‘It’s Time to Yule’: Yu-Gi-Oh! Theme Holiday Remix

December 11, 2018 at 10:00 pm | Posted in Duel Monsters, English dubbed, Yu-Gi-Oh! | Leave a comment
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The Yu-Gi-Oh! logo on a green hieroglyphs background from the It's Time to Yule video
Green hieroglyphs are only acceptable during Christmastime

Your Yule-Gi-Oh! Christmas wish is granted! 4K Media today uploaded the full version of its Yu-Gi-Oh! Theme holiday remix, “It’s Time to Yule.” The song was first previewed in the ad for its limited edition 2018 holiday shirt.

You can thank Yu-Gi-Oh!’s longtime music producer and editor, bacondevil, for releasing this masterpiece.

It’s time to Y-Y-Y-Y-Yule!

Free Manga: Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V Simulpub Continues on December 20

December 10, 2018 at 3:00 pm | Posted in ARC-V, Yu-Gi-Oh! | Leave a comment
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Yuya smiling and describing Eve and her companions in Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V manga chapter 28
Yuya is talking about the upcoming chapters

VIZ Media’s Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V manga will continue in its new Shonen Jump. And not only that, but instead of releasing it only on Mondays with other weekly series, it will now come out on the same day as Japan, even if that day isn’t a Monday. That’s the word from today’s issue of VIZ’s Weekly Shonen Jump (the final traditional magazine-style issue!).

The next chapter of Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, Scale 41, is scheduled for release on Thursday, December 20.

Best of all, you will be able to read the three latest chapters of the Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V simulpub — and all of the other Jump simulpubs — for free! All of the older chapters will be available in the Shonen Jump vault, accessible for $1.99 per month.

In Japan, Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V is published in V Jump, a monthly magazine that is released the third week of each month, often on the 21st. Previously, VIZ Media published Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V in its WSJ magazine on the closest Monday immediately following V Jump’s release. If V Jump came out on a Monday, VIZ would also publish ARC-V on the same Monday. But if V Jump came out on a Tuesday or later, VIZ wouldn’t be able to publish ARC-V until the Monday of the following week.

But now, with the end of VIZ’s weekly magazine format, this restriction no longer exists; ARC-V will become a bona fide simulpub. Because of time zone differences with Japan, readers in some parts of the world (like the U.S.) will actually get to read ARC-V on the 20th instead of the 21st. It’s like manga from the future!

The New Shonen Jump: Free Simulpubs and a 10,000-Chapter Back Catalog

December 7, 2018 at 7:00 pm | Posted in Other Stuff | 5 Comments
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New English-language Shonen Jump logo unveiled in December 2018

Free manga simulpubs! Access to a back catalog of more than 10,000 chapters! The manga dream has come true.

VIZ Media’s Shonen Jump magazine has been delighting English manga readers since 2002. The past six years, VIZ has been publishing new Jump chapters the same day they are released in Japan in its Weekly Shonen Jump digital magazine. Today, VIZ Media announced that Shonen Jump is undergoing its biggest transformation to date. Gone are its digital magazine and annual subscription. Instead, starting December 17, Shonen Jump will offer simulpubs for free.

Furthermore, readers who want even more manga can access the Shonen Jump back catalog containing over 10,000 chapters for $1.99 per month. “Nearly every” Shonen Jump title will be available, says VIZ. New users will be able to test out the service with a free seven-day trial. Current annual subscribers of WSJ will have their memberships automatically converted to the new Shonen Jump membership and will also receive three additional months for free.

For more information, watch the announcement video from Hisashi Sakaki, VP of Global Shonen Jump at VIZ Media, and check out VIZ’s announcement page. Current WSJ subscribers will also want to read the FAQs.

The New Shonen Jump and Yu-Gi-Oh!

VIZ’s announcement does not specifically say that the ongoing Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V manga is among the titles being simulpubbed in the new Shonen Jump. In Japan, the series runs in Shueisha’s monthly V Jump magazine. However, since it is a title that is currently serialized in VIZ’s WSJ magazine, it would be a big shock if it weren’t also included in the new Shonen Jump. (Of note, Dragon Ball Super, which also runs in V Jump and is already simulpubbed by VIZ for free, is specifically named as one of the titles included in the new Shonen Jump.)

VIZ also does not name any of the titles included in its vault of 10,000 chapters. Are any of the past Yu-Gi-Oh! series included? Almost of them have been serialized in VIZ’s print or digital Shonen Jump magazines. And all of them are already available for sale digitally anyway. We’ll just have to wait until December 17 to see what’s in the back catalog.

