Signer as revealed later. The Twins and Yusei hear of a figure named the Black Rose Witch who also happens to be a Signer- Aki Izayoi, a powerful psychic who is part of a movement called the Arcadia Movement (keep them in mind, we'll come back to this). Goodwin hosts a tournament, the Fortune Cup, to lure the four Signers into the same area so he can begin to harvest the energy that appears whenever two Signers duel.
There's also this guy called Crow Hogan who randomly joins the cast, he was apparently Yusei's childhood friend that the show just doesn't acknowledge until thirty episodes in and after the entire introduction arc to the series. Keep him in mind as well, but he's the fifth Signer.
After they unite, the Signers are united in a war against the Dark Signers- deceased spirits brought back to live as evil counterparts of the main cast who wish to open the gates of the Underworld to unlocked their Masters, the Earthbound Immortals. After a series of intense and brutal duels, the Signers are able to prevail, but Goodwin falls to despair and reveals that he's also a Signer- his brother was one but after an experiment that involved Yusei's father, he cut off his arm and granted the Signer powers to Rex. After said brother becomes a Dark Signer and returns to kill Rex, Rex lets him win their duel (this is Yugioh so losing a duel can in fact kill you) so he can be reborn as a Dark Signer, during which time he tries to restore the Earthbound Immortals. Yusei, Jack and Crow team up to fight him, Yusei stops him, and the world is safe from the Dark Signers.
I skimmed a lot of the Dark Signers arc but it's important to note that this arc is really
beloved by the fandom. Aki is one of the most popular female characters in the series thanks to an impressive early showing and a ferocity not usually seen in female characters in this franchise. Jack manages to carve out his own legacy as a Yugioh rival and steps out of Kaiba's shadow to become by far the most iconic character in 5D's. Yusei manages to make for an engaging lead, an underdog with the system against him that makes him a scrappy lead to follow. Crow is there I guess. And the Dark Signers are usually all great foils for their respective duelists, such as Jack having to face his former fangirl Carly after the Arcadia Movement have her assassinated.
5D's opens strong and these opening arcs are really good. They're a solid, fun way to introduce the new mechanic of Synchro Summoning that the card game implemented in 2008, with Jack, Yusei and Aki's decks all having cards that players still use in either fun or competetive environments to this day- especially Black Rose Dragon and its ability on summon to wipe the field, and Stardust Dragon's unique power to remove itself from play tempoarily to negate a card effect.
Unfortunately it's after Dark Signers that things begin to weaken for 5D's. It never really gets bad,
especially compared to other big Yugioh flops that would follow like Zexal's first half or Arc-V after the Standard Arc, but there is a notable decline in quality and storytelling. Still a lot of great moments that make it worth sticking out to the end, but it feels less cohesive than what 5D's had introduced itself with. To give it an analogy, if Dark Signers starts as a 9/10 arc, 5D's ends with a 6 or 7 out of 10 arc.
So what happened? What reason is there for 5D's to have weakened? Surely there had to be something- Dark Signers was too good, there had to be some
outside force meddling with Gallop to make 5D's lessen in quality! And the fans came up with a lot
of reasons. Three in particular stand out as ones that get repeated to this day by fans as justifications for 5d's. So let's talk about them, and hopefully be able to provide an actual reason for this quality drop.
Aki and the magic five-year pregnancy
I mentioned that Aki was a popular character. Her duel with Yusei during the Fortune Cup arc is the second-most popular duel in 5D's
according to a fan vote. She had a great design
, her theme slapped,
and Black Rose Dragon was a beast of a card. It was so rare for Yugioh to have a female character be as cool as Aki, and one with such a ferocious dueling style as she did. To this day, Aki is generally regarded as the best main female character in Yugioh.
But then after Dark Signers, Aki gets benched. Within the first sixty episodes of the series, Aki gets ten duels.
