Yu-Gi-Oh! Among Top Anime Properties for TV Tokyo in 2018

May 14, 2019 at 11:00 am | Posted in Japanese, Other Stuff | 1 Comment

Seto Kaiba clenching his fist in episode 108

Yu-Gi-Oh! licensor TV Tokyo today announced its financial results for its 2018 fiscal year (March 2018 through March 2019). TV Tokyo is a massive enterprise whose businesses include television broadcasting, content licensing, and video streaming, among other things.

TV Tokyo’s anime properties generated ¥19.7 billion (about $180 million) in sales over the year, with nearly 70 percent of that coming from overseas.

The company revealed that its anime titles accounting for the highest number of sales were:

  1. Naruto
  2. Boruto
  3. Yu-Gi-Oh!
  4. Black Clover
  5. Bleach

Additionally, the titles generating the highest gross profits were:

  1. Naruto
  2. Boruto
  3. Pokemon
  4. Black Clover
  5. Yu-Gi-Oh!

Overall, TV Tokyo recorded a net profit of ¥3.2 billion (about $29 million), a 46.6 percent drop from the previous year. Its sales increased 1.4 percent, to ¥149.2 billion (about $1.36 billion). The company noted that its overseas and streaming businesses were vital to its income outside its domestic broadcasting businesses.

(News from TV Tokyo Holdings 2018 Financial Results Supplementary Materials, h/t The Nikkei)

First 4 Figures April Roundup: Blue-Eyes White Dragon, Dark Magician Completely Redesigned

April 30, 2019 at 12:00 pm | Posted in Duel Monsters, Yu-Gi-Oh! | Leave a comment
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Kaiba and Blue-Eyes White Dragon facing off against Yugi and Dark Magician in episode 132

It might be a little while longer before First 4 Figures unveils its Yu-Gi-Oh! products, but not without good reason. This month, the high-end statue maker revealed that its top-polling Yu-Gi-Oh! monster, Blue-Eyes White Dragon, has been redesigned from the ground up. This follows the company’s announcement in March that Dark Magician, too, would be redesigned. These decisions were made despite having already received approval for both monsters’ original sculpts.

Very little was known in the first place about Blue-Eyes’s original design. F4F’s CEO, Alex Davis, offered a tease back in January, but he has since stated that he was unhappy with that design.

In F4F’s April 5 Q&A live stream, Davis, responding to a fan question about the status of the Yu-Gi-Oh! sculpts, proclaimed that he “Cracked it!”

“Was absolutely kicking my arse. Absolutely kicking my arse,” continued Davis. “Went back to the drawing board. Actually submitted it and had approval to go to print. […] And I said, ‘Hold it back, bring it back. Let’s revisit this. I’m still not feeling it.’ Today, I cracked Blue-Eyes. Cracked it.”

Then, while looking at before and after images of Blue-Eyes’s design (which were not shown to the stream’s viewers), Davis proceeded to explain the changes to the stream’s co-host, F4F marketing head Tsoek “Chockles” Cheung. Unfortunately for viewers, Davis was intentionally vague with his descriptions, making statements like “This silhouette was a better silhouette than that one there,” and “We’ve got to avoid this, so why don’t we make this, instead of straight, make it more angled down.”

“The wing is growing out of the head so it doesn’t look good as a silhouette,” said Davis about the previous design. “I was like, I really hate this angle ’cause this bend in the wing really looks naff as hell from this angle. You can’t tell from the front but this angle looks terrible.”

Davis’s nebulous descriptions continued for four minutes. At one point, he even muted the microphone as he continued to explain the updated sculpt to Chockles.

Surprisingly, the biggest clue about Blue-Eyes’s redesign came at this point. While speaking, Davis made a hand gesture in front of his mouth, then extended his arm in a straight line away from his face.

Alex Davis making a hand gesture while describing Blue-Eyes White Dragon's design

What could that be? Could he be incorporating a White Lightning (Burst Stream of Destruction) attack effect with the Blue-Eyes statue? Is this a component that you would like to see with the statue?

After a minute, Davis turned the mic back on. “Cracked it. The Dark Magician, also cracked that,” he said. “What was approved, I feel was, now looking back at it, was super weak. Now that I think about it, lame. Changed it.”

F4F’s live streams during the rest of the month reiterated the same information. On April 12 and April 19, Davis again spoke about how pleased he was with the new Blue-Eyes and Dark Magician designs. And on April 26, Davis stated that they “have not been approved but the designs are just night and day from what they used to look like.”

With Davis’s standards as high as they are, F4F’s Yu-Gi-Oh! products can’t come soon enough.

Previously:
First 4 Figures March Roundup: More Dark Magician Design Talk

Kazuki Takahashi at MAGIC 2019, Part 5: More Photos

April 28, 2019 at 2:00 pm | Posted in Other Stuff, Yu-Gi-Oh! | 3 Comments
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At MAGIC 2019, Yu-Gi-Oh! creator Kazuki Takahashi was more than happy to pose for photos and take part in videos, giving fans an opportunity to share highlights of his rare public appearance. In this final look at MAGIC 2019, here are some more photos of Takahashi and Yu-Gi-Oh! from me and from MAGIC’s organizer, Shibuya Productions.