What about the semiannual WSJ Jump Pack print magazines sold at Scholastic book fairs? There’s no word yet on what will happen to these. I’ve reached out to VIZ and will post an update once I have more information.

With the end of the English Shonen Jump magazine also comes the end of the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG promos. Annual subscribers will receive a final special set of four cards in the mail.

Update (December 10): The Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V simulpub will continue!

[YGO: TAS] Episode 82 – Bullseye

December 1, 2018 at 10:00 pm | Posted in Duel Monsters, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Yu-Gi-Oh: The Abridged Series | 7 Comments
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Yami and Yugi facing each other as the sun sets in YGOTAS episode 82

Congratulations to LittleKuriboh, who completed Yu-Gi-Oh! Abridged Season 4 today with the release of episode 82, “Bullseye“! After unlocking Dartz’s second health bar, Yugi, Joey, and Kaiba take on the Atlantean king one last time in the coolest beam battle anime has ever seen. All they have to do is think positively and they will defeat the Great Leviathan…

YGOTAS episode 82 is the first episode that LK has edited himself since last season. He was happy to “get my fingerprints all over the ep,” he said.

There’s a notable amount of Puzzleshipping in this episode, what with Yugi’s extended hands-on-Yami moment and the pair’s heartfelt dialogue. What does LK think about Puzzleshipping?

I don’t ship it generally, but oddly enough when it came to writing the dialogue the characters seemed to want to go in this direction and it seemed an appropriate choice given the content of the season,” LK explained. He also chose Marillion’s Lavender as the ending theme for this episode because it’s his Puzzleshipping anthem.

Next up — YGOTAS Season 5 begins in 2019! But first, LittleKuriboh will be launching a new Yu-Gi-Oh! booster pack opening series tomorrow, similar to his Desert Island Decks series from last year.

‘It’s Time for Yule’: ShopYuGiOh.com Adds Holiday 2018 Shirt

November 27, 2018 at 7:00 am | Posted in Duel Monsters, Yu-Gi-Oh! | 1 Comment

ShopYuGiOh.com ad showing the It's Time for Yule Yu-Gi-Oh! 2018 holiday shirt design

Thought 4K Media couldn’t outdo last year’s “Deck the Halls” ugly-Christmas-sweater-inspired T-shirt? You might want to take a look at the newest holiday T-shirt available now exclusively on ShopYuGiOh.com.

This year’s “It’s Time for Yule” design features silhouettes of Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monster’s main characters, the seven Millennium Items, the Kaiba Corporation logo, and some popular monsters (including many Kuriboh!) stacked up to form the shape of a Christmas tree. Naturally, Yugi and his hair make up the star at the top of the tree. The catchphrase “It’s Time for Yule” forms the base of the tree. Please do not actually say this to anyone.

Available only for a limited time on ShopYuGiOh.com, this T-shirt is available in men’s and women’s cuts, with short-sleeve styles starting at $23.95 and long-sleeve styles starting at $25.95.

Check out the shirt’s 15-second ad on YouTube for a holiday remix of the Yu-Gi-Oh! theme song.

Previously:
ShopYuGiOh.com Adds Exclusive Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s NYCC 2018 Yusei Fudo Shirt

Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, Scale 40: ‘The Adam Factors!!’

November 26, 2018 at 9:00 pm | Posted in ARC-V, Yu-Gi-Oh! | Leave a comment
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Reiji Akaba transforming his scarf into a boomerang in Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V manga chapter 40

Just as Yuya Sakaki decides to destroy the G.O.D. card, Reiji Akaba walks through the doorway. Akaba, his voice cool and collected, demands the card from Yuya. But when Yuya questions his motives, Akaba reveals a more impassioned side: he wants to harness the card’s unlimited powers to control all of space-time!

“No human being can control something like that!” Yuya pleads.

“I can,” replies Akaba. “And to that end, I must become a god.”

Beyond that, to destroy the G.O.D. card is to destroy the work of their fathers and all that has transpired in their era, continues Akaba. It would be a tragedy to scientific discovery to throw it away before learning its truth.

Yuya smiles and proposes an Action Duel to settle things once and for all.

Akaba reveals that he is even more powerful than before because he now possesses not only his own Adam Factor but Adam’s portion as well. He vows to crush Yuya and his Action Duel.

Yuya and Akaba extend their arms forward, calling forth the power of Adam Factor. The ground immediately begins to tremble, and before they know it, the roots and branches of a monstrous tree have erupted through the ground, coiling up toward the sky and lifting them off the ground. Upon this Adam Factor tree, they will decide the fate of G.O.D.

