Kazuki Takahashi at MAGIC 2019, Part 2: Autographs

March 22, 2019 at 9:00 pm | Posted in Other Stuff, Yu-Gi-Oh! | 2 Comments
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Close-up of Yugi's face on Kazuki Takahashi's MAGIC 2019 shikishi

Autographs from Kazuki Takahashi are always in high demand, even in the world’s second smallest country. But when the creator of Yu-Gi-Oh! came to Monaco to attend MAGIC 2019, few people could have predicted just how competitive the autographing scene was, not only for Takahashi but also for all of the other guests.

All autograph sessions at MAGIC were first-come, first-served. And even though MAGIC isn’t a large event — its sole panel room seats only 400 people, and the organizer caps attendance at 3,000 — there was no telling what the crowds would be like. There might also be a language barrier; most of the staff and attendees would certainly be French speakers.

So how did things go? This is my story…

I arrived at the convention center, the Grimaldi Forum, at 6:30 a.m. knowing full well that the doors wouldn’t open until around 9:00 a.m. and that Takahashi’s autograph session wasn’t until 4:00 p.m. There were already four people waiting at the entrance. Alongside them was a row of almost a dozen backpacks on the ground, each reserving a spot in line.

One person, a friendly gentleman from Paris in his late 30s or early 40s, greeted me. I was relieved that he spoke English. He had been queuing since 1:00 a.m., making him the…second person to arrive. He came to MAGIC to get the autograph of Leiji Matsumoto, the creator of Captain Harlock and Galaxy Express 999. He talked about how rare it was to see Matsumoto and how he didn’t want to miss this chance to attend his autograph session at noon.

Friendly Parisian pointed at the row of bags on the ground. He explained that among autograph seekers in France, there are unwritten rules about the importance of respecting each other and the line queuing procedure. The reason for these rules, he said, is because there is often poor queuing etiquette in France. I didn’t really understand but I happily placed my bag in the line to hold my position. When I told Friendly Parisian that I was here to see Kazuki Takahashi, he warned me to be careful. There would be a lot of young people wanting to see him too, he said, and they might not be mindful of queuing etiquette.

Even before sunrise, more men and women gradually began to show up. Almost all of them were French speakers who seemed to know each other; I could tell because they all greeted each other by kissing. Friendly Parisian explained that most of the people who had arrived so early were members of a clique that specialized in collecting autographs. That’s why they were familiar with one another. Most of them had come to meet Matsumoto too. Soon, a woman from Japan showed up with a modest Captain Harlock ita-bag. Later, a boy, probably around 9 or 10 years old, lined up. He claimed to be a serious Yu-Gi-Oh! card collector. Drat. Competition.

Everyone was very friendly toward one another. There was an understanding that we all there for a common goal. Even though not everyone spoke English, I felt comfortable and upbeat among these like-minded people. I told myself that this would be a great event.

By the time the venue opened at 9:00 a.m., there were maybe two hundred people in line. After checking in, I hurried over to the autographing area, but that part of the convention center wasn’t open yet. Friendly Parisian and other autograph seekers were already queued up to enter. I evaluated the situation. The crowd wasn’t that big and most of the people there were interested in Leiji Matsumoto’s and other guests’ autographs anyway. No one seemed to be there for Kazuki Takahashi’s. I decided to leave and go to the opening ceremony instead.

MAGIC 2019 welcome message image shown on the big screen

Minutes later in the auditorium, Friendly Parisian took a seat near me. I was surprised to see him. What happened to the line? He explained that, rather than continuing to queue for hours on end, the autograph seekers decided to keep track of their positions in line by writing a number on the back of their hand.

Very smart. These attendees were resourceful and experienced. They understood how to deal with potentially stressful situations like autograph queues. What a relief. Once again, I felt comfortable, like I was in good company. I decided to stay in the auditorium past the opening ceremony to watch Leiji Matsumoto’s panel.

At 11:00 a.m., I headed over to the autographing area. I was mortified by what I saw.

Huge lines. Everywhere. Some weren’t even lines. They were just…clusters of people. There must have been close to two hundred people crammed into the very small waiting space. Lines were extending out of the autographing area and spilling into the adjacent exhibition area. Convention staff members were busy repositioning the lines so that they snaked around the perimeter of the area. There was a lot of yelling among attendees as people tried to jump the queues while they were being rearranged. A handful of intimidating suits kept a watchful eye on the area, ready to stomp on anyone misbehaving. All the while, guests were busy at their tables in the center of the autographing area. There were of course more lines in front of their tables.

I spotted Friendly Parisian at what appeared to be the front of a cluster. What happened to the organized numbering system? He didn’t know. It was chaos. Other attendees wouldn’t respect the numbering system. Staff wouldn’t recognize those as official lines anyway. Attendees didn’t know what was going on. Would Friendly Parisian still get to meet Leiji Matsumoto? He didn’t know. Everyone there was just standing around waiting for answers and hoping for the best.

I immediately felt a sense of urgency. I had become too complacent and forgotten why I had arrived early. Did I mess up? Was I too late? My pulse started to rise. I desperately tried to find someone who knew what was going on. Pardon, parlez-vous anglais? Parlez-vous anglais?