For the eighty + remaining episodes, she gets five
more duels, with the majority of her apperances otherwise having Aki be physically incapacitated so her psychic powers don't let them heroes win too easily or just sitting on the bench (there's another reason for why Aki gets benched so hard that we'll come back to later).
A lot of fans were disappointed with Aki's handling. Yugioh's handling of female characters is... bad...
but Aki seemed to finally be a step in the right direction after Duel Monsters used Tea as a brainwashed bicycle where everyone got a go in her brainstem, while Mai was reduced to a damsel in distress. Meanwhile GX hyped up Asuka/Alexis as the big badass on campus only for her own duel count to sharpy drop after GX's first season. Then in comes Aki and she fights Yusei into a corner- not a bad feat given Yusei across all of 5D's never loses on camera-
and makes him go all out to win. She gets a great duel against Misty, one of the Dark Signers who blames her for the death of her brother.
Fans eventually learned that Aki's Japanese voice actress, Ayumi Kinoshita happened to get married soon after the Dark Signers arc finshed recording. And an idea begins to spread among the fandom, a nebulous story that reads that the studio downplayed Aki's role so that Kinoshita would be able to have her honeymoon and a child she supposedly had around 2010 without having to worry about making it into recording sessions. A seemingly clean and blameless explanation, right?
Well, two problems. Kinoshita did get married... in 2012, three years after Aki had begun to be shafted for screentime in 5D's. Kinoshita's child was born... in 2014.
Somehow, despite this being readily available information, no one looked at this and debunked it until "Aki got shafted because her voice actress got pregnant" began to circulate around the fandom like wildfire despite it requring Kinoshita to have been pregnant for five years.
In their own post detailing the Aki pregnancy myth, misterbadguy159
In seriousness, if there is one thing in the universe that should be flat-out expected, it's the writing staff sidelining female characters regardless of popularity, plot-relevance, skill, or intrigue. If anything, Aki fares a lot better than some of them. She survives the entire series, gets a fairly complete (if severely stop-and-start) development arc, is never outright written out, and defeats a somewhat impressive opponent for her final duel. She only stands out as she does because her high was a lot higher, and unlike some of her fellows, her nature as a Signer made her impossible to fully write out or kill off.
What likely happened with Aki specifically is that the largest post-Dark Signers arc, the WRGP Arc, was not an arc that made itself useful if one wanted to explore side characters. The WRGP is set up in a way where each duel is a 3 on 3 with one duelist competing at a time, and as this involves Jack, Yusei and Crow as the respective lead duelists, this means Aki can't really get many duels in without the tournament grinding to a halt. It means Aki having a solo arc would drag the already-bloated pacing of WRGP to a halt. And Aki clearly was given material for an arc. Her psychic powers begin to fluctuate in ability, she learns how to ride a Duel Runner so she can partake in Riding Duels. Unfortunately, WRGP was just structured in an annoying way where Aki got the bench, and as WRGP is the largest arc post Dark Signers, it creates the impression that Aki gets hard benched for the rest of the show. She still fares better than a lot of other characters (the twins especially get borderline nothing to do besides cheerlead for Yusei and almost all of the pre-WRGP supporting cast vanish) but with Aki it stang all the more because she'd had such a good start.
It's very likely that the Aki pregnancy thing was always known to be a bust, but it was easier for some fans to accept a lie that Aki's VA was just unavailable than it was that the writers who had done so well with Dark Signers just... fucked up.
The Roma Sophie Cult: Carly's Curly Cultish Conniptions
This is the second biggest urban legend about 5D's, and it's one of the ones that does
get modern day pushing. If you ask people who watched 5D's where they think it went wrong, a common phrase is "After Carly's actress got busted for being a cultist so they wrote out the Arcadia Movement."