A huge tree forms when Yuya Sakaki and Reiji Akaba combine their Adam Factor powers in Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V manga chapter 40

Yuya begins the duel by attempting secure two Action Cards, but Akaba thwarts him both times. Akaba sets his Pendulum scales and summons D/D Dog, a sharp-fanged giant bulldog. Yuya plays two Speedroid monsters and Synchro summons Clearwing Fast Dragon.

On the ground below, Isaac and Ren enter through the doorway to observe the duel. Though G.O.D.’s defeat has healed their scarred bodies, they know that the their future still rests in Yuya and Akaba’s final duel.

Thoughts

First you defeat god, then you go on to defeat your rival. Truly, this is the way that the greatest shonen stories must play out! So when I saw Reiji Akaba confront Yuya at the end of last chapter, I knew that this showdown was inevitable. But Reiji’s reasons for challenging Yuya are different than I expected. I would have thought that the pair would want to duel to clear their fathers’ good names.

The more the story progresses, the vaguer the powers of the Adam Factor seem to be. Like the Millennium Items of the original Yu-Gi-Oh! manga, it’s not well defined what the Adam Factor can and can’t do and how its power is divided up. Only now are we learning that Adam split the power into three equal parts, and that the power can be transferred.

I hope I am not the only one who is confused why Adam would want to give Reiji the power to take G.O.D. “Scientific discovery”? What a load. Adam admits that the best course of action is to eliminate that power. He has experienced firsthand how G.O.D. has damaged his and his friends’ lives, and now he wants to give that power to some kid?

Thank you, Shin Yoshida and Naohito Miyoshi, for pulling out all the stops and making Reiji Akaba’s scarf such a versatile, magnificent thing. This is what readers wanted! Right?!

Now that I think about it, this is the real power of the Adam Factor, isn’t it? It gives Reiji the ability to use his ten-foot long scarf to its fullest extent. Prehensile threads? Grappling hook? Boomerang? Nothing is impossible for the president and his scarf!

Looks like Eve has left her companions behind while she elopes with Adam or whatever. She doesn’t even bother checking to see if they are okay. Real nice.

* * *

Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, Scale 40: “The Adam Factors!!” is available now in VIZ Media’s Weekly Shonen Jump No. 52 (November 26, 2018). Grab the issue from VIZ, Amazon, and comiXology.

Previous chapter:
Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, Scale 39: “Across Time and Space!!”

Next chapter:
Coming soon

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

Japanese Yu-Gi-Oh! Fans Pick Their Favorite Monsters

November 21, 2018 at 12:00 pm | Posted in 5D's, ARC-V, Duel Monsters, GX, Japanese, Other Stuff, VRAINS, Yu-Gi-Oh!, ZEXAL | 2 Comments

Yu-Gi-Oh! 20th Monster Selection poll graphic on Shueisha's V Jump website

As part of the ongoing festivities celebrating the 20th anniversary of Yu-Gi-Oh! in Japan, Shueisha’s V Jump magazine asked fans to name the best monster from the six Yu-Gi-Oh! anime series. The poll, which was held online earlier this year, amassed a whopping 33,056 votes. Today, V Jump released the results online and in its magazine — and some of the choices are quite unexpected!

Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters:

  1. Dark Magician Girl (6617 votes)
  2. Slifer the Sky Dragon (3848 votes)
  3. Blue-Eyes White Dragon (3089 votes)
  4. Dark Magician (2852 votes)
  5. Red-Eyes Black Dragon (1963 votes)

Yu-Gi-Oh! GX:

  1. Yubel (4183 votes)
  2. Elemental HERO Flame Wingman (3663 votes)
  3. Cyber End Dragon (3513 votes)
  4. Elemental HERO Neos (2564 votes)
  5. Elemental HERO Divine Neos (2545 votes)

Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s:

  1. Black Rose Dragon (6593 votes)
  2. Stardust Dragon (5268 votes)
  3. Shooting Quasar Dragon (3531 votes)
  4. Junk Warrior (2846 votes)
  5. Shooting Star Dragon (2120 votes)

Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL:

  1. Gagaga Girl (5025 votes)
  2. Number 107: Galaxy-Eyes Tachyon Dragon (4110 votes)
  3. Number 39: Utopia (3587 votes)
  4. Number 62: Galaxy-Eyes Prime Photon Dragon (2994 votes)
  5. Galaxy-Eyes Photon Dragon (2986 votes)

Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V:

  1. Dark Rebellion Xyz Dragon (5609 votes)
  2. Clear Wing Synchro Dragon (4674 votes)
  3. Odd-Eyes Rebellion Dragon (3982 votes)
  4. Starving Venom Fusion Dragon (2781 votes)
  5. Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon (2502 votes)

Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS:

  1. Firewall Dragon (6061 votes)
  2. Decode Talker (4221 votes)
  3. Borreload Dragon (3939 votes)
  4. Trickstar Holly Angel (2207 votes)
  5. Gouki The Great Ogre (2017 votes)

All 30 of these monsters will be highlighted in an upcoming Blu-ray and DVD titled “Yu-Gi-Oh! Duelist and Monsters Memorial Disc,” to be released in Japan in March 2019. The product will feature commentary from the series’ voice actors as they watch these monsters in action in their most memorable scenes.