Advertisements for MAGIC 2019 could be found all over Monaco, from banners hanging on light posts to posters in the shopping malls. Here are two digital screens in the Monaco-Monte-Carlo train station, where a video advertisement showcased the event’s guests.

MAGIC 2019 video ad showing artwork of Yugi and Kaiba by Kazuki Takahashi at the Monaco-Monte-Carlo train station

MAGIC’s Facebook page shared a photo of Cédric Biscay, the president and CEO of Shibuya Productions, posing with Takahashi the day before the convention.

Cédric Biscay and Kazuki Takahashi
Photo by Shibuya Productions

Later that evening, all of MAGIC’s guests and VIPs attended a gala dinner at the Fairmont Monte Carlo hotel. Here’s a photo from cosplayer Elisa Kotori of one of the tables. That’s Takahashi seated at 3 o’clock, decked out in a dark grey suit and a maroon necktie.

Kazuki Takahashi's table at the MAGIC 2019 gala dinner
Photo by Shibuya Productions for Elisa Kotori

Also at this table is Leiji Matsumoto, creator of Captain Harlock (seated at 1 o’clock); Yu Suzuki, writer and producer of the Shenmue games (at 5 o’clock); and Christopher Lambert from the Highlander movies (at 9 o’clock).

Some of the guests signed and doodled on a copy of the menu. There’s Yugi in the upper-right corner. What a cool keepsake!

Menu from the MAGIC 2019 gala dinner with signatures and sketches from some of the guests
Photo by Shibuya Productions

March 9 — MAGIC’s big day! Here’s a shot of Takahashi speaking at the opening ceremony with Shueisha editors Yoshihisa Heishi and Naoki Kawashima behind him.

Kazuki Takahashi, Yoshihisa Heishi, and Naoki Kawashima at the MAGIC 2019 opening ceremony

“Hello, I’m Takahashi. Thank you for inviting me to gorgeous Monaco and this marvelous event. I’m so happy to meet you all,” he said to the audience.

Here’s Takahashi next to parapsychology researcher Alexis Champion and sci-fi manga legend Leiji Matsumoto at the opening ceremony.

Kazuki Takahashi, Alexis Champion, and Leiji Matsumoto at the MAGIC 2019 opening ceremony

And here’s Takahashi with action movie star Wesley Snipes of Blade and Demolition Man fame.

Kazuki Takahashi and Wesley Snipes at the MAGIC 2019 opening ceremony

On Facebook, MAGIC posted a few photos of Takahashi’s Q&A and live drawing sessions. Here’s a wide shot of the stage and Yugi on the big screen.

Kazuki Takakashi on stage at his panel at MAGIC 2019
Photo by Fabbio Galatioto for Shibuya Productions

In addition to the menu doodle and his live drawing session, Takahashi drew at least one more time while he was in Monaco. Biscay tweeted this small picture of Yugi signed by Takahashi. The text says “To Cédric-san!”

Kazuki Takahashi's drawing of Yugi for Cédric Biscay at MAGIC 2019
Photo by @CedricBiscay

Based on the date on the drawing and the presence of booze in the background, I’m guessing this photo was taken at the MAGIC after-party. And the fact that Biscay tweeted this at 1 a.m. the day after MAGIC, haha.

Last Thursday, Shibuya Productions uploaded a video highlighting the awesomeness that was MAGIC 2019. How many times can you spot Takahashi in the video? (He’s in more than ten shots!)

Here he is speaking with MAGIC’s TV presenter, Shellee Nicols.

Kazuki Takahashi talking with MAGIC 2019 TV presenter Shellee Nicols
From video by Shibuya Productions

And here’s Takahashi posing with some DC Comics statues at the MAGIC after-party held at the La Rascasse bar and nightclub.

Kazuki Takahashi posing with some DC Comics statues at the MAGIC 2019 after-party
From video by Shibuya Productions

I hope you had fun in Monaco, Mr. Takahashi!

* * *

Back to the beginning:
Kazuki Takahashi at MAGIC 2019, Part 1: Manga Contest Judge

Previously:
Kazuki Takahashi at MAGIC 2019, Part 4: Live Drawing

* * *

If you enjoyed reading about Kazuki Takahashi’s appearance at MAGIC 2019, please check out my coverage of San Diego Comic Con 2015, which includes a narrative of Takahashi’s hour-long panel about his career and the unveiling of Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions.

V Jump 2018 Reader Demographics

April 22, 2019 at 6:00 am | Posted in Japanese, Other Stuff | Leave a comment
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Reiji Akaba asking Adam who he is in Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V manga chapter 32

Japanese publisher Shueisha recently uploaded its 2019 media kit, which includes readership statistics for its numerous magazines, including V Jump, the home of the Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V manga. The media kit compiles data from January 2018 through December 2018.

V Jump, a monthly magazine focused on gaming, trading cards, and manga and anime news, reported a circulation of 187,500 with 90 percent male readers and 10 percent female readers.