Carly's role in the series is that she starts as an investigative reporter with a crush on Jack Atlas. When she investigates the Arcadia Movement, its leader Divine uses his powers to throw her out a skyscraper window, killing her. Carly accepts the powers of the Dark Signer mark and gets revenge, then later duels Jack out of an idea that if she can kill him, they can be together in death. Jack defeats her after accepting his mortality and after Goodwin is defeated, Carly is resurrected and loses her Dark Signer powers. While the show implies that Carly and Jack are a couple at the end of the arc, Carly's post Dark Signers appearances have her be part of a shared harem for Jack, a role she plays for the rest of the series.
Carly's initial voice actress in Japanese was Li-Mei Chiang, who played the character from her debut episode up to episode 129. The legend goes that during the production of 5D's, shortly after the Dark Signers arc wrapped, Studio Gallop were made aware that Chiang was part of the Roma Sophia Cult, a 2002 organisation that disbanded in 2010 after police investigations. The Roma Sophie Cult would induct young women through a habit of physical "disciplining" which involved being beaten for hours on end with wooden sticks. Chiang's membership meant that Gallop had to cut down on their plans for Carly, recasting her while completely scrapping the Arcadia Movement that formed a large part of Aki's backstory. These fans also push an idea that post Dark Signers, 5D's moves in a hard push away from science-fantasy or magic/science (mostly due to the Earthbound Immortals having several visual connections with Incan mythology) to hard sci-fi in followup arcs. The cult outing therefore leads to the Arcadia Movement being cut, Carly's role is downplayed, and 5D's gear-shifts into a hard sci-fi show sot that they aren't tainted by association.
Again however, the timeline doesn't mesh up. By the time the Roma Sophia Cult were caught in 2010, 5D's had already made
the sci-fi transition. Carly had already been borderline written out of the show, and the Arcadia Movement had
been written out of the show. To quote a post by user Meshleth:
The timeline for the series' retooling doesn't add up since 5D's was going in a hard Sci-Fi direction for a while before this. Barring the fact that the concept for 5D's, in and of itself, was a large departure from both series that came before it, the shift comes with the introductions of Lucciano, Placido and Jose and Sherry Leblanc. The three Yliaster gentlemen were introduced in episode 65 (first aired in Japan on July 1, 2009) but in combination with Sherry's introduction in episode 71 (first aired in Japan on August 12, 2009) and the reveal of the World Riding Grand Prix, the show deliberately goes full Science Fiction. Both of these episodes were produced and aired well before any information about the Roma Sophie cult becomes public knowledge and show a hard departure from the previous Dark Signer arc. This change in direction was obviously premeditated but it came well before Katsumi Omo or Studio Gallop caught wind of the whole debacle.
But because the Arcadia Movement was kinda cool, it being removed alongside the big scandal of "Oh did you hear a Yugioh actor was part of a sex cult?" meant that the Carly narrative spread like wildfire. It seemed like such a convenient answer for the sci-fi shift and removal of Arcadia at first glance, but as you're probably realizing, many of these urban legends rely a lot on convenience... and no one checking a calander.
BUY BLACKWINGS: Crow Hogan and the supposed editorial mandate
Now this is the big one. This is the one that gets shared potentially even more than the cult story. For years this was openly proclaimed to be fact on official wiki pages and fansites like TVTropes alongside countless fans sharing it as indisputed fact. Crow Hogan
is the final core member of the cast to be introduced in episode 30. He's Yusei's childhood friend who loves kids and is a bit of a Robin Hood figure before becoming a Signer.
Problem: He clearly wasn't meant to be a Signer. That's not a conspiracy theory by the way, there's a shot of the five Signer Dragons early on in the show
, Crow's Signer Dragon in Black Wing Dragon is not there despite it being the episode where Crow is introduced. Crow himself is not part of a sketch Takahashi did of the Signers, with Crow's slot being filled by an unused character design.
Crow himself has virtually no presnece in the anime OPs and EDs for the arc.
So there's enough evidence that Crow, if he was intended to be a cast member from the start, was likely a late addition. And then fans notice something.