Finally, I found an English-speaking staff member. As luck would have it, she seemed to be in charge of the autographing area. I asked about Kazuki Takahashi. She said there was no line yet for his autograph session. It looked like there was no space to start a line for a session that wouldn’t even take place for another five hours, and the crowd only continued to grow in size. The staffer was very busy managing the area and bolted.

In a short period of time, I had become very tired and stressed. There were four guests signing in the next hour, including Leiji Matsumoto. At the moment, crowd control was obviously a problem. Maybe things would cool down later, I thought. Maybe the organizers would have a better queuing system in place later. There was nothing that I could accomplish anyway standing in this sea of madness. I made a critical decision. I decided to leave.

I’m glad I did because I instantly felt better. Some lunch should do me good too.

I returned to the autographing area at 1:00 p.m. and saw a some Yu-Gi-Oh! cosplayers queuing on a narrow ramp that led down to the autograph tables. The line looked short. I approached them and asked who they were waiting for, even though I already knew the answer. Kazuki Takahashi. At last. I counted the number of people in line. There were maybe 30 people ahead of me. I’m in a decent position, I thought. The line was filled with almost all teens and young adults, all very excited and taking out their Yu-Gi-Oh! goods to decide what to get signed.

It seemed like I arrived at just the right time because within five minutes, the length of the line had almost doubled. Things must have begun to get dicey because shortly after, a staffer showed up at the front of the line to address the attendees. It was the same woman who I had spoken to earlier.

She explained that Kazuki Takahashi had brought a shikishi — a Japanese autograph board — to give out at his autograph session. He would only sign the shikishi and nothing else. She said that she would hand out the shikishi right now and that only those who received one would be allowed to attend his autograph session. There were a very limited number of shikishi, she emphasized.

Instantly, I felt someone breathing down my neck. A young man was behind me and I could feel him attempting to squeeze past my left side. Oh for goodness’ sake. Why, Friendly Parisian, did your prediction have to be so accurate?!

I positioned myself in the middle of the ramp and held my left arm straight out to my side.

“No. You are behind me,” I told him sternly in English.

“Oh,” he muttered. Did he speak English? I don’t know, but he backed off.

Immediately after that, another voice further behind me called out, demanding that people stop pushing. I turned my head to look. It was a man, probably in his 40s. A member of Friendly Parisian’s autographing clique, maybe? I felt a sense of relief. Like-minded people.

As I neared the front of the line, the staffer was still handing out shikishi and reminding everyone to return at 4:00 p.m. to take part in the autograph session. When I approached her, she handed me the shikishi. It was printed with a new illustration of Yugi by Kazuki Takahashi.

Success. Relief. Joy!

I looked at the box she was carrying that contained the shikishi. It had “50” written on it. I peered inside. It was almost empty. There were maybe three or four left at the bottom.

Are. You. Serious.

I did not stand around admiring the artwork. I immediately packed away the shikishi and left the area. I did not want to be there to see what would happen when the staffer announces that there were no more.

Kazuki Takahashi signing for fans at his autograph table at MAGIC 2019

I returned to the autograph area a few minutes before 4:00 p.m. I saw some familiar faces queuing in a line up against a wall. The Yu-Gi-Oh! cosplayers were there too, posing for passersby while waiting. I joined the end of the line.

While I waited, I spotted Friendly Parisian walking around. I waved and asked him if he was successful in his quest to get Leiji Matsumoto’s autograph. Yes, he was successful, he said. I felt so happy for him.

Kazuki Takahashi’s interpreter, Sahé Cibot, approached the queue and asked each of the attendees their name. She then transcribed their name in katakana — the Japanese writing system used for foreign words — on a small piece of paper and gave it to the attendee. Takahashi would be personalizing each shikishi, and writing the names in katakana would be quicker and easier for him than writing in English.

Kazuki Takakashi arrived shortly after 4:00 p.m. He was accompanied by Sahé Cibot, Shonen Jump deputy editor in chief Naoki Kawashima, and one other assistant. In small groups, attendees moved from the waiting area against the wall to the center of the room where his table was located.

From the queue, I watched him smile as he greeted each fan who approached his table. He was using a silver pen to sign the shikishi. The ink must have been very wet because he repeatedly wiped the pen on some scrap paper before and after each signature.

One attendee gifted Takahashi a Funko Pop! figure of Hellboy, an American comic book superhero by Mike Mignola that he loves.

Kazuki Takahashi receiving a Hellboy Funko Pop! figure from a fan at MAGIC 2019
Kazuki Takahashi smiles as he receives a Hellboy Funko Pop! from a fan

Soon, it was my turn. I handed his assistant a card that autograph-seeking-attendees are required to carry. The card was used by the convention to stop people from lining up multiple times in one autograph session to score multiple autographs.

Not that it was possible to do this during Takahashi’s session anyway.

MAGIC 2019 visitor badge and autograph card
Despite what the card says, Kazuki Takahashi did not hold a morning autograph session

The assistant punched a hole my card and gave it back to me.