The age range of its readers are as follows:

  • Elementary school students (1st-3rd grade): 20%
  • Elementary school students (4th-6th grade): 25%
  • Middle school students (7th-9th grade): 24%
  • High school students (10th-12th grade): 12%
  • College students: 4%
  • Adults: 15%

Its readers also reported owning the following video game consoles:

  • Nintendo 3DS: 90%
  • Nintendo Switch: 40%
  • PlayStation 4: 35%
  • Other: 40%

The top three regions in Japan where V Jump was sold are the Kanto region at 33.2 percent, Kansai at 17.6 percent, and Tokai at 10.8 percent.

(h/t Nemesis162)

Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, Scale 45: ‘Arc of Destiny!!’

April 19, 2019 at 11:00 pm | Posted in ARC-V, Yu-Gi-Oh! | 2 Comments
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Yuya Sakaki and Reiji Akaba running toward an Action Card and seeing a vision of their family members in Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V manga chapter 45

Yuya Sakaki and Reiji Akaba are simultaneously hit by effect damage, dropping both their life points to 100. Neither has any cards remaining in his hand or on his field. The duel’s onlookers are awestruck by this turn of events. Yuya takes his turn, drawing Odd-Eyes Phantom Dragon…but he can’t use it.

In the corner of their eyes, the two duelists spot a way out. Tucked in the middle of a grassy field a few dozen feet away from them was their last hope — an Action Card.

Yuya and Akaba immediately bolt in its direction, charging at full speed toward their key to victory. As they near the card, sweat pouring from their tired faces, Yuya quips that the young president is enjoying this Action Duel. Not so, retorts Akaba. But Yuya remains cheerful. He reminds the president that they are two of a kind, the only ones from their world. They — and their loved ones — are connected by the arc of destiny, says Yuya. The two of them envisage their fathers, Yuto, Yugo, and Yuri standing behind the card.

The dueling pair dive headfirst toward the card. As they collapse on the ground, Yuya touches the card first. It’s an Action Spell, Mini Bomb, and it deals 100 points of damage to Akaba.

The young president grins, then flops on his back. He laughs loudly. Yuya joins his laughter and lies down beside him. Staring up at the stars, Akaba admits that he hasn’t run like that in years and that he enjoyed it. He tells Yuya to do what he must do.

Yuya stands up. The Genesis Omega Dragon card slowly descends from the sky and lands in his hand.

“This power toyed with our fates. We don’t need a card like that,” says Yuya, tearing it to shreds.

Suddenly, the ground starts to shake and the Adam Factor tree begins to disintegrate, leaving only a narrow platform for everyone to stand. A colossal circular gate appears where the tree once stood. It’s the same gate that Adam saw. Yuya, Akaba, and the onlookers watch as the gate opens up, revealing a ring-shaped entrance.

As the ground continues to quake, Yuzu calls out to Yuya from a distance. Yuya tells her not to come any closer, that the area is unsafe. He apologizes for not being able to teach at her school and says that he has to leave because he’s not part of this world. Yuzu says she’ll go with him, but Yuya rejects her offer. It could be dangerous. Tears begin to well up in her eyes.

“But, I want to know you better,” Yuzu pleads. “Yuya, I lo–”

“Yuzu,” interrupts Yuya. “We’re sure to meet again. That is our destiny!” Yuya tosses her his ace, the Odd-Eyes Phantom Dragon card.

Akaba looks at Shingo Sawatari and Shun Kurosaki. He thanks them for serving him and wishes them well, telling them that they should leave.

Isaac and Ren tell Sora Shiunin that he should leave too. Yuya says that Shiunin will be okay, that Shiunin has allies in this world. Sawatari and Kurosaki smile.

Yuya Sakaki, Reiji Akaba, Isaac, and Ren walk toward the gate, ready to take on whatever challenges lie beyond it. They vow to find and defeat the creator of G.O.D. A blinding light emanates from the ring as they enter it. The ground continues to rumble more and more violently as their friends escape the crumbling Antarctic base.

Much later, Yuzu is standing on a ledge on the outskirts of Maiami City. It’s springtime and the cherry blossoms are in full bloom, their petals dancing in the wind. She is holding Yuya’s Odd-Eyes, wondering if she will ever see him again. Then, she hears a voice nearby.

“Ladies and gentlemen!!” it calls out. She approaches the voice and sees a young man wearing a fancy coattail and top hat and carrying a cane.

“Who are you?” asks Yuzu.

“I’m the world’s first Dueltainer!” he laughs. “I’m Yusho Sakaki!”

Thoughts

Yuya, Reiji, you got me. This is definitely not how I expected the duel to end. I don’t know how to articulate my expectations; I guess it’s one of those “I know a great duel when I see it” situations. But for these two heavily wounded duelists to have to make a mad scramble toward an Action Card in their final desperate moment — it’s just so wonderfully absurd and unpredictable.

And yet, I feel satisfied by the outcome. Relieved, even. Because how do you top a dueling situation where G.O.D.s — literal divine beings who manipulate time and space in Yuya and Reiji’s world — reign supreme? Is there any play that Yuya or Reiji can make that puts him above what has already transpired? Is there anywhere higher that either of them can actually go?

Ultimately, this story is not about power, or the divine, or skillful plays, or any of that, is it? No. From the very beginning of Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, Yuya has been the embodiment of Dueltaining. And even though his perilous journey has brought him face to face with enemies who have mocked this ideal, turned his life upside down, and sought to destroy the lives of others, Yuya has never forgotten his entertainment dueling.