Crow uses an archetype called the Blackwings. They're a set of cards that started with minimal support but went on to be meta-defining for much of the Syncrho era. To quote the Yugioh wiki on it:
They are a Deck with both swarming and speed capabilities. When Crimson Crisis was released, this archetype was very unsupported, with only five "Blackwing" cards being released: "Gale the Whirlwind", "Sirocco the Dawn", "Bora the Spear", "Armor Master" and "Raptor Wing Strike". Later on, with the release of Raging Battle and Ancient Prophecy, Blackwings grew into a high swarming and powerful Deck. The speed it gives with its swarming, along with its additional Synchro Summoning capabilities, landed this Deck a place on the Shonen Jump Circuit, along with being known as one of the many Meta Decks. The Deck proceeded to win the 2009 World Championships and remained popular the following year.
Crow's first episode also sets him up as an antagonistic figure- the Blackwings have very dark and brooding designs for a protagonist deck, he has an air of superiority to him, and the episode ends wth him and Yusei staring each other down. Many of Crow's more sympathic traits such as his adoration of children and desire to protect them feel relatively tacked on compared to his actions in the episode.
So, we have early signs that Crow is not a natural inclusion to Team 5D's and that he wasn't designed initially as a protagonist figure. We have art from Takahashi himself during his role working on the series indicating that Crow was not the first pick for the Fifth Signer. Crow is one of the few characters from the Dark Signers arc to get a lot of screentime after the arc, alongside Yusei and Jack. And now, around the time Crow joins the show cast, his archetype begins to sell well, has high potential in the card game, and just won a world championship.
The idea began that Crow was basically a plant job by Konami themselves- they wanted to push the Blackwings so much that they demanded Crow join the roster as a hero. But that wasn't all. The story went deeper.
In an April 2010 art post on Japanese fanart site Pixiv, a user in Crow's tag shared art of Crow designed as if he was a Dark Signer.
In the tags for the art, the artist shares this tag:
初期案の一つでした or "it was one of the earliest ideas"
Fans latch onto this with many asking in the comments if the artist has proof that Crow was meant to be a Dark Signer. You can still see comments as recently as this year asking the artist what they meant. And it's very likely that this fanart, made long after the Dark Signer arc had finished, was what really kicked off the idea that Crow was meant to be an outright twist villain.
And from there, the theory escalates. Now the Blackwings were powerful not just because the Konami playtest team felt nice that day, the archetype itself
was a plant: Crow's cards were powerful because he was meant to use them as a bad guy. And then people notice that compared to the other Signers, the Blackwings all have a more bird-like appearance to them. Interestingly enough, the Earthbound Immortals include a condor form. So the fans latch further onto the idea. Now it escalates into: "Crow was a late addition to the 5D's roster because he was meant to the final boss of the Dark Signer arc, but Konami forced them to make him a hero because his deck sold too well and they wanted to keep supporting Blackwings."
There is one significant piece of evidence to point to regarding the Dark Signer Crow theory and that idea that his deck was foreshadowing: Look at Goodwin's character design
. You see what's on his shirt?
Yeah. A condor.
In retrospect Goodwin might as well have been going around with a Vegeta Badman shirt that said I'M THE SECRET TWIST VILLAIN.
But anyway, as with the other big urban legends for 5D's, the timeline has the theory fall apart.
First of all, while he wasn't the initial design for the Fifth Signer, Takahashi did have a hand in designing Crow
during his time working with 5D's. His design notes for Crow include the note:
He's tried to steal Yusei's Duel Runner (D-Wheel) countless times, but he always fails! Hot-blooded friend of Yusei's.
Yugioh has a long history of allies to the MC starting as a bad guy. Joey and Tristian from the original series started as Yugi's bullies, GX had Jaden basically force half his rivals into his social circle, Zexal had Yuma opposed to Kite and Shark respectively, and Vrains has Yusaku and Revolver on rivaling sides for the first season before Revolver becomes an ally to Yusaku. Crow was basically the idea of the rival to friend archetype done pre-series (largely because Jack would be getting that arc himself) to mirror Joey. So Crow starting antagonistic isn't proof that he was gonna be a secret boss fight- it's just proof that he was gonna be a rough and tumble character ahead of joining the heroes. It's also worth noting that a lot
of the sub-characters in early 5D's share this concept with Crow of being rough and rude at first but after a bit of kindness open up to Yusei and become stalward allies. As a matter of fact, a large number of the early 5D's episodes before the Fortune Cup arc share the idea of Yusei turning an antagonistic figure around and gaining their trust.