I greeted Kazuki Takahashi and handed him the shikishi with both hands and the paper with my name on it. He read my name aloud and dabbed his pen on the scrap paper again, wiping away the excess ink. He began to sign.

“Mr. Takahashi, thank you so much for coming to Monaco,” I said anxiously while I watched the quick and elegant strokes of his pen.

“Oh, thank you,” he replied, his voice deep and calm.

In my mind, I will always have more to say to him. About what a big part of my life Yu-Gi-Oh! has played. About how happy I was to see him doing so well. About what an honor it was just to be in his presence. But he was already done signing and there was no time for chitchat. I thanked him again for the signature and left.

Days after the event had ended, MAGIC announced on Facebook that, for the first time in its five-year history, all the attendees had arrived in the morning and stayed until the end of the event in evening. Presumably, that meant that in the past, there were larger numbers of attendees who came and went over the course of the day.

Such an increase in traffic might explain why the staffers had difficulty managing the crowds. Combined with the fact that MAGIC was hosting such high-profile guests like Kazuki Takahashi and Leiji Matsumoto, I sympathized with the organizer’s predicament. It was messy, and there were certainly many things that MAGIC could have done better, but I’m not oblivious to the the challenges of managing autographing events and meeting attendees’ expectations.

Anyway, I would happily welcome a first-come, first-served autographing experience like this any day over, say, having to be selected via a random lottery.

Kazuki Takahashi's MAGIC 2019 shikishi and signature

Close-up of Kazuki Takahashi's signature on his MAGIC 2019 shikishi

Yesterday on Instagram, Kazuki Takahashi posted his shikishi artwork and left a message for his followers: “I participated in a manga awards event held in Monaco. It was a lot of fun meeting foreign Yu-Gi-Oh! fans! Thank you!”

No, thank you, Mr. Takahashi.

* * *

Next:
– Kazuki Takahashi at MAGIC 2019, Part 3: Coming soon

Previously:
Kazuki Takahashi at MAGIC 2019, Part 1: Manga Contest Judge

Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution Coming Summer 2019 to Nintendo Switch

March 21, 2019 at 2:00 pm | Posted in Konami, Yu-Gi-Oh! | Leave a comment
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Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution logo

Yu-Gi-Oh! is getting a brand-new video game exclusively for the Nintendo Switch this summer! Today, Konami unveiled the English version of Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution, which includes over 9,000 cards and the use of the latest rules featuring Link monsters. The game allows players to relive the stories from the Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters, GX, 5D’s, ZEXAL, and ARC-V eras, as well as the newest VRAINS series. Players can also challenge other duelists with local-play or Nintendo Switch Online. All of the content in the original Legacy of the Duelist game is included too.

Konami states on Legacy of the Duelist’s Japanese website that it will debut in Japan slightly earlier, on April 25, 2019. The website also notes that the game will include a total of 145 duelists from the anime series, including new entries like Roman, Don Thousand, and Chojiro.

The original Legacy of the Duelist game launched in July 2015 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One and expanded in December 2016 to Steam with additional content.

Yugi challenging Kaiba in the Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution story mode

Yuya meeting Sylvio in the Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution story mode

Playmaker playing Link Spider against a Knight of Hanoi in Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution

Dark Magician getting summoned in Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution

Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, Scale 44: ‘Action Battle!!’

March 19, 2019 at 9:00 pm | Posted in ARC-V, Yu-Gi-Oh! | Leave a comment
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Yuya Sakaki appearing in a puff of smoke in front of Reiji Akaba in Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V manga chapter 44

Yuya Sakaki promises to break Reiji Akaba’s ice-cold demeanor with his entertainment dueling. Yuya uses the effect of Pendulum Match to call forth Dark Anthelion Dragon. But Akaba counters by summoning D/D/D/D Superdimensional Sovereign Emperor Zero Paradox. Uh oh! Zero Paradox’s ability destroys the other cards on the field, leaving Yuya with nothing to battle with.

“Yuya. This ends your farce,” proclaims Akaba. “You have no moves left to make!”

Yuya is worried. He senses that Akaba’s heart had started to open up, but now, no longer. He looks at his hand for options, then smiles.

“I still have entertainment duels!” Yuya exclaims.

Yuya plays the Action Spell The Show Must Go On, which lets Yuya steal two of his opponent’s Action Cards. Yuya disappears in a puff of smoke and reappears inches from Akaba’s face. He snickers and snatches the cards right out of Akaba’s hand, then whooshes back to his side of the field.

Yuya then plays another Action Spell, Big Dominoes. Suddenly, a row of towering stone slabs fall from the sky, lining up neatly between the two duelists. They look like thick, enormous cards. When these Big Dominoes topple over onto Akaba, he’ll lose 500 life points for each card they have!

But Akaba won’t be squashed that easily. He plays his own Action Spell, Reverse Dominoes, forcing the giant slabs to fall in the opposite direction toward Yuya. Now, Yuya will receive all damage from the effect of Big Dominoes.