So where does this essence of Yuya’s dueling stand now that the G.O.D.s have laid waste to this game and its two players? Is there any hope for a Dueltainer to survive in such circumstances? Of course there is, and Yuya not only survives, he laughs in the faces of the G.O.D.s. After all, making people smile is the mission of a Dueltainer.

A deus ex machina that trumps even the gods themselves — thy name is Mini Bomb. And only Yuya could have tapped into its fantastic power.

So what’s next for Yuya and his new allies? Of course a part of me wants to spend more time with him and see what lies beyond the gate. At the same time, I understand that Yuya has performed his greatest show, so it’s best to let him go now, while he is standing tall at the pinnacle of Dueltaining. The origin of G.O.D. will remain an arcane matter for us common folk.

How about that final scene though? Wow. Even though Yuzu is never more than a supporting character once the story gets heavy, there’s always been an air of importance about her since the early chapters. This is hinted by Yugo, Yuto, and Yuri, who recognize her in chapter 10. At first, I thought she might have a connection to the Eve Factor, putting me on edge as I eagerly awaited the reveal.

But learning the truth in the end caused me to choke up as I held back my tears. Yuya, who has suffered so immensely and lost so many people in his life, had the support and companionship of his own mother this entire time. Even though he was a stranger in another world, always on the run as he searched for answers, Yuya was never truly alone. He had his brothers in his subconscious and his mother by his side. It’s so wonderful to learn this as a reader, but it’s also bittersweet because Yuya himself was unaware of it for so long. This just makes Yuya even more precious to me.

What’s the story behind Odd-Eyes Phantom Dragon? Where did this card come from? It’s my belief that when Yuya gave it to Yuzu, he triggered an anomaly in space-time, which manifested as a blinding light that radiated from the card and knocked Yuzu out. Presumably, an older Yuzu will later give this card to her young son, Yuya, making it an object that has no true origin. But that’s all right. It is, after all, a Phantom Dragon.

Yes, I’m aware there are more paradoxical consequences to Yuzu’s reveal, but let’s just ignore all of these and relish the moment, okay? Hahaha.

Following Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V: My Journey

When I first read Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V three years and eight months ago, I immediately knew it was something special. The first chapter completely drew me in with its marvelous and fun storytelling and attractive characters. Not only that, but the series was also being released simultaneously with Japan. Yes, Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL was simulpubbed too, but that simulpub did not start at the beginning of the series, and many people won’t pick up an ongoing manga simulpub midway.

But Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V was the first Yu-Gi-Oh! series ever to be simultaneous with Japan from the get-go. That made it special. At the time, the Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V anime had not premiered here in the U.S. and I yearned for new Yu-Gi-Oh! content. This simulpub and its amazing story filled that gap. After finishing the first chapter, I knew I had to do something to let the world know about it. So I did the only thing I know how to do — write about it.

Zac Bertschy, the executive editor of Anime News Network, once said in an episode of the ANNCast podcast that people like reading manga, not reading about manga. Although his statement was an explanation for his website’s dearth of manga coverage, it speaks to the greater challenges of encouraging others to try new manga.

Yu-Gi-Oh! is already a niche property. How does one incite others to explore a Yu-Gi-Oh! manga — a niche of a niche?

I didn’t want to review the manga. I don’t like reading reviews of media, so I certainly didn’t want to write one. So what could I do? I decided to tell the story of the manga as a narrative, highlighting what I thought were the most fun and captivating parts, then follow it up with some comments about my feelings. I knew this was a complete departure from what I normally write about on this website and I only intended to do it for the first chapter. But I enjoyed it so much that I decided to continue every month. Doing so helped me practice my writing skills and gave me the opportunity to write in a style that I don’t usually use. But more importantly, I wanted to promote this simulpub in any way possible.

So if a single person out there decided to pick up Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V because of something I wrote — or decided to pick up any manga at all since, let’s face it, I’m not shy about advocating the greatness that is this medium — then I thank you.

Of course nowadays, the barrier to entry for following the Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V simulpub is nonexistent thanks to the global reach of MANGA Plus by Shueisha. VIZ Media’s new Shonen Jump for English-speaking markets is an unbeatable deal as well. Let’s hope these platforms continue to simulpub whatever Yu-Gi-Oh! manga comes next.

Until then, keep reading and supporting manga!

* * *

Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, Scale 45: “Arc of Destiny!!” 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 44: “Action Battle!!”

Back to the beginning:
Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, Scale 1: “The Name Is Phantom!”

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

Kazuki Takahashi at MAGIC 2019, Part 4: Live Drawing

April 18, 2019 at 10:00 pm | Posted in Duel Monsters, Other Stuff, Series 1, Yu-Gi-Oh! | 2 Comments
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Kazuki Takahashi preparing to draw live at MAGIC 2019, with Sahé Cibot

After his question-and-answer session, Kazuki Takahashi had one more treat for attendees at MAGIC 2019.

“As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words,” said Matthieu Pinon, the panel’s moderator. “So, Mr. Takahashi will now draw in front of you to thank you for the support you have given him during his career.”