Additionally, Crow doesn't get that much support from Konami outside of the series. The Blackwings didn't launch with a huge wave, they only launched with about five cards to their name and only received their infamous support later.
Additionally, Konami typically don't care about meta-defining cards and archetypes getting spotlight in the anime. As misterbadguy159
explained in a post in September 2021:
Break down a few anime archetypes, and you invariably find that anime significance and card game significance almost never intersect.
Cyber Dragon, the card that killed Goat Format? After one season of prominence, Ryo Marufuji, the main Cyber Dragon user of GX, suffered a humiliating loss and spent essentially his entire character arc for the next season denouncing Cyber Dragon, ultimately switching over to the Cyberdark archetype. He does return to the deck later, but manages a total of no true onscreen victories in the rest of the series, and remains a recurring character at best.
Destiny Heroes, the engine of which was a core part of some of the most dominant decks of the late-GX era? Again, after one season of prominence (hell, right after the introduction of Disc Commander, the card that made the Destiny Hero engine broken), Edo is written out of the show, returns intermittently halfway into the third season, never gets an onscreen victory again, and loses to both a secondary villain and Manjoume.
So Konami typically don't care to make only the main characters use meta decks. The one other time a main character has used a deck that would dominate the meta would only come around three shows
after Crow's time in the spotlight, with Soulburner in Vrains. In fact, there are many more times where Konami have let characters using incredibly broken archetypes at the time retire their decks, change archetype or just become jobbers. So them suddenly out of the blue only caring now, before the Blackwing support had even released, is more than a little odd to say the least.
Konami's lack of Crow support can also be seen in a lot of the tie-in games. Yugioh has a ton of video games, most of which are just that year's updated version of the rulelist with a few optional minigames like challenges or retellings of the story mode included. One of these series was Tag Force, which began with the GX era and was typically exclusive to the PSP. Tag Force offered exclusive routes with certain characters to get more of a look into their characters or just let fans spend time with them doing tag duels. It's a fun idea that I hope Konami bring back. But in the Tag Force Games, Crow is lucky to get one route when characters who hadn't appeared for years could get alternate routes. Most of Team 5D's got at least one alternate route but Crow would get just one every time. Side villains from the Dark Singer arc like Kiryu could get three
as seen in Tag Force 6.
So Konami don't really care
about Crow. He didn't get a lot of official merch, he doesn't get much push in the games, and even his archetype hasn't gotten a ton of extra support to make it stand out. So then his anime appearance is the outlier, and the timelines make it clear that Crow got no special attention from the executives, to say nothing of how said lack of attention solidly debunks the theory of him being the final boss. Why did Crow get pushed into Signer status then, and made the third pillar of Team 5D's over, say, Aki?
Well for that, we have to talk about what really
happened with 5D's.
So what really happened after the Dark Signers arc?
Long story short, Takahashi left story duties and passed the reigns on.
Takahashi's involvement with Yugioh had been declining since the end of the Duel Monsters anime. He contribed a ton to the early designs of GX and several endgame ideas such as antagonist Yubel (he even pitched a movie of the GX cast crossing over with the Duel Monsters team, but he couldn't think of a way to bring Atem back that didn't weaken the impact of the original series, so a lot of the ideas and the antagonist were reused for GX Season 2), but he was very reluctant to do a third series. In the 21st bunkoban
, Takahashi admitted to not wanting to do another show, but he was eventually persuaded. During the Dark Signers arc however, Takahashi announced that he would be stepping away from a creative position with the anime. He intended to enjoy the series as a fan and felt that Dark Signers gave the creative team a good launching point for 5D's between the submitted ideas for the story, setting, characters and designs (many of which were explained in the book Duel Art
which had Takahashi retrospectively looking back at his involvement with the franchise). The poor guy even believed 5D's would be the last Yugioh anime, which is kinda darkly funny now looking back.