What do you think of these choices? Did your favorite monsters make the top five?

Related:
Japanese Yu-Gi-Oh! Fans Pick Their Favorite Duels

4K Media’s Yu-Gi-Oh! November 2018 Sweepstakes

November 20, 2018 at 12:00 pm | Posted in Konami | 3 Comments
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Yu-Gi-Oh! November 2018 Sweepstakes banner from YUGIOH.com

4K Media is back with another monthly sweepstakes, this time featuring a festive new Yu-Gi-Oh! product as a prize. The Yu-Gi-Oh! November 2018 Sweepstakes gives one lucky fan the chance to bring home a prize package with the following items:

The entry period for this sweepstakes is open from today through December 3. Anyone who is at least 6 years old and resides in the 50 United States or Washington, D.C., is eligible to win. As usual, see the official rules for the full details.

Hulu Adds Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie: Pyramid of Light, The Dark Side of Dimensions

November 16, 2018 at 12:00 pm | Posted in 4Kids, English dubbed, Pyramid of Light, The Dark Side of Dimensions, Yu-Gi-Oh! | Leave a comment
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Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie: Pyramid of Light and The Dark Side of Dimensions movie posters from Hulu

Yu-Gi-Oh! movie double feature time? Yu-Gi-Oh! movie double feature time. Hulu is now streaming both Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie: Pyramid of Light and Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions! If you missed seeing Pyramid of Light in theaters earlier this year, you’ll definitely want to catch it here because it’s the newly remastered version with a stunningly clean widescreen picture.

If you are looking to make it a triple feature, Yu-Gi-Oh! Bonds Beyond Time is streaming for free on CONtv and Tubi TV.

Yu-Gi-Oh! Animators Shuji Maruyama, Junichi Hayama at Youmacon 2018

November 9, 2018 at 11:00 pm | Posted in 5D's, Duel Monsters, Japanese, The Dark Side of Dimensions, Yu-Gi-Oh!, ZEXAL | 2 Comments
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Shuji Maruyama and Junichi Hayama at Youmacon 2018 opening ceremonies
Shuji Maruyama (left) and Junichi Hayama

Fans of anime, manga, and Japanese culture descended upon Detroit, Michigan, last weekend for the annual Youmacon convention. This event would be a very special one for animation fans because the convention welcomed four animators straight from Japan, including two highly respected and beloved Yu-Gi-Oh! animators.

Making his first ever appearance in the United States was Shuji Maruyama, a very prolific Yu-Gi-Oh! animator and animation director who has worked on Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters, 5D’s, ZEXAL, ARC-V, Bonds Beyond Time, and The Dark Side of Dimensions. Maruyama is probably best known by fans as the character designer for 5D’s. More recently, he has worked on Fuuka, Recovery of an MMO Junkie, and Hanebado!.

Returning for his second appearance at Youmacon was Junichi Hayama, who has served as an animator and animation director for Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters and as a key animator for The Dark Side of Dimensions. Hayama is well known for his mastery of the brush pen and has most recently been working on Golden Kamuy.

Joining Maruyama and Hayama were two more talented animators: Mamoru Yokota, who has worked on Death Note, Naruto, and Gatchaman Crowds; and Shigefumi Shingaki, who works full time at Toei Animation as an animation director for One Piece.

Over the weekend, all four animators participated in live drawing events, where cameras were homed in on their paper and pencils to get an up-close view of their artistic process, and in Q&A panels where they tackled burning questions from the audience.

But there was one very special panel that was not to be missed by any Yu-Gi-Oh! fan: “Draw of the Cards.” Moderated by Anthony “Kroze” Kresky of Yu-Gi-Oh! Abridged fame, Draw of the Cards was dedicated entirely to all things Yu-Gi-Oh!, with Shuji Maruyama and Junichi Hayama offering insights about the Yu-Gi-Oh! series they’ve worked on and delighting the audience with their illustrations.