On the table in front of Takahashi was a large wire-bound drawing pad. Takahashi dried his hands on a handkerchief as a photographer set up a camera beside him. An image of the drawing pad appeared on the big screen above the stage. Before he even picked up a pen, the loudspeakers began blaring a fast-tempo song with choric chanting and raucous percussion.

Kazuki Takahashi drawing Yugi's eyes during his live drawing session at MAGIC 2019

It was the tail end of the song “Symphonic Suite DEVIL, Third Movement: eXORCiST” by Hiroyuki Sawano from the first Blue Exorcist soundtrack. And honestly, I found the music to be extremely obnoxious. Its blazing fast pace made it feel like this would be a speed drawing event. Certainly the convention wanted epic music to accompany this epic moment, but I remembered that when Takahashi participated in a live drawing session at San Diego Comic Con 2015, he had requested quiet from the audience. I felt bad for him.

Kazuki Takahashi drawing Yugi's face and head during his live drawing session at MAGIC 2019

But Kazuki Takahashi is a master of his craft. If he was bothered by the music, it certainly didn’t show. He soldiered on with an intense focus, beginning his illustration with Yugi’s eyes.

Kazuki Takahashi drawing part of Yugi's shirt collar and the outline of his hair at his live drawing session at MAGIC 2019

At SDCC 2015, Takahashi had described the importance of Yugi’s eyes in determining his look, and that the first part of Yugi he draws is always his eyes. This was still true here at MAGIC.

Kazuki Takahashi drawing more of Yugi's hair and his chain at his live drawing session at MAGIC 2019

Eventually, the music changed to “Darkness” from the Thunderbolt Fantasy soundtrack, also by Hiroyuki Sawano. Its slower, but nonetheless grand, melody was a welcome change.

Kazuki Takahashi drawing and shading more of Yugi's clothes at his live drawing session at MAGIC 2019

Takahashi didn’t make any sketches using a pencil; he immediately began inking. He was using Mckee oil-based marker pens by Zebra, which have a nib on each side, thick and thin. He started with the thinnest point has he drew Yugi’s eyes and face, then switched to a thicker point as he drew the outlines of Yugi’s hair.

Kazuki Takahashi drawing more of Yugi's hair and adding layers at his live drawing session at MAGIC 2019

Takahashi used the thickest point of his pens to shade Yugi’s clothes and add layers to Yugi’s hair.

Kazuki Takahashi shading more of Yugi's clothes at his live drawing session at MAGIC 2019

In just six short minutes, he was finished. Truly a master of his craft. He signed and dated his illustration.

Kazuki Takahashi signing his name on his completed illustration of Yugi at his live drawing session at MAGIC 2019

Then he posed for pictures.

Kazuki Takahashi posing with his illustration of Yugi at his live drawing session at MAGIC 2019, with Matthieu Pinon and Naoki Kawashima

Close-up of Kazuki Takahashi posing with his illustration of Yugi at his live drawing session at MAGIC 2019

Later, on Twitter, Cédric Biscay, the president and CEO of MAGIC’s organizer, Shibuya Productions, posted a close-up of Takahashi’s drawing.

Close-up of Kazuki Takahashi's Yugi illustration drawn live at MAGIC 2019
Photo by @CedricBiscay

Voilà! A stellar performance and a masterpiece from Kazuki Takahashi, the creator of Yu-Gi-Oh!, at MAGIC 2019.

* * *

Next:
Kazuki Takahashi at MAGIC 2019, Part 5: More Photos

Previously:
Kazuki Takahashi at MAGIC 2019, Part 3: Interview

Kazuki Takahashi at MAGIC 2019, Part 3: Interview

April 10, 2019 at 2:00 pm | Posted in Duel Monsters, Japanese, Konami, Series 1, Yu-Gi-Oh! | 2 Comments
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Sahé Cibot and Kazuki Takahashi at MAGIC 2019 at Takahashi's Q&A panel

Kazuki Takahashi did more than judge a manga contest and sign autographs at MAGIC 2019. He also participated in a question-and-answer session where, for 25 minutes, he entertained the audience with candid insights about himself and his creations. Takahashi spoke about his start as an artist, the importance of creating dramatic cards and moments, the origin of the Blue-Eyes White Dragon, and even about a game he invented that failed to take off.

At MAGIC, all panels were conducted on stage in French. For attendees who only speak English, this wasn’t a problem if the guests were also English speakers. But for a panel like Takahashi’s, which was conducted in French and Japanese, the convention’s technology came to the rescue. Attendees could rent a pair of earphones and a receiver that allowed them to listen to an English interpretation of all the French dialogue spoken on stage.

Takahashi’s panel was the last one of the day, scheduled for 6:00 p.m. Sadly, it started very late and the auditorium, which could seat 400 people, was only about a quarter full. Nevertheless, the true fans in the room were all very enthusiastic. They made sure Takahashi could hear their cheers when he arrived on stage, even as the French Yu-Gi-Oh! theme song thundered from the loudspeakers as he entered.

Takahashi was accompanied on stage by his interpreter, Sahé Cibot, the general manager of Shibuya International and one of the manga contest’s judges. They were joined by Naoki Kawashima, deputy editor in chief of Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump and fellow manga contest judge, although Kawashima did not speak during the panel. The moderator was Matthieu Pinon, a journalist and author who specializes in manga and anime topics.