Yuya counters with the Action Spell Swingmelon. Coming in like a wrecking ball, a giant rope-tied melon crashes into the neat row of Big Dominoes, knocking them away from Yuya and sending them flying toward Akaba. If they hit him, Akaba will receive double the damage!

Akaba extends his arm outward and holds his palm forward. He responds with the Action Spell Stop, which negates all damage that he would receive from an Action Card. The young president doesn’t even wince as Yuya’s gigantic melon pauses in front of his face.

Yuya is ready again with his own Action Spell counter. He plays Splash Seeds, causing the colossal melon to morph into an equally large jack-o’-lantern. It explodes, scattering its fist-sized seeds everywhere. Yuya uses an umbrella to shield himself and laughs at the outcome. Akaba protects his face with his sentient scarf, but the explosive seeds set the scarf ablaze, completely reducing it to ashes.

Reiji Akaba is furious.

Reiji Akaba lamenting the destruction of his scarf in Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V manga chapter 44

Splash Seeds causes Akaba to take damage equal to 500 times the number of Action Cards played that turn. His life points fall to 1500, the same as Yuya’s.

Three turns have passed since Yuya banished his and Akaba’s G.O.D. cards. Now, Divine Go-D/D/D Zero King Zero G.O.D. Reiji returns with a vengeance, but G.O.D.-Eyes Phantom Dragon is ready to defend. If Akaba’s monster successfully attacks, Yuya’s life points will drop to zero!

Knowing that Zero G.O.D.’s effect only works if Akaba tributes a monster, Yuya activates the trap card Trick Explanation, which prevents tributes from being performed with monster effects.

But Akaba has a backup plan. He uses the effect of D/D Destiny Surveyor to turn itself into an Equip card for Zero G.O.D., which makes the god invincible and indestructible. Akaba’s doppelganger monster charges toward Yuya’s dragon, its fist ready to connect.

Yuya activates Trick Explanation’s other effect, which allows him to destroy one spell or trap card. He targets D/D Destiny Surveyor.

Zero G.O.D., a godly monster with zero attack points, looks painfully mortal as it throws a punch at G.O.D.-Eyes. No longer protected by the Equip card, Akaba’s monster falls to G.O.D.-Eyes and its 3000 attack strength. The duel’s onlookers gasp and cheer.

As the smoke from the attack clears, Reiji Akaba is still standing with his life points intact. He activated D/D Destiny Surveyor ability from the graveyard, he explains, which reduced his damage to zero. Furthermore, the monster that it battled is also destroyed and half its attack points are dealt as damage to his opponent.

G.O.D.-Eyes glows as it is destroyed. A beam of energy shoots out of its body and curves toward Yuya, ready to unleash 1500 points of damage and wipe out Yuya’s life points.

Yuya plays one more Action Spell, Double Burst, which forces both duelists to take the effect damage.

Akaba won’t settle for a tie. He sends D/D Destiny Surveyor from his hand to the graveyard to reduce the damage and leave him with 100 life points.

Neck and neck, Yuya Sakaki and Reiji Akaba’s life points both drop to 100 as they enter the climax of their battle…

Thoughts

Great moves! This chapter is super fun to read — one of the most fun in a long time. Even though the duel has a lot of card playing with little banter between the duelists, it’s all wonderfully entertaining, just like Yuya intended. I was fully engrossed in all of the plays made by both duelists.

All of their Action Cards and the way they are visually brought to life in the illustrations are fantastic. Great card names too.

The slabs of Big Dominoes remind me of the ancient Egyptian stone tablets seen in the original Yu-Gi-Oh! story.

Yuya playing the Big Dominoes card in Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V manga chapter 44

Can Yuya perform a Spirit Bomb attack? Maybe a Kamehameha?

Yuya preparing to launch a spirit attack in Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V manga chapter 44

No, it’s just a trick, hahaha.

Missed opportunity for Yuya to say “How do you like them melons?” when he plays the Swingmelon Action Card.

Yuya Sakaki playing the Swingmelon card in Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V manga chapter 44

There is now a card called Stop. Stop. I love it. I want to see this card used in real life and in the anime, with its effect expanded to apply to more situations. Are your opponents getting too cocky with their plays? Stop. Are you about to be on the receiving end of a bad combo? Stop. Are your opponents about to unleash a time-wasting diatribe? Stop. Just… Stop.

RIP Reiji Akaba’s scarf. Your loss will be greatly felt. I’m so proud of Shin Yoshida and Naohito Miyoshi for embracing the ridiculous wonder that is Reiji Akaba’s scarf as the story progressed. I’m sure they heard the fans’ cries for the scarf to play a bigger role in the story. These final few chapters with the scarf have been a tremendous blessing.

With only 100 life points left, this duel is clearly about to conclude. I love that Yuya and Reiji’s life points are kept so close all throughout. Who will be victorious? I think we all know the answer, but I’m waiting on the edge of my seat to see how it plays out.

* * *

Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, Scale 44: “Action Battle!!” is available now for free in VIZ Media’s Shonen Jump (web, Android, iOS) and in MANGA Plus by SHUEISHA (web, Android, iOS).