This post contains a full transcript of the Draw of the Cards panel and also highlights the Yu-Gi-Oh! artwork that Maruyama and Hayama presented at Youmacon 2018.

Transcript: Draw of the Cards, a discussion about Yu-Gi-Oh!

Kroze: I’d like to start this panel by talking about what goes into animating and drawing a show that’s highly based on just people playing cards against each other. How do you make that exciting from an animator aspect?

Hayama: That’s something that the author of the source material really thinks of so I really don’t have any say in that.

Maruyama: This is a work with an actual proper source material so I make sure a lot of the elements from the source material are not lost in the adaptation.

Kroze: Since it’s coming from manga source material that already exists, has there ever been any difficulty adapting something over into the animated show that was easier to tell over in the manga?

Maruyama: I want to really keep the elements from the source material intact so I make sure to use the same “image.” So I really want to make sure I preserve the touches, the styles, the expressions, and the angles that are from the manga and convert that into an animation style.

Hayama: Exactly what Maruyama said. Adapting from manga to animation — they seem very similar but they’re actually very different in a lot of components. In manga, most of the time a lot of the motion and feelings are all condensed into one single image. Whereas in animation, you have to keep in mind that it is in motion and you really want to have fluidity in the entire content. At the same time, knowing how to make sure that the essence of the source material is intact while converting that to a fluid motion is what separates amateurs from veterans.

Kroze: Do you ever look to the cards for art inspiration when adapting some of the sequences into animation?

Hayama: We don’t actually take inspiration directly from the cards. There are dedicated people that deal with the monster designs so that they can be adapted from the cards to the animation. [Takahiro] Kagami is one good example of them. He is known among the fan community as one of the best animation directors in the production team.

Maruyama: Kagami did a lot of the earlier monster designs as well as the God Cards’ monster designs.

Kroze: Yu-Gi-Oh! has had a lot of great characters over the many years. Is there any character that you take pleasure in animating and drawing?

Hayama: I don’t have a particular favorite character because I make sure that plot lines and story lines are intact, and so I see value in all the characters.

Interpreter: Is that genuinely your answer? Or are you saying that because you don’t want to answer the question?

Hayama: No, seriously! Every single one has an important role in the story line.

Maruyama: Just from the ease of drawing, I really like to draw Yusei because I draw a lot of him, so I’ve got a lot of practice for him. But my particular favorite is Bruno from 5D’s. I like his role in the story and his design.

Kroze: Because Yusei is simple for you to draw, does it make the action scenes a lot easier to create? Does it let you be more dynamic because you don’t have to concentrate that much on Yusei?

Maruyama: Hmm…

Hayama: The more you draw, the easier it gets. You have the image of the picture revealed in your mind, so there’s one less thing to deal with. So sometimes even the smallest details like how his fingers appear, the more you draw, the more you memorize how they actually look. So in other words, practice makes perfect. At some point, it becomes a habit as opposed to a task.

Kroze: All of the Yu-Gi-Oh! shows have so many action sequences in them. Are there any particular ones that stand out that you had a lot of fun animating?

Hayama: I don’t remember. Sorry.

Maruyama: It’s not an action scene, but one of my favorite scenes is in Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters when Yugi is dueling Joey while he was being controlled by Marik. I love that, especially the scene where, after the duel is over, Yugi jumps into the water to try to help Joey. That’s one of my favorite scenes because it really allows me to reidentify, to reassure that their friendship just goes above and beyond what friendship really, truly is.

Kroze: At this point, I’d like to take a couple of questions from the audience.

Audience member: You’ve talked about which characters you look forward to drawing. Which characters are the most difficult to draw?

Hayama: Actually, monsters were really hard to draw. In Duel Monsters, there’s that black magician wearing some sort of belts fighting against Pegasus.

[Audience members shout out the name — Magician of Black Chaos.]

Hayama: When I saw that character design, I was like, you’ve got to be freakin’ kidding me.

[The audience laughs.]

Maruyama: A lot of the dragons in 5D’s were really hard to draw because a lot of them were 3D designs, even though some of them, like Black Rose, were drawn most of the time. Including that, there are a lot of dragons that were designed from the get-go through computer graphics as 3D models. They didn’t consider animators at all during that design process so I struggled with that.

Audience member: Have you ever played the card game itself?

Hayama: I don’t have a clue about it.

Maruyama: Recently, I’ve been playing Duel Links.

Audience member: Of the different summoning mechanics — Normal summoning, Xyz, Synchro — which is the most difficult to incorporate into an action sequence?

Hayama: I don’t understand all the different summonings so I just try to have fun without caring about them.