Either way, the simple explanation for what happened to 5D's is that the team went through the arcs given to them by Takahashi, and after he left... they proceeded to flounder like a raft with no paddle (something that's especially notable with the Road to Freedom arc that bridges Dark Signers and Crashtown). The WRGP arc especially shows them flying blind as their early insistence on a 3v3 tournament backfires spectacularly in tanking the ability to focus on anyone besides the newly installed power trio of Yusei/Jack/Crow (which may have been deliberate given that the producedirector team from 5D's to Vrains loved their power trios as shown here alongside in Zexal and Vrains).
As for Crow and his boosting in the anime? Likely directorial bias, specifically from series director Katsumo Omo. It's not a shock that Crow was a character Omo had a huge hand in developing, right down to naming Crow as a reference to a nickname for General Yoshitsune
(Kuro Hogan) alongside naming the Blackwings themselves after concepts that refer to tactical skill. It's not a shock that Omo then likely swiped a character arc meant for Rua and gave it to Crow, right down to giving Crow the Dark Signer that had been set up for Rua
to fight (and also shelving Life Stream Dragon as a Signer Dragon for two years
in real life). It's not a shock that when Omo directed Yugioh Arc-V, the longest arc was a return to a Synchro dimension that let Jack and Crow return to hog the limelight, to the point of Crow effectively becoming a main character again and getting to literally cheat death
so that he can partake in the final boss battle and call said final boss a little bitch. And to be fair, Zarc is a giant loser so hard to argue with Crow there. But also Crow's reappearance in Arc-V did confirm for many the idea that Crow will kill any show he appears in shortly after his appearance.
But everything after Dark Signers was done without Takahashi. For better or for worse, nothing was forcing the team to work around outside restrictions. No actor pregnancies, no cult drama, no executives urging them to push a character at the expense of others because his deck is doing well in tournaments. This is the show they wanted to make, for better or worse.
The 5D's urban legends have been mainstays of Yugioh discussion for almost as long as 5D's has been around. They have built up a near-folkloric status where fans imagine a version of 5D's where none of the fake drama happened and Aki got to be a main character, Carly and Jack had a proper romance arc and Crow got to be the final boss of the Dark Signers arc. But that's not the version that's real. That's not even the version that the writers and directors wanted to make.
5D's in special in that no other Yugioh series would have this many fake stories spread about it. With the other Yugioh series that had poor productions, we know
they had poor productions. We know Arc-V's final half was a diaster, we know about Zexal cutting the Barian Observer at such a last minute that a reference was left to them in a preview description. We know Vrains was clogged with enough production woes as an after-effect of Arc-V that it it needed three recap episodes within the first thirty episodes. But for 5D's, none of these debunkings were done by staff. They were done by fans who pulled the thread and checked the dates to see what could actually be true. It's a fascinating case where a fandom basically invented its own problems
so that they could excuse a quality drop.
And even then, it wasn't a terrible second half. A lot of the most popular 5D's duels come from the second half, with Yusei and Jack's final duel being the fan-voted best duel of the show. The second half has the absolutely amazing Clear Mind scene
where Yusei whips out a fucking Masaaki Endoh insert song while he summons a dragon so strong it clears the sky of clouds.
5D's never gets bad, it's just a case of peaking early, but the content after that point is still decent at worst. I adore the Crashtown arc as we get to see a Yugioh Wild West AU alongside one of the better attempts at a redemption arc in the show. The final arc especially with Z-ONE is worth experiencing if you like Dark Signers. I don't want to create the impression that 5D's turns to hell the second Takashi leaves. But you can definitely feel his absense.