Previous chapter:
Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, Scale 43: “Head-to-Head Cards!!”

Next chapter:
Coming soon

Also available now:
– Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V: Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3, Volume 4, Volume 5

Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V in VIZ’s Spring 2019 WSJ Jump Pack

March 18, 2019 at 7:00 am | Posted in ARC-V, Yu-Gi-Oh! | Leave a comment
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Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V manga panel in the Weekly Shonen Jump Spring 2019 Jump Pack and Elemental HERO Stratos promo card

VIZ Media’s digital Weekly Shonen Jump magazine might be discontinued, but the print WSJ Jump Pack program is still going strong with Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V as its mainstay title. The newest issue — Spring 2019 — is available now at your local Scholastic book fair, held in thousands of schools throughout the United States.

The WSJ Jump Pack is a preview of some of the hottest Jump manga series from VIZ Media, released twice per year and printed in a 7-by-10-inch high-quality magazine. This issue includes the following titles:

  • Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, chapter 6
  • My Hero Academia, chapter 7
  • Dragon Ball Super, chapter 4
  • Astra Lost in Space, chapter 1 (part 2)

For readers new to the Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game, this issue also features a two-page write-up discussing what types of programs are available at Official Tournament Stores (OTS) and how to get involved to start dueling.

And as always, the Jump Pack includes some extras for new players, Yu-Gi-Oh! collectors, and manga readers:

  • An Ultra Rare Elemental HERO Stratos Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG card (JMPS-EN008). This card was originally released as a promo for VIZ’s April 2007 Shonen Jump magazine.
  • A Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG fold-out paper game mat with beginner’s guide.
  • A 20-card Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG demo deck that accompanies the guide.
  • A coupon for one free Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG Starter Deck, redeemable at your local OTS.
  • A promo code for a free two-month membership for VIZ’s Shonen Jump, which houses 10,000+ chapters of manga.

Swing by your local Scholastic book fair to pick up this Jump Pack for just $10.99. Everyone is welcome to shop at these fairs, not only students and teachers. A portion of all sales are used to financially support the school, so feel free to grab something else while you’re there!

Previously:
Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V in VIZ’s Fall 2018 WSJ Jump Pack

Cover of VIZ Media's Weekly Shonen Jump Spring 2019 Jump Pack

Table of Contents of the Weekly Shonen Jump Spring 2019 Jump Pack

Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG cards and extras included with the Weekly Shonen Jump Spring 2019 Jump Pack

Close-up of the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG Elemental HERO Stratos promo card included with the Weekly Shonen Jump Spring 2019 Jump Pack

Seto Kaiba Joins Jump Force as DLC Character

March 16, 2019 at 6:00 am | Posted in Duel Monsters, Yu-Gi-Oh! | Leave a comment
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Promotional screenshot of Jump Force showing Seto Kaiba

Jump Force is getting its very first DLC character and it is the one and only Seto Kaiba! Yugi’s eternal rival arrives sporting his shiny white Battle City jacket and will be included in the Jump Force Characters Pass, which retails for $29.99 and includes nine new playable characters. The official Japanese Yu-Gi-Oh! news hub YU-GI-OH.jp reports that Kenjiro Tsuda will reprise his role as Kaiba’s voice actor.

Bandai Namco Entertainment has provided a road map of updates for April through August. Look for Kaiba and two other unnamed fighters to join Jump Force’s roster some time in May.

Which monsters do you think Kaiba will use? Blue-Eyes White Dragon and Obelisk the Tormentor for sure, right? What kind of banter do you think Kaiba will have with the other characters?

Previously:
Jump Force Trailer Reveals Yugi’s Fighting Abilities, Battle Ship

Kazuki Takahashi at MAGIC 2019, Part 1: Manga Contest Judge

March 15, 2019 at 5:00 pm | Posted in Other Stuff, Yu-Gi-Oh! | 2 Comments
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Kazuki Takahashi and Tanatach Chokcharoensup at MAGIC 2019

Imagine being a young comics artist, having your work praised by Kazuki Takahashi, and getting to see it published in Shonen Jump. This happened last Saturday, March 9, at the MAGIC 2019 event in Monaco.

MAGIC — short for Monaco Anime Game International Conferences — is a one-day convention held in the city-state of Monaco, southeast of France. MAGIC has some similarities with other events of its kind, like panels about anime, video games, and comics; a roster of big-name celebrity guests; an elaborate cosplay competition; and autograph sessions.

MAGIC 2019 advertisement poster at the Monaco-Monte-Carlo train station
MAGIC 2019 advertisement at the Monaco-Monte-Carlo train station
Artwork by Leiji Matsumoto

But MAGIC isn’t an ordinary convention. Its organizer, Shibuya Productions, is the producer of two new Astro Boy series, an original animation based on Buichi Terasawa’s Cobra manga, and the upcoming Shenmue III video game.