Maruyama: Summonings and the transformation portions are probably one of the most inspiring, appealing portions of the anime so I make sure to use some variations so there’s not all the same recycled motions. I have fun trying to come up with different kinds of animations.

Kroze: Are there any transformation sequences from other shows that you’ve look to for inspiration for some of those summoning sequences?

Maruyama: Not really. Not any one in particular.

Audience member: Which of the Egyptian God Cards is the hardest to animate?

Hayama: I don’t know. Which one’s are the God Cards again?

[Maruyama lists them off for him.]

Hayama: Which one’s the blue one? That’s the hardest. All of them are hard to illustrate.

Audience member: I was assuming it would be Ra because of all the scales and everything. The yellow one.

Hayama: I try to forget about bad memories.

[The audience laughs.]

Maruyama: Back when God Cards were the thing in Duel Monsters, I was still just pretty new, so I struggled with all of them.

Audience member: Are there any other series’ animators who you respect and who you draw inspiration from?

Hayama: Once we go down that rabbit hole, there’s no end to it.

Maruyama: True, but…

Hayama: I worked on Fist of the North Star. During that time, the character designer, Masami Suda, was like my mentor figure. A lot of my work has many elements that I learned from him. At the same time, when I was someone who just enjoyed anime not as a professional but as a viewer, I believed some of his touches are kind of reminiscent of the original Gundam series.

Maruyama: I learned a lot of things from [Takahiro] Kagami, one of the animation directors from Duel Monsters. A lot of my works are similar to his style.

Kroze: Is there anything in Yu-Gi-Oh! that you haven’t worked on that you want to work on? Like GX.

Hayama: As long as I get paid, I don’t care.

[The audience laughs.]

Maruyama: If I get asked to, I will be happy to do it.

Audience member: Are there any American series that influence your art?

Hayama: I watch The Simpsons. I also watch a lot of American comic series, from Marvel and DC. I watch them just for fun, but if I see something interesting, like certain layouts or designs, I might get inspiration from them.

Maruyama: I watch Pixar for fun, but I don’t think it really inspires my work because the styles are completely different.

Audience member: Have either of you worked with the creator of Yu-Gi-Oh!, Kazuki Takahashi?

Hayama: Nope.

Maruyama: I just said hi to him once.

[The audience commiserates with him — “Aww.”]

Hayama: I would like to meet him for a very personal reason. Takahashi worked on a spin-off manga of the anime Go-Q-Choji Ikkiman by Toei Animation. I was a fan of the show so I want to meet Takahashi just for that personal reason.

[Note: The Go-Q-Choji Ikkiman anime and manga aren’t available in English. According to the Go-Q-Choji Ikkiman Japanese Wikipedia entry, the manga was serialized in Kodansha’s Weekly Shonen Magazine in 1986 and was compiled into two graphic novel volumes. Takahashi worked on it using the pen name “Kazuo Takahashi.” -ravegrl]

Audience member: When you’re not animating, what’s your favorite thing to do at home?

Hayama: Rest assured, I don’t work all the time. I watch movies and drink a lot. The usual things.

Maruyama: Same.

Audience member: How did you get into the animation industry?

Hayama: Back when I was in high school, my friend’s brother was involved in an anime production. I mentioned to my friend that I might want to be an animator some day. “Oh, you want me to introduce my brother to you?” So I met him and asked if there’s a special school for this. “No, don’t do it. Don’t do it.” Two months later, I find myself introduced to a new company. After five minutes of introductions and a simple interview, they were like, “When are you going to come?” I started in April and the rest is history.

Maruyama: I went to a special school for animation. From there, I met the first company that I worked for, and now I’m here.

Kroze: Seeing as how this franchise has had a lot of people work on it, is there anything that either of you feel like you’ve contributed that you hope makes a lasting impression on the franchise as it moves onward?

Hayama: I will leave that to the viewers and the audience’s discretion.

Maruyama: I hope the character designs will stay intact as long as the series does continue.

Audience member: For Maruyama, you’ve talked about how you’ve drawn inspiration from animation director [Takahiro] Kagami. Do you know the story behind why, in so many of Kagami’s episodes, Joey is often shown making a tough-guy pointy-chin face?

Maruyama: Kagami really likes Antonio Inoki, who is a well-known pro wrestler in Japan. Kagami is a fan of him and so he played around with the thought that maybe Joey really likes pro wrestling. So in certain scenes, he added some references to some pro wrestlers in terms of their facial expressions or emotions or playfulness.

Audience member: Apart from the card game, Yu-Gi-Oh! known mostly for the hair. Which character’s hair is the most difficult for you to draw?