This post contains a full transcript of Kazuki Takahashi’s Q&A panel.

Matthieu Pinon, Sahé Cibot, Kazuki Takahashi, and Naoki Kawashima at Takahashi's Q&A panel at MAGIC 2019
Left to right: Matthieu Pinon, Sahé Cibot, Kazuki Takahashi, and Naoki Kawashima

Matthieu Pinon: Good evening, everyone. Thank you for waiting for this grand moment, this extraordinary meeting with Mr. Takahashi, the author of the manga Yu-Gi-Oh!, whom you all know because you are all passionate about manga and Japanese pop culture. To begin this conference, we will first ask Mr. Takahashi, what manga did you read when you were a child? What manga did you like to read?

Kazuki Takakashi: Honestly, I liked to watch Japanese tokusatsu [special effects] TV shows where kaiju appear, like the Ultraman series and Kamen Rider. These are what led me to want to draw.

Pinon: So drawing is all well and good as a hobby, but at some point you decided to become a professional. What motivated you to move in this direction?

Takahashi: Since I loved to draw, I wanted to make it my career. Before I was a manga author, I was an illustrator and also worked on video games. Then I started developing manga.

Pinon: You just talked about video games. At the time Yu-Gi-Oh! launched, video games had exploded in popularity in Japan. Then you came along with Yu-Gi-Oh!, which was a table-top game, something that might seem a bit old-fashioned compared to the current trend. Was your editor surprised when you presented this project?

Takahashi: No, not at all. Back when I was working at a game company, it was an era of martial arts video games where players could take control of characters and make them fight. So, it was less interesting to create a manga about martial arts. It was more special, more different to make a manga about table-top games, which are analog and more traditional.

Pinon: There are many table-top games in the world. And when Yu-Gi-Oh! first debuted, the manga included several categories of games. When you launched the card game, that’s when the manga became a success. This success is thanks to you [the audience] and the editors. How did public interest in the Yu-Gi-Oh! card game manifest itself?

Takahashi: When the manga began, the original concept was to show various ways of battling using games each week. At first, I wasn’t even thinking about a card game. Cards were just one of those games. After drawing them for two weeks, there was such an overwhelming reaction from the readers that I decided to make the manga into a series about cards as a response to their request.

Kazuki Takahashi speaking at his Q&A panel at MAGIC 2019, with Sahé Cibot and Naoki Kawashima

Pinon: To first explain how readers can express their interest, we have to remember that the magazines contain a small postcard in that back that readers can mail to the publication to specify which series they prefer. And it was right at the moment that the card games appeared in Yu-Gi-Oh! that the manga climbed further and further into the top 10. Speaking of cards, you didn’t just make these cards by happenchance; you actually developed rules for the game. Could you explain to us your process of creating a card? How did you determine its characteristics while taking into account the increase in the number of cards as the game progresses?

Takahashi: First, I created the story and decided how a character would play an active role in that story. Then I asked myself, what card would be the most dramatic when used by the protagonist while fighting against an opponent? Are fan-favorite characters playing an active role? From there I created each card.

Pinon: Could you tell us, briefly, how many cards you created for the game? Do you remember?

Takahashi: I’ve… Never counted before. Quite a lot, I guess. Like… A thousand.

Pinon: Around a thousand! I think that deserves a round of applause because a thousand cards is so–

[The audience applauds, drowning out Pinon.]

Pinon: And among these one thousand cards, the most famous is the Blue-Eyes White Dragon. But why a white dragon with blue eyes? Why not, say, a black phoenix with red eyes? Why did you choose this animal with this color and specifically this eye color?

Takahashi: I wanted to design a mystical and cool monster for Yugi’s first rival, Seto Kaiba, when he appeared for their first battle. That monster became the Blue-Eyes White Dragon. In a black-and-white world [of manga], I wanted its name to evoke a feeling that would allow readers to conjure up its colors. Ultimately, the Blue-Eyes White Dragon turns out to be a woman — a woman with white hair, white skin, and blue eyes who is revealed in the story to be a spirit.

Pinon: Does anyone out there have the Blue-Eyes White Dragon card?

[Many people in the audience raise their hands.]

Takahashi: Ah. [Nods.]

Pinon: Congratulations, you can show off to others.

[The audience laughs.]

Pinon: And when you watch Game of Thrones, you will get to see your card.[1]

[A few more chuckles from the audience.]

Pinon: Quite often, a duel in Yu-Gi-Oh! is more than a simple face-to-face confrontation between two players. Through the strategy of the opponents, players get to know one another better. It’s almost as if they are communicating through the cards. Was this important to you in your manga?

Takahashi: Yes, that’s right. Because the protagonist, Yugi, is a character that readers are rooting for, I always thought about how to give him a dramatic victory. For example, his trump card gets destroyed and he needs a come-from-behind win. I always thought about how to make such dramatic developments possible in narrative terms.

Kazuki Takahashi speaking at his Q&A panel at MAGIC 2019, with Matthieu Pinon and Sahé Cibot

Pinon: As we all see, MAGIC invites not only famous manga authors but also authors of [non-Japanese] comics. We know that you are a particular fan of this medium. What comic series do you read? Which do you follow with great interest?