Either way, Gallop would remain on Yugioh for three more shows of varying quality, until after Vrains Konami got a new studio for the next series, Yugioh Sevens. It's pretty fun so far.
If you want my personal recommendations on what to watch, I can basically recommend at least a little of every show: Duel Monsters is fun in sub or dub, but check out Kaiba's best scenes in whatever langauge you don't watch, as both VA's kill it. GX is iconic for its dub humor, but the sub is inevitable if you wanna watch the whole thing. Zexal starts with a terrible beginning but it does even out in the second half- just don't watch the dub, Yuma has a terrible voice. Stop Arc-V at the start of the Synchro Arc for your own good, Vrains is solid from beginning to end and Sevens is again pretty good.
Thanks for reading this post that... oh wow this post got to 36 thousand characters, Christ. If you wanna watch 5D's yourself, you can watch it here
for free if you want the dub (they didn't dub all the episodes due to 4Kids getting sued around this time), or here
on Crunchyroll, again for free, if you want the Japanese track.
SO u know how the devs are taking forever on the new school? No this isnt a rant but what if they released it next year? I know people in the comments will be saying "WE WANT THE SCHOOL AS SOON AS POSSIBLE BUT WANT THE DEVS TO TAKE THEIR TIME"
But what if they released it on the next year of april fools? Like the devs make a post "After more than a year of work, we did it" and then the picture is of the new school and people standing infront of it. Then the comments are like "OMGOMGOGMGGM NEW SCHOOL IS OUT IN PRIVATE SERVERS HERES THE LINK TO MINE"
Then when we join the server squealing and jumping irl, we get a abandoned shed with a toilet. The floor is a clipart of the new school. "Enjoy!" the pop up says above the toilet as we look at the shed in disappointment. You feel your heart drop as you stare at the sign, you stare at disbelief for a minute or two, thinking about how your going to express your disappointment under the "New school is out" post.
As you hop away you accidentally sit on the toilet seat, to which it surprisingly responds. Sparkles emit from the toilet as the shed gets engulfed in a white screen. You are speechless as you stare at a portal-like long tube, in which you are moving forward in first-person. (Kindoff like the tube at the bottom of the trading hub with the rainbow circles!) Royale high butlers and devs greet and slide by you as you continue moving forward, then when you reach the end of the portal, you see in big bold letters; PRESENTING: ROYALE HIGH the screen goes black like in a movie. Then plays the trailer of the Royale high cutscene, the trailer shows cheerleaders having fun in the new school, also a few scenes of the exterior of the school and pictures of friends baking and walking to class in the halls together. Then the scene shifts to a queen and king, their names are "callmebob" and "launcelothandsome"
"Greetings, my royals! And welcome to the new school of royale high; your ever-growing dream world" The queen says. She then gives you a mini-tour of the new Royale High School with majestic music and nature sound effects when she enters the garden, she also introduces you to the teacher NPCs. After that, Launce introduces you to the new shop features and other new ugi features. At the end of the tour, they say "Thanks for all your support, we couldn't have done this without you" "We haven't shown you all the new rooms and features, just the main ones to get you started" "There are many new things hidden within, so go have fun and explore! Best of luck trying to find ur way around!" you graciously thank them and start moving towards the front doors of the Royale High castle with a pastel "WELCOME" banner. The devs and NPCs are waving their hands enthusiastically at you, when unexpectedly Vioncii and Jamjam step up to you, "Oh, and don't forget this! It might help out a bit!" They hand you a map of a school with your schedule attached, as the screen flashes white in slow motion, you are standing infront of the Royale high castle's doors with a map in your hands. Butterflies swarm around and you read the "WELCOME" banner once again just to see if you were dreaming.
"Well, the devs sure did us dirty this time" you think as you giggle in astonishment, stepping up to the elegant stairs leading to the castle and wondering what fun this new gorgeous creation will bring.
Ok ik this is long, Ill stop being a disappointment now.