Hayama: Tristan. Tristan has a distinctive pointy hair style. What makes it difficult is that it really depends on the angle it is seen pointing. [The subsequent explanation is inaudible because of the excessive laughter from the audience.] That makes it difficult because the angle really changes his hairstyle. I saw the character design and was like, you’ve got to be kidding me.

Maruyama: The character Vector in Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL. His hair is very hard to draw. Similar to Tristan, the angle really dictates how the hairstyle looks. In the show Ashita no Joe, the main character has a very interesting hairstyle as well. Depending on the angle, the hair goes on one side or the other. Even if he looks straight forward, it still goes a little to the left or right. Likewise, for Vector, I really have to think about how, if I am looking straight at him, how the hair would look.

Audience member: If you have the chance to create your own monster card or Yu-Gi-Oh! card, what ideas would you have for it?

Hayama: I won’t know until I try.

Maruyama: I will try to design a cute girl, like Dark Magician Girl.

Audience member: In Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s, the final villain, Z-One, has a really interesting design. Where did the idea for his design originate?

Maruyama: I didn’t design him so I have no idea. But the first time I saw that design, I said that looks really tedious.

[Note: The actual designer of Z-One is Shinichi Miyazaki, who is credited in the endings of episode 65 and onward for his “Concept Design Cooperation.” Miyazaki recently tweeted an early design sketch and character concepts for Z-One. -ravegrl]

Audience member: Did you enjoy working on ZEXAL more or 5D’s? Which one was more fun?

Maruyama: I had more fun with ZEXAL because it was a little more colorful and playful. In 5D’s, very early on, the main character gets arrested. That sets up the tone of the show to be kind of dark. I think it’s not my actual output that is dark, but that darkness is something that I have to keep in the back of my mind when I’m actually illustrating.

Kroze: Speaking of 5D’s, the show, like you said, has a very dark tone. While manga is always black and white, 5D’s definitely has a very prominent “color” to it that makes its darkness feel entrenching. Is there anything that you looked at that inspired how you approached the darkness there?

Maruyama: There are actually dedicated people that deal with the color tone and the director and the people that handle this idea. They handle the tone of the colors and they make sure it’s all consistent with the story and throughout the series. So I didn’t have much of a say in the actual color.

Audience member: In the Dark Side of Dimensions movie, Kaiba and Mokuba don’t have their lockets on. Do you know why their lockets aren’t included in the movie even though they always wore them in the TV anime and manga?

Maruyama: I have no idea. I was given the designs from the directors. There’s nothing that took place in the background that we know of or any theories we can verify.

Audience member: Was there ever a time you had to animate something where you said no, you couldn’t do it, or had to change the way it was animated because it was too difficult to create?

Hayama: There were many occasions where I’ve thought it’s impossible to do a certain thing within a certain given schedule. Before I decide to accept the job, I make sure it’s something that I can finish. Because if you do accept the job that’s nearly impossible to do, you will always experience something bad.

Maruyama: No comment. [Laughs.]

Audience member: Do you have any favorite old American action movies?

Hayama: Escape from New York.

Maruyama: Back to the Future.

Interpreter: Is it a sin to have never watched that movie?

Kroze: What?! Are you serious?

Hayama: You’re joking! How sad.

Audience member: In Duel Monsters, Noa’s story arc wasn’t in the manga. What is it like drawing something that doesn’t have a source material?

Hayama: Even during Noa’s arc, I was just an animator, so I wasn’t part of the actual major staff. The director and the scriptwriter are the ones who make the decisions about the details. But, having said that, I did feel that it was kind of different than usual, that it was kind of weird. But a job is a job.

Maruyama: What Hayama said.

Kroze: I have a final question for both of you. This is a little bit of a silly one, but the phrase “the heart of the cards” is used many times in the series. What do you believe the heart of the cards means?

Hayama: Sorry, I have no idea.

Maruyama: I’ve never heard of that.

[The audience laughs.]

Interpreter: “Kādo no kokoro wo shinjiru” — “To believe in the heart of the cards.” [The interpreter places his index and middle fingers on top of his wrist, as if he were pausing before drawing a card.]

Hayama & Maruyama: Aaah!

Hayama: It’s a fully mental thing. Probably a full mental hypnosis.

Shuji Maruyama and Junichi Hayama’s Yu-Gi-Oh! Illustrations at Youmacon 2018

While the animators were answering questions during the Draw of the Cards panel, they were also busy putting pen to paper. What were they drawing? This panel was technically a Q&A panel, not a live drawing panel, so there were no cameras set up that pointed at their papers. So, the audience would just have to be surprised.