Shibuya Productions also has a special relationship with Shueisha, the Japanese publisher of Shonen Jump and one of the owners of the Yu-Gi-Oh! property. Each year, Shibuya Productions and Shueisha sponsor the MAGIC International Manga Contest, giving budding manga creators from around the globe a once-in-a-lifetime chance to work with Shueisha. Winners of the contest have their work published in Shonen Jump+ for the entire world to read. Furthermore, they also receive a one-month trip to Japan to meet professional manga creators and to work with Shonen Jump editors to potentially ink a yearlong publishing deal.

As part of the evaluation process, MAGIC invites one high-profile Shonen Jump manga creator to serve as a contest judge. In previous years, Nobuhiro Watsuki (author of Rurouni Kenshin) and Tite Kubo (author of Bleach) served as judges. This year, the esteemed manga author who helped judge the contest was none other than Yu-Gi-Oh! creator Kazuki Takahashi.

Kazuki Takahashi speaking at the MAGIC 2019 opening ceremony
Kazuki Takahashi greets the audience at the MAGIC 2019 opening ceremony

Also joining Takahashi as judges were two important people from Shueisha and Shonen Jump.

First was Yoshihisa Heishi, who leads the third editorial section at Shueisha, bringing together the company’s Weekly Shonen Jump, Jump SQ, V Jump, and Shonen Jump+ publications. Heishi has the distinction of being the founding editor of Takahashi’s Yu-Gi-Oh! manga and previously served as Weekly Shonen Jump’s editor in chief.

Second was Naoki Kawashima, deputy editor in chief of Weekly Shonen Jump. Kawashima has worked on titles like Bleach, One Piece, and Sket Dance. While he served as the editor of One Piece, Kawashima was famously told by author Eiichiro Oda that he should be prepared to “die for One Piece.”

Both Heishi and Kawashima are also credited in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions as “planning coordinators,” along with the Weekly Shonen Jump and V Jump editorial departments.

Yoshihisa Heishi and Naoki Kawashima at the MAGIC 2019 opening ceremony
Yoshihisa Heishi (left) and Naoki Kawashima at the MAGIC 2019 opening ceremony

The manga contest’s panel of judges was rounded out by Sahé Cibot, general manager of Shibuya International; and Hervé Trouillet, artistic director of Shibuya Productions.

Prior to the convention, the MAGIC International Manga Contest’s entries were whittled down to just ten works. These ten were submitted to Takahashi, Heishi, and Kawashima in Japanese for them to read. Then, the pool of ten was further narrowed down to five finalists. At MAGIC 2019, these finalists each presented their works in a 30-minute slide deck presentation to the five judges.

Ultimately, the first place winner of the 2019 MAGIC International Manga Contest was Tanatach Chokcharoensup from Thailand, who wowed the judges with her story, Mara – The Lawyer of the Parallel Universe.

Tanatach Chokcharoensup at the MAGIC 2019 manga contest awards ceremony
Tanatach Chokcharoensup at the 2019 MAGIC International Manga Contest awards ceremony

Mara takes place in Pandemonium, a land populated by demons. Naga, a clan of immigrants new to this land, is accused of ravaging and burning a village. Now on trial, the leader of the Naga clan, in an act of desperation, summons the wily mythical demon Mara to defend them in the Demon Tribunal. Unfortunately for the Naga clan, the so-called demon Mara turns out to be a mere mortal lawyer — a twelve-year-old human child!

Mara image by Tanatach Chokcharoensup

As Chokcharoensup explained in her presentation, in Buddhist lore, the demon Mara is an antagonist and a trickster that represents fear and desire. Mara tempted Prince Siddhartha, the Buddha, who was seeking the path to enlightenment.

At the awards ceremony at the end of MAGIC 2019, Chokcharoensup received a trophy and a Wacom Cintiq Pro tablet for her victory. She thanked the judges and posed for photos.

Participants in the MAGIC International Manga Contest at the awards ceremony at MAGIC 2019
Left to right: Naoki Kawashima, Kazuki Takahashi, Tanatach Chokcharoensup, Sahé Cibot, Hervé Trouillet, Charles Compain (third place winner), and Fabien Ronteix (runner-up) at the awards ceremony

Later, Chokcharoensup posted her own photos on Facebook of Takahashi and the other finalists and of her trophy and tablet.

Look for Mara – The Lawyer of the Parallel Universe in Shueisha’s Shonen Jump+ digital publication in the near future.

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Next:
Kazuki Takahashi at MAGIC 2019, Part 2: Autographs

Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V Manga Volume 5 Available Now

March 5, 2019 at 6:00 pm | Posted in ARC-V, Yu-Gi-Oh! | Leave a comment
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Cover of Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, Volume 5, from VIZ Media, digital edition

The next graphic novel volume of Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V is out today from VIZ Media. Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, Volume 5, “The Enemy’s Hideout!!” includes chapters 26 through 31 of the monthly series. It is available in paperback for $9.99 and in digital for $6.99.