Takahashi: I really like Mike Mignola. When it comes to BD, I really like Moebius.[2]

Pinon: Those of you who have been to Japan before might know that production of Japan’s own homegrown comics is quite important, so much so that foreign comics, whether French or American, are not well represented. Where did you find them, and how did you enter the world of comics?

Takahashi: There actually are places in Japan that sell American comics and I occasionally visit them to shop. I’ve always been a fan of American comics, especially stories about superheroes. I love the impactfulness of the artwork, a style that can’t be found in Japanese manga.

Pinon: You mentioned Mike Mignola. You had the opportunity to meet him and exchange drawings. He drew Yugi and you drew Hellboy. Could you tell us a little about this meeting? Because, when we see the drawings, it must have been quite the interesting encounter.[3]

Takahashi: I actually haven’t met him. I was excited to meet him at a comic convention but it didn’t work out. But we did end up collaborating. I drew Mike Mignola’s Hellboy while he drew Yugi.

Pinon: [You exchanged your drawings] through your publishers?

Sahé Cibot: Right.[4]

Pinon: For those of you who don’t know how Yu-Gi-Oh! ends, we aren’t going to spoil it for you, but you really should read the manga to the end because it’s quite exciting. The conclusion of Yu-Gi-Oh! is particularly successful. There are many manga that will simply stop, with publishers stating that their popularity is declining and that this is where they would draw the line. But you took great care to make a well-prepared ending. How did you plan this with your editor? Without revealing the ending to the reader, could you tell us how you prepared this well-developed, thoughtful ending?

Takahashi: When serialization of Yu-Gi-Oh! began, I had already decided that Yugi would meet the other Yugi — that he would meet his, umm, double — and that the two would fight in the end. I decided from the very beginning that Yugi would win.

[Cibot translates Takahashi’s answer into French, but leaves out his last statement that Yugi would win.]

Cibot: This is a huge spoiler, isn’t it?

[The audience laughs.]

Pinon: The ending is from 2004 so those who got spoiled are 15 years behind. We won’t blame you.

Cibot: Well, I didn’t say who won.

Pinon: This is so– Anyway.[5] Why was it important to you that he meet his double?

Takahashi: Well, it’s kind of like a multiple personality. The idea is that when the protagonist finds himself in trouble, a stronger version of himself appears. As the story progresses, he learns more about that other self and realizes that he must defeat him in order to become independent. Eventually, he does defeat his other self, grow, and become independent. This is the theme of the story.

Pinon: Sometimes, our greatest adversary is none other than ourselves. Two years ago, I believe, Yu-Gi-Oh! was developed into a smartphone mobile app. There was a monstrous promotional campaign in Tokyo where you could see billboards all over the Yamanote [railway line], the likes of which is completely unimaginable over here.[6] How did it make you feel seeing the analog game that you had designed shift into a video game?

Takahashi: Sure enough, in the manga, there was a rule that the game should absolutely not be taken in a digital direction. But we’re talking about Konami Digital Entertainment here, so…

[Takahashi and Naoki Kawashima laugh.]

Kazuki Takahashi glancing to his left and laughing at his Q&A panel at MAGIC 2019

Pinon: Time has moved on of course and video games are now available on smartphones that everyone can have in their hands. So time passed and in 2004, you stopped the manga. And for ten years, you supervised everything that was developed after that. Then, in 2013, you returned with a one-shot called DRUMP. What motivated you to create this manga?

Takahashi: I had the opportunity to do a one-shot. I thought of making the theme about card games. The Yu-Gi-Oh! card game is incredibly extensible, with rare cards and powerful cards constantly being introduced–

Pinon: It’s quite the catalog. I think some people have one or more binders that are stuffed full of cards.

Takahashi: On the other hand, I thought I could make an interesting game using playing cards, which are limited to 52 cards, so I created a manga based on that concept.[7]

Pinon: So in DRUMP, if you have a deck of 52 cards and a pencil, you can build and rebuild a [DRUMP] deck. You will only ever need 52 cards. Did this constraint help you create a crazy new concept? Or was it a barrier?

Takahashi: I did a lot of play-testing and found it to be a well-rounded game, so I created a story around it. I had fun drawing it and making the cards. It was interesting to play. I really wanted it to become popular, but compared to the power of Yu-Gi-Oh!, it paled in comparison. [Laughs.]

Pinon: As you may have noticed, we’re running a bit late so we’re going to have to cut this short. However, to finish, Mr. Takahashi, you don’t often have the opportunity to meet a Monacan or French audience. Perhaps you have something you would like to tell your fans, who have come and waited until the end of the day to see you. So if you have anything you would like to say, now is the time. Seize the moment.

Takahashi: More than 20 years have passed since Yu-Gi-Oh! began serialization. I am so grateful to be able to come to Monaco to interact with fans. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for supporting Yu-Gi-Oh!.

Sahé Cibot and Kazuki Takahashi looking at the audience at MAGIC 2019 at Takahashi's Q&A panel

Interview Notes

1. ^ See Game of Thrones, season 7, episode 7.