At the end of the panel, Shuji Maruyama and Junichi Hayama revealed what they had been working on and invited the audience to approach them and take photos.

Maruyama wowed the crowd with his Yusei Fudo and Jack Atlas:

Yusei Fudo and Jack Atlas illustrations, drawn live by Shuji Maruyama at Youmacon on November 3, 2018

Close-up of Yusei Fudo in an illustration drawn live by Shuji Maruyama at Youmacon on November 3, 2018

Close-up of Jack Atlas in an illustration drawn live by Shuji Maruyama at Youmacon on November 3, 2018

Hayama’s Seto Kaiba and Yami Yugi left the audience awestruck:

Seto Kaiba and Yami Yugi illustrations, drawn live by Junichi Hayama at Youmacon on November 3, 2018

Close-up of Seto Kaiba in an illustration drawn live by Junichi Hayama at Youmacon on November 3, 2018

Close-up of Yami Yugi in an illustration drawn live by Junichi Hayama at Youmacon on November 3, 2018

Needless to say, everyone was astonished by the works Maruyama and Hayama managed to turn out while they were casually chatting with the audience. They are both truly masters of their craft.

These are the only two Yu-Gi-Oh! pieces that Hayama drew the entire weekend.

Maruyama, however, created more Yu-Gi-Oh! illustrations at other live drawing and Q&A panels that weren’t specifically dedicated to Yu-Gi-Oh!.

Here is another take on Yusei and Jack by Maruyama. This photo is from fellow animator Mamoru Yokota (@yokotamamoru).

Yusei Fudo and Jack Atlas together, drawn live by Shuji Maruyama at Youmacon on November 2, 2018

Seto Kaiba was a very popular request for Maruyama. He drew Kaiba and Blue-Eyes White Dragon twice using two different styles at two different panels:

Seto Kaiba drawing a card with Blue-Eyes White Dragon, drawn live by Shuji Maruyama at Youmacon on November 3, 2018

Seto Kaiba standing with Blue-Eyes White Dragon, drawn live by Shuji Maruyama at Youmacon on November 4, 2018

All of these illustrations by Maruyama and Hayama were given away to lucky audience members.

On Facebook, Yu-Gi-Oh! voice actress Erica Schroeder, who was also a guest at Youmacon, shared a story and photo of how she had the great fortune of running into Shuji Maruyama in her hotel lobby. After Maruyama learned that Akiza Izinski is her favorite character that she has played, he whipped up an original illustration for Erica in minutes.

Erica Schroeder, Shuji Maruyama, and Maruyama's illustration of Akiza Izinski

Truly a moment she won’t ever forget!

At Youmacon’s Artists Alley, the animators had their own table set up where they accepted a very limited number of commissions over the weekend. When they weren’t attending panels or sightseeing in Detroit, they were busy drawing at their table. Youmacon attendees could commission an original piece of monochrome or full-color artwork on a shikishi — a hard paper board often used in Japan for autographs, paintings, and calligraphy.

Shuji Maruyama displayed two sample shikishi at the table — one with a color drawing of Yuma Tsukumo with Astral, and another with a monochrome drawing of Yami Yugi and Seto Kaiba standing back to back.

Yuma Tsukumo, Astral, Yami Yugi, and Kaiba illustrations on two shikishi by Shuji Maruyama at Youmacon 2018

Yuma Tsukumo and Astral illustration on a shikishi by Shuji Maruyama at Youmacon 2018

Yami Yugi and Seto Kaiba illustration on a shikishi by Shuji Maruyama at Youmacon 2018

Throughout the weekend, all of the animators held autograph sessions where they each offered posters to fans that featured original illustrations from anime series that they’ve worked on.

Junichi Hayama’s print showed Saichi Sugimoto and Asirpa from Golden Kamuy. But Shuji Maruyama’s print was this masterpiece of Yusei Fudo, Jack Atlas, and Yami Yugi:

Shuji Maruyama's original print with Yusei Fudo, Jack Atlas, and Yami Yugi illustrations

Want to see Shuji Maruyama and Junichi Hayama at more events? Contact your nearest anime convention’s guest relations staff and let them know!

Follow Shuji Maruyama on Twitter, @masyuu_nemunemu.

And follow Junichi Hayama on Twitter, @hayama11.

* * *

If you enjoyed hearing from Shuji Maruyama and Junichi Hayama, check out my coverage of Youmacon 2017, where Hayama made his first American convention appearance. At that event, Hayama spoke in greater depth about his background, techniques, and the animation industry.

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

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