As Reiji Akaba and Isaac’s duel surges onward, Isaac has set up a seemingly impenetrable defense with his Reflector combo. How will the young president take down Eve’s powerful and gifted colleague? Then, Yuya and the others make their way to Eve’s headquarters. His other personalities worry about what might be a deadly final confrontation and vow to protect Yuya with their lives. But waiting at Eve’s Antarctic hide-out is Sora Shiunin, who confesses to being a spy for Eve. Despite his ferocious personality, Shiunin reveals a more affectionate reason for pursuing G.O.D.’s power — to be with his sister forever. After their first encounter ended so violently, how will Yuya react to this revelation?

Illustrator Naohito Miyoshi presents more early design sketches and notes as bonus content in this volume. Included are D/D/D Destiny King Zero Laplace, D/D/D/D Superdimensional Sovereign Emperor Zero Paradox, Odd-Eyes Phantasma Dragon, and Starving Venemy Lethal Dose Dragon. The print edition of this book also includes an Ultra Rare Odd-Eyes Phantasma Dragon, first played by Yuya in chapter 18. Don’t miss this evolution of Yuya’s signature Odd-Eyes Phantom Dragon, available with the book’s first print run while supplies last.

Also in this volume, author Shin Yoshida asks readers for help in creating attractive new worlds for dueling, while duel writer Masahiro Hikokubo apologizes for making mistakes with some cards’ stats during the monthly serialization (I didn’t notice!).

Previously:
Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V Manga Volume 4 Available Now

First 4 Figures February Roundup: Dark Magician Design Talk

February 28, 2019 at 6:00 pm | Posted in Duel Monsters, Yu-Gi-Oh! | Leave a comment
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Arkana's and Yugi's Dark Magician facing off in episode 61

Have you joined the First 4 Figures Official Collectors Club on Facebook yet? This past month, F4F’s CEO Alex Davis turned to the group members for advice with a peculiar Yu-Gi-Oh! monster design. He also dropped a product announcement during one of the company’s weekly Q&A live streams! Here’s a roundup of what’s new with the statue maker in February.

On February 5, Davis asked the F4F OCC about Dark Magician’s hat, pointing out that there are some inconsistencies in its design in the Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters anime. “[D]oes he have 2 or 3 rings around his hat NOT including the one on the tip?” asked Davis.

Sure enough, there are animation cuts that feature both designs.

Comparison of Dark Magician's hat designs in the Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters anime
Top row: examples of the two-ring design as shown in the first opening and episodes 37, 60, and 132.
Bottom row: examples of the three-ring design as shown in the English season 3 opening (this image is also frequently used as promotional key art), episode 141, and the last Japanese opening.

Davis clarified that he had already received approval from 4K Media for a design that has three rings plus the tip. However, he wants to refine the design, which requires reapproval, and is now looking at this peculiar detail.

During F4F’s February 8 Q&A live stream, Davis further elaborated on his plans. “This time I might try and submit it with two [rings] and see what happens,” he laughed. “‘Cause you know what? I looked at it and I’m like, I actually want to change the pose, so maybe changing it.” What is wrong with the current unrevealed design that is compelling him to change it?

“Well, I’ll do that sometimes,” Davis explained. “I’m like, ‘Yeah, yeah,’ and then I’m like, ‘No.’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘No.’ Because the thing is, [the approval process] takes so long that by the time we look at it again, I feel like we can do better.”

During the same live stream, a fan asked Davis whether Yu-Gi-Oh! will be getting TF [true form] PVC figures. Davis seemed to backtrack from his answer last month.

“Confirmed or not confirmed, we haven’t made any announcements on that,” he replied. “If everything goes smoothly, it’s a very strong possibility.”

Davis then proceeded to drop a product announcement: “there will be at least one, maybe two” Dark Magician color variants!

Which variants would you like to see? The classic manga look? How about the shredded version from The Dark Side of Dimensions? Or Arkana’s Dark Magician? Or maybe even Mahad as Dark Magician? Join the F4F OCC and let Davis know!

So, Two Rings or Three? Which is the Correct Design?

Regardless of what is depicted on trading cards, promotional artwork, or other media, there is a “correct” number of rings on Dark Magician’s hat in the Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters anime world.

Image collage featuring various screenshots from Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters that show Dark Magician's hat

After looking at over 500 animation cuts from Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters that provide an unobscured view of the rings and tip — including cuts of Yugi dressed as Dark Magician, Arkana’s Dark Magician, Yugi’s Capsule Monsters Dark Warrior armor, and Dark Magician Mahad — I conclude that 99 percent of the cuts show Dark Magician’s hat with two rings plus the tip.

There are fewer than a dozen cuts that show the hat with three rings plus the tip. I’ve already included their three most prominent appearances in the second image in this post. Many of the others are insignificant or are so small that they are barely noticeable.

On the other hand, Arkana’s Dark Magician, the so-called Red Dark Magician, unmistakably has three rings plus the tip on his hat.

Well done, Alex Davis, you made the correct choice to switch from three rings to two!