2. ^ BD (bédé) is short for bande dessinée, a term describing comics of French or Belgian origin. Jean “Moebius” Giraud was a famous creator of BD.

3. ^ Takahashi’s and Mike Mignola’s illustrations were printed in VIZ Media’s September 2004 issue of Shonen Jump magazine.

Kazuki Takahashi's Hellboy artwork and Mike Mignola's Yugi artwork from VIZ Media's Shonen Jump, September 2004

As described in this issue, VIZ Media had asked Takahashi to draw his favorite American comic book character with Yu-Gi-Oh!-style hair, so he created the Hellboy drawing on the left. VIZ then contacted Mignola and he agreed to draw Hellboy clad in Yu-Gi-Oh! apparel. The two artists then exchanged these drawings.

4. ^ In this awkward exchange, the interpreter, Cibot, did not translate into Japanese the first part of Pinon’s statement about how Takahashi had exchanged drawings with Mignola. Instead, she asked if Takahashi had ever met Mignola before. That’s why Takahashi repeated the same information in his response.

5. ^ Another awkward exchange. Nothing was lost in translation here though. Takahashi ignored the no-spoiler request, hahaha.

6. ^ The mobile app that Pinon mentions is of course Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links. The Yamanote Line is a circular railway loop that connects Tokyo’s major city centers. The Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links billboards described by Pinon appeared in March 2017 and were well documented on social media and in Konami’s own video ads.

7. ^ The game Takahashi created is called DRUMP and uses a standard deck of 52 playing cards. The manga, also called DRUMP, was published in 2013 in Shueisha’s 49th issue of Weekly Shonen Jump magazine. It was not published in English or French.

(Questions and answers have been edited for clarity and readability.)

* * *

Next:
Kazuki Takahashi at MAGIC 2019, Part 4: Live Drawing

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

Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS English Dub Debuts in Australia

April 6, 2019 at 7:00 am | Posted in English dubbed, Konami, VRAINS, Yu-Gi-Oh! | Leave a comment
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Playmaker holding up two fingers as he and Ai launch an attack in Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 48

The English dub of Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS has found another home! The anime debuted today on Australia’s 9Go! under its Go! Kids brand. The channel will broadcast one episode of Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS every Saturday afternoon; check your local listings for the exact time.

Australian viewers who missed the broadcast can stream Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS on 9Now, where each episode is available for one month.

9Go!, formerly known as GO!, is owned by the Nine Network, one of the major free-to-air networks available throughout the country. 9Go! is the same channel where Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V debuted and is currently also airing reruns of Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters and Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V.

Australia is the second English-speaking market to receive Konami Cross Media NY’s production of Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS; the first was Canada, where the show debuted on Teletoon in September 2018.

4K Media Renamed to Konami Cross Media NY

April 1, 2019 at 6:00 am | Posted in Konami, Other Stuff | 4 Comments

Konami Cross Media NY homepage

Konami Digital Entertainment announced today that 4K Media, its New York subsidiary responsible for the licensing and management of the Yu-Gi-Oh! property outside Asia, has been renamed to Konami Cross Media NY as of March 31, 2019. The name change reflects the company’s expanded business endeavors with other Konami-owned properties, like Bomberman, Contra, and Frogger.

4K Media Inc. was originally known as 4K Acquisition Corporation and was founded in mid-2012 by Konami. As its name implies, the sole purpose of 4K Acquisition was to buy 4Kids Entertainment’s Yu-Gi-Oh! business, which 4Kids sought to sell following its court victory over Yu-Gi-Oh!’s Japanese licensors in a contract dispute. After completing the sale, Konami renamed 4K Acquisition to 4K Media later that same year.

(News from Konami)

First 4 Figures March Roundup: More Dark Magician Design Talk

March 31, 2019 at 12:00 pm | Posted in Duel Monsters, Yu-Gi-Oh! | Leave a comment
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Early render of Dark Magician's neutral face by First 4 Figures

As far as Yu-Gi-Oh! news goes, March was a slow month for high-end statue maker First 4 Figures, with CEO Alex Davis posting only one Yu-Gi-Oh!-related discussion the entire month. And even that didn’t last very long.

Following his February announcement that he wanted to redesign and resubmit Dark Magician for approval, Davis asked the F4F Official Collectors Club on March 20 for input on part of its new design. Davis shared a rendering of Dark Magician with a neutral face, seen above.

“Working on face before expression — what do you guys think!?!” asked Davis.

The image generated a variety of opinions. Some fans thought Dark Magician’s facial features looked too soft and said that he should have a more prominent chin. Others asked for more texture in his hair. Still others thought he looked great just as he was.

Regardless, the discussion thread vanished a day later with no warning or explanation from Davis.

In F4F’s weekly Q&A live stream on March 22, one fan asked Davis if there was any Yu-Gi-Oh! news to share. “Working on some stuff. We did a Dark Magician post the other day,” he replied, acknowledging the discussion; he did not elaborate further. Another fan asked Davis what happened to the face discussion and if he had made any decision about how he’d proceed. “Yeah we got into a bit of a — heh heh, uhh, whoopsies!” Davis responded quizzically.

Whatever ended up happening, Dark Magician remains in the works, but without any more input from fans.

Previously:
First 4 Figures February Roundup: Dark Magician Design Talk

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