Previously:
First 4 Figures January Roundup: Red-Eyes Black Dragon & Dark Magician Girl Confirmed, Blue-Eyes White Dragon Teased

Kazuki Takahashi’s Yu-Gi-Oh! 20th Anniversary V Jump Cover Illustration

February 21, 2019 at 9:00 am | Posted in Duel Monsters, Yu-Gi-Oh! | 4 Comments
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Close-up of Yugi's face from Kazuki Takahashi's Yu-Gi-Oh! OCG 20th anniversary illustration for V Jump

Hitting newsstands today in Japan is the April 2019 issue of Shueisha’s V Jump magazine, which features a new illustration by Kazuki Takahashi on the cover. Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Yu-Gi-Oh! Official Card Game, Takahashi’s artwork showcases Yami Yugi (Atem) surrounded by his signature cards. He is holding Ankuriboh, a new Egyptian-themed Kuriboh card that is also drawn by Takahashi and included with the magazine.

As it does every month for its cover illustrations, V Jump is offering high-res downloads of this artwork as a desktop calendar and as a wallpaper for your cell phone. Check them out!

Back in January, Takahashi offered a work-in-progress preview of this illustration on Instagram. He noted that this was his first job of the year and that he’s drawing Atem for the first time in quite a while.

Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, Scale 43: ‘Head-to-Head Cards!!’

February 20, 2019 at 10:00 pm | Posted in ARC-V, Yu-Gi-Oh! | Leave a comment
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Shingo Sawatari and Sora Shiunin criticize Yuya's card choice in Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V manga chapter 43

Yuya Sakaki successfully banishes all of the monsters on the field for three turns, including Reiji Akaba’s overwhelming Divine Go-D/D/D Zero King Zero God Reiji. Yuya reaches deep within his heart and remembers the power of Dueltaining that his father left him. He pushes forward, eager to soften up the austere Akaba.

Yuya plays the continuous trap Pendulum Match, which allows him to randomly summon a Pendulum monster from his extra deck, then allows Akaba to choose a monster with the same scale from his own deck and summon it as well. With both duelists still at 4000 life points and now fighting head-to-head battles, every summon is significant.

Yuya begins by calling Yugo’s Clearwing Fast Dragon. Akaba is unimpressed with Yuya’s antics, but plays along. He summons D/D/D Supersight King Zero Maxwell. Clearwing destroys Zero Maxwell, but Akaba is unharmed because of his monster’s effect. At the end of the battle, Pendulum Match destroys the remaining monsters.

During Akaba’s turn, Yuya uses Pendulum Match again, this time summoning Yuri’s Starving Venemy Dragon. Akaba chooses D/D/D Destiny King Zero Laplace, whose special ability lets it possess double the attack strength of its opponent monster. Zero Laplace crushes Starving Venemy, dropping Yuya down to 1500 life points. Yuya is knocked backward from the strength of the blow.

Yuya laughs it off, but vows to continue his entertainment. He places his two hands on the ground and crouches in a sprinter’s four-point stance. What is he doing?! As his turn begins, Yuya jets off, running straight off the edge of the Adam Factor tree duel field! He plunges toward the ground below. That’s where the next Action Card is, says Yuya, and he’s definitely going to nab it this time before Akaba does.

Akaba and the onlookers gasp as Yuya nosedives. But…there’s no Action Card down there!

In his mind, Yuya recalls a memory of his father. When dueling an opponent who is dead serious, who seems to have no space in his heart for entertainment, do something new and unexpected, Yusho Sakaki tells his son. That will catch everyone off guard.

In midair, Yuya grabs one of the tree’s long dangling roots, then uses his moment to swing upward toward the sky. That is where the Action Card is located.

Reiji Akaba smiling in Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V manga chapter 43

Reiji Akaba cracks a grin, apparently amused by Yuya’s shenanigans, if only for a moment. Looks like there’s hope for the stern LC president after all, thinks Yuya.

Yuya promises to continue his dueltaining…

Thoughts

It’s pretty clear what’s happening now with Pendulum Match. With one last hurrah, the two duelists’ signature Pendulum monsters get to take the stage again. As this duel heads toward its conclusion, maybe Yuya’s final move will involve the use of all of these monsters that he got to summon back. Wouldn’t that be quite the entertaining move?

It’s also quite the coincidence that their signature monsters’ Pendulum scales match up in this way. Oh, who am I kidding — this was planned from the very start, wasn’t it?

Within the gravity of the ARC-V story line, Dueltaining has sometimes appeared to take a back seat. But this chapter, it is front and center as Yuya remembers his roots in a flashback featuring his dad.

Yusho Sakaki describing his dueling philosophy in Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V manga chapter 43

This, I think, is the right way for this story to go. Ever since the first chapter, Yuya has always made it his mission to be a Dueltainer and to make others smile. Now, after the reader has gone on this long journey with Yuya and learned about how devastating his past is, it makes Yuya’s resolve all the more astounding and makes his character even more likable.

To begin and end Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V in this way retains the spirit of the story and the world that it has built.

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Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, Scale 43: “Head-to-Head Cards!!” is available now for free in VIZ Media’s Shonen Jump (web, Android, iOS) and in MANGA Plus by SHUEISHA (web, Android, iOS).

Previous chapter:
Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, Scale 42: “Two G.O.D.s!!”

Next chapter:
Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, Scale 44: “Action Battle!!”

Also available now:
– Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V: Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3, Volume 4

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